Samar by Stephan Pyles

The king of Southwestern cuisine takes a journey down the Silk Road in this downtown Dallas den of Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Indian flavors. Samar’s Turkish spiced lamb pizza and chickpea masala are a far cry from the celebrity chef’s infamous chicken-fried venison and Heaven and Hell Cake that locals devour at his namesake restaurant. But that doesn’t make Samar any less memorable than its sibling up the road. In fact, I often prefer the more delicate and imaginative flavors at this jewel of a restaurant. Entrées range from exotic shawarma pita with spicy hanger steak and taboulleh to the fragrant chicken pan roasted with chorizo, butternut squash, and braised kale, a perfect dish for a chilly winter afternoon. If you can’t decide on what you want to eat, Samar offers a variety of small plates that can be combined at reasonable prices: one item for $5, two items for $9, three items for $13, and four items for $17. Don’t Miss: Dark chocolate and spice pecan baklava


bestlunch_02 Ocean Prime 7 oz. Filet and Ocean Prime Interior photography by Kevin Marple


Ocean Prime

Though the bada-bing, Rat Pack-inspired décor veers dangerously close to theme park territory, there’s no denying Ocean Prime’s handsomely modern supper club allure or its delicious steakhouse fare, some of the city’s finest. Kudos for also being one of the few high-end steakhouses open for lunch in a city obsessed with big beef. All the classics are covered here—filet mignon, jumbo lump crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque— and they’re all stellar. More inspired selections include truffled deviled eggs, Sonoma goat cheese ravioli, and crab melt with jalapeno corn tartar. Fret not if you’re watching your cholesterol. Ocean Prime’s seafood is top-notch as well. In fact, the restaurant serves one of my favorite salads in Dallas: its shellfish Cobb salad, littered with shrimp, lobster, and crab, all tossed in a creamy lemon dressing. Don’t Miss: Shellfish Cobb salad


bestlunch_03 Jasper's Pan Seared Sea Scallops and Gulf Shrimp photography by Kevin Marple


Jasper’s

Executives from nearby Legacy Park make this popular Plano restaurant almost a second home —­for good reason. Executive chef/restaurateur Kent Rathbun’s playful spin on what he calls “gourmet backyard cuisine” is a satisfying blend of homey classics and inspired regional flavors. Texas peach barbequed pork tenderloin is served with bourbon creamed sweet corn. Rotisserie chicken rests in a fragrant lemon thyme broth and is paired with truffle parsnip purée. Even a classic bacon cheeseburger is anything but common. This one is topped with Shiner Bock braised onions and pepper jack cheese. It’s all served with polish and panache in a dining room handsome enough to impress lunch companions but not so much to feel stuffy. After all, you are eating “backyard cuisine.” Don’t Miss: Maytag blue cheese potato chips

bestlunch_04 Tei An Sushi photography by Kevin Marple


Tei-An

Restaurants have come and gone in the trendy One Arts Plaza development. But chef/owner Teiichi “Teach” Sakurai’s noodle house has been the lone constant, a tranquil spot of urbane civility amid the hustle and bustle of downtown life. Sakurai makes his buckwheat soba noodles daily. Thin and nutty, they are served both hot and cold amid heady broths featuring curry, duck, fried tofu, and poached egg. If you’re a noodle novice, try the cold soba with its variety of dipping sauces including black sesame, soy, and pecan and walnut. Tei-An also serves some of the best sushi in Dallas. Rather than bombard diners with heavy-handed sushi rolls, Sakurai opts for a more delicate approach serving pressed sushi where the rice is molded into small cubes and topped with the freshest fish around. The sashimi salad is a lunchtime wonder showcasing the supple fish amid wide ribbons of white seaweed. Don’t miss: Curry soba

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