Zen Sushi: Executive chef and founder Michelle Carpenter brings more than 20 years of experience to Zen. Considered to be one of the best sushi chefs in Dallas, she draws from her mixed heritage (half Japanese, half Cajun) to create exotic pairings that both surprise and delight.
Cretia’s (509 N. Bishop Ave.): Whether you need a custom cake or simply have a hankering for something sweet, Cretia’s is your place for all things confection. Unlike many bakeries whose treats look beautiful but are lacking in the flavor department, all of the desserts baked here are as tasty as they are pretty. The Italian Creme Cake is especially delicious, but then again, so is everything on the menu.
Lockhart Smokehouse: Named for the barbecue capital of Texas, this joint prides itself on serving meat so tender and flavorful that forks and sauce are not needed. The meats are smoked over Texas post oak, and the sides menu features updated Southern classics interspersed with some of the owner’s family favorites.
Jonathon’s: At Jonathon’s, breakfast is served all day and in generous portions, just the way we like it. The lengthy menu features classic Southern dishes, such as chicken and waffles or biscuits and gravy, updated and supersized. The infamous “build your own” Bloody Mary bar is the perfect compliment to the hearty, down-home brunch.
Hunky’s: Step into Hunky’s and you’re instantly transported back to the 1950s, to a charming diner where the T-Birds and Pink Ladies would have spent most of their free time. In keeping with the joint’s retro vibe, the burgers are served up old-fashioned style. Paired with a side of thick-cut fries and a creamy Blue Bell milkshake, they’ll have your taste buds sock-hopping away.
Cafe Brazil: Everyone knows this is the preferred hangout of late-night revelers across the city. Nothing about it is fancy, but it’s cheap, tasty, and open late. The coffee is the restaurant’s real star, however, with an extensive selection of full-bodied roasts and fun, dessert-flavored blends.
Dude, Sweet Chocolate : With ingredients such as dehydrated blue cheese, sweet potatoes, spiced rum, and apple butter, this is not your basic checkout-aisle chocolate. Owner and master chocolatier Katherine Clapner’s shop is the Chocolate Factory of Oak Cliff, although it’s much more unassuming than Wonka’s ostentatious digs.
FAMILY DINING (TIE)
Gloria’s : Dining with kids can be a daunting feat, but Gloria’s makes it easy. Whether your children are young or old, there’s something for everyone here. The spacious Latin American restaurant, housed in an old firehouse, has plenty of seating and isn’t at all fussy, making it an ideal place to bring the whole family.
La Calle Doce: Legend has it that the margarita was born in Dallas, so it makes sense that you can get one on just about any corner in the city. Few come close to La Calle Doce’s signature margarita, which is made with your choice of Jimador, Herradura, or Cazadores tequila.
El Ranchito: After the success of La Calle Doce, owners Oscar and Laura Sanchez wanted to open another restaurant, but it had to be unique. Born from a love of the food in their hometown of Monterrey, El Ranchito specializes in regional Northern Mexican food that is a delicious deviation from the abundance of local Tex-Mex options.
Bolsa: Bolsa may be one of the most frequently covered eateries in Oak Cliff , but there’s deﬁnitely a reason for that. The menu is extremely fresh — often changing several times in one week — and it is ﬁlled with locally produced organic and seasonal items. The food isn’t fancy, but it’s bursting with ﬂavor and is best enjoyed on the spacious and comfortable patio.
Lee Harvey’s: If you live in Oak Cliff, the Corinth Street bridge may be your fastest route to this dog-friendly, indoor-outdoor haunt and all its vintage décor, chic and grizzly regulars, and live music on the weekends. The beer is basic, the onion rings are elaborate, and the blue-cheese burger is among the best in town.
Eno’s Pizza Tavern: Eno’s won in three categories this year, proving that it’s not only the best place to go to for pizza, but also for an extensive beer offering and great people watching. Its thin-crust pizzas are loaded with fresh toppings and spices. And although the pies are what Eno’s is most known for, the bar features an impressive draft menu and hosts live music on the weekends that draws a diverse crowd.
Hattie’s: Executive chef Daniel Ikelman is famous for taking local ingredients and transforming them into dishes that are as exquisite as they are simple. Take the mac and cheese for example. Made with four different cheddars, it’s a grown-up version of our favorite childhood dish.
Charco Broiler: We’d expect any restaurant that has a giant cow perched atop its roof to know a thing or two about steak, and Charco Broiler doesn’t disappoint. This familyowned business prides itself on serving quality steaks at budget prices, and with prime cuts ringing in under $14, it certainly does just that.
Tillman’s Roadhouse: This steakhouse has been providing the community with updated regional favorites since 1992. One thing that hasn’t changed since the transition from Tillman’s Corner, however, is the quality of the food. Tillman’s still serves the same juicy and ﬂavorful steaks that became its signature two decades ago.
Taqueria El Si Hay (601 W. Davis St.): Cruise by this beloved taco stand, and you’ll often find a long line of fans — some from well north of the Trinity — who don’t mind waiting for these savory little cocoons of chorizo, al pastor, barbacoa, fajita meat, y mucho mas. El Si Hay serves onions, cilantro, and salsa alongside its tacos, but you’ll be hard-pressed to ﬁnd Tex-Mex garnishes such as sour cream and cheddar cheese here. One bite, and you’ll realize why you don’t need them anymore.
Spiral Diner: Vegans, vegetarians, and even omnivores love Spiral Diner for its conscientious approach to business and an award-winning menu that’s devoid of animal products, not taste. Hearty breakfasts, ginormous burritos, and artisan cakes are favorites here. And thanks to a lineup of cooking classes, Spiral’s recipes aren’t even a secret.