Over Easy In The Morning
Breakfast is essentially a personal ritual. Each one is, in its own way, valid. The cereal ritual has its own attractions: Raisin Bran, for example, is one of America’s great packaged foods; and without Rice Crispies, many childhood mornings would be distinctly boring. But sometimes the cereal ritual is inexplicable: Shredded Wheat is a foolish way to start the day and Cocoa Puffs obviously fall outside of civilized bounds. The pancake ritual too is curious, an awfully bold stroke for the early hours. Anyone who starts a day with pancakes is likely to end it with nachos and a glass of warm milk. My personal favorite breakfast ritual is, despite its nutritional deficiencies, one cup of black coffee and a sports page on the side.
But the classic American breakfast, standing almost in defiance of the delicate European traditions of British buttered scones and French croissants, is this: Two eggs over easy, sausage, hash browns, and buttered toast. Over easy because a hard yolk has no place in a hot breakfast and because "over easy" sounds much less silly than "sunny side up." Sausage because it has intrigue and suspense (bacon is entirely predictable). Hash browns because they are unassuming. Buttered toast because of butter.
There is also a classic setting for this breakfast: the little coffee shop. These are not a flourishing breed, having taken quite a beating at the hands of unscrupulous transcontinental entrepreneurs with names like Sambo, Kip, and Denny. But the little coffee shops do exist and, strangely enough, there is a healthy cluster of them in the unlikely location of lower Greenville Avenue.
Lower Greenville Avenue is, in fact, an unlikely location. Period. The few blocks between Ross and Belmont comprise one of the most fascinating commercial stretches in the city of Dallas. Consider this partial list of tenants: a leather cleaning shop, a billiard supply store, a two-story head shop, a camera exchange, a barber school, a natural foods grocery, a "Fix-It Shop," and a Spanish movie theater. And a lot of good breakfasts.
John’s Cafe, at 2724 Greenville, actually sits just north of the Ross-Bel-mont zone. You’ll recognize John’s Cafe by the fleet of blue and white postal trucks parked outside. If mailmen have a nose for breakfast bargains as truckers have a nose for highway cafes, then John’s ranks high. And no wonder - the daily 7-11 a.m. Special gives you the previously described American classic on one big oblong platter for a mere $1.05. The eggs are just right (firm white, runny yolk). The sausage is in patty form (distinctly preferable to the unholy link form), large and very spicy. The hash browns are the now-standard shredded form (real hash browns seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth), but tasty enough. The toast is thick and correctly pre-buttered (unbuttered toast with a cold pat on the side warrants a walkout). Coffee is an additional 25￠, including refill. This place is self-service (order at the counter, pick it up yourself), which means further bargain - no tip. The proprietors are a Greek family who are neither friendly nor mean. Which means they are delightfully unobtrusive, essential for breakfast, a time when you don’t want to be bothered. All you want for company is a newspaper, and John’s has both dailies in the boxes outside.
Melios Char-Bar at 2026 Greenville doesn’t sound like a breakfast haven. But it is, serving another $1.05 self-service special from 6 to 11 a.m. You even pour your own coffee and get your own refills here. This is the best sausage on the street (but the worst toast). And, a colorful bonus feature, a slice of tomato. This too is a Greek operation (there are Greeks all up and down this street) with the same refreshing lack of inquisitive-ness about your morning or your life. Both newspapers available outside. And more mailmen inside.
If self-service breakfast is not your idea of morning luxury, you can go the more traditional waitress route just down the street at the Palmer House Coffee Shop, 1733 Greenville. But you’ll pay for the privilege - $1.20 is the rate for the 7-11 a.m. Special. Plus tip. They’re more generous here with their hash browns and this is the freshest tasting coffee of the lot; but they commit the unforgivable sin of runny egg whites in the over easys. There is no more distressing sight in all of gastronomy than that of egg whites oozing out of a fried egg. This breakfast features two options - biscuits and gravy in place of toast or grits in place of hash browns. (Think what you like about grits, but in my mind grits rank right down there with beets in the Useless Foods category.) Both newspapers.
Across the street from the Palmer House is the Mini Cafe, 1706 Greenville. This is not a coffee shop but a diner - a tiny, seven-stool, two-table diner. If you like your classic breakfast with an added touch of grease and with a bit of conversation, Earlene, the cook, will give you both. The cost is $1.40 (including coffee) and you get Earlene’s quality control. "Are those eggs okay, hon? You tell me if they’re not and I’ll get ’em right. You like that sausage? It’s Owens. I think they’re just the best." You also get some data on this wonderful neighborhood. "You see that little old lady walkin’ by out there with that bag of groceries?" asks Earlene. "Let me tell you something. That old woman walks by here with a bag of groceries every day at this exact same time. Now I know that little old woman can’t eat that many groceries in one day. Isn’t that something? More coffee, hon?"
- David Bauer
Out in the dry reaches of far North Dallas, restaurant owners have for the past few years been locked in a mostly unsuccessful struggle against the archaic liquor laws which have kept this area dry. The existing restrictions, as anyone who’s ever tried to order a drink north of Walnut Hill Lane knows, have forced customers to buy a "club membership" in order to buy a cocktail or a bottle of wine. The law also forces these restaurateurs to purchase their wines and liquors at retail, not wholesale, prices - a cost often reflected in their cocktail and wine list prices. But, in the hope that the state legislature will soon open its eyes to realistic wet zoning, the restaurant people keep trying out there. LBJ Freeway is the area lifeline, and two new establishments have recently opened their doors along this strip.
Farfallo. Meaning "butterfly" in Italian, Farfallo is a first cousin to Dallas’ other butterfly restaurant, Papillon. Hatched from the same corporate cocoon, the two are notably similar in style-dark wood paneling, chandeliers, leaded glass. The overall result falls somewhere between instant elegance and legitimate elegance (the design intent in these two restaurants is difficult to put your finger on). Where Papillon leans toward French-continental, Farfallo leans toward Northern Italian cuisine. But this can hardly be called a strictly Italian restaurant. There are, for example, a number of non-Italian variations on beef tournedos and, strangely, very few pasta dishes. Our early visits were mostly disappointing (bland fettucine, thick harsh tomato sauces, fishy crabmeat crepes) but judgements have to be withheld because there was a sudden change of chef- apparently a wise move. The dinner menu, particularly the array of veal dishes, holds promise and the new chef is from the proven kitchen at Mario’s. The extensive menu may be a difficult task for the small kitchen here (the dining room seating capacity is surprisingly small too), but there is an obvious intensity on the part of the staff toward being successful here - you sense that things will improve with age. (North Dallas Bank Tower, 12900 Preston at LBJ Frwy / 387-0369/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; Dinner Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 11; bar till 1 a.m., Fri & Sat till 2 / Reservations / MC,BA,AE / $$$)
George Elson’s. Common practice in the restaurant biz these days seems to be first to pour your money into a nifty, stylish place and second to worry about staffing the kitchen and executing the menu. George Elson has taken the opposite approach. By luring the chef away from the successful Bagatelle, Elson instantly established kitchen credibility. While our visits have not been flawless (salty soup, rubbery escargots), they have been marked by several outstanding entrees. The pan-fried perch in a béar-naise with artichoke and mushroom is as delightful a seafood dish as anything in Dallas. The veal scaloppini "Excelsior" is veal at its best. And the Roquefort Pillow Steak (born at the Bagatelle) is as intriguing and rewarding as ever. Another item worth mentioning is the appetizer of stuffed mushrooms - not for the mushrooms themselves, which are average, but because they are served on a bed of fried parsley, a surprisingly tasty creation. But when it came to creating an atmosphere for the place, somebody fell asleep on the job. The dining room is strikingly plain and disturbingly quiet - even the gracious attention of owner/host Elson can’t break the sterile mood. Stunning food in a dull setting leaves too many mixed memories. (4230 LBJ Frwy near Midway/239-2759 / Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30-11, closed Sun / Reservations / MC,BA / $$$)
These restaurants represent the best in Dallas dining. It is implicit then, that we recommend all of them highly. The star ratings only serve to point up restaurants of special significance.
★ - Indicates a best-of-the-ofibeat restaurant, a place with unique and unusual appeal.
★★- Indicates a restaurant worthy of special note, which has proved consistently to be one of the best of its kind.
★★★ - Indicates overall excellence, one of the city’s superior restaurants.
These listings are revised and supplemented periodically. Visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatment. Inclusion in this directory has nothing whatever to do with paid advertising.
The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They are intended only to indicate a general price range.
$ - Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.
$$ - Middle ground and very general. Usually indicates a menu with a wide price range.
$$$ - Expensive. You can expect to spend more than $10 for a complete meal excluding wine and cocktails.
$$$$ - Very expensive.
Unless otherwise noted, all restaurants have full bar facilities.
Credit card notations: MC - Master Charge/BA - Bank Americard/AE - American Express/DC - Diner’s Club/CB - Carte Blanche/ "All Credit Cards" indicates that all the above are accepted.
★★ Arthur’s. Once a rustic steakhouse. now a shimmering bee) palace. Steak remains the pillar of the operation, but other options abound: lamb chops, veal chops, and calf’s liver to name a few favorites. American wines only - an intriguing and imaginative touch. Warm and classy with one of Dallas’ best bars. Live entertainment. (1000 Campbell Centre/361 -8833/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Din-ner: Daily 6-11, Sal till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
Bagatelle. A charming, low-keyed restaurant under the watchful care of a gracious owner/host. A change of chef has left the kitchen less dependable than before, but veal is still the specialty of the house - try the veal escalopes "Vieux Chalet." Appetizers and desserts are usually standouts - start with the shrimp du chef (fried shrimp in a garlic sauce) and finish with the strawberries flavored in Grand Marnier. A cozy bar with good jazz. (One Energy Square/Greenville Ave at Universi-ty/692-8224/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 11; Bar till 1:30 a.m. nightly/Reservations/MC,BA,AE/$$$)
The Balcony/ Fort Worth. It’s not often that you find food like this at prices like this - a bargain in French cuisine. A nicely varied menu of entrees and mostly good, including a delicious trout amandine. An odd but tasty touch: miniature egg rolls served gratis. It’s not without fault - the salads tend to be limp and the soups are suspect. A pleasant country-resort feeling - easy-going but gracious. (6100 Camp Bowie/ (817)713-3719/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 10:30; closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC, BA,AE/ $$)
Le Bistro. A gracefully restored old house with dining rooms upstairs and down marked by a quiet, unadorned charm. The menu is classically French both in style and selection, bursting with promise. But in execution, the kitchen has proved capable of both brilliance and disappointment. Service is highly polished, efficient but not ebullient. (3716 Bowser, just off Oak Lawn/528-4181 /Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 6-10 p.m.; Sat & Sun 6-10 p. m./ Reservations/ MC,BA/$$$)
Le Bistro/ Fort Worth. Authenic French cooking in a restaurant low in atmosphere but high in personal care. Papa Henri executes with talent his own varied and distinctive menu (dinner selection ranges trom Eggs Benedict to frog legs Provencale to medallions of veal; at lunch, try his crepes) and daughter Michelle serves it up with unassuming charm. Extensive wine list. (No relation to Le Bistro in Dallas.) (3322 Camp Bowie/ (817)332-5102/ Brunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2. Dinner: Tue-Sat 5:30-9:30/ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
Brasserie. Certainly the most el-egant "coffee shop" in town. No heat lamps or clanking plates here; the airy room is light and bright by day, warm and dim by night, with a feeling of dining in a giant indoor gazebo. This 24-hour kitchen in the Fairmont Hotel boasts four menus: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and "at night." The lunch menu is probably the least rewarding - amid mostly overpriced and underwhelming entrees, one standout is the avocado stuffed with seafood. The dinner menu periodically shifts its Continental focus - German entrees and pastries are currently being featured. But the most fulfilling dining experience here is to be found in the wee small hours Seldom busy at this time, the restaurant provides a judicious selection of seductive treats served with an attentiveness that seems particularly impressive at 3 a.m. You can stop in for a creamy mug of nutty hot chocolate or a crock of fine onion soup. If your late-night appetite is acting up, go for the tender sirloin sandwich served on crisp, buttery French bread. Even the eggs are elegant here: try their Eggs Benedict (maybe the best version in Dallas) - perfectly poached and perched on a thick slice of smoky ham on English muffin, topped with a rich Hollandaise and a sprinkling of truffles. Where else are you going to get that in the middle of the night? (Fairmont Hotel/Ross & Akard/748-5454/24 hours, seven days a week/No reservations/MC,BA,AE, DC/$$)
Brennan’s. While it doesn’t rival its illustrious New Orleans namesake, it does have its attractions. Perhaps the most extensive dinner menu in the entire city - almost any continental dish from land, air or sea. But still best for an elegant breakfast or Sunday brunch. And undoubtedly the nicest non-private dining room in all of downtown. (One Main Place/742-1911 /Breakfast & Lunch: 7-2:30 weekdays. 8-2:30 weekends: Dinner: Daily 6-10, till 11 weekends/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)Calluaud. One of Dallas’ most civilized restaurants. Set in a small frame house, with a casual yet intimate atmosphere complemented by consistently fine French foods. Superb soups and excellent omelettes; and desserts not to be missed: simple and wonderful fruit tarts (try the apple) and exquisite profiteroles. The imaginative dinner menu changes frequently but has provided such items as a perfectly prepared fresh salmon steak and roast pork in a prune sauce. Prices are a bargain tor the quality. It’s easy to get hooked on this place. (2917 Fairmount off Cedar Springs/ 745-9571/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Dinner: Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30. Sat till 11. closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
Carriage House /Fort Worth. One of the oldest names in Fort Worth dining, the Carriage House is not the wonder it once was, but it still has its moments - to which a loyal and appreciative clientele will readily attest. It’s a meal of ups and downs: fine Old-plantation-style service but in a drab setting; excellent appetizers (have their splendid smoked salmon) but miserable soups; a fine Chateaubriand (beef dishes are their specialty) but served with canned peas and carrots; a very good wine list but very highly priced. (5236 Camp Bowie/ (817)732-2873/ Lunch: Sun-Fri 11-2: Dinner: Daily 6-11/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$$)
Chablis. Satisfying rather than sensational, dependable rather than dazzling, Chablis has quietly established a loyal clientele, particularly at lunch. A nice variety of regional French specialties with popular daily specials. Excellent quiche, salads, and sandwiches. And don’t pass up the apple pie with brandy butter. An attractive, low-key place. (120 Quadrangle, 2800 Routh/522-0910 ’Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat till midnight; closed Sun/Reservations on weekends/MC, BA,AE/$$$)
Chateaubriand. A long-time Dallas fixture whose popularity survives in spite of a loud clash of styles including a glossy, almost garish, French provincial dining room with marble statues and chandeliers. The international menu sweeps from "Greek Veal" to "Pepper Steak - Hawaiian Style." Many steaks and shellfish. Bargain daily hot luncheon specials. (3515 McKinney/ 741-1223/ Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/$$$)
The Chimney. A Swiss/Austrian style characterizes this kitchen and gives this restaurant some special appeal. The Naturschnitzel is a fine veal dish, as is the veal Zurich. For a twist, try the venison tourne-dos. Lunch is still served in the tearoom tradition that originally established The Chimney. The dining room is American colonial in motif - handsome but a bit lifeless. (Willowcreek, 9739 N Cen Expwy at Walnut Hill/369-6466/Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2; Dinner: Tue-Sun 6-10:30/Sun brunch 11-2/Reservations/MC,AE/$$$)
Enclave. A fancily-appointed mood restaurant (in the subdued smoked-mirror-and-chandeliers tradition) - a place for those who relish the romance of candlelight and soft music. Unfortunately, the food doesn’t measure up to the surroundings - from the copious menu you’ll get an adequate meal, but don’t expect the sublime. Lunch, more modest in range and price, is a better bet. Well-disciplined service and a fine wine list. (8325 Walnut Hill/ 363-7487/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11, bar till 12’ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE, DC/ $$$)
Ewald’s. An inspired collection of veal dishes (Veal "Palm Beach" with Westphalian ham. hearts of palm, and béarnaise sauce) have given Ewald his loyal following. But he also serves a cognac-flamed pepper steak that ranks with the best in town. A smattering of other continental dishes (with a Swiss flavor) and a limited seafood selection. A small, plain - in fact bland - dining room. (5415 W Lovers Ln/357-1622/Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat 6-11 /Reservations/MC.BA/$S$)
★ The Grapa. Cozy, congenial, and crowded, the Grape delights its loyal fans with a wonderful array of cheeses from which you create your own elegant cheese board combinations. A daily menu of light entrees, plus lovely omelettes and great soups - the fresh mushroom has a reputation of its own. A diverse and interesting wine selection. An old and unassuming little place. (2808 Greenville Ave/823-0133/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Tue-Sun, 6-10:30, open later on Fri & Sal tor wine and cheese only/No reservations /No credit cards/$$)
Marcal’s. Marcel is a charming host in the classic French tradition; it’s that French feeling that has made this a long-popular restaurant. That and a complete table d’hote dinner for only $6.50 - not the tinest French cuisine in the city but certainly the best priced. Beef Wellington is the house specialty, but the real star may be the coq au vin. Relaxed, quiet dining. (5721 W Lovers Ln/358-2103/Sun-Thur 6-1030, Fri & Sal till midnight. Closed Mon/Reservations/MC,BA,AE,DC/$$)
★★Mr. Peppe. Some say it’s the best French restaurant in the city. Others cite inconsistencies and argue. Regardless, there is a friendly intimacy and refreshing informality at work here - a warm, dark, and cozy setting. Wondertul rack of lamb, superb pepper steak. And the pastries - owner/ chef Albert’s specialties - are almost too good to be true. (5617 W Lovers Ln/ 352-5976/ Mon-Sat 6-10/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$$)
Old Swiss House/ Fort Worth. Many claim that this is Fort Worth’s finest. Certainly a Fort Worth favorite - the Kaufmann family has been serving fine continental cuisine here tor many years. Delightful veal dishes (the St. Moritz is rich and satisfying) and a daily fresh seafood special; never over-elaborate but always carefully prepared and seasoned. Great little complimentary cheese rolls and a lovely Boston lettuce dinner salad. Very nice wine selection. Not a particularly distinctive place, more comfortable than classy. And the service can seem hurried. (5412 Camp Bowie/(817)738-8091 / Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 10:30, closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
Old Warsaw. Not always up to its glowing reputation and illustrious heritage, but the stately luxury and Old World appeal still prevail. The meal may have its ups and downs, but the entrees usually dazzle. A fine duck Bigarade and beautifully prepared seafood dishes. Service is sometimes perfect, sometimes far from it. Magnificent wine cellar. (2610 Maple/’528-0032/Daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/Res-ervations/MC,BA, AE/$$$$)
★★★ Oz. An odd location and financial tribulations have still not diminished the brilliance of the menu or the creative excellence of the kitchen - there is no finer food to be had in Dallas. A seasonal menu that sparkles with originality - rarely a disappointment, though you do pay dearly for the privilege. A slightly jarring chrome and neon decor works better in the disco where a more modest menu is offered. Extraordinary wine list. By membership. (5429 LBJ Freeway/233-5755/Dmner: Mon-Thur 7-10, Fri & Sat till 11; Disco Mon-Fri 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Sat 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; closed Sun/Reservations required/MC, BA,AE/$$$$)
Paplllon. A well-balanced, well-executed continental menu including a particularly nice group of veal dishes and a good assortment of seafood. One of the city’s newer efforts in haute cuisine, but the kitchen staff is veteran and the expertise shows. Try the creme avocado soup. A contemporary design meets with traditional smoked-mirror decor to create an interesting if slightly disjointed effect. (7940 N Cen Expwy at Caruth Haven/691 -7455/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
★★ Patry’s. Another contender in the "best-French-restaurant-in-town" debate. A family-run operation with an obvious personal touch is one reason. A menu of exquisite hors d’oeuvres is another (have the stuffed leeks in cream sauce). The escalope of veal is the star of the entrees. Neither luxurious nor intimate, but that doesn’t deter a very loyal clientele. (2504 McKinney/748-3754/Tue-Fri 6-11, Sat till 1 l:30/Reservations/MC,BA,AE,DC/$$$)
Plaza Cafe. One of Dallas’ few nice spots for dining alfresco: the terrace was built and grown from scratch, so it’s not yet a garden paradise, but still offers the pleasure of eating outdoors, with a European cafe appeal. The menu is varied and light continental in nature, all from the dependable Bagatelle kitchen. Impressive cold buffet. Terrace closed mid-winter, indoor tables only. (One Energy Square, Greenville Ave at University/’692-8224/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30: Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1 a.m./Reservations/’MC, BA,AE/$$)
★★★ Pyramid Room. The classiest dining room in Dallas - an aura of affluence and impeccable taste. A paragon of service - absolutely professional but without pomposity, including a theatrical sommelier. A dizzying dinner menu of French specialties of the highest order (lunch is less glamorous). The Grand Marnier dessert souffle is a triumph. In sum, Dallas’ finest restaurant. But even at that, capable of disappointment because it is so expensive. Too expensive. But always a pleasure if you can pay the price. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/ 748-5454/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Daily 6-midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$$)
★Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant. The best pizza in town - at least if the crowds that always line up outside are an indication. Otherwise, the Italian fare is pretty ordinary. A busy, noisy, tacky delight. (5610 E Mockingbird/827-0355/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight, Sat till 1 am., Sun noon-midnight/No credit cards. Checks accepted/Reservations for 6 or more/$)
lanni’s. An undistinguished shopping center tacade, an entry lobby tacked with Dallas sports photos and celebrity glossies, and a dining room that’s a vineyard of plastic grapes doesn’t bode well. But lanni’s can surprise you. It’s relaxed and unpretentious - a throwback to simpler dining. The waitresses are pros and the kitchen is sound it not stunning. And the homemade Italian sausage is as good as any in town. (2230 Greenville/ 826-6161/ Daily 5:30-11 p.m./ Reservations/ MC,AE/$$)
★★ll Sorrento. The best Italian food in Dallas in a marvelously hokey setting - like a Hollywood designer’s dream of Venice, complete with strolling musicians and bread vendors. The fettucine Alfredo and the tagliatelle - both prepared at your table - are standouts among the pasta dishes, and there’s a wide variety of tine veal dishes crowned by the Marsala and piccata. Classy service. (8616 Turtle Creek/352-8759/Daily 5:30-11. Sat till midnight/Reservations except on Fri & Sat/ All credit cards/$$$)
Italian Pavilion. This overdone (fancy-tacky) dining room atop the LeBaron Hotel seems an unlikely setting for fine Italian dining. But fine it can be. Try any of the veal dishes - the saltimbocca in a superb marsala sauce is particularly good. Excellent appetizers and desserts and an interesting Italian wine list combine to make this a place worth a visit. (LeBaron Hotel, 1055 Regal Row at Carpenter Fwy/ 634-8550/ Mon-Sat 6-11 p.m.,/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
Mario’s. On a good night, this plush restaurant is unsurpassed for Italian cuisine in Dallas. The veal with mushrooms and artichoke hearts is famous, and the Frittura Delizie Romano and fried zucchini, which accompany all entrees, are terrific. Great spumoni, and a fine selection of Italian wines. (135 Turtle Creek Village/521-1135/Daily 6-11, Sal till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$) Pietro’s. Home-style Sicilian cooking with flocks of regular customers. The standouts are the pasta dishes - manicotti, cannelloni, fettucine alla Ro-mana, lasagna with meat sauce, and spaghetti ma-rinara - and old standbys like pizza (order the special Sicilian style in advance) and garlic bread (baked on the premises). Giant frosted schooners of beer. (5722 Richmond oft Greenville/824-9403 /Tue-Thur 5:30-10 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11 p. m. /No reservations/No credit cards/$$)
China Inn. A dependable restaurant with a Cantonese emphasis. Standouts are the sweet-and-sour dishes, the ginger beef, and war sue har (batter-fried shrimp with a "country-style" sauce). Huge eggrolls and excellent homemade almond cookies. Low-keyed and comfortable. (6521 E Northwest Hwy/ 369-7733/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-10:30 p.m.; Sat till midnight: Sun 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m./ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Chinese Pavilion. The menu here is identical to that of Hunan, the restaurant that spawned this one. Be adventurous and put yourself in the waiter’s hands. For $8 per person you’ll be treated to a multi-course dinner featuring the chef’s Hunan and Szechuan-style specialties. And the crabmeat and corn soup is a must. An enthusiastic waiter can make a delightful evening, but when the chandeliered-and-white-linen dining room tills up, you may feel like you’re on a slow boat to China. (European Crossroads. 2829 W Northwest Hwy/357-3577/Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/MC,BA,AE/$$)
** Hunan. Currently Dallas’ best Chinese restaurant. The Hunan cuisine that is its specialty is milder than you’ll find in New York, but still potent. Have the "pu pu tray " of appetizers, and then you’re on your own - it’s all good (though we recommend Hunan Lamb. Champagne Chicken, and Shrimp with Garlic Sauce). Small and comfortable. (5214 Greenville Ave at Lovers Ln/369-4578/Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri, Sat & Sun 11-midnight/Reservations/MC,BA,AE/$$)
Peking Palace. Once Dallas Oriental best, but it hasn’t quite kept up with the booming competition. Too many items taste warmed-over, but the Sze-chuan-style selections are, tor the most part, excellent (try the shredded pork with garlic sauce). And the Won Ton soup is the best in town. Peking Duck, their supreme appetizer, must be ordered in advance. And still the most pleasant dining room of any Dallas Oriental restaurant. (4119 Lomo Alto/522-1830/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-11, Fri & Sat till midnight, Sun noon-10 p.m./Reservations on weekends/MC,BA, AE/$$)
Ports o’ Call. The greatest view (from the top of Southland Center) of any Dallas restaurant, and that almost makes up for the fact that the food - ranging from Chinese to Polynesian - is only okay. The decor is extravagant, and so are the bar concoctions (some so potent they limit you to two). A good place to take out-of-towners. (Southland Center, 2117 Live Oak/742-2334/Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Daily 5:30-10:30/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
Royal China. A friendly place with a loyal clientele, a most gracious host, and some unusual menu items: Tea Smoked Duck, Golden Crown of Pork, and Dry Stir Beef. All the food is attractively presented - the chef even sculpts elegant little butterflies from carrots. Unfortunately, the appetizers are on the greasy side, (201 Preston Royal Shopping Center/361-1771 or 368-9692/Tues-Sun 11:30-2:30 and 5:30-10 p.m., closed Mon/MC,BA, AE/$$)
Royal Tokyo. Long the home of superb Japanese cuisine, but lately in a disappointing slump. Once-favorite dishes like shabu-shabu and the teriyaki dinner have suffered from careless preparation. Even the delicate sunomono salad is not what it used to be. On the up-side, recent remodeling makes for a more pleasant dining room, though the new piano bar can be noisy. Let’s hope the problems are only temporary and the graciousness of old will be restored. (7525 Greenville Ave/368-3304/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2, except Sat: Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat till 11:30, Sun 5-10/Reservations/MC,BA,AE/$$)
South China. An unassuming restaurant that specializes in Mandarin cuisine. The dishes with black bean sauce are the standouts, as well as the spicy chicken with pecans, barbecued pork with vegetables, and the shredded beef with hot sauce. Excellent soups and appetizers. (5424 E Mockingbird/826-5420/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun noon-2:30: Dinner: Daily 5-10, Fri & Sat till 11 /Reservations/MC,BA,AE/$$)
Trader Vic’s. One of the best of a variable chain of Oriental-Polynesian restaurants, this one has excellent hors d’oeuvres (try the "Cosmo Tidbit" platter), a fine limestone lettuce salad, and well-prepared entrees. We suggest the curries, the almond duck, lobster Cantonese, or the Indonesian lamb roast. Exotic and powerful rum concoctions. (Hilton Inn, 5600 N Cen Expwy/827-3620/Daily 5-11:30 p.m., weekends till midnight/Reservations/ All credit cards/$$$)
Yet Lau. A neighborhood Chinese restaurant with down-home Texas waitresses and a devoted clientele. Soups and appetizers are so-so, but the entrees - try the Chicken Long Hut - are carefully prepared. The decor is pretty awful, but the food makes up for it. (6635 E Lovers Ln at Northwest Hwy/691-3112/Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m./Reservations/MC, BA/$$)
Chiquita. The reputation for greatness here was not built on consistency - Chiquita is sometimes lovely, sometimes lousy. The Tex-Mex has never been sublime, but on a good day the chiles relle-nos are generously stutted and the steak dishes are usually a good bet - try the filete a la Chiquita and ask tor the special garlic sauce. The trimmings are always nice - a good complimentary bean soup, and great chicken-sour cream nachos. Always crowded with the many who love it. (3325 Oak Lawn/ 521-0721/ Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-11 p. m./ No reservations/ MC,BA/ $$)
★ Herrera Cafe. Home-cooked Tex-Mex from two odd locations. The ludicrous-looking newer version on Lemmon Avenue serves the same great food as the original adobe hole-in-the-wall on Maple. But at the Lemmon location, quality is not a certainty. When they’re right, the chicken enchiladas in "Spanish sauce" and the soft cheese tacos are a treat. And Lemmon has the attraction of a bar and larger dining room (with no waiting line). For the good old tat tlour tortillas hot off the grill, visit the nine-table dilapidated dive on Maple. Predictably tine favorites: wonderful burritos, great guacamole, and ever-changing, always-potent hot sauce. And the menudo is a community tradition. (3902 Maple/526-9427/Weekdays 9 a.m.-8 p.m., weekends till 10; closed Tue/3708 Lemmon/528-2250/Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri & Sat till 10 p.m., closed Mon/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
Mariano’s. A stylish dining room with a big, festive cantina and a lively mariachi band keeps this place hopping. The menu runs the gamut, but the food is really only average and a bit expensive for Mexican food. If you’re four or more in number, go for "The Revolution" - a little of everything tor $10 apiece. (Old Town. 5500 Greenville/691-3888/Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-midnight, bar till 1 a.m.; Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m., bar till 2 a.m.; Sun 4:30-10:30 p.m., bar till midnight/No reserva-tions/MC,BA,AE/$$)
★★ Raphaei’s. All in all. Dallas’ best Mexican restaurant - and oh the crowds to prove it. From pulled tacos to shrimp enchiladas you can’t go wrong, but take note that the chicken-sour cream enchiladas are the best in town. A lovely old place with warm, wooden, ranchero style. (3701 McKin-ney’521-9640/Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.. Sat noon-1030, closed Sun/Reservations Mon-Thur only/MC,BA,AE/$$)
El Taxco. Maybe the best dining value in Dallas. Dependable Tex-Mex right down to the retried beans just the way they ought to be - and at very low prices. A subtle style with less hot seasonings make it an especially good spot tor newcomers to Mexican food. A casual, friendly cate. (2126 N St. Paul/742-0747/Wed-Mon 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Tue/No reservations/MC/$)
Goldfinger. In the limited realm of Greek cuisine in Dallas, Goldfinger serves some of the best. But still, this is as much a nightclub (live music with belly dancing) as it is a restaurant and the food is only good, not great. The combination dinner of souvlaki and large charcoaled shrimp is nice and rack of lamb is the house specialty. And the dol-mas are great. (2905 Cridelle/350-6983/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat till midnight /Reservations on weekends /MC,BA, AE/$$)
Greek Key. A festive spot with a longstanding clientele who revel with the staff in Greek folk dances. Live Greek music and, of course, belly dancers. The menu has all the standard Greek specialties - moussaka. etc. - plus steaks and lobster. Fora good Greek sampling, try the combination plateor the daily lunch buffet. (2930 W NorthwestHwy/358-5177/Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-2 p.m., closedSun/All credit cards/Reservations/$$)
India House. An authentic representation of Indian cuisine. The uninitiated may find it all a bit exotic - but a culture shock made pleasant by the helpful guidance of the staff (or try the Shahi House Dinner for a broad sampling). Aficionados of the Indian tradition may find the preparation lacking perfection, but with so much to choose from, danger of disappointment is slight. Something is sure to please - or at least to surprise. (5422 E Mockingbird/823-1 000/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat till 11/ Reservations/Alt credit cards/$$)
Angelo’s/ Fort Worth. A name that’s known across the state as one of Texas’ premiere barbecue pits. And it is. Great beef, rich spicy sauce, big sandwiches, cold draught, and a setting that fits - West Texas rustic and sawdust floors. And overlooking the proceedings is a monstrous stuffed bear - a landmark himself. 2533 White Settlement Rd/ (817)332-0357/ Mon-Sat 11-10/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
The Black-Eyed Pea. Three locations, but the original, on Cedar Springs, is the hot spot, with old-time Texana style. Chicken fried steak is the big item. And, of course, black eyed peas. Plus big burgers, unusual sandwiches. Black-Eyed Pea Too is smaller and dry. Ill on Greenville features butterfly pork chops. (3857 Cedar Springs near Oak Lawn/526-9478/Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat till midnight, Sun noon-11/Too, 6912 Snider Plaza/369-5011 /Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. except Sun noon-9/lll, 4814 Greenville Ave near University/361-5979/Hours same as Cedar Springs/No reservations/MC,AE/$)
Celebration. Some of the homestyle pride seems occasionally to be missing from the homestyle cook-ing since the expansion of this friendly place. But still a good spot for a wholesome meal at a reasonable price. Pot roast is the best of the five entrees. Plus big bowls of good family-style-help-yourself vegetables. Beer and wine are available now, but try the apple juice at least once - it’s great. (4503 W Lovers Ln/ 351-5681/ Mon-Sat 5:30-11, Sun till 10:30/ No reservations/ MC,BA/ $)
Mr. Chicken. Many rate it the best fried chicken in town. Small town cafe style (including TV). Chicken and dumplings and other plate lunches; grilled steaks. And luscious onion rings. Beer only. (5114 Greenville Ave near Lovers Ln/363-6969/Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m./No reservations /No credit cards/$)
Red Moon Cafe. A charming and romantic little European-cafe setting helps hide the consistently inconsistent kitchen. But when they’re on, the featured Creole cooking (more Spanish than French in influence) can be a treat. Open for breakfasts trimmed with grits and biscuits. (4537 Cole/526-5391 /Mon-Sat 7-2:30, 6-10/No reservations/No credit cards/$$)
Shanghai Jimmy’s Chili Rice. A Dallas institution that’s come and gone and come again. Now on Lemmon, Jimmy still dishes out the same great stuff: a tub of rice topped with chili and your choice of onions, celery, Cheddar, and sweet relish. Mix it all up and you’ve got a meal. Lemonade only. (4108 Lemmon Ave near Douglas/No phone/Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m., except Sun 5-10 p. m. /No reservations/No credit cards/$)
★ Sonny Bryan’s. Best barbecue in town? You’ll never get a consensus, but this one gets a lot of votes. Juicy, juicy stuff in a funky, funky little smokehouse. No tables - you eat on individual school desk tops. Beer, no bar. (2202 lnwood/357-7120/Mon-Sat 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sun 11-2/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
Southern Kitchen. An all-you-can-eat feast in the tradition of the Old South: fried chicken, smoked chicken, fried shrimp, fried trout, and deviled crab plus appetizers and many other trimmings. Nothing extraordinary (except the luscious cinnamon rolls) but the magnitude atone is impressive. (West, 2356 W Northwest Hwy/352-5220/East, 6615 E Northwest Hwy/368-1658/Mon-Sat 5:30-10:30 p. m., Sun 5-10 p.m./Reservations lor 5 or more/All credit cards/$$)
Oporto Oyster Bar. Dining at ’Oporto is unpredictable. From one night to the next the service varies from over-attentive to coldly indifferent. Even the decor of Oporto has its surprises. Otherwise pleasant dining rooms are adorned with reproductions of obscure masterpieces, a touch that jars slightly. The menu is well-rounded, ranging from broiled Maine lobster to fried shrimp, but the execution does not do justice to much of what is offered. For appetizers, you can rely on traditional favorites, such as steamed clams and oysters on the half shell. When it comes to entrees, stick to the simple things: broiled baby lobster tails or Maine lobster, or the house specialty, broiled scrod, garnished with delicately seasoned, properly fine bread crumbs. Not so highly recommended is the crabmeat Im-penale, a bland a la King approach to the delicate crab. An exception to the simpler-is-better rule is the Cape Cod scallops, fried in a delicate batter that manages to be neither bland nor smothering. Other recommendations include the stuffed mushroom appetizer, and the after-dinner bar specialty: the velvet hammer. The latter should carry a warning; on the heels of lazy indulgence comes a slow and hefty kick. Beyond the velvet hammer, the ice cream pecan ball provides bliss for the sundae lover: rich hot fudge and whipped cream interlaced with pecans. And the chocolate mousse is always creamy. One of the few things on this menu that is predictable. (2929 Henderson/826-2553/Daily 5-11 p.m., Fri & Sat till midnight/No reservations/BA,AE/$$)
S & D Oyster Company. A handsomely restored 19th century livery/ grocery building with brick walls and bentwood chairs lending themselves 10 a mild New Orleans atmosphere. Oysters are the specialty - delicious whether on the half-shell or fried. Also boiled or fried shrimp, a pleasant gumbo, and broiled flounder or snapper. Beer and wine only. A welcome addition to the limited sea fare in town. (2701 McKinney near Routh/ 823-6350/ Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11. closed Sun/ No reservations/ MC/ $$)
Vehon’s. An unpretentious oyster bar that grew into a schlocky restaurant. Vehon’s still serves the best oysters in town, giant red Spanish shrimp, baked (not broiled) rainbow trout, catfish, and - a rarity in Dallas - a properly black, hot gumbo. Casual to the point of crudeness, but there are lots who love it. (4844 Greenville Ave/368-8911 /Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun 5-11 p.m. /Reservations/All credit cards/$$)
Arjun’s. Low-keyed and attractive surroundings for imaginative food that’s good tor you. The hot entree changes daily, and it’s usually excellent, but they always have delicious, huge, unweildy avocado sandwiches, generous tresh fruit and vegetable salads, good soups, and custom-made smoothies. (4220 Oak Lawn/’526-4050/Mon-Fri 11-3, 5-9; Sat 11 -9 /No reservations/No credit cards/$)
Black Forest. Austrian-style food - sausages, sa-lamis, coffee cakes, breads, a lovely cold cut platter, and excellent sandwiches. Try the veal sausages with hash browns and black bread, and any of the pastries. Excellent selection of German beers and wines. (5819 Blackwell off E Northwest Hwy/368-4490/Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-6 pm., Sat tilt 5 p. m./No reservations/BA/$)
★ Kuby’s. Busy, bustling, with excellent homemade sausages (served with hot potato salad or sauerkraut), thick sandwiches (try the pastrami), great pastries, and a soup of the day which is a lunch-time bargain (60￠). A congenial spot with a German accent. (6601 Snider Plaza / 363- 2231 Mon-Sat 8:30-2:30, sandwiches till 5:30 / No reservations/MC - $15 minimum/$)
Wall’s. A worthwhile stop for displaced New Yorkers and insatiable corned beef fans, though its reputation as the best for kosher-style food in Dallas is earned mainly by default. The kosher standards - gefilte fish, herring in sour cream, cheese blintzes - are very tasty, but the quality of food and service is uneven. Except for the disappointing chopped liver, sandwiches are the best bet. And try the outstanding cabbage soup. (10749 Preston Rd/691-4444/Daily 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. /MC, BA/$$)
Steaks, Burgers, Etc.
Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine. Right out of Six Flags, this extravagant re-creation of an old silver mine is so overdone it somehow works. Perched atop Goat Hill with a panoramic, if not beauteous, view to the west. The food is secondary but quite satisfactory - mainly steaks, prime rib. Huge "underground" disco. No reservations, long waits. (3305 Harry Hines near Oak Lawn Ave/741 -9771/Daily 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-11 p.m., except Sun 5-11 p. m. only; disco till 2 a.m. /No reservations/MC, BA/$$$)
Blue’s Lakefront Bar and Grille. The simplest but perhaps sturdiest operation in the Gene Street empire. The fare is basic - hamburgers and hot dogs. Fourteen species of burgers, mostly halfpounders, and they’re quite good. For a strange and tilling treat, try the Cordon-Bleu Burger. Huge onion rings. With a partial view of Bachman Lake, this renovation restaurant is a cross between lake cottage and coffee shop - odd, but comfortable. (3407 W Northwest Hwy/ 351-9510/ Daily 11-11, except Sun noon-11; Bar till midnight, later weekends/ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $)
Cattleman’s Fort Worth. A famous Texas name that still delivers, and still from its original location right in the heart of the stockyards. The steaks are the thing here and they’re terrific - you can watch them being cooked on the grills at the end of each dining room. Lots of other options, ranging from calf fries ("Mountain Oysters") to lobster and spaghetti. (2458 N. Main/ (817)624-3945/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10:45 p.m., Sat 4-10:45 p.m., closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE,CB/$$)
★ Chili’s. A handsome burger joint. Good chili, unusual soft tacos of flour tortillas, and, best of all, long, thin, greasy trench fries with the skin still on them. Always hopping - you’ll likely wait in line. (7567 Greenville Ave at Meadow Rd/361-4371/Daily 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri & Sat till 2 a.m./ No reservations/MC,BA,AE/$)
Daddy’s Money. A something tor everybody menu: steak, chicken, seafood, etc. But the standout is the charcoaled rack of lamb. The Old Town location is a slick and busy place with a lively bar. The North Dallas outlet is more relaxed, more elegant. Nice Sunday brunch. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/363-8686/Daily 11-11, Fri & Sat till 12:30 a. m.. Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m., bar till 1 a.m. nightly/ North Dallas, 4855 LBJ Frwy at lnwood/387-3800/Daily 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Fri & Sat till 2 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m./’Reservations/MC,BA,AE, DC/$$)
★ The Den. A distinctive spot in the venerable old Stoneleigh Hotel with a convivial clientele of various professional types - like a seasoned Upper East Side bar. Terrific cheeseburgers, a great prime rib sandwich, chef’s specials. Dallas’ best bartending. And free popcorn. (2927 Maple/742-7111/Restaurant: Mon-Fri 6 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat & Sun 6 a.m-1 a.m.; Bar: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight, closed Sal & Sun/MC,DC,AE,CB/$$) The Filling Station. The last word on motif dining. An old gas station transformed into a restaurant. Automobile paraphernalia abounds, gas pumps dispense beer at the bar, and the Mobil flying horse hovers over it all. "Ethyl," "Regular," and "Low Lead" (no bun) hamburgers. No kidding. (6862 Greenville Ave near Park Lane/691-4488/Tue-Sat 11 a.m-1 a.m., Sun & Mon till midnight/No reservations/MC, BA,AE/$)
Houlihan’s. If you want it, they’ve probably got it. From escargots to cheeseburgers, from crab New-burg to Belgian waffles, from omelettes to roast duck, from crepes to steak. And, considering the range, the overall quality is surprisingly good. Antique clutter motif. Often long lines. (4 NorthPark East/361-9426/Daily 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m./No reser-vations/MC,BA,AE/$$)
Ichabod’s. Slick in the Greenville Avenue tradition, but Ichabod’s is nevertheless a very pleasant and dependable place. The key to their success is a limited menu of steaks and seafood with nothing so elaborate that the kitchen staff can’t handle it. There are a few nicely imaginative touches, like a "relish tray " of raw fresh vegetables instead of a tired salad. A nice dining area with its own entrance to separate it from the teeming swingles bar. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville /691-2646/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Daily 6-11 /No reservations/MC,BA,AE.CB/$$)
★ Kirby’s. Dallas’ original steakhouse and time has only enhanced its appeal. No gimmicks, waitresses of the old school, and good food values. The "special cut" sirloin strip is big and beautiful and the creamy garlic house dressing is alone enough for some fans. (3715 Greenville/823-7296/Tue-Sun 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards./$$)
The Pawn Shop. A smartly designed and decorated bar with balcony drinking parlors and a big bar that swarms at happy hour with swingle mingling. A basic and unspectacular menu of steaks, shrimp, chicken, etc. And it backgammon is your game, this is your bar. (5601 Greenville across from Old Town/691-2411 /Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m./Reservations/MC,BA,AE/$$)
Railhead. Consistently the best of the steak-and-sal-ad-bar scene. The salad bar has creative possibilities and the prime rib may be the best around. Heavy on the railroad theme and super-smile service. (6919 Twin Hills Ave at Park Ln/369-8700/Lunch: Daily 11-2; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5-11:30, Sun 5-10:30; bar till 2 a.m. nightly/Reservations (on weekends before 7 p.m. and after 10:30 p.m. only)/MC,BA,AE/$$$)
★ Stoneleigh P. An Oak Lawn favorite and eclectic hangout. A restoration of what was long a pharmacy - clever but not cutesy. Provoione cheeseburgers on pumpernickel are the favorite among many goodies. Great magazine rack (browsing encouraged) and tabulous juke box (from Bach to Stones). (2926 Maple/741-0824/Mon-Thur 11:15-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1:30 a.m., Sun 12-12; bar daily till 1 a.m., Fri & Sat till 2/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
★ Strictly Ta-Bu. A terrific old neighborhood bar with a mixed bag clientele. The original 1948 decor has been virtually untouched and charms with its classy-tacky effect. Great pizza, great burgers; plus steaks, sandwiches. Live jazz most nights and an occasional free flick. (4111 Lomo Alto/526-9325/ Mon-Fri 5 p.m.-2am. Sat 6pm -2am, Sun 6pm.-1 a.m. /No reservations/MC,BA/$$)
T.G.I. Friday’s. A popular and dependable old standby. Once singles central, now a hangout for everybody. Steaks, burgers, shrimp, chicken - never flashy but always big portions at reasonable prices. The chef salad is gigantic - a masterpiece. Fun and comfortable. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/363-5353/Daily 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m./No reservalions/MC,BA,AE/$$)
Mainly For Lunch
The Bronx. A surprisingly quiet little spot amidst the Cedar Springs sideshow. The tare is simple but stylish: tor example, a plate of bagels and lox with red onions and cream cheese or a pretty omelette with a bagel and a side of terrific Italian sausage. Atmosphere (rustic and woody) but without coming on too strong. Beer (lots of imports) and wine only. 3835 Cedar Springs near Oak Lawn/ 521-5821 (Daily 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m., bar till 2/ No reservations/ MC/ $$)
Ciro’s. Great Sicilian-style pizza and an attractive array of elaborate sandwiches in an airy, old-time corner store at McKinney and Hall. The "wine bar" serves line wines by the glass, the beers include some nice imports, and there’s a great hard apple cider with a real kick. (3237 McKinney at Hall/745-9464/Mon-Wed 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Thur & Fri till midnight, Sat till 1 a.m., closed Sun/No reserva-tions/MC/$$)
La Creperie. There is no doubt that the best time to visit La Cre- perie is on a warm, sunny day when you can dine outdoors in the courtyard patio under the Cinzano umbrellas surrounded by the ivied walls of the Quadrangle - it’s the nicest alfresco lunch in town. February, however, affords few such occasions. But the indoor dining rooms offer a warmth of their own, enhanced by the good cheer of a smiling staff who chatter in a variety of French accents. The crepes here are not the most delicate you’ve ever experienced; they are. in fact, better characterized as hefty - a single large square crepe to an order, plumply stuffed in 47 different ways. These include several ratatouille versions and several very good creamed spinach versions - try # 13 with spinach, Italian sausage, and mushrooms. For something lighter, the #34 of Swiss cheese and apple is nice. For something adventurous, you might try the #46 Algerian Style - chicken cooked with honey, sweet potato, and banana. There are dessert crepes, but opt instead for their terrific pie in brandy butter. If that’s too rich to handle, have their "Tortillions"- a basket of crisp, deep-tried crepes sprinkled with powdered sugar that you dip in brandied peach preserves - and a cup of espresso. Be warned that no matter how much you enioy your meal, you’ll leave wondering how you could have spent that much on a small, light lunch of crepes. (Quadrangle, 2800 Routh/65t-0506/Sun-Thur 11 a. m-10 p.m., Fri S Sat till 11 p.m./Reservations recommended/MC,BA,DC/$$)
Gallery Buffet. An expertly catered buffet table at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, featuring hearty soups, salads, homemade breads, and desserts tor only $2.50. Wine extra. (OMFA, Fair Park/421-4187/Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m./No reservations /No credit cards/$)
The Lunch Basket Tearoom. Bright and cozy. Homemade lunches with unusual salads and soups, and homemade tea breads that you can also buy by the loaf. Foreign blend coffees and teas. (6617 Snider Plaza, Studio 216/ 369-3241/ Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
Magic Pan. A very popular place with a delicious selection of crepes, including outstanding dessert crepes. Very crowded during the week, but nice for Sunday brunch or late night after-theatre snacks. (NorthPark - New Mall/692-7574/Mon-lhur 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri till 1 a.m., Sat 10 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-midnight/No reservations/MC,BA, AE/$$)
Upper Crust. Homestyle specialties like chicken & dumplings and red beans & rice, plus wonderful buttermilk pie and a great buttermilk salad dressing. Also sandwiches and homemade soups. A casual "indoor courtyard " setting. (Olla Podrida, 12215 Coit Rd/661-5738/Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-3 Dinner: Thur only, 5:30-8:30/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
Zodiac Room. A stunning effect with salads as handsome as they are tasty, and an irresistible array of desserts - including their famous strawberry shortcake. Always crowded. Wine and beer. (Nei-man-Marcus, downtown/ 741-6911/ Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; teatime daily 3-5 p.m. except Thur 230-3:30; Thur dinner 5-7 p.m./Reseiva-tions/Neiman-Marcus charge card only, checks accepted/$$)
Food and Spirits DINING OUT