This beloved Downtown Carrollton Mexican food spot recently opened a second outpost inside the Shops at Stonebriar, and with it comes a superb patio and a slew of Tex-Mex favorites. We're talking everything from queso flameado and brisket empanadas to blackened fish tacos and chicken mole enchiladas. Pair all that up with Mexican beers and a variety of margaritas made with infused tequilas. El Rincon also serves Sunday brunch, so expect to find breakfast tacos and Mexican egg dishes along with build-your-own mimosas and happy hour prices on booze all day.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Not only is the food good, but El Rincon also has a terrific selection of tequila.
Ilene's expert tip: Score 50% off appetizers after 3 p.m. on Mondays and on Saturday's kids eat free from 11-1 p.m. Happy hour offered all day on Monday & Sunday as well as from 3-7 p.m., Tuesday- Friday. There's also reverse happy hour from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday.
The Dallas area has more than its fair share of Asian food spots, but none specialize exclusively in Cambodian cuisine, at least not until Kamp Fire opened in downtown Dallas' West End this past August. The fast-casual eatery ( with 8 seats available at the bar ) comes by way of Kevin Top and Paul Try, childhood friends and first-generation American Cambodians who wanted to give the city a portal into what Khmer dining is all about. The menu ranges from snacks to large plates and includes items such as Sach Moun Gnot (wood-grilled stuffed chicken wings), a vegan noodle soup, and Cambodia's national dish, fish amok (a fish curry steamed in a banana leaf). Don't forget to grab a Cambodian donut on your way out.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Kamp Fire is a terrific takeout lunch option in downtown Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: Kamp Fire also offers delivery through Grub Hub, Postmates, Uber Eats and Doordash. Bonus perk: Doordash offers free delivery on your first order from here.
Adding to the diverse range of culinary options in the Dallas area is Hola Café, a casual Venezuelan street food spot that has gained a legion of followers since opening in Carrollton this past June. The eatery belongs to Euclides Romero and his family, who fled to Dallas after escaping the political turmoil in their homeland. In addition to arepas (stuffed cornmeal cakes), the menu features a variety of unique dishes not commonly found in the DFW metroplex, including cachapas (sweet-corn crepes), pepitos ( Venezuelan sandwiches) and the country's national beans and rice dish, pabellón criollo. Venezuelan beer and specialty cocktails based on passion fruit and sugar cane are also available.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Hola Café is where to find a slew of authentic Venezuelan specialties not commonly found in the Dallas area.
Ilene's expert tip: Hola Café features live music on Thursday and Saturday nights and karaoke on Friday nights. Also, find food and drink specials posted on Facebook and Instagram.
Inspired by the glamour of the southern coast of Europe, this stunning Mediterranean-chic restaurant with a gorgeous alfresco space landed in the Bishop Arts District this past August. Everything from house-made pasta to wood-fired pizzas and grilled fish is featured here. But what makes this place even more unique is that while diners wait for their main courses, they can choose from an array of appetizers that whiz by the tables on a roving cart. As for libations, expect to find natural wines, craft beer and a variety of Italian-influenced cocktails. Desserts are worth saving space for.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Paradiso is where to go for reasonably priced Italian food in a gorgeous setting.
Ilene's expert tip: Customers can sit in the courtyard and order drinks and coffees from the Botanist and Companions. There's a valet as well as free parking in a nearby garage.
Opened in August, this sleek, modern ramen joint on lower Greenville Avenue comes by way of Masao Kuribara, a fourth-generation chef and restaurateur whose family boasts a 134-year history in the restaurant business in Tokyo. The specialty here is dashi-based ramen rather than the more commonly found pork-bone-based tonkatsu. Expect to see a compact menu of shiitake-vegan ramen, miso-dashi-chicken ramen and the restaurant's eponymous ramen, which comes garnished with chashu pork and a marinated soft-cooked egg. Appetizers include items like fried soy-glazed shishito peppers and chicken kara-age. There's also a well-curated list of Japanese whiskey, beer and sake.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Hinodeya Ramen & Bar is ideal for vegan ramen eaters.
Ilene's expert tip: Look for the entrance to be on Bell Street. The restaurant takes walk-ins only, reservations are not accepted. There is a free parking lot as well as a complimentary valet behind the restaurant.
Area taco devotees are anxiously anticipating the September reopening of Trompo in Bishop Arts. It's the new location for Luis Olvera's acclaimed no-frills taqueria that garnered national attention when Bon Appetit named it one of the 50 best new restaurants in the country in 2016. And this time around there will be a few more frills in the form of actual seats in both a small dining room and at picnic tables in a shared courtyard. Food-wise, expect to find Monterrey-style street tacos, quesadillas and burger sliders topped with trompo pork, salami, mozzarella and avocado on a charcoal-infused brioche bun. Also on offer will be tacos mañaneros filled with various guisos (stewed meats), though those can only be had during brunch, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Trompo is where to go when you're after some of the best tacos in the Dallas area.
Ilene's expert tip: For places to park: Find two lots just west of Bishop on Melba and there's also a lot at the corner of Madison and 7th Street.
Creating a stir among local foodies is this Bishop Arts izakaya by Dallas pop-up ramen chef Justin Holt. The menu features ramen, of course, but what you really want to come here for is the yakiniku and yakitori. Offerings range from grilled sweetbreads, quail and Japanese sausages to almost every part of the chicken (from crispy skin to the cartilage). All meats and vegetables are cooked over binchotan charcoal, and everything from the noodles (using hand-ground grains) to the miso, soy sauces, togarashi and ketchup is made in-house. Japanese whiskey, shochu cocktails and soft-serve Mexican vanilla ice cream dipped in dark or white chocolate are also featured.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Salaryman is a terrific place to go for shochu cocktails and legit Japanese bites.
Ilene's expert tip: No reservations are taken, but diners can wait in the bar at Macellaio next door until their table is ready. There's valet parking as well as several free parking lots around the corner.
After a two-and-half-year stint in his homeland of Israel, Chef Avner Samuel has returned to Dallas to reopen his highly acclaimed restaurant, Nosh Bistro. The menu features an upscale take on food from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, so expect to dig into everything from meze items (think Moroccan beef cigars and salmon topped potato latkes) to dishes like pomegranate-red wine glazed lamb shank and sumac dusted diver scallops. The cuisine is equally matched with a worldly wine list of around 150 types of wine, which includes thirty options offered by the glass. Couple all that up with a chic mid-century designed space, and it's no surprise that this place is on everyone's must-try list right now. Pro-tip: Ask the server for a tasting plate of desserts, they're all phenomenal.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Nosh is where to find some of the city's most creative Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.
Ilene's expert tip: Score half-price select appetizers, cocktails & wine by the glass during Happy Hour, from 4-6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Note that Nosh also serves stellar lunches and Sunday brunch.
Historic downtown Plano continues to grow in excellent food options, this time with a modern Japanese bistro that's been attracting quite a fanbase since it opened in late July. Named for the Japanese god of fishermen and luck, Ebesu features binchotan-grilled meats and seafood along with sushi, sashimi and an impressive array of innovative Japanese specialties. Highlights include pan-seared lobster accompanied with a creamy sea urchin custard and a miso-marinated black cod cooked on a magnolia leaf over the robata. Don't leave without trying the hitsumabushi, a grilled eel and rice dish that's to be eaten three different ways (first alone, then with condiments, and finally with hot dashi poured over the top). Also expect to find a terrific selection of sakes, shochu, Japanese whiskey and specialty cocktails. Leave space for dessert, the kinako semifreddo (mochi-wrapped frozen mousse) is outrageously good.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Ebesu is where to find authentic Japanese specialties that aren't commonly seen on North Texas menus.
Ilene's expert tip: Parking can be iffy around here, look for extra spaces behind the restaurant or across the light-rail tracks at Haggard Park.
Though it opened earlier this year, we'd be remiss to not include the tiny eatery that earned the number 2 spot on Bon Appetit's list of 10 Best New Restaurants of 2019. The restaurant belongs to chef Donny Sirisavath, and the cuisine is a modern interpretation of his Laotian mother's home cooking. Sure, there's only about a dozen snack-sized dishes on the menu, but every single one of them will make your palate sing. Go for the tapioca dumplings if there are still any left when you come. Also worthy of consideration are the silky boat noodles in pork blood broth and crispy tripe chicharrons.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Khao Noodle Shop is best for small groups who like to share.
Ilene's expert tip: There is plenty of parking in the back of the restaurant, and there are extra seats available on the patio. Note that Khao is BYOB, but you can pick up beer and wine across the street at Jimmy's Food Store.