Just like the size of iPhones, or your views towards Taylor Swift, Dallas seems to always be changing. Whether you’re back here on another business trip or recently moved to Dallas for good, there’s never a shortage of things to do. But between trips to the Dallas Zoo and trying to memorize all the local sports teams, you’ll need to eat. That’s where where we come in.
This is our guide to the best places to eat and drink in Dallas. You’ll find everything from a gold-themed French spot to Thai food in the back of a grocery store to an outdoor patio where you can spend a whole day. We’ve only scratched the surface, but this should be a great start when you’re trying to make restaurant decisions.
Update May 28th, 2020: Due to the current pandemic, many places are still closed. For a full list of places that are currently open, check out our Dallas restaurant reopenings guide.
THE NEW-ISH SPOTS EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT
With tiled floors and round banquettes, plus classic Italian food, Fachini’s feels like it’s been around forever. (It hasn’t.) You could just come here for a bit of nostalgia, but it’s the pasta that’ll make you want to come back. The classics on the menu are all great, but the 100-layer lasagna and fried angel hair cacciatore should also be on your table, along with a side of the meatballs. If you’re only in town for one meal, it should be here - just make sure you make a reservation as far in advance as you’d book a flight because they fill up quickly.
Grange Hall is part-restaurant and part-home goods store - though you’re more likely to find wine glasses that could bankrupt you than you are to find any BOGO offers. The restaurant is similarly upscale, and while it’s not cheap, it’s more accessible than the store. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the “you break it you buy it” policy. They’re only open during the day, so head here for a long lunch. The chicken soup and cheese board are great ways to start, but the Snob Sandwich is what you should focus on. It has caviar and smoked salmon, and you’ll see it in front of most of the people around you.
After eating at Perfect Union Pizza Co., you’ll be sure about two things: skateboards can be art and all pizza should taste this good. The 12 different thin crust options include toppings that you’ve probably never seen on top of a pizza, like shishito peppers, honeycrisp apples, and escarole, but they all work well together. Get a beer or a cocktail while you look through the menu and if you want something lighter, the salads are actually pretty good, too.
If you have anything that you can justify celebrating, like a birthday or keeping a plant alive for longer than a month, head to Bullion. It’s the best spot in the city for a big night out. It looks like a gilded spaceship from the outside and the interior keeps the gold theme, so it feels like somewhere you’d usually have to wear booties over your shoes to see. Get there before your reservation and start with a drink at the bar. When you sit down, you can’t go wrong with anything from their mostly French menu, but if you really want to finish with something special, get the Baked Alaska.
Commissary is a sandwich counter, butcher shop, market, coffee shop, and gelateria, so you can stop in for coffee and a pastry, and walk out with cold cuts and gelato. There’s always a line out the door during peak lunch hours, which makes sense since their food is excellent. It’s also right in the middle of Downtown, which makes it an ideal spot for a midday break, or before you check out the Dallas World Aquarium.
Inside Town Hearth there are 500 chandeliers, a yellow submarine in a fish tank, and a $75,000 Ducati, which all happen to also be on our list of “things we’d own if we were billionaires.” And while you don’t have to be on a Forbes list to eat here, you should be prepared to spend some money. Get a few appetizers, like the hamachi crudo and oysters Rockefeller, and a steak to share. If you’re lucky enough to be using your corporate card, the Battle Axe, a 90-day-aged bone-in ribeye, is a good choice.
There are a lot of Italian places opening around Dallas, but Sassetta sets itself apart in a few ways. It’s a big bright space with plenty of room for a group dinner, but still intimate enough where you could just go with one other person and have a good time. We also really like their brunch, which includes their entire regular menu plus more morning-specific dishes. And if you eat outside, you can also order from its sister restaurant Wheelhouse across the patio, so you can eat one of the best burgers in the city at the same time as some really great pizza.
In a city filled with Tex-Mex restaurants, Rafa’s is a standout. It’s been around for over 40 years, and while it doesn’t look like much from the outside, the inside is brightly painted with Mexican art and framed cactus prints everywhere. It’s the type of place you’ll head to for a low-key dinner on Saturday, end up staying for four hours, and then come right back for brunch the next day. Sit at the bar and order a margarita while you make your way through the rest of the long menu - anything you order will be good, but you can’t go wrong with the chile rellenos or carnolas.
If you’re looking for barbecue in Dallas, Lockhart Smokehouse should be your first stop. It’s a classic, counter-service place where the staff will be happy to give you a taste of anything on the menu to try it first. The standouts are the brisket and ribs, both of which are always available, though it’s worth stopping by on Wednesdays for the beef rib or Thursdays for their burnt ends. As for the sides, don’t skip the jalapeno mac and cheese or blue cheese potato salad.
There’s always a long line at Taqueria El Si Hay, and you can use that time to calculate every possible $5 order combination, before you end up getting four of the chicken tacos and an al pastor. It’s cash-only, there’s no seating (plan on either eating on the curb or in your car), and since it’s in Bishop Arts, it’s going to be a bit of a drive from central Dallas, but despite all of that, everyone you see there will tell you it’s still worth it. And if you’ve never been before, you can actually test out that math you did earlier and try every type of taco on the menu.
As one of Dallas’ nicer neighborhoods, Uptown has more than enough expensive stores and cocktail lounges full of people discussing quarterly reports and on which coast they plan to summer. But you won’t find many places like S&D Oyster Company, which is part of what makes it so great. From the red and white checkered tablecloths to the seafood-heavy menu, it feels like you’re taking a quick trip to New Orleans. If you can’t decide what to get, go with the Manager’s Sampler Platter, which includes one of almost every fried thing on the menu, or their surprisingly great burger. Whatever you end up with, make sure you save room for the lemon meringue pie.
Whether Louie’s is a bar with great pizza, or a pizzeria with great drinks doesn’t matter, because as long as they keep pairing martinis with bread covered in cheese, you’ll be happy. They’ve been serving some of the best thin-crust pizza in Dallas for over 30 years and you’ll want to start your night here or grab a bite after a long day. It’s a tough choice between the sausage and onion pizza and the pepperoni jalapeno pizza, but if you come with enough people, just get both. And then secretly order the spaghetti and giant meatballs as well, because when you’re drinking that many martinis, it’s the responsible choice.
You’ll find some of the best fried chicken and biscuits in Dallas at Bubba’s, and it’s where you should go when you need to escape for a bit. The interior looks like a 50′s diner and there’s a drive-thru for when you want to keep socialization to a minimum. Get a biscuit sandwich for breakfast, and any of the fried chicken combinations whenever it’s acceptable to eat fried chicken. And since coleslaw and mashed potatoes with gravy count as “vegetables” here, make sure you don’t skip the sides.
Javier’s is big, loud, and there will be approximately seven birthday or anniversary dinners happening around you whenever you go. Start with chips and their salsa - that you’ll want to pour on top of everything you order - then go for one of the seafood dishes, like the red snapper mojo de ajo. And while you’ll probably stick to margaritas while you eat, make sure you end your meal with a Cafe Pierre, an after-dinner coffee cocktail that’s mixed and set on fire table-side, before you hit the cigar bar.
Whether you look at your phone every minute to check on your fantasy team, or you struggle to tell the difference between the two teams playing, Angry Dog is the perfect balance. It’s a dark and divey spot in Deep Ellum with plenty of TVs that also happens to have great bar food. If you’re in town on business, don’t get dragged to another Chili’s on the corporate card and come here instead for chorizo poutine and to watch a game. Or come alone and post up at the bar, because sometimes all you need is to drink something cold, eat something greasy, and yell at grown men in leggings while surrounded by people you don’t know.
Mot Hai Ba is one of the more interesting restaurants to open in Dallas in the last decade, serving modern takes on Vietnamese food, which can mean anything from pho to wagyu beef with smoked salmon roe. It’s a good place to come with a few people and order as much of the menu as possible. Just make sure you have a reservation, this Lakewood spot is pretty small and it’s super popular.
Sandwiched between a tanning salon and a mattress store in Uptown is Yutaka, where you’ll find some of the highest quality sushi in the city. Go for one of their $15 lunch specials and sit at the sushi bar or get there early for dinner, otherwise you’ll probably wait at least 30 minutes for a table. You can order a la carte, but if you’re celebrating and want something special, call ahead for the omakase.
When you were a kid, you knew it was time for a new pair of pants when you got dressed and realized your flares stopped two inches above your ankles. In the same way, Afrah realized that a decade after opening, it had outgrown its space on Main Street. Now in a bigger location next door, this place still serves excellent Lebanese classics like shawarma, hummus, baba ganoush, and za’atar and cheese manakish. Their lunch buffet on weekdays is still packed, but worth the wait, and if you don’t have the patience for a line, head there with a group for a family-style dinner. Just make sure you don’t skip the kanafeh for dessert.
Just like when you saw The Matrix for the first time and couldn’t stop wondering whether we’re all living in a simulation, after one trip to Rise No. 1, you’ll find yourself thinking about souffle frequently and at inopportune times - like midway through a meal anywhere else. Maybe the first time you bring someone here, they’ll be skeptical - it’s not everyday that you go to an almost all-souffle restaurant - but the food and service will convert them. They serve both sweet and savory varieties and it’s a great place to bring a parent or a date, or that one friend with a new dog because their patio is pet-friendly. Just make sure you’re selective about who you tell about this spot because it’s small and they don’t take reservations.
When you want somewhere that won’t require cross-referencing a food glossary or putting on your fanciest shirt, Neighborhood Services is a good choice. The menu has everything from mussels and steak frites to schnitzel, and their burger is one of the best in the city. The dark space, along with the long wine list and plenty of beers on tap, makes it a great spot for a date, or post up at the bar alone for a burger and a generous pour.
Your friend surprised you by taking you bungee jumping at the Zero Gravity Thrill Park and now you need somewhere nearby you can sit for a while to let your heart stop racing. Go to Suze. With white tablecloths and a sleek bar, the interior can be a bit formal, but head outside to the patio and order a few of the affordable appetizers and salads - like a bowl of mussels or the pizza-like lovash.
Until someone shows up on your doorstep with a DeLorean, your options for going back in time are limited. For now, you can head to Maple and Motor. Between the old-school booths, the framed photos on the walls, and the beers and Coke bottles in coolers by the register, it’s an easy place to feel nostalgic. They serve great burgers, which you can only order pink or brown and come on a griddled bun, and a fried bologna sandwich that’s worth trying. Your toughest decision will be between a side of onion rings or the cheddar, bacon, and jalapeno tots. After you navigate that, finish with a milkshake - the ice cream is homemade.
Nalinh Market is a half-restaurant, half-grocery store in a strip mall in Irving with some of the best Thai food in the city. Try the peek gai chicken wings, the nam khao crispy rice salad with pork, and the gadoog moo fried riblets and garlic. Since it’s a bit of a drive from downtown, come here with a few people to try as much as you can. Or go by yourself, order like you’re a family of four, and take what you don’t eat to go.
Maybe your idea of fun involves spreadsheets and lists, but when you’ve made enough decisions for the day, go to Zoli’s, where all you have to answer is square or circle. And if even that’s too much, know that the thinner crust on the New York-style, round pizzas is the way to go. The Lady Marmalade - cheese pizza with soppressata marmalade - and the Christian Pescroni with double pepperoni and jalapeno pesto are two of the best, and while Brussels sprouts might not be the first thing you associate with pizza night, here they’re covered in bacon marmalade, called Lil B*stards, and are a must order.
Old Koreatown is an area in North Dallas - around I-35 and Royal Lane - that’s worth a trip from Downtown, especially for Koryo Kalbi. The a la carte options work great for a weeknight dinner, but what you really come for is the Korean barbecue. Come with a big group and be prepared to eat a lot of food. The banchan appetizers change daily and when you choose your meats, make sure you include the marinated short rib because it’s the best thing here.
The Galleria has an indoor ice skating rink, but when you’re done bumping into 30 small children or buying that pair of penguin socks you didn’t know you wanted, skip the food court and head to Mughlai. It’s around the corner and serves some incredible Northern Indian food. The service is great, and they’re happy to walk you through the menu depending on spice and flavor preferences. Come for dinner with a group of friends to try a bunch of dishes or for their lunch buffet to fuel up before a long day at the Container Store.
Like getting a haircut at the half-blind barber on your corner, there are some things you do because they’re convenient. Other things are worth going the distance for, like the Chinese food at Jeng Chi in Richardson. This place always looks like it’s about to host a party and has a menu the length of a short novel. If you get overwhelmed by all the choices, go for the soup dumplings, stir-fried chicken noodles in garlic sauce, crispy duck, and Chinese okra.
If it’s even a remotely nice day in Dallas, which isn’t a rare thing, you should head to Katy Trail Ice House. They have one of the best patios in the city and you’ll want to move in on the weekends. It’s a place where you’ll come for the cold beer and end up posting up for hours - which is when their surprisingly good food will come in handy. Get the barbecue plate or the burger, and always a side of fries.