Dallas-Fort Worth’s population has exploded over the last decade — the largest growth in the US, according to the census — and one of the biggest beneficiaries of this surge in transplants has been the food scene. You may not think of Dallas-Fort Worth as a “foodie” destination, but the area has quietly put itself on the culinary map. Like other major US cities, acclaimed chefs from all over the world call DFW home. From Tex-Mex and barbeque to Southern fare and high-end cuisine, there’s no shortage of options for all tastes and price points. And in true Texas fashion, everything is bigger, even the portions. That said, the most important piece of advice to keep in mind: Come hungry.

Uptown

Photo: The Common Table/Facebook

The Common Table $$ — Located in the heart of Uptown Dallas, The Common Table is all about charm and comfort. You’ll feel right at home, whether you dine inside, at the bar, or on the outside patio. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, the menu is filled with Southern favorites and varies slightly from month to month. Options include chicken fried ribeye, short rib pot roast, chicken and waffles, and what is by all measures the best grilled cheese in the city. To wash it down, The Common Table has an excellent tap list and wine selection. Or, for those feeling adventurous, Skittles Sangria.

Location: 2917 Fairmount St, Dallas, TX 75201

Sixty Vines $$ — A newer addition to the Uptown neighborhood, Sixty Vines has quickly become one of the top spots in town. Its selection of great wine and food, combined with large windows providing plenty of natural light, create one of the city’s best dining atmospheres. Inspired by wine country, the menu features a variety of cuisine along with — you guessed it — about 60 wines on tap. Since the wine comes from tap, not a bottle, you can even feel good about your wine consumption, as each steel keg saves 26 bottles from going in a landfill.

Location: 500 Crescent Ct Suite 160, Dallas, TX 75201

Saint Ann $$ — Possibly the only restaurant where you pass by a Samurai museum on the way to the restroom. Centrally located in Uptown but just off the beaten path, Saint Ann is the perfect blend of intimate yet fun. The menu has a little something for everyone. Local favorites include the charcuterie board, superb salads, red wine braised short ribs and grilled salmon. The perfect place for a date night on the large patio in the spring or fall.

Location: 2550 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75201

Deep Ellum

Photo: Pecan Lodge/Facebook

Pecan Lodge $$ — Ask any true Texan where the best barbecue in the country is and you’ll get a quick, obvious answer: Texas. In a state filled with highly regarded options, perhaps nowhere has a better claim to the best of the best than Pecan Lodge. They say good things come to those who wait, and wait you will here. Lines start forming around 11:00 AM and don’t stop until the meats run out. Get here early if you want your first choice. Get the 18-hour smoke beef brisket if you can, but you truly can’t go wrong.

Location: 2702 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226

Cane Rosso $$ — Dallas’s top pizza spot. It’s as simple as that. Cane Rosso prides itself on replicating Italian, Neapolitan-style pizza in Texas, and it does an admirable job. This packed, nationally recognized spot uses wood-fired ovens to create pies that are oozing with flavor yet light and airy. Pro tip: Go off the menu and ask for the Honey Bastard Pizza, which is topped with mozzarella, hot soppressata, bacon marmalade, and house-made habanero honey. If you still have room, try the Ladybird dessert pizza with vanilla mascarpone, Nutella, and cookie butter.

Location: 2612 Commerce St., Dallas, TX 75226

Deep Sushi $$ — Texas is by no means a sushi mecca. However, what it lacks in quantity of establishments, it makes up for with quality. The always-popular Deep Sushi is a little spot with big flavor. The Ahi Tuna Tower, which takes a tuna roll and stands it up straight, is a must-try, and there are plenty of creative rolls if you’re feeling adventurous. There is also an ample amount of vegetarian and vegan options, which is not always an easy find in DFW.

Location: 2624 Elm St. Dallas, TX 75226

Greenville

Photo: HG Sply Co./Facebook

HG SPLY CO $$ — This place supplies the good food, good drinks, and good times. Typically the most happening spot for dinner in Lower Greenville, HG SPLY CO gives off a rustic yet trendy vibe. The HG stands for “hunter” and “gather,” and accordingly, the menu offers plenty of paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian options. Don’t worry if that’s not your thing, as the menu is large and has something for everyone. If you head up the long staircase in the back of the restaurant, you’ll find one of the best rooftops in Dallas with killer views of the downtown skyline.

Location: 2008 Greenville Ave. Dallas, TX 75206

Gung Ho $$ — Like seafood, Chinese cuisine is not what DFW is known for. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t spots that do it well. Gung Ho, while not authentic Chinese, does a nice job with its Asian fusion menu. This trendy establishment sports cool décor and offers a great atmosphere for a fun night out. Popular items include the always-addicting crack chicken and dumplings. Plenty of fun drinks as well, include the Lucky Cat, which is served in a ceramic cat mug.

Location: 2010 A Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75206

Knox/Henderson

Photo: Velvet Taco Dallas/Facebook

Velvet Taco $$ — You shouldn’t leave the DFW area without getting at least one taco. This late-night haunt is a favorite among the after-bar crowd, but it’s worth a visit any time of day. Velvet Taco’s belief is that “there aren’t any rules when you do tacos,” and it delivers on this principle. There are more than 20 different taco options, including vegetarian, that are inspired by flavors from around the world. We’re talking spicy tikka chicken, Nashville hot tofu, Cuban pig, shrimp and grits, and more. And since they stay open until 5:00 AM on weekends, Velvet Taco has you covered whether you’re the latest of night owls or the earliest of risers.

Location: 3012 N. Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206

Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano $$$ — This is not your typical DFW Tex-Mex grub. Javier’s is Gourmet Mexicano, with an emphasis on the gourmet. This nationally touted Dallas mainstay has been serving first-class authentic Mexican fare since 1977. Everything from the décor to the dress code to the menu is a little bit classier, and you do pay a bit of a premium for it. The restaurant is large, and if you are a Cigar aficionado, the adjacent Cigar Bar is one DFW’s best. The cheese panela and Filete Cantinflas (beef filet stuffed with Chihuahua cheese) are always popular items, and the food is accompanied by a robust wine list.

Location: 4912 Cole Ave, Dallas, TX 75205

Gemma $$ — Gemma is where Napa Valley meets North Texas. They take the great food, wine pairings, and plating you’d expect to find in NorCal and provide just a touch of Texas to go with it. The feel is clean and sleek with a warm ambiance. The menu is filled with hits, making it hard to go wrong with whatever you select. Good vegetarian options are available as well. Gemma has one of the best dessert menus in the city and offers a condensed, but higher end, late-night menu with reverse happy hour until 1:00 AM Friday through Saturday, and until midnight on Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday.

Location: 2323 N Henderson Ave #109, Dallas, TX 75206

East Dallas/Lakewood

Photo: E Bar Tex Mex/Facebook

E-Bar Tex Mex $$ — This is it. It’s what you’ve been waiting for. It might even be the reason you came to Texas. E-Bar Tex Mex is the best Tex-Mex restaurant in DFW. The scene itself is nothing special — it’s a no-nonsense place in East Dallas kind of situated all by itself but within a few miles of all the popular neighborhoods. Still, E-Bar is almost always packed because of the goodness of the grub. The ambiance is warm and friendly. The service is good, and prices are fair. The food is the star here, from the chips and salsa to the E-Bar queso to the enchiladas and everything in between. If that wasn’t enough, it also has the best margaritas in town.

Location: 1901 N Haskell Ave #120, Dallas, TX 75204

KOZY $$ — Recently relocated from the Knox-Henderson area to the reinvigorated and suddenly trending Lakewood Village, Kozy is a gluten-free dream. A brunch favorite for many Dallasites, expect a line if you show up after 10:00 AM. Lunch and dinner are superb along with the breakfast. Kozy is one of those rare places that delivers something usually healthy and tasty no matter your palate or food preferences, and it features plenty of dishes for both meat lovers and vegetarians. Kozy has a very modern, Instagramable set up for the food-photo types.

Location: 6400 Gaston Ave, Dallas, TX 75214

South Dallas — Bishop Arts/Trinity Groves

Beto and Son $$ — Described as “next-generation” Mexican food, Beto and Son is the best of about a dozen spots in the trendy Trinity Groves area of South Dallas. Run by father and son award-winning chefs, Beto and Son makes every dish with fresh, local ingredients. This makes it tough to go wrong with whatever you choose. You’ll also see the drink cart coming out early and often as servers wheel it from table to table to prepare the crowd-favorite Tableside Frozen Nitro Ritas.

Location: 3011 Gulden Ln #108, Dallas, TX 75212

Tillman’s Roadhouse $$ — A trendy spot serving up a Texas take on Southern comfort food. Art is spread wall-to-wall, setting up a great atmosphere. Tillman’s turns unassuming foods into the gourmet with items like goat cheese truffle tater tots and pecan-crusted okra. The chicken fried steak is guaranteed to leave you smiling and full. Just make sure you save room for the tableside s’mores with homemade chocolate.

Location: 324 W 7th St, Dallas, TX 75208

Lucia $$$ — This may be the hardest reservation to get in DFW — and for good reason. Lucia is a charming and tiny, chef-owned Italian spot that fits perfectly into the Bishop Arts neighborhood. Serving a rotating menu, you’ll find masterfully crafted classic Italian dishes paired with great wines. Reservations book about two months out, so plan ahead.

Location: 408 W Eighth St #101, Dallas, TX 75208

Chicken Scratch & The Foundry $ — There’s no shortage fried chicken choices in Dallas, but Chicken Scratch is near the top of the list. This chill venue has a huge, but simple, patio with picnic tables. The nice thing about the menu at Chicken Scratch is that the choices are simple. Get any variation of the made-from-scratch chicken, all expertly flavored with pecan wood, and add in a biscuit. Or try the chicken fried cheeseburger. Be sure to wash it down at the adjacent Foundry craft beer bar. You can catch live music from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Friday and Saturday.

Location: 2303 Pittman St, Dallas, TX 75208

Design District

Photo: Meddlesome Moth/Facebook

Meddlesome Moth $$ — Like a moth to the light, Dallas natives gravitate to Meddlesome Moth. This long-time Design District resident is known for its excellent tap list with more than 35 beers on draft, hearty and eclectic entrées, and stained-glass windows of music legends. Popular items include the chicken skin chips, mussels, and bone marrow. There’s also an outdoor patio and a condensed late-night menu if you come for drinks and get hungry as the night goes on.

Location: 1621 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75207

Town Hearth $$$ — Town Hearth is a modern take on a classic Texas steakhouse. It offers a great ambiance with plenty to look at, from the giant yellow submarine fish tank to the chandeliers above every table. The difficult thing about Town Hearth is that it’s not only the steaks that are delicious. Nearly every item on the menu, from small plates to salads to sides to the steaks, hits the spot, so come hungry. The robust cocktail list is a nice plus.

Location: 1617 Market Center Blvd, Dallas, TX 75207

Sassetta $$ — Located in the heart of the Design District, it should be no surprise that Sassetta artfully creates modern Italian dishes. A trendy spot for a date night, this charming restaurant serves primarily salads, pizzas, and pastas. You can stick with traditional options or try something a little more out-of-the-box like the garlic clam pizza or the shrimp spaghetti with chili and pistachio.

Location: 1617 Hi Line Dr #390, Dallas, TX 75207

Highland Park Village

Photo: The Honor Bar – Dallas/Facebook

The Honor Bar $$$ — Welcome to what a burger place looks like in Dallas’s nicest neighborhood. Though it’s not fair to classify The Honor Bar as just a “burger place.” After all, it does have a dress code (collared shirts for men, no bold logos, gym clothes, flip flops, or tank tops here). In addition to the Honor Burger, try the Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, beef ribs, and rotisserie chicken. Pair it with a solid drink menu and excellent outdoor patio, and you’re quick to realize this is what the good life tastes like.

Location: 26 Highland Park Village, Dallas, TX 75205

Carbone’s $$ — Part restaurant, part Italian grocery, Carbone’s makes authentic Italian food as well as any place in the city. The lasagna bolognese is as good as any you’ll find anywhere in the country. The menu is on the smaller side with some vegetarian options, and there’s a solid wine list with better desserts. Try to get a table in the back for a look into the open kitchen and to more easily peruse the grocery.

Location: 4208 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219

West 7th in Fort Worth

Photo: Chimy’s – Fort Worth/Shutterstock

Chimy’s $ — Chimy’s is a college Tex-Mex spot frequented by students from nearby Texas Christian University (TCU). It’s worth a stop no matter your age, though. You’ll also benefit from the college town prices on beer, margaritas, and tacos. Pick one of their signature quesadillas, a car-themed ‘rita of your choice, and enjoy the ride.

Location: 1053 Foch St, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Mash’d $$ — Self-branded as “rebellious American,” Mash’d is a popular spot off West 7th. Whether you start your day here with weekend brunch or end it for dinner, you’ll leave full and satisfied. The giant 14-inch manhole pancakes are something to behold. The same goes for the chicken and double cheddar biscuits with Chuck Norris gravy. Whatever you get, be sure to wash it down with one of the homemade moonshine mixed beverages.

Location: 3401 Preston Rd #1, Frisco, TX 75034

Downtown and Sundance Square in Fort Worth

Photo: Salsa Limon/Facebook

Salsa Limon $ — For everything that’s great about Tex-Mex, sometimes the original is better than the remix. Salsa Limon offers authentic, Mexico City-style street tacos. It’s nothing fancy, but with food this good it doesn’t need to be. We highly recommend the Salsa Limon’s Capitan, which is a tortilla with melted Oaxaca-Jack cheese, pickled cabbage, onion, cilantro, and your choice of filling. The choice is yours to make, but we highly suggest you go with the melt-in-your-mouth barbacoa.

Location: 411 N Akard St, Dallas, TX 75201

Reata $$$ — Reata is a Fort Worth classic. It’s a downtown mainstay and a popular spot for a big night out or celebration. The most celebrated items you’ll find on the menu are the tenderloin tamales, stacked chicken enchiladas, and, of course, the pan seared pepper-crusted tenderloin. You can dine inside the giant glass ball or outside of it for unobstructed, one-of-a-kind views of the downtown skyline. Not a great spot for vegans or vegetarians.

Location: 310 Houston Street, Sundance Square, Fort Worth, TX 76102

Stockyards in Fort Worth

Lonesome Dove Western Bistro $$$ — Good service, food, and ambiance is what the Lonesome Dove stands for and delivers night in, night out. You pay a bit of a premium relative to other DFW restaurants, but it’s worth it — especially if you love steak. The steak may be the very best in DFW. The mac n’ cheese is also dynamite. It’s a fancier feel for the stockyards, but still plenty Texas country. Good drink and dessert lists as well.

Location: 2406 N Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76164

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que $$ — A perfect fit for the Stockyards, Cooper’s says they’re “all about the meats,” and they mean it. This is your place if you want some throwback, classic Texas barbecue that’s no frills, all flavor. Food is served cafeteria-style with seating mostly consisting of large picnic tables. It’s a better lunch choice than dinner spot. The meats are cooked pit-style with mesquite coals and sold by the pound. Go for the brisket or pork chop.

Location: 301 Stockyards Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76164

Hunter Brothers’ H3 Ranch $$ — If you were expecting to find a good salad in the Stockyards, you’ve come for the wrong reasons. True to form, the vibe at H3 Ranch is probably what many who have never been to Texas imagine complete with cowboy boots and rodeo. H3 Ranch is much more than the décor, though. Named one of the best steakhouses in DFW, it serves all kinds of delectable dishes off the hickory wood grill. Be sure to make a reservation if you don’t want to wait.

Location: 109 E Exchange Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76164