Courtesy of Cafe Momentum

In September, one's thoughts turn to a certain category of food: the fried kind. Blame the State Fair of Texas, whose Big Tex Choice Awards plants a seed. A seed covered in batter and fried.

This year's State Fair lineup was notable in that the entries were elevated to a higher foodie level than years past, including a deep-fried lobster tail from Mr. Choice Awards himself, Abel Gonzales. For our September edition of Where To Eat, we follow their lead with some high-end fried food offerings at restaurants around Dallas-Fort Worth.

BB Bop
Recently opened branch on Greenville Avenue of this local Asian-fusion chain feels noisy and bright. Rice bowls are the thing, which you can order in a pre-set menu or customize yourself. Diners are liking the fried chicken but look for the semi-regular special of tempura eggplant. It's the smaller Japanese eggplant, cut into big bites, coated with a light, crunchy crust, then drizzled with sweet and spicy glaze. The texture of the eggplant is almost still firm but melts in your mouth.

Brick & Bones
The menu at this Deep Ellum bar-restaurant is focused primarily on fried chicken. Although there's no shortage of fried chicken around Dallas, B&B owner Cliff Edgar does an interesting rendition, with his chicken bone-in, marinated first, and coated with a dark, crunchy crust notable for its extra-spicy flavor.

Cane Rosso
This quiet, barely noticed local pizzeria chain is known best for its certified Neapolitan-style pizza with its sourced-from-Italy ingredients, monogrammed ovens, and incomparable crusts. But the "Red Dog" also does "carciofini fritti," aka fried artichokes, that are an excellent version. The artichokes are dredged in cornmeal and fried so that the shell is crisp but light. They're baby artichokes and you get mostly hearts, so they're nice and meaty; they're served with a chili aioli.

Cafe Momentum
Sarah Green was recently promoted to head chef at this charitably minded restaurant in downtown Dallas, and her background in pastry promises that the cafe will serve good desserts. Those include fried pies, with impeccably flaky crusts whose flavors such as peach often reflect the season. The fried apple pie has become a talker, thanks to its accompanying scoop of smoked cheddar ice cream.

Horseshoe Hill
Favorite Fort Worth chef Grady Spears (Reata, Dutch's) returns to the dining scene with this intimate (60 seats) cafe in the Stockyards, dedicated mostly to chicken-fried steak. Not too many chefs are dedicating themselves to CFS these days, and Spears has it down. He offers it with five toppings: traditional peppered cream gravy, chili con carne and queso blanco, chili gravy and fried egg, ancho cheese enchiladas, or cheese chile relleno.

Greenville Avenue bar has earned praise for its above-average food and execution, not to mention its avant-garde attentiveness to craft beer. Its menu includes pub classics like fish and chips and steak sandwiches, but there are also fancy twists like the grits laced with jalapeño and cheddar. Its portobello fries are a standout, with the mushroom cut into thick slices and fried in a crunchy, almost flaky crust. The texture of the mushroom — firm, yet tender – kills. It's served with a roasted garlic aioli.

Neighborhood Services
Chef Nick Badovinus' popular American mini-chain does feel-good food, with a menu that begins, rightfully so, with a keen appetizer of fried asparagus. Presented on a long narrow plate to accommodate their length, the asparagus stalks have their own grilled flavor, which is then enhanced by a crunchy, almost tempura-like batter and a drizzled creamy dill dressing.

On Premise
Unusual Deep Ellum restaurant-bar has an excellent menu of bar snacks, from charred okra to chicken wings to beef satay. Yucca fries are hard to beat, but the fried pick is the cashews, stir-fried in a wok tossed in chili paste and garnished with lime, scallion, and cilantro.

Greenville Avenue restaurant observes a Southern theme, directed by chef Nathan Tate. The specialty is chicken, done a number of ways, including Nashville-style. But the offbeat fried dish here is the sorghum, more stir-fried than deep-fried, with Napa cabbage, smoked oyster mushrooms, peas, green onion, and sesame seed;it's topped with a fried egg. The discovery is the chewy yet firm texture of sorghum.

Wabi House
The main mission at this Greenville Avenue restaurant is ramen, but there is much to be fried about. One appetizer features pork ears cut into thin ribbons, battered, and fried. There is also vegetable tempura featuring shishito peppers and green beans, served in a stainless steel cylinder lined with paper, and a side of batter-fried shiitake mushrooms. But the fried surprise is the chickpea appetizer, consisting of fried chickpeas in a salty, curry spice mix.

Fried pies by chef Sarah Green at Cafe Momentum are the best kind of fried.

Cafe Momentum fried pies
Courtesy of Cafe Momentum
Fried pies by chef Sarah Green at Cafe Momentum are the best kind of fried.
Photo courtesy of Wabi House

Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 new restaurants to try in July

Where To Eat Now

July is turning out to be a scorching hot month — for restaurant openings in Dallas, that is. Ba-da-bing. There are so many new ones, we felt the need to make a list. If you want to know what the very newest restaurants are, the ones that have just opened, you've come to the right place.

BB Bop Seoul Kitchen
Korean fast-casual concept comes from Steve Shin and his sister and brother-in-law Sandy and Greg Bussey, chef at The Joule. It specializes in bibimbap, the Korean dish combining rice with vegetables, sauces, "protein" and fried egg. It's a step up for the team from their original branch, with new dishes including fried chicken and chicken wings. There's alcohol too, including Asian beer and cocktails made with soju, a distilled rice liquor, in varieties such as green tea mint lemonade and hibiscus limeade.

Cafe Salsera
Latin-Caribbean restaurant in Deep Ellum with salsa on the side and coffee and pastries all day. Menu items include meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, fried yucca in garlic sauce, roasted chicken, jerk shrimp, and Puerto Rican-inspired "mofungo" dumplings made with mashed plantains and topped with shrimp mojo. The pastry case features house-made treats such as brownies iced with Nutella frosting, cookies, and individual Key lime and coconut pies.

Del Frisco's Grille
Newest branch of this up-and-coming chain serves the citizens of Plano with a location at the Shops at Legacy. This is the first DFG for Collin County and features an open-air kitchen and second-floor mezzanine that overlooks the patio and street below. The menu features salads, flatbreads, sandwiches, and trendy shareable dishes like chicken wings and deviled eggs.

Chef Kent Rathbun heads far north (Highway 121 and the Tollway) to do burgers and barbecue in a modern roadhouse setting. There's the obligatory burger topped with a fried egg, plus apple coleslaw, burnt end baked beans, potato salad, onion rings and waffle-cut Maytag blue cheese fries. Each table comes equipped with serve-yourself pickles and other condiments, and there's a full bar.

Kin Kin Urban Thai
Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin bounces back to Dallas, this time with a Thai restaurant in the former Cyclone Anaya's space, storm-troopering next door to Green Papaya, the longtime Vietnamese restaurant. The menu is light on Thai and heavy on "urban," with such non-Thai dishes as dumplings, calamari, roti curry and pork belly. But no worry, there is the quintessential pad Thai noodles.

Malgudi Garden
Vegetarian restaurant focusing on "holistic, healthy and conscious eating," in the former Chennai space, has some traditional Indian specialties such as dal, the lentil stew, and biryani, the comforting rice dish. But it also does some unique curries, puddings and porridges from regions all over India, along with house-made pizza. On weekdays, a $10.99 lunch buffet includes pizza, soup, salad and choice of entree.

Off-Site Kitchen
Chef Nick Badovinus' casual burger joint has relocated to roomy new digs at Trinity Groves, made colorful with neon beer signs and an American flag. The dining area is bigger, i.e., it boasts actual seats where you can sit down. There are still the half dozen burgers (including the winner in the 2015 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards), plus sandwiches, tacos, fried chicken and cheese fries.

Paul Martin's American Grill
California chain comes to Dallas, this one from Paul Fleming, founder of Chinese-like chain P.F. Chang's. It describes its menu as "American classics," which seem like rather kind words for spinach dip, 
calamari, kale Caesar, short ribs, brick chicken and polenta with vegetables. It's in Turtle Creek Village, the center at Oak Lawn and Blackburn, which has been under renovation forever.

Greenville Avenue restaurant from brothers Bradley and Brooks Anderson and chef Nathan Tate is a neighborhood bistro similar to Boulevardier, its Bishop Arts sibling. But instead of French food, Rapscallion's menu is influenced by Tate's Southern roots: short rib steak, fried catfish with littleneck clams and black-eyed peas, grass-fed burger, mac and cheese, hushpuppies, fried okra, and chicken done two ways — rotisserie and "Nashville" hot fried.

Wabi House
Ramen on Greenville Avenue comes from Dien Nguyen, head chef for Piranha Killer Sushi. The compact menu comprises about 20 items, with several ramen options, including one that's vegetarian. Signature tonkatsu ramen features chashu pork, corn, wood-ear mushrooms, marinated egg, black garlic oil and sliced scallions, in a broth simmered for 18 hours.

Wabi House

Wabi House
Photo courtesy of Wabi House
Wabi House
Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 new restaurants for on-top-of-it foodies
Photo courtesy of Farrar Food Photography [http://www.farrarfoodphotography.com]

Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 new restaurants for on-top-of-it foodies

Where To Eat Now

For this rendition of Where to Eat, the theme is all about new. In a propitious set of circumstances, June 2015 has plenty of contenders.

Most of these places are as new as it gets: hot-off-the-press, just-opened within the past few weeks. If you live to dine at the newest restaurants around Dallas-Fort Worth, you've come to the right list.

Blaze Pizza
​Blaze is yet another chain that tries to duplicate Neapolitan-style pizza, in the same school as Project Pie, which debuted in Dallas in 2014. Blaze was created by the team who founded Wetzel's Pretzels and boasts celebrity investors such as LeBron James, Maria Shriver, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and movie producer John Davis. The first DFW branch is in Frisco, which is a long way to drive for pizza. But if you're a fanatic who needs to try every pie, then drive you will. A second branch will open "soon" on 3388 Bryant Irvin Rd. in Fort Worth.

The Buzzbrews empire expands with a new branch at Skillman and Live Oak in the former Tipperary Inn (and Mecca) space. Many a restaurateur has tried to tame this spot, but Buzzbrews has a history of persevering beyond all odds. They've brightened what was previously a rather gloomy space and even attached a sweet little bar to the outside, to create a kind of impromptu patio. In addition to affordable grub and breakfast fare, a full bar features cocktails, beer, wine and, the best part, prosecco on tap.

Chef Ben Merritt (Woodshed Smokehouse, Stephan Pyles) branches out in Fort Worth into a space that was the former 24 Plates (which closed despite positive reviews). Fixture serves comfort food with a twist. Signature items include chicken and waffles, Brie and cranberry nachos, duck tacos, and goat hash. There's some real creativity to be found in dishes such as "beet" fries and a fried bologna club served on a kolache bun from Fort Worth's Pearl Snap Kolache.

Kitchen LTO
The restaurant incubator concept at Trinity Groves has a promising new identity starring chef Anastacia "AQ" Quinones, the fifth LTO chef, whose reign extends through the end of 2015. Her modern Mexican menu ranges from classic items like guacamole to fine-dining options such as broiled red snapper with peaches, purslane, chile de arbol and pepitas. Even prototypical items such as quesadillas get a cheffly spin, filled with huitlachoche, rajas and truffled avocado puree.

K.T. Burger
The tormented spot in Highland Park Village that was once Marquee Grill, featuring Top Chef contestant Tre Wilcox, then Village Marquee, then Village Kitchen and Toko V, will now serve burgers and shakes. The "K.T." refers to the Katy Trail Ice House chain of which K.T. Burger is a little cousin. It's a fast-casual format with a funkier atmosphere — recycle dwood, exposed brick — where you order at the counter. The menu includes burgers, tacos, cheese fries and jalapeño bottle caps.

Mi Lindo Oaxaca
Taco Trail blogger José R. Ralatcalls Mi Lindo "the one restaurant all seekers of authentic Mexican food should put at the top of their must-visit list." He knows! The menu has tacos but also 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. There is also a labor-intensive exotic drink made from corn and chocolate, tejate, that Mi Lindo makes from scratch.

On Premise
Club guys from The Mitchell partnered with chefs Brian Zenner (Oak, Belly & Trumpet) and Ann Marie Romero (Pakpao, Oak) to open this global-cuisine restaurant in Deep Ellum, in the prized space that previously housed Lemongrass. The sky's the limit as far as inspiration goes, be it Mexican, Moroccan or Thai; menu items include chicken wings and beef satay. The format is mostly snacks, with prices from $5 to $12.

Super Chix
When ​the first SuperChix opened in Arlington in 2014, it was cast as a prototype for an eventual international concept. But owner Yum Brands relented and opened a second branch of this Chick Fil-A challenger in North Dallas. Fried chicken tenders are the thing, which you can get in strips (in a cardboard box, yay) or on a bun in a sandwich. Other items on the small menu include above-average French fries, skin-on and not too thin, in three flavor options: salt, sweet, or rosemary and black pepper. There's also frozen custard in flavors that change, available as a dessert or in a shake.

You wanted new, you got it. This Chippendale's-type restaurant just opened at 4218 Lemmon Ave., in what was most recently Lolita's but has been many a sketchy concept over the past few years. A tallywacker is a stick used to keep score or count objects. A release calls the place a "bar, restaurant and entertainment smorgasbord featuring outstanding food and a handsome all-male waitstaff." You get to choose the waiter you want, by the way. The comfort-food menu has chicken-fried steak, pizza and hot dogs. Are you really going here for the food?

In case you hadn't heard, a third location of Austin-born sushi-eria Uchi from famed chef Tyson Cole has opened on Maple Avenue in Dallas. Oh, who are we kidding? If you're reading this, you've probably already eaten there. I mean, it's been open a full day already. Not to mention the soft opening last week, when on-top-of-it foodies like The Brad pored their way through the menu. It melds the best items from Uchi and sister concept Uchiko, with fish both hot and cold, and other exotic items like sake and desserts. Hurry, hurry!

Fixture's menu shows creativity, like this salmon.

Salmon, Fixture
Photo courtesy of Farrar Food Photography [http://www.farrarfoodphotography.com]
Fixture's menu shows creativity, like this salmon.
Photo by Marc Lee [http://marcsclips.com/]

Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 restaurants that tease with hard-to-get specials

Where to Eat Now

We love restaurants that give us everything we want, whenever we want it. But sometimes the value of something increases when we can't have it all the time.

Thus explains the mystique of the limited edition. Limited-edition items are on their timetable, not ours. They make us stop what we're doing, cancel our regular appointments and hew to their agenda. They remind us we are not masters of the universe. They give us a tiny dose of humility, which we can all use.

Mark your calendars and get in line for these 10 special-case offerings:

Best Thai Signature
Vegan buffet first Sunday of every month. This small, loosely connected chain of family-owned Thai restaurants embraces innovation, from its addition of a bubble-tea outlet to its comprehensive buffet restaurant in northeast Dallas. But the hot ticket is on the first Sunday of every month when Best Thai Signature, the branch in Addison, unfurls a mega-buffet with an array of all-vegan dishes: spring rolls, pad Thai, barbecue "beef," vegetable stir-fries, crunchy fritters and more.

Bisous Bisous Patisserie
Fruit croissant on Saturdays and Sundays. This new West Village bakery has received much attention for its "cruffin," a croissant formed into a muffin-like shape that sells out quickly. But the official limited-edition item is its fruit croissant: A plain croissant is cut in half and served open-faced with almond cream, sliced strawberries and house-made streusel. It's probably a good thing that it's available only on Saturdays and Sundays; otherwise it could do serious damage to your weekdays.

Cane Rosso
Pecan Lodge pizza on Tuesdays. The Deep Ellum branch of this Neapolitan pizzeria chain is a big supporter of local ingredients — local as in, two blocks away. Every Tuesday night, Cane Rosso does a special pizza using one of the smoked meats from renowned barbecue restaurant Pecan Lodge. It could be a pizza topped with shredded brisket, crumbled sausage or pulled pork. One recent example: brisket with mozzarella, salsa verde, cilantro and cotija cheese.

Eclair Bistro
Quail with pain perdu on Saturday mornings. Charming restaurant just-transplanted from Cedar Hill to McKinney from chef Aaron Thomas is family-run, with his mom helping him in the kitchen on luscious desserts and his father running the front of the house. The contemporary American menu incorporates influences from Greece, Italy and the family's hometown of New Orleans. But its roots are French, and you can spot that in its special weekend brunch dish of buttermilk-fried quail with pain perdu.

El Bolero
Lobster fajitas on Fridays. It should be noted that the lobster fajitas at El Bolero are served every day for lunch and dinner. These are not your standard fajitas; sorry, no sizzling plate. We're talking about a 6- to 7-ounce lobster tail whose shell is filled with Mexican rice, then topped with the tail meat and a lemon-citrus sauce, served with puréed black beans and house-made tortillas. The special part is that on Fridays, the fajitas are $15 from 11 am-3 pm, as opposed to the usual market price.

Hypnotic Donuts
Vegan doughnut days. The gourmet doughnut shop offers vegan versions, but on a limited basis. Doesn't that make you want them more? At the Dallas branch, they're available only on Mondays and Tuesdays; at the new Denton outlet, they're available on Mondays and Wednesdays. But they do offer at least three to four flavors such as chocolate-coconut and cinnamon sugar.

Lockhart Smokehouse Plano
Wagyu beef belly on Fridays. It's become kind of a thing for barbecue restaurants to offer special items, and Lockhart Smokehouse is no stranger to the trend, with Beef Ribs Wednesdays and Burnt Ends Thursdays. The latest offering is available only at the Plano branch and only on Fridays: smoked Wagyu beef belly, cut into thick slices and served by the pound. Owner Jill Bergus calls it the "love child of fatty brisket and beef rib."

Luscher's Red Hots
Corn dogs on Mondays. Amid the sandwiches, hot dogs, gyros, French fries and onion rings, chef Brian Luscher's sausage-themed restaurant in Deep Ellum does one special every day such as fried smelt on Fridays and beef-tallow fries on Tuesdays. But none celebrates the restaurant's fun, casual spirit better than his Monday corn dog special, with a Red Hot sausage fried up in a thick, satisfying cornmeal crust.

Mama's Daughter's Diner
"Blue plate" daily specials are part and parcel of home-cooking places like Mama's Daughter's Diner, Dixie House, Original Market Diner and Norma's Cafe. But if there's a day to visit, it's Thursday, when everyone rolls out versions of smothered chicken. Mama's Daughter's and Norma's do chicken tetrazzini with diced chicken in a creamy sauce, served on spaghetti. At Dixie House, it's chicken and dumplings. Original Market Diner is the exception; they do chicken and dumplings on Wednesdays.

Taco Joint
Fried cod taco on Fridays. The small local taqueria chain was among the first to bring the Austin taco mindset to Dallas, with a special affinity for breakfast, including tacos and burritos. They do many spontaneous specials, depending on the whim of the branch (there are four) and the kitchen. But there is one taco you can only get on Friday and no other day of the week: battered fried cod.

Luscher's Red Hots special edition corn dog.

Luschers Red Hots corn dog
Photo by Marc Lee [http://marcsclips.com/]
Luscher's Red Hots special edition corn dog.
Woodshed Smokehouse/Facebook

Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 best restaurants for breakups

Where To Eat Now

So it comes to this. It's not like we haven't tried. Lord knows we've tried. And we're the first to admit it: We've made mistakes. February's cheap-date idea was a misstep. It seemed visionary at the time, but who knew "cheap" was such a bad word?

We hoped we could make up for it in March with our big splurge theme. If you can't win them over by dropping a bundle, what's left?

Nothing, that's what. It's time to move on. To bring this thing to an end. And a restaurant is where you'll do it. Here are our top 10 picks for restaurants to stage a breakup.

If you're going to call it quits, might as well do it in style. Fearing's is one of Dallas' best restaurants, with superb food, decor and service. The menu, rustic and upscale, has a nurturing personality, almost like a "there-there" for your broken heart. A bowl of tortilla soup, profoundly complex with its long simmered stock and bouquet of Southwestern spices, obliterates all pain. And a "How you-all doing" from charismatic chef Dean Fearing will have you convinced that breaking up was absolutely the right thing to do.

Critically acclaimed restaurant in the Design District is known for thoughtful conception and precious presentation, with each delicate nasturtium flower and dot of chile-spiked Kewpie mayonnaise applied with exacting precision. There is an artist at work here, and that's chef Matt McCallister. Nothing else matters; definitely not you, silly. In the presence of such a culinary tour de force, you and your self-absorbed relationship problems pale by comparison.

Kona Grill
Asian chain with a branch at NorthPark has likable food including shared appetizers such as the smoked Gouda fondue with pretzel bites that can give you a momentary jolt of nostalgia for the days when you could share something with your ex-loved one without every single thing you do getting picked apart to bits. But Kona Grill is really about two words: happy hour, twice a day on weeknights, from 3-7 pm and 9-11 pm. On Wednesday nights, wine by the bottle is half price. We're not promoting alcohol consumption but under these circumstances, a few glasses can't hurt any worse than the difficult speech you're about to make.

Monkey King Noodle Co.
Outdoor noodle spot in Deep Ellum features small but smart assortment of soups with hand-made noodles spun behind a glass window display while you wait. Breaking up while eating excellent food is a thoughtful farewell, and all the better here when it takes such a small toll on your wallet, since nothing on the menu is over $9. You care, but not enough to spend a lot. The noodles are thick, so the ideal time to drop the bomb is right when they take a bite; chewing will give them time to process.

Neighborhood Services
The food by chef Nick Badovinus has a big, robust personality, sufficient to soothe over any emotional trauma. And you'll probably want to do the deed here on a Saturday night, just so you can order Saturday's special, Angry Lobster & Grits. When you're breaking up with someone, it feels right to order a dish called Angry something. But the big plus at NH is the crowd. It's loaded with beautiful people. Once the ax comes down, you and your ex can survey the field and instantly see where to pounce next.

Old Chicago Pizza
First of all, you've been wanting to see how the deep dish pizza measures up at this chain. Two birds, one stone, see what I'm saying. Old Chicago hasn't gotten great reviews. But in a way, that's a plus. You wouldn't want to ruin a "good" restaurant with bad memories. Meanwhile, second of all, this place has a DART Rail stop. If the breakup goes down poorly and you can't stomach the idea of driving home together, one (preferably not you) can stomp off and take the train home instead.

On Rotation
Mom-and-pop brewpub in White Rock area has 40 beers on tap, and their lineup is top notch. But what's good (and bad) about the place, thanks to its plenitude of hard surfaces, is how very deafening it can be. Even if you're sitting directly across from your soon-to-be former lover, you can barely hear a word they're saying. Breaking up here isn't hard to do because they might not actually realize they're getting handed an emotional pink slip. "What's that?" they'll respond, and then with an uncomprehending expression resulting from the din, "yeah, I totally agree."

Truluck's Dallas
Truthfully, the best setting for a breakup is a chain restaurant in the suburbs. It gets you into a public place where you can contain the hysterics, and it has the generic atmosphere and lack of specialness appropriate for a cold-blooded coup. But going to a real chain restaurant and/or the suburbs represents a level of eeuuu too hard to suppress. The newly remodeled Truluck's in Uptown has all the suburban-style front-mounted parking lot and mega-square footage you desire, but in a central location. Plus: crab claws and a gargantuan chocolate cake for dessert, made more flavorful by drops of salty tears.

Woodshed Smokehouse
Tim Love's homage to the glorious cookery of meat preceded newcomer Smoke Plano, whose hearth in the kitchen seems tame by comparison. At Woodshed, the first thing you see at the entrance, menacing behind a window into the kitchen, is an animal rotating on a spit. We don't want to get all Silence of the Lambs here, but an arched eyebrow in that direction speaks volumes to your imminently unbetrothed. "There but for the grace of God goes you." Woodshed's menu includes snacks such as smoked Texas peanuts so it's easy in, easy out, and the festive outdoor patio is sufficiently rambunctious that a skirmish might go unnoticed.

Crushcraft Thai delivered via Favor
When you get down to it, the benefit of doing things face-to-face is often so overrated. This isn't cowardice on your part. You're thinking about their needs. Isn't it really much kinder to have one of Crushcraft's Thai tower satay salads arrive at their door, paid for and ready to eat? Grilled chicken skewers with peanut sauce over a bed of field greens, carrots, cabbage, jicama and tomatoes make parting such sweet sorrow. Plus you're not there should they decide to seek vengeance with the skewers. Hey, it's better than a text.

Woodshed Smokehouse makes breakups seem fun.

Tacos at Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth
Woodshed Smokehouse/Facebook
Woodshed Smokehouse makes breakups seem fun.
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/RWTurtleCreek]

Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 best restaurants for the big splurge

Where to Eat Right Now

In our February edition of Where to Eat, we offered 10 restaurants in Dallas where you could take someone out for a date on the cheap. But after some reflection, we get that it might make you sound bad, like you're some kind of penny-pincher. We didn't meant cheap. We were thinking about your financial security, about making you look swell without going broke, and having your date think you were enterprising and resourceful.

Instead, we fear we made you look like a piker, a tightwad. So here's our attempt to atone. This time, let money be no object. Forget what we said before; it's time to show your willingness to outlay some serious cash to keep this romance going. Here's our 10 places to splurge on a date:

Al Biernat's
Steakhouse featuring Dallas' most charming host is where you go to rub elbows with the upper crust. The menu fuses a classic steakhouse sensibility with the most richy-rich of ingredients. Is there caviar? Darling, of course! Starters alone run from $14 to $28, and if it's the priciest entrée you want, there's a 10-ounce Wagyu-Angus filet for $75. If you want to take the more "restrained" route, there's a buffalo tenderloin for $49 or a have-it-all entrée called the "Air, Land & Sea" with quail, buffalo, prawn and scallop in a port wine foie gras sauce — a bargain at $56.

Be Raw
Let us first apologize: The prices at this raw food temple in Preston Center hover between $10 and $20 —a pittance in this group. But the opulence here is of a different stripe. Everything at Be Raw is raw, as in uncooked. The menu is non-dairy and gluten-free, and it's not just salads. There are "noodles" made with slivers of zucchini, tossed in a tamari ponzusauce, and pizzas with crust made of flaxseed and apple. There's something decadent about knowing that Be Raw's team of culinary elves is back there magically weaving coconut into "tortillas" and cashews into "sour cream.'

French Room

Others come and go, but this elegant restaurant at the historic Adolphus hotel in downtown remains the queen of fine dining in Dallas. Chandeliers, gold leaf and Rococo-style murals telegraph an atmosphere that says, "This feels like another century and is undoubtedly going to cost an arm and leg." That impression is furthered by the fact that it offers a prix fixe menu only; but the prices aren't prohibitive. There's a three-course option for $80, a five-course for $110 or an eight-course for $150 per person. Or bypass that entirely and go for their tasting of caviars, priced at — wait for it — $475.

​Design District restaurant has become the de facto special-occasion destination for the modern-day foodie, ready to oooh and aaah at chef Matt McCallister, bent over while plating his food with a concentration that proclaims "artist at work." When the food arrives at your table, it is a bit like art, with lots of white space on the plate, unlike plates at more pedestrian restaurants that are piled high with food. The menu is posted online and changes daily; you're sure to discover something you've never heard of, such as aerated raclette (it's cheese) or calamondin sambal (lime sauce). If you don't want to get caught not knowing what to order, there's a chef's tasting menu ($95 for food, $145 with wine).

While Henderson Avenue spot has always seemed more expensive than you expected, it now has Graham Dodds. You can see his touches in Dodd-esque dishes such as skate with artichokes and grapes, lamb shank on grits, or Wagyu oxtail with crispy gnocchi and arugula pesto. (What a waste of arugula — but we're talking excess here.) Make a statement with ​frisee aux lardon with confit pork jowl or 44 Farms chili with jalapeño cornbread and crème fraiche. Desserts include a Dude, Sweet Chocolate and Texas whiskey tasting, but end instead on Texas cheeses with preserves and raw honey.

Restaurant at the Highlands Dallas hotel is where chef John Tesar does steak real good. If your concept of high-end dining can be defined by the number of meat options on the menu, then you are at the right place. There's "new-school" steak, "old-school" steak and "exotic" steak with meat that's been aged for up to 240 days. There's a bacon tasting, a ham tasting and two kinds of tartare. There are also awesome salads, but what are you thinking? Consider oysters on the half-shell and sides that include a rendition of avocado fries so rich, you'll have trouble finishing the order.

Nick & Sam's
If you're trying to show you care with a dollar sign, you won't dare "cheap out" and go to Nick & Sam's Grille. Instead, you'll hit the steakhouse on Maple Avenue, so luxe, they give away caviar for free in the bar. The online menu doesn't list prices; if you call and ask, they'll take your number, promise the manager will get back to you, and then you'll never hear from them again. But, hey, if you have to ask, you don't belong here, amiright? We can't say for sure which is the most obnoxiously expensive dish; the dry-aged "long bone" cowboy steak with black truffle butter? Or the fried lobster with dipping sauces? It all sounds fabulously spendy, and you pay extra for sides such as duck fat hash browns.

Nobu doesn't make a lot of noise, but its presence in Dallas puts us on a super-glitzy list of Nobu cities that includes Las Vegas, London, Monte Carlo and Dubai. And don't forget, Nobu's splashy opening party in 2005 was attended by Robert DeNiro; dropping that in your casual dinner conversation will make you sound plugged-in. The atmosphere feels very James Bond, and international jet-setters know that nothing says good sushi like Nobu's roll filled with lobster for a cool $29. The surprises on the menu are the dozen desserts, with selections such as milk-chocolate miso brûlée with vanilla ice cream, candied pecans and cappuccino foam.

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
Forget the gauche steakhouse: The Mansion is where you go when you want to drop a bundle tastefully. In addition to à la carte items like beef tenderloin with fries cooked in duck fat ($60), chef Bruno Davaillon (who is French, ooh la la) offers two prix fixe meal options, one with black truffle ($150), one without ($115). Whatever you order, be sure to get the "enhancements": Perigord black truffle shavings for $35 or golden Osetra caviar $195 per ounce. "Chef recommends select dishes," the menu advises, but play it large and get that truffle shaved over everything: crab soup, Wagyu short rib, even the lemon creme brûlée.

Tei An
In one's 2001: A Space Odyssey-like journey toward the heights of excess, Tei An represents the pinnacle, a place where all excess falls away and minimalism prevails. The signature dish is soba noodles, made by hand — an offering that puts this One Arts Plaza jewel in a very small league of restaurants across the country doing such a thing. But for the most magnificent experience, indulge in a multicourse omakase tasting by chef Teiichi Sakurai, whose skill with a knife transforms raw fish into edible works of art.

Mansion on Turtle Creek does luxury with class.

Dish at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/RWTurtleCreek]
Mansion on Turtle Creek does luxury with class.
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Spectacular new drive-thru Light Park will electrify Frisco for 2023 holidays

Merry & Bright

A dazzling new holiday lights experience is coming to Frisco, and the lights are switching on very soon.The Light Park, an immersive drive-thru attraction that claims to have "the longest light tunnel in the world," will debut at Riders Field on November 3 and run through January 1, 2024.

It'll be the second Light Park in Dallas-Fort Worth this season; the popular location at Hurricane Harbor in Arlington also will return on November 3. There are also Light Parks in the Texas cities of Selma, Katy, and Spring.

The Light Park is a described in a release as "a mile-long drive-thru spectacular" during which guests "witness millions of lights synchronized to an electric mix of music by DJ Polar Ice from the North Pole’s #1 Hit Radio station, K-GLO."

"Everyone (pets, too) can experience the magic of traveling through the longest holiday light tunnel in the world, rocking out to the coolest tunes, and kicking off the holiday season with the most Instagram Reel-worthy shots, for just one admission fee,” says Matt Johnson, co-creator of The Light Park, in the release.

That admission fee starts at $29 per vehicle (not per person). Tickets must be purchased online, in advance, with a reserved entry time. Admission varies per showtime (weekdays and weekends).

Although DFW has some longtime favorite drive-thru light experiences (such as Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie and and Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway), they became a hot trend during the "socially distanced" holiday season of 2020. Visitors to The Light Park must stay in their cars the entire time while visiting the park and while on the park property, organizers say. Guests are encouraged to bring their snacks to enjoy while in their cars or can pre-purchase some snacks and souvenirs.

The Light Park will be at Riders Field, 7300 Rough Riders Tr., Frisco. Hours will be: 5:30-10 pm (weekdays), and 5:30-11 (weekends and Christmas week).

More information and early-bird tickets are available on the website.

Where to play pickleball in Dallas-Fort Worth

Pickle Mania

In case you missed it, pickleball is big news in Texas. Rockwall hosted a televised tournament this summer and the national championships, scheduled for November, are now located in Farmers Branch. You can even rent people's private pickleball courts by the hour.

If you have yet to get on the court — or are looking for a spot to share your obsession with friends on a night out — here's a quick list of places to play in Dallas-Fort Worth:

Food and fun

Chicken N Pickle
Really amp up the social aspect of the sport with this hybrid, a chef-driven restaurant, multiple bars, lawn games, and several courts. Grapevine and Grand Prairie already have locations, with one planned for Allen next fall.

Courtside Kitchen
The first in Fort Worth, its motto is "carpe drink 'em." You can purchase a membership for priority court booking, or just kick back with some apps and watch others at play — especially during happy hour.

Fieldhouse USA
Find a little bit of everything here indoors in Frisco, including open play pickleball Monday through Friday with a $5 pass.

At Fault
Technically it doesn't open until the spring, but make a mental note now for this "elevated" indoor-outdoor facility that will boast 40,000 square feet of entertainment space.

Just here for the sport

Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas
Indoor and outdoor courts are available for both members and non-members of this JCC, which also has lessons and clinics. It's bring-your-own-gear, as a heads up.

Cole Park
A little Uptown gem of a park, it has converted some tennis courts into six pickleball courts (that are also lit for night play). You can't reserve the courts, so either get there early or be prepared to wait.

Fretz Tennis Center
Three outdoors courts feature open play Tuesday through Friday, with games on Saturday. Reservations are $5 per person for 90 minutes. The Dallas Pickleball Club also plays games here, if you're looking to join a league.

LB Houston Tennis Center
Another facility where reservations are $5 per person for 90 minutes, but it also offers an unlimited monthly membership and several leagues you can join.

McLeland Tennis Center
Don't let the name fool you — there are two dedicated pickleball courts and four hybrid courts at this Fort Worth faciity, plus free entry-level paddles and only $3 for professional demo paddles.

Oasis Pickleball Club
With 42 outdoor courts, eight covered courts, and two championship courts, it's no wonder this Rockwall club hosts lots of pickleball tournaments.

Samuell Grand Tennis Center
Clinics and open play abound on these four outdoor courts near White Rock Lake, and a family of four can purchase an unlimited multi-club membership for only $36 a month.

The Courts of McKinney
Monday through Wednesday, anyone — both members and non-members — can play pickleball on the six painted courts and also take advantage of onsite instructors during open play.

Tower Club
This may be a private, members-only club located on the 48th floor of the 50-story Santander Tower in downtown, but non-members can rent courts by the hour on "the highest pickleball court in the world." A nice bonus is that part of the rental proceeds benefit Bonton Farms, which is committed to combating the effects of poverty in South Dallas.

Don't forget to check your local recreation center website — chances are your area has pickleball courts now!

These are the 8 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This Week in Gluttony

Embark on a culinary tour around the world this week with food events influenced by Italy, Germany, and Canada. A taste of Texas is also on the menu thanks to a two-day barbecue festival at AT&T Stadium. Wrap up the weekend with a modern Mexican Sunday brunch inspired by the flavors of fall.

Tuesday, October 3

Bendt Distilling Rye Release Pairing Dinner at Whiskey Cake Plano
Local Bendt Distilling Co. will be featured during this five-course whiskey pairing dinner, which will come with a sneak peek tasting of Bendt’s new release, Unbendt Rye. The menu is big on fall flavors with items like apple and shaved fennel salad with duck fat croutons, “High Society Thanksgiving” with roasted duck and sage stuffing, and a bone marrow luge with smoked tomato preserves. The dinner is $100 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 7 pm.

Thursday, October 5

Piroshky Piroshky Bakery Pop-up at Outfit Brewing
Bakery founded in Seattle will stop in Dallas on a Texas-wide tour, offering their signature Russian hand pies in delectable fillings such as beef & cheese, cabbage & onion, and vegan-friendly mushroom & potato. The full menu is online, and pre-ordering is required by October 3 at 4 pm. There's a minimum order of $50. Pickup at the brewery is 5-7 pm.

Saturday, October 7

Canadian Thanksgiving at Maple Leaf Diner
Canadian Thanksgiving is Monday and Maple Leaf Diner is celebrating all weekend long. Visit Saturday October 7 through Monday October 9 for holiday specials including a Thanksgiving plate with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, acorn squash, carrots, green beans, a sweet potato tart, and a roll ($17.99), turkey poutine ($12.49), and Thanksgiving pumpkin pancake wrap ($11.99). Dine-in hours are 7 am-4 pm on Saturday and Sunday, and 7 am-2:30 pm on Monday, but the Thanksgiving plate and bakery items will be available for pick-up until 6 pm.

Q BBQ Fest at AT&T Stadium
Arlington will get a little smoky when more than 30,000 pounds of brisket, chicken, pulled pork and ribs are dished out over two days at AT&T Stadium. Hosted by the Dallas Cowboys and Miller Lite, Q BBQ Fest will feature pitmasters from across Texas and throughout the nation. AYCE tickets start at $69 (alcohol not included). Or go VIP ($129) and enjoy an open bar along with access to exclusive lounge areas and VIP-only pitmasters. Tickets are $35 for young adults ages 13-20, and children under 13 get in free. The event runs from 11 am-8 pm on Saturday and 10 am-2 pm on Sunday. Note that tickets are sold in three- and four-hour time blocks.

Frisco Oktoberfest at The Star in Frisco
Fourth annual Bavarian celebration features stein-hoisting competitors in the Biergarten, brat-eating contests, keg rolling races, stein relays, live entertainment from authentic German groups and local talent, plus Oktoberfest favorites such as pretzels, sauerkraut, funnel cakes, brats, Bavarian sausages, kaiser rolls, apple strudel, baklava, and German bee sting cake, as well as selections from The Star eateries La Parisienne, Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, The Common Table, and more. Plus Oktoberfest biers. 11 am-9 pm.

DFW Italian Heritage & Food Festival
An inaugural celebration of Italian culture with food, wine tastings, and musical performances, this festival will take place in Las Colinas at 5220 N. O’Connor Blvd. from 12-10 pm. Food for purchase from local vendors will range from New York-style pizza, parmigiano fries, and meatball sandwiches to arancini, tiramisu, and gelato. Patrons can also sip on frozen bellinis and Aperol spritz cocktails. The event is hosted by DFW Italians, a non-profit whose mission is to promote, celebrate, and preserve the rich heritage and culture of Italy. Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for young adults 11-20, and children 10 and under get in free.

19th Annual Oktoberfest at The Sons of Hermann Hall
The historic German dance hall will host a 20-piece polka band to celebrate German culture with food, beer, and merriment. The $18 ticket price includes a traditional German brat dinner plate. The party will run from 5-10 pm.

Sunday, October 8

Basic B*#ch Brunch at La Neta Cocina y Lounge
The Las Vegas-based modern Mexican restaurant will dive deep into fall flavors with an autumn-themed activation featuring photo ops, fall décor, live music, and menu specials. Visit for pumpkin spice espresso pancakes with brûléed meringue, apple cinnamon French toast, and cocktails like apple cider mimosas, brown sugar espresso martinis, and pumpkin spice margaritas. Brunch will be served from 12-4 pm and reservations are recommended.