Two-part question regarding Dallas food
Hi all - I have never been to Dallas before but will be in town for a convention next week. My first question - are there any must-try places near the Hyatt Regency on Reunion Blvd.? Preferably within walking distance but I can take a cab as well. I love all foods, casual or upscale and any price.
My second question - I would like to bring back a local delicacy for colleagues back home. Are there any recommended Dallas signature foods that I can either ship back or carry home with me?
Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
First thing we should know is where you're coming from to get a point of reference.
Nothing in particular to note near the Hyatt Regency. You could try 560, but I haven't seen any recent feedback about them.
Cab ride needed:
Lockhart Smokehouse - consistently good BBQ and you can wander around Bishop Arts. Tons of good places around there as well (Oddfellows, Enos, Hattie's, etc)
Mesa - Veracruzan Mexican cuisine. Lot of great items on their menu as well (definitely get mole)
Within downtown (via DART/walking):
Stampede 66 - New restaurant by Stephan Pyles. And of course you can check out his signature restaurant (Stephan Pyles) or Samar (half off on nearly the entire menu on Mon/Tues FYI)
Wild Salsa - One of the better Mexican places in Downtown.
Tei An - high end Japanese, specializing in soba noodles and there's a ton of interesting menu items.
I would recommend The Slow Bone over Lockhart. I haven't actually found Lockhart to be all that reliable - although when they're on, it's pretty good. The three times I've been to TSB, it's been superior to the best that Lockhart has produced (in my experience).
Definitely get the brisket... both because it's the best thing they make, and also because it's the most quintessentially Texan BBQ. And, ideally, ignore the sauce - their sauce is ok (kind of a vinegary version) but the true Texas style is meat/smoke/fat - no sauce necessary. TSB delivers all three of these beautifully.
Mesa is an excellent recommendation for Mexican. You can get the mole either on chicken (used to be duck - too bad they changed) or just on awesome hand-made tortillas as an appetizer. Actually, their tortilla chips are outstanding as well - freshly fried from the hand made tortillas, which makes a huge difference. I often get the ceviche, mostly as a way to enjoy the chips. I like the ribs as well.
I totally concur and second gavlist on both of his recommendations. The Slow Bone is the right stuff when it comes to BBQ in Dallas.
Also excellent and arguably, the best BBQ in Dallas is Pecan Lodge in shed #2 at the Dallas Farmers Market. The only problem is their open hours: 11:00-3:00 Thursday-Sunday. And always, a very long line.
Mesa is a family owned and run, first class upscale Mexican restaurant featuring the foods of Veracruz.
I also want to second LewisvilleHounder's recommendation for Dude Sweet Chocolate. Really unique chocolates that you wont see anywhere else.
To be honest, I actually haven't been in a rush to go check out Slow Bone: the two posts here are the first (and only) positive comments I've ever seen on it. Most others I've read have called their quality along the line of middling places (Spring Creek, Rudy's etc).
Also admit that initial comments about the sides being better than the actual meat gave me a poor first impression without even having been; guess I'll give it a shot soon. Perhaps may have been opening kinks.
Regarding Slow Bone, I found the brisket and ribs excellent. Although possibly, a bit too heavily smoked.
And yes, the sides were very good, indeed!
I still love Pecan Lodge. But even though they're fairly close to me, their hours are too inconvenient.
Personally, I would consider Lockhart Smokehouse in third place of this BBQ trifecta.
I was also not in a rush... generally skeptical because I think that M&M is way over-rated (it's good... but not great) and because I had Jack's brisket at Meat Fight and thought it was thoroughly unimpressive (despite winning an award... so maybe I know nothing about brisket). And, given the finicky medium, I also anticipated opening kinks... which is why I went a few times before posting anything. But each time, what I've eaten was definitely among the best brisket I've had in Dallas. Really nicely rendered fat (with that dark, gummy meat candy on the outside) and smokey, tender meat. I've definitely never had anything like that at Rudy's, or at Lockhart to be honest. The one consistent flaw is in the trimming... he leaves a pretty big slab of fat on top of the brisket, which tastes delicious but it's a bit too much.
Of course, earlier today I saw a friend post on fb that his visit to TSB was disappointing because it was insufficiently smokey, so maybe there are inconsistency problems after all.
I'll also say that I've been less than impressed with meats other than brisket. The ribs are probably second best, but I wouldn't go out of my way for them. I've also tried some of the chicken (white meat - not my plate), and two of the three sausages. Nothing was bad, but none of those stood out like the brisket.
We had lunch again at The Slow Bone today.
The brisket was exemplary and the ribs were very good. I was unimpressed with the (regular) sausage so next time I'll try the jalapeno cheese version. The hushpuppies are worth the trip just by themselves. I noticed the meats were not as strongly smoked today as they were in my previous visit. That's a good thing.
See the picture I took of Jack Perkins holding a beer and enjoying his success.
Since you live in Florida we can leave some items out.
Luscher's Post Oak Red Hots – Better than anything in DC you will find.
Dude Sweet Chocolate Blue Cheese Fudge. There are many others and you should really go by the Oak Cliff location to get a sample before you buy.
If you got an ice chest I would say hit up Scardello and Kuby's.
Scardello is our local cheese shop but is in line with Murray's in the West Village or even better Saxelby Cheese on the LES of Manhattan. I would highly suggest trying out our local or Texas cheeses. I would specifically look for the Eagle Mountain or Veldhuizen. Ask for Rich (owner), Ali, or Lance!
Kuby's is our local German butcher shop who supplies most of the cities restaurants with German brats. The selection of brats, salumi and deli meats is amazing.
Blumetti's pasta sauce is made here.
Texas Olive Ranch has really high quality products and some very unique ones. I always tell people to buy the Mesquite smoked oilve oil that is a nice finisher for grilled steaks. You can find the products at Central Market, farmers markets and most gourmet shops around town.
For balsamic vinegar I really like the Texas Hill Country Olive Company's Traditional. It has a very nice thick consistency and a nice balance to the product, not harsh and thin like the stuff at Sam's or Costco.
Enchiladas Ole is a great line of enchilada sauces. The green also doubles as a salsa. Made in Fort Worth
Any of the Jester King out of Austin.
Lakewood Brewing Co – Hop Trapp (Belgian IPA) or The Temptress (Milk Stout
Deep Ellum Brewing – IPA, do not get any others
Local Soft Drink:
Dublin Dr. Pepper
A tour around Central Market is also ideal. You can find a lot of local and gourmet products. You can ask some of these shops if they ship their products back home!
Places to seek out:
Tortilleria La Nueva Fresh and Hot – The lone “cheap” place on the list but turns out consistently awesome tacos. Get only the guisado verde and guisado rojo. Do not buy the tortillas for the road as they go stale quickly.
FT33 – Best restaurant in Dallas right now. I would highly recommend this place. Everything is thought of from cocktails to dessert.
Lucia – Very small Italian place in Oak Cliff turning out high quality Italian dishes. Very hard to get into but if a solo diner you can usually get in at the bar at 5:30! Bonus Dude Sweet Chocolate is next door!
Il Cane Rosso – Great Neapolitan style wood fired pizza. Look for the Burnt Ends on special if they have it.
Hopdoddy – I believe quite possibly the best burger in Dallas/Fort Worth (their will be contention over this). Everything is handmade even the buns.
Craft and Growler – cheap flights of local beers and can get growlers to go
The Meddlesome Moth – Dallas’s premier beer bar
Places that might impress on the seafood front:
TJ’s Seafood Market – Fish flown in daily but very high quality
Driftwood – Modern takes on seafood. I would recommend the grilled octopus to anyone, desserts aren’t bad either.
I knew I was forgetting something - strongly recommend TJ's as well for the seafood.
I have to disagree with Cane Rosso's Deep Ellum location. Convenient for the OP to get to via DART, but I can't recommend going there since I've had too many issues with service there (even when Jay is around). The overall experience is a lot better at White Rock.
With reference to eating very near the Hyatt, 560 is a Wolfgang Puck restaurant atop the Reunion Tower that revolves 360 degrees every hour. So, the view can be very interesting at times. Or, very uninteresting at times.
The food is typical Wolfgang Puck Pan-Aisian.
Mostly, very good to great. But sometimes, not great but still very good. If that makes any sense.
Were it me, I would take a very short cab ride to any of the three excellent Stephan Pyles restaurants downtown.
Also near you downtown is Meso Maya. A good Tex-Mex restaurant that recently opened.
Thanks so much guys! I definitely have my work cut out for me. I will be in Dallas from Saturday to Wednesday so I can fit in a bunch.
A colleague had already made reservations at FT33 for Tuesday night so I am glad to see it that it was mentioned (and with high praise).
I am definitely going to choose one of those Stephen Pyle restaurants. I like trying out the cuisine of chefs who are influential within a given city (like Tom Douglas in Seattle or Jose Andres in DC).
Definitely hitting one of the BBQ places mentioned. I am positive all of them are hands-down better than anything I am accustomed to.
And Mesa to me sounds like a can't miss.
Agree that Mesa is can't miss. Definitely get the duck mole, and try their housemade corn tortillas.
Just wanted to note that Dude, Sweet Chocolate is now also available at Central Market. My favorite is the stingray fudge, made with local rum (also has molasses and pecans, which are a Texas thing).
Pecan pralines from a Tex-Mex restaurant would also be a nice food souvenir. Perhaps okra pickles ... Or really good fresh pecan halves. I buy these in Fort Worth, not sure what a good place in Dallas is. I think Central Market's pecans are just OK.
the last time I was at Mesa, they had changed the duck mole into chicken mole. I didn't try it, but the duck was damn good and such a cool touch - somewhat atypical to find duck at a mexican restaurant, and the flavor really worked well with the mole. I hope the change wasn't permanent.
FT33 has Swine and Dine on Tuesday nights too. Correct me if I am wrong; it sounds like they have certain pork dishes that are only on Tuesday nights? Ascension Coffee would be a good stop in that area as well.
If you are interested in modernist cuisine a la FT33, you should take a look at this thread about the "new" Private Social as well. I haven't heard much other feedback about it, but think it'd be worthwhile to have on your list.
Here are two ideas of things you can bring back that are probably impossible to find in Florida (definitely are not in NY) and are absolute staples in the diet of anyone who grew up in Texas. Plus, they're easy to pick up and travel with. Go to any grocery store and pick up cans of Ro-tel and Wolf Brand Chili. Not the sort of things to impress your office but it would make any displaced Texan very happy.
Note: don't cook them together.
Might want to get the Wolf Brand Turkey Chili....same flavor but less fat and heartburn as the original.
Ro-tel is so popular Wal-Mart took to copying the tomatoes and chilies both are widely available and staples in many Texan kitchens.
The only way you can combine both Ro-tel and Wolf Brand chili is to make a Frito chili pie with Ro-tel queso.
Also most grocery market have a whole aisle devoted to salsa. The personal likes of every poster would come into play. Let us know if you would like further suggestions on the salsa.
I completely agree about preferring the Wolf Turkey Chili (no beans) over the regular. Besides being a tiny bit healthier, I think it just tastes better. You guys are both so right about Ro-Tel for cheese (Velveeta) dips. There are soooo many versions and were/are a staple at just about every casual get together. Perfect for the slow cooker. Great suggestions demigod! Those are two things I never would have thought to recommend because I just take for granted they're available everywhere.