CBD Provisions executive chef Richard Blankenship at his restaurant in the Joule Hotel in Dallas, on Thursday, June 11, 2015.  (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

CBD Provisions executive chef Richard Blankenship at his restaurant in the Joule Hotel in Dallas, on Thursday, June 11, 2015. (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

Staff Photographer
With Richard Blankenship in charge, CBD Provisions has exciting new energy (4 stars)

Nestled in The Joule hotel in the heart of downtown Dallas, CBD Provisions is serving surprising dishes like pig head carnitas. When chef Richard Blankenship isn't busy cooking up inventive dishes for guests at the brasserie, he feasts on fare far different than the American cuisine he cooks.

Looking to explore new flavors outside of Dallas' fine dining scene? Follow Blankenship off the beaten path to these six worldly D-FW eateries.

For mouth-numbing deliciousness: Royal Sichuan

Richardson’s Sichuan King dishes up spicy pleasures (2 stars)

Sichuan is a regional style of Chinese cuisine characterized by the use of Sichuan peppercorn, which gives food a unique flavor and a numbing effect as it's eaten. This signature element of the cuisine is what draws Blankenship to his favorite dish at Royal Sichuan: mapo tofu.

"[Mapo tofu is] one of the most traditional Sichuan dishes and it's kind of what I judge Sichuan restaurants by," he says.

Made by folding tofu in a "super spicy pepper gravy," mapo tofu is the chef's suggestion for those interested in trying authentic Chinese cuisine.

Doesn't sound like your ideal dish? You can't go wrong with something else from Royal Sichuan's menu. As Blankenship says, "If their mapo is good, it's all going to be good."

  • 400 N Greenville Ave, Richardson.

For "b--chin'" Chinese barbecue: King Chinese BBQ

King Chinese BBQ

At King Chinese BBQ, the flavors of China and the Southern comforts of barbecued meat collide.

Take the roasted pork saddle, for example, Blankenship says. "They just take the mid-section of the pig and just roast the ever-loving hell out of it," he explains. "The skin is crispy, and it's tender and fatty and ... incredible."

  • 907 E Pioneer Pkwy, Arlington.

For hardcore beef lovers: Pho Bang

Blankenship has thrown down the gauntlet to all hardcore carnivores: You're not a real beef-lover unless you're willing to eat tendon. 
Pho Bang Restaurant

Pho Bang, home of "the best tendon [he's] ever had," is the arena in which the true meat-eater can prove him or herself.

"People say they like beef, but then they want to, like, put ketchup on it. You like ketchup, you don't like beef. I like beef," Blankenship says. "When I want to eat beef, I want to taste the beef, not all this other stuff. You get more beef flavor from the fat and the tendons and all the off-bits."

Still, Blankenship understands if you're not up for the challenge. "I'm a little more adventurous. I get it; not everyone wants to slurp down beef tendon. It's a textural thing. [But] it's incredible. I highly, highly recommend it."

  • 3565 W Walnut St, Garland.

Because everyone needs a go-to place for cheesesteak: Fred's Downtown Philly

Philly cheesesteaks are among the world's singular tasting foods. When you're craving one, there is simply no substitute.

When Blankenship needs his fix, he heads to Fred's Downtown Philly. Owner Fred Walker was born in Philadelphia and brought the flavors of the city to his small chain of cheesesteak joints scattered throughout D-FW. Blankenship says Fred's "tangy, spicy house sauce" perfectly complements the melty, savory deliciousness of the iconic sandwich.

One look at the store's website and you'll know where to go next time a craving hits.

For unfussy food that's fantastically cooked: Filament

Filament

With a busy work schedule and a baby at home, Blankenship doesn't always have time to track trends in the Dallas dining scene. Still, he always tries to keep an eye on what's going on in the kitchen at Filament.

"It's a similar style of restaurant [to CBD Provisions]," says Blankenship. "I'd be really dumb if I didn't pay attention."

He notes that the Fried Hot Catfish -- a pile of fried fish smothered in horseradish ranch and stacked high atop a thick slice of white bread -- is a standout dish on the Deep Ellum eatery's menu. The fish is seasoned in numerous spices, including several chili powders and cayenne, which together pack a heated, mouthwatering punch.

"The combination of spices they use creates a sweat-inducing level of heat that provides another dimension of the eating experience for me. It's almost a euphoric feeling," he says.

Don't sweat it if high-heat isn't for you: Ask for extra ranch on the side for dunking, and use it to offset the spicier flavors of the fish.

  • 2626 Main St, Dallas.

For Blankenship's preferred morning pick-me-up: Weekend Coffee

Need caffeine? 9 can't-miss D-FW coffee shops for any mood

Blankenship isn't interested in high-brow cuisine, no matter what time of day, he says. So, for his breakfast routine, he keeps things simple.

"One of my favorite breakfasts is a sweet bread of some kind and black coffee."

The combination of the coffee's bitterness and the pastry's sweetness is exactly what the chef looks for in a morning meal, and Weekend -- CBD Provision's neighboring café at The Joule hotel -- is the ideal spot for him to find his fix. Executive pastry chef Ruben Toraño provides the delectable pastries (think pepper and cheese biscuits and butter croissants) and Victrola coffee (which is "fantastic" by Blankenship's standards) gives the chef an edge on the day.

  • 1511 Commerce St, Dallas.

Love to hear about chefs' favorite restaurants?

Here's chef Richard Blankenship's roasted gulf catch at CBD Provisions in Dallas.

Here's chef Richard Blankenship's roasted gulf catch at CBD Provisions in Dallas.

Ting Shen/Staff Photographer
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