For our November chapter of Where to Eat, we're taking our cues from Dallas' top foodies. We've consulted some of the city's most frequent diners, the ones who make a point to stay on top of what's new, by getting out and trying the new restaurants while they're still sizzling hot. We bow to their prowess and will put these restaurants on our must-visit list.
Maria Fernanda Whiteside Mejia: Madrina
Since opening at the Shops at Highland Park in September, Madrina, the latest restaurant from Proof + Pantry owners Misery Loves Co., has been the darling of the foodie set, including savvy serial diner Maria Fernanda Whiteside Mejia. She's a fan of chef Julio Peraza, calling his elevated Mexico City-style cuisine "terrific." Her two favorite dishes so far: enfrijolada (cilantro tortilla with duck confit, serrano chile, black bean puree, and queso fresco) and oysters with caviar in a beurre blanc sauce.
Ron Ruggless: Rodeo Goat
Gourmet burger restaurant from Shannon Wynne first debuted in Fort Worth, then expanded with a second branch in the Dallas Design District. Ruggless, ace reporter for Nations Restaurant News, likes the "kick-ass casual" atmosphere and the variety of toppings such as candied bacon and grilled peaches. He lauds the flexibility of the menu, and the way any burger concoction can be applied to a beef, turkey, or vegetarian patty. "That's thoughtful," he says.
Suzi Migdol: Ten Ramen
Sylvan Thirty boasts one of the best ramen spots around, from chef Teiichi Sakurai (Tei An). Everything about this authentic spot is designed to get you with your ramen ASAP, including an iPad ordering system and a counter-style setup where you stand to eat your soup. Photographer and Oak Cliff resident Suzi Migdol recommends it to everyone. "I crave it all the time," she says. "They recently had an excellent special, lobster miso ramen. And you should take the plunge and go for the minced-on-the-spot fresh garlic."
George Lewis: Easy Slider
Lewis, the intrepid food truck columnist for D Magazine's SideDish blog, offers the food truck perspective, singling out Easy Slider, which serves gourmet sliders using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Lewis sings praises for Easy Slider's inventive toppings. He always samples the "slider of the month," such as last month's Notorious PIG, which he says was "the best ever," with beef, bacon, shaved ham, Havarti cheese, and pear chow relish.
Nikia Summerlin: Rapscallion
Lower Greenville restaurant and Boulevardier cousin has become one of the top foodie picks, with its Southern menu created by chef Nathan Tate and cool patio lending energy to the street. Nikia Summerlin, founder of DFWOfficial, a food blog and Facebook page, says it's a great place to people watch, and it has a killer chicken. "When you go to Rapscallion, get the Long Walk to Nashville, their Nashville-style hot chicken, which is a growing trend," he says. "You can order a half or a whole bird. If you aren't big on spicy, get the Szechuan mala sauce on the side. The chicken is juicy but still has an amazing crunch."
Michael Pope: Max's Wine Dive
Houston-based wine bar chain with fried chicken has been a hit since it arrived in Uptown Dallas in 2012; a Fort Worth branch opened in 2013. Michael Pope, a benefits consultant and ardent follower of the dining scene who eats out a few times a month, likes it as a casual alternative for celebrating a special occasion, particularly because its recommended pairing is chicken with champagne. "Their fried chicken is so good, I dream about it," he says. "The greens are also great, and it's fun to start with a cheese board."
Alyson Brown: Cafe Momentum
Downtown restaurant spearheaded by chef Chad Houser just introduced a new fall menu, and uber-foodies Greg and Alyson Brown are on the case. Attend any food event in Dallas, and you'll run into this Duo of Dining. They like the toast trio, with fall flavors of kabocha butter, romesco, and burnt bread puree, as well as the smoked carrot soup, pesto Caesar, short rib pot pie, and grilled shrimp with pasta and watercress pistou — which Alyson attests was just as good for breakfast the next day. "Sarah Green and her kitchen crew continue to elevate the Cafe Momentum menu, and everyone goes home with an order of 'feel good' to go," she says.
Robert Strickland: Resident Taqueria
Lake Highlands taqueria got loads of attention when a certain celebrity server lent a hand on opening weekend — but foodies have not lost sight of the excellence of its food. Those foodies include Robert Strickland, a food photographer and barbecue fan who can hardly believe how much he likes Resident's signature caramelized cauliflower taco. "It was pretty incredible, even better than the delicious fish and beef short rib tacos," he says. "I was skeptical of it at first, but man, that taco is the king of a menu that's full of damn fine options."
Valerie Jarvie: Pakpao Thai
Pakpao is the Thai member of the Aphelia restaurant family (which also includes Oak and El Bolero). The original opened in the Design District in 2013, but it's the second branch, recently opened in the happening Preston Hollow Village, that veteran food writer Valerie Jarvie frequents. Like the original, this Pakpao has soups, noodles, fried rice, vegan dishes, and fine cocktails. Jarvie gets the Morning Glory Salad, a recipe from chef Jet Tila's grandmother, with shrimp, spinach, and cucumber relish.
Porttia Portis: Ida Claire
Southern restaurant from the folks who own Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, and Twin Peaks brings a down-home touch to Addison, whether it's a clam and shrimp boil with Andouille sausage or pork chop with whipped sweet potatoes. Food writer Porttia Portis calls the burger and sweet potato chips amazing. "There's a pimento spread on the burger that basically showed me the light for the stuff, because I'd never liked it before," she says. "The chips were the perfect cut and texture. They weren't too greasy and were fried to the perfect crisp."