While El Tizoncito’s simple storefront will fool you with its fast food setting and lull of bright lights, inside the shop is quite serious about their authentic Mexico City cuisine. Located in the heart of Oak Cliff, the small operation shares a building with a bank, and offers on-the-go eaters a drive-thru for speedy service. But really, it’s best to sit inside the diminutive and sparse shop, soaking up the black bean soup and taking in as many street tacos as you can handle. Popoular drinks include hibiscus tea and horchata, along with fresh-made chips or a salty, grilled fried cheese known as chicharron de queso. The food is always fresh, and you shouldn’t skip on the sweet Mexican desserts, either.
A young, hip crowd frequents Oak Cliff’s Nova, a Kessler Park gastropub that features some of Dallas’ best brick-oven pizza. Nova is a standalone space with a 1950s-esque exterior, and a chic, unruffled interior. Nova offers daily and weekly specials from mini sliders to New York strip Vietnamese style with baby bok choy, chili peanuts, cucumber, mint and roasted tomato-ginger sauce or lemongrass vinaigrette. As much neighborhood hangout as weekend haunt, the bar comes complete with beer and a special cocktail menu. There are also regular menu changes, so if you eat at Nova once, it could easily be different the second time around.
When former owner Jason Laxon sold his pizzeria to his cook, David Ramirez, David kept it in the family by soliciting the help of brother, Juan. In the time since, the siblings have kicked up restaurant turf by renovating the digs, but the New York–style pizza stays true to the recipe that earned a nod for Best Pizza in the Dallas Observer's Best of 2010 list. Pizzeria guests can dine in for a 9-inch grinder sub, amply stuffed calzone, or homemade pasta with daily-made alfredo or marinara. Handy carryout and delivery options invite diners to nosh on a meatball- or eggplant-topped pizza from home, the office, or an extremely long roller-coaster line.
Bacon-covered burgers, chili-cheese-soaked fries, turkey-stacked sandwiches, syrup-slathered pancakes, and meat-melded comfort food dance across the pages of Norma's breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu. Welcome the sun back to its rightful place atop the sky's throne with a three-egg Spanish omelet (with onions, bell peppers, cheese, and salsa; $5.50). Or ease into the evening with chicken-fried steak ($6.95), which is "as big as the plate it’s served on, and with a good, crunchy crust," according to D magazine. But Norma's real forte is her thick slices of mile-high cream or fruit pie; some say they're the best this side of the Mason-Dixon Line (there is one better pie directly on the Mason-Dixon line, but it's covered with bees).
Victoria's Mexican Grill resides in a double-decker building, layered like much of the food served inside. To that end, cooks spread cheese over a bed of chips and fajita-style steak to make nachos, or stuff and deep-fry whole jalapenos for a delicious snack and easy way to prove someone is a fire-breather. Some of their most exciting layering occurs after dinner ends, though. They top flan with fresh wedges of lime and even make ice cream nachos. Rather than tortilla chips, they start with cinnamon-dusted pastries crowned with scoops of cinnamon ice cream and chocolate sauce, before adding dollops of whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Of course, liquids have layers in their own right, so the bartenders contribute by whipping together a pina colada fresca recipe made inside a hollowed-out pineapple.
After more than 35 years, the walls at Paperbacks Plus in Mesquite couldn't cope with all the books. So the owners expanded into the city proper, setting up two new shops under the name Lucky Dog Books. Shelf after shelf of volumes greets the eye at each location; alongside the paperbacks and hardbacks sit myriad other forms of media, from used CDs and DVDs to LPs, magazines, and comic books young and old. Chairs dot the landscape at all three bookstores, inviting customers to flop down and flip through the pages of a novel or pretend to read a comic book that conceals a history textbook. In addition to selling its wares, Lucky Dog Books also offers cash or store credit for used items and takes its services on the road with a Books at Home program.