D Magazine's Top 10 Restaurants in Dallas???
D Magazine recently put out its top 10 list for Dallas. Suspiciously many of the restaurants listed also have large advertisements in the magazine. I'm wondering how legit people think this list is and what your top 10 are. (For this exercise let's omit steak houses, if possible.)
Thanks for the input.
Teresa Gubbins and I wrote the story and I can tell you that none of our picks had anything to do with advertising dollars. Not one. And how can you omit a steakhouse from a top ten list? Show me an ad for Stephan Pyles, Fearing's, Babes's, Richard Chamberlain's Steak & Chop House, York Street, or Tillman's in our magazine. Nancy Nichols, Food Editor, D Magazine.
It's not that those restaurants paid for a place in the list...more that they're both fitting for the demographic. It's a magazine for rich white people, not foodies. So it's a list of great restaurants for moneyed people to go to and enjoy themselves, not a list of the best food to be had in the city.
As for a top 10 list, I probably haven't been to more than 50-60 restaurants in Dallas, I don't think it's fair or meaningful to compile a list until you've been to at least 80% of the restaurants in the area. Sorta like people who rave about Asian Mint being the best Thai food in Dallas who've never been to any other Thai restaurants...
Uh, How about Babe's and Mi Cocina? Only for rich, whites? I've never been rich yet I read the mag whenever I can and I used to subscribe to it.
I was eating at Babe's when it first opened in Roanoke.
Yes, a lot are very expensive. What you are saying sounds like sour grapes, perhaps because you cannot afford to eat at the high-end places. 80% or more of the restaurants in Dallas are average or below. How does your comment make any sense?
I really enjoyed Asian Mint and always liked Thai Tango, in Flower Mound. Why would they need to hit every hole in the wall in Dallas to find the best Thai? This isn't a rite of passage for the writers; I'm sure they have already paid their dues, learning where to make the cut.
This is the top ten. Accept it for what it is. As they said it could have easily been twenty or more...
>Uh, How about Babe's and Mi Cocina? Only for rich, whites?
That's not actually what I said. I was referring to the magazine, not the restaurants, nor did I say that you had to be rich to eat there. Only that rich white people would eat there.
> What you are saying sounds like sour grapes, perhaps because you cannot afford to eat at the high-end places.
I don't know what makes you say that. I think it's a fair criticism. It's a list that clearly lacks in restaurants that don't primarily cater to white, upper middle to upper class white tastes. Dallas is not an all white city although D magazine is obviously directed at that demographic. Therefore the list is exactly what I said it was; something that represents the tastes of D's readers.
>80% or more of the restaurants in Dallas are average or below. How does your comment make any sense? I really enjoyed Asian Mint and always liked Thai Tango, in Flower Mound. Why would they need to hit every hole in the wall in Dallas to find the best Thai?
> I don't know that this even warrants a response. You can in no way claim to objectively know which restaurant is "best" unless you have been to at least most of them, and more than once to boot. Just because you "like" Asian Mint doesn't mean it's the "best Thai", the same as if some other place has the best Thai but nobody in Dallas really likes it. My point was that I wasn't going to make my own top 10 list as requested by the OP because I haven't been to enough restaurants locally.
>This is the top ten. Accept it for what it is. As they said it could have easily been twenty or more...
Obviously I've done that. Like I said, it's a list of the top 10 restaurants for D's target demographic audience. Nothing wrong with that. Just not particularly useful for chowhounds.
I had a pretty strong negative response to the list when I first read it... I like most of those restaurants well enough, but I wouldn't call them the BEST. This made me think for a bit, and re-read the beginning of the article. It says:
"Where, we asked ourselves, would we take an out-of-town visitor to eat to make sure she went home satisfied, smiling, and duly impressed with our dining scene? Which 10 restaurants give an outsider a complete picture of what Dallas has to offer? Here, in no particular order, are our 10 favorite places that are uniquely Dallas."
Maybe I'm overinterpreting... TG and NN can correct me if I'm wrong. But it doesn't say anything about the best food in the city. The goal is to identify restaurants that represent the Dallas dining scene. Places where they (the authors) would take out-of-towners. Places that are uniquely Dallas.
Their ranking is about more than food - as luniz points out. Given those goals, I'm not sure that I could compile a better set of restaurants. I think their list is quite "legit".
I just don't get the Mi Cocina hate on this board. The mixed drinks are expensive, but if you need some good mexican food close by, in a nice setting, its hard to beat. Herrera's et al are no more that a couple of bucks cheaper per plate, if that. If feeling like you're actually in Juarez adds to your dining experience then...fair enough. But the food is almost always average. The BYOB-type spots have their place (weeknights), but for a night out, I don't want to brown bag it. There are definitely some good dives around (Davis/Jefferson St.) but until you're familiar with them, you gotta run home and check the health report before eating.
I thought the D piece did a good job overall (minus the continually over-rated York St). And besides, do you really want a bunch of Parkies crowding you out of your favorite spot?
Well put - I think this is exactly why Mi Cocina made it into the top 10 list. The combination of decent food, nice environment, and a large enough customer base to put it on the radar. Personally, I'd rather find a dive with tastier food, but I can at least see the appeal of places like this.
I also agree about York St. being continually over-rated. I like the idea of using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, so I really really wanted to love York St... but I've been there three times now, and have never had a meal that I felt was outstanding enough to be worth the money.
I lived in the restaurant wasteland known as Lake Highlands for 3 years and ate at the original Mi Cocina's on Skillman more times than I can count. The house margaritas are very good but pricey. The service both at the bar and in the dining area was always very good. The food was nothing special but my former wife refused to go to ANY OTHER Mexican resto so I was stuck. Being a health Nazi, she felt that Mi Cocina was a cut above other Mexican restos.
Like car dealerships, people tend to go to the Tex Mex resto that is in their neighborhood.
I'll reiterate, how Mi Cocina can be included in a list of Dallas' 10 best restaurants baffles me.
My point wasn't really that Mi Cocina should be on a Top 10 list of all restaurants in Dallas (it shouldn't, although Top 10 Tex Mex seems reasonable), but that the ire for Mi Cocina on this board seems out of proportion. I'm guessing that it has less to do with the food or the prices, and more to do with the chain and trendy factor.
Well...Gavlist had it right, I didn't pay much attention to the article’s subject of showing an out-of-towner a representation of Dallas' culinary scene. Although, "The 10 BEST Restaurants in Dallas" list should be a separate from "The 10 BEST places to take an out-of towner" list. My original post was intended to get some chowhounders thoughts on their own top 10 list (which no one provided).
As for the Mi Cocina out cry, it's not a bad place, just not the place I would bring an out-of towner to show them Dallas' best Tex-Mex / Mexican food. I would show them the smallest, out of the way, hole in the wall that has the best food, not a 15 location chain. But that's just me, I'm no food editor.
The way I can omit steak houses is because in Dallas they should be a separate category (and I did add the "if possible")
Really this whole post was very innocent, just wanted some input from everyday Dallasites on their favs. NN & TG I'd love to hear your personal list. If you weren't showing an out-of-towner around and if it was just you going out for dinner, would it change?
In Dallas, long-standing Hererra's (crazy nachos) or Ojeda's (steak fajita nachos) on Maple. When I was last at Ojeda's I asked to taste the mole. My waiter was very accomodating. When I said it was pretty bland, he told me that the best mole in Dallas is at El Mercado Cocina Mexicana on the edge of the Dallas Farmer's Market.
On a side note, I went to the Ojeda's in Lewisville a few months ago and it was simply awful.
In the mid-cities, it's Lupe's (Bedford), hands down.
As a long time poster and some out there know me, I don't care for steakhouses, chains, and so-so Tex-Mex. My top ten in no order and no particular area of town.
Little Sichuan (Plano)/Sichuanese (Plano)/First Chinese (Carollton or Richardson) - At Little Sichuan I like the use of fresh ingredients (grown in the owners garden) foreign to most of our palates. They are also more tame on the spice than Sichuanese. Sichuanese for the Water Boiled Fish especially on a cold night and Crispy Fried Fish. First Chinese for good all around Chinese fare that is not Americanized
Jorg's Cafe Vienna in Plano - I like the small quaint European like place with great beers and avery charismatic accordian player. I prefer the food over Bavarian Grill or Kuby's but then again it is Austrian not German.
Taste of The Islands (Plano)/Elaine's Kitchen - Mom and Pop run place who hail from Guyana (next to Colombia for those of you who haven't heard of the country). The food is definitely Carribean in flavors but the influence of the Indian cuisine is evident in some of the dishes. Hey when you are at Fair Park and it looks grim on the restaurant scene Elaine's Jerk Chicken fairs nicely especially this time of year. If you like spicy this is a great dish. The cabbage is also very good!
Nam Hua/Kien Giang/La Me all in Garland - If you like Vietnamese cuisine these three are probably the best places to find the most authentic representation of the cuisine. From Bun Cha Hanoi, Banh Mi, Pho, Bun Bo Hue, to the more exotic like frog legs in a spicy lemon grass sauce and excellent seafood hotpots.
SeaBreeze Fish Market (Plano)/Masami (Richardson) - When I want excellent fish prepared in a unpretentious way at moderate prices this is where I go for seafood (not sushi). Masami has some of the best sushi without the markup prices and hipsters. I like to go and sit for 2-3 hours and enjoy it meanwhile talking to the sushi chef.
Temptations Himalyan in Irving - A pair of native from Nepalese run this place and the waitsaff is very friendly especially if you like to chat about different foods and try out the Himalayan specialties. The chefs also do a great job on their naan (hard to find these days) and Indian side of the menu as well (better than most places around town).
Kasbah Grill in Irving - Small place just down from what would seem the religious hotbed of the metroplex (Catholic church across from a Mosque...it works in harmony though). This place has the best cous cous I have had not hands down (haven't been to Morocco yet!). Limited menu but they do it well.
El Fuego Taqueria (Richardson)/ Taqueria El Paisano (Dallas - Lombardy Ln)/Tipicos (Dallas or Carrollton)/La Palapa Veracruzana (Dallas - Jefferson)/Escondidos (Dallas - Parkalnd) - I am sure there are others out there to add. El Fuego for the odd items like huitlacoche and flor de calabaza quesadillas, hand made tortillas and great buffet; Taqueria El Paisano for their al pastor tacos and the two table sauces; Tipicos for the refried beans and cheese enchiladas...for under $5 hard to beat; La Palapa Veracruzana for Veracruz style dishes (what a novel idea...something different from Tex-Mex) that are very different and very good, Escondidos when you have that gluttonous need for greasy Tex-Mex, nothing is better than the fried tacos....or the Jaquins #2
Wingfields (Dallas - Dallas Zoo)/Antones (Dallas - Parkland)/Jimmy's Food Store (Lakewood)/Sub A (Irving)/Captain Nemo's (Irving) - Well when you are hungry for a sandwhich/burger this list would satisfy! Wingfields for the best burger I have had...nothing fancy, definitely not fancy digs, just great food. At Antoine's Sam Ayoub, his wife and his other long time employee take great pride in their sandwhiches (ok so there are only five) but they are fresh and made to order if you choose. Just a great place that very few even locals know about. Jimmy's has gotten to be popular ever since rebuilding for those of us who were used to the cramped coutner at the old place the "new" digs are roomy. Jeff is my man there and he always makes up a mean Italian Stallion or Cuban for me. Ok so it is not the real deal Cuban but we don't have any other Cuban foodstuffs in Dallas. Sub A along Irving Blvd and Loop 12...what a barren strech of road and not many places to eat. Sub A has been in the same spot since I can remember growing up in Irving. The sandwiches might have the same meats as say Subway but they pile em on and the bread tastes better and you get a free bowl of soup.....hard to beat....price comparable to Subway too! Captain Nemos in Irving (Grauwyler and Irving Heights) is in a less traveled part of Irving. Just off Carl Rd and 183 or Grauwyler and Loop 12 this place has been serving steak subs since the early 70's and the grill is still the same too. Now for those of you who grew up in Irving there used to be one across from Irving Mall, the one on Grauwyler was always the better and had a small pizza joint at one time under the same name. I haven't had a better steak sub in Dallas. Another added bonus this is one of the first stops from the Frito-Lay factory on Loop 12....talk about fresh chips!
Lola (Dallas - Uptown) - So I had to put one high end place. The chef uses seasonal items and even has a garden of his own. He also house cures his own salumi and has an extensive wine list that is very reasonable (for those of you who drink wine).
Thanks for taking the time LewisvilleHounder, that is an eclectic list to say the least. I don't make it out side Dallas prop. that much but when I do I'll be well armed.
Anyone else have a top ten list?
Have been to Lola, had a great 14 course tasting menu and a reasonably priced late model Barolo that was tremendous.
I like LewisvilleHounder's list.
I truthfully don't know of too many of those places, but I probably prefer reading about them over reading about the usual suspects on the D Mag's top 10 list even though I do like most of those restaurants. I will have to try out Jorg's, I love Kuby's so if you like it better, it is worth a try.
I do think that on the Vietnamese and Mexican fronts there are a ridiculous number of very authentic restaurants in DFW, you kind of just have to decide on your own which taste you like the best on a scale from the very authentic to the more Texas-ized or Americanized version and find the local spot that you like. Carrollton has some really good Vietnamese food.
From a local imformant (I would tell you who it was but you would laugh), the Vietnamese Catholic Parish in Carrollton:
Sacred Heart of Jesus
2121 N. Denton Drive
Carollton, TX 75006
They often have more authentic dishes for sale on Sundays after the masses. I have heard that the Vietnamese style egg rolls are 3 for a $1 and a plethora of other dishes..made fresh and very affordable. I still have yet to attend a mass with my informant but I assure you he knows his Vietnamese very well. His wife was a cook at a local grocer in which her family owns for years. The church is located just north of Sandy Lake/Keller Springs.
Thank you for one of the most impressive and comprehensive lists of fav Dallas area restaurants I've seen. I agree completely with all of your recommended places that I've been to, and I look forward to trying the many other places on your list that I haven't made it to yet.
Thanks for the thanks. I don't get caught up in the drama on the boards but rather get caught up in the food I report about. I seriously think about or watch a food show every moment I get, but I will admit my wife always is first and foremost (as it should be). That being said the list above was compiled befored I tried out the following places:
For a list of all the dishes I have ever ordered and liked at the Chinese places listed above here is that link:
For a great treasure amongst the "Taqueria Row" on Jefferson in Oak Cliff was a standout Veracruz style seafood place. The HUACHINANGO A LA VERACRUZANA is worh the trip, and yes I realize I just put it in all caps. If you like fish and a cheap skate like me. That dish is cheapest and largest fish dish that you will have cravings for, seriously.
For a great show of local support this lady at the Farmers Markets on Saturday has just mind blowing sorbets....lime thyme, triple lemon (lemongrass, lemon and lemon verbena).....all I can say is awesome!
And last but not least, Korean is not on the radar of many people's culinary delights and it wasn't on mine until recently. You have to warm up to it, but Tofu Korean Restaurant aka To Dam Gol is a place where a couple can get their $20 eat on and have leftovers! The pork soondubu or the dolsot bibimbap is knee buckling in its flavors. If you are cold this winter head hear! PS ask for more of the panchan they bring you before the meal it is free refills on any of it. My favorites are the oi or pickled cucumbers and the kimchi pickled napa cabbage. The spice level might look a bit daunting but it is actually more tame than Thai!
Thanks, LewisvilleHounder, for this terrific list with specific recommendations, and the addendum. I've never posted before, but wanted to follow up. We're seafood lovers, but hadn't heard of Sea Breeze until your list, so we went last night.
I've gotten to like catfish over years in Texas, but I grew up in Rhode Island and go back every few years, mostly for New England clam chowda and clamcakes (best at a little beachfront place called Aunt Carrie's in Narragansett), fried whole belly clams and lobster rolls (lobster salad in a grilled hot dog roll), both of which are great at most places, and Del's Frozen Lemonade, unmatched in the summer.
If I can't go back to New England this year it might be okay... I saw a guy selling Del's at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco a couple of summers ago, and now Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill in Plano has real belly clams and lobster rolls! I had both (pigalicious!) and was knocked out... authentic and terrific. My wife had fish & chips, and said the beer batter was lighter and the fish flavor a little better than other places. Okay, this is mostly comfort food, but it was so good! We like lots of fresh fish and usually order it grilled. They have a good seafood menu and we'll be back to try the clam chowder and more.
We agree it's simple, unpretentious, reasonable and excellent quality. Not fancy, you order at the counter when you come in and they bring it to your table. When I said it felt like home, right away they said "you must've grown up in New England... we get a lot of people in here who say that." The server was the son of one of the owners and told us that when he was young, his dad was the fish guy at Central Market, then at Whole Foods. Made sense, that's where we usually shop for fresh fish.
I left RI in 1978, and I love Texas, but it's great to know someone can take me home so fast! Thanks, Hounder.
Truth be told, I honestly believe that D Magazine's "Top Lists" are hardly objective. I know for a fact that many of the owners of the restaurants, salons, etc. who make the "best in D" lists are friends with the reporters. Who cares? With covers stating things like "Why the Mexican Invasion Is Good for Us," "Why We Need McMansions," and something like "Why You Should Be Jealous of Southlakes Kids," D Magazine can kiss this girl's butt. I've lived in 3 major cities prior to Dallas and if D Magazine is representative of this city's mentality...well, that's sad. Los Angeles Magazine and NYC's Guardian always recommended great restaurants in every price range and with great ethnic diversity.
D magazine is not a very good guide. I am from New Orleans and have been stuck here for two years. Here is a quick shake:
Tex-Mex: Manny's yes, Hererra's no.
High end: York St. and Fearings yes, Lola and Local no. Haven't been to the new Turtle since the revamp but it used to be in the no category.
Burgers: The funny thing about the "cuilnary" people of Dallas is how much they talk about and think their burgers are great. They are for the most part nothing special. The one exception to this is the sirloin burger at Sol Irlandes. Yes, it is an Irish pub that serves Mexican food. You would never have believed it...but it is the best in the city.
Steakhouses: The great irony is that it is hard to get a decent steak here in steak country. Pappas Bros. yes, Biernat's and most others No Way. The best steaks are available at the Boucherie or at Kubys, but you have to cook them up yourself.
Casual Bistro fare: Hatties yes, everywhere else no.
BBQ: Go to Lockhart. Its only a 4 hour drive. You will thank me later. If you are lazy, Drive 30 minutes to Terrell, Texas and there are a couple of good places on the Southside. Do Not go to the Ranch House.
Bar food: The dogs at the Angry Dog are delicious heart attacks on a plate.
At all costs stay away from Stephan Pyles, Biernat's and Lola. The food isn't bad at Lola but there are other issues such as bad service, overbilling, reservation issues, and general rudeness. Hey, you are in Dallas. This is not a culinary outpost. You get what you deserve.
Why should I care what D Mag says are the 10 top best? Experience has taught me my individual tastes and impressions can only determine what is best for me. Too often I've found restaurant reviewers have limited knowledge of food and their opinions often turn out to be disappointing. I'm always on the lookout for new interesting restaurants to try, but I agree with most of you that a magazine's list can hardly be a trusted source to make such a claim as far as my discernment is concerned. In other words, I take such evaluations with a grain of salt, but possibly their list might be worth some personal evaluation if I should be so motivated.
Probably for the same reason you are here: for information about food and restaurants. More is better. As you said, you take it with a grain of salt and make your own decisions.
Several of the article's contributors are very experienced restaurant reviewers.
True, in smaller towns and smaller publications they can be slanted, misleading, biased toward major advertisers and written by someone needing to write something, and yet no real expertise on the subject. I don't think it's the case with D.
Sounds like you have not been to many on the list so I agree it's time for some personal evaluation. I wish I was back there, in your shoes, doing the hard grunt work!