DTX Best of 2013
Top eats

The 10 best restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth

The 10 best restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth

Lamb chop at Fearing's Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Chef Dean Fearing makes food we want to eat, like this honey-thyme-glazed lamb chop on parsley root puree with potato fries, cheese pierogi on braised lamb choucroute, and fresh shaved black truffles. Fearing's Restaurant/Facebook
Interior of Fearing's Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
The kitchen opens to the dining room at Fearing's, so diners can watch where the magic happens. Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Pizza at Cane Rosso restaurant in Dallas
Many a restaurateur has been worn down by our climate of mediocrity, but Jay Jerrier just keeps making fantastic pizza at Cane Rosso. Cane Rosso/Facebook
Lucia restaurant in Bishop Arts District in Dallas
At Lucia, Chef David Uygur oversees a kitchen that makes everything from scratch, from salumi to pasta. Photo courtesy of Lucia
Chef Lanny Lancarte of Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana in Fort Worth
Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana in Fort Worth has been years ahead on trends such as sous vide, liquid nitrogen and vegetarianism, thanks to chef-owner Lanny Lancarte II. Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana/Facebook
Mesa Dallas
The menu at Mesa in Oak Cliff features authentic Mexican in the style of Alvarado, Veracruz, the hometown of owners Olga and Raul Reyes. Photo courtesy of Mesa Dallas
A Hot Mess at Pecan Lodge in the Dallas Farmers Market
A Hot Mess — sweet potato filled with barbacoa, cheese, chives and chipotle cream — has become a signature at barbecue temple Pecan Lodge in the Dallas Farmers Market. Photo by Melisa Ambers
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, steak, wine
It may be a Houston import, but Pappas Bros. Steakhouse represents the best in Dallas, due in no small part to Master Sommelier Barbara Werley and her 33,000-bottle wine list. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse/Facebook
Exterior Spiral Diner in Dallas
Spiral Diner owners Amy and James McNutt created a vegan outpost and set the stage for a thriving community. Photo by Jennifer Chininis
Chef-owner Teiichi Sakurai of Tei An restaurant
Teiichi Sakurai, chef-owner of Tei An, is one of Dallas' most exciting and important chefs. Photo courtesy of Tei An
Zodiac Room in Neiman Marcus Downtown Dallas
The Zodiac atop Neiman Marcus Downtown shares the store's quality and attention to detail. Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus
Lamb chop at Fearing's Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Interior of Fearing's Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Pizza at Cane Rosso restaurant in Dallas
Lucia restaurant in Bishop Arts District in Dallas
Chef Lanny Lancarte of Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana in Fort Worth
Mesa Dallas
A Hot Mess at Pecan Lodge in the Dallas Farmers Market
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, steak, wine
Exterior Spiral Diner in Dallas
Chef-owner Teiichi Sakurai of Tei An restaurant
Zodiac Room in Neiman Marcus Downtown Dallas

Every day, there's a new list: best chili, best cinnamon roll, best beer on tap. These are small potatoes. For the first dining entry in our month-long Best of Everything series, we're starting big, with the 10 best restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Best being a subjective word, we qualify it thusly: Which restaurants are locally significant, changed the way we eat, uphold a standard of excellence, or offer something you can't get anywhere else? In alphabetical order, these are our 10.

Cane Rosso
The Deep Ellum pizzeria makes pizza in true Neapolitan style, with flavorful crusts and the highest quality toppings. By doing so, it elevates pizza from throwaway snack to real foodstuff. But beyond that is the laudable stance of owner Jay Jerrier, best embodied by his refusal to serve ranch dressing. Many a restaurateur has been worn down by our climate of mediocrity, but Jerrier just keeps making fantastic pizza.

Fearing's
There is his considerable charisma, radiant as the sun. There's his voucher from Wolfgang Puck, who calls him "the king." There was his cameo on Top Chef Texas, where he showed his acumen at spotting flavors and flaws in technique. But all that aside, chef Dean Fearing makes food we want to eat, such as pecan-crusted mahi mahi with crispy Tabasco Ipswich clams and green tomato-sage gravy. Smoky, sultry, earthy — Dean.

Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana
Chic and chef-driven, Lanny's is Fort Worth's gastronomic temple — and the tale of a local made good. Chef-owner Lanny Lancarte II, whose great grandfather is Fort Worth Tex-Mex legend Joe T. Garcia, attended CIA, trained with Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy, then returned home. At Lanny's, he's been years ahead on trends such as sous vide, liquid nitrogen and vegetarianism. Meanwhile, on the menu today: goat cheese and butternut squash tamales with butternut mole.

Lucia
This small, special restaurant is a foodie fantasy, from its Bishop Arts location to its ditzy service to its artisanal zeal. Chef David Uygur oversees a kitchen that makes everything from scratch; wife Jennifer oversees the eclectic wine list. Lucia does Northern Italian with a big dose of Uygur, in dishes such as potato gnocchi with kabocha squash and charred radicchio. An instant favorite when it opened in late 2010, Lucia remains one of Dallas' toughest reservations to get.

Mesa
Dallas expands beyond Tex-Mex with this warm, elegant Oak Cliff spot from Olga and Raul Reyes and their charming daughter Jaret. The menu features authentic Mexican in the style of their hometown Alvarado, Veracruz, with winning seafood such as lobster enchiladas with jasmine rice and avocado stuffed with crab, mango and pico de gallo. Enmoladas are a signature, with house-made tortillas dipped in mole — simple yet superb, paired with a novel cocktail such as the sweet horchata with rum.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
If we're known for anything — other than home cooking and Tex-Mex, that is — it's steakhouses. Yet nearly all of them are chains. (We're known for chains too.) The steakhouse that comes closest to perfection is Pappas Bros. True, it's Houston-based; but the Dallas Pappas has Master Sommelier Barbara Werley and a 33,000-bottle wine list. Not to mention a dry-aging room, a big-city milieu and very rare filets.

Pecan Lodge
When Diane and Justin Fourton opened Pecan Lodge at the Dallas Farmers Market, they saved us from having to sheepishly send people to Central Texas to find great barbecue. They saved us from the same old BBQ too, with their shaggy brisket, crisp burnt ends and the gourmet sweet potato concoction they call A Hot Mess. Finally, they kind of saved the market. Just check out the line wrapped around Shed 2 every weekend.

Spiral Diner
Spiral Diner's opening in Fort Worth in 2002 felt as exotic as an ocean breeze. Trail-blazing owners Amy and James McNutt created a vegan outpost and set the stage for a thriving community, as well as an audience for a second branch that opened in Oak Cliff in 2008. The menu's modest quality is easy to underestimate. That's until you have the jerk "chicken" sandwich with grilled pineapple and brownie à la mode for dessert, and you can't quite believe you're in Dallas, Texas.

Tei An
Restful oasis Tei An serves cool, refreshing soba noodles made in house — the only place in Dallas to do that, and one of the few places in the United States. If you're ready to climb the next step, you order the omakase. Chef-owner Teiichi "Teach" Sakurai takes you on a creative culinary journey, improvising with whatever's fresh in the house: uni risotto, pickled fluke, tuna sashimi topped with a pinch of caviar. You can't lose with one of Dallas' most exciting and important chefs.

The Zodiac
This classy canteen atop Neiman Marcus Downtown shares the store's quality and attention to detail, with impeccable salads, sandwiches and ladies lunch fare. The historical significance of Neiman Marcus to Dallas plays a role in the Zodiac's greatness. But so do its puffy popovers served with strawberry butter and its complimentary cup of consomme — its preservation of a genteel, slightly Southern civility that's increasingly hard to find.