BBQ, Tacos & Local Food (Help me trim down my itinerary)
I'm a Torontonian who will be in DFW from April 24th to 29th (arriving late Thursday and leaving Tuesday morning). So, I really have 4 days in your area.
I'll be staying with friends in Irving and I want to explore as much of the local food as I can. I'll be focused on BBQ and tacos but will also consider chef-driven restaurants as long as they feature heavy Texan or Tex-Mex influence.
I'm not interested in Asian food since Toronto has every style you can imagine and not interested in southern or Cajun because I'll be in those regions later this year.
We'll be at the Stockyards on the Saturday and I'll make reservations at Lonesome Dove for dinner.
I've heard good things about FT33 and the menu seems appealing but not particularly "Texan". Is it worth breaking my theme?
I'm also considering Charco's Broiler, Reata, CBD Provisions, Mesa and Mexican Inn.
I'm going to try to cram in as many tacos joints & similar as I can. My short-list so far includes: El Tizoncito, El Atoron, Revolver Taco Lounge (will go during happy hour), Tortilleria La Nueva Fresh & Hot, Dona Lencha, Tommy Tamale.
BBQ: Pecan Lodge (at the top of my list right now), Snow's, Lambert's, Black's, Woodshed Smokehouse, Billy's Oak Acres BBQ, FM Smoke House
Snacks: Village Baking Company, Emporium Pies, Hypnotic Donuts
Clearly I won't be able to squeeze it all in so, in your opinion, what are the can't miss places and/or dishes?
CBD Provisions, while quite good, is not very Texan or local (in style).
I think that FT33 is very good, and definitely worth a visit (although, yes, it is a violation of your theme).
You are aware that Snow's, Lambert's and Black's are in Central TX, roughly 3 hours drive away from Dallas? Also, in that category I'd skip FM Smoke House... it's pretty disappointing.
I'd also pass on Hypnotic Donuts - I think that the donuts are better at Glazed Donut Works, and the chicken biscuits are better at Chicken Scratch. Emporium Pies is fantastic, and VBC is quite good although far from "world class".
By that time, the White Rock Local Market should be up and running (on Saturday) and I'd strongly recommend that you seek out Luscher's Post Oak Red Hots. Yes, it's a hot dog, but they're closer to TX BBQ than you might imagine (meat+fat+smoke) and incredibly delicious. I am not a hot dog afficionado, except for these.
If you're going to be in Fort Worth (aside from the stock yards) Reata can be fun- definitely go to the rooftop if it's nice weather. Alternatively, I also think Bonnell's deserves a spot on that list. Personally, I'd skip Revolver and I'd definitely skip the Woodshed because you're already hitting a better Tim Love restaurant with Lonesome Dove.
In Dallas, go to Mesa- it's unfortunately underrated and the enmoladas are ridiculous good. Get a boozy adult rum horchata.
As a bonus, Emporium Pies is very close to Dude, Sweet Chocolate where you can get something awesome to take home. It might even be a chocolate covered bacon day if you're lucky.
I actually disagree and think Mesa is way overrated. The enmoladas are fantastic, as are all mole options, but i've never had anything else there that I thought was worthy of the high praise they receive. If you do go to Mesa, get anything with mole.
I'd look at some Tex-Mex options while you're here as well. Personally, I think the brisket tacos at Mia's/Manny's are destination worthy.
Lastly, I'd consider adding Lucia to your list if you're looking for a high end meal. I think it's the best fine dining restaurant in the city.
The costillas en adobo are delicious, as are the tortilla chips (I usually get some guacamole or ceviche to enjoy them with). That, plus the mole, either on a duck leg or tortillas enmoladas, make the restaurant destination-worthy in my mind. I agree, though, that there isn't much else that stands out.
good call on the brisket tacos.
Re Mesa - Arroz a la Tumbada is a dish that is pretty hard to find in these parts. I would put that on the list of likes as well. If they do have the Chile en Nogada special, I really enjoyed that dish!
Is it me are the pies at Emporium extremely overpriced? Yes, I do understand the ingredients that go into them b/c my wife makes pies, but $50 for a pie? I would expect more creativity/exotic flavors for a $50 pie.
You can skip Reata ... and I agree that Woodshed is pretty skippable as well.
Dude, Sweet is definitely worth a visit, and we also have a store in FW that you could hit in combination, with, say, Mexican Inn. (Recommend the queso loco with extra guac.) Be sure to try the Stingray fudge. You can sample anything before buying. The hot chocolate mix is also most excellent.
Have never heard of Charco's Broiler?
Prolly should nix Charco Broiler....good but probably not what you are thinking it is going to be. It is a local place that has probably been around since the Kennedy years or longer. They specialize in steaks and the like for the working class (those who can't afford to drop $30 on the steak alone). The atmosphere matches the clientele, not that it is a bad thing.
If you are heading to a slew of taquerias then Mexican Inn might be a let down. Comparing authentic Mexican food to Tex-Mex is similar to comparing high end Italian to Olive Garden. It is just not the same.
Snow's (Lexington, TX) Lamberts (Austin) and Black's (Lockhart, TX) are going to be hard to cram in as it is at least a 3 hr trip minimum each way to those places. A trip to Austin proper would be wise for those.
Tommy Tamale does have some tamales to purchase to eat there but it is not a restaurant. You can buy a whole slew of frozen tamales and jarred salsa to bring back to Toronto. Get the regular red and the roasted green for sure, but you can also try out the Ghost Chili salsa, which for me is not as hot as it sounds.
Mirroring what gavlist said. FT33 is worth it!
I thought after reading the comments below, I would add some of my own.
BBQ: The Slow Bone. I prefer their brisket to Pecan Lodge's overly Mesquite smoked brisket. Although that said, nothing beats Pecan Lodge's beef rib. But you have to get to PL early before they run out of beef ribs.
Mexican & Tex-Mex:
Mr. Mesero. A bit spendy but serving really beautifully prepared & delicious modern Tex-Mex and Mexican specialties. Their sumptuous order of Guacamole is the best in Dallas! Check out all the pictures on the Yelp link.
And I would like to add, enforcing what some of my fellow commenters said, by all means, do not miss FT33 or Lucia. Two of the most difficult reservations to get in Dallas!
And, a big second for Mesa. Serving authentic, delicious food of Veracruz. Don't miss their insanely good duck mole'.