To find out where to go for the best cuisine, atmosphere, and drinks, we tapped Hairston to enlighten on her city's foodie culture. "I'm usually looking for something with a great atmosphere—somewhere to have a few drinks that also has great food. I'll try anything once," she says. Head to the updated Deep Ellum entertaining district, the Design District, and Harwood District to experience the designated hubs of Dallas cuisine. You'll find chic, modern restaurants with worldly offerings intertwined with casual dining spots beloved by locals and visitors alike.
If you're searching for the best restaurants in Dallas, look no further than this list of 10 establishments Hairston visits on the regular.
The Cuisine: Italian
The Insider Scoop: "It's a little slice of the Mediterranean in the middle of Texas. One of the best wine lists in town and classic Italian dishes," says Hairston. Order a glass of wine here to start your evening in style. According to Hairston, it's the perfect place to grab a drink before sitting down to dinner.
2950 N Harwood St.
The Cuisine: French
The Insider Scoop: "If I were to create the perfect date spot for a movie, I would make it Gemma. It's quaint and cozy yet sophisticated all while serving the most delicious French cuisine," she says. While this restaurant is clearly the perfect setting for date night, Hairston says it's also a great spot to meet with friends or even entertain the in-laws.
2323 N Henderson Ave.
Javier's Gourmet Mexicano
The Cuisine: Mexican
The Insider Scoop: "This Dallas staple has been serving up the best Mexican food (and signature cheese-filled steak) for decades in Dallas, and continues to be a go-to for Dallasites of all ages," says Hairston. Apparently, cheese-filled steak exists, and this is the place to experience it. Only in Dallas.
4912 Cole Ave.
Next Stop: Dallas
The Cuisine: Sushi
The Insider Scoop: "They have a great sake selection and the freshest sushi," says Hairston. Uchi is led by chef Tyson Cole, who appeared on Iron Chef last April and was the winner of a James Beard award so you know the menu will not disappoint. Come for signature cocktails, and stay for Asian-inspired cuisine. "Everything has great flavor and is so well cooked," according to Hairston.
2817 Maple Ave.
The Cuisine: Pan-Asian
The Insider Scoop: "If you were to ask my husband to guess my favorite restaurant, he would probably say Shinsei. … Let's just say I could eat at Shinsei every day and never tire of it," says Hairston. Head to Shinsei for modern Asian cuisine with an array of options. Hairston recommends the brussels sprouts and the sushi.
7713 Inwood Rd.
The Cuisine: Steakhouse
The Insider Scoop: A new hot spot in town, this restaurant was recently opened by one of Hairston's favorite chefs, Nick Badovinus. It's a classic steakhouse that Hairston boasts as being home to "the hottest table in town." She notes the beautiful interior décor and the atmosphere that's brimming with good vibes. You can't visit Dallas without trying the raw oysters from this swanky destination.
1617 Market Center Blvd.
TJ's Seafood Market & Grill
The Cuisine: Seafood
The Insider Scoop: "Best lobster roll in town, need I say more?" says Hairston. This is the place to go for casual, coastal cuisine in Dallas. "They also have the best Caesar salad I've ever put in my mouth, and I’ve favored their fish tacos more than I like to admit," she says. If you're craving seafood in Dallas, this is the restaurant to visit.
Highland Park Oak Lawn: 4212 Oak Lawn
Preston Royal Shopping Center: 6025 Royal Lane #110
See the City
The Cuisine: Barbeque
The Insider Scoop: This spot has a dog-friendly patio, making it a perfect restaurant to stop by while taking a stroll in the historic neighborhood. Pooch or no pooch, the food is unmatched. "The barbecue is some of the best in town, and the sides don't disappoint," says Hairston. She recommends the ribs, fried okra, and macaroni.
2701 Main St.
The Cuisine: Asian Fusion
The Insider Scoop: "Although they offer sushi and sake, they have a specialty cocktail menu and a more diverse Asian-inspired menu," Hairston says. This is the place to go for fun atmosphere and great food with a group. You'll want to share small plates with the whole table to get the most out of the eclectic menu.
2817 Maple Ave.
The Cuisine: American
The Insider Scoop: According to Hairston, this is "the most stunning restaurant located in Dallas' premier shopping destination, Forty Five Ten." Enjoy shopping in the downtown area before heading to this elegant eatery for a night of fine dining.
1608 Elm St.
Where do you love to dine in Dallas? Share your picks in the comments below.