The Best Restaurants in Dallas

Texas flavors are as big as the state--and its chefs bring monster-size ingenuity to the Dallas scene, summoning flavors from around the world as well as places closer to home. If you’re in the mood for barbecue, craving fare from an excellent Mexican restaurants, or want to try one of the state’s best Italian restaurants, Dallas is ready for you.

2121 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
When the Ritz-Carlton Dallas opened in 2007, it didn’t have to go far to find a star chef for its gourmet restaurant. Dubbed the father of Southwestern cuisine, and the author of notable cookbooks like The Texas Food Bible, Dean Fearing had helped earn the restaurant at the Mansion on Turtle Creek numerous awards during his two decades there—but was now up to the challenge of opening his own place. A decade-plus later, the James Beard Award–winning Fearing continues to be a favorite for its Southwestern-accented American menus crafted with regional products.
2817 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
The always-packed third outpost of the much-heralded Uchi (after Austin and Houston) continues the tradition of serving authentic, beautifully presented Japanese dishes in a simple, refined setting. The menu changes four times a year, based on the season, but always includes sushi and sashimi options, makimono hand-rolls, grilled yakimono dishes, tempura, and a six-course omokase tasting. It’s all crafted with products that are sustainably and responsibly harvested, from the fresh produce from local farms to the seafood that’s flown in daily from the Tsukiji and Fukuoka fish markets in Japan. A full vegetarian menu is also available (including for the omokase), as are Sake Social happy hours. Snag a seat at the counter for a front-row view of all the kitchen action.
408 W Eighth St #101, Dallas, TX 75208, USA
With its tiny, intimate location (inside a 1920s-era former home) and all the accolades (including a James Beard semifinalist nod for Best Chef, Southwest), this Bishop Arts District spot remains one of the harder reservations to snag in town—but it’s well-worth it to keep trying. When you do make it in, you’ll be treated to chef/owner David Uygur’s seasonal Italian-inspired menus, which might include crostini topped with a Calabrian chili and bacon pâté, risotto with celery root and foie gras, or duck leg confit served with polenta, topped off with olive oil cake with prune jam and burnt-cinnamon gelato. The meats are house-cured, the pasta homemade, the ingredients local, and—with Uygur’s wife overseeing the dining room—the atmosphere full of charm, all of which has helped make this a favorite for date nights, special occasions, and foodie splurges.
400 West Davis Street
Eating here might get a little messy, but it’s worth it. One of Dallas’s favorite BBQ spots smokes its meats over Texas post oak, serves them wrapped in butcher paper, and pairs them with cold draft brews—and the crowds go wild. Savor classics like brisket, sausage, pork chops, and ribs, plus the specialty Kreuz Market sausage (this is the only place in town that stocks it), all sliced to order, fresh off the smoker, and served by the half- and full-pound, so it’s easy to mix and match. The so-called TX Vegetarian section cheekily lists chicken and turkey, but there are several sides for noncarnivores, including mac-and-cheese, potato salad, and two kinds of slaw. The atmosphere is casual—think counter service and shared tables—but the clientele always leaves happy (and slightly perfumed by the smoker).
1601 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75202, USA
While it’s tough to verify El Fenix’s claim that this was one of the forefathers of Tex-Mex, there’s no denying that the homegrown chain is as much a part of culinary history as it is of Dallas’s. Started in 1916 by Mexican-immigrant Mike Martinez (and renamed El Fenix in 1918, as a nod to the phoenix, a symbol of rebirth), the original café first served standard American fare, then slowly began introducing more “exotic” Mexican flavors, then combination platters that featured both cuisines—thus was born Tex-Mex, El Fenix style. Generations of Dallasites have grown up with signature dishes like the homemade chile con queso dip, cheese or sour cream chicken enchiladas, and legendary tortilla soup, which is loaded up with crispy tortilla strips and chunks of cheese and avocado. As at the beginning, you’ll find American dishes with a Mexican twist, too, like cheeseburgers topped with Monterey Jack cheese, pico de gallo, and guacamole. The combination platters are particularly popular, as are the lunch specials. Though there are now over 20 locations all over the Metroplex, the downtown and North Dallas spots are notable for their long histories and old-school vibe—and for the real feeling you get that many of your fellow diners have been El Fenix regulars their whole lives. You might even spot a famous face among them, as the casual restaurants are a popular stop for visiting celebs, musicians, and pro athletes; Mick Jagger was even known to pop in when he was dating Dallas girl Jerry Hall.
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX 75219, USA
Since 1980, when well-heeled Dallasites have needed a restaurant for a special family occasion, power breakfast, proposal, or impressive first date, they’ve come to The Mansion. One of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants—which, over the years, has been the domain of several noted chefs, including Dean Fearing—is set in the 1925 private home that forms the centerpiece of the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel, so the elegant rooms are filled with original details (like oak paneling, inlaid ceilings, and stained glass) and antique furnishings, including a 16th-century stone mantel. The menus are equally refined, while still approachable and creative to keep up with the city’s ever-evolving and elevating food scene. Breakfast and brunch are popular for dishes like the smoked brisket tacos and hazelnut brioche French toast, while lunch favorites include the signature tortilla soup, prime burger with kale, bacon aioli, and truffle fries, and generous salads. Dinner’s fine-dining menus change with the season but may include treats like Wagyu beef tartare or lobster ravioli; opt for the five-course chef’s tasting menu for a handpicked sampling of the current standouts. Vegetarian options are also available, as is an expertly curated wine list that takes you around the globe. If the weather is good, enjoy brunch, drinks, or a more casual meal on the terrace, around the fireplace, or under the lantern-adorned oaks.
3008 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
For a modern Texas steakhouse experience done right, look no further than this perennial upscale favorite, opened in 1999 by noted restaurateur Phil Romano. The main attractions are the meats, including top-of-the-line prime steaks, chops, and Japanese Wagyu, but there’s also quality seafood, exceptional sides and appetizers, handcrafted sushi, and a wine list packed with 500 well-selected labels. Go big with caviar, oysters Rockefeller, Spanish octopus, or a foie gras–topped deviled egg for a starter, and a prime-aged porterhouse or surf-and-turf main course—accented by shareables like mac-and-cheese, duck confit potatoes, and chili-dusted broccolini. There’s also a seafood selection with classics like lobster and scallops, and a full sushi menu of platters and rolls; one of the latter—crafted with shrimp tempura, avocado, cream cheese, and eel sauce—is named for the local Park Cities area. Desserts are equally creative, so save room for the S’mores Baked Alaska or the Captain Doughnut, made with Cap’n Crunch, bourbon maple syrup, and “cereal milk” ice cream. In addition to its elevated cuisine and wine list, Nick & Sam’s is known for its sleek, art-lined setting, sophisticated bar scene, and friendly service—though the types of cars filling the valet lot are a quick reminder that this is also the kind of place where high rollers and pro athletes come to easily drop thousands on dinner.
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