Sunday, April 10, 2011

5 Foods Missing in Dallas

Dallas is one of the great food cities in the U.S., but let's not kid ourselves. We are severely lacking in a few major cuisines that can be found in many other parts of the U.S. These cuisines aren't based on regionally available ingredients, like oysters, so why aren't they in Dallas?

Perhaps, we get so fixated on our great TexMex, BBQ, burgers and iced tea, that we don't stop to think about what's missing. So let's do that. There's great opportunities here for anyone looking to open a new restaurant or food truck in Dallas. As you read this list, what other foods come to mind as M.I.A. in Dallas? Be sure to tell everyone with a comment below.

1. Real Pizza

Photo I took while eating the holy grail of real pizza, rated best in Cleveland, at Angelo's in Lakewood, Ohio.
Any Dallasite I've met who has lived in the East agrees: Dallas does not have real pizza. We have many attempts at pizza... California style. It's thin crust, light on the sauce, light on the cheese, crazy with the toppings, and floppy in the hand. It's okay. Even the Pizza Huts here don't seem to make it as good as their counterparts in the East.

Real pizza has a stiff crust that is golden brown on the bottom and almost bread-like in the middle. The red sauce is noticeable—visually and every time you take a bite. The cheese is abundant and stringy; you may even have to stretch your slice out in front of you to get the strings to snap away (see evidence of cheese strings in the photo). You can put many toppings on this pizza, but that real pizza flavor will still be there.

2. Desserts, Pastry Chefs & Bakeries

Photo I took of an amazing chocolate mousse dessert in a podunk town in New Mexico, of all places.
In San Francisco, it seems like every respectable bistro and restaurant has artfully crafted desserts in a refrigerated glass case next to the front door, and a pastry chef on staff. In Paris, there are just as many and sometimes more desserts on the menu than main courses. In Cleveland and Chicago, every neighborhood has a mom 'n pop bakery specializing in pastries and/or breads from a different country. In New York City, they have all of these things.

In Dallas, I can sum up our dessert and bakery options in one sentence: We have 4 cupcake shops, 2 chocolatiers, La Duni's bakery, Bread Winners' chilled dessert case, Rise's souffles, and Asian Mint's dessert bar. Where's the real chocolate, layered custards, specialty breads and bagels, flakey European pastries and artful dessert masterpieces created by real pastry chefs?

3. French Cuisine

My first Parisian meal– a crepe with egg, ham and cheese and a glass of cider. Also pictured is a plain crepe with salad.
Have you ever Googled or Yelped for "French restaurant Dallas"? There aren't many results, and all of those La Madeleines don't really count. After recently spending two weeks in Paris, I have to let you know that the limited French food we have here isn't real French food. The first problem is that U.S. ingredients are too processed, and you can taste the difference. Second, I didn't see a single souffle on a menu, and not very many cream sauces either. French cuisine is mostly about drinks, desserts, crepes filled with real fruit or egg and cheese, bread that's hard and flakey on the outside yet soft on the inside, all types of egg dishes, handmade cheeses, beef, and real, pure, dark chocolate used in every way you can imagine.

If you want to know what real Parisian bread, butter, and hot chocolate tastes like, you have one option in Dallas— Rise No. 1. But real French crepes are totally non-existent here. We get Americanized strawberry flavor high fructose corn syrup and chicken alfredo crepes. It'd be so easy to pull off the real deal, too. Just open a crepe food truck at lunch in downtown and late-night in uptown. It's the perfect cheap, quick, fresh, hand-held street food available in sweet and savory flavors.

4. Central European Cuisine

Chicken Paprikash is readily available in Cleveland area deli cases.
I was shocked the first time I learned that many people in Dallas have never heard the words "Pierogi" or "Chicken Paprikash". I certainly have never ever seen either of them on a menu in Dallas. Yet I grew up on these foods, and so did my Polish Chicago friend. These dishes are so popular in Cleveland that I've occasionally seen both on restaurant and bar menus (often sold out for the day), and you can buy them pre-made by local merchants in grocery stores.

The Eastern and Midwestern U.S. is dotted with pockets of central European immigrants, so it's no wonder that Hungarian, Slovak, and Polish comfort foods are completely M.I.A. in Dallas. But it's mostly potato and pasta-based food, so I think Dallas would have no problem falling in love with these cuisines.

5. Philly Foods
A handmade soft pretzel is an odd shape, slightly crisp on the outside and slightly chewy soft inside, and authentically served on the street with brown mustard. Photo courtesy of Food For Laughter blog.
If there is one American cuisine that we get really wrong in Dallas, it's Philadelphia's finest foods. Hand-rolled soft pretzel? Good luck finding one. Philly Cheesesteak? Sorry Texadelphia, but you only serve messed-up Texan versions of the real deal. Brown mustard? You're more likely to find a bottle of hot sauce in your condiments here. These Philly foods are a Dallas food truck waiting to happen.

So, what other cuisines and food scenes are missing in Dallas?


  1. In addition to cuisine.... more farm to table and community events. I did a pop up dinner in Dallas two weeks ago... all my greens and herbs came from Spiceman FM-1410 (he rules as a person and a gardener)
    Pop ups/traveling restaurants/underground supper clubs are a super hot LA and NYC concept that's rapidly spreading and is fun, cool and a rad new style event. We're doing coming back to Dallas later in a month or so to do more and introduce "molecular gastronomy" techniques in the meals. Keep a look out.

  2. Good news is Dallas is about to get authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurant called Dough. It is profiled tonight on food network at 8

  3. Thanks for the tips! I have noticed farm-to-table and underground dinners are a rising trend in Dallas, with Chefs For Farmers and Artizone local Dallas food grocery delivery. Spiceman's FM 1410 is even one of the shops available for Artizone delivery. I love their stuff!

  4. I suggest you try Cadot Restaurant for French Cuisine and Souffles . The chef and owner Jean-Marie Cadot is excellent and the food is superb. Take a look at the menu options on their website at

  5. Thanks for spreading the French food love, Stephen! I wish Cadot wasn't nearly in Plano, but one day I will make it up there when I need a Parisian fix.

  6. The same here, I try not to go north of 635 unless I have to. It's well worth the trip though, especially for dinner. Now I'm getting hungary !

  7. I LOVE farm-to-table and am excited to see these restaurants popping up around town. If you want to see a GREAT example of a farm-fresh restaurant with amazing design and are ever in CA (specifically LA area), check out designer Anton Posniak's restaurant Nine Thirty( It is a breath-taking example of how the design is becoming just as important as the food, without the food suffering. Hope to see more of this type of thing around here soon!

  8. I grew up in Northern New Jersey, and also lived in Philly. I've been in Dallas many years. You're 100% right about the pizza. The guys in Jersey do it better than anyone else, anywhere else. They just have a knack. There's a heaviness to Jersey pizza that you don't get around here. By the way, if you're ever in Jersey, don't eat any pizza unless the guy who made it is named Joe, Frank, Tony or Dominick. Also, it won't be any good unless he stood in the window of the shop and spun the dough in his hands for about 10 minutes before making it (technique not seen in Big-D).

  9. As far as Philly food goes, the same holds true as in my other comment. People just don't like heavy stuff in Dallas, and the process of going "lite" dilutes Philly food, big time.

  10. Lol, it's true about the names of guys who spin good pizza in Jersey. I'm not sure the issue is "heavy" food when there is all that fried stuff at the Texas state fair and pretty big chunks of meat on a lot of BBQ and steakhouse menus. I'm not sure what the problem is here.

  11. Yes, those are the standard names. Never eat a piece of pizza made by anyone named Jason or Chad. ;-)

  12. I think Dallas is lacking in good Indian places too. All of the good Indian restaurants seem to be in Irving or Richardson. Anybody know of any good ones in Dallas?

  13. I'd like to see a REAL bagel shop like in NYC, where they make fresh cream cheese with all sorts of spices in-house and fresh daily. No more Einsteins, please!

  14. Here, here, to the real bagels and cream cheese! I have only had one real bagel in Dallas, which someone brought in to the office. They were all small and odd shapes, totally made in-house. Unfortunately I have no idea where they came from. :-(

  15. I don't think spending 2 weeks in Paris really qualifies anyone to discuss French food, however I think the problem here is you're spending too much time in the "Dallas" side of the metroplex.

    Fort Worth has the French restaurant Saint-Emilion, which has been there since 1985, as well as decent Indian food (Maharaja), and pizza too (Perrotti's).

  16. Anonymous: I have to point to my name, "DALLAS Foodie", while I say that Ft. Worth is a whole other city of food that I rarely get to explore and therefore don't write about. I appreciate the recommendations for my next visit though!

  17. That is an awful description of "real pizza" :).

  18. Dear Mr. Jay Jerrier,
    As the owner of Il Cane Rosso pizza, I will say that you make very excellent pizza in what Midwesterners would classify as the "California style". As a specially trained foodie, I understand your pizza is technically authentic Neapolitan style. Either way, it's not what many Americans, and some Dallasites, consider "real pizza". See above photo showing the best real pizza in Cleveland. :-)