The 10 Best Things I Ate in Dallas This Year
In this upside-down year there were still many dishes that were delicious. I like to think of the bites that shaped this extremely exciting year. Coming from every corner of the restaurant scene, these were absolutely and exactly what we wanted in the middle of it all. A lot of them were seasonal or came from pop-ups, but those are the bites I can always think of.
Rapscallion’s Chicken and Waffle – a Belgian waffle stacked with fried chicken that is sticky and hearty with Szechuan mala sauce, cream sauce, and a side-kick farm egg – is a pre-pandemic brunch dream was eaten in dining rooms with company.
You can do much, much worse than The Charles’ homemade spicy creste de gallo noodles, rosy with peppers and tossed with juicy stone shrimp. The execution is simply Italian at its finest, a touch of seriously delicious nonchalance.
Among many pickups, I still dream of the Cambodian pop-up box that contains a plump green onion pancake and a turmeric-tinted coconut crepe, banh chao, that is alive with a touch of homemade chili sauce. They were vegan (from a special vegan menu), full of umami, from a severely underrepresented kitchen, and exactly what I wanted.
Petra and the Beast
Tartines can be mundane. Not with Petra and the Beast. Misti Norris made an open faced tartine and cornbread pudding with sour broccoli and parmesan emulsion, Lonza Cotto, and a peanut and strawberry vinegar jam, and you’ve never seen anything nicer in a to-go box. (Plus the added intrigue of their whimsical powders and ferments.) I could have eaten it for a week on repetition.
Khao noodle shop
In midsummer, Donny Sirisavath’s green mango salad was everything you could want in the middle of the heat: dill stains, pepitas, the smell of ruby red grapefruit – crispy, funky and fun. Green mango should appear so much more.
The resistance: The binchotan yakitori grill and revolutionary rojas attitude are new, but the techniques of growing and grinding corn are as old as the Maya.
Regino Rojas from Revolver Taco took on the task of grinding heirloom corn, and I absolutely loved an all-white corn tortilla loaded with locally grown oyster mushrooms (earthy and meaty, with deep umami notes). They wrapped themselves in panela cheese, grilled until the edges turned black and everything about you was popular – as were pearly cherry tomatoes and a tiny ear of corn that rounded the corn theme.
Sweets and treats from Homewood, Bresnan Bread & Pastry and Girl With Flour
Maggie Huff’s glowing strawberry buttermilk ice cream in spring – effortlessly sophisticated; Bresnan Bread & Pastry’s Strawberry Danish, simple and breathtaking; and Girl With Flour’s extraordinary fougasse, such a fabulous sizzling answer to the question of how to get more crust – (snip-snip-snipped into a leaf shape and topped with Provencal olive herbs and Maldon sea salt) – were a trio of savory and sweet Appetizers.
During one summer when I was walking a little coucou over gazpacho – chilled batches of red or white (with almonds) or rosy salmorejo thickened with bread – one of CBD Provisions was gorgeous. It was a light, upscale almond gazpacho, topped with Jonah crabs, red grapes, and cucumber.
Del sur tacos
Yes, the Cochinita Pibil is absurdly good. Ismael Sanchez has nothing to do with making such a superior version of the stew (whose juices soak through the tortilla) that originated in Michoacán, not the Yucatán. However, try the chilli relleno-filled taco, which turns a panel-filled, beautifully whipped pepper into a satisfying shape of crema and guajillo-morita tomato salsa with pomegranate seeds for a visual twist.
One brilliant weekend, the women of Bahay, a Filipino pop-up that fused Hella Lumpia with Bilao, showed up with a tocino breakfast burrito filled with egg, tocino (sweet marinated pork), pico, and rice in a tortilla was. It was the best I’d had in my hands in a while.