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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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 40: Regina Margherita At Cane Rosso

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Blissful pizza pie
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.

Some version of this pizza has made it into our 100 Favorites Dishes list since it first appeared on the streets of Dallas in 2010, but while the pizza itself roughly remains the same, the circumstances of its construction have changed considerably. First owner Jay Jerrier transitioned from a humble pizza trailer to his first bricks and mortar restaurant in Deep Ellum. Then he opened two more locations in Dallas and Forth Worth. There's a third on the way.

He's hired Italian pizza makers to keep his pie top-notch and given people across DFW a place to order pizza that puts most local pies to shame.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 41: Lamb Burger at LARK

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A lamb burger so good, it challenges cow for 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.

To me burger has always meant beef. The idea that ground up cow could be replaced by chicken or turkey or any other unfortunate animal and the resultant patty still be referred to as a burger is something I've long questioned.

Until I met lamb burger, or LARK on the Park's lamb burger, specifically. One bite of this sandwich and you'll rest assured that fuzzy little lambs can keep up with beef.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 42: Carnitas Tacos at Taqueria Y Carneseria Guanajuato

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These tacos are only available on the weekend, so plan accordingly.
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.

Restaurants often have ways of letting diners know they are in for something special well before they have taken a first bite. It might be the dining room that offers a transformative environment, or that the music that's playing is especially well curated. Taqueria Y Carneseria Guanajuato lets you know your mind is about be blown with the smell of deep-fried pig.

It wafts across the street and seeps through car windows to seduce drivers as they wait at the stoplight. It punches with the force of a heavy weight fighter, delivering pangs of ravenous hunger with every blow. The carnitas at this tiny grocery will suck you in like culinary black hole if you get to close.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 43: Chicken-Fried Steak at Ellen's Southern Kitchen

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It's just so damn crunchy
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.

Unless you got to Dallas by way of Love Field, the West End is often a forgotten territory. The brick streets and sidewalks one traverses after hours of introspection at the Sixth Floor Museum are an afterthought, which is a shame because they offer more than just carriage rides and bad urban art; They're home to Ellen's Southern Kitchen.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 44: The Brisket at Pecan Lodge

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Right up front there is the best brisket you can get 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.

Pecan Lodge has really become an anchor for the Dallas barbecue scene in the past few years. You could point to all the publicity and drama surrounding their untimely move from the Dallas Farmers Market to Deep Ellum, but the real reason everyone has been talking about the place are those brisket slices front and center in the picture above.

Customers in the know always ask for the fatty cuts, cardiovascular health be damned. The fat renders down into a tender, melt-in-your-mouth consistency and adds a ton of moisture and flavor to every bite. Get a side of mac and cheese to play a backup roll and you'll living about as decadently as you can.


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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 45: Italian Combo from Carbone's

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It's a hoagie.
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.

Every time I walk into Carbone's I do so resolving to order a different sandwich. I had a bite of the chicken parm number once and it was perfection, and I love their spaghetti and meatballs so I can be reasonably assured that the meatball hoagie will be delicious.

I never do it. I've been imprinted upon by a childhood experience -- a crystal clear memory involving sitting in a car with my father, with oil-stained butcher paper in my lap catching bread crumbs, shredded lettuce and thinly shaved onions. The hoagie will always be my favorite sandwich, and finding one outside of Pennsylvania or New Jersey will always be a challenge for me.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 46: Beef Fajitas From Mariano's

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Still sizzlin' fajitas at Mariano's
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 blown away when Tex-Mex restaurants serve fajitas on a regular dinner plate. It doesn't happen that often, but it does, and they arrive still and lifeless. There is no sizzle. There is no joy.

It's almost worse when fajitas arrive on an iron plate with the same lack of gusto. Perhaps one onion in the corner bubbles from beneath a piece of steak. It does nothing to elevate the plate.

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