100 Favorite Dishes, No. 29: Short Rib Grilled Cheese at East Hampton

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Lori Bandi
You're going to need a personal day.
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.

You could argue that the grilled cheese sandwich was fine enough as originally intended: Melted cheese, buttered bread: What else do you need?

The argument starts to quiver, however, in the presence of the the beastly sandwich pictured above. The hot cheese and short rib served at East Hampton Sandwich Company is one of the messiest sandwiches you will ever have the pleasure of trying to handle. And it's worth the mess.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 30: The Charcuterie Plate at FT33

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Catherine Downes
The charcuterie plate at FT33
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.

Plenty of restaurants offer a collection of seasoned, cured and preserved meats, known collectively as charcuterie. Some of them even make it themselves -- but not too many, because the process is complicated, intricate and takes a lot of time, equipment and space. The art of charcuterie requires meat grinders, casings and obscure ingredients like pink salt.

You also need special refrigerator space held at a constant temperature and humidity or hundreds if not thousands of dollars of meat could end up a rancid moldy mess. In short: charcuterie is a pain in the ass, which is why most restaurants that want to serve the stuff opt to buy their selection from someone else.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 31: Loukoumathes at Greek Fest

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Greek Fest is coming!
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.

In just about a month, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in North Dallas will become the epicenter for the biggest Greek party of the year. For three days, thousands of people will come to eat gyros, drink lots of Fix beer and get in touch with their inner Grecians.

I've visited the festival for the last few years, and it's one of the better cultural events in Dallas. And every year I go, I finish my stay with an order sticky Loukoumathes, fresh from the oil. They're often so hot they let out a burst of steam when you bite them, filling your nose with their wonderful aroma.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 32: Pelmeni at the Russian Banya

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Catherine Downes
Pillows from heaven
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.

It's the least you can do for yourself after you've endured the Russian Banya's hotter-than-Hades oak-fueled sauna. Just minutes inside can test you sanity and your fortitude. A quick splash in the plunge pool kept at eight degrees centigrade will revive you, though. Some say these things are good for you.

This is the price you must pay for the Banya's delicious pelmeni: small dumplings floating in buttery broth and dusted with dill and served with a side of sour cream. Tighten your robe and lean over the shallow bowl they're served in. Breath in deeply. You'd go hours in the hell-box for food moments like this.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 33: Bread Pudding at Sissy's

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It's got a bit of a jiggle.
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.

It is the bread pudding to trump all bread puddings, and a pudding that's worth a trip on its own. I wrote about Sissy's bread pudding earlier this year to kick off our Happy Endings column, and I've yet to find one that comes even close.

Just as the brownie must balance between cake-y and fudge-y textures, bread pudding must balance between bread-y and custard-y textures. Too moist and it's like eating milk-soaked toast that's been under the heat lamp; too dry and it eats like a stale loaf of Wonder bread.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 34: Surfers On Acid At Local Oak

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Spam was never meant to be so delicious.
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.

One of the most exhilarating experiences you can have with food is to be truly surprised by something. Sometimes it's a fine dining experience, like when I was eating at Michel Richard's restaurant in Washington D.C. and what looked like a perfectly cooked hard boiled egg that had been surgically cleaved in half turned out to be porcelain white, egg-shaped mozzarella filled with yellow tomato for a yolk. Take that Caprese salad.

Other times I'm presented something I'm sure I'll hate, like the Texas Surfers at Local Oak, only to end up wiping the plate (or basket) clean. It's a little difficult for me to get excited when a bartender tells me about an amazing bar snack that features Spam, but there I was, looking at an empty basket and wishing I'd been served four sliders instead of three.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 35: The Burger At Boulevardier

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Cue cascading single cheek tear... This is one fine burger.
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.

The last thing I needed this weekend was a burger. I had steak and eggs for breakfast that morning and my body was plenty good on animal protein. The problem was, I really wanted to put the Boulevardier burger on my 100 Favorites List -- I'm convinced it's one of the city's best -- and I hadn't torn into one over a year. This is Dallas, the burger capital of the universe, and I had to be sure Boulevardier's offering still passed muster.

I downed one out on the patio in 39 seconds.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 36: A Rotisserie Chicken Taco at Velvet Taco

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Two tacos are better than one at Velvet Taco. (But it's hard to finish three.)
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.

There is a certain segment of taco enthusiasts who take great pleasure in spewing hatred at the gringo taco. These purists worship the double stacked tortillas of Mexico City. Cilantro and onions: always. But the globe is a very big thing and one can hardly fault an innovative cook for creative liberties -- especially when fresh and interesting ingredients are involved.

This is the way of Velvet Taco. Purists be damned, sometimes it looks as though a train wreck landed on your metal taco holder, but somehow all those ingredients resonate with each other. My favorite has always been the No. 2, a taco filled with rotisserie chicken, white queso, roast corn pico de gallo, cilantro, and a smoked poblano salsa. The chicken is roasted in a magical chicken roasting machine. It's awesome.


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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 37: Nasi Lemak at Kampong

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The nasi lemak at Kampong
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 visit to Kampong can be a little confusing. Billed as an Asian fusion restaurant, its menu is filled with noisy sushi rolls that are easily distracting. Those who are willing to focus on the Malaysian specialties on the menu, however, will be rewarded with a solid meal.

Your best bet is the nasi lemak, which is often referred to as Malaysia's national dish and will give you a window into many of the flavors and textures of the region's cooking.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 38: The Peace 'Stachio at Hypnotic Donuts

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The best cake doughnut you will find.
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 love doughnuts; I am not a morning person. I wonder if these two statments hint at some sort of subconscious self-protection mechanism in which the very tiny part of my brain, devoted to preservation and matters of well-being, realizes the very large part of my brain, devoted to gluttony and excess, will not eat a doughnut if it's anything less than fresh. Self-protection brain knows it can save itself from an extra 500 hundred calories if can just talk the hedonist brain into staying in bed till 10 a.m., and in this one small battle he almost always prevails.

Sometimes, though, I find myself up early. And when I'm up early and hungry a doughnut seems like a pretty good idea. And while I'm not too snobby from a simple glazed number from a Korean-owned doughnut shop (again, only if it's fresh) my one and only favorite doughnut lies in the case at Hypnotic Donut. They really are the best in town.

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