Many cities have bites that are legendary: Philly’s cheesesteak, New Orleans’ gumbo and Dallas’ steaks. But few know that beyond these stereotypes are some of the most scrumptious dishes in the city. These popular menu items are beloved by locals, Texas transplants and foodies alike. We ate our way through hole-in-the-wall haunts and world-renowned restaurants to discover the appeal behind Dallas' most popular menu items and found that these 20 local delicacies are rich in both flavor and history.
Snuffer’s Cheddar Fries
After a night of painting the town, Dallasites love to indulge at Snuffer’s with hand-cut, Idaho potato fries smothered in melted, aged cheddar. Some like to dip their cheddar fries in sour cream or ranch dressing, while others prefer ketchup. Since 1978, Snuffer’s has provided the Metroplex with baskets of American classics, but the cheddar fries reign supreme. Multiple locations. The Original: 3526 Greenville Ave., 214.826.6850. www.snuffers.com.
Dream Café’s Cloud Cakes
Omelets, salads, sandwiches and pastries hit the spot at this family-friendly, Uptown spot, but the large, fluffy, ricotta pancakes topped with strawberries and homemade crème fraiche are the main event. The best part is you can get your breakfast fix for brunch, dinner or as a hefty afternoon snack. 2800 Routh St., 214.954.0486. www.dreamcafedallas.com.
Fearing’s' Tortilla Soup
Chef Dean Fearing’s namesake restaurant is home to an innovative and delectable menu of upscale, award-winning cuisine. Chef Fearing is known for his special Tex-Mex twist, and there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of his sizzling, tortilla soup. The warm, spicy delicacy, infused with jalapeños, avocados, fire-roasted ancho chiles and garlic, is hearty enough for a winter meal but light enough to order for lunch in the springtime. The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, 2121 McKinney Ave., 214.922.4848. www.fearingsrestaurant.com.
El Fenix’s $5.99 Wednesday Enchilada Special
If you’re in town on a Wednesday, hurry to this Dallas-area chain that’s been serving up authentic, cheesy Mexican plates since 1918. The restaurant’s midweek special is two cheese enchiladas smothered in chili con carne with beans and Spanish rice. Multiple locations. The Original: 1601 McKinney Ave., 214.747.1121. www.elfenix.com.
Goff’s #1 & #2
Behold, hamburger aficionados, a local spot that’s known for its charcoal patties and exceptional relish sauce. Add onions and you’ve got the famous #1, which tastes even better with a side of onion rings and a fried pie. Just as delicious, the #2 is covered in hickory smoke sauce. Bring home a jar of Goff’s famous relish or hickory smoke sauce, and your patties will never be the same. 6401 Hillcrest Ave., 214.520.9133; 12835 Preston Rd., 972.239.5336. www.goffsburgers.com.
Sonny Bryan’s' Brisket
While barbecue is done differently in certain regions of the country, the brisket is unrivaled at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. A difficult cut of meat to prepare, brisket must be cooked “low and slow,” and patrons who dine here appreciate the tender, smoky flavor of this house specialty. Multiple locations. The Original: 2202 Inwood Rd., 214.357.7120. www.sonnybryans.com.
Mia’s' Brisket Tacos
While on the subject of brisket, it’s only fair we mention Mamma Mia Enriquez’s cozy Oak Lawn eatery. At Mia’s, celebrities and sports stars dine alongside families, couples and college students. The intriguing brisket tacos are the perfect balance of Tex and Mex, served with grilled onions, poblano peppers, Monterey jack cheese and tasty brisket gravy. 4322 Lemmon Ave., 214.526.1020. www.miastexmex.com.
The Grape’s Mushroom Soup
The Grape Restaurant on Lower Greenville is consistently named the most romantic restaurant in Dallas, but it is Chef Brian Luscher’s mushroom soup that has kept young lovers coming back for years. The dinner menu changes monthly, but the soup has been a permanent fixture. It is creamy, subtle and heavenly. 2808 Greenville Ave., 214.828.1981. http://thegraperestaurant.com.
Fuel City’s Tacos
It might not look like much, but Fuel City is a 24-hour, to-go taqueria with a steady flow of local taco fiends. Order tacos al pastor or shredded chicken with hot sauce in a corn tortilla to go; chances are good you won’t be able to make it back to the hotel without sneaking a taste. This is taco authenticity at its finest. 801 S. Industrial Blvd., 214.426.0011. https://fuelcity.com.
S. & D. Oyster Company’s B-B-Q Shrimp
S. & D. Oyster Company, located in a historical building in Uptown, will make you feel like you’re in New Orleans. At this no-frills restaurant, the beer is cold, the seafood is fresh, and the atmosphere is communal and lively. The New Orleans-style B-B-Q shrimp, served with homemade French bread and coleslaw, has been a Dallas favorite since S. & D. opened its doors in 1976. 2701 McKinney Ave., 214.880.0111. www.sdoyster.com.
Jimmy’s Food Store’s Muffuletta
At Jimmy’s, you might get distracted perusing the aisles of imported Italian pastas, sauces and more, but head directly to the deli counter in the back of the store. Here Jimmy’s serves up its classic muffuletta with crusty bread, mortadella, ham, salami, olive salad and fresh provolone. Jimmy’s sandwiches feed at least two, so bring a friend. 4901 Bryan St., 214.823.6180. www.jimmysfoodstore.com.
Tolbert’s famous Bowl of Red is chili con carne with cheese, onions and a spicy chili pepper. You can get the chili on almost anything—cheese fries, fritos, hot dogs, burgers or burritos— so you get to experience the restaurant’s specialty, no matter what you order. 423 South Main St., Grapevine, 817.421.4888. www.tolbertsrestaurant.com.
Patrizio’s Crab Claws
Patrizio’s patio in Highland Park Village is one of the best in Dallas, and the legendary crab claws seasoned with fresh herbs and drizzled with melted butter are simply decadent. This is not a meal; it’s an experience. Multiple locations. The Original: 25 Highland Park Village, 214.522.7878. www.patrizios.net.
Abacus’ Lobster Shooters
Chef Rathbun’s lobster/scallion shooters in red chile-coconut sake sauce are addictive. Almost every table orders the appetizer, using them as a toast to begin the meal. “The experience is communal,” Rathbun says of the shooters, which may explain why they are dear to the hearts of so many. 4511 McKinney Ave., 214.559.3111. https://abacusjaspers.com.
La Duni’s Cuarto Leches Cake
This moist, spongy indulgence with four milks is a specialty at the Latin restaurant, La Duni. Owner and Chef Dunia Borga created the beloved masterpiece with soaked vanilla sponge cake, swiss meringue and arequipe caramel. Creamy and moist, it’s sweet, but not too sweet, and one slice is enough to share. Multiple locations. NorthPark Center, 8687 N. Central Expy., Ste. 1516, 214.987.2260. www.laduni.com.
Highland Park Pharmacy’s Palm Beach
This old soda fountain hasn’t lost its charm in almost 100 years. Since 1912, people have stopped by the tiny drugstore for milkshakes, malts and chicken salad. And while the grilled cheese is incredibly good, many diners opt for the Palm Beach, a grilled pimento cheese sandwich served with pickles on the side. 3229 Knox St., 214.521.2126. www.highlandparksodafountain.com.
Kuby’s Sausage Plate
Kuby’s is the place to go for comforting schnitzel, potato pancakes and split pea soup. It’s reminiscent of a spacious supper club, with a dimly lit interior, a lunch counter and menu that’s barely changed since 1961. You won’t be disappointed ordering the ever-popular sausage plate. From traditional, spicy Polish to jalapeño cheddar, Kuby’s wurst is the best. 6601 Snider Plaza, 214.363.2231. www.kubys.com.
Matt’s Bob Armstrong Dip
When political figure Bob Armstrong walked into the Matt’s El Rancho in Austin, he asked Matt to make him an appetizer that wasn’t on the menu. Matt improvised, creating a chile and queso dip with ground chuck, garnished with guacamole and sour cream. Today, it’s the most popular appetizer. 6332 La Vista Rd., 214.823.5517. www.mattsranchomartinez.com.
Wild About Harry’s Frozen Custard
Owner Harry Coley’s mother’s secret custard recipe hasn’t changed in more than 70 years. Mix in fresh fruit, sprinkles, candy or crunchy toppings for a personalized, hand-dipped indulgence, or get “Harry’s Favorite” sundae served with whipped cream and a cherry on top. 3113 Knox St., 214.520.3113. www.wildaboutharrys.com.
Louie’s was the after-work hangout of Dallas journalists and reporters for years, but it’s rapidly gained popularity because of its mouthwatering pizza. The pizza’s crust is ultra-thin and crispy, and is topped with everything from homemade sausage to jalapeños. 1839 Henderson Ave., 214.826.0505. www.louiesdallas.com.