Dallas' 10 Best Burgers

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Lori Bandi
We're only getting started.
There are so many burger options in Dallas you could spend half a year working your way through them. The problem is, most of them are forgettable, and many are downright bad. Taking that first bite into a perfect burger can be a transcendent experience, but first you have to find a kitchen that's capable. And even then there's luck involved. Restaurants that turn out burger salvation one day can plate up a dud the next. Consistency is key.

Here are the 10 restaurants most likely to serve up burger nirvana, based on my past four years of intensive burger consumption, and with some help from Observer burger correspondent Nick Rallo. If you're craving bliss on a bun, you can't go wrong with these.

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Dallas' Five Best Crispy Tacos

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Scott Reitz
Crispy pockets of joy at E-Bar.
I've always enjoyed crispy tacos, but I've been obsessed since I devoured that trio of perfect specimens out on the patio at Luna Cocina. Since then, I've been chipping away at Tex-Mex menus all over Dallas, looking for crispy tacos with flavorful fillings and shells with a satisfying crunch.

My meals weren't always beautiful. Some taco shells had a tough, leathery quality while others were filled with oil. Many weren't printed on the menu, but I often found that if you ask, just about any Tex-Mex restaurant will prepare them if you call out the right name. Try old-fashioned tacos, fried tacos or tacos dorados: One of these should resonate with your server, and when it does you can get started on your own crispy taco adventure.

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Ten Dallas Restaurants You Should Be Eating at Right Now: Winter 2015 Edition

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Kathy Tran
Proof + Pantry is as much of a cocktail bar as it is a restaurant.
The weather is awful again, but cloudy days and cold air give us an excuse to soothe ourselves with the same foods we swore we put down with New Year's resolutions. Hearty, rich cooking is the stuff we crave, and we should indulge in it while we can. Spring is a lot closer than you think, and a whole slew of restaurant openings are expected with warmer weather. Visit your old favorites while you can, because you'll soon be distracted.

Actually, a few new restaurants have already started to creep their way into this list. Here's where to eat in Dallas, now:

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Five Best Tortilla Soups in Dallas

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Scott Reitz
The tortilla soup at the Green Door is hearty and rich.
If it weren't the middle of January, I'd be completely souped out. I never thought I'd say such a thing, but for the past week or so I've been slurping tortilla soup nearly every day for lunch, sometimes at more than one restaurant. Now, I just want to feast on something extra chewy like a skirt steak, or maybe a hoagie with a good, sturdy roll. I want to feel like I've digested something substantial.

The bowl pictured above is what kicked off the binge. I was at the Farmers Market one early afternoon, and it was just above freezing. The sky was gray and the wind found its way into every crack of every zipper, every hole of every button, making its way to the core of my soul. I wanted to warm up, so I ducked into the Green Door just because they were nearby and had heat. I stayed for the soup.

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The Dallas Dish of the Year: Pig's Head Carnitas at CBD Provisions

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Catherine Downes
The dish you saw more than any other this year.

There could be only one. Many new delicious plates graced the Dallas dining scene this past year, but none of them were talked about as much at the pig's head carnitas served at CBD Provisions. No dish was posted with more exclamation points and stressed but joyous emoji faces, and no dish was captured and filtered through the eyes of Instagram more often. The pig's face was just short of becoming a Dallas food-themed meme -- everybody wanted a picture with it. Everyone wanted to show that picture off.

The chatter was obviously amplified because the dish in question was so obviously the face of animal. Its eyes are closed and in a restful state, and an ear stands up at attention. Depending on your pig's orthodontist, a tooth may protrude from its mouth. And all of this sits on a wooden board without emotion, until forks are taken in hand and the plate ceases to be a spectacle and instead becomes an amazing lunch.

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The 25 Dishes That Defined Dallas Dining in 2014

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Kathy Tran
The Peace 'Stachio at Hypnotic Donuts
Despite the near-constant stream of restaurant news, 2014 wasn't especially great for local restaurant openings. For a long stretch of summer and well into fall, the flow of actual openings and interesting, new restaurants dried to a trickle; the scene cracked and opened up like Texas clay in a drought.

Not that it was a bad time for eating. Curious diners could use the time to push further into the suburbs and mine from a collection of affordable ethnic restaurants that were often more delicious than their urban counterparts. Restaurants that had been open for a decade, some even longer, were suddenly cast in a new light. Tender little dumplings at Everest Restaurant in Irving, biryanis at Chennai, which recently moved to Richardson, kitfo at Sheba's Ethiopian Kitchen -- all dishes that might have been ignored if we'd gotten lost in dining rooms resplendent with Edison bulbs, subway tiles and reclaimed wood.
That's not to say the restaurants that did open this year should be overlooked. In fact, some new restaurants were impactful enough to significantly shape the local dining scene. Blind Butcher has changed how we look at bar food and meat, Stock and Barrel has reinvented meatloaf and Brian Luscher's Post Oak operation has turned the humble hot dog on its head. And that's all before Michael Sindoni at CBD Provisions starts slicing into a pig's head.

Here are 25 dishes that defined the year in eating. There are humble hamburgers and take-out dishes alongside pastrami sandwiches that have been repurposed as eggrolls. There's ceviche, for something lighter and brighter, and ethnic dining that spans India, Mexico, Japan, China, Ethiopia and more. What's even better is that nearly every dish is a bargain. And don't worry -- we haven't forgotten dessert.


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Nine Dark Dallas Bars Where You Can Hide from Your Family This Christmas Season

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Sara Kerens
You'll be far from your family at Ships.
It's not that you hate them. When several sects of your family hierarchy descend Griswold-style on a single-family home, it is a joyous occasion for sure. Family gatherings are rare opportunities to measure ourselves against our genetic equivalents, to note, perhaps even out loud, that in comparison to cousin Johnny, you didn't turn out that bad.

But as warm and fuzzy as things can be, a three-bedroom home filled with 25 relatives can get somewhat claustrophobic. When your uncle's Rottweiler parks beside the couch with a case of the turkey farts, or when the kids in the house commandeer the television to watch the ninth Christmas special that day, you can really use a drink or seven to take the edge off.

Get out of the house and into a bar. It's the only way to maintain that warm, joyous Christmas spirit.

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Dallas' Dish of the Year, the Runner-Up Edition: Camarone en Agua Chile at Palapas

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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The Cameron en agua chile at Palapas
When a dish at a restaurant I'm reviewing is exceptional, I'll often order it a second time, just to be sure I'm not gushing about an experience that was a temporary fluke. Beyond that, I don't typically engage in repeated dish-eating that often because I'm always looking for the next thing to write about.

And then Palapas, the Mexican seafood restaurant on Greenville, and this dish named cameron en agua chile came along. My priorities shifted. I ate the lime-cooked shrimp for a first look and I ate it twice while researching my review, once simply to satiate a craving, and then again because I had taken a new dining companion to the restaurant and she had yet to try it.

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Dallas' Best Cocktails of 2014

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Amy McCarthy
I'm Rich, until I spend all my money on this drink.
The renaissance of craft cocktails has meant some really wonderful things for those of us who enjoy fancy dranks. Infusions, foams and modern mixology techniques are all over bar menus across Dallas, bringing to an end an era of sickeningly-sweet "martinis" and boring "trendy" cocktails that never seemed to be as good as they looked.

Dallas drinkers have (finally) raised their standards, which indicates that this trend is here to stay. The proliferation of excellent cocktail bars across Dallas is one of the most encouraging things to happen in the drinking scene in a long time, but not nearly as exciting as the delicious combinations that are coming from a newly-invigorated crop of expert mixologists. If you needed a New Year's resolution, let it be to drink all 10 of this year's most impressive cocktails.

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Dallas' Best New Restaurants of 2014

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Catherine Downes
San Salvaje gathers food from an entire continent and delivers it to one spot downtown.
Another year gone, and it seems like Dallas is even harder to keep up with from a diner's perspective. Each year, restaurants open that radically sculpt our culinary landscape, bringing us new cuisines, while others reshape what we thought we knew. Leave Dallas for a year and you'd have to relearn a completely new food scene. And damn would that be fun.

Could you imagine downtown without San Salvaje? Or how about the world of steakhouses without John Tesar's Knife? In the span of 12 months, Dallas has shifted to keep itself on the national food stage.

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