Eating lunch can feel like a chore sometimes. It sneaks up on you in the middle of the day, you blank out on what good spots there are, stuff your face unsatisfyingly, and return to your desk. But with these great local lunch spots though, you can at least be happy with your food decision even if you’re sitting in a cubicle.
What you’re getting: Sandwich combo; pick your favorite sandwich and soup/salad
A bonus at this spot is besides slightly upscale and fresh picks from the restaurant, you are also able to enjoy a spectacular view of the Nasher Sculpture Center while you chow down on your pear and Brie sandwich with French double cream Brie, Asian pear, baby arugula, grain mustard, and local honey. It’s a lesser-known spot, but well worth sneaking away for a tranquil lunch.
What you’re getting: Turkey sandwich
Could anything sound more boring than a turkey sandwich? No. However, Bolsa Mercado doesn’t do anything boring -- its turkey is served on ciabatta with an avocado spread, cheddar cheese, bacon, and a pepper relish. Everything on its lunch menu is, of course, solid, but the turkey sandwich is a must-try.
What you’re getting: Burger and fries
One of the diviest dive bars in all of Dallas also serves up some pretty solid food. If it’s my 10 bucks here, I’m going with a good old-fashioned burger and adding cheese, bacon, a side of fries, maybe onion rings, maybe a half order of each; the sky's the limit! Also, depending on how late you sneak away for lunch, its happy hour starts at 3pm… so maybe you can stretch it out for a two-for.
What you’re getting: Hot spicy beef noodle soup + pork dumplings
Picking a favorite lunch spot in Deep Ellum is like picking a favorite kid, with many terrific spots like Uncle Uber’s, Angry Dog, Pecan Lodge, Cane Rosso and Twisted Root… whew, the list goes on. It is very hard to narrow down to one spot, but with the dinner availability of most of them, the heaviness of some of the meals, and the line at Pecan Lodge, Monkey King Noodle took the cake. While it is open for dinner Thursday-Saturday, lunch is its jam. You can sit up on the roof or watch your noodles being hand stretched in front of the window. The food is always hot and fresh and while it’s very flavorful, it’s also fairly light, so when you’re heading back to work you might not want to take a nap.
What you’re getting: Three-meat plate and sweet potato casserole
Only open for lunch, Slow Bone serves up some of the finest BBQ in all of Dallas. The meats are all phenomenal, however, might we suggest the three-meat plate comprised of brisket, ribs, and fried chicken. The sides are out-of-this-world good, there’s an amazing condiment station, and unlike Monkey King, a nap might be in order afterward.
What you’re getting: Greek salad or crab cakes
Lunch should be quick, simple, really good, and cheap. It’s a no-frills meal that you don’t want to spend a lot of time and energy on. At Metropolitan Café, you get the best of all of these qualities -- clean, fresh, simple food that powers you through the day. The Greek salad has feta, tomato, onion, olives, cucumbers, and Greek dressing and make sure to grab an order of crab cakes on Wednesday. The best part about this place is you can grab some caffeine before you go to power through the last few hours of work.
What you’re getting: Italian Stallion OR Italian beef
Sometimes you need options in life, and depending on your mood, one tends to make different decisions. The Italian Stallion is an iconic Dallas sandwich; it’s bold, salty, has some spice, and is surprisingly refreshing if you want something lighter. Then there’s the Italian beef, where they load up a white bun with thin beef, flavorful gravy, and top it off with provolone and spicy giardiniera; maybe get this one on a Friday to be safe.
What you’re getting: Grilled pork belly bánh mì
A toasted bun with flavorful little bits of pork belly resting underneath pickled vegetables and fresh herbs. If that doesn’t sound like a winning lunch, then…well, what is? It’s a very laid-back spot and each dish is loaded with flavor. If you’re craving Vietnamese food, look no further.
What you’re getting: Build your own bop
What’s a bop?! Glad you asked. It’s a bowl of goodness where you drop in your favorite protein; then either rice, noodles, or greens; then three different vegetables; and then top it with things like egg rolls, extra meat, or a fried egg. You are then able to add a scratch-made sauce. If you don’t feel like making all those decisions, you can roll with other entrees and rice bowls.
What you’re getting: Brisket
It is actually a little bit painful writing this one; Cattleack is somewhat of a hidden BBQ gem, but with all the press it has been getting lately and the fact that it possibly has the best brisket in the state of Texas (which would also mean the world), the secret was bound to get out. While that is a huge claim, it’s one that is founded on years of BBQ research and countless pounds of consumed brisket. It is seriously something special and know we are only sharing this because we love our readers. Selfishly, we would like to keep this under wraps.
What you’re getting: Cheeseburger
Yes it’s obvious. We know you know about Maple and Motor, but for the sake of thoroughness, here it is. You know about it, you have (hopefully) had it, and it’s one of the best honest-to-goodness burgers around.
What you’re getting: Double cheeseburger
After receiving scorn and shame for not including Wingfield’s in the best burger by neighborhood piece, we have learned from our mistake and ask that you humbly accept this as an olive branch. If you work in South Dallas, you definitely need to be there, or if you don’t, it’s worthy of a commute to get this very inexpensive bit of burger greatness into your belly.
What you’re getting: Signature pastrami
One could argue that Off-Site Kitchen deserves this title, but that person might not have had the pastrami sandwich at LUCK. It is a perfectly juicy, Texas brisket style that is house cured and smoked for 15 hours, then served on a crispy sourdough bread with stone-ground mustard, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese. You can wash it down with a local or three and turn it into a “working” lunch.
What you’re getting: Schnitzel sandwich
University Park is sort of like this utopian destination for lunch spots -- there are a few more businesses and shopping areas there than some of the trendier spots that are built more for a dinner crowd, but it has this lunch thing down! It’s actually very hard to pick a spot here because of all the amazing contenders: there’s Rafa’s, Eatzi’s, East Hampton Sandwich Co., Hopdoddy, R+D Kitchen, True Food Kitchen, a Nick and Sam’s Grill... the list truly goes on. However, there can only be one king of lunches in University Park and that honor goes to Kuby’s Sausage House. Its thin, crispy batter wraps like a blanket around the tender pork creating a divine experience. Also, don’t forget to grab a side of applesauce, and after your meal, you can grab some sausage to go for dinner.
What you’re getting: Spicy noodles
Royal Thai is one the go-to spots for many a Thai food fan in DFW. It is known for its spicy noodles and Golden acks appetizer, but honestly you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. It knows Thai food and it does it right; it makes for a quick lunch and you would feel comfortable enough grabbing something by yourself or having a lunch meeting there as well.
What you’re getting: Fried shrimp, a side of gumbo, and oysters of course
S&D is the place to go for casual seafood in Dallas; it has been around forever and, frankly, knows how to do things right. The fried shrimp are crispy, buttery, and have a great consistency; the cocktail sauce is near perfection; and the place has a very cool charm about it. Also, a nice bonus is that it has two parking lots, so getting to lunch on McKinney doesn’t turn into a complete nightmare.
Sign up here for our daily Dallas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun DFW has to offer.
Jason Moore is a writer and realtor in Dallas/Fort Worth follow him @IAmCalledJason.
1. Cafe Nasher By Wolfgang Puck2001 Flora St, Dallas
2. Bolsa Mercado634 W. Davis St, Dallas
3. Lee Harvey's1807 Gould St, Dallas
4. Monkey King Noodle Company3014 Main St, Dallas
5. The Slow Bone2234 Irving Blvd, Dallas
6. Metropolitan Cafe2032 Main St, Dallas
7. Jimmy's Food Store4901 Bryan St, Dallas
8. Mot Hai Ba6047 Lewis St, Dallas
9. BBBop Seoul KitchenSuite 130, 2023 Greenville Ave, Dallas
10. Cattleack Barbeque13628 Gamma Rd, Dallas
11. Maple & Motor4810 Maple Ave, Dallas
12. Wingfield's Breakfast & Burgers2615 S Beckley Ave, Dallas
13. LUCK (Local Urban Craft Kitchen)3011 Gulden Ln Ste 112, Dallas
14. Kuby's Sausage House6601 Snider Plz, Dallas
15. Royal Thai5500 Greenville Ave, Dallas
16. S&D Oyster Company2701 McKinney Ave, Dallas
This litte cafe is full of soups, salads, and sandwiches to snack on after visiting the Nasher Sculpture Center. It's in a beautiful garden surrounded by a lot of artwork so there is plenty to gaze upon while you dine.
The OC resto's owners & chefs have installed a hyper-local organic market two doors down in the old Kemp Garage, now outfitted with a sculpture made outta the building's original HVAC, an Edison bulb'd tin roof, a cozy seating area with chairs backed in burlap coffee sacks, and, on the brick walls, music and event posters from Texas Tech graphic design prof Dirk Fowler, a Nowitzki/Chris hybrid who could call his own highlights if he played tight end for SMU.
The combo of "Lee Harvey" and "Dallas" isn't recalled fondly in a historical sense, but this joint is certainly doing well to give itself a good name. There's just something incredibly relaxing about sitting around a fire pit with a cold beer on a warm night (especially with live music) and that's Lee Harvey's finest asset. And if you can't find a sitter for Rover, bring him too. They're dog-friendly as long as yours is.
From a dude who savored on the streets of Taipei and northern China, plus trained with a noodle master in NYC, all before getting his noodle restaurant on, MKNC promises both legit ass noodles, but also a show: the guy pulls noods in the kitchen window, rolling, kneading, slapping, and stretching wheat-and-water dough into those guys you're about to slurp up.
There is no shortage of barbecue restaurants in Texas. You'd be hard-pressed to find one that hasn't been awarded some accolade for its tender and juicy burnt ends or fall-off-the-bone ribs. The Slow Bone is one among the masses, and is a Dallas-based force to be reckoned with. The brisket is tender and juicy, and the ribs do fall off the bone, but have you ever had golden, expertly fried chicken to accompany your rack of baby backs? The Slow Bone is known for its barbecue, yes, but don't leave without at least a bite of the fried chicken... you didn't wait in line to miss out.
This little, quiet cafe is a great spot to get a quick bite to eat and a coffee. Try the crab cakes when you go in; local diners here rave about them. It also helps that they run a great lunch special.
This Dallas mainstay is the go-to local spot for all-things-Italian. Founded in 1996, the specialty food store has been a family-owned crowd favorite for over 50 years. Daily, the staff hand-rolls meatballs and bakes Italian sweets (with old, family recipes, of course) in the back of the shop, while in front, they help patrons select gourmet groceries and bottles from their carefully curated Italian wine selection. Locals can order hefty, fresh sandwiches at the counter, sample house-made olives, and shop for everything from imported balsamic vinegars, to handmade pastas. The imported cheese and meat selections are expansive, the antipasti bar is stuffed, and in true Italian fashion, dollar espresso shots are available all day. And while the folks at Jimmy's offer wine tastings on Saturdays, the wine room tucked behind the store is open to guests all week.
Mot Hai Ba is a new Vietnamese foodery from the Good 2 Go taco team, and features bowls of pork belly, frog legs, and more authentic South Asian eats.
This fast food stop offers quick Korean dishes like rice bowls, fried chicken and Asian beers & cocktails. Be sure to order the "Not Your Momma's Chicken" and wash it down with their soju cocktail—straight ethanol and water.
As Cadillac is to high-quality vehicles, Cattleack is to top-notch smoked meats. This take-out barbecue joint is notorious for melt-in-your-mouth cuts of pork, all of which are roasted in a massive, on-site BBQ pit, and expertly doused in house BBQ sauce. Hungry carnivores can either choose from a list of available sandwiches like the famous Toddfather (brisket, pulled pork and hot link-sausage), or select a cut of hot, seasoned meat (anything from beef ribs to brisket to homemade sausage). While the spot mainly offers take-out and catering services, it arranges early afternoon seating on Thursdays and Fridays for those who want to bask in the heavenly aroma of roasting red meat while they feast. Oh, and lastly (but most definitely not least,) guests are offered a cold FREE beer, while they await their glorious meals.
This Oak Lawn shack has an unassuming exterior appearance and a heavy-hitter presence in the Dallas burger scene. The off-kilter space, inside an old gas station wth dilapidated vintage decoration, sets the scene for a burger that's simple -- a medium-sized patty with a little crunch and a tender inside with basic fixings (tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles) -- but just plain, damn good. There's no fuss ordering one with a side of freshly fried onion rings and a local draft beer at this delightfully unpretentious spot.
This simple yet cherished Cedars spot serves up some of the best burgers in the city from behind its humble blue counter. Ordering here is easily done -- a single, double, or triple patty burger topped with cheese and, if you insist, bacon -- and it'll never cost you more than 10 bucks. There isn't any seating here, but the yellow paper wrappers make them easy to carry with you or sit in the passenger seat until you reach your next spot (maybe the nearby Beckley-Saner park?).
The Local Urban Craft Kitchen -- another member of the Trinity Groves glutton -- is a smoked meat & gourmet sandwich-type place that's centered on a beer selection that's purely Texas, mostly DFW, and used as an ingredient. So if you don't like beer, you're out of… nevermind.
Kuby's Sausage House is pretty much as authentic as German food in Dallas can get; it traces its Teutonic roots back to Kaiserslautern in 1728, and serves up some of the best brats in the city.
This Thai restaurant with super cozy and warm decor dishes up some Thai favorites like tom kha gai soup and yellow curry. They are very popular for lunch so be prepared to look around for a parking spot when you get there.