Best Restaurants in DallasOur favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.
By Maria White
The French Room, inside the Adolphus hotel, thrills the palates of both well-heeled guests and our very own AAA inspectors. As the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Texas, this acclaimed venue epitomizes opulence, with hors d'oeuvres ranging from Hudson Valley foie gras to Israeli Osetra Golani caviar. Moreover, the gilded dining room, dripping with rococo decor and crowned by heavenly ceiling murals, is itself a feast for the eyes.
For the best gumbo and shellfish in Dallas, head to the S & D Oyster Company. The cozy historical building, down-to-earth staff and utterly fresh seafood will make you forget you're in the Big D, smack-dab in Uptown, one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods. Be sure to arrive early for the get-it-while-it-lasts New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp or the standout bread pudding with whiskey sauce; popular with locals, this mom-and-pop restaurant doesn't take reservations.
Evocative of French Quarter architecture, an early 20th-century pharmacy in Uptown now houses Bread Winners Cafe & Bakery. As is the case at many Dallas restaurants, Sunday brunch rules at this consistently stellar establishment, though chic natives pack indoor and outdoor dining areas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, too. If there's a wait, try not to linger by the bakery case; otherwise, there's a good chance you'll ruin your appetite on the cheesecake bars, snickerdoodles and cream puffs scrumptiously strutting their stuff behind the glass.
Operated by the Los Angeles-based restaurant group that owns the popular Houston's chain, R+D Kitchen delivers top-notch cuisine and service, just as you might expect. And, like some of the company's other culinary ventures, this classy University Park spot presents a harmonious blend of opposites—from a casual wood-paneled bar, seamlessly incorporated into R+D's upscale design, to flawlessly presented deviled eggs sure to remind you of mom's time-honored recipe.
Throngs of repeat guests hooked on Hattie's signature shrimp and grits flock to the Bishop Arts District daily. Self-indulgence is a must at the sophisticated eatery's Sunday brunch, so start things off right with a waffle paired with crispy buttermilk fried chicken. Besides, after sampling Hattie's twist on Southern low country cuisine, you can slough off excess calories perusing the edgy art galleries and boutiques that surround this epicurean grande dame.
The surviving founder of Mia's Tex-Mex Restaurant, Ana Enriquez (aka “Mama Mia”), didn't invent the margarita, but she and her family certainly know how to make ‘em (i.e., strong). Still, this Dallas institution is known for its “original” brisket tacos, topped with Monterey Jack, grilled onions and poblano peppers. While some doubt Mia's late husband, Butch, was the first to dream up the succulent brisket taco, there's no question the enterprising couple put these melt-in-your-mouth Tex-Mex staples on the map—and in countless bellies—since opening their homey eatery in 1981.
Though many Texas restaurants brag about their burgers, The Grape delivers the real deal, a 10-ounce patty so spectacular, it's (sigh) only available Sundays and Mondays. Sink your teeth into this New York-style bistro's perfectly proportioned creation, a toasted pain au lait bun embracing tasty beef, white cheddar, peppered bacon and Dijonaise. A mainstay of Lower Greeneville, a hopping nightlife district, The Grape also presents a creative, ever-changing dinner menu as well as one of the city's most fashionable happy hours.
Frequented by local industrialists and visiting celebs (Gwyneth Paltrow, Julio Iglesias and Kurt Russell are among the A-listers who've been spotted here), Al Biernat's celebrates the good life according to “Mr. B.” With the manicured estates of some of Texas' wealthiest residents nearby, the gracious owner of this swank chophouse caters to affluent carnivores, cramming the menu with such meaty indulgences as a 24-ounce “cowboy cut” rib eye. Likewise, a wine list encompassing more than 650 selections brings smiles to chardonnay and merlot connoisseurs' lips even before the sommelier starts uncorking bottles.
Outside a simple brick-and-mortar building, three large red letters—“B-B-Q”—tell you all you need to know about one modest Snider Plaza eatery. Brimming with lovingly tended, slow-cooked veggies and meats, simple white plates emerge from the kitchen at Peggy Sue BBQ, only to be licked clean in under 20 minutes.
Also at Snider Plaza is family-owned Kuby's Sausage House, which serves up Old World charm along with traditional German classics like schnitzel and homemade wurst. You'll also savor forkfuls of hot potato salad and kraut while admiring the assortment of beer steins lining the walls. The quaint dining room is inside a small grocery, so after your feast, you can stock up on specialty items, gourmet cheeses and Kuby's delectable sausages.
Part of a Tex-Mex empire founded here in the early 1900s, El Fenix Mexican Restaurant doles out generous portions of tamales, tacos and enchiladas to loyal patrons. With the colorful downtown original (1601 McKinney Ave.) often crowded with both locals and tourists, you'll find the W. Northwest Highway (SR 12) location slightly less congested and very convenient to NorthPark Center, one of Dallas' must-browse shopping malls.
Seasonal ingredients spice up the eclectic menu at The Porch, which serves up “down-home food and uptown cocktails” in the hip Knox-Henderson district. Bite into the smoked brisket enchiladas in between Bluegrass Bourbon Sour swigs, or take the plunge and order what many natives have decreed their city's most decadent burger, the Stodg. This beefy monster, served on a foie-buttered bun and topped with aged cheddar, bacon and an over-easy egg, is named after one of the eatery's investors, a well-known Dallas lawyer with an appetite.
Atop Reunion Tower, Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck delivers a truly memorable dining experience 50 stories up. The 360-degree views of Dallas are jaw-dropping, especially after dark. Just remember your manners and close your mouth while wolfing down such Asian-influenced morsels as pork belly dumplings, lobster and shrimp spring rolls, and Korean beef short ribs. Before the bittersweet return to earth, sample the rich chocolate soufflé, topped with gobs of tart crème fraîche.
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AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Municipalities may impose additional rates of up to 2 percent on the statewide 6.25 percent sales tax. Sales tax in the city of Dallas is 8.25 percent; rates vary in the suburbs. The hotel occupancy tax is 13 percent.
Time and Temperature
Baylor University Medical Center, (214) 802-0111 or (800) 422-9567; Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake, (214) 324-6100; Medical City Dallas Hospital, (972) 566-7000; Methodist Dallas Medical Center, (214) 947-8181; UT Southwestern University Hospital–St. Paul, (214) 645-5555.
325 N. St. Paul St. Dallas, TX 75201. Phone:(214)571-1000 or (800)232-5527
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Hertz, (972) 453-4600 or (800) 654-3131, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, offers discounts to AAA members.
Amtrak's Union Station is at 400 S. Houston St. For train schedule and ticket information, phone (214) 653-1101 or (800) 872-7245.
The Greyhound Lines Inc. bus station, (214) 849-6831 or (800) 231-2222, is at 205 S. Lamar St.; five other bus lines depart from this address.
Taxis are metered. The initial charge is $2.25 plus $1.80 for the first mile. Rates are then $1.80 for each additional mile, and $2 for each additional passenger. Taxis leaving from the airport charge an additional $5 departure fee. Yellow Cab, (214) 426-6262, is the main company serving the area.
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit System (DART) provides light-rail and bus service in the area. Two-hour passes are $2.50 for local routes and $3.50 for system routes including all DART buses and trains. Day passes are $5 for local routes and $7 for system routes. A 7-day pass is available. Exact change is required. Phone (214) 979-1111.