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Insider Guide to Dallas Restaurants from Smoke Chef Tim Byres

2012 F&W People’s Best New Chef Tim Byres is the barbecue master behind Dallas’s incredible Smoke, and creator of Chicken Scratch and The Foundry—a fried chicken joint and beer garden that share a backyard and offer live music on weekends. Here, Byres reveals where to eat, drink and shop in his city, from a truck stop taco joint to a cigar bar with an Ernest Hemingway feel.

Tim Byres’s Favorite Dallas Restaurants

True Tex-Mex: El Ranchito

“El Ranchito is a great place to see legitimate family-style Texas Mexican food. No one speaks any English, there’s an abuela (“grandmother”) in the corner making fresh tortillas and they also have mariachis. It’s a cool, old-timey kind of thing. They serve awesome cabrito, a roast baby goat leg meant for four. It comes out on a little hibachi thing with fresh tortillas and rancho beans, so you can build your own roast goat meat tacos.” elranchito-dallas.com

Best Slice: Eno’s Pizza Tavern

“This local pizza place is in a cool old building in the Bishop Arts District, which is a really awesome neighborhood in west Dallas. It has this almost Brooklyn kind of feel. They do wood-burning oven pizzas and nice salads and pastas. There’s also a fun upstairs bar where you can eat.” enospizza.com

Handmade Pasta: Lucia

“Lucia is also in Bishop Arts. It’s a great little Italian restaurant where everything is handmade and awesome, like pastas and salumi. It’s real small and pretty much booked all the time. David Uygur and his wife, Jennifer, run the place; he’s the chef, and gets lots of acclaim for the high integrity of his food.” luciadallas.com

Veracruz-Style Seafood: Mesa

“The chef-owners here, Raul and Olga Reyes, are from Veracruz. It’s kind of a Mexican seafood restaurant; they do this awesome crab soup with a whole blue crab in it, shell and all. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves for that one. They also do ceviche, and dishes with high acidity and bright flavors that reflect the cuisine’s Caribbean influence.” mesadallas.com

Artisanal Soba: Tei-An

“This place is in the north end of downtown, in the Arts District. The restaurant is amazing: Teiichi Sakurai, the owner and chef, makes world-class handmade soba noodles. He’s been in the restaurant business in Dallas for like 25 years. Whatever he makes is always great; he has traditional training but does things unorthodox and his way, like a sweet soba dumpling with black honey for dessert. The restaurant has a sophisticated feel: You could bring someone from New York or Chicago and they’d feel at home.” tei-an.com

Truck Stop Tacos: Fuel City

“West of downtown there’s this massive truck stop, gas station and taqueria that’s renowned for the best tacos around. They have a pool where you can swim, a drive-through beer barn and a huge car wash. And there’s this field behind it with longhorn bulls. It’s pretty wild. They serve tacos 24 hours a day, which is really cool if you’ve been out drinking late at night. It’s crazy, always busy, busy, busy. They do stuff like lengua and barbacoa—it’s not a gringo thing.” fuelcity-tacos.com

Classic Soda Shop: Highland Park Soda Fountain

“They still have soda jerks at this old-school pharmacy. My kids will go in there and get a grilled cheese sandwich and milk shakes and malts.” highlandparksodafountain.com

Soulful Vegetarian: Kalachandji’s

“In this east Dallas neighborhood called Lakewood there’s a vegetarian restaurant in the Hare Krishna temple. It’s really cool because it has a changing vegetarian buffet and the food’s always great—real sharp, spicy Indian. They also serve this pretty amazing tamarind punch: It’s almost like a tea. You feel like you need to be quiet and soulful because it’s in the middle of a temple. I don’t think a regular tourist is going to find that.” kalachandjis.com

Dallas Bars

Drinking Man’s Movie Theater: Bar at Texas Theatre

“The Texas Theatre is where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested after he shot JFK. It’s been reopened as an independent movie house and has a really cool bar. There’s always a record player going, playing stuff like Tom Waits. There are indie, too-cool-for-school types of kids in there, but the theater’s awesome. Barak Epstein, the guy who runs it, is just a cool guy who gets it.” thetexastheatre.com

Happy Hour with a View: Bar Belmont

“Belmont is actually attached to Smoke, and it has the best views of downtown in the city. It’s great for a happy hour situation.” belmontdallas.com

Taste of Old Dallas: The Mansion at Turtle Creek

“This is kind of like the grand old lady of Dallas. I used to work there, and the bar is awesome. You go in and it’s like, wow, all these big money deals have gone down here for generations. Everyone’s in a suit, and it’s awesome to sit there with a heavy rocks glass in your hand. The level of service is unmatched; it’s a great adult experience. The building itself has cool features: There’s a wine room in the basement below the bar that seats maybe 15 to 20 people. It’s a private dining room and not a lot of people know about it; you get there by taking a spiral staircase from the lounge. And there’s an elevator that goes up to one of the banquet rooms in the original mansion. It’s where FDR stayed when he was in a wheelchair, so they installed this elevator—it was the only one in the city at the time. So there’s a lot of cool history to the place.” rosewoodhotels.com/en/mansiononturtlecreek

Go-To Cocktails: The Cedars Social

“There’s not a lot happening on the southeast side of Dallas, in the warehouse district, except for this cool cocktail bar from Michael Martensen. I would go there for their fun cocktails. They have a cool menu, too, with dishes like Texas shrimp and grits and Kobe beef meatballs.” thecedarssocial.com

Wine and Cigars: Pop’s Safari Lounge

“Over in Fort Worth, our sister city, there’s this really weird cigar and pipe store-slash-wine bar. You can smoke tobacco pipes and hang out. It’s got this Ernest Hemingway hunting den kind of feel.” popssafari.com

Dallas Shopping Picks

Vintage Goods: Lula B’s

“Lula B’s has cool boots and Pendleton wool jackets and Pyrex bowls. Real Americana. It’s also where I buy some buffet stuff for the restaurants.” lula-bs.com

Famous Department Store: Neiman Marcus

“Neiman Marcus started in Texas and this is the original one. It’s kind of a fancy place; my mom likes to go there when she visits.” neimanmarcus.com

Leather Goods: M.L. Leddy’s

“At this really cool store in the Fort Worth stockyards, they sell handmade boots, Texas-y stuff. You can have an insanely expensive handmade saddle done there.” leddys.com

Texas Institution: Ray’s Hardware and Sporting Goods

“This hardware store has been here for about 60 years. They sell tools, camping equipment and guns. Everyone goes to Ray’s, it’s an institution. I don’t own any guns but I value the feel of Ray’s. It’s an interesting place.” rayssportinggoods.com

Oddball Experience: Orr-Reed Wrecking, Inc.

“This isn’t for everybody, but there’s a cool salvage yard southwest of Dallas where parts of every old building that has been knocked down in Dallas ends up. You can find wood floors and doors and window frames; sconces, chandeliers and doorknobs. It’s a crazy time vault of an experience, a really interesting place.” orr-reed.com

Dallas Hotels

Retro Hideaway: The Belmont

“This is a really fun old lodge from the 1940s. It’s relatively low-amenity but has a lot of coolness. Our restaurant’s in there and the loud and crazy bar is a lot of fun.” belmontdallas.com

Central and Elegant: Hôtel St. Germain

“Hôtel St. Germain is a kind of obscure, older house. It’s located right in the middle of everything that’s cool.” hotelstgermain.com

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