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The 10 Essential Dallas Restaurants | Top 10

The dining scene in Dallas is, for the most part, now fully in the midst of its post-pandemic normal. Mask mandates and capacity limits for businesses have been gone for months, and diners are returning to restaurants in full force.

As such, it’s officially time for an update of the Eater 38, a guide to the city’s essential restaurants. At these standout establishments, diners will find a wide variety of price points and cuisines, ranging from the city’s finest barbecue destinations to its excellent date night spots and everything in between.

To be clear, Dallas restaurants are still struggling. Many are understaffed, and that’s something diners should take into consideration when making their reservations. You may have to wait a little bit longer for your meal sometimes, but at each and every one of these spots, the wait is worth it.

Without further ado, use this map as a guide to reacquaint yourself with Dallas’s massive dining scene, or explore it for the very first time. Go forth, and plan to eat well, tip heavily, and mask up when you’re asked.

1. Korean Street Eats

This casual Carrollton strip mall eatery focuses on the iconic street foods of Korea, as its name might indicate. Dishes like sweet and spicy rice cake skewers, toasts loaded down with egg and avocado, or super-fresh tuna kimbap await, all at budget-friendly prices. 

2. Deli News N.Y. Style Deli Restaurant

With its towering sandwiches and comforting matzo ball soup, Deli News is a deli lover’s deli. The Reuben sandwich is packed full of pastrami and served on soft rye, and the knockwurst platter is a plate of pure comfort.

3. Zoli’s NY Pizza

Dallas’s best New York-style pizzeria branched out into Detroit-style pies during the pandemic with a pop-up called Thunderbird Pies, and these thick-crusted, cheesy pizzas became an instant hit. First-timers should keep it simple with the Budd, simply topped with tons of cheese and fresh basil, or try the famed Honey Bastard. And of course, there’s still Zoli’s thin-crust pies, topped with perfect pepperoni cups, Italian sausage, and so much more.

4. Cattleack Barbeque

Waiting in line is usually a requirement at this Dallas barbecue favorite, where the brisket is juicy and the hours are limited. Only open for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays, Cattleack’s smoked meats and traditional sides are definitely worth standing outside for a little while.

5. TJ’s Seafood Market & Grill Preston Royal

TJ’s Seafood Market has long been where landlocked Dallas turned for its fish fix — whether it’s chowing down on oysters or grabbing top-quality filets to cook at home from the market counter up front. The fish tacos here always hit the spot (especially during happy hour) as does the butter-drenched lobster roll.

6. Royal China Restaurant

For over 40 years, Royal China has won over Dallas’s notoriously fickle diners with its hand-pulled noodles, its delicate soup dumplings (xiao long bao), and its best-in-city renditions of Chinese-American classics like kung pao chicken.

7. Resident Taqueria

This East Dallas taqueria is known for its perfectly prepared proteins and seriously creative ingredient combinations. Order the smoked chicken taco, stuffed with salsa macha, crushed peanuts, and tangy pickled sofrito, or consider caramelized cauliflower that’s served with pepitas and a zippy lemon-epazote sauce.

8. Keller’s Drive-In

Skip every $10 burger in town and head to this 50-year-old, drive-in establishment for paper-thin burgers on poppy-seed buns, crispy onion rings, spoon-thick milkshakes, and the friendliest car-hops in town. Nothing here is over $5, but don’t forget to bring cash (or be prepared to withdraw from the on-site ATM).

9. CAFEMANDU – Flavors of Nepal

This Nepalese eatery in Irving is definitely worth the drive, thanks to its positively perfect momos, or dumplings. Order the steamed momos, stuffed with chicken or pork, or try a deep-fried vegan version. Regulars know to ask for extra cups of Cafemandu’s spicy, garlicky dipping sauce to slather all over the momos.

10. Jose

This Mexican eatery helmed by Eater Dallas chef of the year Anastacia Quinones is excellent for lunch, brunch, or dinner. The coconut ceviche, made with Texas redfish, makes for a refreshing starter before moving on to the creamy enchiladas Suizas, carnitas tacos, or a farro bowl, loaded with veggies like sweet potato and kale. The “tacos de tacha,” Quinones’s ever-rotating daily taco option, are also always a safe bet.

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