Chez Michel. This new tenant in the ! Quadrangle has taken over the space that long housed the Chablis res- taurant. Chez Michel seems to have in- herited much of the atmosphere of its predecessor – like Chablis, it is very low-key, very plain. The place is a lot nicer by night than by day – by candlelight, its wood paneling takes on a certain charm. And by our sam-plings, the food is much nicer by night too. Our lunch visit was disappointing: The vichyssoise was flavorless; the trout amandine was respectable but unexciting; the quiche, loaded with ham and Swiss cheese, was tasty but very heavy; and our bouchee, the house specialty (a puffed pastry with a variety of fillings offered), was chewy and not very good. Dinner was a distinct improvement, but the menu, shows little imagination – it’s pretty much textbook Continental. We sampled two standard dishes: The beef bourguignonne was quite good, with fine big chunks of beef; the pepper steak was served under a sauce something like cream gravy – odd but still very good. There were a few innovative touches – the cream of celery soup was incredibly thick, like a celery puree, the most distinctive dish we tasted; and the mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat came in a strange egg-and-butter sauce, interesting at least. The staff was gracious and the service at dinner was excellent. But it’s hard to peg the place – perhaps a French meal without frills is attraction enough. (Quadrangle, 2800 Routh/741-9001/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
China Coast. It’s happened again. That now-ubiquitous Hunan-Szechuan menu (the one with the little red stars to indicate “hot and spicy”) has appeared in yet another restaurant. This is, by our count, the fifth. The four others have at least spread themselves around geographically, to minimize the competition. But China Coast has opened across the street from Chinese Pavilion, another of the red-star-menu places. The Hunan-Szechuan rage still hasn’t peaked (though it has to taper off eventually, and our guess is soon), so China Coast can probably ride the crest. Besides, its kitchen is very good, and the menu has some distinctive twists. The emphasis here is on seafood. Unfortunately, they were out of fresh fish and lobster, so we couldn’t sample some of the more interesting dishes – but it’s a good sign that they’re unflinching about freshness. Sounding particularly inviting was the House Lobster, a whole lobster chopped and seasoned and served in the shell with snow peas and straw mushrooms. The available fish dishes were impressive: The crisp shrimp with chili sauce was great, even though the chili sauce was more like sweet and sour. The shrimp with peanuts in hot pepper sauce had startling flavor contrast, though it might be disagreeable to some diners; and the scallops and beef in oyster sauce was a superior creation. A non-seafood dish, the “Beef Four Delight,” featured beef surprisingly rich and tender for Chinese food. Other highlights included the best shrimp toast we’ve tasted in Dallas and the hottest hot-and-sour soup we’ve tasted anywhere. (They don’t hold back when it comes to heat here – with appetizers they serve a dish of red pepper sauce that should be accompanied by a stern warning; it’s delicious but incredibly potent.) There were letdowns – fatty ribs, egg rolls heavy with cabbage, a bland corn and crabmeat soup – but with the seafood emphasis and overall quality, this restaurant could win another round. Oh yes, another Chinese first here – a six-item weight watchers’ menu. (2920 W Northwest Hwy at Bachman Blvd/350-6282/Daily 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards/$$)
Howdy’s. This place has been around for months, but we only recently stumbled onto it, deep in the heart of Lakewood. In these days of concept overkill in the Dallas restaurant world, it’s refreshing to find a place so haphazardly conceived as Howdy’s. Howdy is nobody’s name – the place is run by a Clarence. The place has absolutely no motif – some ceiling fans here, some latticework there, some oil paintings over there. And the menu is a ridiculous hodge-podge. The specialty of the house is called a “pocketburger,” ground beef, cheese, and trimmings served in pita bread – messy, but delicious. They also serve deli sandwiches (good pastrami – try it on pita bread, too), hot dogs, nachos, chili, beef stew, clam chowder, and boiled shrimp. Desserts include Black Forest cake, pecan pie, and baklava. We don’t get it, but we like it. (2311 Abrams Road/823-8390/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat till 6 p.m., closed Sun /No reservations/No credit cards/$)
Bellmaster. Third time’s a charm? Not really. This is the third Bell-master at this location, and though the new proprietor seems to be trying hard, the place is struggling once again. On a recent visit, we found the owner serving as maitre d’ and as the only waiter, though he still managed to be very courteous and very attentive. Perhaps he should try to be chef as well. The menu offers a nice selection of Continental dishes at reasonable prices, but the food we sampled was undistinguished. The oysters Rockefeller featured canned spinach and no other seasonings, the cream of celery soup was nearly tasteless, the vegetables were overcooked, and the desserts were over-flamed. Only the entrees held up: the lamb chops were excellent and the snapper amandine very tasty, though a bit dry. This name and location seem to be stigmatized with mediocrity – Bellmaster III will need some inspired revamping to save it from the fate of its forerunners. (13001 Preston Rd/386-5023/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2, Dinner: Daily 6:30-10, Friday and Saturday till 11. Bar till midnight, weekends till 2 a.m./Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$$)
These restaurants represent the best in Dallas dining. It is implicit that we recommend all of them highly.
These listings are revised and supplemented periodically. Visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatment. Inclusion in this directory has nothing whatever to do with paid advertising.
The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They are intended only to indicate a general price range.
$ – Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.
$$ – Middle ground and very general. Usually indicates a menu with a wide price range.
$$$ – Expensive. You can expect to spend more than $10 for a complete meal excluding wine and cocktails.
$$$$ – Very expensive.
Unless otherwise noted, all restaurants have full bar facilities.
Credit card notations: MC/Master Charge, V/Visa, AE/American Express, DC/Diner’s Club, CB/Carte Blanche. “All Credit Cards” indicates that all the above are accepted.
Arthur’s. Home away from home for junior executives and the expense account set. Arthur’s sports a classy bar and a first-rate kitchen. Lunch is as solid as dinner, with hefty portions to keep the three-martini luncher on an even keel. Have the magnificent calves’ liver with Canadian bacon and sauteed onions, or the sensational lamb chops. Professional service and elegance without condescension. (1000 Campbell Centre/361-8833/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/Reserva-tions/All credit cards/$$$)
Bagatelle. This stylish restaurant has always delighted us with its atmosphere, but never overwhelmed us with its food. The kitchen is competent but not dazzling. One standout is the tournedos “cafe royale.” The new menu also features a rich and intriguing pheasant under glass, but you’ll have to decide whether you want to pay that much for any entree. Service is sometimes well-paced, sometimes not. The companion Plaza Cafe has a rather windy outdoor dining area, and a pleasant indoor one. The food there is nothing exceptional, but it’s a nice place for a snack and a drink if you’re on Greenville and don’t want to fend off singles (One Energy Square, Greenville at University/692-8224/Bagatelle: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2, Sun brunch 10:30-2; Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 11, bar till 2/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$. Plaza: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1 a.m., closed Sun/No reservations/All credit cards/$$)
Brasserie. Still the most elegant coffee shop in town, though compared to the other culinary options at the Fairmont it’s a poor relation. In face, we couldn’t recommend it if didn’t fill a local void as a late-night snack stop after a dressy evening. Some of its post-midnight treats are as wonderful as ever: sensational eggs Benedict, avocado stuffed with crabmeat, and sirloin steak sandwich. But the salad seems to be thrown together from whatever is available, and the omelettes and club sandwiches are no better than you can find other places – just considerably more expensive. Around 2 a.m. the service tends to get groggy, and if you happen to be the only diners, as we were one morning, you get the uneasy feeling that you’re keeping the whole place up. Still, late night is the only time to visit. Our lunches have been uniformly ordinary and the dinner menu is cluttered with hotel-style “Texas Specialties’ like barbecued brisket and fried chicken, which do no justice to such traditional foods. It seems the Brasserie is, at the moment, living off its glamorous location in the heart of the Fairmont instead of trying to create its own luster. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akardl 748-5454/24 hours, seven days a week/ No reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$)
Calluaud. The secret of this first-class restaurant is restraint; just enough items on the menu lor the kitchen to handle with care, light and delicate sauces, lightly cooked fresh vegetables, and an overall reverence for the subtle pleasures of fish and veal. Its hard to make a wrong move at dinner, but be sure to start with the red snapper pate when it’s on the menu Lunch features superb omelettes and some fine light entrees coquilles St. Jacques, filet of sole, and a steak accompanied by the best French fries in town. Noisy when it’s crowded, and service sometimes goes astray when things get too busy. But most of the time. Calluaud is a class operation. (2917 Fairmount off Cedar Springs/742-8525/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30, Sat till 11, closed Sunday/Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$$)
Chateaubriand. A wide-ranging menu, with everything from sweetbreads to frog legs to lobster to veal parmigiana; and a high percentage of it is quite well-executed. The standouts, interestingly, are the Greek specialties: Try the pastitsa and dolma appetizer and the “Greek veal” in a pleasant lemon-butter-oregano sauce. Chateaubriand’s old-fashioned overdressed style is not to all tastes, but service is attentive and the place is comfortable. Dine early, however, tor about 9 p.m. the place gets nightclubby, with noisy, mediocre “entertainment.” Lunch is nothing special. (2515 McKinney/741-1223/Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m-mid-night, closed Sun/Reservations/All credit cards/
The Chimney. Service at the Chimney has been uniformly splendid, with waitresses who can knowledgeably explain each dish and tell you whether it’s worth ordering that day. Better yet, the kitchen is careful, dependable, and innovative. Top honors go to the veal, especially the veal Zurich and veal Oscar, and a variety of wonderful desserts, from bananas Foster to Black Forest cake Lunch is first-class, from the light and flaky quiche to the tasty squash fritters. The wine list includes some interesting Austrian wines. Apart from some recent unevenness in the appetizers, this is a comfortable, unpretentious, dependable restaurant. (Willow Creek, 9739 N Cen Expwy at Walnut HIll/369-6466/Lunch: Tue-Sat 11-2; Dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10:30, Sun 6-10; Sun brunch: 11-2/Reservations/ MC, V, AE, DC/$$$)
Ewald’s. Loyal regulars flock to this old standard, whose menu has changed very little over the years. The style is sort of continental home-cooking; more hearty than delicate, more homey than classy. The veal is excellent, though some preparations are over-embellished. Try the veal Papagallo with Canadian bacon and Swiss cheese or the veal Picatta-Milanese. Excellent pepper steak and “Tenderloin a la Ewald.” And a rarity – well-prepared fresh vegetables. Have a side order of spaetzli it your entree doesn’t come with it, and conclude with the Black Forest cake. No frills, but few disappointments, either. (5415 W Lovers Ln/357-1622/Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat 6-11, closed Sun/Reservations/MC, V/$$$)
Gitana. In setting alone. Gitana is one of the most pleasant restaurants in town, so it’s nice to report that the food has become consistently good. Particularly the appetizers – with the ratatouille and the tried artichoke hearts as standouts. As for entrees, the paella is only average, but the shrimp dishes are excellent. Lunch features linguine and a rich fettucine, as well as some pleasant salads and sandwiches. Good wine selections and excellent sherries. Service is erratic. (3236 McKinney/521-4360/Lunch: 11:30-2, Dinner 6-11, c/osed Sun/ MC, V, AE/$$)
The Grape. An old favorite with some new delights, especially at lunch, which has become more adventurous. The beef dishes, particularly the tournedos bearnaise and the boeuf a la mode, are outstanding. Other delights are the escargots aux champignons and the omelette aux crevettes chinoise (with shrimp, mushrooms, and bean sprouts). The mushroom soup is famous, but the potage au Tripoli, a chickpea soup with herbs and spices, is a new winner. Still hard to beat for the money. 2808 Greenville/823-0133/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Tue-Sun 6-10:30, open till midnight on Fri & Sat for wine and cheese only/No reserva-tions/MC, V,/$$)
Jean Claude. A unique restaurant in that it provides culinary instruction along with first-class continental cuisine. The constantly changing menu features three hors d’oeuvres, three entrees, and three desserts each evening. Jean Claude Prevot “performs” in an open kitchen and is eager to explain his procedures. Portions are small, but their preparation is consistently excellent. The fixed price is high, and the reservations-only policy means you may have to wait as long as two weeks for the chance to en-joy Jean Claude’s splendid fare. (2520 Cedar Spnngs/653-1823/Dinner: 6:45-11/Reservations only/MC, V, AE/$$$)
La Cave. The first wine bar to open in Dallas, so some visitors haven’t quite grasped the fact that they can come here and sample fine wines and then buy bottles to take home with them. Food is a secondary consideration: good salads, sandwiches, pate, and cheeses to keep you steady as you sample the wonderful array of wines. Congenial and civilized, though the wine chat can get annoyingly snobbish at times. (2926 Henderson/826-2190/Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Fri 5:30-12, Sal till 1; open lor package wine sales all day: closed Sun/No reservations/MC. V/$)
Pyramid Room. With all the ballyhoo surrounding the new Hyatt-Regency Hotel, Dallas’ “other” luxury hotel, the Fairmont, has been lost in the shadows. But the Fairmont still has an ace up its sleeve: the Pyramid Room. The overall dining experience here is unrivaled. Most impressive about the Pyramid is its lack of stuffiness. That’s attributable to the staff – they obviously enjoy their work, singing and joking and chatting, but never missing a beat in efficiency. When you’re served a complimentary dish of Calvados ice to “clear the palate,” the attitude is not “Aren’t you impressed?” but “Isn’t this fun?” The food, of course, is splendid. We’ve recently sampled the veal chop baked with honey and dressed with grated carrot and, even better, the lamb loin baked in a pastry shell with tarragon sauce – a lamb lovers dream We were also swept away by the cheese souffle, served as an appetizer with a dish of melted butter. If you find dinner at the Pyramid Room to be financially intimidating, lunch is almost as great a pleasure. The calves’ liver with onions and baked apple is as good as you’ll ever taste, the fresh fruit salad truly fresh, and-the pastry cart incredible. We even decided to try the “Pyramid Hamburger.” It was, of course, superb (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/748-5454/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Daily 6-11 /Reservations/ MC. V, AE, DC/$$$$)
Mr. Peppe. Old-timers swear by it, and it was once one of the best restaurants in Dallas. But the years have not been kind, and you may find it drab rather than cozy. The key word in recent years has been “inconsistency.” When this restaurant is good, it’s very, very good And fortunately it’s never terribly bad Try the pepper steak, which is stunningly seasoned, and the excellent desserts; otherwise, take your chances – and good luck. (56) 7 W Lovers Ln/352-5976/ Mon-Sat 6-10, closed Sun/Reservations/MC, V, AE. DC/$$$)
Old Warsaw. Risen from its decline, La Vieille Varsovie (as it would rather be called) is once again one of Dallas’s best restaurants. The kitchen isn’t bold or imaginative, but it is consistent. Start with the shrimp with shallots and Pernod sauce. If the $15 price tag doesn’t deter you. have the terrine de foie gras. We also recommend the roast quail in truffle sauce, the rack of lamb, and the cote de veau. And don’t ignore the waiters recommendations when he suggests a dessert soufflé (2670 Maple/528-0032/Daily 6-10:30. Sat till 11:45/Reserva-tions/MC, V. AE, DC/$$$$)
Patry’s. When the Patry family is at work, you can’t go wrong. Start with the poireaux farcis (stuffed leeks) or the delicate, light, near-perfect vichyssoise. then have any of the superb entrees: a wonderful coq au vin, a filet in a flawless béarnaise. or their splendid escalope of veal. The place itself is a bit sterile except for their terrific – and very French – little bar. (2504 McKinney/7483754/Tue-Sun 6-11. closed Mon/Heservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
Campisi’s. Everyone’s fantasy of the neighborhood Italian restaurant – small, dark, and bustling, with family portraits on the wall and an army of no-nonsense waitresses. Unfortunately, the food is pretty ordinary – the kitchen does well with staples like pizza, lasagna and ravioli (the last is homemade), but tends to manhandle mildly sophisticated dishes like veal scaioppine marsala and scampi. So stick to the basics and enjoy the atmosphere. At its best on a Friday night. (56/0 East Mockingbird Ln/ 827-0355/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight. Sat till 1 a.m., Sun noon-midnight/No credit cards/Reservations tor 6 Of more/$)
lannl’s. A family-run restaurant with excellent pasta – try the baked ziti with eggplant and mozzarella or the buttery, thick fettucini lanni – and terrific appetizers. The “house specialties, on the other hand, are nothing special. Good desserts and coffee; tacky decor. (2230 Greenville/826-6161/Mon-Sat 5-11:30, Sun 5-10:30/Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)
II Sorrento. Still maintaining the elusive blend of friendliness and intimacy that gives it a unique personality among Dallas restaurants. II Sorrento is competently staffed from strolling musicians to head chef Its veal dishes are invariably suberb, and the beef entrees – tournedos Rossini and medallions of beef frascati in particular – are outstanding. An excellent wine list and knowledgeable sommelier. And the most delightfully hokey decor in town. The only major criticism we have is that reservations sometimes get lost and you wind up waiting in the bar anyway. Fortunately, the food is worth it. (8616 Turtle Creek, north of Northwest Hwy/352-8759/Daily 5:30-11, Sat till midnight/Reservations except on Fri & Sat/All credit cards/$$$)
Italian Pavilion. An out-of-the-way location and rather garish decor are the negatives here. But the food is excellent, including delicious hot an-tipasto and fine veal dishes, particularly the veal Fiorentina, with crab meat, and the veal Gaetano, with madeira sauce and mushrooms Soups and salads are less distinguished, and the service, while pleasant, can be slow A good moderately priced wine list and excellent cappuccino help round out the generally positive picture of Italian Pavilion. (Le Baron Hotel, 1055 Regal flow at Carpenter Fwy/634-8550 ext. 7200/Dlnner: MonSat 6-11, closed Sun/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
Lombardl’s. No gimmicks, just a delightfully remodeled old house where they serve excellent Italian food. The lasagna (the lightest version imaginable) and the saltimbocca are standouts – maybe the best in town. The manicotti is made with a crêpe-like pasta, the pork par-migiana is an unusual delight and the rich green-noodle fettucine is outstanding. A warning on the minestrone: it is thick and flavorful but stew-like – an appetite killer. Lunch is usually less impressive than dinner. But everyone is eager to please at Lombardi’s; the service is sophisticated and responsive. (2815 McKinney Ave/823-6040/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11/ Reservations/MC, V. AE/$$$)
Mario’s. Elegant but not stuffy (though they do require men to wear jackets). While you wouldn’t choose Marios if you were in the mood for hardcore Italian food, the fettucine is excellent, and the manicotti appetizer comes with a perfectly balanced tomato sauce. The menu ranges from a simple veal with green peppers (in which the veal can be tasted, for a change) to an elaborate Tournedos Heloise – artichoke hearts, paté, and mushrooms atop the filet A solid but not exceptional restaurant. (135 Turtle Creek Village. Oak Lawn at Blackburn/521 -1135/Daily 6-11. Sat tilt midnight/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
Pletro’s. Pietro’s comes close to what you’d find in. say, the North End of Boston – homestyle Sicilian cooking with scads of loyal patrons The pasta dishes are the best bets, though Pietro’s veal scallopini a la Siciliano is excellent. Have the crème caramel for dessert Friendly, brisk service though the “No reservations” policy means you’ll have to wait. It’s usually worth it. (5722 Richmond off
Greenville/824-9403/Tue-Thur 5:30-10 p.m.. Fri & Sat till 11 p.m., closed Sun & Mon/No reservations/No credit cards/$$)
Chinese Pavilion. They make few attempts at chinoiserie in the decor, preferring to save their efforts for the kitchen The menu, identical to that of the parent restaurant. Hunan, has a whole array of terrific specialties, and it’s a good idea to trust the waiter’s recommendations. One recent standout has been the ambitious spicy, crispy whole fish, which comes with an ample and delicious sauce with shallots, all served on a huge platter. Lunchtime service can be grumpy and slow, and the dining room is too bright with too-loud Muzak. (2829 W Northwest Hwy/357-5777/Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/MC, V,AE/$$)
Hunan. Still the best Szechuan restaurant in town, though there have been off-nights and the service is sometimes inattentive, even surly. If you get a pleasant waiter, ask him to make recommendations; if not, we have a few: Hunan lamb, pork and shrimp Hunan, sliced chicken with orange peel, and the vegetarian Buddhist delight. The pu pu tray is a reliable appetizer sampling, but we also like the hacked chicken, a dreadful name for a delightful cold chicken and cabbage dish. The San Shien soup – shrimp, peapods. noodles, etc – is practically a meal in itself. (5214 Greenville Ave/369-4578/ MonThur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri-Sun 11-midnight/Reservations for 3 or more/MC, V, AE/$$)
Mlhama Ya. A family-run Japanese restaurant with a grocery up front. Terrific shrimp tempura and chicken teriyaki; delightful yakiniku, a beef and vegetable dish; and wonderful chicken kara age, marinated and deep fried. The only weak spots are the soups and salads. An off-beat, thoroughly delightful place. (77/3 Inwood Rd/351-9491/MonThur 10a.m.-10:30p.m., Fri & Sat till 11, Sun l-10/Reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$)
Royal Tokyo. This restaurant has always tended to be stronger on theatrics than on performance, and the situation hasn’t changed. In the Hibachi Room, for example, the chefs like to juggle salt shakers and chip vegetables onto your plate while preparing hibachi shrimp (very good) and teriyaki steak (ordinary). Skip the special dinners (they’re overpriced and undistinguished) and try one of the sashimi (raw fish) dishes, the shabu-shabu (beef and vegetables cooked in broth), the yakitori, or the kani-crab fingers. Everything else is fair-to-middling, and you may have to wait an hour or more to be seated, even with reservations. All in all, Royal Tokyo needs to do some tightening.(7525 Greenville Ave/368-3304/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2 except Sat; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat till 11:30, Sun till 10/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
South China. Its competitors may waver and topple, but South China continues to produce consistently excellent Chinese cuisine. Sweet and sour shrimp doesn’t come any better in Dallas, nor ginger beef more delicately seasoned. The moo shi pork has a delicious tilling (though the pancakes were tough), and the huge shrimp and vivid lobster sauce made that dish memorable. Another recent discovery was the white mushroom with crisp broccoli. You have to know your way around the preliminaries, however. The egg rolls are so-so, and the ribs skimpy; but the shrimp toast comes with mounds of shrimp, the beef strips are tender, the fried wonton superb – so order separately. The sizzling rice soup is fine, but the hot and sour soup is salty as brine. South China serves the best tea in town. Not to be missed: Saturday and Sunday at lunch the chef prepares authentic Chinese delicacies not on the regular menu for bargain prices. The Chinese community in Dallas really turns out for it Be sure to ask for the special menu. (5424 E Mock-ingbird/826-5420/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun noon-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-11, Fri & Sat 5-12, Sun 5-10/ Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)
Szechuan. The Lemmon Avenue spinofi of Greenville Avenue’s Hunan restaurant does justice to the parent organization’s menu. The first page of “Chef Specialties” is special indeed. Try the Hunan Beef, River Shang Pork, House Lamb, or House Chicken. The more traditional items, such as hot and sour soup, moo shi pork, and lo mein, are also recommended. The dining room is on the stark and sterile side, but it’s still a pleasant oasis in the fast food desert. (4117 Lemmon near Douglas/521 -6981 /Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.. Fri & Sat till 11:30/Reserva-tions on weekends/MC, V, AE, DC/ $$)
Trader Vic’s. Have fun, but don’t expect anything sublime here – they cover too much ground to have any specialties except the wacky drinks (gardenias floating in rum punch, and so on). The creamed curry dishes are nice, the Indonesian lamb interesting, and the Chinese dishes varied but over-sweet. But while the mood may be fun, the prices are serious. Just have another Samoan Fog Cutter and you may not even notice. (Hilton Inn, 5600 N Cen Expwy/827-3620/Daily 5-11, cocktail lounge till 11:45/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
Adelante. In the local Mexican food sweepstakes, Adelante is a leader. We’re partial to the praline cheesecake (in a class by itself), guacamole. flautas, chiles rellenos, and a special dinner called Guadalajara that consists of nachos. beef strips simmered in wine and the makings for roll-your-own tacos. Not too many exotic dishes here, just delightful variations on traditional ones. Service can be very, very slow on weekends, but it’s usually worth the wait Bar by membership. (5934 Royal Ln at Preston/691-8301/Mon-Thur 11 a.m-9 p.m., Fri & Sat till 10 p.m., closed Sun/Reservations lor 6 or more/MC. V, AE/$)
Chiqulta. The cheeriest dining room In town, and some of the best dining, with swilt service and excellent lood, particularly the specialty dishes. Try the carne asada. the chiles rellenos, and the magnificent “Aztecs in a blanket.” The seafood dishes are also highly recommended. Leave room for the sopapillas. Lunch tends to be noisy and a bit rushed – the price of popularity. (3810 Congress, oft Oak Lawn/5210721/Mon-Thur 11:30-10:30, Fri & Sat till 11/No reserva-tions/MC, V, AE/$)
El Taxco. No frills as far as ambience is concerned, but what they don’t spend on decor they must spend on food, for El Taxco serves some of the best Tex-Mex in town at prices low enough to cause a double-take. The standard stuff Is excellent, but the more adventurous dishes, such as the Carne Tampiquena and the wonderfully named Tostadas a la McCaffrey, are well-seasoned, ample, and delicious Go when you feel laid back. (2126 N St Paul at McKinney/742-0747/Sun-Thur 11 a.m.-9 p.m.. Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m./No reservations/MC, V/$)
Herrera Cafe. Home-cooked Tex-Mex from two odd locations. The ludicrous-looking newer version on Lemmon Avenue serves the same great food as the original adobe hole-in-the-wall on Maple. But at the Lemmon location, quality is not a certainty. Visit Maple for good old fat flour tortillas hot off the grill, wonderful burritos. great guacamole. And the menudo is a community tradition (3902 Maple/526-9427/Mon. Wed. Thur 9 a.m-8 p.m., Fri-Sun till 10 p.m., closed Tue/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
Javier’s. A warm and attractive restaurant that demonstrates the variety of Mexican cuisine. No Tex-Mex here. Javier’s has the knack of seasoning food without overpowering it. Try the Red Snapper Javier, the Garlic Shrimp Guaymas, and the Corazon de Filete (a tenderloin filet with huitlacoche crepes). For dessert have the Cajeta Crepes. (4912 Cole Ave/521-4211/Sun-Thur 5:30-11. Fri & Sat till 11:30. bar till 2 a.m./Reservations/MC, V. AE/$$)
Raphael’s. Another old favorite in a slump, though the crowds haven’t changed. On recent visits, only the chicken nachos and the rich and tangy enchiladas en mole were up to the standards this restaurant once set. A little more care and a slowing down of an almost too-successful operation might cure Raphael’s ills. (3701 McKinney/521-9640/Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sat noon-W:30, closed Sun/Reservations Mon-Thur only/MC, V. AE/$$)
Goldfinger. Goldfinger is
more kicky, raucous nightclub than first-class restaurant. One by one the acts come up: torch singer and trio, Greek musicians playing “Exodus” and “Havah Nagilah” over loudspeakers, bouncy Greek folk dancers, and an athletic belly dancer encouraging audience participation (have a bill ready for her belt if she sashays near your table). There is food to match the floor show: wonderful spicy dolmas and rich spanakopita, bowls of light av-golemeno soup, salads loaded with olives, feta cheese, and spices. But that’s where the fun stops: the main dishes are neither very Greek nor very successful. Our shrimp and steak kostas had tender beef but frozen shrimp that simply wasn’t good, despite imaginative seasoning. Tough, tasteless veal ruined the veal venetikia (a former standout here) and the vegetables with it were limp and flavorless. Goldfinger is, for better or worse, a “dining experience”; but since it’s Dallas’s major source of Greek food, we wish more of the emphasis were on “dining ” than “experience.” (2905 Cridelle at W Northwest Hwy/350-6983/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 a.m.. Sat-Sun 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m./Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
India House. The only one in town, so it’s nice that this Indian restaurant is as good as it is, and that the staff is eager to introduce you to the delights of its cuisine. The Shahi House dinner will give you a bit of everything, but if you want to experiment, try the Mulligatawney soup, the Parantha Ahu (sort of like a puffed taco), the Tandoori dinner (a bright orange chicken dish), or the Bhun-na dinner (lamb and rice pilau). The varieties of bread and the chutneys must be sampled. A restaurant that has improved, added pungency to its offerings over the past year. (5422 ￡ Mockingbird/823- 1000/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Fri 5-10, Fri & Sat till 11, Sun noon-10/Reservations/MC. AE, DC, CB/$$)
Kuby’s. Busy and bustling Excellent homemade sausages (served with hot potato salad or sauerkraut), thick sandwiches (try the pastrami), great pastries, and a soup of the day that’s a lunchtime bargain (80c). A congenial spot with a German accent. (6601 Snider Plaza/363-2231 /Mon-Sat 8 2:30, sandwiches till 5:30/No reservations/MC/$)
Wall’s. A small deli with a whiff – but only a faint one – of the New York style it emulates. Fortunately, the Kosher delicacies are good, but stick to them – other items, like quiche Lorraine, are inferior. The gefilte fish is good, and the chopped liver on rye bread is excellent. The cabbage soup is hearty, well-seasoned and served piping hot, and the cheese blintzes are delectable Unfortunately, the service is alternately pushy and martyred. (10749 Preston Rd near Royal Ln/691-4444/Daily 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m./Reservations/MC, V/$$)
Health Nut. Natural food Pis not everybody’s cup of herb tea, but the Health Nut continues to persuade a lot of palates Bentwood chairs, wood and glass-topped tables, and dozens of plants in a large airy room give it the feel of a cozy patio. The famous and filling smoothies are always available, but so are natural food sandwiches, salads, soups, and a few hot dishes The soups – lima, lentil, herb vegetable. German potato, and gazpacho are served alternately – are hearty and nourishing, though sometimes healthful additions overshadow their main ingredients. The cream cheese sandwich with onion, cucumber, and grated carrot is delicious – and overpriced. The Health Nut’s salads are outstanding: Jerusalem artichokes and crispy fresh bean sprouts, red cabbage, lettuce, tomato, and carrots; or apples, oranges, melons, strawberries, bananas, grapes, and pineapple in the generous fruit salad. Top a meal off with spearmint-flavored herb tea, and you may go home converted. (4356 W Lovers Ln/692-1411/Mon-Thur 11-9, Fri & Sat 11-10/No reservations/ MC/$)
Celebration. No-nonsense home cooking – baked trout amandine, pot roast, a huge salad, baked biscuits, three vegetables, buttermilk pie. apple cobbler. Dark and cozy, with agreeable background music, so that a lot of people make themselves at home. Beer and wine only (4503 W. Lovers Ln/351-5681/Mon-Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30- 10/No reservations/MC. V/$)
Dixie House. Good food, amiable service, and great drinks The style is comfortable and casual – a great place for a lunch break, but not it you’re dieting, since the cuisine is calorie-loaded Southern style The meat loaf, the pot roast, and the pork chops are standouts. The fried chicken is a “specialty.” but not to all tastes The catfish is variable, and sometimes the French fries are a bit fishy. Try the beer-batter-fried onion rings Another McKinney Avenue restoration – comfortable and low-keyed, without ersatz nostalgia. (2822 McKinney/8240891/SunThur 11-11, Fri & Sat till midnight/No reservations/MC. V, AE/$$)
Sonny Bryan’s. A down-home barbecue joint furnished with old school desks and picnic tables – a distinctive Dallas institution. The 800 pounds of meat they’re reported to cook every day is usually gone by late afternoon. Don’t pass up the onion rings or the fries, and the crisp fresh cole slaw isgreat. (2202 lnwood/357-7120/Mon-Sat 6 a.m-6 p.m., Sun 11-2/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
S & D Oyster Company. Excellent oysters and shrimp and a few broiled fish – usually snapper or trout – when they’re available. They wisely avoid the fancier stuff – crab, lobster,and-clams – that has to be shipped in frozen. Simplicity of preparation is the key to this restaurants’s well-deserved success. For lunch, oyster loaf – fried oysters on a French roll with tartar sauce – is a good choice. For dinner, have some boiled shrimp for starters and finish off with their homemade pie. A bit noisy, but the place is for eaters as opposed to diners. 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, V/$$)
Steaks, Burgers, Etc.
Chili’s. Terrific enormous hamburgers, great spicy chili, and wonderful French fries at wondertul prices, me lernngua special, embellished with everything in the house, shows you what they can do. If you’re feeling more conservative, have the Old Timer. You’ll have to wait, day or night, but it’s worth it, and once you’re inside, the service is speedy. (7567 Greenville Ave at Meadow Rd/361-4371/Sun-Thur 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Fri & Sat till 1:30 a.m./No reservations/MC, V, AE/$)
Houlihan’s. Unlike some of its Greenville Avenue neighbors, Houlihan’s takes itself seriously as a restaurant. For starters, have the fried zucchini strips or the boiled spiced shrimp with red sauce. Try the gazpacho. which is available with gin and vermouth as a sort of Spanish martini. You’ll fare best among the burgers and omelettes and steaks, but the roast duck with orange sauce is surprisingly good. Desserts look tempting but are mediocre. Since you’ll probably have to wait in the bar, it’s nice that the drinks are excellent. (4 NorthPark East at Park Lane and Central/361-9426/Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat till 1 a.m./No reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$)
Kirby’s. Simply astonishing steaks “at prices that will please if not astonish you. Kirby’s is the only place to think of if all you want is a steak. It has some other things going for it: great baked potatoes, a battery of motherly waitresses, and a Fifties-style decor that’s funky without trying to be. But the main thing here is the beef. (3715 Greenville/823-7296/Tue-Sun 5:30-10, Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards/$$)
Stoneleigh P. A made-over drugstore, with two very popular items on the menu – lentil soup and a cheeseburger on a dark rye bun with pro-volone cheese. Other standouts include a broiled boneless chicken and a sausage sandwich. The Godiva chocolate pie is great for dessert. Check out the eclectic jukebox – everything from classical to country – and the marvelous magazine rack. (2926 Maple/741-0824/Mon-Thur 11:15-midnight, Fri & Sat till 1:30 a.m., Sun 12-12: bar daily till 1 a.m., Fri & Sat till 2/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
Strictly Ta-Bu. Old and intentionally tacky, but nice. Basically, it’s a neighborhood bar, with fair to excellent food – especially the pizza (which is, however, small and expensive) and burgers. For a change try the Ta-Bu special, a ham, turkey, bacon, and cheese sandwich with thousand island dressing on a rye bun. But most people come here for the jazz and the beer and the pizza, so don’t expect more than that. (4111 Lome-Alto/526-9325/Mon-Thur 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri-Sun 6 p.m.-2 a.m./No reservations/MC, V/$$)
T.Q.I. Friday’s. This may be Dallas’ junk food paradise – if junk food means luscious hamburgers (still among the best in town), a munchy concoction called “nacholupas, ’ the biggest salad you’ll ever see, and even rhubarb pie Good steak bargains; much-improved omelettes; and the half chicken is a superb meal. The place is lively as ever, with lots of swingles and a little of everything else. (Old Town. 5500 Greenville/363-5353/Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m./No reservations/MC. V. AE/$$)
Mainly For Lunch
The Bronx. Quick and friendly service make lunch at the Bronx a treat Try the inventive chef’s salad, with all the usual ingredients plus guacamole, black olives and red onion, the omelettes, and the hearty, homestyle mushroom meatloaf. The dinner menu, posted on a chalkboard, changes nightly. Don’t miss the creamy, rich chocolate mousse, with whipped cream and nuts – if you can’t finish it on the premises, they’ll give you a doggie bag Finish up with coffee, a blend of French roast and mocha (3835 Cedar Springs near Oak Lawn/521 -5821/MonThur 11:30-12:30 a.m.. Fri till 1 :30, Sar 6-1:30, bar till 2, ciosed Sun/neser-vations/MC, V/$$)
Ciro’s. An unpretentious spot with bountiful fancy sandwiches, excellent quiches (try the artichoke or the asparagus) and tasty soups. Definitely a lunch spot, though the nights they’re open for dinner they add a tew entrees Service has been spacy lately, but when it’s on the ball you can have a pleasant time sampling a selection of fine wines by the glass. Try the homemade pastries, especially anything with dates in it (3237 McKinney at Hall/745-9464/MonWed 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Thur & Fri till midnight. Sat till 1 a.m., closed Sun/No reserva-tions/MC. V/$)
Gallery Buffet. One of the best lunchtime bargains around, the Gallery Buffet in the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts generally features a hearty soup of the week, with salad, homemade bread, dessert, coffee, tea. and wine if you want it. You’ll have to wait till fall to sample fully, though – the menu has been pared down for the summer to an assortment of sandwich and salad plates. The dining room is airy and spacious, with prints from the museum’s collection. (DMFA, Fair Park/421-4187/Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m./Reservations tor 6 or more/No credit cards/$)
The Magic Pan. Yes, it’s a chain restaurant, and sometimes it shows Fortunately, the crepes themselves are very good, even if the soups and salads that precede and/or accompany them are thoroughly ordinary. Try the creamed chicken crepes with a sprinkling of parmesan. And for dessert, have the Chantilly – banana slices in a stunning sauce topped with real whipped cream and toasted almond slivers. That alone explains why there’s always a line halfway down the NorthPark mall (434 North-Park 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, V, AE, DO $$)
The Zodiac Room. A local institution that has begun to lack luster, though loyalists still flock there. Lunch is better than the Thursday buffet. When things are going right, the hot popovers, the cream of spinach soup, the sea and garden salad, and the vanilla ice cream ball with phenomenal hot fudge sauce are stunning But things don’t always go right, so you’ll have to decide for yourself whether the Zodiac is a tradition worth observing (NeimanMarcus, downtown/741-6911/Mon Sat 10 30 am -2 30 p.m.; teatime daily 3-5 p.m. except Thur; Dinner: Thur 5-7 p.m./Reservations/Neiman-Marcus charge card only, checks accepted/$$)
Fort Worth Restaurants
Angelo’s. A rambling patchwork shack with sawdust on the floor and patrons wearing gingham dresses or shirts with mother-of-pearl buttons. The atmosphere is right, and so is the barbeque. You’ll never find better spare ribs or more tender beef. The prices are a bit steep, though the beer is a bargain (have the medium – the large looks like more glass and less beer). (2533 White Settlement Rd/(817) 332-0357/Mon-Sat 11-10/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
The Balcony. Perched in the second story of a shopping center, The Balcony serves well-prepared but not extraordinary food. Standouts are the onion soup; a red snapper prepared with crab, lobster, and a subtle mushroom sauce; and a pleasant veal dish served with Wisconsin cheese. (6100 Camp Bowie Blvd/(817) 731-3719/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10. Fri & Sat till 10:30, closed Sun/ Reservations/MC, V. DC..AE/$$$)
Carriage House. What a restaurant this would be if every dish were as good as some of the beef dishes, especially the excellent Chateaubriand and the fork-tender filet mignon. A lack of finesse mars everything else, especially the seafood and the desserts. The service is unassuming and expert. (5136 Camp Bowie/(817) 732-2873/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2, Sun brunch 11-3; Dinner: daily 6-11, Sun 6-10/ Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$$)
Cattleman’s. Smack in the ’middle of the old stockyards, surrounded by more false fronts than you’ll find on the backlot at Warner Brothers, Cattleman’s is a Fort Worth institution. That’s the first thing to remember – it’s a local restaurant with a large and loyal following. No place with delusions of grandeur could get away with coral chairs and oil paintings of prize bulls. Steak, of course, is the specialty here. We’re partial to the ribeyes and the Kansas City strip. The calf and lamb fries are also terrific, though something of an acquired taste. Don’t stray into the spaghetti dishes or lobster, though; they’re just not Cattleman’s forte. The service is a delight, even on a Saturday night: Where else can you see a waitress serve a table of eight in two passes without mixing up a single order? More entertaining than dinner theater, and there’s no cover charge. (2458 N Main/(817) 624-3945/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sat 4:30-10:30 p.m., closed Sun/Reservations/All credit cards/$$)
Old Swiss House. Dependable but not dazzling. The veal dishes, though on the heavy side, are the recommended house specialties. The veau Zurichoise, for instance, is tasty but immobilizing. The veau aux champignons is simpler and more delicate. Excellent filet mignon and good fish dishes, including a lovely Nova Scotia salmon appetizer. It’s a Fort Worth institution, but it’s also rather stuffy, though the fresh flowers and the slice of lime in each glass give the place a gracious air. The extensive wine list is strong in Californias and the service is quick and polished. (5412 Camp Bowie/(817) 738-8091/Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat till 10:30. closed Sun/Reservations/MC. V, AE. DC/$$$)