Fried Pickles: A Vegetarian's Solace in a Meat-Sodden City

Categories: Eating Local
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Dallas, I've been feeling a little bit left out. You've been great to me so far: The bars are plentiful; my rent is cheap; my boss sent me on assignment to a strip club. Everything should be awesome, right? 

Not quite. 

Frankly, eating's been a little bit of a problem. Here's the thing about dining in Dallas, in case you didn't know: You guys like meat. Tacos al pastor, brisket, burgers -- for somebody who's enthused about cow, it seems there's no shortage of cheap, delicious dining options. But I stopped eating meat a really long time ago, and sometimes, honestly, lunchtime's a bit of a struggle here. I have one super sweet coworker who always invites me to Chick-fil-A or Maple & Motor, then stops suddenly and gets really embarrassed, as though he's just remembered I've had a death in the family: "Hey, did you want to come with us to grab some -- oh, I forgot. I'm so sorry." 

It's not that I feel deprived or anything. Spiral Diner is amazing, Cosmic Café is tasty and really close to the office, and I've heard there are a few other great vegetarian-friendly spots I haven't even hit up yet. But it's still been an adjustment. I was feeling a little down about the whole thing the other day, and then I suddenly remembered two glorious words: fried pickles. Vegetarian. Delicious. Patently unhealthy. Everything I've been craving. I rounded up some other people from the office, and we headed out on a fact-finding expedition: Where's the best place to find fried pickles in Dallas?

Almost immediately, we got lazy and decided to go to three places, in three different parts of town. Fried pickles, they're a little tough on the digestive system, you know? Also, when I asked on Twitter and Facebook where I should go for the best ones, numerous people told me to hit Square Burger in McKinney. That's ridiculous, dudes. I'm not driving 40 minutes for a fried pickle unless it also sings to me, does my taxes and tells me I'm pretty. We decided to hit Jake's in Uptown, Snuffers in Lower Greenville, and Twisted Root in Deep Ellum. I took some pre-emptive Pepto Bismol, and we set out.

1. Jake's

We ordered both fried pickle chips and mozzarella cheese wedges here, in a bid to feel horribly unwell as quickly as possible. Both of them came to the table remarkably, almost unsettlingly uniform in shape, size and color. But as beautiful as they looked, the pickles tasted straight out of the jar, the batter was nothing to write home about, and the ranch dressing tasted like Hidden Valley. Also, I think they were playing Hootie and the Blowfish. I want to make a joke about how these pickles' beauty and boringness are a metaphor for all of Uptown, but it's too early for me to judge that yet. I'm gonna make it anyway, though: These pickles were boring! Just like Uptown!

2. Snuffers

Why are the tables so sticky here? I had to pry my notepad off the wood with both hands when it was time to go. Also, the whole place smells faintly like kitty litter. Not that I give a shit, because these pickles were amazing. We ordered a batch, plus some cheese fries with chives and jalapenos, and then proceeded to hardly speak to each other for the next 10 minutes. The pickle slices were really thick and tasted fresh, and the batter was less greasy, more bready, and didn't fall apart at all. Our service was kinda surly, but in a good-natured way. "What kind of beer do you have?" one of our party inquired. "What kind of beer do you want?" the waitress replied, sounding sort of world-weary and philosophical.

At some point, someone said something in terribly bad taste (probably me), and we all looked around to make sure the mom and kids sitting next to us weren't offended. They didn't seem to hear. "Nobody's listening!" somebody chirped cheerfully. "We're in Snuffers!" I would go back there right now for some more damn pickles, I'll tell you that much.

3. Twisted Root

At this point, I was starting to seriously doubt I could cram any more fried food in my gullet. But people had spoken highly of Angry Dog's pickles, so we headed over there. Then they were closed for a private party (it looked lame), so we opted for Twisted Root, and, unfortunately, the worst fried pickle experience yet. The good side: The ranch was excellent, zingy and homemade-tasting. But the pickles were unbearably salty. Like, inedibly salty. "These taste unloved," a coworker said mournfully.

At this point, I was feeling rather pukey, so I did the only reasonable thing and ordered an Oreo milkshake. It was excellent. If this were a milkshake review, Twisted Root would get nothing but love from me. Maybe next time we should try the pickles earlier in the day. It was nearly 10 p.m., and the batter tasted a bit like it had been hanging around since lunchtime.

So: Did we miss any really amazing ones? As I said, I'm not driving an hour for fried pickles.  But feel free leave me some more suggestions in the comments, and I can try to get to them, as part of an ongoing series that I'll call "Holy shit, my stomach is killing me and I can't understand why."

Location Info

Jake's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers

6606 Skillman St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Snuffer's

3526 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Twisted Root Burger Co.

5609 Smu Blvd., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
34 comments
Drew
Drew

Free Man Cafe in Deep Ellum...best in town

469
469

lucky's on oak lawn

TheMapman
TheMapman

Angry Dog gets my vote.  Haven't tried Hunky's though.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

A vegetarian food writer, in Texas.

Fail.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Doesn't Maple & Motor have a grilled cheese sammich?Alligator Cafe for pickles.

sunnyB
sunnyB

Pluckers! I worked there years ago, back when I still ate meat, and in my veg-only days still crave their breakfast-cereal-breaded spears with ranch. Yum!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Kenny's Burger Joint in Frisco.

Until they get that wall built around Dallas city limits you're free to blast up the tollway.

DallasLady
DallasLady

Alligator Cafe on Live Oak. Close to your office. Big enough to share. MMMMMMM

V A V
V A V

Love Lakewoods 1st&10 for strong drinks and decent bar food... But the pickles are always to salty and the bater always falls off. But you get your money's worth I guess.. Pluckers are good!!!! Great article!

foodbitch
foodbitch

Try out Plucker's and Smashburger. The bathrooms there have scared me away from eating anything at Snuffer's.

okc
okc

Twin Peaks has the absolte best fried pickles!

Champ...Champ
Champ...Champ

No one has suggested Razoo's..I always thought their fried pickles were the shiznit with the spicy ranch dip

Guest
Guest

Alligator Cafe

Get a life
Get a life

If you think uptown is boring you must have no social life.

Xtina Lam
Xtina Lam

Dodie's has a delicious fried artichoke! 

matt
matt

Lakewood's 1st and 10 fried pickles are awesome. Huge ass basket of salty goodness

Borborygmus
Borborygmus

Lone Star Park, in the simulcast building. Chef Jake is from Louisiana and knows his sodium and ranch mix ratio!

Missmaei
Missmaei

worth the wait, the Tower Bldg at the TX State Fair

joeat
joeat

All I can tell you is Snuffer's are uneatable.  Period.  Sort of like their white wine is undrinkable.

Brandon
Brandon

You should have made the drive and you still can.  A tempura fried pickle spear comes with every burger (we have salmon, tuna and turkey if you eat poultry or seafood).  Though  not on the menu you can request them as an appetizer.  McKinney's mayor pro tem's office is 2 doors down from Square Burger (he is a CPA and can do your taxes), they can sing to you at the McKinney Performing Arts Center across the street, and we promise to tell you that you are beautiful!

twinwillow
twinwillow

The first fried pickle chips I can remember eating was at Nate's (Cajun) Seafood in Addison. They've been serving fried pickle chips for at least 25 years that I can remember.

Dallas Foodie
Dallas Foodie

This depends on if your favorite fried pickle is a round slice, quarter spear, or half spear, and if you like light or heavy batter? For me, it has to be a thin round slice in light batter. If the pickle falls out of a battered shell still in tact—the batter is too thick. And it has to come with Ranch dressing that is liquidy and homemade. These things considered, there was a time when I thought Gator's in West End had the best fried pickles, but I haven't been in too long to know anymore. I know I have found amazing fried pickles elsewhere, but unfortunately I can't remember where now. :-(

Noah W. Bailey
Noah W. Bailey

First of all, tacos al pastor are made with pork. Although I'm sure the hippies at Spiral Diner make a version with quinoa or some such shit.

That being said, you will find some pretty good pickles at Lakewood 1st and 10. And some super badass ones at the Alligator Cafe on Live Oak. And should you ever hire a sherpa and brave the Northlands, Love and War in Texas in Plano has some pretty good pickles, too.

Starsdfw
Starsdfw

Pluckers' are nice, but spears not chips.  Not sure where you have moved from, but if we expand to fried jalapenos, Ozona, No Frills Grill, Boomer Jacks will blanket the DFW area.

Always best to take these matters in your own hands and just fry some pickles/jalapenos!

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

Don't fear. Not a food writer. Just a staff writer who occasionally eats food, and on this occasion was moved to write about it. Thanks for the warm welcome, though! 

Nick R.
Nick R.

Didn't know Smash had fried pickles. [runs to Smashburger]

Noah W. Bailey
Noah W. Bailey

What kind of person orders white wine at Snuffer's?

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

Woah there, Brandon. I said "pretty." Let's not get unrealistic here. But thanks for the lovely invite. 

cp
cp

Quit shilling for southern OK.

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