The DFW area's chicken and waffle scene just got taken up a notch with this 24-hour diner that launched in Plano the first of March. As the name indicates, the specialty is hot chicken (aka Nashville-style spicy fried chicken), which is brined, buttermilk battered, and served up every which way, from strips, popcorn and wings to on top of buttermilk waffles. Speaking of waffles, you can order them on their own and top them with everything from savory gravy to sprinkles, strawberries and chocolate syrup. Oh, did we mention that they also offer killer eggs sandwiches here too?
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: 24 Hot Chicken is the place to hit during a late-night munchie attack.
Ilene's expert tip: The restaurant just received its liquor license, so there is also craft beer on tap as well as wine and mixed drinks available.
This all-day bourbon-obsessed bar and eatery in the Hilton Garden Inn arrived on the downtown dining scene in February with an extensive list of American whiskeys and Southern-inspired food. Hits include everything from blackened redfish tacos and wagyu burgers to shrimp & blue corn grits with andouille sausage and smoked Gouda cheese. As for booze offerings, expect to find over 200 varieties of bourbon and whiskey from small and large batch Kentucky distilleries, served neat, on the rocks as well as in cocktails and flights. New to the brown spirits game? No worries, there's a Whisky Bible on hand that contains back stories and tasting notes for every spirit in the bar's collection.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Elm Street Cask & Kitchen is where to go when you fancy bourbon and burgers.
Ilene's expert tip: Score $5 bites and $5 select beer, wine and cocktails during Happy Hour, offered Monday-Friday from 2-7 p.m.
Appearing on Deep Ellum's food scene in February is Bitter End, a bar and eatery serving cocktails, oysters and pub grub in large brick-lined space with an awesome patio. In addition to a rotating selection of oysters, find charcuterie boards, fish & chips, burgers, and po' boys, along with lobster mac & cheese and steak frites. Cocktails ($7-$9) include refreshing drinks like the Hepburn, made with vodka, sparkling wine, raspberry, lemon and lavender bitters. Best of all, those oysters can be had for only $1.50 on Mondays and Tuesdays as well as from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every night of the week.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Bitter End is a good choice for late-night dining and drinking.
Ilene's expert tip: Find drink and food specials during Happy Hour, offered weekdays from 5 -7 p.m.
Jonathan Calabrese and Tony Winkler, the duo behind several popular Dallas bars, have recently opened a smokehouse-themed sports bar in the same building near Love Field Airport where their pizza eatery Social Pie is located. On the menu is a slew of gourmet burger options (including one topped with gochujang spiced mayo and kimchi) as well as barbecue brisket served in everything from sandwiches to tacos and poutine. Also making a showing is a lengthy list of scotch, bourbon and rye whiskey along with a rotating selection of craft beer. And there's brisket migas, banana bread pudding French toast and a bloody Mary bar on offer during weekend brunch.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Maple Landing is an especially a good place to dine before flying out of Love Field Airport.
Ilene's expert tip: Happy Hour is offered from 4- 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday.
This Design District spot, which opened in December, specializes in wood-fired pizzas served rodizio-style. It operates much like traditional Brazilian churrascarias where waiters bring unlimited selections of grilled meat to the table for a fixed price, only here it's with pizza. We're talking for $19.95, diners can choose from an endless parade of around 20 rotating pies, ranging from Margherita and pepperoni to more exotic options like garlic picanha (a Brazilian steak specialty), and chicken tikka masala. The deal also includes charcuterie and antipasto platters, seasonal greens, fire-roasted vegetables and lobster bisque. Save space, dessert pizzas are included in the price too.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Delucca Gaucho Pizza offers the best deal in town when it comes to hand-crafted wood-fired pizzas.
Ilene's expert tip: Reservations are highly recommended, especially on weekends.
Opened in March, this casual sushi spot joins an ever-growing lineup of restaurants at The Hill, a revamped development located on the northwest corner of Walnut Hill and 75. As its name implies, the focus is on hand rolls (aka temaki), where each little package is made-to-order and comes stuffed with both raw and cooked options. Also, expect to find a selection of tempura along with several reasonably priced set menus that include up to five handrolls plus miso soup and edamame. To drink, there's Asian inspired cocktails, Japanese beer, sake, shochu, and Japanese Ramune soda. Bonus perk: Kids (age 12 and under) can eat free with adult purchase on Thursdays.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Sushi de Handroll is one of the best value sushi spots in Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: Score $2 and $3 handrolls along with drink specials during Happy Hour, offered every day from 4-6:30 p.m. Note that this restaurant is in the garden area on the back side of the storefronts that face the parking area.
Recently opened on the first level of the CANVAS Hotel Dallas (formerly known as NYLO Dallas South Side), this art-inspired restaurant and lounge feature an inventive all-day menu of small bites, shareable dishes and food flights by veteran Dallas chef and restaurateur, Jeana Johnson. Menu items range from ceviche flights and artisan cheese boards to lemon-braised chicken over pearl couscous and steak frites with Texas black garlic butter. Cocktails, by bar manager Leann Berry, are also interesting: expect to see innovative libations like tamarind margaritas and a smoked Old-Fashioned made with Xocolatl Mole Bitters. Start or end the evening in the rooftop bar where you'll be treated to a spectacular view of the Dallas skyline.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Chef's Palette is a terrific place to go in downtown Dallas for cocktails and sharable bites.
Ilene's expert tip: Happy Hour runs Monday-Thursday from 4 pm to 7 pm, both in the lobby as well as in the Gallery Rooftop Lounge. Specials include $5 wells, draft beer, and house wines.
The second outpost of Jesus Carmona's acclaimed Oak Cliff taqueria has arrived on lowest Greenville Avenue, bringing forth the Tijuana-style street tacos that were featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. And while there are many tacos varieties here to explore, Carmona's pulpo tacos (grilled marinated octopus, asadero cheese, avocados, and cilantro pesto salsa) are always the most popular option. Don't overlook the borracho fries, topped with carne asada; roasted tomato salsa; guacamole; and roasted poblano chile con queso. Ditto for the house-made tres leches cake. Wash everything down with margaritas, which come in flavors like prickly pear, guava and mango.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Tacos Mariachi is one of the best places in Dallas for street tacos, plus the Greenville Ave location has a great people watching patio.
Ilene's expert tip: There is plenty of free parking available behind the restaurant, plus Mariachi customers can also park in neighboring Char Bar's lot. Tacos Mariachi features a daily special taco, check Facebook for more details.
Having acquired a following through his Khao Noodle Shop pop-up concepts around town, chef-owner Donny Sirisavath's 25-seat Laotian eatery was already making waves before opening its permanent digs in East Dallas this past December. Inspired by Sirisavath's childhood memories of his mother's home-cooking and his travels throughout Southeast Asia, the menu features several noodle options as well as sharable snacks like Lao sausage, beef skewers and tapioca-pearl dumplings. Not-to-be-missed are Sirisavath's signature boat noodles which feature hand-made rice noodles in rich pork blood infused broth. Splurge on condiments such as the spicy jeow bong or jeow som to take the meal to another level.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Khao Noodle Shop is one of the only places in Dallas serving Laotian food.
Ilene's expert tip: Khao is BYOB only. Pick up beer and wine across the street at Jimmy's Food Store.
Anyone familiar with the Dallas restaurant scene will have heard of Matt McCallister, the chef behind the highly lauded restaurant FT33 which he closed last year in preparation for this latest venture. So, it should come as no surprise that of all the area's new restaurant openings, Homewood has arguably been generating the most buzz. Slated to debut at the end of March or early April, the eatery is being described as relaxed and cozy with an open-fire hearth for grilling over wood as well as an on-site garden for growing herbs and vegetables. As for the food, expect to find an approachable, seasonal menu featuring house-cured charcuterie and heirloom grain pasta alongside roasted chicken, grilled fish and grass-fed steaks. Also expect to find an affordable wine program with a focus on natural, organic and biodynamic wines.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Homewood is where to go for approachable, yet creatively-inspired food.
Ilene's expert tip: The restaurant uses the online reservation system Resy, which allows you to sign up on waiting lists for multiple nights and times.