Pittman House. This is one of those schizophrenic restaurants that live two lives: the dinner life and the lunch life. The dinner life is better. Our visits at night have been nearly flawless – thoroughly enjoyable dining. The menu is limited (six entrees) and without theme – it appears to be a collection of someone’s favorite recipes, tried and true. As far as we’ve tasted, every one is a prize: tenderloin of beef with fresh garlic and shallots, quail perfectly cooked and dressed in a mild wine sauce with cherries, fine red snapper in a sauce “Veracruz,” a rib-eye with Roquefort butter, and, the star of the show, shrimp broiled in the shell and served with a spicy sauce charged with file (the powdered sassafras spice common in Creole cooking) – messy, but delicious. The soups were very nice, particularly the gumbo, and the fresh fruit salad is served with an interesting apricot dressing. The Pittman House is one of the most attractive “restoration restaurants” to come along, set in a large old brick building on Routh Street off Cedar Springs the brick-and-can-dlelight effect at night is lovely. But by daytime, the character of the place changes and takes on a tearoom air, with a menu to match. The food is okay (particularly the crab, avocado, and bacon sandwich – a knockout), but the fare gets no more substantial than the over-seasoned beef stew and the daily special (we had enchiladas, which seemed out of place). But day or night, it’s great to see a place that cares about desserts: an ice cream ball with peach topping, and a superb, tart cherry pandowdy (something like a cobbler). The service reflects homespun concern and was good at both lunch and dinner: But the rest was best at night.
(2911 Routh at Cedar Springs/745-1149/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun noon-2:30; Dinner: Sun-Thurs 6-10, Fri & Sat till 10:30/Reservations/MC, V/$$$)
Frank X. Tolbert’s Chili Parlor. This place may be a mistake in marketing. The principal draw is supposed to be a “bowl of red simmered up according to the favorite recipe of Texas journalist Frank X. Tolbert, who is also a chili purist (no beans in the chili), and founder of the Terlingua cookoff. But does the place draw real chiliheads? Those who are serious enough about the stuff to go someplace like Terlingua just to show off their recipes would probably consider Tolbert’s offering so mild as to be pusillanimous. And as for those who can take chili or leave it, would any of them order it in a restaurant?
Tolbert’s does offer more than just chili. There is Austin-style decor, with hanging plants, Euphorbia cactus, and lots of weathered wood in Tolbert’s new Cedar Springs location. There are novelty drinks:”border buttermilk” (tequila, blackberry liqueur, and lemon juice – not much better than it sounds, and so sweet it can close up your throat) and the “farkletini,” gin or vodka on the rocks with a farkleberry. (The farkleberry is no joke; it’s the fruit of the farkleberry tree, Vaccinium arboreum, which grows in East Texas.) But the place isn’t a total disaster: Service is friendly and fairly efficient, and they make some really good combination nachos, featuring real cheese, fresh jalapenos, and tostados with some structural integrity.
Of the chili dishes, we’ve tried the bowl of red (it’s pretty good chili, all right, though we like beans in ours) and the Boquillas burrito. This is a large flour tortilla wrapped around chili, onions, and lettuce, sitting in a pool of alarmingly yellow chili con queso.
The burgers are better: Each one offers a half pound of meat, and the chef shows some restraint with the garnishes. We like the El Paso burger, topped with refried beans, sautéed onions, and chili con queso (not for the dainty); and the R.O.C., with chili, cheese, and onions, a class version of Harvey Goff’s Number Four.
The onion rings are well seasoned, but huge, over-battered, and even greasier than those at Peggy’s Beef Bar. With onion rings, maybe less is more. We tried some “homemade” chocolate and coconut pies, but they were like school cafeteria fare – gelatinous and over-sweet.
(3802 Cedar Springs/522-4340/Mon-Thurs 11-11, Fri & Sat 11-2, Sun 12-11/ MC, V, AE/SS)
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 indicate only 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.
$$$ Expensive. You can expect to spend more than $10 for a complete meal excluding wine and cocktails.
$$$$ Very expensive.
Credit card notations: MC/Master Charae. V/Visa, AE/American Express, DC/Diner’s Club. CB/Carte Blanche. “All Credit Cards” indicates that all five are accepted
Arthur’s. Home away from home for junior executives and the expense account set. Arthur’s sports a classy bar and a first-rate kitchen. Lunch is as solid as dinner, with hefty portions to keep the three-martini luncher on an even keel Have the magnificent calf’s liver with Canadian bacon and sautéed onions, or the sensational lamb chops Professional service and elegance without condescension. (1000 Campbell Centre/361-8833/Lunch: Mon-Fn 11:30-2;Dln ner: daily 6-11, Sat till midnight/Reserva tions/AII credit cards/$$$)
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. This elegant coffee shop still fills a local void as a late-night snack stop after a dressy evening, and some of its post-midnight treats are as wonderful as ever: sensational eggs Benedict, avocado stuffed with crabmeat, and sirloin steak sandwich. But the salads, omelettes, and sandwiches are no better than you can get at lots of other places – just considerably more expensive – and around 2 a.m. you can get the uneasy feeling that you’re keeping the place open. Still, late night is the only time to visit, and there’s really nowhere else to go. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/748-5454/24 hours, seven days a week/No reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$)
Calluaud. The secret of this first-class restaurant is restraint; just enough items on the menu for the kitchen to handle with care, light and delicate sauces, lightly cooked fresh vegetables, and an overall reverence for the subtle pleasures of fish and veal. It’s hard to make a wrong move at dinner, but be sure to start with the red snapper pate when it’s on the menu. Lunch features superb omelettes and some fine light entrees: coquilles St. Jacques, filet of sole, and a steak accompanied by the best French fries in town. Noisy when it’s crowded, and service sometimes goes astray when things get too busy. But most of the time, Calluaud is a class operation. (2917 Fairmount off Cedar Springs/742-8525/Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Fri 6:30-10, Sat till 11, closed Sunday/Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$$)
D Revisits La Cave. This little restaurant is a delight for a light meal and good wine in pleasant surroundings. The gimmicks are the wine bar – you can order a half-dozen good wines by the glass – and the open wine cellar, stocked with a vast assortment of foreign and domestic wines at prices well below the restaurant norm. But La Cave succeeds on culinary grounds, too. The menu offers barely a dozen items, which allows sensitive preparation and presentation. Our onion soup was delicately flavored and well balanced. The crabmeat in our stuffed avocado could have been more flavorful, but the avocado was perfectly ripe. Tomato stuffed with shrimp was just fine. Chicken liver “pate’ was more like a puree, but its delicate flavor was unusually appealing. Apple cheesecake and orange-flavored double-cream cheese were both exceptional desserts. The only flaws: an efficient but flaky waitress, and mild American-style coffee instead of heady espresso. Good 1940’s background music, too. (2926 Henderson/826-2190/Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2:30; Dinner: 5:30-12. Sat till 1; open all day for off-premises wine sales/No reservations/MC, V/$)
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, for 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.-midnight, closed Sun/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
The Chimney. Service at the Chimney has been uniformly splendid, with waitresses who can knowledgeably explain each dish and tell you whether it’s worth ordering that day. Better yet. the kitchen is careful, dependable, and innovative. Top honors go to the veal, especially the veal Zurich and veal Oscar, and a variety of wonderful desserts, from bananas Foster to Black Forest cake. Lunch is first-class, from the light and flaky quiche to the tasty squash fritters. The wine list includes s6me interesting Austrian wines. Apart from some recent unevenness in the appetizers, this is a comfortable, unpretentious, dependable restaurant. (Willow Creek, 9739 N Cen Expwy at Walnut Hill/369-6466/Lunch: TueSat 11:30-2; Dinner: Tue-Sal 6-10:30. Sun 6-10: Sun brunch: 11:30-2/Reservations/ MC, V, AE, DC/$$S)
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 if your entree doesn’t come with it, and conclude with the Black Forest cake No frills, but tew disappointments, either. (54 75 W Lovers Ln/357-1622/Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat 6-11, closed Sun/Reservations/MC. W$$$)
Gitana. In setting alone, Gitana is one of the most pleasant restaurants in town, so it’s nice to report that the food has become consistently good. Particularly the appetizers – with the ratatouille and the fried artichoke hearts as standouts. As for entrees, the paella is only average, but the shrimp dishes are excellent. Lunch features linguine and a rich fettucine, as well as some pleasant salads and sandwiches. Good wine selections and excellent sherries. Service is erratic. (3236 McKinney/521-4360/Lunch: 11:30-2, except Sat, Dinner: 6-10:30, Fri & Sat till 11/AE. V, MC/$$)
The Grape. An old favorite with some new delights, especially at lunch, which has become more adventurous. The beef dishes, particularly the tournedos béarnaise 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: TueSun 6-10:30, open till midnight on Fri & Sat lor wine and cheese only/No reservations/MC, V/$$)
Jean Claude. A unique restaurant in that it provides culinary instruction along with first-class continental cuisine. The constantly changing menu features three hors doeuvres, three entrees, and three desserts each evening. Jean Claude Prevot “performs” in an open kitchen and is eager to explain his procedures. Portions are small, but their preparation is consistently excellent. The fixed price is high, and the reservations-only policy means you may have to wait as long as two weeks for the chance to enjoy Jean Claudes splendid fare (2520 Cedar Springs/653-1823/Dinner: Tue-Sat 6:30-930/Reservations only/MC. V. AE/$$$)
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. (5617 W Lovers Ln/352-5976/MonSat 6-10, closed Sun/Reservations/MC. V, AE, DC/$$$)
Old Warsaw. Risen from its decline, La Vieille Varsovie (as it would rather be called) is once again one of Dallas’ best restaurants. The kitchen isn’t bold or imaginative, but it is consistent. Start with the shrimp with shallots and Pernod sauce. If the $15 price tag doesn’t deter you. have the terrine de foie gras. We also recommend the roast quail in truffle sauce, the rack of lamb, or the cote de veau. And don’t ignore the waiter’s recommendations when he suggests a dessert souffle. (2610 McKinney/528-0032/Tue-Sun 6-10:45, Sat till 11:45/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
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 béamaise, or their splendid escalope of veal. The place itself is a bit sterile except tor their terrific – and very French – little bar. (2504 McKinney/748-3754/Tue-Sun 6-11, Sat till 11:30, closed Mon/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
D Revisits Three Vikings. We were making jokes about the Swedish chef on the “Mup-pet Show” – the one who makes chocolate mousse with a real moose – when we went in. We weren’t joking when we left – this is a delightful restaurant, with a charm unlike any other in town Part of its charm comes from the fact that it’s run by two generations of a Swedish family. The son, Anders, is the chef, and the filet of sole Anders does credit to his name: perfectly cooked, with crabmeat and a light lemony sauce whose secret, his mother claims, he won’t divulge even to her. The Swedish steak, a sirloin that’s pounded flat, grilled, and served with a mushroom sauce, is also first-rate. And so are the rest of the entrees, from all reports. They do other things right, like fresh vegetables served lightly steamed, a terrific Swedish shrimp chowder, and a memorable chocolate cheese pie. Service is friendly and helpful – and a variety of unusual items makes the help necessary – without being gushy. The only complaints we can muster are that the house salad is uninspired, though that may have more to do with the availability of good lettuce these days than with any fault in the kitchen, and the wine list is inadequate. (2831 Greenville at Goodwin/827-6770/Mon-Sat 6-11/ Reserva-tions/MC. V. AE/$$$)
Pyramid Room. Hyatt-Regency or no, the Fairmont has an ace up its sleeve: the Pyramid Room. The overall dining experience here is unrivaled in Dallas. That’s attributable to its charming, efficient staff and a relaxed approach to splendid food. We’ve recently sampled the excellent veal chop baked with honey and dressed with grated carrot, even better was the lamb loin baked in a pastry shell with tarragon sauce – a lamb lover’s dream. Lunch is almost as great a pleasure – the calf’s 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 tried the “Pyramid Hamburger.” It was. of course, superb. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross & Akard/748-5454/Lunch: 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Daily 6-midnight/Reservationsi All credit cards/$$$$)
lanni’s. A family-run restaurant with excellent pasta – try the baked ziti with eggplant and mozzarella or the buttery, thick fet-tucini lanni – and terrific appetizers. The “house specialties,” on the other hand, are nothing special. Good desserts and coffee; tacky decor. (2230 Greenville/826-6161/Mon-Thur 5-11:00, Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30,Sun 5-10:30/Reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)
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 superb, 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. (8676 Turtle Creek, north of Northwest Hwy/352-8759/ Daily 5:30-11, Sat till midnight/Reservations except on Fri & Sat/All credit cards/$$$)
Campisi’s. Everyone’s fantasy of the neighborhood Italian restaurant – small, dark, and bustling, with family portraits on the wall and an army of no-nonsense waitresses. Unfortunately, the food is pretty ordinary – the kitchen does well with staples like pizza, lasagna and ravioli (the last is homemade), but tends to manhandle mildly sophisticated dishes like veal scaloppine marsala and scampi. So stick to the basics and enjoy the atmosphere. At its best on a Friday night. (5610 East Mockingbird Lnl827-0355/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-midnight. Sat till 1 a.m., Sun noon-midnight/No credit cards, but personal checks accepted/Reservations lor 6 or more/$)
Italian Pavilion. An out-of-the-way location and rather garish decor are the negatives here. But the food is excellent, including delicious hot antipasto and fine veal dishes, particularly the veal Fiorentina, with crab-meat, and the veal Gaetano, with madeira sauce and mushrooms. Soups and salads are less distinguished, and the service, while pleasant, can be slow. A good moderately priced wine list and excellent cappuccino help round out the generally positive picture of Italian Pavilion. (Le Baron Hotel, 1055 Regal Row at Carpenter Fwy/634-8550 ext. 7200/Dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30, closed Sun/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
Lombardi’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 crepe-like pasta, the pork parmigiana 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 reservations at 7:30 or 9:30/MC, V, AE/$$$)
Mario’s. Elegant but not stuffy (though they do require men to wear jackets). While you wouldn’t choose Mario’s if you were in the mood for hard-core Italian food, the fettucine is excellent, and the manicotti appetizer comes with a perfectly balanced tomato sauce. The menu ranges from a simple veal with green peppers (in which the veal can be tasted, for a change) to an elaborate Tournedos Heloise – artichoke hearts, pate, and mushrooms atop the filet. A solid but not exceptional restaurant. (135 Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn/521-1135/ Daily 6-10:45, Sat till 11:45/Reservations/AII credit cards/$$$)
Pietro’s. Pietro’s comes close to what youd 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 5:30-10p.m., Fri & Sal 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/Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri-Sun 11-midnight/ Reservations for 3 or more/MC, V, AE/$$)
Mihama Ya. A family-run Japanese restaurant with a grocery up front. Terrific shrimp tempura and chicken teriyaki: delightful yakiniku, a beef and vegetable dish: and wonderful chicken kara age. marinated and deep fried. The only weak spots are the soups and salads. An off-beat, thoroughly delightful place. (7713 Inwood Rd/351-9491/Mon-Thur 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11. Sun 1-10/Reservations/MC. V, AE, DC/$)
D Revisits Trader Vic’s. This restaurant is straight out of a Dorothy Lamour movie, but it’s a pretty good set and we always begin dinner there with a sense of anticipation. The place is cool and dark after the hot blast of Central, there’s the memory of other Trader Vic’s restaurants in San Francisco and Chicago, and best of all. the selection of rum drinks is wonderful The glow lasts only as long as the Planter’s Punch, however, because when the main dishes arrive, i1 becomes clear the Trader would rather tend bar than cook. On a recent visit, theatrics and complex preparation won out over some delicate seafood: The oysters in our Oysters Hamburg were coated so heavily with bread crumbs and parmesan that we couldn’t taste them; Trader Vies Special Lobster, prepared tableside with lots of flames and fanfare, was slathered with heavy, sweetened cream sauce. Not worth the tab. which topped $40 for two. The luncheon buffet seems to be a better deal – for $5.25 you can load your plate with a variety of salads, fresh pineapple and melon, iced shrimp, and seafood appetizers, but again, the main dishes are nothing special. We can’t help feeling some affection for Trader Vic’s, but by the time the Muzak flips into its third rendition of “Hawaiian Love Song” and the bill arrives, it’s stretched pretty thin. (Hilton Inn, 5300 E Mockingbird at Central Expwy/827-3620/ Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, closed Sat. Sun brunch 11:30-2:30: Dinner: Daily 5-11/Reservations/All credit cards/$$S)
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/Reser-vations/AII credit cards/$$$)
South China. Its competitors waver and topple, but South China continues to produce consistently excellent Chinese cuisine. Sweet and sour shrimp doesn’t come any better in Dallas, nor ginger beef more delicately seasoned. Recent discoveries include the moo shi pork, with a delicious filling, and the white mushrooms with crisp broccoli. South China sometimes fumbles with the appetizers, but the shrimp toast, beef strips, fried wonton, and sizzling rice soup are fine. Not to” be missed: Saturday and Sunday at lunch the chef prepares Chinese delicacies not on the regular menu for bargain prices. (5424 E Mockingbird/826-5420/Lunch: Daily 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun noon-2:30; Dinner Mon-Thurs 5-11, Fri & Sat 5-12, Sun 5-10/Res-ervations/MC. V, AE/$$)
Szechuan. The Lemmon Avenue spinoff of Greenville Avenue’s Hunan restaurand 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 Lem-mon near Douglas/521-6981/Sun-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat till 11:30/Reservations on weekends/MC, V, AE, DO $$)
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 and 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/691-8301VMon-Thur 11 a.m-9 p.m., Fri & Sat till 10 p.m., closed Sun/Reservations for 6 or more/MC, V, AE/$)
Chiquita. The cheeriest dining room in town, and some of the best dining, with swift service and excellent food, 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 so-papillas. Lunch tends to be noisy and a bit rushed – the price of popularity. (3810 Congress, off Oak Lawn/521-0721/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 Tam-piquena 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 crêpes). For dessert have the Cajeta Crêpes. (4972 Cole Ave/521-4211/Sun-Thur 5:30-11. Fri & Sat till 11:30, bar till 2 a.m./Reservations/MC, V, AE/$S)
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-10:30, closed Sun/Reservations Mon-Thur only/MC, V, AE/$$)
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 Bhunna 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 E 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/$$)
Goldfinger. With live music, a torch singer, and a belly dancer, Goldfinger is more raucous nightclub than first-class restaurant, but there is food to accompany the floor show: wonderful spicy dolmas and rich spanakipita: bowls of light avgolemeno soup; salads loaded with olives, teta cheese, and spices. But that’s where the fun stops. The main dishes are neither very Greek nor very successful. Our shrimp and steak kostas featured frozen shrimp: tough, tasteless veal ruined the veal venetikia (a former standout), and the vegetables with it were limp and flavorless. Goldfinger is a “dining experience,” but since it’s Dallass major source of Greek food, we wish more of the emphasis were on “dining” than “experience. (2905 Cridelle at W Northwest Hwy/350-6983/ Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sat-Sun 6 p.m.-2 a.m./Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
Health Nut. Not everybody’s cup of herb tea, but the Health Nut continues to persuade lots of palates with their famous, filling smoothies, salads, soups, and a few hot dishes. The soups – lima, lentil, herb vegetable, German potato, and gazpacho are served alternately – are hearty and nourishing, and their salads outstanding: Jerusalem artichokes and crisp fresh bean sprouts, red cabbage, lettuce, tomato, and carrots; or apples, oranges, melons, strawberries, bananas, grapes and pineapple in a generous fruit salad. Try a cup of spearmint-flavored tea and you may go home converted. (4356 W Lovers Ln/692-1411/Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m./No reservations/$)
Kuby’s. Busy and bustling. Excellent homemade sausages (served with hot potato salad or sauerkraut), thick sandwiches (try the pastrami), great pastries, and a soup of the day that’s a lunchtime bargain (80￠). A congenial spot with a German accent. (6607 Snider Plaza/363-2231/Mon-Sat 8-2:30, sandwiches till 5:30/No reservations/MC/$)
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./Reserva-tions/MC, V/$$)
Celebration. No-nonsense home cooking – baked trout amandine, pot roast, a huge salad, baked biscuits, three vegetables, buttermilk pie, apple cobbler. Dark and cozy, with agreeable background music, so that a lot of people make themselves at home. Beer and wine only. (4503 W Lovers Ln/351-5681/Mon-Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30-10/No reser-vations/MC. V/$)
Dixie House. Good food, amiable service, and great drinks. The style is comfortable and casual – a great place for a lunch break, but not if you’re dieting, since the cuisine is calorie-loaded Southern style. The meat loaf, the pot roast, and the pork chops are standouts. The fried chicken is a “specialty,” but not to all tastes. The catfish is variable, and sometimes the French fries are a bit fishy. Try the beer-batter-fried onion rings. Another McKinney Avenue restoration – comfortable and low-keyed, without ersatz nostalgia. (2822 McKinney/824-0891/Sun-Thur 11-11. Fri & Sat till midnight/No reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)
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 is great. (2202 lnwood/357-7120/Mon-Sat 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun 11-2/No reservations/No credit cards/$)
D Revisits S & D Oyster Company. Why do we list only one seafood restaurant? Because there’s only one that knows that seafood is best when it is fresh and simply prepared, not smothered in gluey sauces or cooked until it has the consistency of mush. The fancier and more expensive seafood places in town do a few things right, but you’re taking your chances with them. You take no chances at S&D because the menu is limited to the few broiled and fried items they can handle. On recent visits the oysters have been plump and |uicy, the shrimp sweet, the broiled red snapper cooked to the point of perfection just before it turns white and dry. The gumbo is the real thing, chock full of shrimp and seafood, though it needs a couple of dashes of file powder from the shaker on the table. And the French fries are usually good of kind the thin kind, with the skin still on. Thereare some weak points: hushpuppies that aretoo dense and dry. and desserts that aremuch too sweet. And a cole slaw that’s amatter of taste – some think it’s terrific;some think it should be sharp rather thansweet. It would be nice if they had a full bar its beer and wine only, and the housechablis is an acidulous California brand Thenoise level when it’s crowded – the building is a converted warehouse with concrete floor and brick walls – is too high for comfort. Its always crowded, so there’s no avoiding that problem. Fortunately, the gustatory pleasure outweighs the auditory pain. (2701 McKinney near Routh/823-6350/Mon-Thur 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.. Fri & Sat till 11. closed Sun/No reservations/MC. V/$S)
STEAKS, BURGERS, ETC.
Chili’s. Terrific enormous hamburgers, great spicy chili, and wonderful French fries at wonderful prices. The Terlingua 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 am/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/$$)
D Revisits Kirby’s. The place to go when you’ve got beef on your mind: Step inside and you’re back in the Fifties, when dining out meant sitting in a very dark place and eating a huge piece of meat. It’s still great. The steaks are tender, among the best in town, and the price per pound is competitive with the chains’; after all, Kirby’s hasn’t spent any money on redecorating in 20 years. You might want to order rarer than you usually do, though – our steaks were left on the fire a bit too long. Kirby’s offers all the salad you can eat – but it’s just iceberg and cherry tomatoes – and terrific baked potatoes with everything. You can finish off your meal with a hot fudge sundae in a steel dish – just like when your parents used to take you out to dinner. (3715 Greenville/823-7296/Tue-Sun 5:30-10, Fri & Sat till midnight/Reservations/All credit cards/$$)
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 provolone 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 Lomo Alto/526-9325/Mon-Thur 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri-Sun 6 p.m.-2 a.m./No reservations/MC, V/$$)
T.G.I. Friday’s. This may be Dallas’ junk food paradise – if |unk food means luscious hamburgers (still among the best in town), a munchy concoction called “nacholupas,” the biggest salad you’ll ever see, and even rhubarb pie. Good steak bargains; much-improved omelettes; and the half chicken is a superb meal. The place is lively as ever, with lots of swingles and a little ot everything else. (Old Town. 5500 Greenville/363-5353/Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m./No reservations/MC, V, AE/$$)
MAINLY FOB 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/Mon-Thur 11:30-12:30 a.m.. Fri till 1:30. Sat 6-1:30. bar till 2. closed Sun/Reservations/MC. V/$$)
Ciro’s. An unpretentious spot with bountiful fancy sandwiches, excellent quiches (try the artichoke or the asparagus) and tasty soups. Definitely a lunch spot, though the nights they’re open for dinner they add a few entrees. Service has been spacy lately, but when it’s on the ball you can have a pleasant time sampling a selection of fine wines by the glass. Try the homemade pastries, especially anything with dates in it. (3237 McKinney at Hall/745-9464/Mon-Wed 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Thur & Fri till midnight, Sat till 1 a.m., closed Sun/No reservations/MC, V/$)
Gallery Buffet. One of the best lunchtime bargains around, the Gallery Buffet in the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts generally features a hearty soup of the week, with salad, homemade bread, dessert, coffee, tea, and wine if you want it. You’ll have to wait till fall to sample fully, though – the menu has been pared down for the summer to an assortment of sandwich and salad plates The dining room is airy and spacious, with prints from the museum’s collection. (DMFA, Fair Park/421-4187/Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p. m./Reservations for 6 or more/No credit cards/$)
The Magic Pan. Yes, it’s a chain restaurant, and sometimes it shows. Fortunately, the crepes themselves are very good, even if the soups and salads that precede and/or accompany them are thoroughly ordinary. Try the creamed chicken crepes with a sprinkling of parmesan And for dessert, have the Chan-tilly – banana slices in a stunning sauce topped with real whipped cream and toastec almond slivers. (434 NorthPark Mall/692 7574/Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri till 1 a.m., Sat 10 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun 10 a.m.-midnight/No reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$)
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. (Neiman-Marcus, downtown/741-6911/Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m.-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/$$)
FORT WORTH RESTAURANTS
The Balcony. Perched in the second story of a shopping center, The Balcony serves well-prepared but not extraordinary food. Standouts are the onion soup; a red snapper prepared with crab, lobster, and a subtle mushroom sauce; and a pleasant veal dish served with Wisconsin cheese. (6100 Camp Bowie Blvd/(817) 731-3719/Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: Dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat till 10:30, closed Sun/Reservations/MC, V, DC. AE/$$$)
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). Beer prices double after 10 p.m.. so they must know the beer is a steal. (2533 White Settlement Rdl (817) 332-0357/Mon-Sat 11-10/No reservations/ No credit cards/$)
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/$$$)
Cattleman’s. Smack in the middle of the old stockyards, surrounded by more false fronts than the back lot at Warner Brothers, Cattleman’s is a Fort Worth Institution with a large and loyal following. Steak is the specialty here: We’re partial to the ribeyes and the Kansas City strip. The calf and lamb fries are also terrific, though something of an acquired taste. Don’t stray into the spaghetti or lobster; they’re just not Cattleman’s forte.(2458 N Main/(817) 624-3945/Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10:45 p.m., Sat 4-10:45 p.m., closed Sun/Reservations/All credit cards/$$$)
Old Swiss House. Dependable but notdazzling. The veal dishes, though on theheavy side, are the recommended housespecialties. The veau Zurichoise, for instance, is tasty but immobilizing. The veauaux champignons is simpler and more delicate. Excellent filet mignon and good fishdishes, including a lovely Nova Scotia salmonappetizer. It’s a Fort Worth institution, but it’salso rather stuffy. The extensive wine listis strong in Californias and the service isquick and polished. (5412 Camp Bowie/(817)738-8091 /Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat till10:30, closed Sun/Reservations/MC, V, AE, DC/$$$)