When holidays come, so do out-of-town guests. At some point during their visit, you will inevitably be eating out. Choosing the right restaurant is key. (And it's a topic that we have explored in the past.)
Ideally, you want a restaurant or a cuisine that's unique to Dallas or that we do well. You want something you can show off, with good atmosphere, service, and food. For inspiration, we turn to our Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas, where we've compiled a list of best places in town.
From that list, we've found 12 great places to take out-of-towners:
Unique restaurant in downtown Dallas lets you dine out and do a good thing. This charitable restaurant concept serves as a culinary training facility for disadvantaged youth. But happily, it's also a place to get a very good meal, with a staff of experienced chefs led by founder Chad Houser. Menu follows the seasons, with dishes such as root vegetable salad with watercress, and short rib with polenta and fried onions. Check out the collection of decorative plates with themes donated by staff members and local celebrities.
Small Dallas chain specializing in authentic Neapolitan-style pizza is one of a limited number of restaurants across the country certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Its pizzas meet strict requirements that follow the tradition of the art of Neapolitan pizza making. That's surely worth something, but more importantly, the food is just good. The crust, made with sea salt, water, yeast, and 00 imported flour (which Saveur calls "the best flour for making pizza"), has a toasty flavor. Mozzarella is made in-house. And pizza is inherently made to be shared.
Home cooking has long been one of Dallas' indigenous cuisines, and Celebration, in business since 1971, is one of the last specimens still standing. The menu includes home-cooking classics such as fried chicken, pot roast, and meatloaf, along with lighter items such as broiled salmon and a vegetable plate. Portions are generous, and it's served family-style, so you can get seconds. Atmosphere is charming thanks to the restaurant's location in a series of former houses.
El Corazon de Tejas
Any list like this has to have a Tex-Mex place, and the Cuellar family has served Mexican food with a Texas accent at the corner of Beckley and Davis since 1955. Previously a branch of El Chico's, it was rebranded in 2013, with an update of the menu and a spiffy renovation of the space. The menu has all your Tex-Mex classics but also features new dishes, including beef tongue, fajitas, and chicken enchiladas topped with mole sauce.
Bishop Arts is an optimal spot to take company, with its darling vintage brick buildings and cozy streets. You can nosh, then walk around and peer into its collection of shops. Among the many restaurants from which to choose, Hattie's has a civilizing, gentlemanly quality, with white tablecloths and minimal yet warm décor. The cuisine is "low country" Southern comfort food, with seafood, grits, fried green tomatoes, and the signature prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts. And it has a noteworthy brunch.
Kalachandji's could make every top 10 list ever created: best vegetarian, best patio, best buffet, best Indian fusion, best urban oasis — take your pick. Its buffet includes rice, steamed veggies, curry, vegetable fritters, entrées such as lasagna and jambalaya, and the incomparable house-baked cinnamon-swirl bread. That it's an incredible bargain at $8.95 for lunch and $9.95 at dinner is almost incidental. Even if it didn't have all that going for it, where else are you going to find a restaurant at a Krishna temple?
Any list of essential dining experiences in Dallas requires a steakhouse. We have a ton; it's what we do. But Knife, the hotel restaurant starring celebrity chef and Top Chef contestant John Tesar, does the steakhouse with a modern twist. That means unusual cuts of meat, steak sold by the inch, and a custom-built aging room where steaks are aged for 240 days. Vegetable side dishes and salads are highly creative. Many of the steak options come in configurations meant to be shared, perfect for a group.
Kuby's Sausage House
Half Old World delicatessen and half meat market — you can get wild game processed here — Kuby's expresses the Eastern European heritage that first helped settle North Texas. It's part of our roots. It's also very Park Cities. Many locals make a tradition of eating here, and it's a good spot to hit for breakfast. The menu of authentic German food includes sandwiches and sausage plates with German-style potato salad and red cabbage.
Mi Lindo Oaxaca
Taquerias are something we have in Dallas that they don't have everywhere else. This is potentially an opportunity to show your guests something new. Mi Lindo is the rare taqueria with an Oaxacan-themed menu, serving unique dishes such as memelitas (corn discs topped with refried black beans) and the "Mexican pizza" called tlayuda, with house-made corn tortillas packed with refried black beans, lettuce, tomato, avocado, queso Oaxaca, and choice of meat, be it sliced beef rib or roasted chapulines (grasshoppers). Speaking of something new.
Off Site Kitchen
The burger trend has been usurped by chicken as of late, but Dallas still has a reputation as a burger town, with no shortage of options. A good standard bearer for its category is OSK, the creation of chef Nick Badovinus, now residing in new digs at Trinity Groves. There are still a half dozen burgers (including the winner in the 2015 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards), plus sandwiches, tacos, fried chicken, and cheese fries. It's a step up from its early days as a stand, with actual seats and a dining room. Afterwards, you can stroll around Trinity Groves.
There's been lots of national attention on Texas-style barbecue, and probably our most famous BBQ place is Pecan Lodge. Which frequently has waiting lines. Millennials love to wait in line — but parents don't. That's why Slow Bone is a good call. The Dallas Design District spot starring pitmaster Jeffery Hobbs serves smoked meats, noteworthy fried chicken, and creative veggie sides, such as pea salad and sweet potato hash, that are better than what you ordinarily find at a BBQ joint.
Chef Stephan Pyles knows how to play the Texas card and Stampede 66 is his homage, with kitschy classics such as Frito pie in a small foil Frito bag. The menu has a broad range, from a $42 rib-eye to $4 tacos in options such as fried oyster and brisket. He also reprises the prickly pear margarita once served at Pyles' legendary Star Canyon (but for $18, ouch). It's a space filled with cool Texana memorabilia that you can talk about if the conversation slows down.