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

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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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Ranking Dallas' Best Neighborhoods for Restaurants

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Catherine Downes
Stock and Barrel helps make Oak Cliff Dallas' best dining neighborhood.
Because we live in a culture where everything has to measure up to something else, we should probably pit Dallas' neighborhoods against one another as a function of their gustatory offerings. Also, it's useful: Say you're out and about on an evening Uber is using its dynamic-pricing model, and you want to make that single trip count. Choosing a neighborhood that offers the best possible restaurants yields the highest probability for an enjoyable evening.

You see? It's math. So here are the neighborhoods of Dallas ranked by the restaurant options you'll find within them. Choose wisely.

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The Five Best DFW Stout Beers to Warm You This Winter

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Scott Reitz
Dallas' most famous stout has some serious competition
After Dallas' usual two weeks of beautiful fall weather the cold arrived with a vengeance and we skipped straight to an actual snowfall, in November. This means it's time to do away with those wimpy summer beers you've been slurping on for the six straight months of Texas summer, run past the 14,000 styles of pumpkin beer as fast as possible, and put some hairs on your chest with some real manly stouts, strong enough o keep you warm in the face of yet another icepocalypse. Here, in no particular order, are the pick of your local choices.

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10 Reasons Dallas Diners Should Be Thankful

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Catherine Downes
Maybe we should rethink our holiday menus.
Does your family follow this tradition? After the table is set and a steaming turkey is placed just in front of your nose, your mother or some elder at the table makes everyone hold hands and announce what they are thankful for. At this point you've been watching football all day and are probably six beers in the hole. You're in desperate need for some solid sustenance, but your cousin Susie can't figure out if she's more thankful for the most recent season of Yo Gabba Gabba or puppies.

As trying as the process can be, with your stomach grumbling and your grandfather blaming the lumps in the gravy on Obamacare, it can be useful to take some time to reflect on the things that have made our lives worth living, especially from a epicurean perspective.That's what Thanksgiving is all about.

Forget the turkey for a second -- it's dry and mealy anyway. Here are 10 things to be thankful for in Dallas.

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The Seven Best Dallas Restaurants for Oysters

Categories: Best Of Dallas

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Blue point oysters at 20 Feet.
It's time to look on the bright side of all this gloomy, frigid weather. You can sit and pout as that blustering wind paints your cheeks pink and turns your nose into a faucet, or you can take comfort in the fact that oysters all over the country are coming into their own. Summer's no good for gulf oysters because of terrifying things like the red tide. Oysters from northern waters are mostly safe year round, but the guys like to spawn in the summer time. They're much better in the winter when they're not working so hard. All they do is sit around, eat and turn into fat, plump bivalves that are the pinnacle of oyster-eating.

So quit being a chump, grab a scarf and get out there and eat some bivalves. Whether you enjoy them with beer, dry white wine or maybe champagne, this is the time to eat them till you split.

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