100 Favorite Dishes, No. 1: Oysters At Rex's Seafood

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A perfectly shucked East Dennis Bay oyster.
Our Best of Dallas® 2012 issue is on the stands, and to accompany it, we've been counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. This is the last one this year, but if there's a dish you think we missed, leave it in the comments or email me.

I'm surprised by the number of terrible oysters I've had in Dallas. You would think it would be pretty difficult to muck them up, but many places serve oysters well past their prime. I've had at least three that were completely dead (a terrifying experience) and many that were dry and stale tasting. What makes those experiences particularly upsetting is that they were in high-end restaurants where I paid at least $3 a shell.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 2: The Turkey Sandwich At Bolsa Mercado

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To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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.

The turkey sandwich is undoubtedly one of the most boring creations to be housed between two bread slices since the Earl himself created the portable dish. Usually dry and bland, I'll only order one when I feel as though I've hit my burger quota on any given week, and I'm looking for something I can pretend is healthy.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 3: Chicken Shish Kebab At Pepper Smash

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To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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.

Way back in February I blogged about a mystical chicken sandwich I've had in other cities but had not been able to find in Dallas. I still haven't found exactly what I'm looking for, because you have to do some assembly, but when you order the chicken shish kebab at Pepper Smash you'll get everything you need.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 4: Babaganoush At Baboush

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Say it three times fast: Babaganoush at Baboush
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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.

Typically, babaganoush is about a point or two higher than hummus on the boring scale of Mediterranean dips. Most restaurants broil some eggplant, throw it in a blender with some tahini, lemon juice and garlic, and then call it a day. Baboush used to offer a puree of eggplant just like this. They don't anymore.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 5: Tortilla Soup At Fearing's

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To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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.

You have only seconds after the bowl arrives to take in the garnishes lying in the bottom. Seconds later a rich broth poured from a porcelain carafe obscures the bowl in a rust-colored murkiness. Now you'll have to hunt for smoky, tender pieces of chicken hidden amongst crunchy shards of tortilla strips.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 6: Barbacoa Tacos At Restaurant Y Taquería Cristina

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To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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.

Restaurant Y Taquería Cristina tacos may be greasy as hell, but it's hard to argue against some of their fillings. Lengua and carnitas are woefully bland, but pastor is full of flavor. The barbacoa, however, is outstanding, at once beefy, bright and juicy enough that you have to eat them directly over your plate.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 7: Jhinga Masala Nizami At Mughlai Fine Indian Cuisine

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That goat curry in the background is almost as good.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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.

The name Mughlai Fine Indian Cuisine might refer to a style of cooking, but muddy, spicy curries from northern India aren't the only dishes you'll find here. The bright, herbal, fiery curries of southern India are represented as well, especially in this jhinga masala nizami. My waiter asked me how spicy I wanted the dish when I ordered, and I told him very spicy. He clarified "Indian spicy?" And I nodded. Ten minutes later a small dish of soupy shrimp curry was brought to my table.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 8: Shwarma At Samar

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To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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.

The best seats in Samar undoubtedly line the back bar. Many kitchens are open these days, but here you can practicably lean over the cook's mise en place; you can smell fenugreek like molasses. Order the shwarma sandwich with a very important caveat. Tell your waiter you have no interest in their store-bought, pallid pita, especially when a fiery tandoor oven belches heat just a few feet away.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 9: Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich At Highland Park Pharmacy

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To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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 Gretchen and Sonny Williams bought the Highland Park Pharmacy in 2006, they agreed to keep everything just as it was. The modest shop had changed little since moving to its Knox Street location in 1923 and loyal customers were worried about the new ownership messing up a good thing. Even the landlord griped about a push to open up on Sundays. So an addition of jalapeno pimento cheese to the menu certainly raised some eyebrows. In fact, the ever-so-slightly piquant cheese must have seemed downright rebellious.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 10: Cochinita Pibil At Meso Maya

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To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2012 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 may never find another cochinita pibil dish as good as the one I had in Austin, but this version, served at Meso Maya in Preston Hollow, is the best I've found in Dallas so far. The pork may not be Berkshire, but it's braised into juicy succulence, and while I wish they used more achiote for pungency and earthiness, vinegar is used so aggressively this dish will almost make you pucker before a smile slowly spreads across your face.

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