Eat, Drink, and Be Sorry
This is the true story of one man’s foolishness.
There is in Dallas each October a very strange cultural event that is not the State Fair. It is called A Taste of Dallas, and it’s appropriate that it follows on the heels of the Fair because it is, in its own way, a kind of upper middle class carnival. Amidst the royal redness of the Regency Ballroom in the Fairmont Hotel, some 45 Dallas restaurants, bakeries, dairies, and wine distributors spread their wares for sampling by the general public, who spend $15 apiece for the privilege.
Having attended last year with mild disappointment (this is not a gourmet affair – for every Brennan’s Bananas Foster there are two El Chico’s burri-tos), I could see little reason to visit again. Until one of those insidious ideas wormed its way into my feeble brain: “I wonder if anyone has ever sampled everything at A Taste of Dallas?” No. Impossible. Don’t be a fool.
I’m a fool. At 6:30 p.m. October 28th, I marched through the ballroom doors armed with the courage of a double scotch and with the inspiration of my loving companion and trainer: “You’ll never make it,” she said. “You’re a fool.”
The ground rules were simple: all of everything; and, for the sake of journalism, to make note of the best items for future restaurant reference. I knew I had to start fast through the Appetizer area. A quick plate of sausage and cheese from the Swift & Co. table, an easy guacamole on tostada from El Fe-nix, a very nice shrimp dip from S&D Oyster Company (give them a star), and a generous shrimp cocktail from Southern Kitchen. I was off and running. Houlihan’s offered mushroom escargot and, for a rinse, a strawberry margarita. No problem. On to the Entrees.
A bit of chicken amandine from the S&S Tearoom, a cube of pastisto from Goldfinger’s, and a plateful of Swedish meatballs, smoked herring, and oysters from Little Bit of Sweden. Stopping over a plastic cup of Johannisberg Riesling, I plotted some strategy: that last binge of random tastes had been troublesome; I wouldn’t last through many such clashes. I would have to group my samplings carefully. My trainer concurred. The Crab Imperial from Highland Park Cafeteria (give them a star) paved the way nicely for the Seafood Polynesia from J’s Cafeteria. El Chico’s flauta and burrito led naturally to Annie’s Santa Fe’s Mexican pizza and strawberry margarita. This pizza would have been sure star material had the crust not gone limp, making it impossible to eat without a fork. I had no fork and looked around at others to see how they were managing. This was a mistake. I was witness to a sideshow of contorted individual efforts and grotesque partnerships struggling to down the wilted wedges. My stomach dropped a notch. I finally rolled my pizza into a sloppy ball and crudely stuffed it in, washing it down with the strawberry margarita. “Disgusting,” mumbled my trainer, who led me to a cup of Cabernet Sauvig-non for a moment’s relief.
I was feeling grateful for the rest when a middle-aged fullback in a brown dress blasted into my shoulder from behind, scattering my Cabernet to the winds. This did not help my state of mind. I was already fading and I knew it. When my trainer suggested barbecue, I flinched. “Come on,” she said, grinning. She was beginning to enjoy it. Barbecue beef from Randy’s Ranch House, “mini-drumsticks” and “sausage circles” from Mitchell’s Barbecue (give them a star for melt-in-the-mouth sausage), and more beef from The Drover Smokehouse. I was not feeling healthy when, by accident, I found myself at the Mrs. Baird’s table with a Vienna Roll. Plain old bread and butter. I munched reverently. It was cleansing. I gave silent thanks to Mrs. Baird.
Somewhat revived, I attacked Shakey’s pizza. Unlike most of the other samplings, which had been lukewarm at best, this pizza was hot out of the oven. My mouth was brutally burned. I thought injury just and sufficient cause for quitting, but my trainer would have no part of it. She led me mercilessly to the crab quiche at Our House, to the Chicken Karage at Royal Tokyo (give it a star, said my trainer; I was beyond stars), and to the chicken Francese and veal scaloppini picatta at the Italian Pavilion. I was reeling, but through the blur caught sight of the Dr Pepper table. Dr Pepper, my lifeblood, sweet sweet relief.
“Over here,” said my trainer, guiding me to Chili’s table. A girl handed me a cup of chili and the guy next to her grinned malevolently and said, “How ’bout a shot of tequila?”
“No. No.” I was horrified.
“You have to,” said my trainer.
There was that once-familiar flash of liquid flame and then I stood, my in-sides struggling wildly for control, my self-respect in grave danger. I held on. “Time for Desserts,” said the wicked trainer.
In a moment of kindness, she led me to the Cabell’s table where a scoop of vanilla ice cream (give them a star) cooled the fires and then to Foremost for a nourishing taste of yogurt. But then there was the Harvey Wallbanger Cake from Chef Francisco and Bananas Foster from Brennan’s, which I swallowed in subconscious stupor. A woman at the Schepps Dairy table thrust a cup into my hand. “Have an aggravation drink.” The Kahlua and milk went down to do battle with the rest and I was wretched. But the thought arose, “That’s all. I’ve done it.”
My trainer was consulting the list. “Well,” she smirked, “all you have left to go is the Clam Chowder at Bobby McGee’s, the Shrimp Newburg and hush puppies at the Windjammer, the Baklava at the Torch, and the Veal Par-migiana at the Old Spaghetti Warehouse.”
“But you’re so close.”
“Take me home.”
“What a fool.”
– David Bauer
A la Carte
If you’ve ever driven along Oak Lawn near the Lemmon intersection, you’ve probably noticed an intriguing little De-coesque building with a glass-brick en-tryway and a small beacon tower topped with a neon ball: Moon Restaurant. If you pass that way often, you’ve probably wondered if it was really open (it always looks so quiet and carless) and told yourself that one of these days you would stop in and find out. We did. You should.
On the inside, Moon’s is red and gold. All Chinese restaurants are red and gold. Except for the sparkly ceiling, there is little to distinguish Moon’s from the many others. Scrutinizing the mysteries of the menu, we came upon a new name with no descriptive explanation. The waitress, a young Oriental girl, came to the table. Braced for the usual communication problems, we pointed to the item and, in voice overly loud and articulate, asked what it was. “That’s a shramp dish,” she drawled.
If there can be such a thing as a down-home Chinese restaurant, Moon’s is it. It is the quintessential neighborhood Chinese restaurant, staffed in the Oriental family tradition: “Dad” takes care of the kitchen, daughters wait the tables, grandchildren play on the floor in a curtained-off section of the dining room. The menu is strictly Cantonese (holding out against the current wave of Mandarin and Szechuan kitchens); the food is attractive but not dramatic, flavorful but not exotic, solid but not stunning. Chef Moon Chow and his family have been serving here for three years and they don’t disappoint their many regulars. Even the fortune cookies are satisfying: “You will be traveling and coming into a fortune.” Who could ask for more? (3604 Oak Lawn/526-9601/Tue-Fri 11:30-3, 5-10 p.m., Fri till 11 p.m., Sat 1-11 p.m., Sun 5-10 p.m.)
Marvin’s Garden. The menu boasts of “gourmet home cooking,” which in itself seems to be a self-defeating contradiction in terms, setting the tone for a restaurant that doesn’t seem to yet know what it is. In the first place, it doesn’t look like a restaurant – it’s set smack in the middle of the center mall of The Market at Old Vickery Square, surrounded by shops on the ground floor and by the patio balconies of the apartments on the two floors above. Under the plants and the big skylight a somewhat pleasant garden-terrace-greenhouse effect takes place, but it’s odd, to say the least, to look up from lunch and spot a man in his bathrobe sitting on his patio reading the morning paper. The menu changes weekly, which is fortunate, because our visits found an incongruous collection ranging from Spinach a la Florentine to barbecue and red beans (at lunch) and from Coq au Vin to chicken fried steak (at dinner). And the daily special on one lunch visit was “diced lamb and mushroom omelette with Creole sauce” – we had to try it to believe it and it was . . . well, unique. There are some signs of quality: nice home baked breads, a good spinach salad with a delightful creamy Italian house dressing, and good fresh vegetables. But the entrees are a be -wilderment.The staff diligently solicits comments and appears geared for change, so perhaps they’ll eventually find their style. But there’s not much they can do about the guy in the bathrobe. (The Market, 7001 Fair Oaks at
Park Lane/692-5624/Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m. /Reservations/MC,AE/$$)
S & D Oyster Company. Landlocked as we are, there has always been a great longing in this city for more and better seafood specialty restaurants. But there have been few responses to the need, making the S & D Oyster Company a most appreciated effort. The menu is limited and there is nothing in the realm of the extraordinary here, but what they do they do well and the overall result makes this a place to go back to. The building itself is a noteworthy achievement: built as a grocery and livery stable in the late 1800’s, it has been restored with restraint and good taste to create a mild New Orleans sidestreet effect – brick walls, ceiling fans, bentwood chairs, and Dixieland clarinet trilling softly from the stereo. Oysters are the featured attraction here, either on the half shell ($3 for a dozen) or fried – plump, tender, and definitely fresh. Also fried shrimp or boiled shrimp with a nice garlic-cream cheese dip and, of course, gumbo (not over-fishy, but not spicy either – pleasant but a bit bland). Otherwise there’s not much to choose from beyond broiled flounder or snapper – both nicely cooked but without much distinctive flavor. The stand-up bar is an inspired touch for this kind of place, but unfortunately no cocktails – beer and wine only. (2701 McKinney near Routh/ 823-6350/ Mon-Thur 11 a.m.- 10 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11, closed Sun/ No reservations/ MC/ $$)
Shenanigans. Whenever a new restaurant opens downtown, you hope for good things – downtown Dallas needs it. Alas, alas. There is nothing seriously wrong with the place itself – except that it’s difficult to find , stuck at one end of the strange and sterile underground “Concourse.” Once inside it’s pleasant enough. But there is really no excuse for this kind of ineptitude in a kitchen when the menu promises (and charges) so much more: stale rolls, an inedible broiled scrod, soured vichyssoise, and veal that wasn’t veal with side dishes of minute rice and dill pickles. Further particulars aren’t necessary – our visits found not one redeeming dish. Shenanigans could easily be a successful downtown lunch spot, but some drastic changes are in order first. (First International Building, Elm at Field, Concourse level/ 651-1212/ Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m./ Reservations for dinner only/ MC,BA,AE, DC/ lunch $$, dinner $$$)
What-To-Do With Hot-To-Go
My earliest recollection of the pre-fabwich was at my local East Grand Drive-In Grocery where they carried an assortment of sandwiches called, as I remember, Miss Mandy’s Little Lunch. We had such choices as Miss Mandy’s polyurethane pimento, Miss Mandy’s Botuburger, or, a rare delight, Miss Mandy’s Spam Tartare. This was back in the days when they kept these sandwiches in a glass case with a light bulb for a heater – a combination that produced bacteria as big as parakeets.
But that kind of threat is a thing of the past with today’s Micro Magic and sealed refrigerated packages with the tell-tale freshness date stamped for all to see. Each convenience store – 7-Eleven, Mr. M and Schepps – carries its own brand of ready-made products. 7-Eleven has its highly advertised Hot-To-Go. Mr. M, the Metzger’s stores, offers Herby’s Sandwiches. The Schepps stores carry the Landshire products.
The best TBC (to be cooked) items are at 7-Eleven: the Ham & Cheese on “French Bread” is the safest bet and the Biggun’ is an edible burger. It is important to remember that all of the TBC sandwiches are in grave need of seasoning and condiments – mustard, salt, anything. A great secret is to take the sandwich out of the cellophane package and place it in the Micro on top of the wrapping so the moisture from the refrigeration won’t make the bread soggy. You might want to add salt and pepper before you hit the button.
I can’t conclude without a parting statement of firm warning against the sausage and biscuits by any of the three purveyors – the ingredients smack strongly of the same material used in fiberglass compound. As a dining experience, the result is much like eating a cafeteria tray.
– George Toomer
Daniel Dreyfus is a pastry chef- and he’s secure in his job. “There are three people in this world who will never be out of work,” he says. “Baby doctors, funeral directors, and chefs.” All philosophy aside, Daniel indeed has no employment worries-his 13-year old Black Forest Bakery has become a Dallas fixture.
During only three weeks out of the year – those surrounding Christmas – Daniel and the Black Forest offer his very special Stollen, a German version of the traditional holiday fruit cake.
Daniel’s own recipe has been crafted and modified over many years, but even so he doesn’t consider it an absolute and ultimate form. “The beauty of Stollen is that this recipe can easily be changed according to the cook’s own special preferences. For example, you might wish to add glazed cherries. You might prefer to substitute dates in place of white raisins. You might want to use pecans instead of hazelnuts or orange peel instead of lemon. As long as the relative weight scale is maintained, the recipe is very adaptable.”
1 1/8 Ib. plain flour
1/2 oz. baking powder
7 oz. sugar
1/2 oz. vanillin sugar
pinch of salt
4 drops baking essence-butter-almond flavor
4 drops baking essence-lemon flavor
10 drops baking essence-rum flavor
large pinch ground cardamom
large pinch ground mace
5 oz. butter or margarine
9 oz. cottage cheese (well pressed out)
4 1/2 oz. currants (washed and well drained)
6 oz. sultanas (white raisins)(washed and well drained)
6 oz. almonds or hazelnuts (ground or finely chopped)
2 oz. candied lemon peel (diced)
2 oz. butter or margarine (melted for brushing)
2 heaping T. powdered sugar (for dusting)
Mix and sieve together the flour and baking powder onto a pastry board or cool slab. Form a well in the center and pour in the sugar, vanillin sugar, the flavorings and spices, and the eggs.
Draw in some flour from the sides of the well to mix with these to form a thickish paste. Add the cold butter or margarine, the cottage cheese, the currants and sultanas, the nuts and candied peel. Cover the fruit with more of the flour and, starting from the middle, work all these ingredients quickly with the hands into a firm smooth paste. If it should stick, add a little more flour.
Form the mixture into a longish oval shape, then fold it over lengthwise to give the traditional “Stollen” shape. Line a baking sheet with greased greaseproof paper and lay the Stollen on it. Preheat the oven for five minutes at very hot and then bake for 50-60 minutes at moderately hot. As soon as the Stollen is removed from the oven, brush over it with the melted butter, let this cool, and then dust with the powdered sugar.
Creme de la Creme: A Cordial Invitation
To observers of the taste trends in American consumption, the ever-in-creasing popularity of cordials (synonymous with “liqueurs”) in the United States is a cultural contradiction of sorts. For the past several years, the general imbibing trend has run distinctly toward drier, lighter beverages. It’s the nature of cordials to be sweet (and obviously anything with the word “creme” on the label is not going to be light). Yet the figures tell us that 10 million cases of cordials were sold in the U.S. in 1975 as compared to 3.2 million cases in 1960.
There must be reasons, if only conjecture. One, perhaps, is the American fad-and-fashion consciousness, particularly in the youth market. Witness, for instance, the dramatic rise and fall of the “Harvey Wallbanger” – Harvey sold a lot of Galliano during his heyday. Another more elemental explanation is the inborn American sweet tooth. Remembering from childhood that good was sweet, many have found themselves easily attracted to the grand variety of tantalizing and often exotic tastes of cordials. Smart restaurateurs have discovered that people who pass up dessert will order cordials if they’re recommended.
However, the concentrated sweetness of most cordials doesn’t please everyone. Some time ago, an unknown but dedicated sipper hit upon the idea of mixing the cordial Benedictine with brandy to cut the sugar. The result is recognized and accepted by gourmets everywhere and instantly known to any bartender by the celebrated initials “B and B” – a relatively dry cordial concoction. A new realm of cordials was born.
The holidays are, quite naturally, a peak season for cordials – not only is there more eating, more drinking, and more partying, but cordials also make great gifts. Give a friend a bottle of bourbon or scotch and it will last only through the next cocktail party. Clink. Gulp. There goes your generous Glenli-vet. But a gift of a bottle of Chartreuse will last for months – maybe even till next Christmas. The shelf life of an opened bottle of a superior cordial is almost unlimited. I have tasted Creme de Cacao-Chouoa from a bottle forgotten on the cellar rack of an old Highland Park mansion and discovered 45 years later. The quality had actually improved: some of the alcohol had evaporated, leaving the cordial thicker and richer and the flavor more concentrated.
Whether giving or serving cordials, you may find a basic primer of some help in distinguishing among the myriad of brands and flavors. Cordials carry a bit of natural mystique because the exact methods and ingredients used in their manufacture are usually a trade or family secret preserved sometimes for centuries – and this is no Madison Avenue propaganda. The magnificent Chartreuse, for example, has been made according to secret formula by the Carthusian monks since the early 17th century.
Every cordial has a compatible spirit for mixing and there is no end to pleasant experimentation. But a few basic guidelines can be followed:
1. The “creme” and chocolate-typecordials are usually mixed with vodka.
2. Brandy based cordials – like Cordial Medoc – will marry only withmore brandy.
3. Bourbon or scotch based cordialsare best mixed with a high quality spiritof their own kind: Wild Turkey Liqueur, for example, would mix best with(what else?) Wild Turkey; Lochan Oracan have no better mate than ChivasRegal.
4. The orange peel flavored cordials ofthe triple sec type mix most compatiblywith rum.
The descriptive list that follows is, by limitations of space, a short and somewhat subjective one (generally those that I find to be of the highest quality and greatest reward); but it does cover the broad range of types of cordials.
Advocaat: A wonderfully creamy Dutch egg nog, originally made with avocados. Opaque, bright yellow appearance. The low alcoholic content (30 proof) makes it easy to spike with your favorite spirit.
Amaretto di Saronno: An Italian cordial with the taste of almonds, but actually flavored with apricot pits. This is the original; there have been several imitations, all good. Blends well with desserts flavored with walnuts. 56 proof.
Benedictine: One of the so-called “monastery liqueurs,” Benedictine was originated by monks for its medicinal properties. The letters D.O.M. on the label stand for Deo Optimo Maximo – “To God most good, most great.” A sweet and spicy but otherwise indescribable flavor, the product of a carefully guarded recipe. Essential in Crepes Suz-ette, and B and B will keep it famous forever. 86 proof.
Chartreuse: The “Yellow” version (86 proof) contains 120 ingredients and the explosive “Green” version (110 proof) is supposedly made with up to 230 different ingredients. Don’t bother mixing it with anything – its complex and intriguing herbal taste is best savored served straight up in glass thimbles.
Cointreau: Clear white, its orange flavor mixes well with rum. 80 proof. Great in margaritas among a hundred other uses. Try this recipe for a Side Car: 1 part Cointreau/1 part brandy/1 part lemon juice/Shake all ingredients with ice, strain, and serve in a cocktail glass rimmed with powdered sugar.
Creme de Menthe: Cool and refreshing peppermint flavor. 60 proof. The “green” should be served frappé; the “white” is used in cocktails. Perhaps the most common is the Stinger: 2 parts brandy/1 part white Creme de Menthe/ Shake ingredients together with ice, strain into cocktail glass.
Drambuie: Translated from Gaelic, Drambuie means “the drink that satisfies.” The legendary Bonnie Prince Charlie personally gave his family recipe to the Mackinnon family which produces Drambuie to this day. A spicy, heather honey and scotch based cordial (80 proof), it mixes well with more scotch. For example, the Rusty Nail: 2 parts malt scotch/1 part Drambuie/ twist of lemon/Serve on the rocks or straight up.
Galliano: A spicy, vanilla flavored Italian cordial. 80 proof. Excellent on fresh fruit salads, mixes well with orange flavor. Golden Cadillac: 1 oz. Liq-uore Galliano/2 oz. White de Cacao/1 oz. cream (or ice cream)/Add crushed ice and put in blender at high speed until smooth.
Grand Marnier: An orange flavored classic, based on Cognac. Beautiful golden color, 80 proof. Mixes well, and no souffle should be without it. A winning new flavor is the Cherry Marnier in a royal velvet-covered bottle. My personal favorite drink with Grand Marnier is to stir together two parts Grand Marnier with one part Myers Rum. With a cup of espresso on the side.
Kahlua: This widely accepted coffee cordial from Mexico has changed the drinking habits of many gringos. The mild coffee flavor combines well with all chocolate desserts. A versatile cocktail mixer. 53 proof. Black Russian: 1 part vodka/1 part Kahlua/Pour vodka over rocks in an Old Fashioned glass, add Kahlua, and stir until chilled.
Sambuca: A clear white Italian cordial with a slight anise flavor, it is classically served with four or five roasted coffee beans floating in the glass. For extra romantic appeal, serve flaming. The newest version is the dark Caffe Sambuca. 70 proof.
Peter Heering: Made in Denmark, previously known as Cherry Heering. It’s a bright cherry color and cherry flavored, drier than most cordials, and 49 proof. The addition of cherry pits during the aging process in the vats gives it an extra subtle touch of tartness. A must in Cherries Jubilee.
Vandermint: A mint flavored chocolate cordial of 52 proof, packaged in beautiful blue and white Delft ceramic bottles. Wonderful when served over icecream.
Not all cordials are of foreign origin. The U.S. has originated some delicious versions:
Southern Comfort: A New Orleans creation based on whiskey with the flavor of peaches and honey. 100 proof. An aggressively promoted and well-accepted mixer that does well with a bevy of cocktails.
Wild Turkey Liqueur: As the name implies, this brand new product is made from the famous bourbon, with honey, orange peel, and (I suspect) ginger. 80 proof.
Boggs: The latest original Americancordial, made from cranberries. Tartand pleasant, 40 proof. Serve on therocks. – Victor Wdowiak
These restaurants represent the best in Dallas dining. It is implicit then, that we recommend all of them highly. The star ratings only serve to point up restaurants of special significance.
★ – Indicates a best-of-the-offbeat restaurant, a place with unique and unusual appeal.
★★ – Indicates a restaurant worthy of special note, which has proved consistently to be one of the best of its kind.
★★★ – Indicates overall excellence, one of the city’s superior restaurants.
These listings are revised and supplemented periodically. Visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatment. Inclusion in this directory has nothing whatever to do with paid advertising.
The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They are intended only to indicate a general price range.
$– Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.
$$ – Middle ground and very general. Usually indicates a menu with a wide price range.
$$$ – Expensive. You can expect to spend more than $10 for a complete meal excluding wine and cocktails.
$$$$ – Very expensive.
Unless otherwise noted, all restaurants have full bar facilities.
Credit card notations: MC – Master Charge/BA – Bank Americard/AE – American Express/DC – Diner’s Club/CB – Carte Blanche/”AII Credit Cards” indicates that all of the above are accepted.
**Arthur’s. Once a rustic steakhouse, now a shimmering beef palace. Steak remains the pillar of the operation, but other options abound: lamb chops, veal chops, and calf’s liver to name a few favorites. American wines only – an intriguing and imaginative touch. Warm and classy with one of Dallas’ best bars. Live entertainment. (1000 Campbell Centre/ 361-8833/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
Bagatelle. The mood and the menu take their cue from rural France – an easy elegance prevails. A diverse menu; simplicity of style makes for a dependable kitchen. Highlights: fine beef tourne-dos, nice veal dishes, and an unusual roquefort pillow steak. Unpretentious but unpredictable service. The cozy bistro is filled with live jazz. (One Energy Square/ Greenville Ave at University/ 692-8224/ Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 11: Bar till 1:30 a.m. nightly/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$$)
The Balcony/ Fort Worth. It’s not often that you find food like this at prices like this – a bargain in French cuisine. A nicely varied menu of entrees and mostly good, including a delicious trout amandine. An odd but tasty touch: miniature egg rolls served gratis. It’s not without fault – the salads tend to be limp and the soups are suspect. A pleasant country-resort feeling – easy-going but gracious. (6100 Camp Bowie/ (817)731-3719/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 10:30; closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Le Bistro. A gracefully restored old house with dining rooms upstairs and down marked by a quiet, unadorned charm. The menu is classically French both in style and selection, bursting with promise. But in execution, the kitchen has proved capable of both brilliance and disappointment. Service is highly polished, efficient but not ebullient. (3716 Bowser, just oft Oak Lawn/ 528-4181/ Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 6-10 pm.; Sat & Sun 6-10 p.m./ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
Le Bistro /Fort Worth. Authentic French cooking in a restaurant low in atmosphere but high in personal care. Papa Henri executes with talent his own varied and distinctive menu (dinner selections range from Eggs Benedict to frog legs Provencale to medallions of veal; at lunch, try his crepes) and daughter Michelle serves it up with unassuming charm. Extensive wine list, (No relation to Le Bistro in Dallas.) (3322 Camp Bowie/ (817)332-5102/ Brunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2, Dinner: Tue-Sat 5:30-9:30/ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
Brasserle. A coffee shop extraordinaire and a 24-hour-a-day outlet for the artistry of the Fairmont Hotel kitchen. Nowhere else can you eat a cheeseburger under chandeliers or snack on smoked salmon and eggs at three in the morning. Four different menus, each taking a shift; the dinner menu periodically changes its foreign focus. Splendid pastries. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/ 748-5454/ 24 hours, seven days a week/ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE,DC/ $$)
Brennan’s. While it doesn’t rival its illustrious New Orleans namesake, it does have its attractions. Perhaps the most extensive dinner menu in the entire city – almost any continental dish from land, air or sea. But still best for an elegant breakfast or Sunday brunch. And undoubtedly the nicest non-private dining room in all of downtown. (One Main Place/ 742-1911/ Breakfast & Lunch: 7-2 30 weekdays, 8-2:30 weekends; Dinner: Daily 6-10, till 11 weekends/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
Calluaud. One of the most civilized restaurants in Dallas – casual without being crude, intimate without being cramped. This is a small and carefully controlled kitchen and the result is consistent quality on all levels. The soups, for example, are always superb: a full-flavored fish soup, a rich and creamy mushroom-vegetable soup, even the ubiquitous onion soup is something special here. Likewise, this is one of the lew places in town that know how to prepare snails without turning them into pencil erasers and how to serve an omelette that doesn’t resemble a sponge. Desserts, too, are always a success: the fruit tarts are simple but wonderful (try the apple) and the profiteroles are exquisite. And the bread loaf has that unmistakable French-bakery flavor. Lunch is rather limited fare – omelettes, quiche, sandwiches and salads, with a daily special entree. The dinner menu changes frequently and is full of imagination – recent visits have found a perfectly prepared fresh salmon steak, a succulent rack of lamb, and an interesting dish of roast pork with a prune sauce. And considering the quality, prices are a bargain. With its setting in a small frame house, Calluaud is atmospheric without straining at it – truly refreshing. This place is easy to get hooked on. (2917 Fairmount off Cedar Springs/745-9571/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 a. m. -2:30 p.m.; Dinner: Mon-Fri 6 30-10:30, Sat till 11, closed Sun/Reservations/MC,BA/$$$)
Chablls. Satisfying rather than sensational, dependable rather than dazzling, Chablis has quietly established a loyal clientele, particularly at lunch. A nice variety of regional French specialties with popular daily specials. Excellent quiche, salads, and sandwiches. And don’t pass up the apple pie with brandy butler. An attractive, low-key place. (120 Quadrangle, 2800 Routh/ 522-0910/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat till midnight; closed Sun/ Reservations on weekends/ MC, BA,AE/ $$$)
Chateaubrland. A long-time Dallas fixture whose popularity survives in spite of a loud clash of styles including a glossy, almost garish, French provincial dining room with marble statues and chandeliers. The international menu sweeps from “Greek Veal” to “Pepper Steak – Hawaiian Style.” Many steaks and shellfish. Bargain daily hot luncheon specials. (3515 McKinney/ 741-1223/ Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
The Chimney. A Swiss/ Austrian style characterizes this kitchen and gives this restaurant some special appeal. The Naturschnitzel is a fine veal dish, as is the veal Zurich. For a switch, try the venison tournedos. Lunch is still served in the tearoom tradition that originally established The Chimney. The dining room is American colonial in motif – handsome but a bit lifeless. (Willow-creek, 9739 N Cen Expwy at Walnut Hill/ 369-6466/ Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2; Dinner: Tue-Sun 6-10:30/ Sun brunch 11-2/ Reservations/ MC, AE/ $$$)
The Enclave. A fancily-appointed mood restaurant (in the subdued smoked-mirror-and-chandeliers tradition) – a place for those who relish the romance of candlelight and soft music. Unfortunately, the food doesn’t measure up to the surroundings – from the copious menu you’ll get an adequate meal, but don’t expect the sublime. Lunch, more modest in range and price, is a better bet. Well-disciplined service and a fine wine list. (8325 Walnut Hill/363-7487/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11, bar till 12/ Reservations/MC,BA,DC/$$)
Ewald’s. An inspired collection of veal dishes (Veal “Palm Beach” with Westphalian ham, hearts of palm, and bearnaise sauce) have given Ewald his loyal following. But he also serves a cognac-flamed pepper steak that ranks with the best in town. A smattering of other continental dishes (with a Swiss flavor) and a limited seafood selection. A small, plain – in fact bland – dining room. (5415 W Lovers Ln/ 357-1622/ Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat 6-11/ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
The Grape. Cozy, congenial, and crowded, the Grape delights its loyal fans with a wonderful array of cheeses from which you create your own elegant cheese board combinations. A daily menu of light entrees, plus lovely omelettes and great soups – the fresh mushroom has a reputation of its own. A diverse and interesting wine selection. An old and unassuming little place. (2808 Greenville Ave/ 823-0133/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Tue-Sun, 6-10:30, open later on Fri & Sat tor wine and cheese only/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $$)
Marcel’s. Marcel is a charming host in the classic French tradition; it’s that French feeling that has made this a long-popular restaurant. That and a complete table d’hote dinner for only $6.50 – not the finest French cuisine in the city but certainly the best priced. Beef Wellington is the house specialty, but the real star may be the coq au vin. Relaxed, quiet dining. (5727 W Lovers Ln/ 358-2103/ Sun-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat till midnight. Closed Mon/ Reservations/ MC,BA, AE,DC/ $$)
**Mr. Peppe. Some say it’s the best French restaurant in the city. Others cite inconsistencies and argue. Regardless, there is a friendly intimacy and refreshing informality at work here – a warm, dark, and cozy setting. Wonderful rack of lamb, superb pepper steak. And the pastries – owner/ chef Albert’s specialties – are almost too good to be true. (5617 W Lovers Ln/ 352-5976/ Mon-Sat 6-10/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$$)
Old Swiss House/ Fort Worth. Many claim that this is Fort Worth’s finest. Certainly a Fort Worth favorite – the Kaufmann family has been serving fine continental cuisine here for many years. Delightful veal dishes (the St. Moritz is rich and satisfying) and a daily fresh seafood special; never over-elaborate but always carefully prepared and seasoned. Great little complimentary cheese rolls and a lovely Boston lettuce dinner salad. Very nice wine selection. Not a particularly distinctive place, more comfortable than classy. And the service can seem hurried. (5412 Camp Bowie/ (817)738-8091/ Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat till 10:30, closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
Old Warsaw. Not always up to its glowing reputation and illustrious heritage, but the stately luxury and Old World appeal still prevail. The meal may have its ups and downs, but the entrees usually dazzle. A fine duck Bigarade and beautifully prepared seafood dishes. Service is sometimes perfect, sometimes tar from it. Magnificent wine cellar (2610 Maple/528-0032/Daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/Reservations/MC,BA,AE/$$$$)
***0z. An odd location and financial tribulations have still not diminished the brilliance of the menu or the creative excellence of the kitchen – there is no finer food to be had in Dallas. A seasonal menu that sparkles with originality – rarely a disappointment, though you do pay dearly tor the privilege. A slightly jarring chrome and neon decor works better in the disco where a more modest menu is offered. Extraordinary, wine list. By membership. (5429 LBJ Freeway/ 233-5755/ Dinner: Mon-Thur 7-10, Fri & Sat till 11; Disco Mon-Fri 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Sat 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; closed Sun/ Reservations required/ MC, BA,AE/ $$$$)
Papillon. A well-balanced, well-executed continental menu including a particularly nice group of veal dishes and a good assortment of seafood. One of the city’s newer efforts in haute cuisine, but the kitchen staff is veteran and the expertise shows. Try the creme avocado soup. A contemporary design meets with traditional smoked-mirror decor to create an interesting if slightly disjointed effect. (7940 N Cen Expwy at Caruth Haven/ 691-7455/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
**patry’s. Another contender in the “best-French-restaurant-in-town” debate. A family-run operation with an obvious personal touch is one reason. A menu of exquisite hors d’oeuvres is another (have the stuffed leeks in cream sauce). The escalope of veal is the star of the entrees. Neither luxurious nor intimate, but that doesn’t deter a very loyal clientele. (2504 McKinney/ 748-3754/ Tue-Fri 6-11, Sat till 11:30/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE,DC/ $$$)
Plaza Cafe. One of Dallas’ tew nice spots tor dining alfresco: the terrace was built and grown from scratch, so it’s not yet a garden paradise, but still offers the pleasure of eating outdoors, with a European cafe appeal. The menu is varied and light continental in nature, all from the dependable Bagatelle kitchen. Impressive cold buffet. Terrace closed mid-winter, indoor tables only. (One Energy Square, Greenville Ave at University/ 692-8224/ Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1 a.m./ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
★★★Pyramid Room. The classiest dining room in Dallas – an aura of affluence and impeccable taste. A paragon of service – absolutely professional but without pomposity, including a theatrical sommelier. A dizzying dinner menu of French specialties of the highest order (lunch is less glamorous). The Grand Marnier dessert souffle is a triumph. In sum, Dallas’ finest restaurant. But even at that, capable of disappointment because it is so expensive. Too expensive. But always a pleasure if you can pay the price. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/ 748-5454/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Daily 6-midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$$)
★Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant. The best pizza in town -‧ at least if the crowds that always line up outside are an indication. Otherwise, the Italian fare is pretty ordinary. A busy, noisy, tacky delight. (5610 E Mockingbird/ 827-0355/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight, Sat till 1 a.m., Sun noon-midnight/ No credit cards. Checks accepted/ Reservations for 6 or more/ $)
lannl’s. An undistinguished shopping center facade, an entry lobby tacked with Dallas sports photos and celebrity glossies, and a dining room that’s a vineyard of plastic grapes doesn’t bode well. But lanni’s can surprise you. It’s relaxed and unpretentious – a throwback to simpler dining. The waitresses are pros and the kitchen is sound if not stunning. And the homemade Italian sausage is as good as any in town. (2230 Greenville/826-6161 /Daily 5:30-11 p.m./Reservations /MC,AE/$$)
★★ II Sorrento. The best Italian food in Dallas in a marvelously hokey setting – like a Hollywood designer’s dream of Venice, complete with strolling musicians and bread vendors. The fettucine Alfredo and the tagliatelle – both prepared at your table – are standouts among the pasta dishes, and there’s a wide variety of fine veal dishes crowned by the Marsala and piccata. Classy service. (8616 Turtle Creek/ 352-8759/ Daily 5:30-11, Sat till midnight/ Reservations except on Fri & Sat/ All credit cards/ $$$)
Italian Pavilion. Chef Gaetano has gone elsewhere, but his per- sonally-trained sous-chef is now in charge of the kitchen. He seems to have learned his les- sons well – sauces, salad dressings, the preparation of meats and vegetables are all first-rate. The veal dishes are particularly recommendable – especially the saltimbocca in a superb marsala sauce. And the specialty of the house is tender, milky veal with crabmeat and bearnaise sauce served on a bed of spinach. Avoid the shrimp in a rather raw tomato sauce, however. Appetizers and desserts – the latter brought out on a cart – are also fine. Only the setting jars a little, for the place is atop the Le Baron pleasure dome, and the clientele can be expense-account-transient and occasionally boisterous. The decor, too, is overdone-fancy with tacky touches like the Dmitri Vail “celebrities” that gape at you as you get off the elevator. Otherwise, fine dining, an interesting list of Italian wines, and good – it sometimes spacy – service, make this place worth a visit. (Le Baron Hotel, 1055 Regal Row at Carpenter Fwy/634-8550/Mon-Sat 6-11 p.m./Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
Mario’s. On a good night, this plush restaurant is unsurpassed for Italian cuisine in Dallas. The veal with mushrooms and artichoke hearts is famous, and the Frittura Delizie Romano and fried zucchini, which accompany all entrees, are terrific. Great spumoni, and a fine selection of Italian wines. (135 Turtle Creek Village/ 521-1135/ Daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
Pietro’s. Home-style Sicilian cooking with flocks of regular customers. The standouts are the pasta dishes – manicotti, cannelloni, fettucine alla Romana, lasagna with meat sauce, and spaghetti marinara – and old standbys like pizza (order the special Sicilian style in advance) and garlic bread (baked on the premises). Giant frosted schooners of beer – or try the Segesta, a Sicilian wine. (5722 Richmond off Greenville/ 824-9403/ Tue-Thur 5:30-10 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $$)
China Inn. A dependable restaurant with a Cantonese emphasis. Standouts are the sweet-and-sour dishes, the ginger beef, and war sue har (batter-fried shrimp with a “country-style” sauce). Huge eggrolls and excellent homemade almond cookies. Low-keyed and comfortable. (6521 E Northwest Hwy/ 369-7733/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-10:30 p.m.; Sat till midnight; Sun 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m./ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
★★ Hunan. Currently Dallas’ best Chinese restaurant. The Hunan cuisine that is its specialty is milder than you’ll find in New York, but still potent. Have the “pu pu tray ” of appetizers, and then you’re on your own – it’s all good (though we recommend Hunan Lamb, Champagne Chicken, and Shrimp with Garlic Sauce). Small and comfortable. (5214 Greenville Ave at Lovers Ln/ 369-4578/ Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 pm., Fri, Sat & Sun 11-midnight/ Reservations/ MC, BA,AE/ $$)
Peking Palace. Once Dallas’ Oriental best, but it hasn’t quite kept up with the booming competition. Too many items taste warmed-over, but the Szechuan-style selections are, for the most part, excellent (try the shredded pork with garlic sauce). And the Won Ton soup is the best in town. Peking Duck, their supreme appetizer, must be ordered in advance. And still the most pleasant dining room of any Dallas Oriental restaurant. (4119 Lomo Alto/522-1830/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-11, Fri & Sat till midnight, Sun noon-10 p.m./Reservations on weekends/MC,BA,AE/$$)
Ports o’ Call. The greatest view (from the top of Southland Center) of any Dallas restaurant, and that almost makes up for the fact that the food – ranging from Chinese to Polynesian – is only okay. The decor is extravagant, and so are the bar concoctions (some so potent they limit you to two). A good place to take out-of-towners. (Southland Center. 2117 Live Oak/ 742-2334/ Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30: Dinner: Daily 5:30-10:30/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
Royal China. A friendly place with a loyal clientele, a most gracious host, and some unusual menu items: Tea Smoked Duck, Golden Crown of Pork, and Dry Stir Beet. All the food is attractively presented – the chef even sculpts elegant little butterflies from carrots. Unfortunately, the appetizers are on the greasy side, (201 Preston Royal Shopping Center/ 361-1771 or 368-9692/ Tues-Sun 11:30-2:30 and 5:30-10 p.m., closed Mon/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Royal Tokyo. Excellent Japanese cuisine, no matter whether you sit in one of the little tatami rooms, at one of the large Teppan Yaki tables where the chefs play with knives, or in the more conventional dining areas. Recommendations include Tonkatsu (batter-fried pork strips), shrimp tempura and shabu-shabu (a more delicately-flavored relative of sukiyaki). For the adventurous, sashimi – an appetizer of raw fish. Quiet and gracious. (7525 Greenville Ave/ 368-3304/ Lunch: Daily 11:30-2, except Sat: Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat till 11:30, Sun 5-10/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
South China. An unassuming restaurant that specializes in Mandarin cuisine. The dishes with black bean sauce are the standouts, as well as the spicy chicken with pecans, barbecued pork with vegetables, and the shredded beet with hot sauce. Excellent soups and appetizers. (5424 E Mockingbird/ 826-5420/ Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30. Sat & Sun noon-2:30: Dinner: Daily 5-10, Fri & Sat till 11/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Trader Vic’s. One of the best of a variable chain of Oriental-Polynesian restaurants, this one has excellent hors d’oeuvres (try the “Cosmo Tidbit” platter), a fine limestone lettuce salad, and well-prepared entrees. We suggest the curries, the almond duck, lobster Cantonese, or the Indonesian lamb roast. Exotic and powerful rum concoctions. (Hilton Inn, 5600 N Cen Expwy/ 827-3620/ Daily 5-11:30 p.m., weekends till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$$)
Yet Lau. A neighborhood Chinese restaurant with down-home Texas waitresses and a devoted clientele. Soups and appetizers are so-so, but the entrees – try the Chicken Long Hut – are carefully prepared. The decor is pretty awful, but the food makes up for it. (6635 E Lovers Ln at Northwest Hwy/ 691-3112/ Sun-Thur 11:30 a. m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m./ Reservations/ MC,BA/ $$)
D REVISITS Chiquita.
Mexican food freaks are never timid when it comes to declaring and defending their fa-vorite Mexican food restaurant. Chiquita is always at the center of controversy and for good reason – it is sometimes lovely, sometimes lousy. Our visits lately have been no exception. One lunch found long waits in line caused by very slow service. The “Rosita” combination plate (taco, enchiladas, guacamole, etc.) was uninspired – but then, the Tex-Mex here has never been anything sublime, always tending to be un-derseasoned and overpriced. The carnitas tam-piquenas, a broiled pork dish, had, on this day, a greasy quality and an undeniable fishy taste. On the other hand, a recent dinner was delightful. The chiles rellenos was generously stuffed with cheese, delicately battered, and simply dressed – a welcome change from the common overem-bellishment that this dish receives at other places. And the carne asada, while not exotic, was beautifully cooked and nicely trimmed with sauteed green pepper and onions and a grilled wedge of Linares cheese. (The steak dishes are usually – not always – a good bet here; try the filete a la Chiquita and ask for the special garlic sauce.) And the trimmings are always nice, including a complimentary bean soup, spicy hot sauce with a fresh green pepper flavor, and great chicken-sour cream nachos. Always crowded with the many who love it – and they won’t hesitate to tell you so. (3325 Oak Lawn/521-0721/Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m./No reservations /MC,BA/$$)
★ Herrera Cafe. Home-cooked Tex-Mex at its best. The original location on Maple is adobe-hole-in-the-wall style, the newer Lemmon location is south-o-the-border tacky, but the nachos and burritos are elegant. At Maple you can watch them make their delicious Hour tortillas while you wait in line, but at Lemmon there’s a bar. (3902 Maple/ 526-9427/ Weekdays 9 a.m.-8 p.m., weekends till 10 p.m.; closed Tue/ 3708 Lemmon/ 528-2250/ Daily 11 a.m. -9 p.m., Fri & Sat till 10 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
Mariano’s. A stylish dining room with a big, festive cantina and a lively mariachi band keeps this place hopping. The menu runs the gamut, but the food is really only average and a bit expensive for Mexican food. If you’re four or more in number, go for “The Revolution” – a little of everything for $10 apiece. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/ 691-3888/ Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-midnight, bar till 1 a.m.; Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-11:30 p. m.. bar till 2 a.m.; Sun 4:30-10:30 p.m., bar till midnight/ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
★★ Raphael’s. All in all, Dallas’ best Mexican restaurant – and oh the crowds to prove it. From puffed tacos to shrimp enchiladas you can’t go wrong, but take note that the chicken-sour cream enchiladas are the best in town. A lovely old place with warm, wooden, ranchero style. (3701 McKinney/ 521-9640/ Mon-Fri 11:30 a. m. -10:30 p.m., Sat noon-10:30, closed Sun/ Reservations Mon-Thur only/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
El Taxco. Maybe the best dining value in Dallas. Dependable Tex-Mex right down to the refried beans just the way they ought to be – and at very low prices. A subtle style with less hot seasonings makes it an especially good spot for newcomers to Mexican food. A casual, friendly cafe. (2126 N St. Paul/ 742-0747/ Wed-Mon 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Tue/ No reservations/ MC/ $)
Goldfinger. In the limited realm of Greek cuisine in Dallas, Goldfinger serves some of the best. But still, this is as much a nightclub (live music with belly dancing) as it is a restaurant and the food is only good, not great. The combination dinner of souvlaki and large charcoaled shrimp is nice and rack of lamb is the house specialty. And the dol-mas are great. (2905 Cridelle/ 350-6983/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat till midnight/ Reservations on weekends/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Greek Key. A festive spot with a longstanding clientele who revel with the staff in Greek folk dances. Live Greek music and, of course, belly dancers. The menu has all the standard Greek specialties – moussaka, etc. – plus steaks and lobster. For a good Greek sampling, try the combination plate or the daily lunch buffet. (2930 W Northwest Hwy/ 358-5177/ Mon-Sat 11 a.m. -2 p.m., closed Sun/ All credit cards/ Reservations/ $$)
India House. Authentic and artistic Indian and southern Asian specialties from two talented Indian chefs. Fine curry dishes and even better specialty dishes – the chicken Tandoori is beautiful. The Shahi dinner offers a bountiful sampling of Indian cuisine. A helpful staff will guide you through the menu. The lunch specials are a bargain. (5422 E Mockingbird/ 823-1000/ Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat till 11/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$)
Angelo’s/ Fort Worth. A name that’s known across the state as one of Texas’ premiere barbecue pits. And it is. Great beef, rich spicy sauce, big sandwiches, cold draught, and a setting that fits – West Texas rustic with sawdust floors. And overlooking the proceedings is a monstrous stuffed bear – a landmark himself. (2533 White Settlement Rd/ (817)332-0357/ Mon-Sat 11-10/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
The Black-Eyed Pea. Three locations, but the original, on Cedar Springs, is the hot spot, with old-time Texana style. Chicken tried steak is the big item. And, of course, black eyed peas. Plus big burgers, unusual sandwiches. Black-Eyed Pea Too is smaller and dry. Ill on Greenville features butterfly pork chops. (3857 Cedar Springs near Oak Lawn/ 526-9478/ Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat till midnight, Sun noon-11 / Too, 6912 Snider Plaza/ 369-5011/ Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. except Sun noon-9/ III, 4814 Greenville Ave near University/ 361-5979/ Hours same as Cedar Springs/ No reservations/ MC,AE/ $)
Celebration. Good ol’ homestyle cookin’ is tun to eat out only if it’s at least as good as what you get at home. And that’s precisely what has made the patrons of this casual, friendly place stand patiently in line, sometimes for more than an hour, just to get in the front door. But now that the place has doubled its seating capacity to shorten the wait, some of the tender lovin’ care occasionally disappears – especially in the service. The popular pot roast is still the best of the five entrees, but the spaghetti and the meatloaf have slipped in taste appeal. The big bowls of family-style-help-yourself vegetables are still good, though a bad cob is occasionally allowed to slip into the corn bowl. Fruit cobblers, which before have always been a highlight here, now occasionally taste reheated and soggy, the apple being the worst offender. The place is still a nice spot for an easy, warming, wholesome meal, and you do get a lot of food for a reasonable price; but a bit of the homestyle pride is missing. They now serve beer and wine, a most welcome addition. Or try the apple juice – it’s great. (4503 W Lovers Ln/351-5681 /Mon-Sat 5:30-11, Sun till 10:30/No reservations/MC,BA/$)
Mr. Chicken. Many rate it the best fried chicken in town. Small town cafe style (including TV). Chicken and dumplings and other plate lunches; grilled steaks. And luscious onion rings. Beer only. (5114 Greenville Ave near Lovers Ln/ 363-6969/ Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
Red Moon Cafe. A charming and romantic little European-cafe setting helps hide the consistently inconsistent kitchen. But when they’re on, the featured Creole cooking (more Spanish than French in influence) can be a treat. Open for breakfasts trimmed with grits and biscuits. (4537 Cole/ 526-5391/ Mon-Sat 7-2:30, 6-10/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $$)
Shanghai Jimmy’s Chili Rice. A Dallas institution that’s come and gone and come again. Now on Lemmon, Jimmy still dishes out the same great stuff: a tub of rice topped with chili and your choice of onions, celery, Cheddar, and sweet relish. Mix it all up and you’ve got a meal. Lemonade only. (4108 Lemmon Ave near Douglas/ No phone/ Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m., except Sun 5-10 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
★Sonny Bryan’s. Best barbecue in town? You’ll never get a consensus, but this one gets a lot of votes. Juicy, juicy stuff in a funky, funky little smokehouse. No tables – you eat on individual school desk tops. Beer, no bar. (2202 Inwood/ 357-7120/ Mon-Sat 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sun 11-2/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
Southern Kitchen. An all-you-can-eat feast in the tradition of the Old South: fried chicken, smoked chicken, fried shrimp, fried trout, and deviled crab plus appetizers and many other trimmings. Nothing extraordinary (except the luscious cinnamon rolls) but the magnitude alone is impressive. (West, 2356 W Northwest Hwy/ 352-5220/ East, 6615 E Northwest Hwy/ 368-1658/ Mon-Sat 5:30-10:30 p.m., Sun 5-10 p.m./ Reservations for 5 or more/ All credit cards/ $$)
Oporto Oyster Bar. Stick to the simple things here, like the luscious oysters on the half shell, the Boston scrod, the broiled red snapper, the whole baby flounder or the broiled Maine Lobster. A predictable decor of casual-nautical – but nice. Service is the chief variable in what is, by default, Dallas’ best seafood restaurant. (2929 N Henderson/ 826-2553/ Daily 5-11 p. m., Fri & Sat till midnight/ No reservations/ BA, AE/ $$)
Vehon’s. An unpretentious oyster bar that grew into a shlocky restaurant, Vehon’s still serves the best oysters in town, giant red Spanish shrimp, baked (not broiled) rainbow trout, catfish, and – a rarity in Dallas – a properly black, hot gumbo. Casual to the point of crudeness, but there are lots who love it. (4844 Greenville Ave/ 368-8911/ Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun 5-11 p.m./ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$)
Arjun’s. Low-keyed and attractive surroundings tor imaginative food that’s good for you. The hot entree changes daily, and it’s usually excellent, but they always have delicious, huge, unweildy avocado sandwiches, generous fresh fruit and vegetable salads, good soups, and custom-made smoothies. (4220 Oak Lawn/ 526-4050/ Mon-Fri 11-3, 5-9; Sat 11-9/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
Black Forest. Austrian-style food – sausages, sa-lamis, coffee cakes, breads, a lovely cold cut platter, and excellent sandwiches. Try the veal sausages with hash browns and black bread, and any of the pastries. Excellent selection of German beers and wines. (5819 Blackwell off E Northwest Hwy/ 368-4490/ Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-6 p. m., Sat till 5 p.m./ No reservations/ BA/ $)
★Kuby’s. Busy, bustling, with excellent homemade sausages (served with hot potato salad or sauerkraut), thick sandwiches (try the pastrami), great pastries, and a soup of the day which is a lunch-time bargain (60￠). A congenial spot with a German accent. (6601 Snider Plaza/ 363-2231/ Mon-Sat 8:30-2:30, sandwiches till 5:30/ No reservations/ MC – $15 minimum/ $)
Wall’s. Dallas’ best Jewish delicatessen, with first-rate corned beet and pastrami sandwiches, good cheese blintzes, and sour cream herring. Alas, the chopped liver is only so-so. (10749 Preston Rd/ 691-4444/ Daily 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m./ Reservations lor parties/ MC,BA/ $)
Steaks, Burgers, Etc.
Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine. Right out of Six Flags, this extravagant re-creation of an old silver mine is so overdone it somehow works. Perched atop Goat Hill with a panoramic, if not beauteous, view to the west. The food is secondary but quite satisfactory – mainly steaks, prime rib Huge “underground” disco. No reservations, long waits. (3305 Harry Hines near Oak Lawn Ave/ 741-9771/ Daily 11 a.m. -2:30 p.m., 5-11 p.m., except Sun 5-11 p.m. only; disco till 2 a.m./ No reservations/ MC,BA/ $$$)
Blue’s Lakefront Bar and Grille. The simplest but perhaps sturdiest operation in the Gene Street empire. The fare is basic – hamburgers and hot dogs. Fourteen species of burgers, mostly halt-pounders, and they’re quite good. For a strange and tilling treat, try the Cordon-Bleu Burger. Huge onion rings. With a partial view of Bach-man Lake, this renovation restaurant is a cross between lake cottage and coffee shop – odd, but comfortable. (3407 W Northwest Hwy/ 351-9510/ Daily 11-11, except Sun noon-11; Bar till midnight, later weekends/ No reservations/ MC, BA,AE/ $)
Cattlemen’s/ Fort Worth. A famous Texas name that still delivers, and still from its original location right in the heart of the stockyards. The steaks are the thing here and they’re terrific – you can watch them being cooked on the grills at the end of each dining room. Lots of other options, ranging from calf fries ( “Mountain Oysters”) to lobster to spaghetti. (2458 N. Main/ (817)624-3945/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10:45 p.m., Sat 4-10:45 p.m., closed Sun/ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE,CB/ $$)
★ Chili’s. A handsome burger joint. Good chili, unusual soft tacos of flour tortillas, and, best of all. long, thin, greasy trench fries with the skin still on them. Always hopping – you’ll likely wait in line. (7567 Greenville Ave at Meadow Rd/ 361-4371/ Daily 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri & Sat till 2 a. m./ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $)
Daddy’s Money. A something for everybody menu: steak, chicken, seafood, etc. But the standout is the charcoaled rack of lamb. The Old Town location is a slick and busy place with a lively bar. The North Dallas outlet is more relaxed, more elegant. Nice Sunday brunch. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/ 363-8686/ Daily 11-11, Fri & Sat till 12:30 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m., bar till 1 a.m. nightly/ North Dallas, 4855 LBJ Frwy at Inwood/ 387-3800/ Daily 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Fri & Sat till 2 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m./ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE,DC/ $$)
★The Den. A distinctive spot in the venerable old Stoneleigh Hotel with a convivial clientele of various professional types – like a seasoned Upper East Side bar. Terrific cheeseburgers, a great prime rib sandwich, chef’s specials. Dallas’ best bartending. And free popcorn. (2927 Maple/ 742-7111/ Restaurant: Mon-Fri 6 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat & Sun 6 a.m.-1 a.m.; Bar: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight, closed Sat & Sun/ MC,DC,AE,CB/ $$)
The Filling Station. The last word in motif dining. An old gas station transformed into a restaurant. Automobile paraphernalia abounds, gas pumps dispense beer at the bar, and the Mobil flying horse hovers over it all. “Ethyl,” “Regular,” and “Low Lead” (no bun) hamburgers. No kidding. (6862 Greenville Ave near Park Lane/ 691-4488/ Tue-Sat 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun & Mon till midnight/ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $)
Houlihan’s. If you want it, they’ve probably got it. From escargots to cheeseburgers, from crab Newburg to Belgian waffles, from omelettes to roast duck, from crepes to steak. And, considering the range, the overall quality is surprisingly good. Antique clutter motif. Often long lines. (4 NorthPark East/ 361-9426/ Daily 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m./ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Ichabod’s. Slick in the Greenville Avenue tradition, but Ichabod’s is nevertheless a very pleasant and dependable place. The key to their success is a limited menu of steaks and seafood with nothing so elaborate that the kitchen staff can’t handle it. There are a few nicely imaginative touches, like a “relish tray” of raw fresh vegetables instead of a tired salad. A nice dining area with its own entrance to separate it from the teeming swingles bar. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/’691-2646/Daily 6-11 p.m./No reservations/MC,BA,AE,CB/$$)
★Klrby’s. Dallas’ original steakhouse and time has only enhanced its appeal. No gimmicks, waitresses of the old school, and good food values. The “special cut” sirloin strip is big and beautiful and the creamy garlic house dressing is alone enough for some fans. (3715 Greenville/ 823-7296/ Tue-Sun 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat till midnight/ Reservations/ All credit cards/ $$)
The Pawn Shop. A smartly designed and decorated bar with balcony drinking parlors and a big bar that swarms at happy hour with swingle mingling. A basic and unspectacular menu of steaks, shrimp, chicken, etc. And if backgammon is your game, this is your bar. (5601 Greenville across from Old Town/ 691-2411/ Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m./ Reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Rail Head. Consistently the best of the steak-and-salad-bar scene. The salad bar has creative possibilities and the prime rib may be the best around. Heavy on the railroad theme and super-smile service. (6919 Twin Hills Ave at Park Ln/ 369-8700/ Lunch: Daily 11-2; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5-11:30, Sun 5-10:30. bar till 2 a.m. nightly/ Reservations (on weekends before 7 p.m. and after 10:30 p.m. only)/ MC,BA,AE/
★Stoaeleigh P. An Oak Lawn favorite and eclectic hangout. A restoration of what was long a pharmacy – clever but not cutesy. Provolone cheeseburgers on pumpernickel are the favorite among many goodies. Great magazine rack (browsing encouraged) and fabulous juke box (from Bach to Stones). (2926 Maple/ 741-0824/ Mon-Thur 11:15-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1:30 a. m . Sun 12-12; bar daily till 1 am., Fri & Sat till 2/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
★ Strictly Ta-Bu. A terrific old neighborhood bar with a mixed bag clientele. The original 1948 decor has been virtually untouched and charms with its classy-tacky effect. Great pizza, great burgers; plus steaks, sandwiches. Live jazz most nights and an occasional free flick. (4111 Lomo Alto/ 526-9325/ Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m., Fri & Sat till 2/ No reservations/ MC,BA/ $$)
T.Q.I. Friday’s. A popular and dependable old standby. Once singles central, now a hangout for everybody. Steaks, burgers, shrimp, chicken – never flashy but always big portions at reasonable prices. The chef salad is gigantic – a masterpiece. Fun and comfortable. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville/ 363-5353/ Daily 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m./ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Mainly For Lunch
The Bronx. A surprisingly quiet little spot amidst the Cedar Springs sideshow. The fare is simple but stylish: for example, a plate of bagels and lox with red onions and cream cheese or a pretty omelette with a bagel and a side of terrific Italian sausage. Atmospheric (rustic and woody) but without coming on loo strong. Beer (lots of imports) and wine only. (3835 Cedar Springs near Oak Lawn/ 521-5821/ Daily 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m., bar till 2/ No reservations/ MC $$)
Ciro’s. Great Sicilian-style pizza and an attractive array of elaborate sandwiches in an airy, old-time corner store at McKinney and Hall. The “wine bar” serves fine wines by the glass, the beers include some nice imports, and there’s a great hard apple cider with a real kick. (3237 McKinney at Hall/ 745-9464/ Mon-Wed 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Thur & Fri till midnight. Sat till 1 a.m., closed Sun/ No reservations/ MC/ $$)
La Creperie. The lovely courtyard patio is a major attraction. A choice of some fifty varieties of crepes. Service is often slow. (Quadrangle. 2800 Routh/ 651-0506/ Sun-Thur 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11 p.m./ Reservations recommended/ MC,BA,DC/ $$)
Gallery Buffet. An expertly catered buffet table at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, featuring hearty soups, salads, homemade breads, and desserts for only $2.50. Wine extra. (DMFA, Fair Park/ 421-4187/ Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
The Lunch Basket Tearoom. Bright and cozy. Homemade lunches with unusual salads and soups, and homemade tea breads that you can also buy by the loaf. Foreign blend coffees and teas. (6617 Snider Plaza, Studio 216’ 369-3241/ Mon-Sat 10 a.m-5 p.m./ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
Magic Pan. A very popular place with a delicious selection of crepes, including outstanding dessert crepes. Very crowded during the week, but nice tor Sunday brunch or late night after-theatre snacks. (NorthPark – New Mall/ 692-7574/ Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri till 1 a.m., Sat 10 a.m-1 a.m., Sun 10 a.m. -midnight/ No reservations/ MC,BA,AE/ $$)
Upper Crust. Homestyle specialties like chicken & dumplings and red beans & rice, plus wonderful buttermilk pie and a great buttermilk salad dressing. Also sandwiches and homemade soups. A casual “indoor courtyard” setting. (Olla Podrida, 12215 Coit Rd/ 661-5738/ Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-3; Dinner: Thur only. 5:30-8:30/ No reservations/ No credit cards/ $)
Zodiac Room. A stunning effect with salads as handsome as they are tasty, and an irresistible array of desserts – including their famous strawberry shortcake. Always crowded. Wine and beer. (Neiman-Marcus, downtown/ 741-6911/ Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; teatime daily 3-5 p.m. except Thur 2:30-3:30; Thur dinner 5-7 p.m./ Reservations/ Neiman-Marcus charge card only, checks accepted/ $$)