The Ultimate High-Low Dallas Dining Guide

By Farah Fleurima  |  February 17, 2014

Dallas’ varied dining scene is such that one can find a restaurant splurge and budget eats within a stone’s throw, in any given corner of the city. We decided to compile a list of popular dining categories in which you can satisfy both ends of the spending spectrum, with upscale eats and bargain dining.

  • Credit: Claire McCormack

    Fried Chicken

    The High: Stampede 66 (pictured; $18)
    Why it’s Worth it: You get to savor Stephan Pyles’ culinary cleverness in a cowboy-chic environment. The honey-fried chicken is simply phenomenal, with its mildly sweet undertones and perfectly crisp skin. The mashed potato tots on the side are sublime.

    The Low: Mama’s Daughter’s Diner ($8.75)
    Perks/Trade-offs: While it’s far more casual than Stampede’s Uptown digs, you get more side dishes at this meat-and-three haven.

  • Chicken-Fried Steak

    The High: Sissy’s Southern Kitchen ($20)
    Why it’s Worth it: For the chicken frying of a flat-iron cut, the retro-bespoke vibe and design of the Henderson Avenue restaurant and all the Southern-inspired cocktails you can enjoy alongside it.

    The Low: Highland Park Cafeteria (pictured; $6.99)
    Perks/Trade-offs: The self-service approach at the East Dallas stalwart may not be for everyone, but the down-home cooking and classic fare usually are.

  • Credit: Brian Hilson

    Sashimi Samplers

    The High: Tei Tei Robata Bar (pictured; $24 and up)
    Why it’s Worth it: The super-sleek lounge-like spot on Henderson Avenue loves spotlighting seafood such as ankimo and kasago, and beef varieties like Miyazaki wagyu, all of which are not usually seen in these parts - and it shows on the price tag.

    The Low: Sushi Sake ($16)
    Perks/Trade-offs: The drive to Richardson may be a drag if you’re not one to venture north of 635, but we can attest that it’s worth it.

  • Credit: Kevin Marple

    Hot Spot

    The High: Gemma Restaurant (pictured; around $50 for entree and one drink, tax and tip)
    Why it’s Worth it: The new gem of Henderson Avenue has been wowing diners with fresh, Cali-inspired fare since its late December opening.

    The Low: El Come Taco (around $12 for three or four tacos and a drink, tax and tip)
    Perks/Trade-offs: None at all - the cuisine comparison to Gemma is apples to oranges, and this Fitzhugh Avenue orange churns out exquisite tacos at a nice-to-your-wallet price.

  • Adventurous Cocktails

    The High: Bar Smyth (pictured; $10 and up; varies by liqueur)
    Why it’s Worth it: The Knox-Henderson boite takes your order with a survey of your likes and dislikes, with your mixologist/server crafting a cool drink to please your palate.

    The Low: Windmill Lounge ($3 for daily specials)
    Perks/Trade-offs: Windmill is the way-more-lived-in haunt, but that’s what locals and regulars love about the place. Charlie Papaceno is a master mixer of drinks, whipping up classics to perfection and concocting off-menu delights.

  • Credit: Brian Hilson


    The High: Nick & Sam’s Cowboy Longbone bone-in ribeye (pictured, $70)
    Why it’s Worth it: For this massive hunk of meat in the always buzzing dining room of Dallas’ perennially popular steakhouse.

    The Low: Becks Prime Texas ribeye ($31.95)
    Perks/Trade-offs: It’s a decidedly more casual atmosphere, but the steaks are a fantastic deal. Becks also stocks beloved craft beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

  • Credit: Brian Hilson


    The High: Grill on the Alley ($23.75)
    Why it’s Worth it: Not only for the American Snake River Kobe it’s created with but for the black and white truffle mayo that’s slathered on it.

    The Low: Maple & Motor ($4.50, pictured)
    Perks/Trade-offs: The digs are way more casual here (and don’t even try to snag a seat before ordering), but you’re still winning with the grill-seared, crisp-exterior burger.

  • Brunch

    The High: The Mansion Restaurant ($24 for brisket Benedict)
    Why it’s Worth it: For the Mansion’s luxurious setting and the pedigree of chef Bruno Davaillon that makes every meal a treat.

    The Low: Gin Mill ($10.50 for breakfast flatbread, pictured)
    Perks/Trade-offs: With temps this week in the '70s, every patio’s an awesome one.

  • Barbecue

    The High: Smoke ($18 for coffee-cured brisket, pickles and potato salad)
    Why it’s Worth it: Tim Byres’ sure hand ensures beautifully seasoned meat and just the right amount of time in the smoker.

    The Low: Off The Bone BBQ (pictured; $11 for brisket and two sides)
    Perks/Trade-offs: It’s a much smaller dining room than Smoke’s, but the unforgettable ribs, chicken and brisket, as well as desserts that taste like Mom’s, will have you coming back.

  • Ramen

    The High: Spoon (pictured; $38)
    Why it’s Worth it: Chef John Tesar’s iteration is a cornucopia of fresh seafood in a silky clear broth and a tangle of housemade noodles. This one stays on the brain awhile.

    The Low: Monkey King Noodle Co. ($8)
    Perks/Trade-offs: The seating is sparse and not the most comfy, but one sip of the spicy beef soup - especially if you’re seated on the roof on a sunny day - can help you forget all that. We also wish they had dinner every night, in addition to Friday and Saturday.