Restaurant rating can be a highly arbitrary process. These listings have been compiled not only from our own experiences, but also from evaluations solicited from a cross-section of the city’s epicures. The listings are not meant to be conclusive, but are designed to convey an idea of what to expect. Visits by our critics are made incognito to avoid preferential treatment.

Restaurants, of course, change. These listings will be revised and supplemented periodically to reflect those changes. To that end, opinions and comments from our readers will receive careful consideration.

These restaurants represent the best in Dallas dining. It is implicit, then, that we recommend them highly. Where criticism is imposed, it is as a service to our readers, indicating that in a particular area of service or cuisine a restaurant does not fully meet the standards of excellence expected of it. If and when those negative conditions improve, we will happily note the change for the better in the listings. Inclusion in this directory has nothing whatever to do with paid advertising.

The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They are intended only to indicate a general range.

$-Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.

$$-Middle ground and very general. Usually indicates a menu with a wide price range.

$$$-Expensive. You can expect to spend more than $8 for a complete meal.

Unless otherwise noted, all restaurants have full bar facilities. Credit card notations: MC-Master Charge/ BA-BankAmericard/ AE- American Express/ DC-Diner’s Club/ CB-Carte Blanche/ “All Credit Cards” indicates that all of the above are accepted.

Newcomers …

These recent arrivals to the Dallas restaurant scene are not necessarily recommended (yet), but are listed just to indicate where they are and what they’ve got.

Carlos and Pepe. The talk of the town as a result of its pre-assembling in the Bavaria film studios of Munich (replete with furnishings and miscellaneous props used in such films as Cabaret ) as well as its evocation of the noted Acapulco disco restaurant, Carlos and Charlie. As a discotheque, Carlos and Pepe has a lively flair, culminating in a midnight “fiesta” when the staff takes to dancing in the aisles. The menu (“continental” if it can be categorized) is as diverse as the decor, highlighted by the little things, such as zucchini fritters, bean soup, creamed tortillas, and apple fritters fondue. (3049 W. Northwest Hwy 1358-4357 /opens 4:30 p.m.. Dinner served 6:30-midnight, disco till 2a.m. /ReservationsIMC.BA.AE, DC’/$$$)

Ichabod’s. A slick new steak & seafood restaurant/bar on the Greenville Ave. singles strip. Spawned by a successful Louisiana operation, Ichabod’s has few unique or original touches, but what they do, they do with polish and proficiency. Within the fairly predictable menu (salads, soups, steaks, prime rib, shelfish) are a couple of imaginative selections: the steak Oscar is a double filet topped with crabmeat, hollandaise, and mushrooms; and a ratatouille casserole is offered as a side dish-a good idea. Casual and comfortable; tastefully decorated with etched glass and plants. The bar is already a popular spot. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/ 691-2646/Daily 11:30 a.m.-midnight, bar till 2; Sun brunch ll:30-3/No reservations/MC, BA,AE,CB/$$)

pti. A futuristic, space age setting; the ultra-modem decor is done with restraint and simplicity -the result is a refreshingly uncluttered feeling. A complimentary bowl of unpeeled boiled shrimp precedes each dinner (as well as being the featured free attraction of the daily happy hour). Choose from ten varied entrees, including a nice cioppino (seafood stew), a sweet and tasty lamb kabob marinated in mustard and honey, and – a Dallas rarity – abalone. Also steak, prime rib, lobster. In lieu of the usual baked potato, try their broiled Bermuda onion stuffed with mushroom and green pepper. Foreign coffees round out a very pleasant, if unspectacular, meal. (6950 Greenuille Ave/ 692-8676/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-4; Dinner SunThur 6-11, Fri & Sal till 12/ Reservations /MC, BA, AE, DC/ $$$)

Tidbits …

Monthly notes of special treats in special places.

Every weekday at 12:05, assorted pick-ups and panel trucks are seen to converge on area 7-11 stores. The reason, of course, is lunch. Because this is probably a more devoted clientele than any restaurant in the city can boast of, it seemed that this culinary cult warranted some investigation. The obvious choice for such a task was a member of our staff who prefers to remain nameless – for this report, we shall call him Alan. Alan has long been a devoted connoisseur of quickie cuisine (he usually starts his day with an Egg McMuffin and a can of strawberry imitation milkshake; occasionally he’ll go change of pace with a small “breakfast pizza”).

After some especially intensive research, Alan offered these findings. The best lunchtime 7-11 in Dallas is Store No. 6, 4900 McKinney at Monti-cello. “Consistently the best selection and the microwave oven is always clean,” Alan reports. He suspects there’s a reason for this – the 7-11 Division Headquarters are just around the corner. The Hot-To-Go menu (all microwave preparations) now offers everything from popcorn to fish ’n’ chips. Alan’s long time favorite items are the foot-long hot dog (“excellent”) and the Egg Hamlette (an egg omelette patty on a bun with ham and melted cheese; “superb – great for either breakfast or lunch – and it’s a sesame seed bun!”).

Recently, though, we were privileged enough to be with Alan when he made a new discovery – the Chicken Turnover Pie. His eyes lit up as he sank his teeth into the turnover-shaped crust stuffed with chicken-pot-pie-type filling. “Fantastic. I should have bought five of these.”

The Dining Experience . . .

These restaurants provide a complete dining experience – consistent excellence in cuisine, service, and atmosphere. They are generally, though not always, characterized by extensive menus, attentive staff, and tasteful surroundings.

Arthur’s. Superb food and a classy but warm ambience make this restaurant always an enjoyable experience. The prime beef, Arthur’s trademark, is still the best around. But there are other impressive options, such as the double lamb chops or the calf’s liver Tasty salads and an excellent house dressing. The wine list features American vintages only and you’ll find some interesting surprises (try the Krug Zinfandel to see how far American wines have come). The service is attentive and efficient, though it would be helpful if the sommelier would converse more about wine selections. The bar is the kind of place you can spend all evening – one of Dallas’ best. Entertainment nightly. (1000 Campbell Centrel 361-8833/ Sun-Fri 11:30-2, 611; Sat 6-mid.night/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)

Bagatelle. So pleasant and comfortable are the surroundings – a relaxed “French country style” atmosphere replete with softly cushioned chairs – that fingers are being kept crossed in hopes that the cuisine will eventually match the comfort. Despite a well-qualified staff and an interesting menu of continental preparations leaning towards the simple rather than the extravagant, Bagatelle has not yet lived up to expectations. The beef tournedos or the Roquefort Pillow Steak can provide a nice meal, but the biggest drawing card at present is the bar – very attractive and currently featuring some fine jazz by Paul Guerrero and his group. A Sunday buffet brunch offers made-to-order omelettes, your choice of many ingredients. Service has also been a letdown – very friendly, but erratic. (One Energy Square, Greenville Ave at University/ 692-8224/ Lunch, daily except Sat 11-2; Dinner, Sun-Tliur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 11. Bar till 1:30 a.m. nightly/ Reservations/MC.BA.AE/$$$)

Bellmaster. One of the more enjoyable experiences in Dallas dining is lunch at the Bellmaster. A mood of comfortable elegance; food of consistently high quality. The same excellence of cuisine holds at night, though the prices are higher and the atmosphere, including live entertainment, becomes a bit slicker. Expertise is especially apparent in the sublime sauces which grace most of the entrees, such as the veal scallops in a rich cream sauce with whiskey. Other fine selections include the whole baby flounder, the Boudreaux shrimp appetizer (in another superb sauce), and a delicious, gumbo-truly Creole. For the big appetites, the gargantuan portions of frog legs or double lamb chops make a Tilling feast. Bar “by membership.” (Carillon Plaza, 13601 Preston Rd/661-9353/MonFri 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Sat 6:30 p.m.-midnight; bar till 2 a.m. Fri & Sat; Sun brunch 11:30 a.m.-3p.m./Reservations/MC, BA/$$$)

Blooms. The setting is a little old frame house, redecorated with plants and graphics and refurbished hardwood floors. The menu features three or four light continental entrees that change daily. The food is usually excellent, though entree portions are a bit small. The trimmings, notably the fresh vegetables, usually show more care than most restaurants are willing to give them. Especially delicious are the soups – vichyssoise with real cream or the smooth fresh mushroom. A major drawback: the restaurant has no waiting lounge and an ever-increasing clientele, so frequently you will be faced with people waiting to sit down who stare at you if you linger over coffee. It can make for rushed service and a noisy atmosphere during crowded hours. The bar serves call brands only, and the wine selection is very good. Now if they just took reservations…. (2917 Fairmount off Cedar Springs/ 745-9571/ Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2, Sun brunch 12-2; Dinner: Sun, Tue-Thur6-10:30; Fri&Sat till 121 No reservations/ MC.BA/$$)

Chateaubriand. For some reason, this restaurant has an image problem. Maybe it’s the European decadent-posh atmosphere that leads some diners to continue to characterize this restaurant as “overrated.” If you’ve heard that kind of talk, don’t believe it. Almost everything on this widely-varied international menu is likely to be rewarding – not sensational, but certainly satisfying. Servings are more than ample, and at moderate prices. The Greek selections are a pleasant surprise. A fine menu of medium-priced luncheon specials. Live entertainment nightly. (2515 McKinney/ 741-12231 Mon-Sat 11:30midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/$$)

The Chimney. The “new” Chimney-now a full-fledged continental restaurant – has maintained its reputation for excellence as a luncheon spot with fine light entrees and outstanding desserts. Less successful is the newer dinner menu, which offers traditional continental specialties. The “Seafood Imperial” is a wonderful appetizer of shrimp and crabmeat. Two intimate dining rooms in classic early American decor – hardwood floors, brass and pewter chandeliers. (Willowcreek, 9729 N Cen Expwy at Walnut Hill/369-6466/Tues-Sat 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 6-12 p.m./Reservations IMC, BA, AE, personal checks/$$$)

Enclave. A relatively new restaurant; thus the usual problem of inconsistencies. But careful selection from the very enticing menu can reward you with a varied and interesting meal from the realm of continental haute cuisine. Most of the hors d’oeuvres are quite good – try the mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat in a luscious cream sauce (or, for a splurge, treat yourself to the elegant beluga caviar). Onion is by far the best of the soups and all of the salads are deliciously dressed. The filet of lemon sole is nicely done, but the meat entrees are dominant items here. The veal cotellette en papillote is a seldom seen bone-in veal chop in brown. sauce – an excellent dish. The filet mignon is garnished with an artichoke bottom filled with an outstanding béarnaise sauce. Vegetables and desserts are weak spots. Wine selections in the moderate price range are lacking, but the rest of the selection is very good. Decor is “traditional fancy” – flocked walls, smoked mirrors, chandeliers. Service is very dependable. (8325 Walnut Hill/ 363-7847/ Lunch, Mon – Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner, Mon-Sat6-ll, bar till 121 Reservations/ MC, BA.AE.DC/ $$$)

Ewald’s. Interesting continental specialties, consistently well-prepared. Though noted for his fine veal dishes. Ewald also serves a pepper steak that may well be the best you’ll find in Dallas. A quiet and gracious atmosphere; very plain except for one unusual feature – an observation window through which you can watch the work in the immaculate kitchen. (5415 W Lovers Ln/ 3571022/ MonFri 6-10:30. Sat 6-111 MC, BA/ Reservations! $$$)

The Grape. One of Dallas’ most popular restaurants, a European-style cafe with a menu as crowded with various cheeses as the tiny one-room establishment is each evening with patrons. The cheese-wine format is supplemented with an array of fine homemade soups (mushroom is the specialty), and a selection of three light entrees (omelettes, quiche, etc.) which change daily. This place is almost without exception very busy, creating a nice, boisterous bistro atmosphere but often slow, and even lackadaisical, service. A most interesting selection of wines. (2808 Greenville Ave/823-0133/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30. Dinner: Tue-Sun, 6-10:30, open later on Fri & Sat for wine and cheese only/No resen>ations/No credit cards/ $$)

Ianni’s. Two menus and the first one – all appetizers – steals the show. An incredible array of Italian tidbits from baked oysters Mosca to roasted peppers – and they’re all good. Since you can’t eat them all, try for starters the broiled homemade Italian sausage (there’s no better in town) or the Spiedini (a miniature veal roll stuffed with crabmeat, cheeses, and herbs). But save room for the big menu. The pasta dishes are average, but the specialty dishes are impressive, the best being the veal scallopini Ianni with prosciutto and mushrooms in an Italian brown sauce and the chicken cacciatore with fresh mushrooms. The scampi are also good. (A side note: all the specialties come with spaghetti – we recommend the excellent butter sauce instead of the tomato sauce.) Top it all off with their standout dessert specialty, the Profiterole de Gelati Cioccolato, an eclair filled with Italian ice cream and topped with fudge sauce. The atmosphere, unfortunately, is noisy. (2230 Greenville/ 826-6161/ Daily 5:30-11:30/ Reservations/ MC, AE/$$)

II Sorrento. Classical Italian cuisine of very high quality, from the most ambitious Italian menu in town. You can hardly miss, but especially good are the dishes with homemade flat pasta, including the fettucine and the tagliatelle, both prepared at your table. The service is frequently as lavish as the Italian street scene decor, complete with strolling musicians. (8616 Turtle Creek/ 352-8759/ Daily 5:30-11, Sat till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)

Italian Pavilion. A “penthouse” restaurant atop the Le Baron Hotel. A subdued, almost informal, elegance creates a most pleasant setting. The Northern Italian cuisine is equally impressive, distinguished by homemade pasta cut and cooked to order. The veal dishes are among the best in town, most notably the unusual scal-lopini Gaetano with provolone and prosciutto or the Speciale di Polio e Vitello, a veal and chicken dish cooked in egg batter and served with a lemon cream sauce. The saltimbocca is also a worthy selection. Still a relatively new restaurant, the service is uneven at best – expect a long stay. Extensive Italian wine list. (Le Baron Hotel, 1055 Regal Row at Carpenter Frwy/ 634-8550/ Mon-Sat 6-11 p.m./ Reservations/All credit cards/ $$$)

Marcel’s. A real French feeling has made this a long-popular spot with Dallas diners. While some of the gourmet touches have diminished in recent months, there are a few features which make Marcel’s always worth a visit. Foremost is the beef Wellington – Marcel’s specialty and so beautifully prepared that it overshadows everything else on the menu. One of the best buys in the city is the complete table d’hote dinner for only $5.85, which includes all the hors d’oeuvres you can eat. And if you can’t find the dish you’re looking for on the menu, ask for it anyway; a menu note claims “we will prepare any classical French cuisine upon request”-and they will. Relaxed and quiet dining. (5721 W Lovers Ln/ 358-2103/ Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat till midnight. Closed Mon/ Reservations/ MC, BA,AE,DC/ $$)

Mario’s. Elegant and refined, to be sure, and, on a good night, capable of Italian specialties as interesting and rewarding as any of the best dishes in the city. But consistency in both food and service has faltered lately. Recommended: saltimbocca alla Romana, manicotti, fried zucchini. The veal with artichoke hearts and mushrooms is famous and deservedly so. And no matter what precedes it, the spumoni for dessert is always a delight. (135 Turtle Creek Village/ 521-1135/ Daily 6-10:45, Sat till 11:451 Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)

Mr. Peppe. As relaxed and comfortable a place as you’re ever likely to experience such fine French cuisine. Unfortunately the touch of informality leads to occasional shortcomings in service. But the food is almost always on a par with the best in town. The pepper steak is locally renowned, the rack of lamb is divine, but so is most everything else – including a Black Forest soup and a creamed spinach preparation that leave fond memories (though it should be mentioned that a few reports of substandard offerings from the kitchen have occurred lately – hopefully not a trend). The breads and pastries, chef Albert’s specialties, are almost too good to be true – the crowning touch to a superlative meal at a price that is right. (5617 W Lovers Ln/ 352-5976/ Mon-Sat 6-10/ Reservations/ MC.BA.AE/ $$$)

Old Warsaw. One of the most illustrious names in Dallas dining, Old Warsaw does not always live up to its glowing reputation. While it is a truly elegant restaurant and very European in its appeal (complete with handwritten menu), the food preparation has shown some inconsistency. A dazzling array of entrees, all French specialties, still ranks this with the best restaurants in the city, with two consistent standouts being the rack of lamb Provencale and the duck Bigarade. It’s with the trimmings that your meal may fall short of expectations. But for a lavish evening the Old World luxuriance still prevails. One of city’s finest wine lists. (2610 Maple/ 528-0032/ Daily 6-11. Sat till midnight/ Reservations/ MC, BA.AEI $$$)

Oporto Oyster Bar. Dallas’ best seafood restaurant (but still a long way from Boston). The things they do well they do very well; others can be a letdown – so be selective. Sure to please are the Boston schrod, broiled red snapper, whole baby flounder, and broiled Maine lobster. For bivalve lovers, the oysters on the half shell are succulent and delicious. Service varies widely; the atmosphere is casual and comfortable. The bartending is among the best in town, boasting some very impressive after-dinner drinks. (2929 N Henderson/826-2553/ Daily, 11 a.m. 11 p.m./MC, BA, AE/$$)

Oz. Unless some unforeseeable disaster occurs, this lavish monument to haute cuisine should become one of the finest restaurants in the region, or the country for that matter. A thorough continental menu as staggering as the futuristic, chrome-and-glass interior. The food and the atmosphere feel somewhat incongruous, but once you sink your teeth into the striped bass, the pheasant with grapes, the bouillabaisse, or any of the other exquisite entrees, you’ll forget the neon and mirrors. A fine selection of appetizers, including an unforgettable paté in puff pastry. The chef and staff read like a Who’s Who of fine dining. A wine list for both neophytes and connoisseurs. Go prepared to spend a lot of money. A private club, memberships are $25 per year or $5 for a temporary (3 day) membership. (5429 LBJ Freeway 1233-57551 Tue-Sun 6-11 p.m., temporarily / Reservations only / MC, BA,AE/ $$$)

Patry’s. A name that often arises whenever there’s a “best-restaurant-in-town” discussion. In terms of cuisine, the French specialities here certainly rank it as a worthy contender. The real jewels of the menu are the exquisite hors d’oeuvres, highlighted by the stuffed leeks in cream sauce and the paté Rilletes. The fact that this is a family-run operation adds a nice personal touch to the service and is one of the reasons Patry’s has established such a loyal clientele. The only real shortcoming here is the loud and bright dining room – a little toning down would greatly enhance the mood in this otherwise excellent restaurant. (2504 McKinney / 748-3754/ Tue-Fri 611, Sat till 11:30/ Reservations/ MC, BA, AE, DC / $$$)

Peking Palace. The Mandarin and Szechuan specialties rank with the best in town, and they have perhaps the most extensive variety of any Chinese menu in the city. Try the fried dumplings for openers. The spiced shredded beef and the Nanking and Seshun pork dishes are all excellent. The chefs special shrimp, not listed on the menu but available on request, is delicious, but very spicy. More expensive than most Oriental cuisine and definitely better at dinner than lunch. (4119 homo Alto/ 522-1830/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5-11, Sat & Sun till midnight. Sun 12-10/ Reservations on weekends/ MC, BA, AE/ $$)

Pietro’s. From the family-operated kitchen, Pietro and his Sicilian relatives turn out some great southern Italian home-style cooking. The specialty pasta dishes are the highlights here: the manicotti and cannelloni take top honors but the fettucine alla Romana and the lasagne with meat sauce are also excellent. If you must have spaghetti, the marinara is as good as any in town. So is the pizza. And the garlic bread, freshly baked on the premises, is superb. All very reasonably priced, right down to the giant frosted schooners of beer for 75¢. Or if you’d rather stay in the spirit of things, try the Segesta, a Sicilian wine. Often crowded so we suggest you visit on a weekday. (5722 Richmond, off Greenville/ 824-9403/ Tue-Thur 5-10:30, Fri & Sat till 11:30/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $$)

Piya’s India House. Indian and southern Asian specialties, all touched with great authenticity – as one might expect from the two chefs direct from India. At last Dallas has a place to enjoy fine curry dishes and, even more rewarding, some unusual specialties. The standout is the chicken Tandoori, a marinated delight and one of the most attractive dishes you’re ever likely to see – said to be the royal dish of India. For a first visit, the Shahi house dinner offers a bountiful and varied sampling of Indian cuisine ($17.95 for two). If you order a la carte (the prices are amazingly low) be sure to try some of the hors d’oeuvres (all excellent) and the wonderful condiments – especially the achar, either mango or lime. As might be expected in this shopping center location, the decor is contrived motif, but not at all offensive. The staff is most helpful in guiding you through the extensive menu. The lunch specials – at $1.85 – are a bargain. (5422 E. Mockingbird / 823-1000 / Lunch: daily 11:30-2:00, Dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat till 11/Reservations/MC, BA, AE/$$)

Ports of Spain. The first serious attempt to bring real Spanish cuisine to Dallas is a nearly successful one. Paella, of course, heads the menu, and it’s the real thing – loaded with lobster, shrimp, clam, chorizo, chicken, ham, and other goodies. Other specialties include two chicken dishes and a couple of selections displaying an enticing assortment of seafoods; all are expertly prepared, seasoned, and garnished in authentic Spanish style, but all are notably lacking in Iberian flair and exoticism. And they’re expensive. Service has been a bit confused thus far, but the effort to please is apparent. Lunch is a strange holdover from the delicatessen which previously inhabited this location (same owner) and offers both Kosher and Spanish foods (try a delicious “tortilla” – the traditional Spanish omelette). The dining room is elegant, the bar (“membership”) has live entertainment. (Carillon Plaza, 13601 Preston Rd/661-5596/ Daily 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 6 p.m.-midnight/Reservations/ MC,BA,DC/$$$)

Pyramid Room. All in all, this is currently the finest restaurant in Dallas. And the most expensive. Truly gourmet. Recommendations are superfluous, but the Grand Marnier soufflé is masterful. Usually a paragon of service in an atmosphere of affluence. The luncheon buffet has been replaced by a limited menu of lighter, smaller-portioned entrees in the $5-$8 range-all excellent. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & AkardI 748-5454/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2, Dinner: Daily 6-midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)

Raphael’s. A new arrival on the scene, this place can hardly miss. It’s got everything going for it: excellent Mexican cuisine, a lovely setting, and a friendly and diligent staff. The location is the original home of Arthur’s on McKin-ney. a cozy place of old steakhouse-style wood beam interior with a touch of Mexico in the flowers and paintings. The standard Mexican fare (enchiladas, etc.) is far above average, including sensational chicken/sour cream enchiladas, crispy, light, puff-style tacos and guacamole that is unmatched anywhere in town. But the specialties are the thing here-delicious chile rellenos and a wonderful shrimp enchilada preparation. Also chicken mole, flautas, alambres (Mexican kabob), and more. Prices are on the high side (though not unreasonable), but the luncheon specials are much less expensive. Full bar, Mexican beers. Alma-den wines only. (3701 McKinney/521-9640/ Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m. 11 p.m./ Reservations/ MC.BA.AE/ $$)

Royal Tokyo. It is fortunate that with so few restaurants in Dallas serving Japanese cuisine. Royal Tokyo does it so well. Don’t be misled by the exterior motif fagade that characterizes the rash of new restaurants in this area, often offering more on the outside than on the inside. There is authenticity on the inside here in the form of excellent Japanese specialties. Recommended: Ton Katsu (batter fried pork strips), Kobe beef, shrimp tempura, shabu-shabu, and prime rib teriyaki. Delightful green tea, saki (served warm), plus Japanese beer and whiskey. A quiet, subdued atmosphere. Service varies – at times slow, but always gracious. (7525 Greenville Ave/368-3304/ Daily, 11-2, 5:30-11:30/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)

South China. On a good night, this modest restaurant serves some of the best Mandarin cuisine from one of the more exotic menus in town. Fine “package” dinners for two, four or six persons. For the more adventurous, a wide selection of a la carte dishes: the best Moo Shi pork in town, any of the items with black bean sauce, and all of the chicken dishes. For lighter eating, the soups and appetizers are also superb, especially the bean curd and pork soup, the sizzling rice soup, shrimp toast and very unusual steamed dumplings. The seafood entrees don’t measure up to the others on the menu. Cordial service. (5424 E Mockingbird/8265420/ Lunch: Tue-Sun 11:30-2:30, Dinner: Tue-Thur511, Fri & Sat till 12, Sun till 11/ Reservations/MC, BA, AE/ $$)

Trader Vic’s. There are many Trader Vic’s around the country – some are good, some are not-so-good. This one has been dependably good for a long time. A voluminous menu of Polynesian and other generally Oriental delights. Excellent hors d’oeuvres (the “Cosmo Tidbit” platter will give you a good sampling or try the fried chicken livers) and the limestone lettuce salad is a must. The best entree choices are the pressed almond duck, the lobster Cantonese, or the Indonesian lamb roast. Exotic dessert drinks are their specialty. (Hilton Inn, 5600 N Cen Expwy /827-3620/ Daily,5-121 Reservations / All credit cards/ $$)

Trattoria De Meo. The little handwritten menu of five entrees (changing periodically) characterizes this small, unassuming Italian restaurant. A nice mood of refinement without lavish-ness is beginning to attract a loyal clientele to this still young establishment. The pasta dishes (cannelloni, manicotti, lasagna), while not extraordinary, are light, uncomplicated, and nicely prepared. The best current offerings are the two fine specialty dishes: a tenderloin with scallions and the chefs special sauce and the chicken with lemon butter sauce. A cordial and diligent staff (again no unnecessary frills) add to the refreshing simplicity of the place. Very limited wine list and, as of now, no mixed drinks. (5601 W Lovers Ln/3500238/ Mon-Sat, 6-10/Reservations/ MC, CB/ $$)

Zodiac Room. Luncheon delicacies as wonderful to look at as they are to eat. The stunning buffet table is highlighted by the salads (try the fresh fruit with their famous poppy seed dressing) and the desserts (try any of them – you can’t miss). Always crowded, so plan for a leisurely lunch. A dinner buffet is served every Thursday. Luscious Danish pastries are served in the morning between 9:30 & 10:30. Wine and beer. (Neiman-Marcus, downtown/741-69111 Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Thur dinner, 5-7 p.m./ Reservations/Neiman-Marcus charge card only, checks accepted/ $$)

Something different…

These restaurants represent the best of Dallas’ offbeat, funky, or somehow out-of-the-ordinary dining spots. They are generally characterized by specialized cuisine, distinctive decor, or unusual special features (and often by bargain prices).

Brasserie. A coffee shop extraordinaire, the best spot in Dallas for late night indulgence. They’re open 24 hours a day with four different menus each taking a shift. The 11 p.m.-7 a.m. menu is the eye-catcher, with such unusual predawn delicacies as smoked salmon and eggs, along with a full selection of sandwiches, salads, and hamburgers. For a sweet snack, the famous Fairmont pastries and desserts are unbeatable. The dinner menu spotlights a particular foreign cuisine and changes periodically; breakfast is served at all hours. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/748-5454/24 hours, 7 days a week/MC, BA, AE, DC/$$)

Calluaud Traiteur. Everything at this small (and consequently jammed) cafe is superb, and no wonder: the chef, Guy Caltuaud, is a former Pyramid Room chef. If you can wait out the lines at lunch, treat yourself to one of their individual quiches, a salad (the cucumber salad is particularly fine), and one of the luscious little fruit tarts. Or have the luncheon special-large portions at low prices. Or the paté, or the rata-touille, or . . . well, anything. They also do takeout orders and catering for parties. The house wines are rather ordinary. Dinner is served Thursday evenings only. (Quadrangle, 2800 Routh/748-7459/Mon-Sat 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Thur till 8:30/No reservations/No credit cards/ $)

Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant. Don’t expect to find rare Egyptian delicacies (whatever those might be) – the only thing Egyptian about the place is the curious name. What you will find is some of the best pizza in Dallas and crowds of people who know it. Always a packed house on weekends and very popular for late night, after-the-movies snacks-try the basket of crab claws. The rest of the Italian menu is average fare. (5610 E. Mockingbird/827-0355/ Mon-Fri. 11 a.m.-midnight, Sat till 1 a.m., Sun noon-midnight / No credit cards. Checks accepted/ Reservations for 6 or more/ $)

Celebration. Good ol’ homestyle cooking. Choose from the five entrees (very ordinary, nothing fancy; the pot roast is the best). With it they’ll serve you bowlfuls of vegetables and salad-help yourself, family style, and eat to your heart’s content for $4.50 or less. Great little homemade biscuits and wonderful fruit cobblers (dessert costs extra). A young staff and a loyal clientele-you may find yourself waiting on the front porch on weekends. Very casual. No bar – bring your own wine. (4503 W. Lovers Lane/351-5681/Mon-Sat 5:30-11, Sun till 10:30

Chiquita. An alternative to the Mexican “cafe circuit,” Chiquita might be described as “Mexican haute.” It has maintained a loyal clientele with a menu of unusual dishes. Order from the right side of the menu and learn a delicious lesson about real Mexican food – such as the pescado bianco marinero (rolled whitefish with a spinach stuffing and a shrimp and oyster sauce) or carnitas tampiquenas (broiled pork strips). The Tex-Mex preparations here are no better than average. Simple, comfortable, low-key atmosphere. (3325 Oak Lawn/521-0721/ Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m. 11 p.m./No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $)

La Creperie. A delightful courtyard patio, made very French by the traditional Cinzano table umbrellas and heavily-accented waiters, contributes to the lunchtime popularity here. The popularity contributes to the slow service-but on a nice day you won’t mind. You can while away some of the wait by reading through the lengthy list of some 50 varieties of crepes stuffed with most everything imaginable. Omelettes and dessert crepes are also served. (Quadrangle: 2800 Routh/ 651-0506/ Mon-Wed 11 a.m. -10:30 p.m. / Reservations recommended/ MC, BA, DC / $$)

La Esquina. A real change of pace for the Mexican food fan – New Mexico style. From recipes originating in Albuquerque come such “oddities” as enchiladas that are stacked rather than rolled, using beef or pork chunks rather than ground beef. Excellent sauces – choose between the smooth rich red sauce or the extra spicy green sauce. Sopapillas are a specialty, either stuffed for an entree or as plain pastry for dessert. The setting is a spacious old house; the atmosphere is casual. The New Mexico style prices are on the high side, with everything a la carte. (2815 McKinney /826-2950/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-1:30, Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-9:30, Fri & Sat till 10/Reservations not needed/ No credit cards. Checks accepted/ $$)

Gallery Buffet. An extra added attraction for visitors to the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. For a mere $2.50, relax with a delicious light lunch from the expertly catered buffet table. The summer spread features sandwiches and salads, homemade bread loaves, and desserts. Wine extra. (DMFA, Fair Park,’421-4187’/Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m.l:30 p.m./No reservations /No credit cards/ $)

Goldfinger. While Dallas still waits for a truly fine Greek restaurant, Goldfinger fills the void with more success than others. Much of the success is due to the festive nightclub atmosphere featuring live musical entertainment – usually of very high quality – and belly dancing. The very standard menu ranges from a mediocre stifado to a fairly tasty moussaka (though it suffers from the common local affliction of beef in place of lamb). The house specialty – a combination of souvlaki and large shrimp – is your best bet, and the dolmas are the best around. Very crowded on weekends. (2905 Cri-delle /350-6983/Daily 11:30-2, 6-11; Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations on weekends/ MC, BA,AE/$$)

Health Nut. Be good to your system and to your taste buds at Dallas’ most appealing health food restaurant. Most all preparations are full of flavor and should correct any misconceptions you might have of “health foods” as bland. The fresh fruit salads are a summer treat, as are the smoothies. Their wheatberry bread is wonderful – try it as a homemade cream cheese or avocado sandwich. Servings are less than bountiful, so don’t visit if ravenous. Casual and comfortable and, naturally, no smoking. (4220 Oak Lawn/526-4050/Daily 11-91 No reservations/No credit cards/$)

Hungry Hunter. The only game in town. While other restaurants occasionally offer “wild game,” Hungry Hunter is the only place where you can always satisfy your craving for buffalo, mouflon, or wild boar. Though the preparations are not of superior quality, it’s more the fun of the exotic that provides the attraction. Of less fun but higher quality are the excellent brace of quail and Long Island duck. Attentive service in an atmosphere of hunting lodge chic. (Keystone Park, 13931N. Cen. Expuiyl690-8090/ Lunch: 11:30-3 except Sat, Dinner: 611, Fri & Sat till midnight/Bar open till 2 a.m./MC, BA,AE/$$$)

Jamil’s Steak House. Lebanese hors d’oeuvres with all dinners are the added attraction here, good and filling. Included, among other tidbits, are a Tabouli salad, cabbage rolls, and a basket of barbecue ribs and bologna. Steaks are goodoig cuts at bargain prices (such as an almost unheard of 24 oz. T-bone, $7.95) (2901 W. Northwest Hwy/ 352-907/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2, Dinner: daily 5-midnight/ Reservations/All credit cards /$$)

Khalil’s Beirut. The Lebanese cuisine is generally good at what is certainly one of very few places in Dallas to serve creditable Middle Eastern food. Recommended are the lamb kabob and the kibbee tartar (though the waiter may try to scare you away from it – it’s raw lamb). Unfortunately the place has shown inconsistencies, especially in service, and the evening offerings are far better than those at lunch. But when everything is right, it’s a nice place for a change of pace. (31 Highland Park Village/ 526-5600/Mon-Sat 11-10/ Reservations for 6 or more /MC / $$)

Kirby’s. Dallas’ original steakhouse and still one of the most dependable restaurants in town. No frills, no overbearing motif – a refreshing absence of steakhouse gimmickry. Excellent steaks – the filet and rib eye are particularly good values. Mr. Kirby is still in charge and his staff is efficient, as always. (3715 Greenville / 823-7296/ Tue-Sun 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$)

Kuby’s Sausage House. The sausages are a house product of this deli-restaurant and they’re excellent – served with either hot potato salad or sauerkraut, and the choice between the two is a maddening one. Sandwiches – try their pastrami – are thick and delicious, and the soup of the day is a meal in itself. Such heftig German food needs beer, but alas, Kuby’s is in a dry area. Excellent pastries make this a nice place for a coffee break, but make it a mid-morning one: the noon crowds decimate the desserts. (6601 Snider Plaza/ 363-2231/ Mon-Sat 11-2:30, sandwiches till 5:30/ MC/ $)

Magic Pan. It’s a difficult choice when faced with the impressive selection of crepes – some ordinary, some unusual, and all delicious. Be sure to save room for the outstanding dessert crepes. A very popular place: if you want to avoid the shopping crowds, visit for a Sunday brunch. Note: there is a $1.50 per person minimum, so don’t stop in for a cup of coffee. (NorthPark – New Mall/692-7574/Sun-Thurs 11-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1/No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/$$)

Maison Orleans. The fare is French and Creole, the flair is New Orleans. The French specialties are adequate, but it’s the Cajun touch that shines here. Great gumbo, red beans and rice, shrimp “Maison” (barbecue style) and crawfish. Sunday special: all the shrimp and crawfish you can eat for $4.75. A bright and cheerful dining room with overhead fans and white latticework. For summer snacks and cocktails, there’s an outdoor garden patio. (7236 Greenville Ave/363-2992/MonFril 1:30-11,Fri till 2, Sat 5:30-2, Sun 4-10:301Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/$$)

Sonny Bryan’s. The best barbecue in town? It may well be, but it’s a close race. The other two contenders are Smitty’s on McKinney and Salih’s in Preston Center. All have similar menus and luscious barbecue in generous portions. Sonny Bryan’s has the most authentic “smokehouse” atmosphere and great onion rings. Smitty’s has the most comfortable dining room, but it’s open only for lunch. Salih’s has the best prices, but no beer. So the deciding factor may be which one is closest to you. (Sonny Bryan’s, 2202 Inwood/357-7120/Mon-Sat 6 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 11-2/Smitty’s, 2720 McKinney /823-0369/ Mon-Fri 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m., closed weekends /Salih’s, 8309 Westchesterl 361-1684/Mon-Sat 11-7:45/ No credit cards/$)

Southern Kitchen. Feast in the style and tradition of the Old South. And a feast it is – the “Deluxe” dinner is an assortment of fried chicken, smoked chicken, fried shrimp, fried trout, and deviled crab, plus shrimp cocktail, crab-meat appetizers, and many other trimmings, all for $7.95. Additional servings of everything at no extra cost. None of the preparations (except for the luscious homemade cinnamon rolls) could be called extraordinary, but the magnitude of the meal is impressive enough.

The two locations, East and West, have iden-tical menus, but the West has a more handsomely appointed plantation-style atmosphere, including waiters and waitresses in period costume. (West, 2356 W. Northwest Hwy, 352-5220 /East, 6615 E. Northwest Hwy, 368-1658/ Mon-Sat 5:30-10:30 p.m., Sun 5-10 p.m./Reservations for 5 or more/All credit cards/$$)

El Taxco. There may not be a better dining value in all of Dallas – dependable Tex-Mex food at amazingly low prices. Their style is subtle and not so highly seasoned as most, making it an especially good spot for wary and hesitant newcomers to Mexican cuisine. The chicken enchiladas are particularly noteworthy – an unusual and tasty chicken filling with peas and tomatoes. Refried beans in authentic Mexican style – a rarity. Friendly, casual, and comfortable. Beer only. (2126 N. St. Paul/ 742-0747/ Wed-Sun 10:30-9, Mon. 10:30-8, closed Tue/No reservations/ MC/ $)

T.G.I. Friday’s. A lively and popular restaurant/bar (or bar/restaurant, depending upon what you’re there for). A menu of steaks, burgers, shrimp, chicken – nothing extravagant, but all in very hefty portions at reasonable prices; in fact, one of the better steak values in town. The chef salad is simply gigantic. Special features include a half-price drink celebration beginning at midnight on Thursday nights and a champagne brunch ($1.95, all you can drink) on Sundays. Casual atmosphere of striped tablecloth/ tiffany lamp motif. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/363-5353 /Daily 11 a.m.-2a.m./MC,BA,AE/$$)

Upper Crust. A bustling lunch spot in the Olla Podrida.The blackboard menu (changing daily) boasts old-fashioned homestyle specialties like chicken & dumplings and red beans & rice. They do wonderful things with buttermilk, both in their special salad dressing and in the buttermilk pie. Also sandwiches and homemade soups. A courtyard/patio feeling. Dinner served Thursday evenings only. No bar. (Olla Podrida, 12215 Coit Rd/661-5738/Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-3, Dinner: Thur only, 5:30-8:30/ No reservations/ No credit cards/$)


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