Dallas chef Matt McCallister knows not everything in Dallas is Tex-Mex and barbecue -- though, yeah, there's plenty of that, too. The mastermind behind Dallas' lauded FT33 is opening Filament, a new restaurant in Deep Ellum, this October.
But don't wait around with grumbling stomachs; check out McCallister's picks for the best eats in D-FW.
Chicago-style dogs in Big D: Luscher's
The owner of the Grape, Brian Luscher, is now doing Chicago-style hot dogs in Deep Ellum. "These things are amazing," McCallister says. "He's smoking them with post oak, [a staple in Texas barbecue], so there's the Texas kind of mix right there." 2653 Commerce St., Dallas. luschers.com.
Iconic Dallas Tex-Mex: Mia's
Brisket tacos are the deal here. "Go in there, [get some] brisket tacos, get a crappy beer and sit down and eat some chips and salsa. Every once in a while, that's what I'm in the mood for," he says. 4322 Lemmon Ave., Dallas. miastexmex.com.
Badass pizza: Nonna
"I remember the first time I ate there ... God, it was about 7 years ago, and I remember having this white clam pizza and it was just, like, awesome. I mean, I walked [up to chef Julian Barsotti] and I was like 'Dude that was amazing, that was badass.' His food's simple, just fresh, it's unfussy; it's just well executed. Everything's made in-house and it's just super straightforward. Nonna is just kind of my go-to. It's my go-to for sending people. It's just the spot," he says. 4115 Lomo Alto Dr., Dallas. nonnadallas.com.
Where Dallas chefs eat sushi: Teppo Yakitori-Sushi Bar
Want to go where everybody knows your name? Chefs go to Teppo. "Every time I'm there I always run into industry friends. It's like every time," the chef says. "I always walk in there and there'll be another chef. I mean there's some good sushi spots [in Dallas] but that's definitely my favorite." He doesn't often order sushi rolls; he does sashimi and then asks head sushi chef Tomoaki Nishigaya to whip up some specialties. McCallister especially likes Teppo's grilled chicken gizzards. 2014 Greenville Ave., Dallas. facebook.com/pages/Teppo-Yakitori-and-Sushi-Bar.
Don't mess with these tacos: El Come Taco
The chef calls El Come Taco's suadero and pastor tacos "freaking serious." He goes on: "I mean, it's legit. They're executed really well; the meat's done really well, it's tender, it's not blown out, the tortillas are well made. You can tell there's character in the ingredients." 2513 N Fitzhugh Ave, Dallas. facebook.com/pages/Come-Taco.
Fried chicken to feed the family: Bubba's
"It's like THE best fried chicken in the city," he says. "A lot of times I have to convince my daughter not to go there cause that's all she ever wants to go get. I'm like, we can't eat fried chicken three times a week, that's just not good." His order is always the same: a two pieces of dark meat, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. His daughter gets chicken tenders, mashed potatoes with gravy and French fries. "And you have to have ketchup," he says. "Ketchup is like a life source for her." 6617 Hillcrest Ave., Dallas. bubbasdallas.com.
Italian sub: Jimmy's Food Store
McCallister grew up working in an Italian deli in Chicago. When he landed in Dallas and went to Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas, he was struck by the similarities. "I was like, 'Oh my god, I'm home,'" he says. "They have sandwiches, they have all the same stuff, the giant things of sharp provolone. It's just, you know, obviously brings me back. So that's where I go for an Italian sub." 4901 Bryan St., Dallas. jimmysfoodstore.com.
Drink (and eat) your beer: Small Brewpub
Small Brewpub chef Misti Norris formerly worked as a sous chef for McCallister. He's got high praise: "Man, the food she's throwing down is good. The one dish that really stands out is she did these fried boudin balls. She made like an apple hot sauce and then she candied the grains from one of the beers that they brew [to add to the dish]. Boudin balls are kinda fatty, deep-fried, and then that apple hot sauce was like that perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and then the grains have the texture." 333 W. Jefferson Blvd., Dallas. smallbrewpub.com.
BONUS: A farm where anything grows: Rae Lili
You can't dine at Rae Lili. But you've likely eaten the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor if you've dined at restaurants around Dallas. Rae Lili farm, located northeast of Dallas-Fort Worth near Paris, Texas, is a staple for McCallister. "They're game to do whatever," the chef says. "This last year I was like, 'Yo, you guys need to grow sunchokes.' And they were like, 'What's a sunchoke?' So I kind of explained to him exactly how to do it and [the farmer] listened to me, he did it, and harvested beautiful sunchokes this year. It's really cool working with these kinds of people cause I'm like growing with them. I'm like, 'Hey dude, I really want this,' and I'll buy it all. It's a mutually beneficial kind of thing."
Love to hear about chefs' favorite restaurants?
Check out the top picks from chef Stephan Pyles (Stephan Pyles, Stampede 66); Lisa Garza-Selcer (of Sissy's Southern Kitchen); John Tesar (Knife, Oak, El Bolero and coming-soon restaurants The Royale and Gravy); and Samir Dhurandhar (Nick & Sam's).