Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 1: Lucia

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Lori Bandi
Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

It's impossible to walk into Lucia and suppress the excitement that's been welling up inside you. If you're not sitting at the bar on any given evening, you've likely made your reservation a month in advance. That's a lot of time to sit around marking Xs in your calendar while you fantasize about tender, delicate pastas and ribbons of lardo draped over hot toast.

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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 2: Cuquita's

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Chicken burritos at the Spring Valley Road location.

Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

The greatest disservice to Dallas' culinary scene in recent memory was the closure of the original location of Cuqita's in 2008. The Henderson Avenue Mexican restaurant was open late, served great food and earned the affection of everyone with a penchant for refried beans.

While loosing the original location of a restaurant can really take the fire out of your salsa, the satellite locations remain open. Your disappointment need only last as long as it takes to drive to the outer edges of Dallas, or Garland, or Farmers Branch. As soon as you open the door and take one breath of masa-tinged air you'll feel just fine, and the food will be more than enough to keep your spirits lifted until you are safe at home again.


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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 3: Lalibela

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Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

Not many meals come to pass at Lalibela without a visit from Genet Mulugeta. If business is slow and you're an inquisitive diner, she may even linger at your table, answering questions about that phantom spice lingering in your lentils that you can't quite discern.

Business isn't always slow, though, and when things pick up Mulugeta spends most of her time in the kitchen -- which is a good thing, because you'll enjoy her cooking twice as much as her personal attention. (And you'll love her attention plenty.)

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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 4: Bolsa

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Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

For whatever reason the farm-to-table movement hasn't taken off in Dallas. Certainly the use of locally grown and produced ingredients has increased immensely in the past few years, but the practice still hasn't achieved the same density in Dallas that it has in other markets.

While the lack of restaurants that truly embrace these ideals is disappointing, it makes the few restaurants that do get on board shine all the more brightly. Bolsa has been a beacon for responsible sourcing and high-quality ingredients since opening in Oak Cliff in 2008. And at the same time it's become a dependable neighborhood restaurant.


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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 5: Crossroads Diner

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Be sure to ask for mustard
Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

You know the story by now. Chef gets tired of the late hours required by positions at Central 214, Pappas Bros. and the like, and sets out to create a restaurant of his own that's a little more conducive to raising a family. Crossroads diner is born, and suddenly the grand slam at Denny's starts to look a little beat.

Tom Fleming's Crossroads has raised the bar for diner food in Dallas, and his busy dining room proves that many diners in the area want food with some thought and care put into it -- even if it's just two eggs with toast or a simple corned beef sandwich.

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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 6: Stampede 66

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Lori Bandi
Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

When Stephan Pyles was interviewed by the Observer in 2010, he quietly alluded to an upcoming restaurant. "I would like to do an in-your-face Texas concept," he told then food critic Hanna Raskin. "Maybe it's a little Disneyland-like," he added, playing up the cartoonish intensity of the restaurant taking shape in his head.

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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 7: Teppo

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Mackerel garnished with ginger and scallions at Teppo.
Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

Teppo straddles the genres of high-quality ingredients and casual approachability like few other restaurants. You can go in and experience some of the best fish in Dallas, but you won't pay through the gills, the atmosphere is quiet and you'll find yourself relaxed.

It helps that there's often Rangers baseball on, and even though with the team flopping around like a soon-to-be tuna roll, there's still optimism (and the smell of miso) in the air.

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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 8: Mesa

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Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

While there are some who think everything worthwhile that Oak Cliff has to offer ends at the edge of the Bishop Arts District, those who push farther south are exposed to spirited sections of the neighborhood with rich and vibrant culture.

On Jefferson Boulevard, Mesa has been catering to neighborhood locals for more than two years, and if you miss this restaurant known for its Veracruz inspired cuisine, you'll be missing out on some of the best Mexican cooking in the entire city.

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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 9: Kalachandji's

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Maduko
Cast off all your meaty trangressions at Kalachandji's
Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

Kalachandji's is a restaurant located in a palace, and palatial dining isn't an everyday occurrence for those of us not born into royalty or voted to power in totally-democratic-we-swear elections. It's a humble palace -- you won't be sitting at an ornate table decorated in gold leaf or riding a bejeweled elephant to get back to your car -- but it's a palace nonetheless, which makes eating here interesting before you walk through the door.

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Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 10: La Banqueta

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Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

It's all in the crispness. A tripas taco with soggy meat served in soft, warm corn tortilla can be a little hard to get down. Take those same braised intestines and griddle them until they're as crisp as a tortilla chip, though, and you'll be challenged to order fewer than two.

It's not just offal that benefits from extended contact from a hot and well-greased grill. The suadero, pastor and other meats should all be ordered extra crispy, which also means extra addictive. Visit La Banqueta once and your next seven lunches will be planned.

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