Eat like a local: Dallas’s 13 favorite neighborhood restaurants

Ari Korean BBQ, with locations in Plano and Carrollton, is a meat-lover’s paradise. | Credit: Ari Korean BBQ

Prime rib, brisket, enchiladas—everything’s bigger in Dallas. So it’s not surprising that even some of the Metroplex’s most prized neighborhood restaurants boast multiple locations.

A Mexico City-inspired spot that debuted in 2010 was so adored for its street tacos that the chef/owner added two more branches since. A family-owned Greek joint, with outposts in Preston Forest and Travis Walk, draws repeat diners for a lively Champagne brunch on Sundays. A sleek, Sichuan place in Preston Center, featuring family recipes from the China-born chef, recently added a Lakewood edition.

Though new places pop up all the time, these are 13 local gems that Dallasites return to again and again. Read on to book a table at one of these beloved spots now.

Al Biernat’s (North Dallas and Oak Lawn)

Herb-roasted chicken at Al Biernat’s. | Credit: Al Biernat’s

As one of the top steakhouses in the city, Al Biernat’s is definitely a splurge, but it never disappoints. It’s a special occasion restaurant, a business deal lunch spot, and sometimes even the place for celebrity sightings. The staff delivers impeccable service—one might see Al himself making the rounds in the dining room—along with tender prime rib and more than 700 wines. Those who aren’t into steak will love the restaurant’s many seafood and vegan dishes. It all adds up to a winning formula that keeps Dallasites returning over and over.

Book now North Dallas

Book now Oak Lawn

Mi Día From Scratch (Plano, Grapevine, and Flower Mound)

Chef Gabriel DeLeon opened Mi Día From Scratch in Grapevine in 2010; it’s since been such a runaway hit among locals that he’s opened two more locations. His success stems from an ability to represent many different sides of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Arranged in regional sections, the menu offers New Mexican dishes, Tex-Mex favorites such as fajitas, Mexico City street-style tacos, and original creations including tequila-infused enchiladas. The menu also caters to vegetarian, soy-free, and gluten-free diets.

Book now Plano

Book now Grapevine

Book now Flower Mound

Jia Modern Chinese & Asian Lounge (Park Cities)

This sophisticated restaurant from chef-owner Jia Huang features the Southern Chinese and Sichuan dishes that she grew up with as a child in China, where her family ran a small restaurant. After moving to Dallas and working in restaurants for over a decade, Huang opened her own sleek spot in Preston Center (and recently, Lakewood, too) to showcase her culinary prowess. Diners return for standouts such as traditional mapo tofu and the signature kung pao chicken, which offers the pleasant numbing of Sichuan peppers.

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Ari Korean BBQ (Plano and Carrollton)

Booth seating at Ari Korean BBQ. | Credit: Ari Korean BBQ

For an interactive dining experience, meat-lovers in Plano and Carrollton head to this Korean barbecue spot. They choose from a long list of meats and watch the cooking process as they enjoy soju and banchan (side dishes). The menu is split into multiple sections: beef, pork, and for the more adventurous eaters, intestines. Ari made the prestigious Eater 38 this year because the cuts of meat the restaurant uses are so impressive—that’s high praise in a city filled with serious meat connoisseurs. A casual vibe, comfortable booths, and built-in table grills explain why locals hop to Ari on a whim.

Book now Plano

Book now Carrollton

Medina Oven & Bar (Victory Park)

This cozy Moroccan spot offers a dining room adorned with lanterns, intricate ironwork details, and colorful rugs and throw pillows. Locals are drawn to the lamb sausage brochettes (skewers) and sea bass tagine. Herb-filled cocktails, such as the Moroccan mojito, bring the flavors of Marrakesh to downtown Dallas. The restaurant also has patio seating for those who would rather enjoy a spread of mezze plates al fresco, where outdoor diners can peruse the hookah menu and choose from a variety of flavors to add to the transportive vibe.

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Nonna (Highland Park)

Fresh pasta lovers have flocked to this neighborhood favorite since chef Julian Barsotti opened its doors in 2007. In the ensuing years, Barsotti opened three more Italian restaurants and a Tex-Mex spot in Dallas. But Nonna remains a favorite among locals, a hidden gem in an off-the-radar strip mall. Housemade pastas may take center stage, but those in the know always add an order of the white clam pizza. The small restaurant can fill up quickly, so reservations are a good idea.

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Ziziki’s (Preston Forest and Travis Walk)

The cozy patio at Ziziki’s. | Credit: Ziziki’s

A family-owned modern Greek restaurant known for its warm customer service, Ziziki’s has been slinging gyros, moussaka, and spanakopita to Dallasites since 1994. Classic touches, such as checkerboard flooring, white tablecloths, and chandeliers, lend a playful, old-world vibe. The wine program, however, is distinctly modern, featuring organic and biodynamic flights from unsung Greek wine regions. Locals love Sunday Champagne brunch and never end a meal without an order of baklava.

Book now Preston Forest

Book now Travis Walk

Sloane’s Corner (Downtown)

A cozy, all-day New American bistro with a light international touch, Sloane’s offers market-driven comfort foods, including brûléed brie and charred tomato bisque. When it opened in 2019, Sloane’s swiftly became a popular lunch and happy hour spot for the downtown office worker crowd (as beloved as owner Ji Kang’s first restaurant, Dakota’s Steakhouse). The restaurant’s riff on a hot fried chicken sandwich is a must, made with buttermilk crispy chicken, pickles, pickled red Fresno chile peppers, and togarashi, a Japanese blend of chiles, ginger, and orange peel. Not surprisingly, Kang won CultureMap’s 2022 Dallas Chef of the Year Award.

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NAPA Thai Asian Cuisine (Colleyville)

Roasted duck curry at NAPA Thai Asian Cuisine. | Credit: NAPA Thai Asian Cuisine

Ten miles west of DFW Airport sits a chic Thai restaurant tucked into the back of a shopping center. Beautifully prepared entrees such as fresh red snapper in ginger sauce and pan-seared day-boat scallops served over coconut-lemongrass risotto sit alongside crowd pleasers, including pad see ew, pad Thai, and green curry. Check out the cocktail list for specialties such as the Phuket colada, the restaurant’s twist on a piña colada with the citrusy addition of sour mix. Returnees know that NAPA’s outdoor seating area, surrounded by lush greenery, is the ideal perch for a glass of rosé and truffle edamame.

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Edoko Sushi & Robata (Frisco and Richardson)

This lively neighborhood sushi spot is marked by its black and off-white modern décor and its menu of creative rolls, including the Green Hulk (fried shrimp, fried crawfish, crab, avocado, wasabi, and eel sauce) and the French Rainbow (spicy crab, asparagus, cucumber, “chef’s select fish,” and French ginger sauce). For diners who aren’t in a sushi mood, the restaurant also offers robata, or Japanese barbecue, featuring skewers grilled over charcoal and served with a variety of dipping sauces.

Book now Frisco

Book now Richardson

The Yellow Chilli (Plano)

An appetizer platter at The Yellow Chilli, featuring tandoori salmon and minty chicken chunks on skewers, among other clay oven-baked delicacies. | Credit: The Yellow Chilli

This chic but cozy Indian restaurant comes to Plano by way of Sanjeev Kapoor, also known as the “Indian Wolfgang Puck” with over seven million YouTube subscribers. The Yellow Chilli has been the celebrity chef’s popular chain in India for over 20 years, with outposts cropping up in the U.S. since 2016, but this is the first one in Texas. Plano has no shortage of Indian restaurants, and by comparison to most, The Yellow Chilli is a splurge. But the extensive menu is unique and offers high-quality South Asian cooking from all regions. Locals come for the warm service, delicious cocktails, and inspired, clay oven-baked dishes, including a tandoori chicken dish influenced by one made on Lawrence Road, a bustling commercial strip in Amritsar, India.

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Roots Southern Table (Farmers Branch)

Chef Tiffany Derry’s inspired Southern plates have earned nods from the James Beard Foundation and The New York Times. | Credit: Roots Southern Table

Shortly after the hospitality group T2D Concepts (founded by Tom Foley and Top Chef contestant Tiffany Derry) opened Roots in 2021, the local and national accolades started pouring in. Among the most prestigious were nods from the James Beard Foundation and a spot on The New York Times’s 2021 Restaurant List. The praise registers as a no-brainer to anyone who has tasted Derry’s cast-iron cornbread with sweet potato butter or her gumbo that incorporates chicken, sausage, shrimp, and blue crab. Although Roots is a dining destination for many, for Farmers Branch residents, it’s a beloved local haunt.

Off the Bone Barbeque (South Dallas)

Texans are particular about their barbecue—anyone you ask will claim a different favorite spot. But pitmaster Dwight Harvey’s South Dallas stalwart comes up frequently. Harvey started his career in catering, then quickly earned such an avid following that he opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2009. As the name suggests, pecan wood-smoked ribs fall “off the bone,” the pulled pork sandwiches are juicy, and regulars adore the deep-fried corn on the cob.

Diana Spechler is a novelist and essayist whose work appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Harper’s, and elsewhere.

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