Dallas’s best restaurants were well-kept secrets for years. But in the last decade that buzz became a roar. DFW is now home to a growing crop of celebrity chefs with spots that appear on many national and global hit lists—Bon Appétit magazine even recognized Dallas as 2019’s restaurant city of the year.
A splashy restaurant in an uptown hotel is the gold standard for Southwestern fare. In Park Cities, a stylish pan-Asian spot is known for killer braised pork steam buns and strong whiskey cocktails. Award-winning coq au vin keeps the crowds flocking to a Garland icon.
The restaurants on this list offer something for fine diners, barbecue lovers, and those who eat out for the good vibes. Read on for a guide to Dallas’s 17 greatest restaurants to book now.
Cane Rosso (Deep Ellum)
When Jay Jerrier opened this Italian spot in Deep Ellum in 2011, pizza lovers lost their minds. Real Neapolitan pizza was hard to come by in Dallas, but Cane Rosso made a splashy entrance with its wood-burning brick oven (built by Jerrier himself) and fresh dough made daily in-house with flour from Italy. D Magazine named Cane Rosso’s pizza Dallas’s best for five years in a row, and Jerrier opened four more spots around the city. When the chain expanded beyond Dallas, it scooped up accolades from the likes of the Houston Chronicle. Dallasites know that if anyone asks, “where should I go for good pizza?” the answer is always Cane Rosso.
Jose (Park Cities)
Jose distinguishes itself by specializing in beautifully plated regional recipes from the state of Jalisco. Expect ceviches that evoke Puerto Vallarta, street-style elotes inspired by Guadalajara, carne asada, tacos (of course), and endless tequila. No matter what’s on offer, Dallas diners know it will be good: Executive chef Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman was Eater Dallas’s 2018 chef of the year and a James Beard Awards semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas in 2022. Jose’s decor is heavy on beautiful ceramics, and the wall-sized, black-and-white tile mural makes an arresting focal point. String lights and heat lamps (for cooler nights) illuminate the romantic patio.
No Dallas restaurant is more iconic than “The Mansion.” The grand space was a 1920s home inhabited by various wealthy families and companies until it became a restaurant (and later, a hotel) in 1979. This pillar of fine-dining has hosted luminaries ranging from Tennessee Williams to Jay-Z, just to name a few. It’s synonymous with haute cuisine, serving New American fare with French influences in an opulent residential setting. Seared diver scallops arrive with Périgord truffles, the caviar is Platinum Osetra, and elegant details throughout the multi-roomed space include Renaissance-era decor and stained-glass windows.
Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill (North Dallas)
This Dallas classic and its hickory wood-burning grill have made smoky magic since opening in a Beltline strip mall in 2005. The beloved chop house is part of chef Kenny Bowers’s small but mighty dining empire (including Kenny’s Italian Kitchen and Kenny’s East Coast Pizza) that the native New Englander began building in 1992. Warm lighting and exposed brick walls pair well with the unpretentious food, which includes a three-day cured pork chop and a winning mushroom brie burger.
Reata (Fort Worth)
This sprawling four-story restaurant is all Texas all the time. The interiors are lined with hunting trophies, cowboy paintings, and cactus glass art. The menu follows suit with Lone Star State-inspired dishes such as jalapeño and cheese elk sausage and tenderloin tamales with pecan mash. Tourists know that Reata is a must, but locals love it for its stellar Southwestern food and one of Fort Worth’s best views. Take it all in from the rooftop bar—an ideal spot to sip a citrusy Cowboy Cosmo crafted from made-in-Texas orange vodka.
Al Biernat’s (Oak Lawn)
Dallas diners’ go-to special occasion spot opened to rave reviews in 1998. It became so popular that its eponymous owner eventually opened a second North Dallas location. Al Biernat’s is a prime place for celeb-spotting thanks to flawlessly prepared steaks, a nearly 700-bottle strong wine program, a striking bar, and a crisp ambiance fueled by white tablecloths and dim lights.
Shinsei (Park Cities)
In 2006, Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing turned their longtime dream of opening a “little taco stand” into a reality—only it’s a far cry from a little taco stand. Their pan-Asian restaurant Shinsei is nothing short of an institution on the Dallas dining scene with its stylish décor, enticing flavor pairings (braised pork steam buns, crispy Brussels sprouts, hoisin baby back ribs), fresh sushi, and Asian-inspired cocktails such as the Toki Highball (Japanese whisky, lemon, cucumber, mint, and a big ice ball). Rathbun and Fearing have since opened a second location in DFW Airport, a popular seafood restaurant Lovers Seafood, and Dea, a neighboring Italian spot.
Uchi (Arts District)
In 2015, James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole graced Dallas with his beloved Uchi, an Austin transplant. Inside the renovated two-story bank from the 1970s, tasteful lighting warms walnut and red cedar wood, creating a chic but homey ambiance (“uchi” is Japanese for “house”). Though diners can choose the classics they might find on any Japanese restaurant menu in the city such as grilled edamame and yellowtail sashimi, they can also enjoy wholly innovative recipes, including “walu walu”—oak-grilled escolar (a kind of snake mackerel) with candied citrus, ponzu, and Japanese ginger.
Since 2007, acclaimed Dallas chef Dean Fearing has dished up nothing short of opulence in the restaurant that has earned nods from Zagat and Esquire magazine. In short, Fearing’s is the crown jewel of Dallas fine dining. Fearing himself was already a television personality, cookbook author, and James Beard Award winner when he opened his eponymous restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, but he never rested on his accolades—or the choice location. His Southwestern recipes are both simple and elevated, evident in dishes such as prime beef filet with chicken-fried Maine lobster (served alongside loaded whipped potatoes) and a spinach taco with smoked tomato gravy.
Town Hearth (Design District)
Named for the spectacular fire pit in its extravagant 6,000-square-foot space, Town Hearth is the 2017 addition to hospitality group Flavorhook’s collection of successful Dallas restaurants. Chef Nick Badovinus is known and adored for the wild, crackling energy he brings to his dining spaces: Town Hearth’s dining room boasts 64 crystal chandeliers and a giant glass-encased yellow submarine. As the name and fire pit suggest, Town Hearth serves up steak and seafood cooked over an open flame. Go for the impeccable filet mignon and oysters. Stay for the random motorcycle on display in the center of the fancy steakhouse digs.
Award-winning chef Danny Grant helms this modern Italian restaurant that has dazzled Dallas with its stunning bird’s eye view of the skyline since opening in 2021. The impeccable service and ever-changing seasonal tasting menu (with wine pairings) doesn’t hurt, either. Monarch won the CultureMap Tastemaker Award for Best New Restaurant and was listed as one of D Magazine’s Best New Restaurants, quickly joining the ranks of the city’s top special occasion spots. Menu highlights include wood-fired meatballs with buffalo mozzarella, housemade spaghetti with a whole Maine lobster, and a 40-ounce porterhouse prepared Florence-style: coal-charred with lemon, arugula, olive oil and sea salt.
Pangea Restaurant and Bar (Garland)
Diners flock to Pangea for the coq au vin recipe that shot owner Kevin Ashade to celebrity chef status (he won Beat Bobby Flay in 2016 with it). That Ashade turned Pangea into a beloved DFW destination despite opening it at the most inopportune of moments—January 2020—is a testament to his talent. The chef offers Cajun dishes, international flavors, and a raved-about dessert menu that all reflect his globetrotting background. There’s the famous coq au vin, braised in red wine, bacon, carrots, onions, and celery, lobster mac and cheese loaded with five cheese and a four-ounce roasted lobster tail, and a can’t-miss sopapilla cheesecake.
Mesero (Multiple locations)
Mesero is the kind of consistently excellent place that is a locked and loaded answer to “where should we go for dinner?” With seven locations scattered around the Metroplex (as far north as Legacy West and as far south as Fort Worth), the restaurant is a treasured Dallas standby. Trey Dyer caters to Dallasites’ discerning Tex-Mex palates—the food is always tasty, the atmosphere both festive and stylish, and the margaritas ever-flowing. Adored Tex-Mex favorites (tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, chile rellenos) share menu space with a few American comfort foods such as hamburgers and hot dogs smothered in cheese. Cinco leches cake and chocolate flan sweeten the deal.
Goldee’s Barbecue (Kennedale)
No distinction in the Texas barbecue world is more prestigious than a spot on Texas Monthly’s 50 Best BBQ Joints. Goldee’s snagged first place in 2021, and today, barbecue lovers begin lining up at dawn for its renowned ribs and brisket. Five pitmasters—twentysomethings who have been friends since childhood—opened Goldee’s in 2020, right before the pandemic forced everything to shut down. The entire menu is scratch-made, and everything from the tender pork ribs to the cheesy grits is worth the hype.
Roots Southern Table (Farmer’s Branch)
When she appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef, Tiffany Derry was singled out as a fan favorite. Later, she went on to secure a finalist position on Top Chef: All-Stars. In 2021, Derry, along with business partner Tom Foley, opened what quickly became one of DFW’s most buzzed-about restaurants. As the name suggests, Roots Southern Table pays homage to Derry’s Southern background. It’s no surprise that the place has garnered a crowd of regulars, or that Derry and her restaurant were James Beard Awards finalists in 2022. Her corn bread with smoked sweet potato butter has something of a cult following. Other MVPS include Texas redfish with crawfish fried rice and seafood and sausage gumbo. To that, add a chic but approachable ambiance with a saxophonist playing at the bar, and Roots has all the components of a memorable night out.
Knox Bistro (Knox-Henderson)
This French bistro—formerly Up On Knox—underwent an overhaul in 2022. Along with the name change, French-born chef Bruno Davaillon, formerly of Bullion, took the helm with a seafood-forward menu. Caviar service and raw oysters pave the way for mains such as whole branzino prepared on the wood-fire grill and mussels with pomme frites. Beyond seafood, the menu offers classics including French onion soup beneath a thick layer of melted gruyere and twice-baked cheese souffle. Knox Bistro is a hot spot that has earned accolades including a spot on 2023’s Eater 38 and D Magazine’s 2021 designation as the city’s best French restaurant.
Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse (Park Cities)
Nick & Sam’s has remained a steakhouse standard-setter since opening in 1999, racking up local and national accolades for its superb Japanese steak menu. Its dishes include the rare and valuable Hokkaido Snow Beef from cattle raised in severe cold temps on Japan’s northernmost island—the marbling patterns on the beef are said to resemble snow crystals. Chef Samir Dhurandhar’s creativity and attention to detail shine in sauces and toppers such as foie gras hollandaise and black truffle butter. Diners can round out their decadent meals with a glass from the 500-plus wine bottle selection.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.
Diana Spechler is a novelist and essayist whose work appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Harper’s, and elsewhere.