In just the last three or four years, Dallas has evolved from a dining scene known for steakhouses and barbecue to a potent, multifaceted foodie force gaining national recognition. With so much to explore and so many eateries opening or planning to open, it’s sometimes tough to figure out where to start – especially if you’re a visitor.
Here’s a guide to navigating the best of the Big D’s burgeoning eats, with a spotlight on classic Texas cuisine, movable feasts and farm-to-table fare.
Iconic Dallas Eats
You simply can’t visit Dallas without trying some Texas barbecue. While our ’cue scene doesn’t have quite the depth of Austin or the Hill Country, Pecan Lodge in the historic Deep Ellum neighborhood has gotten national buzz for churning out the finest ribs, brisket and pulled pork around. The fried chicken there is also an unsung gem.
For a more fried chicken-centric experience, you’ll want to pull up to the silver trailer across from Southern Methodist University. Bubba’s Cooks Country serves old-fashioned fried bird with every decadent side your palate could dream up: crispy fried okra, fluffy mashed potatoes and cream gravy, and porky green beans are all standouts. The chicken-fried steak, another Texas staple, is fantastic here as well.
If you’re in more of a South of the Border mood, don’t miss the Tex-Mex scene. Newbies may want to start out at Mi Cocina, a beloved local chain that delivers the standard enchiladas and tacos in a sleek yet casual atmosphere. For a more authentic taste of Tex-Mex in Dallas, hit up Pepe & Mito’s in Deep Ellum, or for a traditional Mexican experience, Mesa in Oak Cliff crafts regional classics with its chicken mole winning enough buzz to draw Conan O’Brien out for a visit … twice!
If upscale Southern cuisine is your thing, pop on over to Sissy’s Southern Kitchen, started by Food Network charmer Lisa Garza. Think buckets of fried chicken with sriracha on the side, pickled shrimp on spicy crackers and craft cocktails by the boatload, in a genteel and retro-inspired setting.
Make your own Food Crawl
If you’re adventurous and want to try a variety of cuisines, a movable feast -- two neighborhoods are within reach. Oak Cliff’s funky Bishop Arts District is an adorable, walkable enclave of boutiques and eateries just begging you to spend the day. Open with oysters and craft cocktails at the elegant neighborhood bistro Boulevardier, then mosey on down to Eno’s Pizza for a plate of charcuterie and some greens. Your next stop is Lucia, an intimate, immensely popular Italian joint. Most likely booked to the gills, but if you’re lucky, you may be able to squeeze into two of the first-come-first-served bar seats. End your feast by sampling decadent chocolate creations next door at Dude, Sweet Chocolate.
Farther north, Trinity Groves is Dallas’ hot new upscale food court, host to a handful of individual restaurants all under one roof. Any of the impeccable tapas at the Spain-inspired Casa Rubia would serve as perfect bites to start to the night, especially when paired with a crisp European wine. Check out the permanent pop-up restaurant Kitchen LTO, with concepts and cuisines that rotate every four months. Settle in to Asian-Latin American fusion from Chino Chinatown, where the duck fat fried rice is a must, and finish up with decadent truffles almost too pretty to eat (almost!) at Kate Weiser Chocolates or a slab of the famed Key lime layer cake at Cake Bar.
The hottest trend in Dallas dining right now is farm-to-table cuisine; served at restaurants whose chefs make it a priority to source from conscientious growers, ranchers and purveyors, many of whom are local or from the greater Texas area.Matt McCallister co-founded Chefs For Farmers, a group and food event whose mission is to unite chefs and purveyors, opening his own restaurant FT33 with that in mind. The menu changes often, reflecting seasonal produce at the height of its freshness, haute-yet-familiar fare he serves for dinner. Restaurants that share McCallister’s vision include fine dining options Hibiscus, Asador, Stock & Barrel, and Gemma. For those with an eye toward modern, chef-driven plates and a formidable craft cocktail program, may prefer more casual spots like Victor Tangos, Barter, Proof + Pantry, and HG Sply Co.