Somebody Help This Poor Boy: Arlington Indie Restaurants

A Portland-living foodie who admits he needs a restaurant critic sends this note:

Ms. Nichols, I am coming down for the Oregon/LSU game next weekend and wondered if you could recommend any restaurants that aren’t too far from Arlington.  In looking at Google Maps, I see the usual chain suspects around Arlington but there have got to be local spots worth checking out. Granted, I am coming from the town that apparently doesn’t need food critics to have good food. As a side note, the publications in this town are dying so restaurant reviews have been ceded to the blogs and local online food community. I generally use food critics’ columns/recommendations to help find dining destinations that I wouldn’t necessarily know about otherwise.

Help him, yáll I’m useless. (“Olenjack’s Grille and Chop House Burgers,” she whispers.)


  • Heather

    Olenjack’s Grille – gotta be Olenjack’s.

  • chefjordy

    Pho Pasteur
    Prince Lebanese
    Potager Cafe
    the new Babe’s

  • Rebross

    Olenjack’s is fantastic and near the stadium. If he likes sushi, then there’s Pirahna. There also the Mellow Mushroom, Babes, The Flying Fish and if he likes barbecue, there’s Eddie Deen’s Crossroads on Collins Street.

  • Stephanie

    Potager or Olenjack’s.

  • Margaret


  • Rebross

    Oops, forgot to mention El Gabacho for Mexican and Piccolo Mondo for Italian.

  • D

    Istanbul Grill or Jamaica Gates are both excellent. I believe their names speak for themselves.

    Not that the food is great at Trail Dust Steakhouse, but it is a true Texas stereotype.

  • Chris

    J.R. Bentley’s has the best burger in town and a better beer selection than you’ll find at most places (granted it’s not nearly as good as you have there in Portland, but it’s pretty good for Texas). – Cheers!

  • Anon.

    Unfortunately the ‘entertainment area’ in Arlington is a wasteland, catering to the lowest common denominator tailgaters and kiddo six-flags/hurricane harbor goers. This is why you saw all the chains. There are, however, a few bright spots (some mentioned) if you venture away from the stadium / six flags area.
    I endorse the already-mentioned Babes (for the fried chicken) and Piranha. I’d add Mack’s (I-20 near Little Rd) as a more traditional / white tablecloth option.

  • adkim

    extramsg, aka, nick zukin from kenny and zuke’s fame has a list of places he likes and kinda-doesn’t-like, and is kind-of-indifferent about.

    anything that is “started by ExtraMSG” is worth a read, though none are in arlington. you don’t want to spend too much time in that city anyhow.

    from his blog (b/c he didn’t start it, but contributed):

    …and this link because he’s kind of big deal around these parts:

    enjoy your stay, geaux tigers.

  • Po’ Oregon Foodie

    Thank you everyone for the recommendations. It appears that Olenjack’s shouldn’t be missed. Potager’s concept sounds very “Portland” and would be appreciated up here. Babe’s sounds good and if I had enough meals down there, Jamaica and Piranha would be on the list as well.

    I’d seen good things on Eddie Dean’s and BBQ is a must while down there. Any preferences between Eddie Dean’s and Bodacious?

    Thanks again for all of the recommendations, I really appreciate them.

  • adkim

    …or you can just search extramsg on the site and see everything he has contributed on. he makes explicit comparisons to dallas vs. portland on a lot of dishes.

  • Po’ Oregon Foodie

    adkim, thanks. nick is always a good source of fun and tasty places to eat…particularly his own shops. fyi, I’m meeting my father in law from NOLA so we will be a group divided.
    go ducks

  • CB
  • adkim
  • Po’ Oregon Foodie

    CB, thanks. Off the bone is close, very close by Dallas standards.

  • Andrew Chalk

    Arlington has one of the largest concentrations of authentic Chinese food in the area. Pick almost anything that is not a chain.

  • Judy

    fuzzy’s tacos, el fenix, la orginal on hwy 303 for genuine mexican or marquez tortilla factory on e. division; pho 95, sprouts springrolls & pho, the loving hut (vegan), bbq=spring creek, dickie’s or rudy’s, smashburger, taste of thai, thai house, taste of europe (approved by my russian friend). arlington is becoming less homogenous in food choices & increasingly more ethnic; good chinese buffet is grand buffet on lamar; india grill, nizza pizza; i could go on, so better stop here. good luck & enjoy!

  • Zip

    Please do not go to Olenjack’s. It is not a good representation of good Dallas cuisine. It is a great place to meet for appetizers and drinks, but dinner…you will be so horribly disappointed- especially being from Portland.

    Trek into Fort Worth or Dallas, just a few miles up the road. You won’t be disappointed. Brownstone, Charlie Palmer, Marquee Grill, Lucia…

  • ArlingtonFoodie

    David’s BBQ is our favorite hole in the wall for BBQ in Arlington…most of our foodie family & friends prefer it to the other places mentioned like Spring Creek & Bodacious. I agree that Potager is probably up your alley, and while Olenjack’s is good, it is just your average mid-level restaurant without anything truly special. In my opinion, Babe’s is a waste of time – an expensive, gimmicky spot for fried chicken that is just attracting attention because ir is new to town…Chicken Express can feed you the same meal at 1/4 the cost, with the added bonus of Dublin Dr. Pepper. Pho Pasteur is EXCELLENT. Tin Cup is a good spot to grab lunch, too. Have fun!

  • Sue

    Piranha Killer Sushi, NW corner Collins and Green Oaks, close to the stadium, is a great sushi spot, one of our favorites. I would go there over Potager’s (very limited menu and food just ok).

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  • FromPtldToArlngtn

    I spent last summer in Arlington. I recommend Istanbul Grill for a nice meal. I still dream about their baklava- it simply melts in your mouth. .
    The best BBQ was David’s BBQ imho.
    Bobby V’s was a great spot for a beer and watching a game. Shiner Bock was the closest beer I found resembling beer in Portland.

  • Jugg

    There are a number of great Vietnamese places around, my favorite being Pho Vietnam. Right off Cooper Pioneer. If you are in a hurry, Ba Le Deli on Cooper has a good bahn mi. Beirut Rock on Cooper is also great. I would support the earlier recs of Jamaica Gates and Istanbull as well. For some Mexican, Pollo Regio has some good chicken. Arlington gets bagged on for being nothing but chains, but thats not true at all. Its just that all the chains are on I-20 and I-30, the areas visible to most. The area in between is full of ethnic and indie places.

  • Bob Daly

    Go to Gilligan’s for the Irish Nachos. They were featured on the Travel Channel show- Bar Food Paradise

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  • James

    I went to school at U of Oregon but moved to Arlington four years ago for work. I am kind of a foodie, and allow me to say that Arlington has some of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the area. Please stay away from chains and support locally owned businesses!

    Beirut Cafe is some the best Lebanese food outside of Lebanon. The hummus and Arabic coffee and superb.

    Pierre’s Mardi Gras is amazing New Orleans food. Pierre moved here after Katrina and serves some of the best gumbo in the country.

    Jamaica Gates is fantastic Jamaican food (and was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).

    Pham Thi Truoc Restaurant (aka PTT) is fantastic Vietnamese food (Arlington has a HUGE Vietnamese population).

    Ba Le near the university has fantastic Vietnamese sandwiches for about $3.50.

    Potager is always delicious French-style food, and features no set prices (pay what you want).

    And of course, Davids BBQ is one of the best (and vintage) BBQ places in North Texas.

    Unfortunately you have to drive 20 miles to Fort Worth for good cocktails and coffee–Grace downtown and The Usual on Magnolia make some of the best cocktails in the metroplex, and Avoca on Magnolia serves the best coffee and espresso around.

  • PO

    The Arlington ground has been covered. Go to Fort Worth if you get a chance. Downtown has great bars – Flying Saucer, 8.0, Grotto Bar @ Reata. Magnolia has Lili’s Bisto, Ellerbe, Spiral Diner (veggie), Nonna Tata (authentic Italian), Benito’s (mexican), Yucatan Taco Stand (margarita’s), The Usual (speak-easy coctails), Avoca (coffee), Paris Coffee House (desert), etc.
    Have fun Ducks, but Geaux Tigers!