Best Thing We Ate

The 10 Best Things We Ate All Year in Dallas

By Farah Fleurima  |  December 20, 2013

As this year comes to a close, we look back on all of the gastronomic greatness we enjoyed in Dallas through 2013. Our city’s restaurants satisfied so many cravings, from salty to sweet, from fluffy to crispy, and even introduced us to crave-worthy new classics. Here were some of the most notable tidbits we put in our mouths this year.

  • Credit: Brian Hilson

    Whole Fried Branzino at Belly & Trumpet

    We were still high off the crab beignets and a simply stunning Kentucky ham appetizer at this Uptown spot when a perfectly fried whole branzino appeared before us, atop a puddle of herby chermoula. And by perfectly, we mean crisp skin on the outside, fresh juicy flesh on the inside. We cleaned the fish to the bones, excited to turn it over to mine more delicious meat. A dip into the chermoula brought the plate to even higher levels of swoon-worthiness.

  • Burgers at Becks Prime

    Thanks to grilling over mesquite wood coals, Becks Prime serves one of the city’s most underrated burgers, and it shouldn’t be discounted just because it’s from a mini-chain. Their medium-prepared Angus chuck patties are a half-pound of dripping, full-flavored, all-American deliciousness, whether draped simply in cheddar cheese or part of the more dressed-up varieties like the guac-starring California Burger or the bacon-and-jalapeño-heavy Bill’s Burger. We appreciate the care that goes into the house-cut fries, queso made with wood-fired peppers and uber creamy custard shakes, too.

  • Credit: Brian Hilson

    Hand-Cut Fries at CBD Provisions

    Speaking of fries, one nibble of these from downtown’s new brasserie stopped us right in our tracks. Planks of hand-cut Kennebec potato are frozen before being fried, which gives them a crusty exterior and an almost creamy center. They’re supposed to be a sidekick, but we say they can be the star of their own show.

  • Chimichurri Marinated Skirt Steak Salad at Dish

    We tried this entree on the Big Salads section of Dish’s menu in the late summer, but dreaming of it anew, we see it’s hefty enough for winter enjoyment. Note the piquant slices of steak, the potato chunks and the avocado. Orange slices bring a note of summer, yes, but also a tart sweetness that’s lovely against the horseradish-ranch dressing that gently brings everything together. This plate was the T-bone of salads, quite simply - marvelous and hefty enough to be a meal unto itself.

  • Credit: Brian Hilson

    Cotuit Oysters at Driftwood

    For those intimidated by raw oysters, head to Driftwood, where the delicacies come covered in a lush spread of rosemary bubbles. Ahhhh, the rosemary, the black pepper and the acidic hit of a satsuma gelee melded with the sweet, briny flavor of the oyster to lead our palate to the shellfish heaven. So fresh, so reminiscent of the ocean, they made us want to seek out more, and we’re now firmly on Team Oyster.

  • Spaghettini Neri at Mi Piaci

    This well-loved Italian eatery moved from Addison to a new space in the Park Cities but lost none of the charm or impeccably crafted pasta, pizza or meat dishes. Case in point: a tender housemade squid-ink spaghettini is caressed by chili butter and tossed with sweet nibbles of poached blue crab. The bite on the pasta is al dente finery, and the hint of spice adds a gentle punch to this rich, luxurious dish. We love that the spaghettini is light enough to keep you from that carb coma feeling.

  • C.F.L. Slider at The Second Floor

    This appetizer epitomizes the fun-with-fusion approach to the menu that chef Daniel Tarasevich takes in the kitchen at this North Dallas restaurant with the lounge-y feel. In fact, this dish fits that setting just perfectly - a finger food with an upscale twist. A chicken-fried cut of lobster is set atop a dollop of sweet tomato preserves, a leaf of Bibb lettuce and a pillowy slider bun. We’re not sharing.

  • Chicken and Dumplings at Sissy’s Southern Kitchen

    Part of the brunch menu unveiled a few months ago, the chicken and dumplings at this Henderson Avenue Southern cooking haven is brimming with shreds of poultry, vegetable dice and biscuit dumplings aswim in a creamy gravy-like broth. With its side of Sissy’s famous cornbread, it’s a dish full of savory home-cooking memories. If we made chicken and dumplings our pick for brunch, it’d be high time for a nap once we emptied that little crock pot of the stuff.

  • Credit: Farah Fleurima

    Cheesesteak at Steak Me Home Tonight

    When someone insisted on adding Cheez Whiz to our already provolone-bedecked shredded meat sandwich, we thought they were nuts. But we fell for their powerful argument, then promptly fell for the sandwich. When the Cheez Whiz on top ran down and mingled with the provolone below it, and when the seasoning salt, steak juices and peppers got in on the flavor mix, our taste buds rejoiced for the saucy result. Next time we’ll have a craft beer or bottled cocktail on hand for prime pairing.

  • Credit: Brian Hilson

    Garlic Knots at Zoli’s NY Pizza Tavern

    As the city’s pizza fiends rave (as we have) about the saucy, cheesy pies in three varieties at this Oak Cliff pizzeria, we found ourselves drawn to the pillowy-soft garlic knots. Little nubs of dough brushed with olive oil and dressed in herbs, red pepper flakes and cheese sound like a winning formula and taste sublime alone, and like a carb-y masterpiece once dipped into the house marinara. The knots are so good, it doesn’t even seem like carb overload to eat them alongside a slice or two of pie.