With 2017 here, it's time to shake things up. Step off the beaten path and try something new. We're here with a list we hope will help you in that pursuit. These restaurants serve global or international food that's unique and proficiently executed. If you're looking for culinary thrills, these are the newest and/or best places to find it:
Joyce & Gigi's
Peruvian restaurant owned and operated by mother and daughter has it all: good food, cozy atmosphere, and servers that are warm and attentive. Classic items include the empanada trio, seafood risotto, and the croquets. They also offer nightly specials such as paella done South American style with beef and pork; fresh palmito salad; or tomato soup with smoked paprika. Don't skip desserts such as chocolate cheesecake with dark cherry sauce or crispy buñuelos made with yuca and cheese.
Little Havana Cafe
New restaurant in Oak Cliff is doing a menu of Cuban food including beans and rice (both red beans and black), and ropa vieja, aka beef stew. In addition to the regular menu, there are daily specials such as roasted whole fish and garbanzo bean soup. A full bar serves Cuban cocktails — think piña coladas and mojitos, including a spicier version called the Creole mojito. Be sure to visit the companion gift shop and cigar store.
Unique Indian restaurant serves traditional Indian specialties such as lentil stew and biryani, the comforting rice dish. The menu covers regions all over India, such as Kerala and Tamil. The setting is upscale and the menu is entirely vegetarian, with many options that are vegan, too. Like most Indian restaurants, Malgudi does a lunch buffet, but they do it every day, not just weekdays, with an especially bountiful version they roll out on Friday through Sunday. But Malgudi does a buffet for breakfast, as well, from 9 to 10:30 am, with pancakes, idly, vada, pongal, ragi kichadi, aloo bhaji, kesari, dosas, and fresh juices.
Dallas' acclaimed Mexican restaurant from Olga and Raul Reyes steps it up with their second branch in Grapevine. The menu features dishes from the Veracruz region of Mexico, plus star items such as mole with chicken leg and cochinita pibil, all made from family recipes. Seafood is well represented with snapper Veracruz, lobster enchiladas, and shrimp ceviche. For Grapevine, they've added mainstream items including tacos and fajitas, and a special menu of tequila drinks. It's worth the drive just to see the interior, with metal sculptures and woodwork, which Raul built nearly all himself.
Monkey King Carrollton
Deep Ellum's favorite noodle joint goes to the 'burbs of Carrollton with its menu of soups, noodles, and dumplings, in a spacious location that was once an autobody shop. There's cucumber salad and seasonal stir-fries such as the one combining mushrooms and shishito peppers. The Carrollton outlet is also serving the treats being made at its Deep Ellum Banana Stand dessert shop, including pineapple tarts and precise little almond cookies.
Small, authentic Vietnamese restaurant owned by the Pham family has noodles, soups, banh mi sandwiches on crisp crusty bread, and plates such as stir-fried beef with green vegetables. They do an exceptional rendition of banh xeo, the crepe dish where you tear off pieces of the crepe and wrap it around vegetables, bean sprouts, and herbs, and make your own little rolls. There are plenty of vegetarian options, and the restaurant also has snacks and trinkets for sale.
Nazca Kitchen serves South American dishes, roasted chicken, and ceviche. The roasted chicken is marinated for 24 hours, then slow-roasted and flame-grilled with an aji pepper sauce. There's also house-made grilled chorizo link over a corn husk with caramelized onions, scrambled eggs, and breakfast potatoes. It's one of the best places to get yuca fries, nice and crispy, and the coffee and espresso drinks are fine. It's also not a bad place to get a burger or tacos. A second branch is opening in the West Village in March.
Small, authentic Mexican restaurant serves tortas, tacos, gorditas, sopes, quesadillas, chilaquiles, huaraches, and more. The tortillas have a satisfying texture, and fillings such as spicy shredded chicken tinga are spot-on. Get the pambazo sandwich, filled with potatoes and chorizo, and dipped in a savory sauce made from the guajillo pepper. You don't have to search far, as there are three locations around Dallas, at 3701 W. Northwest Hwy., 7091 Holy Hill, and 3114 Saturn Rd. in Garland.
Zaguan World Cafe
Bright and cheery Latin bakery and cafe on Oak Lawn has great coffee, pastries, and an impressive array of Venezuelan dishes. The arroz con pollo is a bargain at $10, with its combination of rice, chicken, peas, carrots, and corn, served with a side of fried plantains. But the arepas are the must-get dish. These savory corn turnovers can be filled with beef and cheese or chicken and cheese, then cooked on the grill until they're melting and warm. The dessert case, filled with cookies and other sweets, is impossible to resist.
New restaurant in Deep Ellum has one of the best versions of Middle Eastern cuisine: Lebanese. Novel dishes include upside-down lamb pilaf; a kafta "skillet" with kafta, tomato, potato, and onion; and a grilled-chicken brochette marinated in Lebanese spices served with fries, house garlic cream, and pickles. There's a hummus trio using unexpected ingredients such as beet, edamame, and white bean; wraps, including one with falafel; and even a burger topped with a fried egg. All good stuff.