100 Favorite Dishes, No. 52: The Cuban at International Bakery

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Every sandwich should be this good.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

Cubans are blowing up menus all over Dallas. The toasted sandwiches, loaded with melting Swiss cheese, have made appearances at high-end restaurants like CBD Provisions and San Salvaje, where the classic sandwich is reinvented through the eyes of accomplish chefs. The results are good -- melted meat and cheese is almost always a positive thing -- but they're not the same as the Cuban served at International Bakery, which is a simple, authentic sandwich.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 53: The Popeye At Green Grocer

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This is for your own good.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

I know what you're thinking: This one isn't even a dish. But you will be thanking me once you accept The Green Grocer's Popeye into your life, because the benefits are impossible to refute.

There aren't many other palatable ways to get this much spinach into your day that don't involve bacon, butter or fatty dressing, and there's a whole bunch of other good stuff swirling around in this plastic cup. Not to mention the drinkable salad actually tastes good.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 54: Elotes, Everywhere

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Catherine Downes
You can get elotes just about anywhere in Dallas.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

Trying to pick a favorite elotes stand might be the most difficult task in favorite-food-picking. There are literally hundreds of elotes carts sprinkled all over Dallas like cotija cheese, and most of them are good.

So let's instead celebrate the ubiquity of this simple street food snack, and the fact that you can get it at nearly every gas station, out front of every grocery store and inside many taquerias, wherever you may find yourself with a craving for warm and buttery corn shaved from the cob.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 55: The Nachos at Spiral Diner

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Yes, better than non-vegan nachos (and they even have beer)
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

When a reader recommended I head to Spiral Diner to try out "The Mitch," I was happy to oblige. There's not a lot of vegan fare to be found on out 100 Favorites dish list, and I'm always looking for a way to shave a few points off my cholesterol score.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 56: Beef Noodle Soup at Monkey King

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Catherine Downes
Dumplings, noodles, soups and more from Monkey King
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

Look at the bottom right corner of the tray in the picture above and you'll see a paper cup filled with a murky, rust colored broth. Don't be shy: Zoom in and you'll see vivid green onions and cilantro leaves floating on the surface beside glimmering beads of chili-colored oil. Keep going till your nose is just above the bowl, and then inhale deeply through your nostrils. You're at Monkey King, so already know this is going to be good, but you've yet to realize just how much so.

You'll catch the scent of scent of Sichuan peppercorn, smoky dried chiles and star-anise-laced broth, a combination that's is warning and soothing. This soup is satisfying before you even take your first slurp but don't stop now -- delve deeper.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 57: Rib "Sandwich" at Baby Back Shak

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Wait, sandwich what?
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

I'm a little late to the game. Tiffany Derry and her Hungry Investor friends got their meat beaters wrapped around the Baby Back Shak earlier this year, and I've only now gotten around to checking out their work.

And honestly? While all the paint, murals, pictures and other trinkets scattered around have definitely given the place a facelift, I prefer Baby Back Shak the way it once was. I miss the patina of smoke, grease and time that was shellacked over every surface. I miss the old character.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 58: Pig's Head at CBD Provisions

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Catherine Downes
The crispy pig's face is a must order at CBD Provisions, provided you have enough friends to help you finish it.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

A handful of plates leaving the kitchen at CBD Provisions will turn the heads of diners, but none as much as this crispy head on a plank of wood. It's hard not to notice, with that gnarled ear jutting outward, that crunchy nose curling upward and oh my God is that a tooth?

Scraping the face off an animal will quickly remind you that meat requires certain sacrifices, but just beneath that crispy skin are glistening lumps of meat that will remind you that yes, this is in fact food: absolutely delicious pork carnitas that will rival the best carnicerias in Dallas.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 59: Enmoladas at Mesa

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Emoladas at Mesa in Oak Cliff
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

I could argue that if Mesa is good enough for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, we all should be flocking to Oak Cliff, but we've been singing the praises of the Veracruz-style Mexican restaurant at the Observer for more than three years now. There have been changes since Mesa first opened, including a new gorgeous patio out back, so if you haven't been in a while you owe Raul and Olga Reyes a hello.

Don't let everything change, though, including an order of enmoladas, which is mandatory with every visit. Even if you're planning on ordering the duck mole as your entree, at least get an order of these for your table and share them.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 60: Plain Cheese Pizza Cooked Extra Crispy at Zoli's

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A pizza from Zoli's and a few cans of beer are all you need. Ever.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

Pizza is one of the most abused foods Americans are subjected to. For generations we've taken a product birthed from glowing ovens in Italy and squeezed every last ounce of passion and dignity from it before stuffing it in a sweaty, dusty cardboard box.

It's gotten so bad that when Jay Jerrier opened an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria in Deep Ellum a few years back, many customers complained, basically, that it didn't taste enough like Pizza Hut. This is how far we've fallen as a pizza-eating society.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 61: Reuben at Kuby's

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Kuby's serves up a Reuben sandwich that shows some restraint
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

Everyone loves a Reuben; it's what the sandwich will do to your waistline that's a concern. Cooks heap them with fatty meat, slather the bread on one side with enough Russian dressing that it squirts out the back and then butter the other side to a glossy sheen. This is all in addition to the three or four slices of cheese that melt down somewhere in the center.

Luckily for those of us with dependencies, Kuby's puts together a rendition that bucks the trend for heft and grease. The German deli located in Snyder Plaza makes a Reuben you could almost argue is comparatively healthy.

Could, but shouldn't. Stuff your face instead.

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