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Texas Restaurants

4511 McKinney Avenue
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 559 3111

When this foodie landmark opened in 1999, the combination of celebrity chef Kent Rathbun's Asian-Southwestern-Parisian fusion menu, the wackily geometrized but impeccably finished Miami-meets-Kyoto decor, and the gourmet glitterati crowd seemed almost insufferably chic. But Abacus has toned it down with age. A muted palate of cream, champagne, and brown now highlights new artwork, mostly by servers from the restaurant. The signature starter here is the lobster "shooter," a little lobster-filled deep-fried dumpling chugged from a shot glass full of chili-spiced coconut curry cream and sake. Pork belly is all the rage these days, and here it's crisply seared, with tamarind barbecue glaze and so-called "Thai style" pickled English cucumbers. There's also a full sushi menu in addition to the small plates and big plates. The menu changes frequently based on the seasonality of ingredients.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 6 to 11 pm.

Al Biernat's
4217 Oak Lawn Avenue
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 219 2201

Dallas is a city of steak houses, and this is perhaps the most classic. Come here for a look into old-boy Dallas and its cigar-smoking fat cats—though you won't see them lighting up after the city's smoking ban. Steak is the real focus, so steer clear of the seafood options, or try one of the more ambitious game entrées, such as elk fillet with a shiitake port-wine reduction. The wine list here shows an intense New World focus, so there will be no shortage of big California wines to complement your hunk of beef. Keep an eye out for the corporate groups dining at tables of 20; they're hard to miss amid the dark woods and low lighting. Al Biernat himself is a ubiquitous presence, greeting everyone who walks through the door.

Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5:30 to 9 pm.

Angelo's Bar-B-Que
2533 White Settlement Road
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 332 0357

In business since 1958, Angelo's has managed to become an institution (you can even find its dry rub in supermarkets now) without losing the respect of the notoriously picky Texas BBQ cognoscenti. The barnlike establishment remains no-fuss and a lot of muss. A couple of great big smoky rooms crammed with the stuffed heads of big-horned ungulates find faithful customers queuing up for the signature hickory-smoked pork ribs, crusty on the outside and falling-off-the-bone-tender inside (presented on a Styrofoam plate with beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and the legendary spicy sauce). They serve the ribs until they run out, which can often be before they shut off the spigots on the trademark ultracold beer at 10 p.m.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 10 pm.

2708 Routh Street
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 871 1924

Sardinian cuisine in Dallas? You'd better believe it. Efisio and Francesco Farris import ingredients to create authentic Italian cuisine. They brag that Sardinian food is the simple food of the simple people there. The menu, however, does feature some dishes that are anything but simple, like handmade semolina dumplings with a ragù of braised baby lamb, or linguine with clams, tomatoes, garlic, and bottarga (the cured roe that's the specialty of Sardinia, nicknamed "Sardinian caviar"). A wood-fired pizza oven makes for a beautiful centerpiece; a bar area appeals to its fair share of attractive Dallasites. Arcodoro shares its space with Pomodoro, a more formal restaurant with a less relaxing ambience, also manned by the Farris brothers.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 11 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays 11 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5:30 to 10 pm.

4216 Oak Lawn Avenue
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 528 9400

Aurora is still a contender in Dallas's superheated dining universe: an intimate, Paris-style food shrine where globe-trotting gourmets can deconstruct a celebrity chef's riffs on cutting-edge culinary techniques. Aurora even adds an element of performance art: You enter the minimalist, 12-table dining room through a velvet curtain to find Avner Samuel and his all-star staff showing off their chops behind an enormous glass screen that presents the gleaming stainless-steel kitchen as the set of a restaurant-based reality show. Mere appetizers can evoke a world tour, like the Iranian osetra caviar on a Yukon potato chibouste. Entrées, such as the Ruti de Colorado lamb rib and saddle fillet with potato truffle galette, combine Samuel's polished French technique with distinctively American fare.

Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 9 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 9 pm.

1728 Barton Springs Road
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 474 4452

Velvet Elvises papering the walls and hubcaps on the ceiling set the mood; the Hatch green chile sauce provides a caliente kick to the enchiladas and burritos; the potent margaritas—made with fresh limes, not sour mix—keep the buzz going. (Yes, this is where First Daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush got busted for underage drinking in 2001.) Chuy's food is pretty straightforward Tex-Mex but it compensates for a lack of surprises with gargantuan portions and gregarious service. Three other locations have sprung up around town, but the original on Barton Springs remains the classic.

W Hotel - Victory
2440 Victory Park Lane
Suite 100
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 397 4111

Tom Colicchio isn't just a cutting-edge practitioner of the ingredients-first movement, he's practically the founder. This, the second outpost of his NYC institution, is one of the hottest tables in town. Soaring windows and muted natural colors flow through the big open space, but the mix-and-match minimalist menu is famously laissez-faire, putting all the focus on the ingredients. Your ordering task is to pick your protein and your sauce, so much of the meal's success is in your hands. Many of the more savory dishes are particularly good; pork belly melts in your mouth, and wild boar short ribs are impressive, but sweetbreads can come out slightly dry. Service is spotty, giving you the definite sense that success has gone to the staff's heads. Our last visit saw the dining room at a frigid temperature, and we had a server who seemed indifferent to the vintages listed on the wine list. And keep in mind that the bill is inevitably pretty steep. Still, the hot-table designation is deserved; this is Dallas's ante for the 21st-century game.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 6:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 6:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm.

Driskill Grill
Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos Street
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 391 7162

Ornate chandeliers, dark-wood paneling, and etched-glass partitions make a trip to Driskill Grill feel a bit like traveling back to the days of Wild West outlaws. But chef Jonathan Gelman's kitchen is as innovative as any in town. You'll find refreshing takes on classic dishes like lobster with pineapple carpaccio, watercress, and passion fruit, in addition to well-excuted standards like steak with bleu cheese potato confit and roasted asparagus. The wine list covers a lot of ground with an impressive range of prices and regions. Consistently named as one of the best restaurants in the city, the Driskill is the ideal place for a romantic night out as well as a worthy anchor to the city's grandest hotel.

2121 McKinney Avenue
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 922 0200

Chef Dean Fearing has transferred his trademark Southwestern style from the Mansion on Turtle Creek to the Ritz-Carlton. You can have your dinner (or lunch) in any of the seven uniquely designed rooms that make up the restaurant. They span styles: One room is a trendy spot with flashy art and grown-up Southern belles decked out in their best gold jewelry, while another is a more muted grown-up version featuring beige furniture with classy black stripes. An outdoor section—which should never be attempted during the summer months—features low seating around a cozy fireplace. Tortilla soup, famous at the Mansion, is still on this menu, as are other south-of-the-border-infused offerings, including buffalo tenderloin on jalapeño grits and chicken-fried Maine lobster on Queso Fresco corn potatoes.

Open Mondays through Thursdays, 6:30 to 11 am, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and 6 to 10:30 pm, Fridays 6:30 to 11 am, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and 6 to 11 pm, Saturdays 6:30 am to 3 pm and 6 to 11 pm, and Sundays 6:30 am to 3 pm and 6 to 10 pm.

Fonda San Miguel
2330 W. North Loop
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 459 4121

The haciendalike Fonda San Miguel has been an Austin eating institution for over 30 years and is well worth the detour off South Congress. There may be more conveniently located taco joints in central Austin, but none offer Fonda San Miguel's authentic Mexican cuisine or atmosphere—or, for that matter, its potent, frozen fruit–filled red sangria. The warm sunset-orange walls are adorned with distinctive artwork by Mexican artists, and most of the produce comes from Fonda San Miguel's own garden, one of the largest restaurant gardens in Austin. The menu, with signature Mexican dishes from seven regions, includes the Yucatán specialty cochinita pibil (pork baked in banana leaf) and camarónes Tikin Xik (achiote-seasoned shrimp). All entrées come with a side of divinely buttery frijoles that will make you forget every pasty lump of refried beans you've ever been served elsewhere. Finish off your meal with two scoops of the house-made sorbets (ask for the guanabana).—Carolina Santos-Neves

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Sundays 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Highland Park Pharmacy
3229 Knox Street
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 521 2126

The Highland Park Pharmacy is proof that the culinary avant-garde is not completely sweeping Dallas. There are still any number of distinguished retro-food spots dishing up artery-assaulting home-style cooking, traditional favorites like chicken-fried steak, and big greasy breakfasts and lunches. But it doesn't get any more authentically retro than the Highland Park Pharmacy, a working drugstore that has been in business at its quaint street-corner location since 1912. Take a stool at the old-fashioned soda fountain–lunch counter for a grilled cheese on white bread along with a chocolate soda, thick shake, or root beer float. It's nothing less than time travel.

Open Mondays through Fridays 7 am to 6 pm, Saturdays 9 am to 5:30 pm.

Hudson's on the Bend
3509 Ranch Road N. 620
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 266 1369

This stone cottage, about 20 miles west of town in the Hill Country near Lake Travis, offers the quintessential Austin experience: It's sophisticated, but not ashamed to be a little bit country. Chef-owner Jeff Blank wows foodies and good ol' boys alike with his inventive use of wild game, such as the rattlesnake appetizer served with a pistachio crust and creamy chipotle dressing. The entrées change seasonally, but the mixed game plate with venison, quail, and buffalo is a staple and a great place for first-timers to start. With white tablecloths, twinkling candlelight, and a plentiful wine list, Hudson's is plenty romantic, too.

1204 West Lynn Street
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 477 5584

A venerable neighborhood bistro that's a favorite among celebs and politicos, including a former Austin resident named George W. something-or-other. They come partly for the low-key atmosphere—it's in an old storefront in the artsy Clarksville neighborhood just off downtown—but mostly for the imaginative yet always reliable menu. The food is hard to categorize, with elements of Latin, Southwestern, and Continental cuisine. Some have called it "New Texan," but we simply call it tasty. The menu changes daily, but crispy oysters on yucca root chips (reportedly a W favorite) and venison loin with corn-truffle pudding are among the stalwarts.

Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana
3405 W. 7th Street
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 850 9996

In this warm, hacienda-style space, chef Lanny Lancarte, a Fort Worth native, prepares his alta cocina mexicana, which in this case translates to fusion cuisine. He likes to combine Texan ingredients with Mexican and international ones, as in elk loin with mole colorado and gnocchi, or foie gras with pan de nuez. The extensive wine list has a refreshing, exciting focus on South American wines, and their pairings let you dig deeper into their cellar than your budget would normally allow. Tequila options are broad as well, and premeal cocktails include the creative Margaritas, such as one made with Sangria. The lunch menu features tapas and a number of cemitas, Mexican sandwiches on sesame-seed rolls. Although the vibe is casual, prices can climb fairly high; most main dishes hover around $40.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
2406 N. Main Street
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 740 8810

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Tim Love evokes the trail-drive era with cowhide throw rugs, raw brick walls, and the 19th-century-style molded tin roof of his bustling restaurant in the historic Stockyards District. But the cuisine, widely regarded as Fort Worth's best, isn't something you're likely to find on the chuck wagon. Start with Boursin-stuffed kangaroo carpaccio nachos or grilled duck quesadillas, then move on to Love's signature roasted garlic-stuffed beef tenderloin with Western plaid hash, grilled asparagus, and Syrah demi-glace—or maybe just a humongous buy-by-the-ounce, hand-cut buffalo rib-eye steak with a dollop of lime–serrano pepper butter on top.

Open Mondays 5 to 10 pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 11 pm.

Love Shack
110 E. Exchange Avenue
Fort Worth , Texas
Tel: 817 740 8812

This Fort Worth institution is a funky&compound. You order your burgers at the counter and then explore any part of the multilevel entertainment complex, ranging from movie theaters to live music venues. The burgers, equal parts tenderloin and brisket, are served dry (no dressing, no condiments) unless you specify otherwise. If burgers aren't your thing, opt for one of the hot dogs, like the flying dog, a chicken and apple bratwurst. Shakes are another classic here, with one daily designated flavor. If you're up for a kitschy, utterly Fort Worth–style evening, this is the way to go. For something international, or trendy, stay away.

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Thursdays 11:30 am to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 1 am.

The Oasis
6550 Comanche Trail
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 266 2442

Like a zany tree house for adults, this restaurant is famous for its series of multilevel decks—more than 40—arranged some 450 feet above Lake Travis. There's no better view of glorious Texas sunsets and the surrounding Hill Country. The restaurant's proximity to the heavens may have contributed to a lightning strike that destroyed part of the complex in June 2005, but the owner began rebuilding immediately, and today you can barely see any aftereffects of Zeus' fury. Perhaps it was the quality of the food that made him so cross: The menu is thankfully unambitious—not veering much from fajitas, burgers, and the like—but the amazing view more than makes up for the lackluster cuisine. As such, the Oasis is best for munchies and margaritas. Do consider a designated driver: It's a curvy 25-minute drive back to downtown.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 11 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm, Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.

Salt Lick
18300 FM 1826
Driftwood , Texas
Tel: 512 894 3117

If, in your mind, Texas + food = barbecue, the Salt Lick is the place for you. A hoppin' joint out in the middle of the Hill Country, a 30-minute drive southwest of Austin, it's jammed most weekends with 'cue aficionados lining the indoor wooden picnic tables and eating themselves into a carnivorous stupor. Go with the family-style option, and for less than $20 per person the waiter will bring platter after platter of first-rate ribs, brisket, sausage—plus all the sides—until you say uncle. It's BYOB, so make sure to bring a cooler of ice-cold Shiner Bocks (brewed in nearby Shiner, Texas). Oh, and your credit is no good here—cash only.

Sonny Bryan's
2202 Inwood Road
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 357 7120

This place is a testament to why Texans feel they have a monopoly on the barbecue market. Have a bite here, and you'll find yourself convinced, too. For starters, the atmosphere is dead-on. The inside is dark, walls are covered with soot, and you can just feel (and smell) the years of smoke this place has endured. Sonny Bryan's serves legendarily tender, smoky ribs; crispy onion rings; and classic barbecue sides like coleslaw, potato salad, and mac and cheese. And the appeal of the place transcends class: You'll see all types in Sonny Bryan's. Although a chain has sprouted from this famous name, the luster of the original is not lost. Stay away from the impostors, and stick to Inwood. (And if Dallas is your only stop in Texas, this recommendation goes double.)

Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 4 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 3 pm.

6416 N. Lamar Boulevard
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 451 5440

In 1933, Kenneth Threadgill obtained the county's first post-Prohibition liquor license, converted an old Gulf gas station into a beer joint, and started hosting legendary late-night jam sessions. In the 1960s, a disheveled hippie named Janis Joplin first made a name for herself here. It became a restaurant in 1981 and though it's mellowed considerably with age, it remains the city's best source of Southern-style comfort food. The chicken-fried steak is justifiably celebrated, but the long list of veggies—steamed okra and tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and so on—is pretty impressive. The second location (301 W. Riverside Drive) is more centrally located, but the original, located north of downtown, is worth the extra drive.

York Street
6047 Lewis Street
Dallas , Texas
Tel: 214 826 0968

The unassuming location of this tiny dining room in the Lakewood area hides what's really going on in the kitchen. The menu changes daily, and every dish is thoughtfully conceived, with carefully selected ingredients. Some call it Texan—presumably because of the number of locally sourced ingredients—but this foodie favorite really defies categorization. Some dishes are a bit challenging, like veal hearts, or a duck salad with bits of tongue; others are more pedestrian, such as a simple steamed salmon. Regardless, most tend to be crowd-pleasers. The tiny space ensures a romantic and intimate dining experience, and you'll see many residents of the nearby yuppie neighborhood among the clientele.

Open Tuesdays and Thursdays through Saturdays 6 to 10 pm, Wednesdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 6 to 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.