You can run, but you cannot hide from American Express. As the local economy continues its cheerless course, getting the monthly missive from Phoenix has become an increasingly unnerving event for many of us (and let’s not even discuss those urgent messages at the office with a 602 area code from a "Mrs. Beckwith").
Perhaps because dining out is such a transitory experience- your pleasure lasts only as long as you’re at the table-it’s hard in these times to justify major expenditures for restaurant-going. And yet, as incurable hedonists, we still need to eat out to maintain a healthy sense of well-being. How to reconcile these two truths?
Plainly, the time has come for Cheap Eats to ride again. In the six years since we last brought you a report from the front lines of penurious gastronomy, our standards have risen, and so, for the most part, have prices-like a surrealistic dream soufflé. Last time around, we reported on establishments where a person could eat for $5. This time around on the Cheap Eats trail, value-maximum gastronomic bang for the buck-was our criterion. Sometimes that means 69 cents for the best taco in town, and sometimes it translates to $15 for a truly impressive supper at the bar at Routh Street Cafe.
Winnowing down the multitudes of possibilities, our intrepid scouts came back with a few tales of terror and, in a couple of instances, cases of food poisoning. Those are the ones we’re not telling you about. But our Cheap Eats explorers also came back with glad cries of discovery, with news of fabulous finds, of time-warped prices and timeless excellence at the table.

BAR FOOD

Eating well-and cheaply- in a place where most of your fellow patrons are concerned only with liquid mood adjustment is a particular triumph.
The fact that the Stoneleigh P serves as an after-hours hangout for Dean Fearing (chef at the Mansion). Steve Singer (chef at Beau Nash), Richard Chamberlain (chef at San Simeon), Tim Anderson (sous-chef at Routh Street Cafe), and Lori Holben (co-chef at the Riviera) should tell you something. The quality of food here is legendary, and prices are entirely reasonable. With its can’t-miss choices including a $2.75 artichoke and homemade mayonnaise, $3.65 pumpernickel burger. $4.65 marinated chicken breast, $3.65 avocado sandwich, $1.95 lentil soup, $1.95 gazpacho, $1.95 spinach salad, and $2.75 Godiva pie, this has long been the discriminating barfly’s meal-time spot of choice. 2926 Maple Ave., 871-2346.
Given that the average entrée price is in the neighborhood of a sawbuck, the Bronx barely squeaked into our list. However, the top-notch burgers and omelettes can be had for less than $5, and the woody setting, with booths abounding, is soothing to the savage soul-a factor that cannot be omitted from any reckoning of value received. Frank Woods, who was chef during the Bronx’s glory days of the early Eighties (when Routh Street Cafe impresario Stephan Pyles got his professional cooking start), has returned to the Bronx, which bodes well for the future of Cheap Eating there. 3835 Cedar Springs, 521-5821.
At State Bar, somebody is definitely paying attention in the kitchen: from exceptional $4.75 hummus (the cool, satisfying Middle Eastern chickpea dip) to $3.95 chicken Lollies (Indonesian-style ginger-marinated, skewered strips of chicken breast served with peanut sauce), what comes out of this kitchen makes you sit up and pay heed-and not pay through the nose. One visit and you’ll wish this was your neighborhood bar, even if Deep Ellum isn’t your neighborhood. 3611 Parry Ave., 821-9246.
The Arcadia Bar has nothing to do with the Arcadia Theater, which is across the street on Greenville, and certainly nothing to do with Arcadia, the highly acclaimed restaurant in New York. Still, this no-frills hangout has truly terrific Cajun food. From a perky $2.50 green salad to perfect $6 oyster poor boys, the food is first-rate. 2114 Greenville Ave., 821-1300.

BARBECUE

Another of the essential Cheap Eats food groups, barbecue is for Dallasites what cheese steak is for Philadel-phians or hot dogs for New Yorkers: a Proustian blast from the past, the food of memories and dreams. All this, and it’s still a bargain.
When Roscoe White’s Easy Way moved from Lovers Lane to Lemmon Avenue and shortened its name to Roscoe’s Easy Way, the faithful were worried. There was no need for consternation: though its setting is now much slicker, in a deco fern-bar fashion, the same rules of ordering still apply: stick to the barbecue and you’ll be happy. Stray from it, especially into the dangerous, rubbery territory of omelettes, and you’ll be sorry. Of course, one of our correspondents did enjoy the $4.85 chicken-fried steak accompanied by lima beans of an unearthly hue. but then he is an exceptionally easy-to-please fellow who is wont to remind us: "I can’t help it; I like everything I put in my mouth." 5420 Lemmon Ave., 528-8459.
Ribby’s is a new, neon, drive-through barbecue shack with two, count ’em, two tables on the premises (delivery is available within a three-mile radius). The $5.99 rib sampler consists of small portions of three kinds of ribs: marinated, beef, and original, which we like in that order. The big, delicious ham sandwich is another good choice. On the side order front, the extremely fresh cole slaw is exceptional; the beans and bread are not. The fries are great if you like the curly-Q variety; the smoked baked potato is advisable only if you like your spud dry and boring. 6516 Northwest Hwy., 361-5555.

BREAKFAST

For those of us who aren’t morning people, breakfast out is worth any amount of money to avoid the sight of the remains of a bacon-and-egg breakfast reposing in the kitchen sink. Still, there are several good choices for the price-conscious.
With its utilitarian decor, everyone-you’ve-ever-known crowd, and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink array of breakfast fare, Cindy’s is a local institution. Although it’s open for lunch and dinner, breakfast is when Cindy’s offers maximum return on the Cheap Eats dollar. The $2.50 pancakes, $2.50 waffles, and $3.95 blintzes are all standards. Or you can drop by the deli side and take your plunder home. 4015 Lemmon, 522-5275; 385 Dai-Rich Shopping Center, 231-3660; 1111 N. Central Expwy., 739-0182.
Given that the bliss that is breakfast at the Dream Cafe is already one of the worst-kept secrets in the Highland Park/Oak Lawn area, we hate to add to the Sunday-morning crowd, but reviewing ethics compel us to mention that the $1.95 fresh-squeezed OJ and $4.25 blueberry pancakes may be the most supernal breakfast in town, at any price. If patience isn’t your strong suit, better to have a Dream Cafe lunch or dinner, when there’s no need to wait. An added bonus: because the place has no liquor license, you can bring your own wine or beer. 3312 Knox, 522-1478.
As if the name weren’t bad enough, Le Peep has a pun-ridden menu. However, there’s a reason Le Peeps tend to be mobbed on weekends: well-prepared egg dishes (every kind you ever imagined, and a few you likely never dreamed of) at a reasonable price: from $2.75 for two eggs, "peasant" potatoes, and an English muffin to $5.95 for the Sir Benedict omelette, Two bonuses: portions are huge, and the OJ is fresh. Bachman Village, 3701 Northwest Hwy., 352-3911; Casa Linda Plaza, Buckner Blvd. and Garland Rd., 321-2535; 3300 Oak Lawn, 526-8812.
Good Eats is a spiffy diner that serves as a prime source of nutrition for many Oak Lawn residents. We particularly like Good Eats for the $3.25 basic breakfast-two eggs, hash browns, and bacon. Then, as at lunch and dinner (which feature burgers, barbecue, grilled fish, and vegetables), nothing is ever truly great, but nothing is truly terrible, either. And in Cheap Eats-land, that is a virtue not to be discounted. In any case, the juke box and the sassy service at Good Eats seem to make everything taste better. 3531 Oak Lawn, 521-1398.
CHEAP EATS HERO

Sonny Bryan

The venerable Mr. Bryan is an inspiration to all who know that doing what you love-in his case, smoking and slicing the barbecue of the gods-matters more than the pursuit of filthy lucre. He closes down when the meat’s gone, and responds to offers of endorsements and selling out with a simple "heck, no." 2202 Inwood, 357-7120.
BURGERS

Hamburgers used to be thin, gray things. They still are if you patronize certain purveyors of fast food. However, another species of burger has evolved in certain restaurants. This burger, the object of yuppie connoisseur-ship, is immense, cooked to order-and not that much more expensive than its unsightly cousins.
There’s nothing particularly diner-like about Deno’s Deluxe Diner, but we’ll forgive Deno’s for trying to cash in on the diner craze for its noteworthy burgers. Here, the hefty $2.75 burger is done perfectly, with fresh lettuce, tomato, and rings of purple onion as toppers. The $4.25 chicken sandwich is possibly even better: plump, juicy fowl with just enough mayo, tomatoes, and lettuce. Whatever you order, you’ll be wanting the $1.25 fries on the side: they’re seasoned to perfection. One could, if one were so inclined, complain that there are too many fries in one order for one person. Or one could bring a friend and split them. 2831 Greenville Ave., 828-4688.
"If there is a bigger hamburger anywhere in Dallas, don’t drop it on my foot." Thus quoth one Cheap Eats scout, a man of some experience in the burger department, on the subject of the burgers served at the Points (there are seven of them). The classic bronto-burgers are addictive, and have made the Point’s name over the years. They must have, because there’s little else to lure patrons, certainly not the decor. One odd note: no iced tea is served at the Point. Isn’t that against the law in Texas? The Elm Street Point, 1324 Elm St., 747-2814; The Point After, 5724 E. Lovers Lane, 691-3525; The High Point, 12101 Greenville Ave., 437-9196; The Wycliff Point, 2525 Wycliff, 528-2030; The Northwest Point, 2051 W. Northwest Hwy., 869-2477; The Midway Point, 12801 Midway at LBJ, 484-3470; The Point After North, 1501 Crosstimbers, 539-0192.
Snuffer’s, though it is nearly always packed with patrons who either go to SMU or look as if they ought to, is a required stop on the Cheap Eats trail. The menu is small and well prepared, with emphasis on salads, nachos, burgers, and the like. The immense 95 cent basket of fries is a trademark. If you change your mind and decide you want Mexican, you can now opt for the adjoining Cantina instead. 3526 Greenville Ave., 826-6850.

EXOTIC FARE

Here’s where dilettantes and true Cheap Eats devotees part ways. True devotees don’t just want to eat well and cheaply, they want to eat wonderful, new (to them, anyway), and strange cuisines. Dedicated Cheap Eaters believe that anyone can eat well at the obvious stops, but that it takes a driven diner who possesses wit, cunning, and courage to wander off the beaten path in search of unlikely finds.
You can’t get much more exotic than at Kalachandji’s, which is a vegetarian Indian restaurant run by local Hare Krish-nas. Not to worry, though: there is no proselytizing, just an invitation to check out the gift shop and the temple, which is fascinatingly elaborate. As for the food, newcomers are advised to start with the $9.50 dinner, which changes every night. On our scout’s trip it consisted of sweet, refreshing tamarind tea; a trip to the well-stocked salad bar; pappadum (crispy lentil wafers); puri (sopapilla-like puffed bread); an appetizer of "some kind of leaf with sauce, sort of like a cross section of an artichoke, covered with a hot tomato sauce"; rice and steamed zucchini; deep-fried sweet potato slices; potato hash; and dessert (halvah, a ringer for cold, sweet cream of wheat with walnuts; and blueberry cheesecake). 5430 Gurley, 821-1048.
Springsteen’s "I’m on Fire" would be the proper musical aperitif for a meal at Queen of Sheba. (In fact, the auditory backdrop tends to be fusion jazz punctuated by the occasional dying "deeeooopppp" of a video game.) At this Ethiopian restaurant, the food is heavily stew-oriented and, for the most part, incendiary. Order the $6.50 beyayanetu combo plate to get a sampling, and you get chicken, ground beef, spicy stewed beef, a vegetarian medley, azifa (a lentil dish), yogurt, and salad-all served on the native bread of Ethiopia, injera. Queen of Sheba is a bargain at both lunch and dinner, but the lunch menu cops out with things like barbecue sandwiches, about which the less said the better. 3527 McKinney Ave., 521-0491.
Little Gus’ is the Clark Kent of Dallas restaurants. During the day, it’s a mild-mannered greasy spoon serving breakfast and burgers. At night it steps into a phone booth and turns into.. . super Greek restaurant. With entrees-we particularly like the $7.95 moussaka, $7.95 spanako-pita, and $7.95 kotopolo rigami (a really tender half chicken topped with feta cheese)-you get a salad and choice of potato balls or vegetables or both. Take the potato balls, which are crispy outside and tender inside. When we’ve visited, the vegetables were always the same combo of green beans, yellow squash, and tomatoes. 1916 Greenville Ave., 826-4910.
Greek Express is cheap, cheerful, and enough of a challenge to find that you feel you’ve made a significant discovery (it’s tucked behind a clothing store on Oak Lawn). The burgers and fries are satisfyingly greasy, but it’s the Greek specialties that are standouts. A $3.99 gyros sandwich is one of the best ways to stuff pita bread around: sliced lamb and beef, tomato, onion, and a cooling sauce that could be yogurt- or sour cream-based. Whatever it is, we like it. 3301A Oak Lawn, 528-1308.
The name of Who’s Who restaurant mystifies us, but the food doesn’t. This little takeout/eat-in establishment, which makes its home where the late, lamented Rich Chicks used to be, serves healthy Middle Eastern food at bargain prices. Although mundane sandwiches are available, the smart money is on the $2.20 falafel (a vegetable burger of ground garbanzo beans, parsley, cilantro, garlic, and onion served with lettuce in a pita pocket), the $2 hummus (chickpea and sesame paste dip seasoned with garlic, lemon, and olive oil), and the $2 eggplant dip. 6025 Royal Lane, Suite 540, 739-7139.
Cafe Kashtan is far and away the best Ukrainian restaurant in North Texas. Of course, it is also the only Ukrainian restaurant in North Texas, but this should not be held against it. At lunchtime, the comforting $4.95 pirogi (homemade dough pockets filled with potatoes or meat) is a Cheap Eats classic. Be sure to budget $2.50 for a slice of almond cake with raspberry sauce. 5365 Spring Valley Rd. at Montfort, 991-9550.
Tucked away in the Plaza at Bachman Creek, Hofstetter’s is a Viennese jewel-where the food comes at cubic zirconium prices. Here, in a setting that leads you to expect nothing more than sandwich-shop fare, some of the best Germanic cuisine in the area is served. Sandwiches, coffees, and desserts are listed on the menu, but the real action is on the blackboard, which lists the daily specials, from $4.25 to $10.95. Plaza at Bachman Creek, Suite 390. 3830 W. Northwest Hwy., 358-7660.
Kuby’s now has three locations. With its $1.30 bowl of lentil soup (which, with the rye bread on the side, is hearty sustenance enough for all but the most ravenous of Cheap Eaters), the original Snider Plaza Kuby’s outdoes its two offspring on the tightfisted honor roll. 703 McKinney in the Brewery, 954-0004; 6601 Snider Plaza, 363-2231; 3121 Ross Ave., 821-3121.
Lower Greenville is one of the best hunting grounds for Cheap Eats, and Saigon Restaurant is one of the best finds in the area. This small restaurant isn’t fancy, but it is more aesthetically pleasant than most homes of Cheap Eats. One of the coolest ways we know of to eat cheap is to order Saigon’s $2 goi cun, rice paper filled with shredded pork, shrimp, lettuce, and fresh mint. The same $2 also buys you banh xeo, an appetizer crepe filled with shrimp and pork that is plenty big to serve as a meal. 1731 Greenville Ave., 828-9795.
Manuel is so baroque looking (in the manner of a Goya painting) that it’s hard to believe it’s possible to eat cheap there. In fact, it’s not only possible, it’s easy with the tapas menu. We’re particularly fond of the $1.80 tortilla espanola, a heavy-duty assemblage of potato, egg, and onion; the $2.50 croquetas de jamon, ham croquettes; the $3.75 montado de lomo, marinated pork loin with tomato sauce; and the $4.25 gambas al ajillo, shrimp in garlic- and pepper-enlivened olive oil. 8220 Westchester, Preston Center. 373-4663.
CHEAP EATS HEROES

Roberto and Anna Albini

Some of the best Italian food in Dallas is also the lowest-priced, thanks to the Albini family’s chic bakery/cafeteria, Massimo da Milano. Although the desserts are what bring most customers into Massimo, once they see the pastas and pizzas, they tend to stay for lunch or dinner. 5519 W. Lovers Lane, 351-1426; InterFirst Plaza, 761-6350; 1445 Ross Ave., 855-6279.
FAST FOOD

There’s fast food, the kind that makes you feel slightly ashamed-not to mention terribly greasy-as soon as you’ve scarfed it down, and then there’s exalted fast food, food that could hold its head up in the company of that produced in establishments that serve slow, as opposed to fast, food.
Border Stop. On the Border’s spin-off, has a couple of advantages on most fast-food establishments: there’s outside seating (even if it does face Lemmon Avenue), and beer and rnarga-ritas are available. The $9.95-a-pound chicken fajitas are as good as fajitas get, and are, for mysterious reasons, better than those at On the Border, not to mention considerably cheaper. Forget the nachos and tacos, stick to the fajitas, and you’ll be happy. 3923 Lemmon Ave., 522-3770.
At Gonzales, for very little money, one can have a beer and hunker down in the dark wood-grain booths and achieve low-budget Tex-Mex satori. The best things to eat at Gonzales are the varieties of $1.75 burritos made with fat, tender flour tortillas: the bean and cheese and the potato and egg are two good choices for those in search of hangover cures that do not require as much machismo to ingest as menudo does. 4333 Maple, 528-2960.
At Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken, Cajun-style fried chicken, dirty rice, and biscuits are a dieter’s nightmare and a Cheap Eats seeker’s dream. Get it and go; the setting is strictly standard-issue fast food. Our recommendation: grab a bottle of wine-or perhaps, in this case, a six-pack of Jax-and the al fresco frolicking companion of your choice. Stop at the Pop-eye’s at Abrams and Mockingbird, pick up the $2.56 two-piece chicken dinner, and proceed to White Rock Lake for a picnic. Recommended, if you can pull it off, for weekday afternoons, when most of the madding crowd is at work. 4140 Abrams Rd., 821-4988; and six other Metro-plex locations.
There are any number of choices at Bubba’s- including catfish, chicken-fried steak, and assorted vegetables (featuring amazingly tasteless mashed potatoes)-but there are only three you need to remember: the fried chicken ($1.99 to $4.59, depending on how many pieces you want), a high-rise yeast roll or two. and the fruit cobbler. Stick to this sacred trinity of Southern food, and you’ll understand why hordes of Park Cities residents fulfill their carbohydrate and cholesterol requirements here. Although you can drive through at Bubba’s, half of the fun is hanging out in the lipstick-red booths that punctuate the black-and-white deco decor. 6617 Hill crest, 373-6527.
Polio Bueno may well be the fast food of the gods. PB’s hickory-roasted chicken ($4.39 for a half chicken, $7.16 for a whole) is remarkably succulent. With it you can get very good cole slaw and rice, pretty good cornbread, and pretty odd beans. You can eat inside the clean, cheerful premises or take your treasure home. 3438 Samuell Blvd., 828-0645.
CHEAP EATS HERO

Jane Wang

If you’ve ever eaten at Crystal Pagoda, or Szechwan Pavilion, chances are you’ve gotten a checkup visit from Ms. Wang, who with her husband, John, oversees two of the city’s best Chinese restaurants-both of which offer memorably good, low-priced lunch specials, which are served on weekends as well as weekdays. 4516 McKinney Ave., 526-3355; 8411 Preston Rd. 368-4303.
MEXICAN

The fact is that you can find a Mexican restaurant on every corner in Dallas, but that doesn’t mean they’re all Cheap Eats material. Only the other day we tried a new Mexican establishment and left $20 poorer after a very mediocre lunch for two-and this was with no mar-garitas whatsoever, we hasten to point out. The vigilant Cheap Eater has to keep the calculator functioning, therefore, and not assume that just because it’s Mexican, it must also be easy on the pocketbook.
You can’t do better than Chori’s Taqueria’s prices, even at Taco Bell or Del Taco. Tacos are 69 cents: pork, chicken, fa-jita beef, or ground beef. For 90 cents you can have a sope, sort of a fat tortilla with an assortment of toppings. The menudo is no great shakes, but the higher-priced specialties are: chile rellenos, huaraches (a thick cornmeal patty that does somewhat resemble a shoe sole, covered with tomatillo sauce, white cheese, and beef skirt steak). Dig the tunes, too: where else are you going to hear Yolanda Del Rio and Rancheritos del Topo Chico? 609 S. Hampton Rd., 330-5034.
As long as we’re asking questions, when’s the last time you saw guacamole for $1.19? Of course, the resultant scoop at Alamo Cafe is minuscule, but it’s quite good. In fact, Alamo does a good job on all the basics: chalupas, enchiladas, fajitas, chili con queso, beans, and rice-and other than in the case of the guacamole, portions are huge. The fat homemade flour tortillas are a grace note. This is one case where you’re sure you’re not paying for the setting; it’s about as spartan as they come, without even a plant to spruce the place up. 10819 Composite Dr., 350-2836.
We’ve put Gloria’s in the Mexican category because, technically, there is Mexican food available here. That’s not the point of Gloria’s, though. The point is the Salvadoran fare. If you’re burned out on botanas or numbed by nachos, a visit to Gloria’s should shake you out of the Tex-Mex doldrums. Tamales and pupusas (corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, pork, or both) go for $1 apiece, so you can splurge on a $1.50 licuado du plantano-a milkshake involving plantains, milk, vanilla, and crushed ice-for dessert. For high rollers, the asodo de puer-co, extraordinarily tender, juicy grilled pork, which comes with Spanish rice, guacamole, beans, pico de gallo, and tortillas, is well worth $4.75. 600 W. Davis St., 948-3672.
Blue Goose Cantina is where Big Hungry Boys (of either sex) head for when they want to eat Tex-Mex. The sheer quantity of food that appears at the table is enough to make those of normal appetite gasp with disbelief. Quantity, however, is not the end of the story here. The quality is surprisingly high, in light of the low prices. The SI2.95 chicken fajitas are the best in town, and the $12.95 beef fajitas are more than respectable. (That sounds expensive until you realize that one order is plenty for three people.) The flour tortillas that accompany both are admirably thin and fresh, and the standard Tex-Mex is. . .standard, with the exception of great rice and poor guacamole. 2905 Greenville Ave., 823-8339.

ORIENTAL

Eery Cheap Eats hound knows that the lunch special at practically any Chinese restaurant around is a good deal. That’s easy; what’s more of a challenge is exploring other Oriental cuisines.
We’ll make an exception for Jade Garden, which, with its setting, in a building that resembles a former Dairy Queen, looks exceptionally unpromising and serves food that turns out to be exceptionally wonderful. From the standard-moo goo gai pan ($3.25 a! lunch. $4.95 at dinner)-to the unusual-$4.95 curry pan-fried rice noodles, with delicate rice noodles, baby shrimp, pork, onion, egg, carrots, and celery-Jade Garden’s food belies its setting. 4800 Bryan St., 821-0675.
Chin Big Wong also rates an exception, for its notably cheap and terrific dim sum. Expect a wait during peak lunch hours on weekends, and expect it to be worth it. Carts of goodies roll by: steamed dumplings, sate beef slicks, shrimp toast, spring rolls, baked barbecue pork buns. Most plates are $1.50, and will provide tastes for three people. Ask for an explanation of what you’re pointing at. or you might end up eating chicken feet with black bean sauce. Put that out of mind, and concentrate on the fact that four people can keep busy here for an hour for $25. 9243 Skillman St., 343-0545.
There are lots of Chinese fast-food restaurants popping up locally, but none to date compares with Cathy’s Wok. From the simple price structure ($3.95 for lunch, $4.95 for dinner) to the MSG-free philosophy, this place is an exemplar for the genre. Peppery chicken is an especially good choice, but whatever you order, the ingredients will be fresh and the results will taste healthful. 4010 W. 15th, Plano, 964-0406.
Moving out of the territory of Chinese food and into other Ori-entalia, we come to Ba-Le French Sandwiches & Restaurant, which is perhaps the tiniest of Dallas’s Vietnamese restaurants. As always at Vietnamese restaurants, real lemonade and killer iced coffee are the beverages of choice. Two of the best choices are the $3 tenderloin of beef with vermicelli and the $3 Vietnamese crepe (more of a frit-tata, really) with pork, shrimp, and vegetables-an immense thing, easily large enough for two. 4812 Bryan St., 821-1880.
Thai Lanna is spotless, and its best offerings-including $6 ginger chicken Thai style, and broccoli beef over noodles and broccoli pork over noodles ($3.50 for lunch; $4.75 for dinner)-are peerless. Two pieces of advice: every Thai-food novice errs by ordering too much food. One dish will probably feed two of you. And pay heed to the starred items; global food travelers generally agree that Thai cuisine is the world’s holiest and spiciest. Especially beware of the small, green chilies, which create blazing havoc in the mouth and tears in the eyes, Beer, absolutely essential with the hot stuff, is available at the next-door Vien Piane Market. 4317 Bryan St., 823-3034; 1490 W. Spring Valley Rd., 690-3637.
Despite its sign proclaiming "We Expert in Chinese Food." we think that Bangkok Inn is expert in Thai food. Pad Thai, the great Thai rice-noodle dish, is on the money here, for $4.95. Ditto for the $3.75 moo sa tay, tender pork with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, Bring your own wine: they’ll put it in the fridge for you and open it, with no corkage fee. 6033 Oram St., 821-8979.
CHEAP EATS HERO

Krishna Ramanathan

Eery single local Indian restaurant offers great value, especially with lunchtime buffets, but Curry In, Curry Out is almost too cheap-and too excellent-to be believed. (It’s hard to spend more than $5 a person here] The Ramanathan family-wife Lakshmi is the chief cook-has brought Cheap Eats glory to Garland. 1250 Northwest Hwy., 681-0078.
SOUTHERN

Suthern food is our birthright, and happily, it still comes cheap. Though it’s possible to pay through the nose for the nouvelle American cuisine, the old-velle American cuisine still is a great buy in these parts.
Whoa! Hanging plants? Snappy red tile and matching red swivel stools? Deco doors? Has the fabled Henderson’s Chicken Shuck become Henderson’s Fern Food? Mercifully, the fourth and newest outpost of Henderson’s may be spiffed up, but the smell of the fried chicken is the same, and one bite tells you that thirty-five years of tradition hasn’t been forgotten. Two breasts and fries come in the familiar folding box: thin fries on top, covering perhaps the best fried chicken on the continent; sidecars of sliced pickles and one jalapeno. One drawback: the next morning, the steering wheel will be greasy and flakes of fried chicken on the front seat may necessitate a trip to the carwash for an interior once-over. That will add some to the S2.95 tab. 909 N. Fitzhugh, 827-2191; and three other locations.
At Highland Park Pharmacy, you get a Back to the Future-style trip down memory lane along with your 80 cent limeade and $2.95 grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Other easy-on-the-wallet favorites are the $2.35 "Palm Beach," which translates to pimento cheese on white, wheat, or rye grilled toast, and the $2.60 shakes (great therapy for when the world is too much with you). Highland Park Pharmacy is such a repository of tradition that it is possible to feel like a regular on your first visit. 3229 Knox St., 521-2126.
The Mecca is one old favorite that repays revisiting. Inside the Mecca, it’s always 1957, and the prices seem closer to that era than the current one. Breakfast features immense omelettes ($5.95 for a Denver omelette), real-thing hash browns, and biscuits that provide major carbo-thrills. At lunch the news is equally comforting: the $4.95 chicken-fried steak is a can’t-miss proposition. What’s more, service at the Mecca is great: it’s easy to be in and out in thirty minutes flat. 10422 Harry Hines, 352-0051.
Celebration made its name by serving all-you-can-eat Southern fare of the highest caliber in a rustic, comfortable setting. (You do get seconds and beyond, though the menu doesn’t tell you so.) Whether you choose the $6.50 baked chicken or the $9.50 broiled filet of fish amandine, you gel an immense bowl of green salad and a basket of little muffins and delectable, biscuit-like rolls. Just pass on the lackluster chicken-fried steak. 4503 W. Lovers Lane, 351-5681.
"Fried thangs" are a whole sub-genre of Southern food, and nobody does it better than Aw Shucks. The fried oysters ($4.75 for a half dozen, $5.80 for a dozen) and shrimp ($6.50 for a half dozen) that are the featured attractions here are splendid. even if you do tend to feel in need of a shower after the meal. But if you can handle the inherent grease factor. Aw Shucks is a worthwhile destination. Just don’t expect much from the fat French fries, which have hardly any flavor. 3601 Greenville Ave., 821-9449; 4535 Maple, 522-4498; Village at Bachman Lake, 350-9777.
At Highland Park Cafeteria, prices may be higher than at lesser cafeterias, but the quality is higher still. For adults, this is one of the all-time greatest hits of Cheap Eating. The $3.15 chicken-fried steak, 60 cent mashed potatoes and cream gravy, 54 cent jalapeno corn muffins, and 74 cent cherry cobbler are all state-of-the-art versions (prices vary weekly). Cheap Eaters with children should beware, though: at HPC, as at any cafeteria, the offspring tend to lose their self-control, with potentially very expensive results, when confronted with acres of gastronomic delight. 4611 Cole, 526-3801; Village on the Parkway, 5100 Bell Line at Dallas Parkway, 934-8800; 500 Akard at San Jacinto, 740-2400.
Few restaurants so plainly declare their intentions as Po Folks, a chain with a Richardson outpost in this area. Dinners range from $3.85 to $7.99 and come with two vegetables and a biscuit or corn bread. The pork chops are standouts, but the folks at Po Folks also do a good job with chicken and dumplings and country-fried steak. For dessert, there’s a respectable cobbler, and the drink of choice is iced tea (sweetened or unsweetened, in the finest Southern tradition). Only Le Peep rivals Po Folks in the department of nauseatingly folksy nomenclature and menu prose. But, as the culinary sage once said, you don’t eat the menu, you eat the food. 730 W. Spring Valley, 231-1677.
CHEAP EATS HERO

Rosemarie Hudson

THudson family runs Rosemaries and Gennie’s Bishop Grille, both Oak Cliff institutions that draw lunchtime fans from all over the city. The Southern fare is comfort food extraordinaire, and there’s no extra charge for the warmth of the greeting you get. 1411 N. Zang, 946-4142;308 N. Bishop Ave., 946-1752.
UPSCALE CHEAP EATS

There are times when nothing but a show of luxe will do. Even in Dallas’s highest-rated, highest-priced restaurant, there’s no need to choose between dinner and college for the kids. The trick is knowing the territory.
For instance, eating at the bar at Routh Street Cafe allows you to pick and choose from appetizers ($8 to $15), entrees ($18 to $25), and desserts ($4 to $5) priced individually rather than anteing up the $42 a person fixed-price tab for the whole nine yards. You don’t even have to make a reservation to do so. Just watch out for those $5.50 glasses of Scharffenberger Brut champagne, which add up distressingly quickly. 3005 Routh St., 871-7161.
Routh Street Cafe isn’t open for lunch, but the Mansion is, and, considering its reputation, it’s surprisingly affordable. Stick to a salad ($5.75 for beefsteak tomatoes. Dallas mozzarella cheese, avocado, and basil vinaigrette) and the trademark $5 tortilla soup and you can get off for less than $15 a person, even with a generous tip. The atmosphere and the star-gazing arc free. 282) Turtle Creek Blvd., 526-2121.
For a Sunday brunch to remember, San Simeon is the ticket. The food is possibly even better here at brunch than it is at lunch and dinner, and the $15 fixed-price tab covers an appetizer, main course, and dessert; astonishing value, considering the quality of the food. 2515 McKinney Ave., 871-7373.

THE LAST WORD ON CHEAP EATING

For the last word on Cheap Eating, we turned to John Mariani, author of Mariani’s Coos-Mo-Coast Dining Guide and a careful man with a buck. "I have no problem with spending thirty-five bucks for a piece of chicken paillard with no vegetable at the Four Seasons in New York." he says. "That’s because I’m paying for the Philip Johnson architecture, the Picasso tapestry on the wall, and the best service in the world."
Asked for the single most important rule for those who would eat cheaply, Mariani answers without hesitation: "Check your bill. In my experience, something is wrong with the check at least 20 percent of the time, and it’s never in your favor.
"Restaurants gouge customers in both subtle and outright ways. Sometimes you’re charged for things you didn’t order, and sometimes you’re simply overcharged for what you did order. The other night I heard a guy asking a waiter, ’What’s this $25 for two glasses of wine?" The waiter wasn’t even fazed. The point is that most people wouldn’t even notice. And some people would actually be afraid to question something like this. These folks are afraid that they will be perceived as penny pinchers, as lowlifes."
RESTAURANTS

AMERICAN

Baby Routh ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ This infant son of Routh Street Cafe is a casual, relatively inexpensive alternative to the pricey, reservation-required pleasures of Routh Street Cafe. Stephan Pyles and chef Amy Ferguson (who first made a name for herself in Houston) have come up with an earthy menu that is a pleasing balance of the new and the familiar. Don’t miss the smoked corn chowder with collard greens cream, the spicy honey-fried chicken, the grilled prawn and apple-smoked bacon club sandwich on toasted brioche, and the chocolate-ancho pot de crème. 2708 Routh. 871-2345. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner daily 6-10:30: late-night menu Mon-Sat 11 pm-I2:45 am; brunch Sat & Sun 11:30-3. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
Beau Nash ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ As the months have gone by. Beau Nash has come into its own identity, and its virtues seem more and more apparent. For one thing, it keeps late hours-at least by Dallas standards-and does so every night. For another, it’s a lively, entertaining hangout. And last but not least, the menu has been astutely adjusted, although not completely overhauled. Happily, the smoked salmon pizza-the perfect partner to champagne-survived. Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court, Maple at McKinney. 871-3240. Breakfast daily 6:30-10:30; lunch Man-Sea 11:30-2:30; dinner daily 6 pm-11:15 pm; Sun brunch 11-2:15. All credit cards. Expensive.
Blom’s ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ In most cities, hotel restaurants are bad news. In Dallas, hotel restaurants offer some of the best food in town. Blom’s definitely falls in this praiseworthy category. The menu keeps changing-recently to include such standouts as breast of duckling with sweet cherry pecan sauce-but the quality is constant. Westin Hotel. Galleria, 13340 Dallas Pkwy, 851-2882. Mon-7hur 6:30-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6:30-11. Closed Sun. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. Expensive.
City Cafe ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ City Cafe’s innovative yet reassuringly homey menu (which changes every Wednesday) continues to be one of the best in town in terms of quality-to-price ratio, A recent dinner was nearly flawless: the mixed garden salad; jambalaya with ham, oysters, shrimp, and andouille sausage; chocolate quiche with shortbread crust; and creme brulée with a coconut cookie crust were all they should have been. 5757 W Lovers Lane (just west of Dallas N Tollway). 351-2233. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed San. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Dakota’s ★ ★ ★ Dakota’s is as visually appealing-and as auditorily overwhelming-as ever. To judge from the lunch-lime crowds, this is a winning combination. On a recent visit, one lunch special-a mixed grill of halibut and Black Angus beef-was a mixed bag (great halibut, boring beef). Another special, cilantro fettuccine with veal, beef, and mustard sauce, just flat didn’t work: it tasted like what one might turn out at home with leftovers and hopeful intentions. However, a green salad and Key lime pie were both swell. 600 N Akard. 740-4001. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-3; dinner Sun-Thur5-11, Fri & Sat 5-11:30; Sun brunch 11-2:30. All credit cards. Lunch moderate, dinner expensive.
Deep Ellum Cafe ★ ★ ★ This charming, unassuming little restaurant is the best thing to happen to Deep Ellum in some time. The scallop pie isn’t a pie by any definition I know of-it’s a group of scallops served in a shell with garlic, cream, and a bread crumb lopping. The pasta options- including an appetizer of ricotta- and spinach-filled ravioli with walnut sauce-are good, if not quite good enough. The smarter money is on the chicken with dill dumplings and the sandwiches-including a most appealing seafood dub sandwich with crab and shrimp salad on grilled sourdough. 2704 Elm. 741-9012. Lunch Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm; dinner Tue-Thur 6 pm-midnight. Fri & Sat 6 pm-1 am. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
Dream Cafe ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 3312 Knox. 522-1478. Mon-Fri 7am-3 pm, Thur-Sat 6 pm-10 pm. Sat & Sun 8 am-3 pm. MC. V; personal checks accepted. Inexpensive.
Gershwin’s ★ ★ Gershwin’s now offers "small plates," which are like appetizers, except the idea is you order several instead of, rather than before, a main course. Black bean cakes with sour cream, baked goal cheese with almonds, and barbecued shrimp are some of the small-plate highlights. The rest of the menu continues to be surprisingly well prepared in light of its extensiveness (usually a warning sign for savvy restaurant-goers). 8442 Malnut Hill. 373-7171. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-midnight, Fri & Sat ll:30 am-1 am, Sun 10:30 am-3 pm & 5 pm-midnight. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
Good Eats ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 3531 Oak Lawn. 521-1398. Sun-Thur 7am-ll pm. Fri & Sat 7 am-11:30 pm. MC, V. AE. Inexpensive.
Hard Rock Cafe ★ Rock ’n’ roll memorabilia and the sense of being where it. whatever it is, is happening are the draws here, not first-rate food. Accordingly, it’s not surprising to find that the burgers, steak, and sword fish on the menu consistently emerge charred and nearly inedible. What is surprising is that the starkly named pig sandwich-a simple assemblage of bun. shredded pork, and barbecue sauce, served with pretty good cole slaw and pretty poor fries-is truly great junk food. Stick with the pig sandwich and devil’s food cake for dessert and you’ll leave happy, even if eating beneath the Beatles’ flight bags isn’t your idea of ultimate bliss. Service is so nice here it’s almost frightening. 2601 McKinney. 827-8282. Daily II am-2 am. MC, V. AE. Moderate.
Laurels ★ ★ ★ ★ Two things that usually bode ill for one’s prospects of eating well in a restaurant are height and association with a hotel. Laurels, located on the twentieth floor of the Sheraton Park Central, is an exception to both caveats. The menu degustation, with a fixed price of $38.50. changes daily and is a good bet. A la carte choices are expensive, but choices like Maine lobster, wild mushrooms, and basil with fettuccine and roasted pheasant with green apple pasta and blue cheese sauce arc well worth the tariff. Desserts are killers here, especially the souffle of the day (apricot with raspberry sauce on my visits. Sheraton Park Central. 12720 Merit Dr. 851-2021. Mon-Sat 6.30 pm-10:30 pm. All credit cards. Expensive.
The Mansion on Turtle Creek ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ what never seems to change at the Mansion is its historic beauty and top-of-the-line service. What does change is the menu. Now it’s printed daily, the better to accommodate changing offerings according to season-and the creative inspiration of Dean Fearing. Regulars tend to opt for whatever appears on any given day: diners tor whom the Mansion is a relatively rare experience may prefer to sample such classics as the peerless tortilla soup: Louisiana crab cakes with a sauce of smoked chilies, lobster, and blood orange; and crème brulée with raspberry sauce for dessert. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Main dining room-jackets and ties required. Lunch Mon-Fri noon-2:30; brunch Sat noon-2:30, Sun 11-2:30; dinner Sun-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11: supper Mon-Thur 10:30 pm-midnight, Fri & Sat II pm-midnight. Promenade Room-breakfast daily 7 am-11 am; tea Mon-Fri 2-5 pm. All credit cards. Expensive.
Margaux Natural ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Life is full of surprises, and most of them are nasty, but some are very nice indeed. Margaux Natural falls into the latter category. When I heard that spa cuisine (low-calorie, low-cholesterol fare) was going to be served in the former location of Cafe Margaux. I was able to control my enthusiasm, given the spa cuisine I’ve tasted before in a number of other venues. All it took was one lunch and one dinner at Margaux Natural to make a believer of me: the food-the menu changes weekly, but I can vouch for the green endive and oak leaf salad, grilled rainbow trow, black bean soup, and the homemade pasta-is so sensually appealing that it’s hard to believe it’s also good for you. However, the way you feel after a meal here-energetic as opposed to leaden-is incontrovertible proof of that. 4424 Lovers Lane. 739-0886. Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Tue-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30-10. Closed Man. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
McKinney & Knox ★ ★ ★ This geographically named resiaurant has improved since its opening. Though the menu still attempts too many things to do them all well, portions are huge, prices are reasonable, and there are plenty of good choices here: the house salad (with jicama, mushrooms, red pepper slices, and grated cheese), onion rings, and FOB (fall off the bone) pork ribs. Outside, an old mesquite tree presides over the forty-five al fresco seats. 4544 McKinney. 522-4340. Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnighi. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
Parigi ★ ★ ★ Parigi is a restaurant that inspires strong emotion. Its fans love its marbleized, post-modern look and its menu, which changes daily and might be described as hybridized nouveau American-French-Italian. On my last dinner visit, I found myself reflecting once again on the Parigi paradox: the pasta dishes always sound too interesting to pass up, and nearly always turn out to be too strange to enjoy: in this case, the relevant examples were tomato fettuc-cine with shrimp and asparagus in sorrel cream sauce and cilantro linguette with chicken, black beans, and red bell pepper pesto. Still, Parigi’s wine list is well chosen, its Saturday brunch is a lovely thing, and its waiters, especially George, are terrific. 3311 Oak Lawn. 521-0295. Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Tue-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6:30-11; Sat brunch 10:30-3. Closed Sun & Mon. All credit cards. Expensive.
Routh Street Cafe ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Routh Street Cafe’s formula for national gastronomic fame: Stephan Pyles’s New Southwestern Cuisine; a sleek, Tonny Foy-designed setting; and snappy, congenial service. The five-course, fixed-price menu ($42, with surcharges for certain items) is printed daily, but certain items-such as commeal catfish with smoked peppermint marigold sauce, lobster enchilada with red pepper creme fraiche, lamb with pecan and garlic sauce, berry buckle with cinnamon ice cream, and apple-walnut spice cake-have become near-fixtures. When food-obsessed travelers come to town, this is the reservation they want. This means prime-time reservations should be made well in advance. 3005 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-7161. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations. All credit cards. Expensive.
San Simeon ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Richard Chamberlain’s food matches the splendor of San Simeon’s service and its subtly, weirdly wonderful, post-modern Egyptian interior. (Keep your eye on the lighting; it changes over the course of a meal.) Pick hits include a chowder of torn, wild rice, and duck sausage; chilled bow-tie pasta and prosciutto with sage walnut pesto; and Romano-crusted veal with angel-hair pasta and tomato sauce. 2515 McKinney at fairmount in Chateau Plow. 871-7373. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-10:30; Sun brunch 11-2. All credit cards. Expensive.

BAKERIES

La Madeleine ★ ★ ★ These are trying times, and every so often one needs a judicious combination of caffeine and carbohydrates to make it through the afternoon. La Madeleine’s strong coffee and raspberry beignets (or, alternatively. almond croissants) do the job for me. There are also more wholesome alternatives along the lines of soups, salads, and sandwiches-as well as the top-quality breads that are the true raison d’etre of the place. The rustic setting at both locations is pleasant. 3072 Mockingbird, 696-6960; 3906 Lem-mon. 521-0182. Daily 7 am-9 pm. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. Inexpensive.
Massimo Da Milano ★ ★ ★ ★ If there’s a bad item available at this attractive Italian bakery/cafe, I’ve yet to discover it despite exhaustive research. Fordessert, there are any number of pastries to choose from, but nothing suits a cup of espresso better than the little amaretti cookies. These days, service for the cafeteria-style service line ranges from disorganized to efficient, which is an improvement over days past, when disjointed to chaotic were the applicable adjectives. 5519 W Lovers Lane. 351-1426. Mon-Thur 9 am-10 pm. Fri A Sat 9 am-11 pm. Sun 9-9. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive.

BARBECUE

Anderson’s ★ ★ Decorated in the finest Western/schlock tradition. Anderson’s is what food in Texas used to be all about: plenty of choices of smoked meat, with a few token vegetables provided to ward off scurvy. The cue-especially the ribs-is as it should be. and the butter beans and baked potatoes are a credit to their genre. 5410 Hurry Mines Blvd. 630-0735. Mon-Fri II am-7:45 pm. Sat 11 am-3 pm. Closed. Inexpensive.
Sonny Bryan’s ★ ★ ★ ★ Accompanied by the last two Sonny Bryan’s virgins in town. I headed for Sonny’s on a cool day-pointing out that the wood smoke and patrons eating from the hoods of their vehicles are essential elements of the experience. Reviewing ethics compelled us to order different things, but the wisdom of sticking to the aweinspiring sliced beef sandwich was reconfirmed by the scorched ribs, rubbery sliced ham. and ho-hum beans. However, that sandwich alone is sufficient to earn Sonny’s its stars. 2202 Inwood. 357-7120. Mon-Fri l0 am-5 pm, Sat 10 am-3 pm. Sun 11 am-2 pm. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. Inexpensive.
Solly’s ★ ★ There are those who believe that good barbecue can’t be found in the squeaky-clean reaches of Ad-dison. They haven’t eaten at Solly’s, where the "casual cuisine" promised by the logo features barbecue as flavorful as that in any other pan of town-and French fries that were recently derived from a potato, which is a sadly rare state of affairs. 4801 Belt Line. 387-2900. Man Sat 11 am-9 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted for takeout. MC, V, Inexpensive.

BURGERS

Snuffer’s ★ ★ ★ Sec "Cheap Eats" for review. 3526 Greenville. 826-6850. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun 11:30 am-2 am. Alt credit cards. Inexpensive.

CAJUN

Arcadia Bar ★ ★ ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 2114 Greenville Ave. 821-1300. Daily 5 pm-2 am. MC, V, AE Inexpensive.
Atchafalaya River Cafe ★ ★ Although the rest of the country has by and large lost interest in Cajun food, the craze just keeps picking up steam in Dallas. The most recent evidence: Houston’s Atchafalaya River Cafe has taken over what used to be Joe T. Garcia’s space on Belt Line. The food is uneven here, but shrimp remoulade for an appetizer and beignets and cafe au lait for dessert are worth a visit. 4440 Bell Line at Midway. 960-6878. Daily 11-11. MC. V. AE. Moderate.
Cafe Margaux ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ The blackened-everything brigade-those trend-surfing restaurateurs who don’t know their elbows from their etouffees-have made many local diners deeply suspicious of all Cajun food served outside a fifty-mile radius of New Orleans. Happily. Cafe Margaux is another matter altogether. The food here measures up to Louisiana’s finest: green salad, crawfish etouffee, oysters Bienville, trout with crab-meat stuffing, and bread pudding were all flawless. 3710 Rawlins. 520-1985. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-11. Fri & Sal 5:30-mid-night. All credit cards. Moderate.
Copeland’s ★ ★ ★ This enormous outpost of a New Orleans-based restaurant empire serves remarkably good food, most notably an appetizer of oysters en brochetteand a dessert of chocolate cookie ice cream. Service is excellent. but do expect a wait fora table and don’t expect much in the way of decor and architecture. 5353 Belt Line. 661-1883. Mon-Thur 11 am-midnight, Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am. Sun 10:30 am-midnight. All credit cards. Moderate.

CHINESE

August Moon ★ ★ ★ ★ On a recent visit to the original Addison August Moon {there are now clones in Plano and Arlington. too), the food shone much more brightly than on previous visits. Whatever the reason, the results were impressive enough to make me look forward to a return trip. Steamed pot stickers, pork dumplings that are the Oriental version of ravioli, were simultaneously light and satisfy-ing-and much more interesting than the standard-issue egg rolls. Lamb and prawns Hunan-style was a blast of heated flavor, which was a nice contrast to the refined tang of lemon chicken. 15030 Preston at Belt Line. 385-7227 Sun-Thur II am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. Moderate.
Best A Round ★ ★ ★ Here at D. our fun-loving staff members frequently find themselves hard at work-and hungry-at odd hours. Lately, we’ve taken to ordering in from Best A Round, which has the virtues of low prices, quick delivery, and food that may be short on finesse but is reliably tasty. Best A Round has a couple of counters-and a television that tends to be tuned to MTV-for customers who want to eat in. but most either pick up or have their fodder delivered. 3607-A Greenville. 827-3631. Sun & Tue-Thur 4 pm-3 am, Fri & Sat 4 pm-4 am. Closed Man. No credit cards. Inexpensive.
Cathy’s Wok ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 4010 W15th. Piano. 964-0406. Mon-Sat II am-9:30 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. Inexpen-sive.
Crystal Pagoda ★ ★ ★ ★ One of the oddest facts of dining in Dallas is that although there are more Chinese restaurants around than any other kind, we don’t have a single one that approaches the greatness of, say. New York’s Siu Lam Kung. Crystal Pagoda doesnt match that standard, but it’s as good as Chinese food gets in Dallas-which is quite good. The shredded beef Szechwan-style and the moo shu pork are two especially good choices here. The service and selling are both extremely pleasant. 4516 McKinney. 526-3355. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-I0:30 pm, Fri II:30 am-11 pm, Sat noon-11 pm, Sun noon-10:30 pm. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Dynasty ★ ★ ★ ★ This relatively formal Chinese restaurant, despite its unlikely location adjacent to a motel, is among the best in the area-admittedly, a backhanded compliment given Dallas’s dearth of truly great Chinese food. On a recent visit, decent shrimp rolls and spring rolls were followed by indecently good rainbow chicken (julienned chicken, snow peas, red pepper, and Mung bean sprouts) and the equally praiseworthy, if oddly named, silver gourd savoury (shrimp, green peppers, straw mushrooms, and water chestnuts). Orange beef was too fatty, as it tends to he in Chinese restaurants all over town. Garden Inn, 4101 Belt Line, Addison. 385-7888. Sun-Thur 11:30 am- 10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Forbidden City ★ ★ Late Saturday night in Addison, andafter two false starts-one restaurant with an hour-long wail for a table at 10 p.m. and another with a wedding in progress-my unwilling companion (who is skeptical of any venture north of Mockingbird anyway) and 1 were in the zone of dangerous hunger and getting testier by the moment. It was, therefore, with a sense of relief and thankfulness that we found Forbidden City open (until 3 a.m. on weekends) and uncrowded. Egg rolls were nothing special, and an order of orange beef was unacceptably tough, but the uninform-atively named chefs chicken was remarkably good: innocent-looking shredded chicken stir-fried in an incendiary sesame sauce and served on a bed of beau sprouts, 5290 Belt Line. 960-2999. Mon-Thur II am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat II am-3 am. Sun noom-10:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Han-Chu ★ ★ ★ Han-Chu is a great restaurant for an illicit affair: the place is dark as a cave even at high noon. By Chinese-restaurant standards, it’s even sophisticated-looking: the color scheme is eggplant and burgundy, the waiters are in black tie. and there are roses on the tables On my most recent visit. 1 found the shredded pork with ginger sauce to be memorable, thanks to a zippy flavor and an appealing texture imparted by the presence of black mushrooms and bamboo shoots. The princess chicken, on the other hand, was an altogether forgettable aggregation of cubed chicken, celery, and water chestnuts. Caruth Plaza. 9100 N Central Expwy at Park Lane, Suite 191. 691-0900. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Hong Kong Royale ★ ★ ★ Being the only non-Orientals in the room makes Chinese food fans of Western descent very happy. This was the case when I forced a friend to accompany me to the wilds of Richardson in search of great Chinese. The dim sum that we had heard enthusiastic reports on wasn’t available, so the jury’s still out on whether this restaurant is the answer to the prayers of exiled New Yorkers who search the Metroplex for the Chinese food they remember. However, a standard lunch of chicken with almonds and shredded pork with garlic sauce was very satisfying. What’s more, the pastel-hued decor at Hong Kong Royale is unusually pretty. Plainly, this place warrants further exploration. 221 W Post, Richardson. 238-8888 Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat & Sun 10 am-11 pm. All credit cards. Inexpensive.
Jasmine ★ ★ ★ Jasmine’s setting sets it apart from standard-issue Chinese restaurants. It’s plush to the point of featuring a white baby grand piano. For reasons unknown. the menu featured some fractured French, but its offerings don’t suffer as a result. Shrimp rolls arrived encased in black seaweed wrappers-not bad, mind you, but still, the stuff did lake some getting used to. Happily, however, there were no untoward surprises involved in the top-notch treatments of moo shu pork and beef Mimosa (sauteed in an orange-flavored red pepper sauce). 4002 Belt Line. 991-6867 Mon-Thur II am-10 pm, Fri 11 am-11:30 pm, Sat 11:30-11:30. Sun 11:30 am-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
May Dragon ★ ★ ★ ★ The food and service are as distinctive-and as commendable-as the post-modern decor at this Addison entry in the local Chinese restaurant sweepstakes. I’ve tried a raft of food here-from steamed dumplings to the whimsically named Penguin’s Double Happiness, which involves shrimp and chicken, not penguin- and never been less than happy. 4848 Belt Line at Inwood. 392-9998. Mon-Thur 11-10:30, Fri 11-11, Sat 11:30-11, Sun 11:30-10:30. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
Plum Blossom ★ ★ ★ ★ The elegant Plum Blossom has a new chef, and Steve Chiang’s work was very impressive on a recent visit. From appetizers of crispy five-spice quail and paper shrimp to main courses of knockout Peking duck, subtly gratifying bird’s nest chicken with pine nuts, and crispy whole catfish (looks frightening, tastes great), dinner was phenomenally good. And dessert-jasmine sorbet and rice ice cream with candied apple and kiwi sauce-was the best I’ve ever had in a Chinese restaurant. Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Mon-Sat 6 pm-10:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate to expensive.
Szechwan Pavilion ★ ★ ★ With its sophisticated peach and gray color scheme, Szechwan Pavilion is an aesthetic knockout. At its best, the food very nearly lives up to the setting. The spring rolls-crisp wonton wrappers punctuated by shrimp, sprouts, and carrot shreds-are musts to order. After that, kung pao shrimp with red pepper and peanuts might be in order. Prices are a bit higher here than at most local Chinese restaurants, but one can see, in such touches as the exotic lilies on the tables, where the surcharge is going. 8411 Preston, Suite 132 at Northwest Highway. 368-4303. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat noun-11 pm, Sun noon-10:30 pm. MC, V, AE. Moderate to expensive.
Tong’s House ★ ★ Although the dan-dan noodles with sesame-peanut sauce are still some of the best (and some of the only) to be found in town, the rest of a recent dinner at Tong’s was a bummer. Wonton soup was inedibly soggy, moo goo gai pan included canned mushrooms, and orange beef Szechwan-style was too chewy for comfort. Still, Tong’s is worth a trip for true Chinese food fens, if only for the opportunity to order such frighten ingly authentic dishes as pig’s stomach with bean soup, cold cattle stomach, and beef tendons in hot sauce. 1910 Promenade Center, Richardson. 231-8858. Mon-Thur 11 am-9:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm, Sun 11 am-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Topaz House ★ ★ ★ Topaz House has an exceptionally depressing-looking interior that is heavy on the harvest gold vinyl, Strike one. Then there was the disgracefully mushy appetizer of sesame noodles. Strike two. Happily, and surprisingly after that appetizer, two entrees were home-run hits: shredded pork with garlic sauce and jade shrimp, a.k.a. shrimp with broccoli. That must be why the place was do-ing good business in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. 110 Greenville, Richardson. 234-3887. Dailvy 11:30 am-10 pm. WC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
Uncle Tai’s Hunan Yuan ★ ★ ★ ★ Uncle Tai’s is the highest of high-end Chinese options in town. For prices consistently higher than any other Chinese restaurant in town, the customer gets such off-the-beaten-path dishes as sauteed sliced pheasant, frog’s legs with gingko nuts, and sliced duck with young ginger roots. The quality of ingredients is very high, although the level of saltiness continues to be problematic. Galleria, Suite 3370. 934-9998. Mon-Thur II am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:3 pm, Sun noon-10 pm. Jackets required for dinner. All credit cards. Expensive.

DELI

Bagelstein’s ★ ★ Although Bagelstein’s has a lengthy menu of breakfast and deli options, the chewy, fresh bagels are the point of the place, and they are as good as you can get west of Chicago. The only decision, therefore, is what kind of bagel-plain, egg, pumpernickel, garlic, onion, salt, raisin, poppy seed, or sesame seed-and which variety of cream cheese-plain, vegetable, strawberry, chive, herb and spice, lox, or cinnamon raisin. Northwood Hills Shopping Center. 8104 Spring Valley. 234-3787. Mon 6 am-3 pm, Tue-Sun 6 am-9 pm. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive.
Kuby’s ★ ★ There are innumerable sandwich and sausage options, but whatever else you order, potato pancakes and apple strudel are in order as accompaniments. To judge from the lunchtime crowds, the new Kuby’s promises to join the old one (which has been around since 1961) as a local institution. 703 McKinney in the Brewery. 954-0004. Mon-Sat II am-10 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.

FRENCH/CONTINENTAL

Actuelle ★ ★ ★ ★ If I had a chapeau to hand, I would eat it. As it is, I’ll have to settle for ingesting my words. When I first reviewed Actuellce. I found it off-putting and said so. However, as the months passed, and reliable sources continued to file reports of formidable meals at Actuelle, I revisited for lunch and dinner and found my sources to be correct. Although breast of Long Island duck with angel-hair pasta was on the tatty side, everything else, including tortilla soup with smoked chicken and serrano chilies and a dessert of apple-almond custard torte with caramel sauce, ranged from remarkably good to perfect. Service is excellent, and the setting is austerely attractive. The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 855-0440. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. All credit cards. Expensive.
Café Royal ★ ★ ★ ★ Romance may be invaluable, but a romantic dinner shouldn’t cost more than a used car. Cafe Royal’s $34.50 fixed-price dinner, which changes daily, is reasonably priced and, thanks to the lovely setting and skillful service, unreasonably romantic. The run-down on one night’s uniformly well-prepared options: an appetizer of a salad with quail breast or an artichoke bottom with lobster ragout and caviar butter sauce: a green salad or red-wine sorbet: an entree of sliced loin of lamb with wild mushrooms and a shallot and sage sauce or fillet of John Dory with angel-hair pasta and lemon thyme sauce: and a choice of dessert. Plaza of the Americas. 650 N Pearl. 979-9000. lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner Mon-Thur 6:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 6:30-11. Closed Sun. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. Expensive.
Chez Gerard ★ ★ ★ The highlights of my most recent dinner checkup visit were topflight treatments of sauteed lamb chop with parsley and garlic and floating island (poached meringue floating atop vanilla custard). Shrimp remoulade, cassoulet (a stew of white beans and sausage that Francophiles adore and the less reverent refer to as the Gallic version of beans and weenies), and ereme caramel were less distinguished, but still well within Chez Gerard’s range of dependable quality. 4444 McKinney. 522-6865. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Moderate to expensive.
The French Room ★ ★ ★ ★ The rosy-hued French Room is far and away the most baroque-looking restaurant in Dallas. Since its opening, it has had its culinary, ups and downs; happily, however, a recent visit suggested (hat it is in an up cycle. From salads (green bean and green salad with goat cheese croutons) to entrees (salmon and rack of lamb) to dessert (apple tart), the food was all that one could ask for. What’s more, the sommelier is both congenial and well-informed; he is as happy to advise customers on a single glass of wine as a rare bottle. Adolphus Hotel. 1321 Commerce. 742-8200. Man-Sat 6-10. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. Expensive.
The Grape ★ ★ ★ ★ The Grape’s, selling-dark as a candle-lit dungeon, with red-checked tablecloths and touches of vinous kitsch-makes it an ideal hangout for Lower Greenville’s resident Bohemian yuppies. The Grape paraphernalia displayed near the door-including T-shirts and a cookbook-suggests that what we have here is not so much a restaurant as a way of life. Although the Grape still serves the cheese and pate offerings (hat were its specialty when it opened in 1972, pasta and fish specials are the ticket these days. 2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823-0133. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner Sun-Thur 6-II, Fri & Sat 6 pm-mid-night. All credit cards. Moderate.
L’ Ambiance ★ ★ ★ Although the renovated gas station setting is unimpressive, the food was fine on a recent dinner visit. A suave potato-leek soup and watercress salad with bacon, mushrooms, and goal cheese made for excellent appetizers. Fish has never been a good main-course bet here, so we opted for lamb chops and duck with the fruit sauce of the day. Both were memorably well-prepared. For dessert, floating island with pecan praline and chocolate souffle cake enlivened by coconut and macadamia nuts served with vanilla sauce were both enchanting variations on what can be boring themes. 2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Jackets required for dinner. All credit cards. Expensive.
L’Ancestral ★ ★ ★ L’Ancestral has moved from its funky former Lower Greenville location to the considerably slicker Travis Walk, but the food and the feeling are essentially unchanged, and the Vuilleret family is still very much in evidence. Now as before, fish is not the wisest choice here; much better to go with the steak au poivre or the lamb chops with herb butter and peerless pommes frites. L’Ancestral’s trademark clafouti dessert-a dense, tender custard with black cherries-is as good as ever. 4514 Travis. 528-1081. Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30-3; dinner Mon-Thur 5 pm-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5-11. Sun 6:30-10. All credit cards. Moderate.
La Cave ★ ★ ★ What with all the recent hoopla about the West End Marketplace and the weekend crowds resulting therefrom, hungry West End troopers would do well to remember quieter, less heralded establishments like La Cave. Although, as the name suggests, La Cave focuses on wine, with its cellar full of the stuff, the food is reasonably priced and reliably good. The standard pates and cheeses are as good here as anywhere else in town, but it’s the well-prepared daily specials that earn La Cave its stars. 2019 N Lamar at McKinney. 871-2072. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11:30 am-midnight, Sat noon-midnight. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Moderate.
Left Bank ★ ★ ★ ★ The left bank in question is that of the Trinity River, and the restaurant in question is the best thing to hit Oak Cliff since the viaduct from downtown. The food is simple. French-influenced, and changes every day. On the weekend, all of Oak Cliff wants to be here, so reservations are essential. 408 N Bishop, Suite 104. 948-1630. Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30-2, Sat noon-3; dinner Tue-Sat 6-10. No credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
L’Entrecote ★ ★ ★ ★ After a long sliding spell, L’Entre-cote has, as the French say. pulled up its socks. Thanks to the efforts of chef Michel Platz, the Loews Anatole’s French restaurant is once again one of the best in the city. Watercress and endive salad with pink grapefruit was an exceptionally refreshing appetizer. Gratin of crawfish tails with ginger was light and satisfying, and loin of lamb with rosemary and shallot coulis was a must for lamb fans. Finally, dessert-banana beignets with coconut mousse-was a killer. Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Wed-Mon 6-10:30 pm. Closed Tue. All credit cards. Very expensive.
Mr. Peppe ★ ★ ★ Mr. Peppe is not so much a restaurant as it is a mindset. There exists a subset of monied, established Dallasites for whom fine dining begins and ends with Mr. Peppe. While the rest of us frantically trendy parvenus chase around from new hot spot to newer hot spot, the Mr. Peppe-ites are content to eat things like pepper steak and veal with lemon butter week in and week out. 56/7 W Lovers Lane. 352-5976. Mon-Sat 6-10. All credit cards. Moderate.
Old Warsaw ★ ★ ★ Old Warsaw, the granddaddy-make that grand-pere-of big-deal dining in Dallas, hasn’t appeared in D’s listings for a while because we’ve been waiting to revisit it until after it moves. The fabled impending move-to LTV Center, in March, when last we heard-is beginning to seem like the joke about Franco’s death on "Saturday Night Live," so watch this space. 2610 Maple. 528-0032. Sun-Wed 6 pm-10 pm. Thur-Sat 6 pm10:30 pm. All credit cards. Very expensive.
The Riviera ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ I have attended Grateful Dead concerts that were quieter than the Riviera on a Saturday night, but minor hearing loss is a small price to pay for first-rate food in a charming setting. A green salad was nicely set off by sherry vinaigrette, and came with a delectable goat cheese crouton. Sun-dried tomato and smoked bell pepper soup was satisfying, if heavy on the bacon. Norwegian salmon and sea scallops steamed with white wine and served with a light rosemary sauce was one of the best treatments of salmon I’ve ever tasted. For dessert the creditable, very buttery-tasting Grand Marnier creme brulee was outshone by the ethereally light apple tart with almond cream and caramel sauce. 7709 Inwood. 351-0094. Sun-Thur 6:30 pm-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6:30 pm-11 pm. All credit cards. Expensive to very expensive.
St. Marten’s ★ ★ ★ This is a great place to bring your squeeze or your squeeze-to-be, as long as neither of you demands consistently first-rate food. With its pretty blue walls and flickering candlelight, St. Martin’s is a pleasant place to drink wine and think romantic thoughts. The food was a mixed bag on my last visit: flabby bread, salads that resembled taco filling, passable roast duck with peach sauce. praiseworthy swordfish with capers and mushrooms, sensually dense chocolate satin pie, and unpleasantly eggy creme caramel. 3020 Greenville. 826-0940. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2:30: dinner Sun-Thur 5-11. Fri A Sat 5 pm-1 am. Sun brunch 11-3. All credit cards. Moderate to expensive.
Three Vikings ★ ★ ★ Three Vikings, which had been a fixture on Lower Greenville, packed up and disappeared some months back. Now it has resurfaced in the tiny space previously occupied by Da Piccolo and Red Moon Cafe on Cole Avenue. The look of the place is very light, with lots of pale blue and bleached pine. There’s nothing light about the food, though-which is good or bad. depending on how you feel about Scandinavian/Continentl food. For my part, 1 am immoderately fond of the Swedish meatballs. , moderately fond of the Finnish shrimp chowder, and not fond at all of the heavy-on-the-bearnaise veal Oscar. 4537 Cole. 559-0987. Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30- 2; dinner Tue-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. All credit cards. Moderate.

GERMAN/EASTERN EUROPE

Bohemia ★ ★ ★ ★ Have you heard the one about Czech food? A week later and you’re hungry again. At Bohemia, the attraction is sturdy Eastern European food-like Wiener schnitzel, pork roast, and bread dumplings-served in delicately charming surroundings (lace curtains, tulip lamps, Viennese waltzes). Two bonuses: the by-the-glass wines, are well chosen, and service is efficient and unobtrusive. With one notable exception (being under a quilt with your sweetie), there is no better place than Bohemia to be on a nippy day. 2810 N Henderson. 826-6209. Sun & Tue-Thur 5:30-9:30 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30 pm. Closed Mon. All credit cards. Moderate.
Café Kashtan ★ ★ ★ A recent dinner visit here was relatively disappointing, but that was mostly because my party was collectively starving and service was excruciatingly slaw. However, it also didn’t help that kulebiaka, that utterly satisfying melange of chicken, rice, and mushrooms baked in a pastry shell-wasn’t on the dinner menu. Still, the salanka, an intensely flavored broth with bits of beef, sausage, and vegetables accompanied by pirozki, a meat-filled roll, the chicken Kiev, the veal Soblianka with mushroom sauce, and the almond cake with raspberry sauce were appeasingly excellent. 5365 Spring Valley Rd at Montfort. 991-9550 Lunch Mon-Sat 10-2:30; dinner Mon-Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
Hofstetter’e ★ ★ ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. Plaza at Bachnan Creek, 3830 W Northwest Hwy. 358-7660. Mon 11 am-2:30 pm, Tue & Thur 11 am-9 pm; Wed. Fri. & Sat 11 am-10 pm. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.

GREEK

Taverns Christina ★ ★ ★ This large, loud, and attractive restaurant serves extremely good if overpriced Greek food. Among the best choices: dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), hummus (a puree of garbanzo beans, sesame paste, olive oil, and lemon juice), keftethes (little meatballs with lemon-egg sauce), moussaka (zucchini and potatoes in a tomato-based meat sauce, topped with bechamel sauce), and pastitsio (macaroni and meal sauce with bechamel and cheese sauce). 3300 Oak Lawn. 520-2020. Mon-Thur II am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. MC, V, AE. Moderate.

INDIAN

Akbar ★ ★ ★ ★ Old India hands will want to thoroughly explore the byways of this restaurant’s menus. That’s plural-there are two of them, the regular menu and the snack bar menu. Although the regular menu is praiseworthy, it is Akbar’s snack bar that conclusively sets it apart from its peers. Snack-bar highlights include aloo tikki, grilled potato cutlets with curried chickpeas; samosa, tender lurn-overs stuffed with herbed potatoes and peas; and malai kofta, curry, cheese, and vegetable dumplings in a cream and almond sauce. 2115 Promenade Center at Coit A Belt Line roads. 235-0260. Lunch Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm, dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30 Sat A Sun brunch 11:30-2:30. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive.
Asboka ★ ★ ★ ★ Times may be hard, but this town has no shortage of wonderful Indian restaurants. Ashoka joins the list, with its bargain lunch specials and varied dinnertime menu. Chicken korma is especially noteworthy here, Prestonwood Creek Shopping Center, 5409 Belt Line. 960-0070. Lunch daily 11-2; dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
Bombay Curry House ★ ★ ★ This latest entrant in the local Indian-food derby is small, charming, and well worth seeking out. The $3.95 weekday lunch buffet was well prepared, if shorter on selection than some Indian buffets around. At dinner, an appetizer of lamb samosas (turnovers filled with spiced ground lamb and peas) and a dessert of rasmalai (fresh homemade collage cheese patties) were standouts. However, this is not to discount the virtues of the Tandoori mixed grill, Bombay shrimp curry, and lamb sagwala that came in between. 11613 N Central at Forest. 373-9700. Lunch daily 11-2:30; dinner daily 5-10. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
Curry In, Curry Out ★ ★ ★ ★ Love the name. Also love the food and the prices. This charming little family-run establishment may be somewhat spartan in appearance, but it is immaculate, and the food that emerges from the kitchen is well worm a trip to Garland, even if you don’t live nearby. One more incentive: prices are shockingly low. If you’re serious about Indian food, Curry In, Curry Out is required eating. As the name suggests, meals may be eaten in or carried out, 1250 Northwest Highway. 681-0087. Tue-Thur 11 am-9 pm, Fri II am-10 pm, Sat noon-10 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. Closed Mm. MC, V. Inexpensive. India Palace ★ ★ ★ I’ve given up on keeping track of the shifting, intricate lineage of who owns which local Indian restaurants, but it doesn’t matter, because they’re all quite good at the moment. India Palace is no exception to this general rule of excellence. Whether you order a la carte or opt for the weekend buffet brunch, you’ll be happy with the food here. India Place’s exceptionally thoughtful service is a bonus. 13360 Preston. 392-0190. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2, Sat & Sun II:30-2:30; dinner Sun-Thur 5 pm-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30 pm-10:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Kebab ’n’ Kurry ★ ★ ★ A visit to the Walnut Hill K ’n’ K to check out the S7.95 weekend brunch was rewarding. Although a few items (mushy strawberry and banana fruit salad, fishy fish curry) didn’t send me, plenty of choices did, including succulent landoori chicken; fragrant kashmiri pillau (rice with peas, currants, almonds, and cashews); savory palak panir (spinach cooked with homemade cheese); flavorful lamb kofta (meatballs in a mild curry sauce): and tender naan (flat bread). Dessert was a lesson in the outer limits of sweetness-if there is anything on the planet sweeter than gulab jamun (pastry balls in cardamom-flavored syrup), I hope never to taste it. 2620 Walnut Hill Ln. 350-6466. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30; brunch Sat & Sun 11:30-2:30. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
Kebab ’n’ Kurry ★ ★ ★ I suspect that part of Kebab ’n’ Kurry’s secret lies in the comparatively limited menu. There are really only a few delights of North Indian cuisine offered, but they are done extremely well, from the chicken korma (rich, creamy, and mild) to the shrimp in a tomatoey curry sauce. Paradoxically, you can find the rarest treasures here at the weekend lunch buffets. They offer such unusual delicacies as curried fresh black-eyed peas for the ridiculously low price of $6.95 for all you can eat. including a dessert like the lovely, barely sweet rice pudding. 401 N Central Expwy. Suite 300, Richardson, 231-5556. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30; brunch Sat & Sun 11:30-2:30. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
Tanjore ★ ★ Tanjore is an unprepossessing-looking place, and the weekday fare-including a lunch buffet-ranges from above-average to run-of-the-mill. It is on weekends when Tanjore becomes particularly interesting to Indian food connoisseurs. That is when south Indian vegetarian fare is served: savory little fried doughnuts, rice cakes (called idli), curried lentils, and fresh coconut chutney. The extremely satisfying masala dosa-a crisped crepe wrapped around a filling of curried potatoes-is worth a trip in itself. Prestonwood Creek Shopping Center, 5409 Belt Line Rd. 960-0070. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Mon-Fri 5:30-10, Sat & Sun 5:30-10:30; brunch Sot A Sun 11:30-2:45. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.

ITALIAN

Adriano’s ★ ★ Adriano’s, which seemed to be on the cutting edge of New Wave Italian dining when it opened, is looking a bit timeworn these days. The setting is still sunny and high-tech in nature, but the walls could use a paint job. The trademark pizzas, however, have maintained their appeal-particularly the pancetta version with fresh tomatoes and mushrooms. Pasta is available, too. and it’s not bad. but you can do better elsewhere. The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh, Suite 170. 871-2262. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-midnight. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
Alessio’s ★ ★ ★ If you’re not happy with your meal at Alessio’s, it will only be because you have failed to apprise the ever-watchful Alessio Franceschetti of any problems. Happily, on a recent visit, there were no problems to report. Crab cannelloni, an appetizer of the day, was estimable enough to warrant on-the-menu status. Shrimp provencal. with mushrooms and tomatoes, was quite good, if not as seductive. The subtly dressed romaine lettuce salad that accompanied entrees was simple perfection. Linguine with shrimp and scallops in a delicately spicy tomato sauce was agreeable, though not as meritorious as the perfectly breaded veal parmigiana accompanied by buttered, parslied mostaccioli. 4117 Lomo Alto. 521-3585. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm, Sun A Mon 6-10 pm. MC, V, AE. Moderate to expensite.
Cafe Italia ★ ★ Cafe Italia is informal, and prices are low. which makes one inclined to overlook such minor glitches as flabby garlic bread and flat San Pellegrino water. I tried entrees of an on-the-money combination of cannelloni and manicotti and a very meaty yet unheavy lasagna. Barely sweet flan with a drift of lightly whipped cream and killer-strength espresso made for a nice finish. 5000 Maple. 521-0700. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant ★ Campisi’s belongs more in the annals of Dallas folklore than on the list of the city’s serious Italian restaurants. The food isn’t exactly bad. but it has very little to do with Italian food as we know it in other eating establishments. However, for those who grew upon the stuff-and their number is legion, to judge from the ubiquitous line outside the door-nothing else will do. 5610 Mockingbird. 827-0355. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat 11 am-1 am, Sun 11 am-midnight. No credit cards. Moderate.
Ciao ★ ★ New Wave pizza may be the featured attraction at Ciao, and they are well and good, but the smart money is on the calzone, a sort of pizza turnover filled with fresh ric-cotta, Italian sausage, and herbs. One of these and a perfectly simple green salad, and you won’t be in the market for dessert. 3921-B Cedar Springs. 521-0110 Mon-Sat 11:30 am-midnight, Sun 3 pm-midnight. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive.
DiPalma ★ ★ ★ This Italian eat-in/take out hop/restau-rant has been too popular for its own good ever since it opened. This means that Zen-like patience is required to have dinner here on weekend nights. However, lunch is possible even for extreme Type A’s. The chicken sandwich is a standout-the chicken breast marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and red peppers is grilled and served on olive oil bread with lettuce, tomato, and vinaigrette. And for dessert, you can hardly go wrong with any selection fro the pastry cases. 1520 Greenville. 824-4500. Lunch Man-Sat 11-3; dinner Mon-Thur 5-10:30, Fri & Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
La Cucina ★ ★ It’s hard to get too worked up about La Cucina, which is an enjoyable, if unexceptional. Italian res-taurant, but this is not to discount its virtues. Chief among them is a reasonable price structure. Skip the veal, which has been weirdly mealy-tasting on my visits, and go for the pasta: fettuccine alla San Remo (inky pasta with scallops, roasted peppers, and tomato sauce) and alla vodka (sauced with vodka, hot pepper, cream, and tomato) are especially worthwhile. Whatever you order, sitting outside and overlooking the fountain in the center of the Crescent’s courtyard is a pleasure. The Crescent, Suite 260, 2200 Cedar Springs. 871-5155. Mon-Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.
LaTosca ★ ★ ★ This chic, minimalist restaurant was designed by the late terry Bentley, and it still looks as fresh in 1987 as it did when it opened in 1981. The food has also worn well, especially the state-of-the-art tortellini and veal scallopine with lemon sauce. 7713 Inwood. 352-8373. Sun & Tue-Thur 6 pm-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6 pm-11 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. All credit cards. Expensive.
Lombardi’s ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ This newest Lombardi establishment replaces the ill-fated Pucci in Travis Walk. The menu is identical to and the decor similar to 311 Lombardi’s; the difference is in execution. Possibly because the new Lombardi’s hasn’t been swamped-yet-by seekers of Italian-style good vibrations, it’s as close to perfect an Italian restaurant as Dallas has seen. One route to gustatory happiness: Caesar salad, veal-filled tortelloni gilded with a butter sauce, and superb cappuccino. Travis Walk, 4514 Travis 52I-I480. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-midnight, Sun 5:30-10. All credit cards. Moderate.
Momo’s ★ ★ ★ Momo’s is small, plain, and disorganized-none of which matters to devotees of its pastas and pizzas. At lunch, mostly pizzas-including a wonderfully forceful-tasting one of tomato, mozzarella, and gorgon-zola-are available. At dinner, the menu is more extensive. (Pasta, such as tortelli di spinaci, is a much better idea than veal, which can be dauntingly chewy.) You can have any wine you want at Momo’s as long as you bring it yourself. 9191 Forest Lane, 234-6800. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 am-I:30 pm; dinner Mon-Thur 6-9:30 pm, Fri 6-11 pm. Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30-9 pm. MC, V. Moderate.
Nero’s Italian ★ ★ ★ Nero’s is made to order for dates or get-reacquainted-with-your-spouse sessions, at least if your date or spouse is a stylish, ironic character. (Diana Vreeland and Catholic-school veterans should feel particularly at home here because of the red walls and the Michael the Archangel lamps.) There is an extensive menu of pasta, veal, and seafood, but the two things to concentrate on are the Italian wine-the selection is great, and the staff well informed-and the pizza, which comes in both traditional and New Wave varieties. 2104 Greenville. 826-6376. Mon-Thur 6-11 pm, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Pizzeria Uno ★ ★ ★ The menu warns: "Be careful when you order. Each Uno pizza has about twice the food content as the pizzas you are probably accustomed to." The menu is right, and the reason is the vertical quantity of ingredients, not the diameter. A regular pizza, which the menu recommends for two, looks smallish when it arrives, but only two would-be wart hogs could finish it in one sitting. 4002 Bell Line. Addison. 991-8181. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11 am-12:30 am, Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-10:30. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Ristorante Savino ★ ★ ★ Savino does well on both the congeniality and the food front. A recent visit was notable for warm service and commendable versions of spaghetti carbonara, fettuccine with gorgonzola and walnuts, and vitello tonnato, that refreshing combination of veal and tuna sauce. 2929 N Henderson. 826-7804. Sun-Thur 6 pm-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30 pm-11 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Ruggeri’s ★ ★ ★ Ruggeri’s belongs in the upper tier of Italian restaurants in Dallas. The lunch menu is too limited for my taste, but dinner more than makes up for that shortcoming. Although I have yet to order anything at Ruggeri’s that blew me away, neither have I ended up with anything- pasta or veal-that was less than acceptable. 2911 Routh. 871-7377 Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Sun-Thur 6-11:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. All credit cards. Moderate.
Sfizi ★ ★ Sfizi is an odd, rewarding little West End eating establishment. Odd because this presumably Italian restaurant includes nachos among its appetizers; rewarding because its tortellini in cream sauce is one of the best versions in the city. Obviously, this is a menu that requires care in ordering: the same lunch that featured the aforementioned stellar tortellini also included dull salads and ravioli. In any case, prices are low, and the informal setting is airy and pleasant. 1718 Market. 698-9390. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri II am-1 am, Sat 5 pm-1 am, Sun 5 pm-II pm. All credit cards. Inexpensive.
311 Lombardi’s ★ ★ ★ ★ What is the Italian translationof "good karma"? Our waiter didn’t know, but 311 Lombar-di’s has achieved it. Here, surrounded by the glow created by creamy apricot walls, happy hordes of downtown workers get what may well be the best Italian food in town at reasonable prices. No pasta was visible in the pasta and bean soup, but it was a hearty, herb-enlivened delight anyway. A pizza with leeks, pancetta, goat cheese, and mushrooms could have held its own against New York’s best. The next slop on the menu was good enough to be required eating for potato-philes: potato gnocchi with two sauces (tomato and irresistible gorgonzola). A tender, thin veal cutlet topped with arugula and diced tomatoes was simply immense. Dessert of raspberry ice cream and respectable espresso rounded off a repast that was pure pleasure from start to finish. 311 Market. 747-0322. Mon-Thur 11-11. Fri II am-1 am, Sat 5 pm-1 am, Sun 5-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.

JAPANESE/KOREAN

Kobe Steaks ★ ★ Kobe takes literally the "dining as entertainment" concept. Here, your dinner-sliced, diced. and cooked on a hibachi grill-is the show, and your fellow diners are part of the deal. too. The basic ingredients-steak and shrimp are the most popular options-are of good quality, and the whole experience has a certain retro charm, which is perversely appealing to jaded hipsters. Quorum Plaza. Belt Line at Dallas Parians. 934-8150, Sun-Thur 5-11, Fri & Sat 5-midnight. All credit cards. Moderate.
Mr. Sushi ★ ★ ★ ★ It’s all raw fish to me. but a number of my friends are dedicated seekers of sushi, and the most serious of them swears by Mr. Sushi. My friend was most by the "sushi B" dinner-tuna, white meat fish, yellowtail, jumbo clam, shrimp, salmon, smelt egg, salmon egg, cooked egg, and tuna roll-and I was appeased by the sauteed soft-shell crab and perfect shrimp tempura. 4860 Belt Line, Addison. 385-0168. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30-10. All credit curds. Moderate.
Shogun ★ ★ ★ Shogun serves commendable versions of the standards of Japanese cuisine-lightly battered tempura, juicy teriyaki chicken, and fresh-tasting sushi (commonly referred to as "bait" by non-aficionados)-in a pleasingly serene atmosphere. The only element of the plentiful, reasonably priced lunch that took me aback was the unidentified soup. For all I know, it was superb by the standards of the East, but it resembled primordial ooze from my Occidental viewpoint. This small restaurant is exceptionally pleasant, thanks to the quietly efficient service. 5738 Cedar Strings. 351-2281. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri-Sun 5:30-11. All credit cards. Moderate.
Royal Tokyo ★ ★ Decisions, decisions. At Royal Tokyo they start before you look at the menu. You can sit at the sushi bar. in the hibachi room, or in the tatami room (the choice for optimal conversation). Last time around. I fared better with the combination sushi dinner than the fried tempura, which could have been lighter. 7525 Greenville. 368-3304. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Sun A Mon 5:30-10:30, Tue-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30; Sun buffet 11:30-2:30. All credit cards. Moderate to expensive.
Sushi On McKinney ★ ★ ★ As a rule, the sushi is a better bet than the cooked things at this self-styled "friendly post-modern sushi bar." The atmosphere is lively to the point of freneticism, which is either a refreshing or a disturbing change from the traditionally quiet, subdued atmosphere of local Japanese restaurants. 4500 McKinney. 521-0969. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. Moderate.

LUNCH

City Market ★ ★ ★ ★ City Market has acquired a loyalfollowing of downtown habitues hungry for fresh, imaginative soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. However. in the past the pleasures of this light, airy, upscale cafeteria were unpredictable. If, for instance, you loved the marigold mint chicken salad, it might be weeks before you and it were on the premises on the same day. Now, with the advent of menus printed every week. City Market regulars can predict with assurance when it will be possible to eat pasta salad with Indonesian peanut sauce or marinated beef salad with multi-colored bell peppers. Whatever else you get, the light, souffle-like apricot-raisin bread pudding should not be missed. 200 LTV Center, 2001 Ross at Harwood. 979-2696. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm. MC, V. Inexpensive.
Pacific Express ★ ★ ★ ★ Pacific Express, a chic eighty-eight-seat cafeteria, makes the hasty downtown lunch into an art form. 1 happen to be obsessed with the tuna salad with toasted almonds, grapes, and blue cheese in tarragon mayonnaise, but the smoked chicken salad with toasted walnuts and shallot vermouth mayonnaise has its devotees, too. Other choices include pasta salad, wild rice salad, and several sandwiches. Pacific Place Bldg, 1910 Elm, Suite 103. 969-7447. Mon-Fri 8 am-10 am & 11 am-2 pm. Closed Sat & Inexpensive.

MEXICAN

Antonio’s ★ ★ ★ Although one has to order with care to assure hitting the highlights, Antonio’s is worth a trip for anyone serious about Mexican food. Recommended: nachos, which are made with first-class ingredients (black beans, white cheese, fresh-tasting guacamole, jalapenos, and real, runny sour cream), rich-tasting black bean soup, shrimp with a subtly nutty pumpkin-seed sauce, coconut flan, and merengue (whipped cream or chocolate ice cream sandwiched between two layers of egg-white pastry). 14849 Inwood (south of Belt Line), Addison. 490-9557. Lunch Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm; dinner Mon-Thur 4 pm-10 pm, Fri A Sat 5-11 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Blue Goose ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 2905 Greenville. 823-8339. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. All credit cards. Inexpensive.
Cafe Cancun ★ ★ ★ Cafe Cancun was a Mexican foodtrailblazer in Dallas, one of the first to offer black beans and white cheese as an alternative to pintos and day-glow Cheddar. In recent years, however, quality control was a problem, and many Cafe Cancun fans lost faith. Brethren, it is time to rejoin the fold: on a recent visit, everything-from the warm, fresh tostadas to the enchiladas verdes with chicken to the luscious coconut ice cream-was very good. 4131 Lomo Alto. 559-4011. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Cantina Laredo ★ ★ ★ ★ A belief shared by many Mexican food enthusiasts hereabouts is that great Mex can only be found in grungy, time-worn establishments located in the vicinity of Maple Avenue. However, holding to this belief would mean missing out on Cantina Laredo, which is situated in a clean, new building in-yes-Addison. Standard Tex-Mex combinations are available here, and they’re quite good, but the comida casera-home-style food-is where the smart money is. Standouts include the tacos al pastor filled with marinated pork, cabrito (baby goat to you. gringo), mesquite-grilled shrimp with garlic butter, and red snapper with lime butter. 4546 Belt Line, Addison. 458-0962. Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. All credit cards. Moderate.
Casa Rosa ★ ★ ★ This has long been a preppy hangout supreme, and in this instance those well-scrubbed WASPs in Ralph Lauren attire are on to something. From chili con queso to botanas especiales (bean, chicken, and beef nachos; marinated beef strips; and flautitas with sour cream and guacamole) to the Puerto Vallarta combination (beef taco, enchilada with chili con came, chicken enchilada with sour cream sauce, and Spanish rice) to praline cheesecake for dessert, everything (except for the underdone, too-tomatoey Spanish rice) was well prepared, if not in the forefront of culinary innovation. Inwood Village, Inwood at Lovers Lane, Suite 165. 350-5227. Mon-Thur 11 am-3 pm & 5-10 pm, Fri II am-3 pm & 5-11 pm, Sat 11 am-11 pm, Sun 11 am-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Chito’s ★ ★ ★ A New Yorker I know loves Mexican food more than life itself. Chito’s on Maple is where I took her on her last stop in Dallas, and she found its funky setting (featuring tattered orange booths, window-unit air conditioning, and lime green and acid yellow walls) and low prices (guacamole has reached $7 in one Manhattan Mexican restaurant) inordinately satisfying. The food at Chito’s-especially the bean, cheese, and guacamole quesadillas-is good enough to please even native Dallasites, who are accustomed to the Tex-Mex way of life. 4447 Maple, 522-9166; 3747 Walnut Hill, 351-9554. Mon-Thur 9 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 9 am-4 am, Sun 9-9, at Maple location; Daily 9 am-9:30 pm at Walnut Hill location. MC, V. Inexpensive.
Genaro’s ★ ★ ★ With its tropical art-deco look, Genaro’s is the prettiest place in town for margarita consumption. Happily, for the most part, the food matches the margaritas. Enchiladas Genaro, filled with snapper and crab meat, were extremely gratifying. And even if chicken with jalapeno and tomatillo cream sauce topped with pumpkin seeds arrived sans pumpkin seeds, the accompanying black beans and pea-studded rice were pleasing, anyway. And the coconut ice cream was lushly satisfying, as always. 5815 Live Oak at Skillman. 827-9590. Mon-Thur II am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm, Sun 11 am-10:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Gonzales ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 4333 Maple. 528-2960. Daily 7 am-9 pm. All credit cards. Inexpensive.
J. Pepe’s ★ ★ ★ J. Pepe’s Mexican food is a cut above most local Tex-Mexeries, and its setting is exceptionally pleasant. These two facts, plus the availability of outdoor seating (the local appetite for margaritas consumed en plein air is apparently boundless), go far to explain (he madding crowds found here on weekend nights. 2800 Routh. 871- 0366 Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner Mon-Fri 5:30-11, Sat 11-midnight, Sun 11-11. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
La Botica ★ ★ The mishmash of Dallasites who have found La Botica (it’s nearly hidden on Haskell Avenue about a mile east of Central) must like it for the same reasons I do: friendliness. The food-Mexican staples with a hefty addition of beef dishes-is fine but rarely exciting. Particularly good: the tangy enchiladas verdes, the simple tacos, and the chicken soup. My otherwise happy visits met with two disappointments: the ho-hum and smallish came asada and La Botica’s tendency to be out of things I want to order. 1900 N Haskell. 824-2005. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner Mon-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Mario ft Alberto ★ ★ ★ The standards of Mario Leal’s second restaurant don’t seem to have suffered with the opening of a third one-this popular North Dallas spot seemed as fine (and as busy) as ever. Among the main courses, the filete de la casa (tenderloin strongly flavored with garlic, accompanied by lightly fried potato slices) remains a favorite. Those who crave fajitas will find a relatively restrained version here-a manageably modest serving, and no sizzling fireworks. The Tex-Mex plates continue to run way behind the specialties in excellence. Coconut or cinnamon ice cream makes a refreshing dessert. Preston Valley Shopping Center, LBJ Frwy at Preston, Suite 425. 980-7296 Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Moderate.
Mario’s Chiquita ★ ★ ★ This Plano outpost of Mario Leal’s mini-empire is-surprise, surprise-very much like his other two restaurants, from the odd pastel color scheme. with its emphasis on skating-rink pink, to the average Tex-Mex offerings to the superior Mexico City-style specialties. Unlike the original Chiquita, Mario’s Chiquita is big enough that getting seated immediately is rarely a problem. 221 W Parker. Suite 400, Piano. 423-2977. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. Moderate.
Martinez Cafe ★ ★ ★ Tex-Mex abounds in Dallas; top-notch Tex-Mex, however, is relatively rare. That’s where Martinez Cafe comes in. It’s been a long time since standard-issue Tex-Mex made me sit up and take notice as I did here. There’s nothing outre on the menu, just the standards, prepared as they should be. Here you will find snappy salsa, notable nachos, tasty tacos, and enticing enchiladas. Just one caveat: if Mexican food and margaritas are synonymous in your book, don’t come to Martinez Cafe. There aren’t any margaritas to be had. though beer and wine are available. 3011 Routh. 855-0240. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri 5:30-11, Sat 11-11. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive.
Mia’s ★ ★ ★ For lo these many years, I have been hearing about the chile rellenos at Mia’s. And for lo these many years, I have been missing out on the chile rellenos at Mia’s. I would remember that they were available only on Tuesday, but forget they were available only at dinner on Tuesday. I would remember that they were available only at dinner on Tuesday, but they would be sold out. Recently, thanks to a kindhearted waitress who let me have her pre-reserved relleno, I finally tasted the elusive entree, stuffed with ground beef, potato, and raisins, and can report that the result was worth the wait. The rest of Mia’s menu is above-average, but it’s the relleno-and the warm service-that make the place worthy of cult status. 4418 Lemmon. 526-1020. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner Mon-Fri 5-10, Sat II am-l0:30 pm. No credit cards, inexpensive to moderate.
Raphael’s ★ ★ Of the three Raphael’s locations, I like the looks at Belt Line and the food at Greenville best. Whichever branch you choose, the vegetarian burritos, an assorted trio, are good enough to earn respect from the most hidebound carnivore. 3701 McKinney, 521-9640; 6782 Greemille, 692-8431; 4900 Belt Line, 991-3610. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-3; dinner 5- 10:30, Sat 11:30 am-11 pm at McKinney location. Mon-Fri 11:30-3 & 5-10, Sat noon-10, closed Sun at Greenville location. Mon-Thur 11:30-3 & 5:30-10, Fri 11:30-3 & 5:30-11, Sat noon-10, closed Sun at Belt Line location N. All credit cards. Moderate.
Ricardo’s ★ ★ ★ This latest in the area’s supply of "Miami Vice"-style Mexican restaurants (offering pretty pastel settings and tropically influenced food) proves that there is gastronomic civilization even as one travels so far north as to sight the Oklahoma border. 17610 Midway at Trinity Mills. 931-5073. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 11 am-9 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Uncle Julio’s ★ ★ The decor is heavy on pink and purple, and the food is notable more for its quantity-portions range from generous to immense-than for its quality. One notable exception: the tamales, which are available with pork and with chicken, are excellent. Beware, however, of the mesquite-grilled specialties, which are overwhelmingly woody tasting. 4125 Lemmon Ave. 520-6620. Mon-Thur II am-10:30 pm, Fri 11 am-11:30 pm, Sat 11:30-11:30, Sun 11:30 am-10:30 pm. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Villa Margarita ★ ★ ★ If you were just tooling around in the Coit-Belt Line area, chances are that you’d miss Villa Margarita unless you knew it was there. This is a shame, because VM is one of the best Mexican restaurants north of LBJ. Here, in pretty pastel surroundings, you can have some of the best nachos (with black beans, white cheese, and sour cream) to be had in these parts. After the nachos, the standard Tex-Mex is fine, but 1 prefer the tender, flavorful carne asada. 362 Promenade Center, Coit & Belt Line, Richardson. 235-5447. Mon-Thur II am-10 pm, Fri 11-11. Sat 11 am-1 am, Sun 11 am-9 pm. MC, V, AE. Moderate.

MIDDLE EASTERN

Mr. Shishkabab ★ ★ The namesake kabab dishes-lamb, beef, chicken, or shrimp skewered and broiled with mushrooms, onions, tomato, and green pepper-are fine here, but the vegetarian options are where the real culinary excitement is. The smart money is on hummus (a dip of pureed chickpeas-also known as garbanzo beans-served with pita bread), the falafel sandwich (fried balls of mashed. seasoned chickpeas with lettuce and sesame sauce in pita bread, described on the menu as "Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite"), and lemony tabouleh salad (marinated cracked wheat with parsley and tomato). 9454 Marsh Lane, just north of Northwest Highway. 350-5750. Lunch daily 11-2; dinner 5:30-11. MC, V, DC, CB. Moderate.

NATURAL

Bluebonnet Cafe ★ ★ ★ If you are a yuppie of a certain age. here is where, to the tune of James Taylor, you’re likely to run into friends, acquaintances, or the ex-spouses of same. Bluebonnet Cafe is part of Whole Foods Market, and as the name of the establishment indicates, the food tends toward the healthful. Happily, however. Bluebonnet doesn’t take a doctrinaire stand. Burgers, wine, and coffee-three controlled substances at hard-line health establishments-are allowed here. Check out the strawberry-banana -papaya smoothie and the black bean nachos with white cheese and guacamole. 2218 Greenville. 828-0052. Mon-Fri 11 am-9 pm, Sat 9-9, Sun 9 am-3 pm. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive.

SEAFOOD

Aw Shucks ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 3601 Greenville, 821-9449; 4535 Maple, 522-4498; Village at Bachman Lake, 3701 W Northwest Hwy, Suite 310, 350-9777. Mon-Thur 11-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:45 pm, Sun 11:30 am-10 pm at Greenville location; Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:45 pm, Sun 11:30 am-10 pm at Maple location; Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:45 pm, Sun 11:30 am-10 pm at Northwest Hwy location. MC, V, Inexpensive.
Bay Street ★ ★ ★ A simple charbroiled swordfish was impeccably fresh and juicy on a recent visit. (And if you are optimistic enough to order swordfish on a regular basis, you know how rare it is when the meaty fish does not emerge with the texture of fish jerky.) Bay Street does well with bread and dessert, but falls down in the salad department because of heavy use of tasteless iceberg lettuce and the presence of weird strips of what appears to be Tried dough. Bay Street’s service is young and tries hard, and the setting is a handsome, hangar-like space. 5348 Belt Line, Addison. 934-8502. Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. Moderate.
Café Pacific ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ There are a lot of first-rate waiters working in Dallas, but Don at Cafe Pacific has to be in the very top rank. Even if the food hadn’t been as close to perfection as mere mortals can approach, his courtly but never pretentious manner and ability to be there exactly when you need him would still have made a recent lunch at Cafe Pacific a pleasure. All the same. Chinese chicken salad and a daily special of red snapper with a julienne of snow peas were all that they could and should have been. Highland Park Village, Suite 24. 526-1170. Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30, Sun 10:30-2:30; dinner Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards, Expensive.
Hampton’s ★ ★ ★ Required eating for the cheapskate gourmet: Hampton’s perfect one-pound lobster, at $11. This family-oriented establishment offers a wide variety of some of the freshest seafood in town. Go ahead and do maximum damage to your appetizer and entree, because dessert is nothing special. Berkshire Court, Preston at Northwest Hwy. 739-3474. Lunch daily 11-2:30; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri-Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30-9. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Newport’s ★ ★ ★ ★ When Newport’s hits, as it did on an order of trout amandine on my last visit, it’s as good as any seafood restaurant in town. Unfortunately, on this same visit, swordfish kebabs were below par. However, such instances are anomalies in my experience. Which is a good thing, because unlike its competitors for serious seafood-Atlantic Cafe and Cafe Pacific-Newport’s can’t rely on a gorgeous setting (the vast, woody setting is merely inoffensive) or polished service. 703 McKinney in the Brewery. 954-0220. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. MC, V, AE. Expensive.

SOUTHERN

Bubba’s ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 6617 Hillcrest.373-6527. Daily 6:30 am-10 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. Inexpensive.
Celebration ★ ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 4503 W Lovers Lane. 351-5681. Lunch daily 11-2:30; dinner Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5-11, Sun 11 am-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Chaise Lounge ★ ★ ★ ★ "This Is The Place Your Mother Warned You About," says the sign outside. The food served inside this dark roadhouse is swell: corn and conch chowder, pan-fried trout, and rice and raisin pudding with heavy cream are transcendently noteworthy. If you don’t like to rock out to Cajun music, sit in the kitchen at dinner. 3010 N Henderson. 823-1400. Mon-Sat 4 pm-2 am; Sun brunch noon-5 pm. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive to moderate.
Highland Park Cafeteria ★ ★ ★ ★ See Cheap Eats" for review. 4611 Cole, 526-3801; Village on the Parkway, 5100 Bell Line at Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600, 934-8800 N; downtown. 500 Akard at San Jacinto, Suite 220, 740-2400. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm at Cole location; Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm, Sun 10:45 am-3 pm at Village on the Rarkway location; Mon-Fri 6:30 am-2 pm at downtown location. No credit cards. MC, V, AE for takeout and buffet orders. Inexpensive.
Mama Taught Me How ★ ★ ★ ★ Here is a down-home dream come true: lovingly prepared versions of the greatest hits of Dixified cuisine. That name, incidentally, is no trumped-up product of marketing strategy. Mama is Doris Alexander, her daughters are Judy Sharp and Vickie Piland, and together they run the place with a combination of charm and warmth that is as specific to the South as are grits. Standouts include the red beans and rice, chicken-fried steak (both available every day), chicken and dumplings, and coconut cream pie (which are available only on some days). 14902 Preston Rd. #512 (SE corner of Preston & Belt Line) in Pep-per Square. 490-6301. Mon-Fri 7am-2:30 pm, Thur5-8 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. Inexpensive.
Rosemarie’s ★ ★ ★ ★ In the days when I toiled at The Dallas Morning News, one of my prescriptions for a bad morning was a quick trip across the bridge to Oak Cliff for lunch at Rosemarie’s. These days, 1 don’t make it to Rosemarie’s quite so often, but when I do, it’s like old-home week. Rosemarie Hudson never forgets a customer, and her warmth accounts in pan For the fanatical loyalty this little cafeteria-style operation inspires; the terrific chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, yeast rolls, and peanut butter pie also might have something to do with it. 1411 N Zang. 946-4142. Mon-Fri 11-2. No credit cards. Inexpensive.
Tolbert’s ★ ★ Tolbert’s lives again, though in a different location in a slick downtown office tower. Still, the place is sufficiently rusticated in appearance to make it a good place to bring out-of-towners disappointed in Dallas’s lack of way-out-West charm. It may be blasphemy to say. but I’ve never been a fan of Tolbert’s chili. The burgers, however, are fine, and the donkey tails-flour tortilla-wrapped, deep-fried, cheese-stuffed hot dogs-are junk food nonpareil. Skip dessert, especially the farkleberry sundae, which is vanilla ice cream sullied with blueberry glop. 350 N St Paul, Suite 160 953-1353. Mon-Thur 11 am-8 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Inexpensive.

SPANISH

Manual ★ ★ ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 8220 Westchester, Preston Center. 373-4663. Mon-Sat 5:30 pm-12:30 am; happy hour 5:30-7. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.

STEAKS

Del Frisco’s ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ In this age of Perrier, fish, and steamed vegetables, every so often it is important to balance the system with red wine, beef, and baked potatoes. Del Frisco’s, a straight-ahead steak house with premium fare and prices to match, is made for just such occasions. An ap-petizer of shrimp remoulade was as good a version as you’ll find this side of New Orleans (which happens to be where owner Del Frisco hails from). I was quite happy with my softball-sized eight-ounce filet until I tasted the twelve-ounce rib-eye that my partner in cholesterol had ordered. This was a steak to remember-a supremely flavorful piece of meat. Some things to bear in mind: your steak will arrive in a pool of melted butter unless you nix this idea. Side dishes are ordered a la carte, and in portions immense enough for four. Bread pudding fans are advised to plan their meal to allow for Del Frisco’s version with raisins, coconut, and Jack Daniel’s sauce. 4300 Lemmon. 526-2101. Mon-Thur 5 pm-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5-11 ,Sun 5 pm-9 pm. All credit cards. Expensive.
Hoffbrau ★ ★ It used to be that if you played word association, the name "Hoffbrau" would invariably be paired with the word "steak." Of late, a number of non-beefy items such as chicken and shrimp have been allowed on the Hoffbrau menu. However, after sampling slightly greasy, overbread-ed fried shrimp, [ intend to stick to the steaks in the future. You don’! get meat of the caliber found at Del Frisco’s or the Palm at Hoffbrau, you don’t get a tab of that caliber, either. 3205 Knox. 559-2680. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat 11:30 am-11 pm, Sun 11:30 am-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.
Lawry’s The Prime Rib ★ ★ ★ ★ Finding myself once again on the verge of the big NB (nervous breakdown), I decided on dinner at Lawry’s. The only choices are prime rib, prime rib, and prime rib-in three cuts-so the stress of of dering is minimal. And the fare is hard-core comfort food that takes the overwrought diner back a couple of decades to the Sunday-dinner fare of a simpler time. The beef was tender and flavorful; and the accompaniments-including a salad of Romaine, iceberg, and watercress; mashed potatoes; and creamed spinach-were admirable. At lunch there are also chicken, fish, and salad options, but prime rib is the point here. At lunch or dinner, the look of Lawry’s is surreal-ly baronial, with tapestry and massive furniture abounding. 3008 Maple. 521-7777. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri 6-11:30, Sat 5:30-11:30, Sun 5-10; Sun brunch 11:30-2. All credit cards. Expensive.
Morton’s ★ ★ ★ ★ "Big hunks o’ meat in the dark" is how a friend describes the premise of steak restaurants. Morton’s, which is to Chicago as the Palm is to New York, is a classic of the genre. The setting is comfortable, but not so plush as to require dressing up. Servings arc outsized, and prices are set accordingly. The quality of the beef, lamb, fish, chicken, and lobster is unimpeachable, and the results are fine, if not particularly exciting to those of us who aren’t major carnivores. One thing that I could do without is Morton’s practice of presenting the unsuspecting diner with shrink-wrapped pieces of uncooked meat and fish. 501 Elm. 741-2277. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Mon-Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. Expensive.
Palm ★ ★ ★ ★ The Palm is a weird experience for first-timers, to judge from the comments of the friend who accompanied me on my last checkup lunch. She knew it was famous for huge, expensive lobsters and steaks, and, logically enough, expected the place to be plush and serious-looking. Instead, of course, the decor, such as it is, consists of the worst caricatures ever committed to paper of the local ly famous and semi-famous. Lunch at the Palm, it turns out, is a really good idea. The lunch specials are not only less pricey than the choices at dinner, but they’re frequently better, to judge from the celestial roast pork I tried this time around. 701 Ross. 698-0470. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11:30 am-11 pm, Sat 5-10:30 pm, Sun 5-9:30 pm. All credit cards. Very expensive.

TAKEOUT

Crescent Gourmet ★ ★ ★ The Crescent Gourmet offers some of the best baked goods in town for breakfast. The croissants, Danishes, and muffins are done right-and on the premises. Any of the aforementioned, along with fresh-squeezed juice, would start any day right. At lunch, there are plenty of reasonably priced sandwiches and salads to choose from, including the knockout pizzas served next door at Beau Nash. 400 Crescent Court, Suite 150, Maple at McKin-ney. 871-3223. Mon-Fri 10:30 am-3 pm. Closed Sat & Sun. All credit cards. Moderate.
Everyday Gourmet ★ ★ ★ ★ This is the takeout establishment that I’ve been waiting for-or it would be. if only it kept later hours. The food is homey in the best sense, but , never tastes amateurish. The fere changes, but peerless meat loaf and chicken salad are two standards, and the prices for this simple perfection are reasonable. 4446 Lovers Lane. 373-0325. Mon-Fri 7:30 am-7 pm, Sat 8 am-5:30 pm. MC, V. Inexpensive to moderate.
Marty’s ★ ★ ★ ★ Dallas’s longest established gourmet yuppeteria continues to offer the rarest of commodities: thoughtful advice. Therefore, when dinner and accompany-ing wine must be acquired speedily, I tend to turn to Mar-ty’s. The last such last-minute foray resulted in vegetables vinaigrette, moussaka, German potato salad, apple-walnut cobbler, and a bottle of Sausal Zinfandel. All the elements of this meal were individually pleasing and collectively wonderful. 3316 Oak Lawn. 526-4070. Mon-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Marty’s charge. Expensive.
Petaluma ★ ★ ★ ★ San Simeon’s takeout branch is very nearly as delightful as its parent restaurant. For breakfast, the alternatives include fresh-squeezed juices, croissants, Danishes, and blueberry muffins nonpareil. At lunch, the soup of the day is whatever it is at San Simeon and always a good bet. The cooling salad and sandwich options include chilled shrimp and bow-tie pasta with tomato, lemon, and dill and a breast of turkey sandwich with guacamole and jack cheese. Just beware of the lemonade, which is far from traditional: it’s made with club soda, and no sweetening whatsoever. Chateau Plaza, 2515 McKinney. 871-2253. Mon-Fri 7 am-6 pm. All credit cards. Inexpensive.
Polio Bueno ★ ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 3438 SamuetlBivd. 828-0645. Daily 10:30 am-11 pm. No credit cards. Inexpensive.

THAI

Chiang Mai ★ ★ Chiang Mai is the name of a city in northern Thailand, reputedly one of the loveliest in the country-and judging from this namesake, we are ready to believe it. The pretty decor and the helpful service make this a pleasant place to get acquainted with Thai cuisine. Pick hits on the menu include meaty, tender pork moo satay; masterfully spicy shrimp coconut soup; perfectly prepared red curry shrimp; light, fresh-tasting eggplant Thai-style. delicious beef basil, and textbook versions of pud Thai and fried rice. 11277 E Northwest Hwy, Suite 148 340-4499. Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner Sun-Thur 5-10:30, Fri & Sat 5-11:30. MC, V, AE. Moderate.
Slam ★ ★ ★ ★ Gone from the scene for more than two years, Siam has returned in a new location. The signature dishes that made the original Siam’s reputation are as good as ever: the pork satay comes with peerless curried peanut sauce, the spring rolls are commendable, the beef salad is rolling in leaves of fresh mint, and pud Thai, a dish of rice noodles with shrimp, ground peanuts, and scrambled egg, tastes better here than anywhere. Now more than ever, Siam is one of Dallas’s all-time great Asian restaurants. Northwest Corners Shopping Center, 2415 W Northwest Highway #108 (accessible from Harry Hines). 358-3122. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-2 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Moderate.

VIETNAMESE

La Pagode ★ ★ In the past. I’ve experienced the emperors new clothes syndrome in regard to La Pagode. Although I had heard numerous reports of excellence from restaurant-hounds I respect, I had never had a meal that was better than average here until I went to lunch with a regular, who simply asked the chef to show us his stuff. The results, most notably a shrimp and shredded cabbage salad with a peanut sauce, were dramatically more distinguished than on my past visits. 4302 Bryan at Peak. 821-4542. Mon-Thur 11-10. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. MC, V. Inexpensive.
Mai’s ★ ★ Lunch specials at Mai’s are a great, inexpensive way to be introduced to Vietnamese food, if you haven’t discovered it. The garlic shrimp or the subtly fiery lemongrass chicken makes for a great lunch, especially if you follow it with Vietnamese-style iced coffee with condensed milk. (Finish this stuff off. and the paperwork will be Jiving from your desk for hours afterward.) You don’t come here for the atmosphere: Mai’s decor is distinctly utilitarian. 4812 Bryan, Suite 100 fat Fitzhugh). 826-9887. Wed & Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 11 am-10 pm. Closed Man & Tue. MC, V. Inexpensive.
Saigon ★ ★ ★ ★ See "Cheap Eats" for review. 1731 Greenville. 8289795. Mon-Thur 11am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 5-10. All credit cards. Inexpensive.

NIGHTLIFE

Barnacles. What a find! This place is comfortable, easygoing in the Lower Greenville manner, bedecked with nets and other bits of nautical kitsch. On a balmy evening with the front doors thrown open, it has that "Nawlins" flavor. Features 85c draft beer, $3.50 pitchers, and daily drink specials. The huge mural of the Mississippi past and present wins immediate entry into the Dallas Museum of Great Bar Art, where it joins the massive Mardi Gras heads that decorate Fat Tuesday’s. The menu is surprisingly extensive. We had tasty Cajun popcorn (striplets of crawfish in a tangy house sauce), followed by a creditable Fishing Camp Scampi-juicy shrimp, perfecto pasta, thick cheese bread, and carrots. The musical fare can be uneven, but there’s no cover charge, so who’s complaining? 1915 Greenville. 826-2623. Mon-Wed 5 pm-midnight. Thur-Sat 5 pm-2 am. Closed Sun. MC, V.
Emreld City. We still don’t know why this club spells its name differently from the name of its house band. Emerald City. We do know that this is one of the best places around for hearing live music; and EC. which plays most nights, is good enough to warrant repeated visits. There’s not a bad table in the house, the dance floor is just the right size, and so are the drinks. Parking is usually a problem in (his stretch of Greenville, but it’s worth the hassle. 4908 Greenville. 361-2489. Sun-Thur 8 pm-2 am, Fri & Sat 7 pm-2 am. Closed Mon. MC, V. AE.
Fast & Cool. Fast & Cool is undisputably the King of Lower Greenville. The music here is predominantly Motown sound and authentic soul from artists like James Brown and Ike and Tina Turner. The dance floor is the center of this tiny universe, and it has a magnetic effect on anyone who walks| in the door. It’s hard to imagine even the most hard-core Baptist resisting this dance floor. Unlike countless dance clubs that have come and gone on Greenville Avenue, this place has staying power. 3606 Greenville. 827-5544. Tue-Thur 8 pm-2 am, Fri & Sat 7-4. Closed Mon. Cover $3 Thur; $4 Fri & Sat. MC, V, AE.
Greenvilla Avenue Country Club. Does anyone really swim in the pool here? Well, not while we were there, but we are (old it does still happen occasionally, and yes, our waitress said they check the chlorine content from time to time. If you’re looking for a predictable bar, GACC is it-predictably musty, predictably dark, with a predictably low-key crowd early in the evening that, predictably, grows deafening before midnight, singing along to the predictably extensive selection on the jukebox. The food is good, greasy bar fare with a healthy sampling of salad selections. 3619 Greenville. 826-5650. Daily II am-2 am. MC, V. AE.
Greenville Bar & Grill. If Dallas had a Watering Hole of Fame, this bar would certainly be in it. The kingpin of the Lower Greenville circuit won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a good burger, a longneck beer, and a band that won’t you hear yourself think. 2821 Greenville. 823-6691. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 am, Sun noon-2 am. MC, V. AE.
Louie’s. First, a quick history of the search for a media bar in Dallas. For years. Joe Miller’s held the title, and since Joe’s death in 1986, his widow. Linda, has run the bar. but she made one huge mistake in the minds of many of Joe Miller’s regulars-she fired long-rime bartender Louie Canelakes. Now Louie has returned with his own place, and it has everything a serious barfly could wish for-a casual, no-nonsense atmosphere, stiff drinks, attentive waitresses, good bartenders, and the omnipresent Louie Canelakes. 1839 N Henderson. 826-0505. Mon-Sat 3 pm-2 am. Closed Sun. MC. V, AE.
Poor David’s Pub. Has anything changed at Poor David’s-ever? Hmm. That poster, upper right from the stage, may not have been there in 1984. Hard to say. Pitcher prices have nudged upwards a bit, but not much. Other than that, Poor David’s is happily frozen in time. Anson and the Rockets still provide straight-ahead blues several times a month; name acts like Loudon Wainright and Guy Clark still drop in. In the alcove near the restrooms, there is a new video game cleverly designed to resemble a pinball machine, if you can believe it. (Wait a minute-that is a pinball machine.) 1924 Greenville. 821-9891. Mon-Sat 7 pm-2 am. Closed Sun. Cover varies. No credit cards.
Prohibition Room. Long regarded as the place in the basement next door to the Starck Club, the Prohibition Room has developed an aura of its own. For one reason, it has begun to regularly draw some of the top local bands, like Robert Lee Kolb. When you enter, you’ll think it’s another pool -and -shuffleboard bar, but when you run out of quarters, go to the back by the stage for an evening’s worth of fine music. 703 McKinney in the Brewery. 954-4407. Mon-Fri 4 pm-2 am, Sat 6:30 pm-2 am. Sun 6:30 pm-2 am. MC, V,AE.
The Prophet Bar. Haunted by the threat of nuclear war? The lines of Dylan Thomas? The lines at the Starck Club? If you’re tired of that scene, then retire to the peaceful artistic confines of the Prophet, where people gather coffeehouse-style to discuss, oh, what they did last night at the Starck Club. This is a fine Deep Ellum-watching place, which means you try to guess who over at table three is the real artist and who is the downtown office worker who just likes to play dress up. But by II, you don’t have to worry about "cool" talk. The live music will-thank God-drown you out. 2713 Commerce. 742-2615. Sun-Thur 11 am-2 am, Fri & Sat 11 am-4 am, Sun 3 pm-2 am. AE.
SRO. This place was made for the younger real estate brokerage crowd that loves to party on Thursday night, and don’t assume the downturn in the real estate market has changed those partying habits. Our Thursday visit found the place SRO indeed. A walk from our seat at the bar to check out the al fresco seating created enough friction to light up a three-way bulb (all those natural fibers rubbing up against one another). SRO’s sleek black interior and low-voltage lighting is cooling on a hot summer evening and the place still does a respectable club sandwich. 2900 McKinney. 748-5014. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am. Closed Sun. MC, V. AE.
Starck Club. A lot of people have been wondering: will Starck survive "the bust"? Will it survive the opening of more and more West End bars? True, it may not be quite as crowded and it’s only open Thursday through Sunday now, but we’re happy to report that the bar that taught us how to go to the bathroom together is still going strong. Which only goes to prove, there is life without ecstasy. 703 McKinney in the Brewery. 720-0130. Thur & Sun 9 pm-2 am; Fri & Sat 9 pm-4am. Closed Mon-Wed. Cover $5 Thur & Sun afier 9 pm; $10 Fri & Sat after 9 pm. All credit cards.
State Bar. One sign of a bar’s success is the sighting of T-shirts emblazoned with its logo on the persons of its patrons and would-be patrons. By that standard. State Bar is nearly as successful as-and far more hip than-the Hard Rock Cafe. What has made State Bar’s martini-glass trademark omnipresent is simple: this is a bar for low-key Bohemians who want to have civilized conversation while gazing out picture windows feeing the fairgrounds across the street. The subdued lighting-there are rheostats at each booth-and moderate volume of the music make this possible. All in all, the effect is of a gallery opening without the pictures. 3611 Parry. 821-9246, Mon-Fri II am-2 am. Sat noon-2 am, Sun 6 pm-2 am. MC, V, AE.
Studebakers. I mean, this place is gettin’ old, Johnny! I mean. I’m in there the other night, and this woman asks for my podiatrist’s phone number! Old, I tell ya! Seriously, folks, while the median age here is on the darker side of forty, this nostalgia bar is still rockin’ with Chuck, Dion. Elv, Bobby. Frankie, more Bobbies, more Frankies, and of course those famous dancing waitresses. The sound track is inching into the Seventies now, having reached the Eagles but stopped, mercifully, short of the Bee Gees. The no-jeans dress code is gone, but the generous happy hour buffet remains, now underwritten by a cover charge on most nights. The bar continues to make a major production of that loathsome classic of cutesy rock. "Hand Jive." Arghh. But take heart: at least nobody refers to "Heard it Through the Grapevine" as "the raisin song." NorthPark East, 8788 N Central Expwy. 696-2473. Mon-Fri 11am-2 am, Sat 7 pm-2 am. Sun 7 pm-2 am. MC, V, AE.
Terilli’s. Ah, yes, that great Lower Greenville tradition-sipping wine, eating Italian, and listening to that smooth, soft kind of jazz that makes you start snapping your fingers like Mel Torme. Wait a minute! This is on Lower Greenville? Goodness, class is popping up everywhere. With the kind of black-and-white art deco decor that looks super expensive, a cozy bar area where you can meet someone who is (incredibly) not in real estate, and live jazz groups every night except Monday. 2815 Greemille. 827-3993. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 am, Sun 11 am-2 am. MC, V, AE.