On the Dallas dining scene, what’s hot and what’s not isn’t always about what’s new (though sometimes it is). These seven of-the-moment restaurants – which have lately been drawing the city's savviest diners – mix it up delectably.
Carbone's Fine Food & Wine
Julian Barsotti’s five-year-old Italian-American place is better than ever, and that’s not lost on the enthusiastic fans that fill its tables night after night. Of the chef’s three restaurants (the others are Nonna and Sprezza), Carbone's is the least expensive and most casual. Chef Jonathan Neitzel keeps us remembering how soul-satisfyingly delicious red-sauce pastas can be. Reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more. (If you’re a last-minute type, that can be a good thing, though there’s likely to be a wait.)
Carbone's Fine Food & Wine, 4208 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas. 214-522-4208. Lunch and dinner daily; brunch Saturday and Sunday.
Spectacular steaks, sized to share, and top-notch seafood are the order of the day at Town Hearth, Nick Badovinus’ glammy, exuberant, big-ticket showplace on the edgy side of the Design District. For dessert, don’t miss the Elvis, a peanut-butter-chocolate-banana Napoleon.
Town Hearth, 1617 Market Center Blvd., Dallas. 214-761-1617. Dinner Monday-Saturday.
Whether you’re looking for traditional street tacos (carnitas! barbacoa! lengua!) or something more creative – like a grilled octopus, avocado and asadero cheese number – this congenial taqueria is the place to be. Owner Jesus Carmona added Sunday brunch recently, featuring breakfast tacos and guisado tacos, sold singly ($2.75), by the trio ($8) or by the sampler ($13). Terrific salsas, and pretty good cocktails, too.
Tacos Mariachi, 602 Singleton Blvd., Dallas; 214-741-1239. Lunch through early dinner Tuesday-Saturday, lunch and brunch Sunday.
When the dim sum bug bites, there’s no point in resisting: hence the crowd every weekend late morning-into-afternoon at Richardson’s hottest Cantonese palace, where the dim sum is hands-down the finest and most interesting in North Texas. The selection of enticing items on the carts and at the made-to-order dim-sum counter is stupendous, with the widest selection offered Saturday and Sunday during the day. Dim sum cart service is offered weekdays at lunchtime, as well.
Kirin Court, 221 W. Polk St., Richardson; 214-575-8888. Dim sum and dinner daily.
For people-watching and an awesome view of downtown, nothing beats Mirador, the penthouse dining room at Main Street's chic new department store, Forty Five Ten. Don your most fashionable duds and step in for weekday lunch, or dinner Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. When the weather's fine, a table on the terrace is awesome. This is not a place to skip dessert: Executive pastry chef Keith Cedotal's sweets are wonderful.
Mirador, Forty Five Ten on Main, penthouse level, 1608 Elm St., Dallas; 214-945-8200. Lunch Monday-Saturday; dinner Thursday-Saturday.
Mot Hai Ba
Founding chef-owners Jeana Johnson and Colleen O'Hare sold their interest in this lovable Old East Dallas spot in 2016 to their silent partner, his wife and the chef, Peja Krstic. Lately, Krstic's modern Vietnamese cooking has been mighty impressive. Don't miss his splendid blue crab salad with bok choy and lime suprèmes, his sumptuous duck meatballs and the garlic noodles. A full list of cocktails made with spirits has replaced the limited selection of sake-based drinks. Always busy, and always fun. Yep – hot stuff.
Mot Hai Ba, 6047 Lewis St., Dallas; 972-638-7468. Dinner Tuesday-Saturday.
If you've been keen to dive into the northern suburbs' exploding Chinese regional dining scene, Sichuan Folk is a wonderful place to start. As Mark Vamos' recent three-star review explains, Plano's hottest dining address is two restaurants in one. For a hot-pot experience, turn left when you enter; turn right to order a la carte. I'm a big fan of the hot and spicy wontons, the preserved chiles with beef and rice cakes, and the farmhouse lamb. (Editor's note: This restaurant's most recent grade from the Plano Health Department – a C from a December 20, 2016 inspection – would normally have disqualified it from inclusion in this story. We only learned of the unacceptable grade after the story went to press in Hot List, a new premium magazine included with Sunday print subscribers' May 21 paper. We have since changed our restaurant review policy to include consideration and publication of recent restaurant inspection scores.)
Sichuan Folk, 1201 E. Parker Road (at K Avenue), Plano; 972-516-8627. Lunch and dinner daily; B.Y.O.B., no corkage fee.