|SOUTHERN STAR: Oak Cliff’s Hattie’s is as effortlessly chic as it is delicious.|
Avanti Euro Bistro. Step into this hip, dimly lit restaurant and you could be anywhere in the world. The dark bar is always full of suave young professionals, and the chic dining room is filled with chic-er diners noshing on Mediterranean delicacies. 5001 Addison Circle. 972-386-7800.
Benedict’s. Breakfast, lunch, or brunch, this causal diner serves many styles of eggs Benedict as well as other early morning favorites. 4800 Belt Line Rd. 972-490-0500.
Clay Pit Contemporary Indian Cuisine. Chef Luis Mendoza is making Indian food more approachable to Dallas palates. It’s not unusual to find families lingering over long afternoon weekend lunches and brunches. 4460 Belt Line Rd. 972-233-0111.
Ferrari’s. Popular since the Secchi family relocated this Sardinian-influenced spot from the West End. At 25, their son Stefano cooks like an old pro, and the service staff is as authentically Italian as the food. 14831 Midway Rd. 972-980-9898.
|ROCK LOBSTER: Lefty’s owner Chris Papageorge has got the music in him.|
photography by Dave Shafer
Queen of Sheba. Long live this shrine to Ethiopian food, especially the multi-course Queen’s Dinner, which kids love because you eat it all with your hands. Don’t worry about the mess; the meal comes with a lavish hand-washing ceremony. 14875 Inwood Rd. 972-980-9450.
Soho Food & Jazz. This cozy spot is one of Dallas’ best-kept secrets. It’s dark and sexy, the cuisine is an eclectic blend of Asian and Italian, and the high-tech lighting and smooth live jazz make it an intimate oasis. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 102B. 972-490-8686.
THE DELI QUEEN: Elke Marsh’s namesake Allen cafe comes with a savory pedigree.
photography by Mark McWilliams
Hibachi Rock. You’ll have to look for it: there, tucked in a strip center behind the car wash. But when you find it, you will find a scallop sizzling off the grill, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. The food is high-end, but the setting is Japanese casual. 1223 W. McDermott Dr. 972-747-0227.
Samui Thai. Sophisticated Thai outpost owned by Salinda Setvanich, whose family runs Chow Thai, Mango Thai, and Pacific Rim Thai. Beautiful dining room with tropical décor done in rich red, purple, and bronze. We’re fond of the wonton wrappers, both in the “bags of gold” appetizer and in the banana spring roll dessert. 906 W. McDermott Dr. 972-747-7452.
Voila French Bakery and Bistro. Go for the croissants and stay for the great sandwiches and salads. When you leave, grab a couple of loaves of some of the finest European-style baked goods in the area. 1201 W. McDermott Dr., Ste. 100. 972-747-1272.
Amici Signature Italian. Chef Bartolino Cocuzza easily has the most elegant fare on the square in downtown Carrollton. Italian menu with a French kiss: escargot, veal tenderloin with a Marsala wine sauce, and a wild-mushroom stuffed ravioli. 1022 S. Broadway. 972-245-3191.
Cafe on the Square. Country-cozy setting, but Mom can’t make braised ribs and horseradish mashed potatoes like they serve in this lunch-only haven. 1104 Elm St. 972-245-1829.
Nuevo León Mex-Mex. Know the way to Monterrey? And Guanajuato? Popularity never wavered at this Mex-to-the-max hot spot where family recipes are translated into a prolific menu: tender cabrito, savory guiso, seafood, and the standards done right. 12895 Josey Ln., Ste. 100. 972-488-1984.
Tasty Greek. A simple storefront belies the rich Lebanese/Greek cuisine inside. Takeout regulars go for gyros, but take a seat for mouth-watering moussaka and authentic family recipes. 1906-A Belt Line Rd. 972-416-7884.
FAR NORTH DALLAS
Cathy’s Wok & Grill. Catherine Liu’s “classic Chinese American” dishes and Pacific Rim cuisine are a cut above the usual Chinese restaurants. The menu is extensive, and you’re lucky if you live close by, because they deliver. 4520 Frankford Rd. 972-818-7667.
Cowboy Chicken. Load up the entire family and head here for hickory-roasted chicken. Dinner for eight runs $28.99. 17437 Preston Rd. 972-732-6281.
Mirabelle. When we want to get gussied up but not go far, we put on our finery and head to chef/owner Joseph Maher’s fine restaurant. He changes the menu based on what’s fresh and seasonal. 17610 Midway Rd., Ste. 140. 972-733-0202.
Sweet Basil. For more than 10 years, this sweet spot has been making folks happy by serving stellar versions of crab claws, minestrone soup, and fettuccine with bolognese sauce. 17610 Midway Rd., Ste. 150. 972-733-1500.
The Kitchen at Preston Trail. Ferociously loyal following at this homey restaurant that serves salad, sandwiches, and daily specials during the week—and then takes the weekends off to cater. 17370 Preston Rd., Ste. 415. 972-818-3400.
Bonnie Ruth’s Cafe Trottoir et Patisserie. Laid-back place with French theme is good for martinis and steamed mussels, or else just pastry and coffee. Soup-and-sandwich lunches are a deal, and they do a decent Sunday brunch. 6959 Lebanon Rd. 214-705-7775.
Irish Rover Pub. Festive atmosphere and good beers on tap are just what you expect from this likeable Irish pub. Hoagie sandwiches, Angus burgers, and shepherd’s pie are surprisingly well-prepared. Nifty appetizers include tater-tot clone “Texas taters” and a house-made version of Scotch eggs called “Kilarney eggs.” 8250 Gaylord Pkwy. 214-618-6222.
Isabella’s. Striking Italian spot has a grand, villa-esque feel thanks to a stone exterior guarded by moat. The menu of pastas, pizzas, seafood, and steak strikes good balance between familiar and exotic. Love the grilled vegetable sandwich at lunch. Excellent wine list has lots of Italian labels. 1279 Legacy Dr., Ste. 100. 214-618-3384.
Josephine’s Italian Bistro. Comfortable yet chic Italian with congenial staff attracts wine-drinking crowd, with more than 40 bottles by the glass, plus tastings, ladies’ nights, and late-night weekend hours. Hearty pastas and upscale pizzas make for good grub. Sunday brunch features blood-orange mimosas. 6959 Lebanon Rd. 972-712-4343.
Dos Charros Restaurant. One reader told us that she and her family go every week for the beef fajitas and the red snapper with tequila cream sauce. She also recommended the margaritas. We couldn’t agree with her more. 4150 Eldorado Pkwy. 214-726-1514.
Hank’s Texas Grill. This former Denny’s is now a post-church favorite for locals. The menu is long on family favorites like baby back ribs, house-made chicken-fried steak, and chicken tenders for the kiddies. Don’t miss the pecan pie or live music on weekends. 1310 N. Central Expwy. 972-542-5144.
Mama Emilia’s. The charming spot in the restored Commercial Hotel just off the square offers American Italian with superb service. They serve a terrific pork osso bucco. 119 W. Virginia St. 972-562-1102.
Poppy’s Garden Cafe. If we lived in McKinney, we’d frequent this New American eclectic spot that features crispy tempura-fried green beans, 8-ounce beef tenderloin, and seafood pasta. 107 S. Church St. 972-562-8386.
Aparicio’s Restaurante Mexicano & Tequila Bar. The bustling family restaurant offers solid Tex-Mex with neat spins, such as the chile relleno stuffed with mushrooms. Late-night hours on weekends and hearty breakfasts make for a supremely practical destination. 1001 18th St. 972-423-6980.
Fillmore Pub. Handsome Irish-type bar in Plano’s historic downtown district comes from alumni of Dallas’ Old Monk. Specialties include super fish and chips and fine burgers, along with bar basics such as nachos and cheese fries. Beer connoisseurs come for superior selection of imported brews on tap. 1004 E. 15th St. 972-423-2400.
Jorg’s Cafe Vienna. You’ll walk away a convert of Austrian food after sampling the delicate schnitzels and flavorful sausages from Jorg Fercher, whose careful eye for quality extends to details as small as the house sourdough bread. Ambience is both homey and sophisticated, and don’t forget the biergarten. 1037 E. 15th St. 972-509-5966.
Kelly’s Eastside. The staple of downtown Plano serves the locals’ needs for a casual spot with beer, barbecue, good burgers, and sports on TV. People love the patio, and Sunday brunch is a mob scene, with eggs Benedict, omelets, migas, and a bountiful fresh fruit and pastry buffet. 1422 Avenue K. 972-424-9200.
Paesano’s. Quintessential neighborhood Italian does standards such as chicken Marsala with competence and without busting your wallet. Good crusty sourdough bread is made on site and served with assertive garlic oil. Pizzas come on house-made crusts, too. 508 14th St. 972-578-2727.
Zander’s House. Some of the most sophisticated Vietnamese food in the Dallas area can be found at this elegantly refurbished spot off Central. Favorites include the rocket shrimp rolls and the basil beef. Be sure to ask about off-menu specials. 2300 N. Central Expwy. 972-943-9199.
Greek Isles Grille and Taverna. Hilarious kitschy décor notwithstanding, this sweet spot delivers skillfully rendered textbook Greek—from the showpiece rack of lamb to the well-seasoned chicken-and-shrimp souvlaki with peppers and onions served over rice. 3309 N. Central Expwy., Ste 370. 972-423-7778.
Jasmine Thai. Highly regarded Thai is noted for impeccably fresh ingredients and unique dishes. Bataba are like plush, thick burritos filled with a spicy mix of chicken and vegetables. Thai herbal chicken shows the kitchen’s savvy at applying just enough heat. Tiny restaurant allows BYOB. 2050 W. Spring Creek Pkwy. 972-517-1677.
Martini Park. Go-to place for Plano’s 30- and 40-something singles to get their drink on. Swanky, club-like spot is both restaurant and bar, with numerous seating areas, flat-screens, and martinis of all stripes. The food is better than it has to be, with good salads and four varieties of sliders. 7200 Bishop Rd. 214-473-6644.
Sea Breeze Fish Market and Grill. Half seafood market, half restaurant has the freshest fish in Plano. Signature lobster roll—the New England specialty of lobster in mayo, tucked into a hot dog roll—has ’em lined up out the door, but don’t overlook fish and chips. Bare-bones atmosphere, yet wine by the glass. Nice. 4017 Preston Rd. 972-473-2722.
Steve Fields’ Steak and Lobster Lounge. Steakhouse with affable host covers the basics: from shrimp cocktail to wedge salad to blue-cheese stuffed filet. Locals come here for special occasions and business meals. But live music, including nightly piano players, have created a minor bar scene, too. 5013 W. Park Blvd. 972-596-7100.
Zorba’s. Cozy, family-run taverna has consistent, reliable Greek food and welcoming spirit. Dishes such as the roasted chicken, seasoned with lemon and oregano, have robust flavors and a homey Mom quality. Weekends draw big, happy crowds. 1501 Preston Rd. 972-250-0002.
Aboca’s Italian Grill. So many Italian joints, so little time. But this comfy, low-key spot tucked in Richardson Heights Shopping Center has an open kitchen and a dining room packed with regulars who love the spaghetti with Italian sausage and the risotto milanese. 100 S. Central Expwy., Ste. 63. 972-231-7500.
Afrah Restaurant & Pastries. Originally opened as a bakery, they now offer delicious Lebanese specialties for lunch and dinner. 314 E. Main St. 972-234-9898.
Cafe Amore. We love to BYOB and we do it often here, where the pizza is Neapolitan-style and the service is friendly. 600 N. Coit Rd. 972-699-8322.
Cafe Max. It’s lunch-only Monday through Friday, but it’s packed with folks scarfing up salads, sandwiches, soups, and quiche. 1600 Alma Rd. 972-231-5922.
Caravelle Chinese & Vietnamese. One of Dallas’ best-kept secrets. Opened in 1993, the kitchen turns out Vietnamese spring rolls, crispy salted prawns, a variety of hot pots, and too many vegetarian options to list. 400 N. Greenville Ave., Ste. 16. 972-437-6388.
Kirin Court. This spot is the real Chinese deal, with more than 160 menu items. You’ll have to ask one of the friendly waiters to explain half of the dishes or live on the edge and just point. You won’t be disappointed. 221 W. Polk St. 214-575-8888.
Masami. This Japanese spot is an easy place to like, whether you go for the pristine sushi or other regional specialty. The modern, elegant room and sweet service are as pleasing as the food. 501 W. Belt Line Rd., Ste. 116. 972-783-6800.
Noodle Wave Fresh Thai Cooking. It’s tucked into a rundown shopping center, but once inside you’ll find a nice atmosphere and an extensive Thai menu filled with exotic soups, noodle and stir-fry dishes, and curries. 1490 W. Spring Valley Rd. 972-690-3637.
Parlour Cafe and Wine Bar. Yippee for an independent restaurant that flaunts the flavors of New Orleans and the East Coast on one menu. 3610 Shire Blvd., Ste. 112. 972-423-9463.
AllGood Cafe. Hangover heaven. The chicken-fried steak here is one of the best in the city. The faithful crowd is full of hippies, cops, doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. 2934 Main St. 214-742-5362.
Angry Dog. We’re happy to hit this spot any day or night of the week for the best damn chili cheese dog in town. And the burgers are a close second. 2726 Commerce St. 214-741-4406.
Omega’s Mexican Restaurant. New digs for one of our old favorites.The crowds still flock for the thin, greasy chips and great Tex-Mex combo plates. 2713 Commerce St. 214-744-6842.
Pepe’s & Mito’s. Dang, sometimes we forget about this spot, but our readers don’t. One reminded us that the chicken taquitos are “the best” and the fajita quesadillas are “to die for.” Double dang. 2911 Elm St. 214-741-1901.
St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin. It’s a bar. It’s a restaurant. It’s a hangout. Rest assured owner Pete Zotos keeps ’em happy with his crazy menu that now includes fried pickles and tuna steaks. 2730 Commerce St. 214-698-1511.
WELL ROOTED: Owner Jason Bose and Quincy Hart serve up gourmet burgers and cold beers.
photography by Dave Shafer
Vern’s Place. A cruddy landlord can’t keep a good restaurant down. Not when you have folks lining up out the door to feast on anything that comes smothered, fried, and divine. Vern’s is alive and kicking in its new location. 2807 Elm St. 214-823-0435.
OAK CLIFF/BISHOP ARTS
Beckley Brewhouse. A hip restaurant in a refurbished house has loads of charm and a good menu of burgers, panini, and hummus. Espresso martinis for the ultimate bolt-and-jolt drink. 1111 N. Beckley Blvd. 214-943-8977.
La Calle Doce. Seafood-centric Mexican spot in an old Oak Cliff home. The whole marinated and grilled catfish is divine. 415 W. 12th St. 214-941-4304.
El Jordan. This down-home, family-run Tex-Mex spot sits in the midst of the glitzy hot spots in the Bishop Arts District. And we hope it stays, because they serve the best enchiladas in town and, without a doubt, the best (and cheapest) Mexican breakfasts in Texas. 416 N. Bishop Ave. 214-941-4451.
El Ranchito. Margaritas, mariachis, and grilled cabrito. Just three reasons why this spot has been jammed since it opened in 1983. 610 W. Jefferson Blvd. 214-946-4238.
Hattie’s. Sure, it’s a bit pricey for a regular spot, but that doesn’t seem to stop the crowds from packing the place every night for a taste of elegant New Southern (read: not Paula Deen) cuisine. 418 N. Bishop Ave. 214-942-7400.
Kavala. Newest neighborhood hit thanks to ever-popular chef Kelly Hightower, who has transformed an old Dairy Queen into a local hang with a Greek-based menu. 1417 W. Davis St. 214-942-8100.
Norma’s Cafe. For more than 50 years, folks have flocked here for the best blue plate specials in town. 1123 W. Davis St. 214-946-4711.
Tillman’s Roadhouse. Sara Tillman’s kitschy haven is the preferred watering hole for locals. Meanwhile, folks from all neighborhoods swarm to join them for the food on the ever-clever New American menu. 324 W. Seventh St. 214-942-0988.
Veracruz Cafe. The room is small and crowded in this coastal Mexican cuisine outpost, but the mole and the margaritas help you make new friends fast. 408 N. Bishop St. 214 948-4746.
Elaine’s Kitchen. Owner Elaine Campbell has a dedicated following of diners who love her Jamaican grub, including jerk chicken, curried goat, and flaky patties filled with spicy beef, chicken, or vegetables. 1912 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 214-565-1008.
Odom’s BBQ. Pay no attention to the bars on the windows or the “No Guns” sign on the front door, for once inside you’ll find the friendliest people and some of the best ’cue in town. Don’t miss the ribs or spice cake. 1971 Singleton Blvd. 214-631-3538.
South Dallas Cafe. Easy on the pocketbook (the cafeteria-style lunch is only $5.95) and heavy on Southern specialties like fried chicken, pork chops with gravy, chicken and dumplings, turkey wings, and collard greens with bits of smoked turkey. 3126 Grand Ave. 214-428-8856.
Sweet Georgia Brown. One of the greatest hole-in-the-wall soul food spots in town, where pan-fried chicken and smothered pork chops rule and the gospel music never ends. 2840 E. Ledbetter Ave. 214-375-2020.
Wingfield’s. Home of our favorite burger in all of Dallas. Owner Richard Wingfield also serves a great stack of pancakes. Be prepared to sit in your car; that’s the only seat around. 2515 S. Beckley Ave. 214-943-5214.
Barbec’s. Thankfully nothing has changed. The burgers, sandwiches, and chicken-fried steak still draw a faithful local crowd. But they drive across town for the beer biscuits. 8949 Garland Rd. 214-321-5597.
Highland Park Cafeteria. It’s baaack! And the long lines patiently wait for all of your favorite dishes such as baked cod, chicken and dumplings, and—drum roll, please—carrot-and-raisin salad. 1200 N. Buckner Blvd. 214-324-5000.
Fat Daddy’s Burger House. Popular spot for kids and adults who like to eat like kids. Love the cheese-filled fried jalapenos. Oh, and did we mention they serve free beer? 383-F Casa Linda Plaza. 214-324-1800.
Lover’s Pizzeria. New York-style pizza that is hand-stretched and made with “100% real mozzarella cheese.” One reader swears it’s “the best pizza in town.” Another location on West Lovers Lane. 9440 Garland Rd., Ste. 162. 214-321-2223.
Arc-en-Ciel. Still the most authentic Chinese and Vietnamese mix in the city. Crowded on the weekends for lunch dim sum, but well worth the wait. 3555 W. Walnut St. 972-272-2188.
Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. The fried-chicken frenzy created by Mary Beth and Paul Vinyard has regulars at this family-style diner swinging from the ceilings. (They also own Bubba’s, a University Park icon, and Babe’s in Roanoke.) Expect platters of chicken, chicken-fried steak, pot roast, fried catfish, and bowls of unlimited fresh veggies. 1456 Belt Line Rd. 972-496-1041.
Besa’s Pizza & Subs. Owner Al Shala waits on guests like he’s running a five-star restaurant instead of a casual Italian spot. 7602 N. Jupiter Rd., Ste. 112. 972-414-9688.
Ernesto’s. Either Ernesto or his wife are usually at the door at this cheery Tex-Mex joint that serves chunky guacamole and delicious Spanish enchiladas. 1202 Northwest Hwy. 972-681-8112.
J Miguel’s Cafe & Cantina. Wacky menu of basic Tex-Mex, burgers, breakfast (all day!), and a rocking cantina overlooking Lake Ray Hubbard. 9824 Lakeview Pkwy. 972-475-6141.
Kyoto Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar. Always crowded with post-work pretty people, the sushi and hibachi restaurant is the finest in the area. 9900 Lakeview Pkwy. 972-463-0288.
Napoli’s Italian Restaurant. Another contender in the unofficial best garlic rolls competition. We also like the lobster ravioli. 915 W. Centerville Rd. 972-613-0800.
Tom Yum Thai. Art Soup is the deal here, especially the spicy house favorite Tom Yum loaded with chicken and chilies. Don’t miss the crispy garlic jumbo prawns or any of the noodle dishes. 3313 Belt Line Rd. 972-495-2946.
Zanata. Owners Kevin and Al Lefere serve excellent Italian food with superior service. Pinch your arm to remind yourself that you’re dining among the mighty chain restaurants in Rockwall. 202 E. Rusk St. 972-722-2822.
LOWER GREENVILLE/M STREETS
Ali Baba. A no-nonsense atmosphere and delicious Middle Eastern fare. You won’t find better tabbouleh or falafel. 1905 Greenville Ave. 214-823-8235.
The Corner Market. If every neighborhood had a Corner Market, we’d be the best city in the world. Sandwiches are king-size, and the pimento cheese is addictive. 3426 Greenville Ave. 214-826-8282.
Royal Thai. Most locals claim this is the best Thai food in Dallas. They ought to know. Many dine here two or three times a week. 5500 Greenville Ave., No. 608. 214-691-3555.
Alfonso’s. The food might not be fancy, but it sure is flavorful. Start off with the succulent crab claws and garlic rolls, which can be dangerously habit-forming. The pizza and pastas are musts, whether you’re dining in or taking your food to go. 718 N. Buckner Blvd. 214-327-7777.
Flavor Asian Fusion & Dessert Bar. With a diverse menu ranging from Thai-inspired dishes to specialty sushi and the ever-popular BYOB policy, this “hidden gem” should please even the pickiest of diners. 9220 Skillman St., Ste. 101. 214-341-0244.
Highlands Cafe. This innovative restaurant supports local students’ artwork and hosts a variety of musical talents on Saturday nights. The homemade soups are rich and soothing. 9661 Audelia Rd. 214-349-2233.
Mariano’s Hacienda. Mariano’s boasts that it’s the birthplace of the frozen margarita, which is reason enough to give it a try. Feel daring? Try the “Whole Enchilada,” a platter that offers everything from tacos to enchiladas. 6300 Skillman St. 214-691-3888.
ST Cafe. Head straight for the desserts at this cozy neighborhood favorite. With decadent delights like the Lake Highlands Rock Cake and Chocolate Fudge Pie, it’s sure to sate any chocoholic’s cravings. 9090 Skillman St. 214-503-6007.
Tony’s Pizza & Pasta. Though service can be slow on busy nights, the New York-style pizza is amazing and the restaurant is BYOB. Try the lasagna; the locals love it. 10233 E. Northwest Hwy. 214-503-0388.
John’s Cafe. Owner John Spyropoulos closed his original Greenville Avenue location in late 2005, but that’s the only thing that’s different. The kitchen at this new location still turns out great breakfasts and groovy burgers. 10870 Plano Rd. 214-827-4610.
Angelo’s Italian Grill. The buttery garlic rolls as big as your fist may be worth moving to Lakewood for—especially since they now deliver pizzas nightly to the White Rock, Lakewood, and Forest Hills neighborhoods. 6341 La Vista Dr. 214-823-5566.
Dixie House. Birkenstock sandals aren’t required but many yuppie and hippie families who require highchairs frequent this home-cooking joint for dependable pot roast, chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and tasty yeast rolls. 6400 Gaston Ave. 214-826-2412.
GOLD FINGERS: George Sanchez owns Goldrush Cafe, a neighborhood hang full of musicians, artists, and eccentrics.
photography by Dan Piassick
Kitchen 1924. Handsome spot with bricked walls and a community table, wood-fired pizza oven, and open kitchen. Owner Shawn Horne is hands-on. 1924 Abrams Rd. 214-821-1924.
Legal Grounds. A coffeehouse by day with a menu that includes manhole-size granola pancakes and scrumptious egg dishes. But each evening, the space becomes Papou’s (see below). 2015 Abrams Rd. 214-824-5800.
Matt’s Rancho Martinez. The loyal clientele have long frequented Matt’s for a fix of Bob Armstrong dip and chili rellenos. We can’t say we blame them. 6332 La Vista Dr. 214-823-5517.
Papou’s Greek Kitchen and Taverna. Cozy spot for authentic Greek food such as dolmas, moussaka, and pastitso. Call ahead for belly dancing nights. 2015 Abrams Rd. 214-824-5800.
Scalini’s Pizza and Pasta. Not the only Italian restaurant in the area, but certainly one that diners from all over Dallas head to for its scrumptious, ultra-thin-crust pizza. 2021 Abrams Rd. 214-821-8088.
Alligator Cafe. The sign in front of this funky spot reads “Chef owned. Small business. Try us out.” Obviously people have. Order at the counter, and prepare for a gustatory trip to Cajun country: alligator and crawfish gumbos, shrimp-and-oyster gumbo, and crawfish étouffée. 4416 Live Oak St. 214-821-6900.
Andrea’s Restaurant. A dependable Italian-meets-Mexican restaurant for any occasion. Expect white tablecloths, full bar, good wine list, and nice food at even nicer prices. 4816 Gaston Ave. 214-823-3100.
Bangkok Inn. Great Thai food, especially the pad Thai, vegetable curries, and addictive Tom Yam Kai chicken soup. And they deliver. 6033 Oram St. 214-821-8979.
Brother’s Fried Chicken. Business is mostly drive-through and takeout, but all varieties of fried goodness can be enjoyed at the narrow counter. Enjoy them as often as possible. Cardiac trouble? Baylor is just a chicken thigh’s toss away. 4839 Gaston Ave. 214-370-0800.
El Taquito Cafe. It’s cozy, authentic, lard-ridden Tex-Mex with a lively jukebox, snappy service, and some of the finest chilaquiles we’ve ever feasted on. 5427 E. Grand Ave. 214-823-5872.
JIMMY’S CUBAN SANDWICH
photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
Kalachandji’s. A Hare Krishna temple with an all-you-can-eat buffet filled with a mind-blowing assortment of hot and cold, dairy and nondairy, and sweet and savory vegetarian (and often Indian) delights. What else could you possibly ask for? 5430 Gurley Ave. 214-821-1048.
Mai’s Vietnamese Restaurant. Authentic Vietnamese fare with a low price tag. Clay pots, noodle and rice dishes, and extensive vegetarian choices give fancier restaurants a run for their money. 4312 Bryan St. 214-826-9887.
Amore Pizza & Pasta. Longtime favorite where the kids come for the thin-crust pizza and parents come for classic Italian (baked ziti is our pick) and the ability to BYOB. 1009 Cheek Sparger Rd., Ste. 110. 817-656-9424.
Armend’s. Here you’ll find thin-crust pizzas, hearty pastas, chatty young servers, affordable prices, and a BYOB policy. Sounds like the perfect recipe for success. 2315 E. Southlake Blvd. 817-251-0270.
Cowtown Sushi. Bad name, good sushi. Noodles and tempura are worthy, too. The sleek room has a waterfall wall at the entrance. 2225 W. Southlake Blvd. 817-310-0089.
Pacific House. Finally good Chinese food in a town of chain restaurants. Among the Chinese dishes, you’ll find a few Thai options. 4714 Colleyville Blvd. 817-503-7888.
Ruggeri’s. This western location of Dallas’ iconic Italian spot is great for a date or a family get-together. Kids love the zabaglione. 32 Village Ln. 817-503-7373.
Quick Thai Bistro. Like the name says, it’s quick, it’s Thai, and it’s easy on the suburban palate. 5611 Colleyville Blvd. 817-427-4500.
Thai Chili. The shopping center spot—a chip off the block of Thai Chili in Irving—serves pristine food. Garlic chicken with rice and romaine lettuce is the top seller. Southlake Town Square, 215 Grand Ave. 817-251-6674.
Anamia’s Tex-Mex. All the usual suspects with a tasty twist (brisket tacos, anyone?). Bold dishes, cool interior. The tableside guac is worth the fight for a parking spot at this town’s Friday-night favorite. Flower Mound and Southlake locations, too. 106 N. Denton Tap Rd., No. 240. 972-304-0321.
Coppell Deli. It ain’t fancy, but this cinder-block mecca of Cowboys memorabilia is all about breakfast, barbecue, and burgers. 449 Bethel Rd. 972-462-0101.
Guero’s Mexican Grill. Lively patio and cantina scene with family-friendly dining. We love the puerco en salsa verde muy mucho. 817 S. MacArthur Blvd., No. 125. 972-304-8101.
Hard Eight BBQ. Hope y’all like communal dining. The overly aromatic outdoor pits and cowboy-cool Hill Country environs might remind you of its Stephenville sibling, famous for smoked meat and man grub. Biggest surprise? The cornbread salad. Oh, and there’s a communal bean pot, too. 688 Freeport Pkwy. 972-471-5462.
Pan Acean. Crackling calamari salad? Or vanilla prawns? Save room for dessert at this charming dim sum and Pacific Rim hot spot. There’s honey banana tempura waiting. 777 S. MacArthur Blvd., Ste. 401. 972-745-7788.
Seven Salsas. Grandma Villa’s signature salsas warm up this family-owned Tex-Mex staple (there’s one in Valley Ranch, too) that serves up off-the-menu favorites like Mexican chili pie with a kick and a succulently spicy tampiquena. 230 N. Denton Tap Rd. 972-462-9006.
Siena Pasta & Pizza. Deliciously diverse selection of northern Italian and southern Italian pasta with a decadent white pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses. 780 S. MacArthur Blvd., Ste. 100. 972-462-0499.
Ole’s Tex-Mex. Strip-center favorite still reels ’em in for enchiladas and ’ritas. 600 E. Sandy Lake Rd. 972-393-7510.
Palio’s Pizza Cafe. Hometown pizza hangout with build-it-your-way options, including pink sauce and plenty of pasta. 171 Denton Tap Rd. 972-745-7772.
Bari’s Pizza & Pasta. Immensely loyal clientele, thanks to the Bardhi family, which has been serving all of your favorite Italian dishes with friendly service since 1987. 3472 Long Prairie Rd. 972-539-7091.
Capriccio Ristorante. Open just a couple of years, this spot draws loyalists who love the Cioppino, house-made ravioli, and the warm ambience. 420 Parker Square. 972-691-5700.
Salerno’s Italian Restaurant. Having trouble choosing just one entrée from Mike and Morris Salerno’s pasta-packed menu? Pirozzolo’s family-style feast serves up steak Salerno, chicken Mela, shrimp Nena, lasagna, and even a dessert tray. 3407 Long Prairie Rd. 972-539-9534.
Sofio’s Italian Grill. This small (maybe 20 tables) spot is worth a drive from East Dallas. European-style dishes along with classic Italian specialties in a cozy atmosphere that is kid-friendly. 1900 Long Prairie Rd., Ste. 108. 972-691-3474.
Big Fish Seafood Grill. Plenty of crawfish and fried and grilled seafood here, but “things that don’t swim” include a Cajun stew and red beans and rice, as well as better-than-average sandwiches, burgers, and more. 414 S. Main St. 817-481-2010.
Bo Bo China. Generous family-size servings and face-recognizing service with a smile. Don’t pass up the broccoli beef. 1112 W. Northwest Hwy. 817-481-3885.
CHILI CHICK: Kathleen Tolbert Ryan keeps her father’s famous chili recipe alive and well in Grapevine.
photography by Dave Shafer
Esparza’s. One of the city’s most popular Tex-Mex stops. Juicy, tender chicken enchiladas are dressed in sour cream and queso blanco. 124 E. Worth St. 817-481-4668.
Willhoite’s. Maybe it’s the beer-battered ’shrooms, but this down-home, hoppin’ spot on the main drag draws the sightseeing shoppers nearby and the bikers. 432 S. Main St. 817-481-7511.
Angelo’s Spaghetti and Pizza House. Open since ’66, Angelo’s still draws the regulars—and their grandchildren—who pack the place for hearty baked lasagna, cold salads, spaghetti, and thin-crust pizza. 1330 W. Pioneer Dr. 972-254-7242.
Big State Drug Fountain & Grill. Drugstore turned into a soda fountain with old-fashioned treats like chicken-fried steak, cheeseburgers, and a tuna-stuffed tomato. Nifty shakes made with Blue Bell ice cream. 100 E. Irving Blvd. 972-254-1521.
Danal’s. A recent cropping of tacquerias nearby hasn’t dampened the loyalty to this eatery’s warm salsa, fresh tortillas, and Mexican fare that scores with Spanish-speaking regulars. 508 N. O’Connor Rd. 972-254-2666.
i Fratelli. New location, same favorites at the cozy wine bar restaurant. Those i Fratelli takeout beacons atop delivery cars are a common sight in Las Colinas. Dallas transplants, does that oval, thin-crust pizza taste familiar? That’s right, this Italian favorite has roots from the Campisi family in Dallas. 7701 N. MacArthur Blvd. 972-501-9700.
Jinbeh. Still a staple of Las Colinas dining, this sleek Japanese hibachi grill has the best grilled veggies around. Fresh, expertly prepared sushi. 301 E. Las Colinas Blvd. 972-869-4011.
Po Melvin’s. Home cookin’ with Louisiana roots lures in the lunch bunch and the dinner crowd hungry for traditional fare. 4070 N. Belt Line Rd. 972-255-3919.
Ruen Thai. Authentic cuisine and a diverse but heat-controlled menu will thrill the foodies and their new-to-it friends. 3310 W. Rochelle Rd. 972-570-7716.
Southern Recipe. The requisite food groups of any Texan—home cookin’ and Tex-Mex—are served here. (Yes, they will stir real chili, not chiles, in that queso.) Crisp, thinly breaded chicken-fried steak and fried okra as good as Grandma’s. Kicky guisado del ranchero. 2101 W. Rochelle Rd. 972-252-2003.
Via Reál. Gourmet Mexican favorite with a splash of Santa Fe that shares the comfortable elegance of the Four Seasons just a 4-iron and a wedge away in Las Colinas. 4020 N. MacArthur Blvd. 972-650-9001.
Blue Ocean Sushi and Asian Grill. Artfully styled sushi and Asian fusion in a serene setting. 533 State Highway 121. 972-316-8600.
Capriccio Ristorante. Beautiful upscale dining, from the interior to the meticulously complex menu; attentive service. 420 Parker Square. 972-691-5700.
Easy Street Family Cafe. Dreamy French toast in this cozy breakfast and lunch nook. 190 W. Main St., No. 180. 972-420-8737.
Ham ’n’ Eggs. “Biscuits as big as plates,” a friend’s report, was true, and trumped only by the platter-size pancakes. Cash only in this country-cute place that does Southern staples and breakfast right. 297 W. Round Grove Rd., Ste. 109. 972-315-1155.
It’s Greek to Me. Greek, Lebanese, and Mediterranean cuisine merge in this charming storefront. 500 E. Round Grove Rd., No. 310. 972-459-9798.
Parma Pasta & Pizza. Check the board for specials first, but enjoy the New-York-Italian-meets-Texas fare. Hand-tossed thin-crust pizza still gets rave reviews. 291 E. Round Grove Rd. 214-488-4447.
The Grotto. The Salerno tradition continues with this upscale New American steakhouse—from pan-seared duck to Veal DaVinci with Texas jumbo shrimp. 2300 Highland Village Rd. 972-318-0515.
Bugatti Ristorante. Zee Bugatti, one of the friendliest owners in town, presides over this Italian American restaurant with a great outdoor patio. 3802 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-350-2470.
Fernando’s Mexican Cuisine. Always full of soccer moms, dads, and athletes of all ages. They come for the good Tex-Mex, they stay to chat with neighbors over a second margarita. 4347 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-351-9010.
Howard Wang’s China Grill. The food ranges from average to spectacular, but the dining room is always packed with neighbors looking for a quick fix of Chinese food. Try chicken with black bean sauce. 4343 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-366-1606.
Suze. An upscale neighborhood joint run by popular chef Gilbert Garza. Chances are he knows your name and your favorite entrée. Every neighborhood should be so lucky. 4345 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-350-6135.
Thai-rrific. Popular spot for great Thai lunch buffet and pocketbook friendly dinner prices. Don’t miss the stuffed wings, Thai curries, or the sautéed squid. Great vegetarian choices. 3068 Forest Ln. 972-241-2412.
Cafe Expresso. Run by Dieter Paul, who knows his customers so well that he calls them to tell them when their favorite seasonal specialties are available in his kitchen. 6135 Luther Ln. 214-361-6984.
Cafe Istanbul. Distinctive Middle Eastern delights make this an exotic stop for anyone with adventurous taste buds. A Pinot Noir from Turkey, anyone? 5450 W. Lovers Ln. 214-902-0919.
Cafe Italia. Owner Scott Jones has found the successful neighborhood restaurant fairy dust and opened locations of his eclectic Tex-Italian concept in Bishop Arts and Roanoke. 4615 W. Lovers Ln. 214-357-4200.
Dunston’s Steak House. If you haven’t eaten in the back room, you’ve missed a true Dallas neighborhood restaurant experience. You never know who’ll be there. 5423 W. Lovers Ln. 214-352-8320.
Flying Fish. Bring your own Billy Bass. This hot spot is home to fresh oysters, barbecued shrimp, and fried catfish in a campy atmosphere. Noteworthy: the best hushpuppies in Dallas. 6126 Luther Ln. 214-696-3474.
Pizza by Marco. Thankfully they’ve added a few tables so you can dine in, but we prefer to call in and pick up thin-crust pizzas and quarts of Italian salad. 10720 Preston Rd., Ste. 1014. 214-363-6122.
Popolos. Still jazzy after all these years. Doesn’t seem to matter who is cooking, the Mediterranean-inspired food and grown-up bar scene are always reliable. 5959 Royal Ln. 214-692-5497.
TEE IT UP: Owner/chef Jim “Sevy” Severson works the front of the house in his spikeless golf shoes.
photography by Dan Piassick
Shinsei. Chefs’ wives Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing have created a hopping neighborhood spot. And we’re sure that chef Casey Thompson’s recent appearance in the final competition of Bravo’s Top Chef had little to do with the success of their Pan-Asian sushi spot. Well, maybe a little. 7713 Inwood Rd. 214-352-0005.
Adelmo’s Ristorante. Open since 1989, this family-owned bistro offers Italian cuisine with a French twist. Their pre-curtain menu is perfect for those in a rush. 4537 Cole Ave. 214-559-0325.
Cuquita’s. This is the spot for authentic Mexican fare, which includes pozole (pork and hominy soup), menudo (weekends only), and a half-dozen versions of huevos rancheros. Be prepared to dust off your high school Spanish when you visit. 2326 N. Henderson Ave. 214-823-1859.
Hector’s on Henderson. The live music every night makes dining at Hector’s more of a social event than just another meal. The staff knows what they’re doing, and the fine American food done with a Texas twist rocks. 2929 N. Henderson Ave. 214-821-0432.
Hola. With a vast tapas menu and specials that change weekly, Hola is the perfect spot to experience Spanish cuisine without ever leaving home. 4831 McKinney Ave. 214-522-0505.
The Kozy Kitchen. Another one of Dallas’ best-kept secrets, this restaurant prides itself on the use of organic products. Finish with a piece of gluten-free carrot cake. Surprisingly good. 4433 McKinney Ave. 214-219-5044.
Louie’s. This hole-in-the-wall pizzeria serves some of the best pizza in town. However, the service can be poor, so you might want to take your pie to go. 1839 N. Henderson Ave. 214-826-0505.
The Old Monk. This local pub may look like just another bar at first, but it serves up some pretty tasty food. Try the steamed mussels. For the nibblers, the cheese board pairs perfectly with a pint of ale. 2847 N. Henderson Ave. 214-821-1880.
Taverna Pizzeria and Risotteria. This choice date spot offers up a romantic atmosphere and authentic Italian cuisine with specialty risotto dishes. It gets crowded on the weekends, so be prepared to wait. 3210 Armstrong Ave. 214-520-9933.
Avila’s. The Avila family is dedicated to freshness. Step in the door you’re greeted by the smell of freshly chopped jalapenos. Chiles rellenos are baked, not fried. The mole has infinite depth. Salsa is hot, hot, hot. 4714 Maple Ave. 214-520-2700.
Bob’s Steak & Chop House. A popular watering hole and steakhouse for prominent businessmen, professional athletes, and visiting celebs. 4300 Lemmon Ave. 214-528-9446.
The Bronx Cafe. For more than 30 years, this spot has blended cozy with urbane. The menu sticks to the basics: pastas, steaks, and deftly made desserts. Sunday brunch is an institution. 3835 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-521-5821.
Hunky’s. Loyal, old-establishment gays head here for cheeseburgers, crispy fries, and the official sport of Oak Lawn: people-watching. 4000 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-522-1212.
Lucky’s. This home-cooking mainstay has something for everyone, from egg-white omelets to chicken-fried steak and cream gravy. 3531 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-522-3500.
Oishii. This hideaway is like a Chinese-Vietnamese-Japanese version of Cheers. Pull up to the sushi bar, and let the good times roll. 2525 Wycliff Ave. 214-599-9448.
Parigi. For well over 20 years, this foodie temple has been an above-average modern little bistro. 3311 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 102. 214-521-0295.
Sal’s Pizza & Restaurant. There’s always lots of cops eating here, so we feel safe to say that the pizza is the cheesiest in town. And that’s a good thing. Now there’s a Sal’s in Plano’s uppity Shops at Legacy. 2525 Wycliff Ave. 214-522-1828.
Al Biernat’s. The best coat-and-tie, after-work bar scene around. Al Biernat, who presides over upscale steaks and fresh seafood served in a sexy setting, will make you a regular after just one visit. 4217 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-2201.
Bubba’s Cooks Country. Order at the counter, and chat with your neighbors over fabulous fried chicken, veggies, and homemade rolls. 6617 Hillcrest Ave. 214-373-6527.
Cafe Pacific. For 27 years, this seafood-centric spot has had a list of regulars that politicians would pay for. 24 Highland Park Village. 214-526-1170.
Javier’s. Join your neighbors in a wait for a table at this longtime Mexico City-style restaurant with a heavy concentration of gourmet seafood entrees. Cigar room. 4912 Cole Ave. 214-521-4211.
Kuby’s Sausage House. Take out or eat in. Whatever you choose, you can’t lose. The legendary German deli with a cozy dining room has always served the best wurst in town. 6601 Snider Plaza. 214-363-2231.
Mi Cocina. This contemporary multi-storied Tex-Mex icon is the hot spot for UP, HP, and any P in between. The third story bar is a legend in its own time. 77 Highland Park Village. 214-521-6426.
Peggy Sue BBQ. Too many reasons to list why we see the same people wiping the sauce off their faces. Here’s three: ribs, barbecue quesadillas, and onion rings. And great service. 6600 Snider Plaza. 214-987-9188.
Penne Pomodoro. Like its sibling location in Preston Forest, the place can be a mob scene by 6:30 every night thanks to the family-friendly atmosphere. American Italian food, and easy-on-the-pocketbook prices. 6815 Snider Plaza. 214-373-9911.
Bread Winners Bakery & Bistro. Every neighborhood should be so lucky. This popular restaurant has it all: great breakfasts and lunches, intimate dinners, and scrumptious cakes. And bread. And pie. Oh my. 3301 McKinney Ave. 214-754-4940.
Cafe Rembrandt. Hey, free parking! If that isn’t enough, there’s fish and chips, beef tenderloin with mushroom cream sauce, and truly traditional entrees such as bitter balls and tostis. 703 McKinney Ave. 214-468-0073.
Urbano Restaurant and Paninoteca. When the weather is great, we head to the patio. When it’s lousy, we head inside and feast on seafood specials, grilled meats, risottos, and pastas. Great vibe inside and out. 2533 McKinney Ave. 214-969-6911.
Thomas Avenue Beverage Company. Most people walk to TABC, the ultimate neighborhood hang. (Parking is hard to find, but worth it.) It’s upscale bar food with fancy touches and loads of fun. 2901 Thomas Ave. 214-979-0452.
photography by Bode Helm
Rock Star Chef
As Dallas becomes more infatuated with food—and inundated with high-caliber restaurants—chefs have become our local rock stars. Shinsei executive chef and Top Chef finalist Casey Thompson is the Kelly Clarkson of the group. She’s young, she’s hot, she’s single, and she’s talented. Did we also mention she’s got a fan club, a couple of stalkers, and she likes to party?
What has changed most about your life after the show? My ability to just be in the kitchen is a lot more difficult. My job requires a lot more front of the house, which I’m not used to. I’ve had to learn how to manage it. It’s a performance.
Do you get a lot more male attention now? Oh, that’s a good one. (Shinsei co-owner Tracy Rathbun shouts, “She already had a lot of male attention!”) One of my friends runs the Chef Casey Thompson Fan Club, and he’s become my buffer. He deals with all the crazies and the scaries. I’m actually trying to date a guy right now, and it’s so hard. Tracy has talked to me about ways to make it work. For example, dinner might not always be an option, but breakfast? I could do that. We just have to find other options.
Where are you living now? I live in Lakewood. It’s very quiet. I used to live downtown, and I loved it, but I needed a change in environment. I was going out way too much.
Where do rock star chefs go out? One of my friends owns Dolce, one of my friends owns Mantus. Dolce is great. It’s got all this smoky glass; it’s like it doesn’t belong in this city.
What is your favorite thing to eat at 2 am? Cuquita’s pozole, Jack In The Box tacos, or Nandina’s curry. We are limited here in Dallas for late night, but if a late-night stop calls ...
Do you cook at home? Never. Does peanut butter on a rice cake count?
What is your ultimate comfort food? Macaroni and cheese. Is there anything better?
What is something people would be surprised to hear about you? I put ketchup on chicken-fried steak, mayonnaise on fries. I Mystic Tan. I can change my own oil. I’m left-handed. — Sarah Eveans