DINING NEW ARRIVALS

Pasta, patés and seafood potpourris.

Beauregard’s. For people in the working world, there’s little time for food preparation, and the prospect of ingesting another TV dinner is enough to give even a short-order cook heartburn. But a sudden outcropping of gourmet carryouts has made it possible for workaholics to dine splendidly and still do no more than light the oven. Beauregard’s, located in one-half of a tiny house on Lovers Lane, is a combination gourmet carryout and European-style grocery. The store carries a varied selection of fresh vegetables literally from around the world, homemade jams and jellies (festively packaged) and an assortment of fresh-baked breads. In addition, owner Beauregard Detterman prepares meat pies to heat at home, ready-to-go pasta, salads, patés and desserts. On one visit, we sampled a chicken pie with bell pepper, onion, tomato, zucchini- topped with mozzarel-la cheese. When heated, the pie was a juicy blend of flavors that made a filling meal. As a good complement, the duck liver pate was smooth, creamy and rich, although it was an unappealing grayish color. Unfortunately, the pasta salad with ricotta cheese and bacon was not a wise choice. It was a bit dry and bland. Even the flavor of the bacon was indistinguishable. But the cheese pastry with ham was a definite highlight. It was so moist and tasty that we wish we’d bought more. To finish the meal, we chose Beauregard’s dessert specialty: a chocolate cake made with Austrian and French chocolate, then sprinkled with cocoa and powdered sugar. The cake is marinated for four days, and it just keeps getting richer. Note: You really have to love chocolate to enjoy this cake. As an added treat, we tried some strawberries from Australia that were unquestionably the best we’ve ever eaten. (4603 W. Lovers Lane. 351-0378. Mon-Sat 10-6:30, Sun 11-6:30. No credit cards. $$$)

Mirabelle. It was the French who first elevated takeout foods to haute cuisine, but the idea was eagerly embraced by frenetic Manhattanites, who liked the idea of stopping by the local gourmet grocery to pick up a dish of coq au vin and a pear glace to go. Now Dallas too has its carry-out gourmands, whose daily labors can – for a price -make even the most hopeless cook look good. It is possible to visit Mirabelle, a smashing new French takeout place in Highland Park Village, and select from among the day’s offerings a bountiful five- to six-course meal -including wine. The menu varies daily and is an incredibly inventive one. You will seldom encounter a dish twice (at least not within two to three weeks); the wealth of recipes being the result of owner Chris Jonsson’s various studies abroad. The patés are made by the Mirabelle chef. An excellent choice is the pistachio-spiced country ter-rine. Salads are offered in a wide range of combinations, varying according to available ingredients and sometimes as complements to the day’s prepared meats. A good standby is the tarragon chicken salad, seasoned judiciously and given crunch by the inclusion of roasted almonds. There’s always a pasta salad or two, some with seafood or meat. We tried a mixture of baby shells, peas and ham seasoned with fresh basil, which was very good – but you had to really like basil. Other main-dish salads include a popular Oriental blend of lightly sautéed or blanched vegetables with chicken, seafood or beef. Usually five or six vegetables are on hand, and they are consistently good. The least successful of Mirabelle’s offerings are the entrees -and it may just be the nature of the beast. They look so ghastly once their sauces have congealed that it is difficult to get beyond the leftover look to imagining them in full garnish on your plate. A roast pork we tried was particularly disappointing. It lacked much of its original tenderness and seemed overly soused in soy sauce. Coq au vin was much better, though it looked pretty unappetizing before it was reheated. Mirabelle’s crowning achievements are its desserts, which are so tantalizing that it’s nearly impossible to choose between them. The fresh plum and apple tarts are excellent, as is the sour-cream cheesecake offered with a peach melba sauce. The cookies and bran muffins are at the top of their genre and well worth their price -both in calories and in cash. Speaking of cash -take plenty, this expertise in the kitchen does not come cheap. (73-74 Highland Park Village. 528-7589. Tue-Sun 10:30-7:30. All credit cards. $$$)

Ristorante Lombardi. With this latest addition in Adelstein Plaza, Lombardi’s continues its tradition of offering great Italian cuisine. From the outside, Ristor-ante Lombardi exudes quiet elegance with its high, arched windows and landscaped walkways. The interior, while tastefully decorated in shades of forest-green and mauve, resembles a bustling department store. Tiled floors and display cases filled with fresh shellfish and various desserts add to the Italian ambiance. The menu here is extensive; try the specialty of the house appetizer (delizia tricolore), a sampling of some of Lombardi’s pasta, or steamed clams served with garlic, white wine and lemon sauce. Although the clams were delicious, they seemed a bit expensive at $5.95 for a half dozen. As entrees, the sea bass with mixed seafood was flavorful and rich; the veal scaloppine, tender and buttery. The juicy lamb chops were prepared in a lightly seasoned breading and sautéed with red peppers, onions and black olives. And don’t pass up dessert. Lombardi’s offers homemade pastries and ice creams; a smooth, subtle chocolate rum cake and, of course, espresso and cappuccino. (15501 Dallas Parkway at Arapaho Road. 458-8822. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$)

Spinnaker. The most elegant of the new Lincoln hotel’s restaurants is less pretentious than other premiere hotel restaurants we’ve visited and much better executed. The menu is of manageable size -there is variety, but it doesn’t appear that the chef agrees to perform beyond his means in order to impress. Prices are quite reasonable, and the pace of our dinner there was perfect. We began with an on-the-house appetizer, a tasty sample of marinated shrimp. Our entree choices were from two different sections of the menu, one labeled “The Specialties”; the other, “Our Specialty.” The first included the usual potpourri of seafood -red snapper, crab, sole, shrimp, salmon, trout, scrod, oysters, turbot and lobster. But the manner in which these entrees were served – the trout sautéed with pecans and butter; the jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon with sauce bourguignonne; the salmon poached with fresh vegetables in Court-Bouillon – was original and made the choice difficult. We decided on a filet of red snapper with white wine and lemon butter and selected our other entrée from “Our Specialty”: bouillabaisse marsellaise, rich with shrimp, scallops, crab legs, halibut, sea bass, lobster, mussels, redfish and clams in a deliciously light, non-fishy broth. The appetizers we tried -baked clams with shrimp and crab meat -were fine, but we’ll admit to picking the shrimp and crab off the clams and in a few instances eating only that. The bisque of crawfish with cognac was also very good: not too thick and, as the other dishes, lacked that fishy taste. We missed having salads with our meal and feel the need to give the Spinnaker counsel on its desserts: When the beautiful dessert cart rolled around, our hearts fell. After a childhood of cafeteria desserts, we know that a slice of pie that looks that good can’t be heaven to eat. And sure enough, the chocolate chip-pecan pie (an eye-catching combination served replete with a chocolate zodiac sign on top) and the strawberry tart just didn’t taste quite as good as they should have. But the assortment of breads was delightful (though softened butter would have been nice), and the complimentary house wine refill was welcome. (The Lincoln Hotel, 5410 LBJ Frwy. at the Tollway. 934-8400. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Daily 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$)

RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS



These restaurants represent the best in Dallas and Fort Worth dining.

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 $15 for a complete meal excluding wine and cocktails.

$$$$ Very expensive.

Unless otherwise noted, all restaurants have full bar facilities.

Credit card notations: MC/MasterCard, V/Visa, AE/Amencan Express, DC/Diners Club, CB/Carte Blanche. “All credit cards” indicates that all five are accepted.



CONTINENTAL



Agnew’s. Of the scores of new restaurants in the northern oasis beyond LBJ, the most welcome addition must be Agnew’s in Adelstein Plaza (north of Belt Line Road). Although not extensive, the dinner menu offers a tantalizing array of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Of the five entrees we sampled, three were outstanding, one was excellent and the last was very good. One noteworthy entree is the sliced breast of duck and drumstick served with pink peppercorn sauce. The lamb is also impeccable. For dessert, the elaborate pastry cart offers several tantalizing selections. (15501 Dallas N Pkwy in Adelstem Plaza, Suite 300. 458-0702. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$)

Bagatelle. Dallas abounds with beautiful restaurants and good food, but rarely is excellence the rule of thumb. Bagatelle seems comfortable with quality. The pianist is expected to complete the romantic mood with old and new favorites played at just the right volume; he does not disappoint. Bagatelle offers a full continental menu, including some out-of-the-ordinary entrees such as stuffed quail and Long Island duckling. We enjoyed the several large, meaty shrimp in garlic butter with crevettes Bagatelle. The beef is tender and especially good when served with artichoke hearts and sliced mushrooms or flambéed with cognac and pepper sauce. The chocolate mousse “flavored” with amaretto was quite the final act. (4925 Greenville. 692-8225. Lunch: 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11; Sunday brunch: 10:30-2. All credit cards. Reservations. $$$)

Belvedere. The red quilted booths are plush; the antique furnishings, lush; and the dinner music, classical. The Belvedere serves basically the same kind of delicious Swiss-Austrian food as its older sister, The Chimney. The veal (the restaurant’s specialty) approaches L’Ambiance’s in excellence, and the beef is tender; but the light, spirited sauces make the meal. (4242 Lomo Alto. 528-6510. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Café de Paris. Here you’ll find continental cuisine served in a comfortable country French sophisticated and cheery atmosphere. Offerings include tender beef bourguignonne, salmon béarnaise covered with a tasty sauce, duck with melon and a French onion soup that is easily one of the best in the area. Also, the brie soup is not be missed. Dessert highlights are the fruit tart, served warm with fresh whipped cream, and the praline pie. (The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 653-1027. Lunch:Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Café Riviera. The culinary emphasis here is on seafood and continental offerings, both Italian and French. Entrees include steak au poivre and shrimp Riviera (breaded shrimp wrapped in bacon). For dessert, the amaretto cake is superb. (13601 Preston at Alpha. 233-1456. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat 6-mid-night. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Cafe Royal. The surroundings here are as exquisite as the Mozart played by the pianist during dinner. Good bets are scallops in pepper sauce-a fine appetizer-and such nouvelle cuisine entrees as flavorful duckling supreme and piquant veal steak with lime butter. Service can be slow. (Plaza of the Americas, 650 N Pearl. 747-7222. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6:30-11. Jackets and ties required lor men. All credit cards. $$$$)

Calluaud. Some of the dishes on Calluaud’s updated menu qualify as “best in the city” or in some cases, “only such dish in the city.” Prime examples include veal in a creamy hazelnut sauce, deliciously seasoned turbot with champagne and truffles, and a notable quail and duck steak with lime. The scallops and filet en croute are also superb. So is the salmon en croute. As openers, the delicate lobster souffle and garlicky escargots de bourgogne are excellent. Lovely terracotta and cream-colored surroundings are quietly elegant, as is the service. (2619 McKin-ney. 823-5380. Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat seatings at 7 and 9:30. Closed Sun. Jackets and ties required for men. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $$$$)

The Chimney. Service is sometimes slow and the appetizers can be unappetizing, but the entrees at this understated restaurant are wonderful. Ten of the 18 listed are veal so we expected the veal forest-iere to be good; it was better than that. Also recommended is the Rehsteak Chimney, breathtakingly tender tournedos of Montana venison. (WillowCreek Center, 9739 N Central Expwy at Walnut Hill. 369-6466. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

The Enclave. Here you expect all of the waiters to be named James and to be gentlemen’s gentlemen in their moonlighting hours. As for the food, the filet can be a bit dry, but is usually very good; the pepper steak flambé and the lightly breaded veal Oscar are tastefully presented. The house vegetables have been the only disappointment. The tab is reasonable, considering the plush elegance of the place. (8325 Walnut Hill Lane. 363-7487. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Happy hour Mon-Fri 4:30-7. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Enjolie. Enjolie joins the growing list of Dallas’ finer restaurants, serving an innovative and ambitious cuisine in an elegant but comfortable setting. The menu offers superior variations on culinary standards-chicken with crayfish, pepper steak, veal with mushrooms, medallions of lamb with tarragon sauce-as well as more unusual fare for the more audacious-roast pigeon, sweetbreads, pheasant mousse. Complimentary cheeses are served after the seafood entrees, so if you want dessert, be judicious. And you will want dessert; the cart features seven or so entries, all made on the premises, ranging from simply delightful (the chocolate gateau) to extraordinary (the walnut tart). Also, for those who prefer decaffeinated coffee, Enjolie serves Colombian that is brewed to perfection. (Man-dalay Four Seasons Hotel, 221 S Colinas Blvd, Irving. 5560800. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Reservations. AE, MC, V, DC. $$$$)

Ewald’s. Less pretentious and flashy than most continental restaurants in Dallas, Ewald’s ranks in the highest echelon when it comes to the quality of its food. Among the standouts are the tournedos St. Moritz, veal steak au moulin and veal Pagallo. Superb desserts include the strawberries Romanoff and the créme caramel. (5415 W Lovers Lane. 357-1622. Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Francisco’s. Francisco’s, although not the same caliber as the best of the continental restaurants, is still good and reasonably priced. Soups are the high point on the menu. Clear mushroom soup, with mushrooms floating in consomme and topped with light pastry, is superb. Minestrone, a soup of the day, is almost as good. The tournedos is a quality entrée. For lunchtime, the chef’s salad is commendable. (2917 Fairmount. 749-0906. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11; Sat seatings at 7 & 9:30. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $$$)

The French Room. Even if The French Room didn’t serve the best food in Dallas, dining here would be a worthwhile experience. The opulent decor is reminiscent of a Louis XIV dining room. Every dish is superb-from the bisque of langoustine and crayfish to the foie gras in aspic, the roast lobster with thyme and caviar sauce, and the Grand Marnier mousse. Service is excellent and intimate (the restaurant has set a limit of 90 diners per evening). Allow one to two weeks waiting time if you want a weeknight reservation or a month if you want a weekend reservation. (Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce. 742-8200, ext 191. Reservations required. Jackets and ties required tor men. Mon-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$$)

Frenchy Café. This is as close as you’ll come in Dallas to a real Parisian cafe. Standards include baguette and butter croissant sandwiches, quiche and soups. The salads are outstanding, but the pates are the best examples of Frenchy’s skill. (5940 Royal. 369-1235. Mon-Sat 11-5:30. Closed Sun. MC, V. $)

Galls. Watch out, French Room. Move over, Calluaud. Gallé has arrived, and our impression is most favorable. Everything from the atmosphere to the after-dinner coffee in this Lincoln Raddison Hotel restaurant is prepared and presented to near perfection. For appetizers, the shining star is the cold hors d’oeuvres tray. Though quite expensive for an appetizer ($14), it is a true treat. The watercress salad with walnut oil was very simple, but was perhaps the most elegant salad offering. More than 15 entrees are offered at Gallé, including seafood, fowl, rabbit and beef. The sweetbreads with morels were fabulous-tender, flavorful and served in a smooth brown sauce. (Lincoln Raddison Hotel, Lincoln Center. 5400 LBJ Frwy. 934-8400. Mon-Sat 5:30-10:30. All credit cards. $$$$)

The Grape. Everyone loves The Grape, but the people who seem to love it most are lovers. Candlelight is conducive not only to romantic conversations but also to discussions of bad poetry and good dance. The food is excellent. Quiche Lorraine is a staple, as are the homemade mushroom soup and Boston lettuce dinner salads The pates are consistently noteworthy. Service is provided by bright, young people who probably live lives more fascinating than any of their clientele. (2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6-12:30. All credit cards. $$)

Hearthstone Manor. Believe it or not, it’s a good idea to get in your car in traffic-clogged Dallas and drive the 30 or so minutes it will take to wind up (in hopes of winding down) on Main Street in Lewisville Hearthstone Manor now lends cause for an exit off I-35E. The food is basic and wonderful, for the most part. Hot, homemade bread is hard to beat, and Hearthstone serves a variety of muffins and rolls. Steamy baked potatoes in full-dress and all-Ameri-can entrees such as filet mignon, shrimp, snapper and veal make tor a wholesome, memorable meal. (208 E Main, Lewisville. 221-4515. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Tue-Sat 5:30-10; Sun brunch: 11-2. All credit cards. $$$)

The Inn of Country Sonshine. The inn is an intimate, graceful little spot at Preston Trails and FM Road 544 on the southwest side of Piano. Its menu is an ambitious one-duckling a I’orange to veal specialties. Most of the time, the chef’s skills are up to his visions, but occasionally he misses. We had a veal and crab-meat dish that, while good, just didn’t have the zing needed to make it really first-class. In retrospect, it could be that the combination is not a particularly workable one. The duckling, on the other hand, was perfect-the orange sauce providing just the right touch of sweetness. It was hit-and-miss with the vegetables, too-the salsify was delicious; the broccoli in Chinese bread crumbs, too salty. (1933 Preston. 596-0903. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10. AE, V, MC. $$$)

Jean Claude. In 1977, Jean Claude began serving haute cuisine on a basis the city hadn’t seen before. No menus, no advertising, reservations-only seating. Now Jean Claude is something of a haute cuisine shrine for most astute Dallasites. For $29.50 per person, diners can have a complete meal with entrees such as lobster in a light cream sauce, salmon menuiner or duck roasted in ginger sauce, not to mention excellent choices of veal. And the dessert soufflés-ahh. (2404 Cedar Springs. 653-1823. Tue-Sat seatings at 6 and 9. Reservations only. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$)

Jennivine. Although the atmosphere is British, Jen-nivine offers a lovely selection of pates. French wines and cheeses from various countries. The dinner menu, which is written on a blackboard, varies according to the fresh seafood that is available. Tender sea scallops and filet of sole are excellent. Service is friendly and sometimes English-accented. (3605 McKinney. 528-6010. Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2:30: dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)

L’Ambiance. This is definitely the best continental food you’ll ever eat in a converted gas station. Salads are impeccable; soups are fresh and flavorful. Recommended entrees are the medallions of veal with mushroom puree and the pepper-sauced filet mignon. When lobster bisque is available, be sure to try it. The pastry selection is varied and gorgeous. (2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10, Fri & Sat 6:30-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

La Vieille Varsovie. Table-side food preparation with a theatrical flair highlights dining in the Old Warsaw. Poached salmon in champagne sauce, fresh lobster and Dover sole with lemon butter are standouts. (2610 Maple. 528-0032. Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations. Jackets required lor men. All credit cards. $$$$)

Laurent. A strong contender for the best of the new far North Dallas entries, Laurent is crisp, smooth and elegant. The regular entrees include the classic French fish, fowl and beef and a plethora of daily specialties. The elegant portioning of the dishes is especially pleasing. Each serving is prepared for light consumption, course by delicate course. For dessert, a beautiful display tray of pastries is brought to the table. (502 Sakowitz Village on the Parkway. 960-2988. Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Tue-Thur 6:30-10, Fri & Sat 6:30-10:30. Sun & Mon available for private parties. Reservations. Jackets required for dinner. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Le Boul ’Mich. Certainly, Le Boul ’Mich has had its ups and downs, but it’s on the upswing now, serving one of the best omelets in town and a very respectable French steak pomme frite. The asparagus would be better if it were fresh, but the sourdough bread is delicious, the espresso is serious, and so is the decaffeinated coffee. The prices are reasonable and the old house with the porch on three sides is charming. (2704 Worthington. 826-0660. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Le Louvre. If plush formality, solicitous service and leisurely pacing appeal to you, then Le Louvre will not disappoint. This is one restaurant where the appetizers are so intriguing-and so good-that the entree can be anticlimactic. Especially good starters are the salmon mousse with cucumbers and dill sauce (near perfection) and the unusual and spicy hot terrine of wild game with green pepper sauce. We also enjoyed the oysters pie with avocado sauce and the lobster sausage wrapped in a delicate pastry. Add a serving of the cold cream of spinach soup with crab meat, and a “salad fantastic” and you could stop there. But don’t. The soufflé du soir (raspberry on our visit) is out of this world. (9840 N Central Expwy. 691-1177. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

L’Entrecote. The dining experience here is exalted to the utmost. Each table is attended by a captain, a waiter, as many as three assistants and a wine steward At the door, a harpist strums pop tunes (classical would have been more appropriate) and occasionally sings in a clear, clean voice. The captain is adept at snapping your napkin and placing it in your lap, and after dinner, each female diner is presented with a single lovely rosebud. The cuisine is on a par with the rich, subtle surroundings. As appetizers, the delicately seasoned escargots topped with light pastry were some of the best we’ve ever tasted. The ter-rine of pheasant with pistachios complemented by mandarin oranges was smooth and slightly tart. The waiter displayed deft skill in preparing the wilted spinach salad with walnuts; it was a perfect blend of sweet and sour. For the finishing touch, the white and dark chocolate mousse is sinfully rich. (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm; dinner: daily 6-10:30 pm. All credit cards, $$$$)

Le Rendez-Vous. Service is consistently good, and comfort marks an unpretentious formality. A great late-breakfast omelet is offered beginning at 11. Also, look for the lunch specials with homemade soups, fresh fish and veal. Dinner standouts include extensive seafood entrees, veal in lemon butter and pepper steak. (3237 McKmney at Hall. 745-1985. Tue-Sun 11 am-2 am. Closed Mon. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Le St. Tropez. Le St. Tropez calls itself a bistro, and that’s as good a description as any. The atmosphere is informal and relaxed, the menu features some bistro basics-croque monsieur and croissant sandwiches, omelets-as well as more complicated entries such as coq au vin and seafood dishes. A rare roast beef special, served with horseradish, was tender and flavorful. On the appetizer side, we liked the pate, served with cornichons and fresh tomato, and the cold cucumber soup. Le St. Tropez isn’t fancy, but it serves up good basic French food at reasonable prices. (Northwood Hills Shopping Center, 8030 Spring Valley at Coit. 231-6181. Mon-Sat 11-11, Sun 4-10. All credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$)

Les Saisons. Here you’ll get what restaurant critics call a “dining experience ” The food is French, the waiters are French (or are at least good impersonators) and the decor is set approximately in turn-of-the-century suburban Paris. Meals at Les Saisons are traditional, expensive and predictably excellent There are some interesting twists such as roast Cornish hen with tarragon sauce, braised sweetbreads and sirloin saute with Roquefort cheese and green peppercorns. (165 Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn. 528-1102. Sun-Thur 11:30-11, Fri & Sat 11:30-midnight. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Manhattan. The menu features the safe bets of continental dining, but the chef has come up with some simple, elegant variations. We began with smoked salmon and mushroom caps stuffed with crab meat Next came veal Manhattan, lightly breaded and tender scallops of veal covered with crab legs and shrimp, then topped with béarnaise. We also sampled sole Rebecca, a breaded fish topped with a sauce of mushrooms, pimentos, shallots and capers. (1482 Preston Forest Square. 385-8221. Lunch: daily 11-2:30; dinner: daily 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$)

The Mansion. The place to see and be seen in Dallas, the Mansion offers an elegant decor often supplemented by dining celebrities. Menu stars include the tortilla soup, the béarnaise sauce that tops the red snapper and the pate that garnishes the duck with brown sauce. A chef from The Jockey Club in Washington has added soft-shelled crab to the house specialties (2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Breakfast: daily 7-10:30, lunch: Mon-Fri noon -2:30: brunch: Sat noon-2:30 & Sun 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11; supper: Mon-Thur 10:30-midnight, Fri & Sat 11-midnight. Reserva-tions. Jackets and ties required. MC, V,AE, DC. $$$$)

Maple Street East. This handsome Victorian house has been a favorite dining spot since it opened, even though the food was a little uneven at first. Now. all that’s straightened out. and Maple Street East is consistently pleasing. The salads are lovely, and the fettuccine verde is especially nice at lunch, as is the crab, bacon and avocado sandwich. At dinner, try the tournedos, with English trifle for dessert. (2508 Maple. 698-0345. Lunch: 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11:30. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Patry’s. This can be an excellent place to have a quiet and elegant continental dinner, provided you arrive when the place is not too crowded. Pepper steak, duck a I’orange, lamb chops and veal in lemon butter are consistently tasty entrees. The cream of broccoli soup is among the best in the city. One of Patry’s stronger points is its extensive wine list, which complements the menu. (2504 McKinney. 748-3754. Sun, Tue-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Mon. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$)

Pyramid Room. Courteous and thorough service is the rule here, from matchbooks embossed with the customer’s name to the presence of the charming Italian wine steward. Lunch includes Irish smoked salmon and oysters Kirkpatrick. Topping the dinner lineup are the house pate of fish and lobster with two sauces, and the steak au poivre. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross and Akard. 748-5454. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: daily 6-11. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$)

Three Vikings. Weekend diners are still lining up to try the city’s only samplings of Swedish cuisine. Entrees include roast duck with almond sauce and lamb chops with wild mushroom sauce. The veal Oscar and grilled salmon steak are both excellent. And there’s no nicer way to begin a meal than with the offerings on Three Vikings’ relish tray. (2831 Greenville at Goodwin. 827-6770. Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Tiburon. If absence makes food grow dearer, then we’ve found the secret of this restaurant-club on Highway 30 past Six Flags. Every morsel we swallowed was excellent-the Tiburon special appetizer platter with a combination of goodies including fried shrimp, fried zucchini, egg rolls, beef imperial and stuffed mushrooms gave us our first inkling of what to expect, but that first taste came far too deep into the night. We arrived (we had made reservations) at 9 p.m.; we got our menus somewhere around 10 and weren’t served our entrees until well after midnight. We were so hungry we failed to note what we ordered, but oh, it was magnificent-once it arrived. Our steak was just a tad more rare than we had hoped, but it was still tender and wonderfully spiced. (1300 Copeland Road, off Highway 30. 277-4183. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-70, Fri & Sat 5-11. Sun 8 pm-2 am. MC, V, DC, AC. $$$)



ETHIOPIAN



The Blue Nile. Don’t be intimidated by the names of the menu items here; almost everything is stew-like and spicy and good. Expect the unexpected: The food is served on pizza pans, and no silverware is provided. In Ethiopia, it is proper to eat with the right hand; injera (Ethiopian bread that is spongy and tastes slightly sour) is used as an eating utensil. For the newcomer, the combination plate offers an extensive sampling of traditional dishes including minchet abesh (finely chopped spiced beef), zilzil tibs (beef strips fried with a tangy sauce) and misser wott (lentil stew with herbs). (7242 Gaston. 324-0471. Tue-Sun noon-midnight. Closed Mon. AE, MC, V. $)

The Red Sea. The Oak Lawn area has just about everything, including one of Dallas’ two Ethiopian restaurants. Here you can dine on such exotic-sounding items as doro wott (chicken spiced with hot pepper), yebeg wott (lamb stew with spiced butter and herbs) and potatoes and carrots cooked in curry. Ethiopian dining is an experience for the adventuresome. If you don’t feel quite at ease with the Ethiopian eating process, just ask for assistance. (2926 Oak Lawn. 528-8476. Daily 11-11. No credit cards. $)



INDIAN



India House. Dinner service is extremely attentive in this establishment where the selections are not exactly part of the American culinary mainstream. Fresh-from-the-oven breads and appetizers such as the chicken chat are superb. Both the tandoori chicken and beef, marinated delights served with shovel-sized portions of fluffy rice, are tasty and extremely filling. The cheese balls in sweet milk are perfect for dessert. (5422 E Mockingbird. 823-1000. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)

Kebab-N-Curry. If you’re looking for something new and you’ve never tried Indian food, this is the perfect atmosphere in which to learn. The place is small, the waiters are friendly and very knowledgeable about Indian food and its history, and the food is authentic. The chicken chat is a tasty appetizer, as are the samosas (turnover-type pastries stuffed with either vegetables or meat), A wide assortment of Indian breads, pita-like and quite unusual, is offered. Thus far, Kebab-N-Curry has no liquor license, so either bring your own or sip on a “Lassi,” a frothy yogurt drink that cools the mouth after the hot Indian food. Takeout is available. (401 N Central Expwy, Suite 300. 231-5556. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 5:30-10:30. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $)

Sahib. On visual terms alone, Sahib is commendable: Gauze canopies float over a lovely teal and peach color scheme. As for food, the Maharaja Pati-ala Sahib’s Dinner, an assortment of Sahib’s specialties that includes wonderful preparations of chicken, lamb and shrimp, is the star of the menu. Also offered is a $5.95 lunch buffet (somewhat mis-leadingly referred to as a “brunch”-for $6.95-on weekends). (9100 N Central Expwy, Caruth Plaza. 987-2301. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 5:30-11. MC, V, AE. $$)



ITALIAN



Bugatti. This place has consistently superior homemade pasta, the quintessential element for any good Italian restaurant. But Bugatti goes far beyond that. The chef handles veal as well as any of his Dallas contemporaries, and the homemade soups are among the best in the city. Other standouts include the tortellini alla crema (homemade pasta shells stuffed with veal and engulfed in a rich white cream sauce), the crab cannelloni and the fettuccine della casa. (2574 Walnut Hill. 350-2470. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon- Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$)

Campisi’s. In a dark room lined with celebrity photos is served the food that has made Campisi’s an institution. Veal marsala with rich mushroom sauce, fettuccine, garlic toast, pizza and desserts-solid Italian cooking at bargain prices. (5610 E Mockingbird. 827-0355, 827-7711. Mon-Fri 11 am-mid-night. Sat 11 am-1 am, Sun noon-midnight. Reservations tor six or more. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. $$)

Caruso’s. If you like arias with your antipasto, Caruso’s singing waiters will gladly oblige you. The Italian selections include basic pasta and veal dishes, and steaks are available. Wine lovers will appreciate Caruso’s bottomless glass, while lovers will enjoy the candle-lit booths. (706 Medallion Center, Northwest Hwy at Skillman. 691-9944. Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$)

Cremona Ristorante Italiano and Deli. Park your car on the dead-end street, wind your way around the little junque stores, find a table near a window and prepare yourself for a no-nonsense Italian meal. The ladder-back chairs, wooden blinds and starched white tablecloths lend country-inn romance; the service can be spotty. But the pasta is homemade, and the sauces are innovative, delicate and subtle. You’ll be able to relish the fresh butter and cream flavors. (2600 Woodrow, between Cedar Springs and Routh. 742-4330. Mon-Fri 11:30-2 and 5:30-10:30 pm, Sat 5:30-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$)

Cunze’s. Although it may look suspiciously like another faceless pizza shack, Cunze’s is far from it. What you’ll find here is serious Italian food-veal scallopine, linguine with clams, fresh calamari (squid). Entrees come with the traditional green salad and a steaming side of pasta in either a garlic or tomato sauce. The veal and shrimp combination is especially tasty-it’s thin slices of tender veal sautéed with scampi in butter, lemon and garlic. As for atmosphere, Cunze’s interior is about as classy as Mama’s kitchen, but somehow the result is almost romantic. (6101 Greenville. 369-5747. Mon-Sat 5-11, Sun 5-10. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Da Piccolo. A tiny spot near Knox Street in Old Highland Park, this is a place for pleasant, unpretentious Italian fare. The calamari is delicious, and spaghetti carbonara follows nicely. Lasagna is also worth a try. Service and prices are reasonable. But beware: This place is so small that intimacy is almost impossible. (4537 Cole Ave. 521-1191. Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$)

DiPalma. Whether or not you’re Italian, DiPalma is the perfect place to indulge in homemade pasta. This Italian restaurant/food store offers some delicacies not often found at other Italian establishments, such as chicken lasagna and lemon garlic chicken, and some standbys like eggplant parmigi-ana and bracciole. Desserts include pastries, fresh pear cake and a delicious orange hazelnut torte. (1520 Greenville. 824-4500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat till 10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V $$)

Fabio’s. Orchestrating an Italian restaurant is no easy trick and should be applauded when done successfully. Fabio’s has pulled together a class act in a very short time and offers a varied menu, classical music and friendly service. The eager-to-please chef doesn’t mind splitting orders of pasta or serving appetizer portions of most entrées, so if you know what you want, you can arrange just that. The fettuccine al’ amatriciana sported more sauce than we prefer, but a fine sauce it was. Our entrees were served with fresh green salads, but nondescript green beans and carrots. The vitello al portafolgio (veal stuffed with prosciutto ham, cheese and mushrooms) was far too rich, but we scraped away a few of the trimmings and enjoyed the tender veal. The gamberi alla Fabio-shrimp with scallops and mushrooms-was served in a creamy white sauce. (9820 N Central Expwy, Suite 504, The Corner Shopping Center. 987-3226. Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations.MC, V, AE. $$$)

La Trattoria Lombardi. This place may never be as good as the old Lombardi’s on McKinney, but at its best, the pasta is inspirational Also offered are superior soups (clam chowder and minestrone excel), fine veal dishes (especially veal with lemon butter, veal marsala and saltimbocca Romana) and first-rate tarts and other desserts, all with Lom-bardi’s traditionally good service. (2916 Hall. 823-6040. Lunch: 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Lurtino’s. The atmosphere at Lurtino’s is fairly posh, but the waiters aren’t stuffy. We began our meal with a wonderful house specialty called sausage and peppers neopohtan. Another good bet is the scungilli Genovese (snails sautéed in a cream sauce) The house salad is the typical lettuce and tomatoes, but the entrees are grand. A fine selection of pastas is available, the best of which is the tag-alirim with white clam sauce. Lurtino’s also offers a number of veal dishes. Desserts get mixed reviews. (13601 Preston Road, C22. 661-9766. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sundays. Reservations. No jeans. All credit cards. $$$)

Mario’s. Out of the vein of most pizzeria-style Italian eateries, Mario’s offers first-rate, napkin-placing, cigarette-lighting service and food. Above average pasta, veal entrees and sauces are titling preludes to dessert, possibly one of Mario’s fine soufflés. (135 Turtle Creek Village. Oak Lawn at Blackburn. 521-1135. Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations. Jackets required tor men. All credit cards. $$$)

P. J.’s Ristorante. This is another of those wonderful little retreats with an unlikely exterior. P J.’s isn’t to be judged by its shopping center neighbors or its disco-like front wall. Inside, soft lights, cordial service and sumptuous homemade pasta beckon The pasta Giovanni, named after the son of P. J.’s owner Papa Jack, is a pasta-lover’s fantasy. The heaping plate offers spaghetti, ravioli, manicotti, meatballs, lasagna and sausage. It is almost impossible to finish but great fun to try. (5410 E Mockingbird. 824 1490. Daily: 5-10 pm or, on weekends, as late as necessary AE, V. $$)

Sergio and Luciano. The setting is not altogether satisfying, half upstairs, half downstairs, most of the action is on the upper floor There’s a feeling of loneliness if you have to be seated below, even though the bar is there and soft, pleasing piano music keeps you company The food is superb. Calamari, fried at lunch, and served in a hot spicy broth as an appetizer at dinner, is excellent. So is the tortellini alla panna, offered as a first course in small portions that leave room for more Scampi in cream and mushroom sauce is nice to follow, or if you want pasta, you can’t improve on the fettucini with white clam sauce. The vegetables are carefully prepared and handsomely displayed on red cabbage leaves Also, they serve real Italian hard rolls that make you believe you’re in Rome. This place is a find. (4900 Belt Line, Suite 250. 87-4441. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-6; dinner nightly 6-11. All credit cards. $$$)

Sergio’s. An elegant, formal dining establishment with reasonable prices. The menu includes seven reliable veal dishes, sole saffron, chicken Florentine and homemade pasta. And Sergio’s makes one of the better omelets available in Dallas, as well as one of the better appetizers: Sergio’s version of marinated crab claws. (The Quadrangle, Suite 235, 2800 Routh. 742-3872. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30-11. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)

Sofio’s. When you step into Sofio’s, you know you’re not in just a strip shopping center restaurant. You’re in Rocky Sofio’s Italian restaurant/pizza joint. The fried mozzarella cheese must have been Mama’s specialty. It’s served with a rich, chunky red sauce for dipping. The antipasto for two is chock-full of Italian goodies such as salami, olives and a rich assortment of marinated vegetables. For entrees, the baked lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo were winners, but the linguini with clam sauce wasn’t garlicky enough. The portions at Sofio’s are enormous (one appetizer can easily be shared), so don’t eat every bite; dessert is a must. (4021 Belt Line. 934-8121. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-midnight, Fri 11:30 am-1 am, Sat & Sun 4 pm-1 am. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $$)

II Sorrento. The exterior of this Italian shrine is so incredibly overdone that it’s almost beyond belief. And the interior is just as pretentious-mammoth Roman urns and headless concrete statues, a strolling accordion player. The food is standard Italian fare, made much more appealing by the outrageous production. (8616 Turtle Creek. 352-8759. Sun-Fri 5:30-11, Sat 5:30-midnight. No reservations on weekends. All credit cards. $$)

La Tosca. Elegant, understated surroundings and food equally as tasteful greet diners at La Tosca. Octopus salad and pepata di vongole or cozze (a clam dish) stand out on a menu that includes excellent pasta (hay and straw, and canelloni are standouts), scaloppine al marsala and involtini nicola, two veal dishes. Another unusual treat worth sampling is cold, thinly sliced veal with tuna sauce. Noteworthy desserts are profitterol al cioccolato (a cream-filled pastry) and ice cream with Strega, an Italian liqueur. (7713 Inwood. 352-8373. Tue-Thur & Sun 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$)

MEXICAN



Adeline’s. This tiny hole-in-the-wall in Preston Center dishes up wonderful huevos rancheros for breakfast plus other Mexican morning specialties such as migas (eggs scrambled with tortilla bits, cheese and tomatoes) and huevos con chorizo. The accompanying potatoes are honest and hearty. For lunch try the tamales, which are outstanding, or the fajitas (grilled strips of beef in a flour tortilla with lettuce and tomato). Adelina’s also caters any night except Thursday, with a limit of 50 guests. (6027 Berkshire Lane. 363-8680. Mon-Sat 8 am-3 pm, Thur 6 am-9 pm. No credit cards. $).

Alexandra’s. Some unusual, yet somehow pleasing combinations caught our attention at this North Dallas furniture store turned restaurant. The music was moderately loud rock; the decor rather standard, continental-restaurant classy. The menu was an interesting compilation of Italian and Mexican fare, and one appetizer, queso flamiado, effectively combined the two. In it, steamy, hot flour tortillas were served with an Italian-like (though the menu insisted it was Spanish) sauce; the dish could be the beginning of a tasty new genre: Italo-Mex. The combination nachos, served with all the trimmings and chives, should be in the running for our next royal nacho award, but we found some of the entrees (chicken enchiladas and carne al carbon) a little ordinary. The breast of chicken al carbon was tender, though, and the beer batter shrimp were the biggest, juiciest hunks of delicately coated crustaceans we’ve seen. (12801 Midway Rd. 243-6841. Mon-Thur 11 am-midnight. Fri & Sat 11 am-2 am. AE, M, V. $$$)

Café Cancun. Cafe Cancun serves the finest Mexico City-style Mexican food in town. The standout menu items are too numerous to sample during one visit, but there are a few items you shouldn’t miss. Try the corn soup, which is thick with cheese and corn meal, and the enchiladas verdes (chicken or cheese enchiladas with spicy green tomatillo sauce). Then sample the tacos al carbon, the quesadillas Cancun and the nachos Cancun (black beans, guacamole, cheese and sour cream). (4137 Lomo Alto. 559-4011. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri 11-mid-night, Sat 5-midnight, Sun noon-10. No reservations. AE, MC, V. $$)

Chiquita. With its pastel tablecloths and candles and the color-coordinated costumes of the waiters. Chiquita is no ordinary Tex-Mex restaurant. Therefore, it’s appropriate that Chiquita excels with its out-of-the-ordinary specialties. Skillful preparations include carne asada tampico style and filete de la casa (filet mignon dishes) and the tortilla soup. The diced chicken with sour cream is also a treat. (3810 Congress oft Oak Lawn. 521-0721. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$)

El Taxco. If El Taxco were located near a superior Mexican restaurant, it would probably dry up and blow away. But it isn’t, so the food here seems okay. Stick with the basics-enchiladas, tacos, tamales, chiles rellenos, guacamole-and you’ll leave satisfied, with only a minimal dent in your wallet. (2126 N St Paul at McKinney. 742-0747. Daily: 11-10. Closed Tue. All credit cards. $)

Escondido. This place looks like a Hell’s Angels habitat on the outside; and inside, the decor is late-New York subway, with spray-can graffiti all over the ceiling. The dishes are standard no-frill, reasonablebill Mexican food. The chicken nachos are among the best in town, and the combination platter’s tacos and salsas are top-notch. (2210 Butler. 631-9912. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2; dinner: Mon Sat 5-9. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $)

Guadalajara. The ambiance of this establishment is border-town bordello, but the food is worth sampling. Among the consistently good offerings are the enchiladas, tacos, tamales, chiles rellenos and fri-joles, as well as some decent chalupas. Service can be a bit slow because management knows it has a good thing going and loyal customers are willing to wait. (3308 Ross. 823-9340. Tue-Thur 11 am-3:30 am, Fri & Sat 11 am-4 am. Closed Mon. No reservations. No credit cards. $)

Herrera. Despite the fact that this dumpy little restaurant on Maple Avenue has more customers than it can possibly serve, the food and the service have remained consistently good. Suggestions include the Jimmy’s special or the Pepe’s special, both of which are virtual Tex-Mex smorgasbords. The only bad news is that Herrera’s has no liquor license, so bring enough beer to carry you through the wait and the meal. (3902 Maple 526-9427. Mon, Wed & Thur 9 am-8 pm, Fri-Sun till 10. Closed Tue. No reservations. No credit cards. $)

Javier’s. Very different from the standard Tex-Mex found at most Mexican restaurants. Javier’s offers Mexico City-style gourmet dining. The fish and chicken dishes are excellent; the beef dishes, creditable; and the tortilla soup, great. For dessert, try the smooth, satisfying mango mousse or the cafe Pierre, which is flamboyantly prepared at the table. (4912Cole. 521-4211. Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat till 11. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)

Joe T. Garcia’s. By definition, there can be but one best Mexican restaurant in North America. There have been times when we were wont to bequeath that title to Joe T.’s in Fort Worth, but now that isn’t the issue. We are here to talk about an upstart; Garcia does Dallas. After several months’ consideration, noting that the owners feel confident enough to sell greeting cards and T-shirts Six Flags-style, we’ll just say we enjoyed the new Joe T.’s. The margaritas are delightfully, dangerously stiff: and the food, still one-shot standard Mexican fare, is pleasingly dependable. The atmosphere (with some token leaning walls) is not plagianstic enough of the mother Joe T.’s to be offensive. (4440 Belt Line. 458-7373. Mon-Sat 11-3 and 5-11. Closed Sun. MC, V. $$)

La Calle Doce. Gracefully housed in a converted residence on 12th Street, La Calle Doce features a menu of seafood and steak specialties prepared Mexico City-style, as well as Tex-Mex basics. The atmosphere is relaxed and homey; the service, friendly and fast; the food, carefully prepared and well-presented. (415 W 12th. 941-4304. Mon-Thur 11-9, Fri 11-10 & Sat noon-10, Sun noon-6. MC, V, AE. $$)

La Esquina. What you find at this Mexican food restaurant located in the Loews Anatole is what you would expect to find in a Mexican food restaurant located in a large hotel: slightly above-average food at the higher-than-reasonable prices that tourists are willing to pay. But the quality of ingredients used is generally high, and the view inside the Anatole’s multistoried atrium is beautiful. (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2:30; dinner: daily 6-10:30. All credit cards. $$$)

Mario & Alberto. Dining here is a completely pastel experience, like a meal inside a great peach petit four. Strong margaritas, good chips and hot sauce, chicken nachos and flautas con crema set a fine mood for main courses chosen from a vast menu (which includes everything from standard bean and taco plates to zucchini stuffed with ground sirloin). (425 Preston Valley Shopping Center, LEU at Preston. 980-7296. Mon-Thur 11:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 11:30-11. Closed Sun. Drinks with $5 membership charge. All credit cards. $$)

Moctezuma. Besides the usual Tex-Mex, Mocte-zuma’s features some excellent chicken and fish dishes. The nachos and the margaritas are tops. On sunny days you will want to sit outside on the terrace, sip a stout margarita and watch the traffic go by. (3236 McKinney. 559-3010. Sun-Thur 11-10:30, Fri & Sat full menu until 11:30; appetizers until 12:30. Reservations for parties of six or more. All credit cards. $$)

Pepe’s Café. Pepe’s is a marriage of good basic Tex-Mex and unpretentious but gracious surroundings and service. The owner and employees manage authentic fare of everyday Mexicana without the usual dirty-Formica atmosphere of such establishments. The nachos, flautas and pork dishes are all delicious. (3011 Routh. 698-9445. Mon-Fri 10:30-2:30 & 5:30-10, Sat 10:30-10. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $)

Raphael’s. We’ve grown suspicious of civilized Mexican restaurants, guessing that their best is only fresh from the freezer. But Raphael’s throws a kink in this philosophy. The food is better than average, the surroundings are pleasant and the prices are comparable to our favorite dives. Strong points are the appetizers (including quesadillas) and the desserts (try the sopapillas con fresas). (3701 McKinney. 521-9640. Mon-Fri 11:30-10:30, Sat noon-10:30. Raphael’s Greenville, 6728 Greenville. 692-8431. Mon-Fri 11:30-10:30; Sat noon-11. Closed Sun. Reservations Mon-Thur only. All credit cards. $$)

Rosita’s. The chicken enchiladas and chicken flautas we tried here were reliably tasty and inexpensive. The tacos de carbon were a little dry. as was the carne asada. Our only other substantial complaint was that some of the dinners lacked rice and beans, absolute staples for a Mexican dinner, and not too much to ask for $3 95. The sopapillas, served with cinnamon and honey, were better than run-of-the-mill. Outside seating is available, (4906 Maple. 521-4741. Tue-Fri 10-10, Sat & Sun 9 am-10 pm. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $)

ORIENTAL



Asuka. Dining at Asuka is a soothing experience that will transport you a thousand miles away from the traffic and congestion 50 yards outside the door. Try any one of the Kaiseki dinners, such as the Ishi-yaki Kaiseki-beef and vegetables served over sizzling stone pebbles; it is delightful. At lunch, the food is just as palate-pleasing and pretty. (7136 Greenville. 363-3537. Lunch: Tue-Sun 11-2; dinner: Tue-Sun 6-10:30. Closed Mon. Reservations. AE, V, MC, DC. $$$)

August Moon. It just may be that we owe these people an apology, judging from the amount of mail we received after our last review. Feeling a little insecure with this wrath, we revisited the establishment and, sure enough, had a delightful meal. The menu is vast; go early and read it carefully. We began with a pu-pu tray with the lightest fried shrimp and won ton we’ve ever tasted. August Moon Seafood Splendor and August Moon Sizzling Plate were tremendous in size and seasoned just barely, and then only to highlight natural flavors. The individual tastes of the meats and vegetables were easily distinguished and not greasy-a difficult feat when so many ingredients are presented en masse. The service is polite, though busy. (15030 Preston at Belt Line. 385-7227. Mon-Thur 11-10:30, Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11, Reservations for eight or more. Bar by membership. AE, MC, V, DC. $$)

Fangti China 1. The features worth mentioning about this place are the service and the hours. At all times of the day and night, the waitresses are chipper and cheerful. Since Fangti is open until six in the morning on weekends, it attracts an eclectically interesting crowd. The special soup and the hot and sour work well at late hours. The entrées, however, are inconsistent, (Twin Bridge Shopping Center, 6752 Shady Brook Lane. 987-3877. Sun-Thur 11-4 am, Fri & Sat 11-6 am, Sun 5-4 am. AE, DC, MC, V. $$)

Hunan Imperial. The difference between this Chinese restaurant and every other new Chinese restaurant begins with its extensive menu. There are offerings that are just not readily available at other Dallas Chinese restaurants. String beans with pork, for example. The beans are crisp and flavorful, with just a smidgen of pork flavor. Another dish we found both palate-pleasing and pretty is the shrimp with pine nuts. The vegetables and the pine nuts are crisp and crunchy; the shrimp, well-cooked but not tough or mushy; the barbecue ribs, tops. The atmosphere, although not quite imperial, is at least subdued and conducive to fine dining. (The Corner Shopping Center, Walnut Hill and N Central Expwy. 363-3858. Sun-Thur 11:30-11, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-midnight. AE, V, MC, DC. $$)

Peking Szechuan. We found ourselves in agreement with the praise other reviewers have heaped upon this place. Nothing-save a lard-loaded egg roll-was disappointing, and the service was pleasantly well-paced. The lamb with green onion and the scallops with hot garlic sauce were extremely nice -both contained fresh, neatly chopped ingredients that maintained their own distinctiveness and crunch. Although one entree contained canned mushrooms, we found the entrées as a whole a welcome change from the gummy, gooey dishes served at some establishments. (2560 W Northwest Hwy. 353-0129. Mon-Thur 11:30-10, Fri & Sat 11:30-11, Sunday 11:30-10. All credit cards. $$)

Plum Blossom. This review differs from others listed under Oriental because words such as “elegance” and “charm” apply. Subtle scroll paintings, glittering tableware and well-mannered service set the mood for the somewhat flamboyantly presented meal, chosen from one of the three standard banquets. The least expensive has five courses. Almost every item of our Emperor’s Banquet tor two was ex-otic-our appetizer, a 10-flavor chrysanthemum fire pot with seafoods, chicken, beef, vegetables and noodles, at least bordered on the unusual-and we savored every delicate bite. We heard whispered complaints of high prices and limited quantity, but were ourselves content with the number of different foods served in modest portions. After the fire pot came duck, then crab claws and shrimp in black-bean sauce. Chinese vegetables, sweet and sour pork, and fried custard for dessert. (Loews Anatole, 2201 Stemmons. 748-1200. Mon-Sat 6 pm-10:30 pm. Reservations. All credit cards $$$)

Sakura. In many ways this Japanese restaurant is typical of all Japanese restaurants: Waitresses wear traditional costumes, dinner is prepared at the table, the decor is soothingly Oriental. But in one respect we found Sakura quite different from other Japanese establishments. Our waitress made suggestions about our orders and cooked our dinner before our eyes, never expecting us to drop all conversation and “ooo” and “ah” until she finished. We enjoyed a quiet, well-prepared meal selected from a vast menu including everything from shredded beef to sea urchin Standards like sushi and tempura are also very good. (7402 Greenville. 361-9282. Dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-11:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-midnight. All credit cards. Reservations. $$)

Sawatdee. If your culinary tastes are inclined toward the adventurous and experimental, this is truly an excellent restaurant in which to indulge them. Among the specialties of the house worth noting are the red chicken curry. South Seas scallops and the dinner portion of moo satay. Be sure to clearly indicate to your waiter how spicy you like your food; otherwise you may be surprised or disappointed by the degree of seasoning. (4503 Greenville at Yale. 373-6138. Daily: 11:30-2:30 & 5:30-10:30. AE, MC, V. $$)

Siam. Siam opened up new worlds for us when it brought Thai food to Dallas. For the uninitiated. Thai cuisine is often fiery hot, using peppers and curry sauces, and blends in several elements that separate it from spicy hot Chinese cooking such as Szechuan or Hunan. An excellent beginner is the moo-sar tey (pork strips on bamboo skewers served with a peanut sauce) and slices of cucumber and hot pepper. For an entrée, try the gand ped-a rice dish with curry, bamboo shoots, coconut milk, mint leaves and your choice of pork, beef or chicken Another standout is the pard Thai, a rice noodle dish with shrimp, pork, eggs, hot chili peppers, bean sprouts and green onions. (1730 W Mockingbird near Harry Hines. 631-5482. Mon-Thur 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $)

Szechuan. This oasis in the Lemmon Avenue fast-food strip offers reliably good, if never great. Szechuan and standard Chinese dishes. Main-dish standouts include shredded pork with garlic sauce, moo shi pork, chicken with cashew nuts and the chicken and shrimp combination. Lunch specials (served Monday through Saturday) are real bargains ($2,50 to $3 75). (4117 Lemmon near Douglas. 521-6981. Sun-Thur 11:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 11:30-11:30. MC, V, AE. $$)

Szechuan Pavilion. There’s nothing particularly compelling about the atmosphere at Szechuan Pavilion in Preston Center, but then, we’ve often found a positive correlation between good Chinese food and shabby surroundings. The food here is strikingly and consistently good-even when it’s white-cartoned and reheated at home The keys here seem to be authentic, fresh ingredients, few gummy additives and spicy dishes that are zesty and flavorful but not fiery hot. Two items on the menu shouldn’t be missed: the fried fantail shrimp appetizer-perfectly crisp and light and served piping hot-and the subgum deluxe lo mein-a fabulous blend of lo mein noodles, plump nuggets of seafood and stir-fried vegetables. Beyond that, we tend to rely on the chef’s suggestions-some of which, like the emperor’s chicken and the hot and sour whole fish, are downright exotic. One caveat: skip the house wine and stick to the Chinese beer. (8409 Preston Road, 368-4303. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun noon-3 pm; dinner: Mon-Fri 4:30-10, Sat & Sun noon-10:30. All credit cards. $$)

Taiwan. This restaurant is dressier and a bit more expensive than a lot of Chinese places in town, but it stands head and shoulders above most of them when it comes to food. The choices, particularly in terms of appetizers and soups, are extremely varied; the Kuo-Teh meat dumplings, the flaming pu pu platter and the sizzling rice soup for two are outstanding. The kitchen is at its best with the hot and spicy Szechuan dishes. Service can range from nerve-rackingly overattentive to somewhat absent-minded. (6111 Greenville. 369-8902. Mon-Sat 11 am-3 am, Sun 10 am-11 pm. Reservations. All credit cards.

Yunnan Dynasty. Probably the best Chinese restaurant in Dallas, Yunnan Dynasty is especially adept at hot and spicy dishes like Yunnan spicy shrimp, shredded beef with hot pepper and black bean sauce and diced chicken with hot pepper sauce. The chef’s special beef is also a crunchy delight. One of our all-time favorites is steamed fish, served whole, with black-bean sauce. For dessert, sesame bananas can’t be improved upon. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy, Suite 191. 739-1110. Sun-Thur 11:30-10, Fri & Sat noon-11. AE, V, MC, DC. $$)



SEAFOOD



Charley’s Seafood Grill. Charley’s is worth a visit not so much for its seafood as for its atmosphere- the brass-trimmed, floor-to-ceiling mirrored bar filled with row upon row of assorted liquor bottles is really quite a sight. The seafood, unfortunately, is less impressive. Charley’s chowder is bland, and the numerous fried offerings are only average, but the char-broiled fish (trout, red snapper, swordfish steak) can be quite good. (5348 Belt Line. 934-8501. Sun-Thur 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. $$)

Fausto’s. This establishment deserves commendation for its excellence in all areas of restaurant management, especially for the food. King salmon with spinach in a puff pastry and baked swordfish with oysters and wine sauce would make anyone’s palate quiver with delight. The fresh shark gumbo and the artichoke and mushroom salad are equally special. The chocolate mousse is ambrosial; the fresh coffee with beaten cream is nectar even for Neptune. The extras are noteworthy-a flavor-bursting pear sorbet to refresh the palate before the entree, a homemade honey-and-almond cookie served atop a silver container that releases swirls of dry ice vapor over the edges of your table. The elegant, dark and unhurried atmosphere makes for a satisfying and romantic evening, as do the live piano music and subdued noise and crowds. (Hyatt Regency Hotel. 651-1234. Daily: 6-11; Sun brunch: 10:30-2:30. Reservations for dinner. Jackets required for men. All credit cards. $$$$)

Jozef’s. Selecting carefully is the way to enjoy the seafood at Jozef’s. Smoked freshwater trout with horseradish sauce, mushrooms stuffed with crab meat imperial and basic entrees such as live Maine lobster or char-broiled fish of the season are all recommended. Tasty blueberry cheesecake is a nice finish. Service is attentive but not overbearing. (2719 McKinney. 826-5560. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Ratcliffe’s. The decor looks like New Orleans, and the fish compares favorably. Especially noteworthy are the clam chowder and sourdough bread. Add a house salad and soothing raspberry mousse, and you have a pleasant lunch. For evenings try the pasta with seafood or red snapper, plus vegetables. (1901 McKinney. 748-7480. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. Reservations optional. AE, V, DC, CB. $$$)

Rocco Oyster Bar. If you can forget that we’re landlocked in Central Texas, there’s no less splendid place than Rocco’s to act like a drunken sailor and eat fresh seafood that still smacks of brine. The food here, however, tends to be a bit erratic. On one visit, our entrees were uniformly delightful: fresh sole al-mandine, soft-shell crab and the Big Mix-a bro-chette of shrimp, scallops, green pepper, tomato and oysters smoked until heated through, but still moist. We weren’t as impressed on another trip- the sautéed scallops were a bit dry, and the sea bass was delivered raw. Chic industrial lighting overhead and blue neon tubing make Rocco’s an exceptionally attractive place. (2520 Cedar Springs. 747-6226. Sun-Wed 11-11, Thur-Sat 11 am-12:30 am. AE, MC, V. $$)

The Rusty Scupper. This restaurant is part of a seafood chain, but it’s a cut above most chains. There are fresh catch-of-the-day specials posted on a blackboard. Stick to those and you can’t go wrong. We had a trout stuffed with shrimp and herbs that was as good as any fancy seafood offering we’ve had in landlocked Dallas. On the other hand, the accompanying fries and salad were best left alone. But our dessert-a pecan, caramel and ice cream con-conction called turtle pie-was excellent. (4951 Belt Line. 960-0884. Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat till 11, Sun brunch 11:30-3, dinner: 5-9. AE, V, DC. $$)Seascape Inn. This seafood restaurant is one of Dallas’ finest eateries. We’ve never had a bad entree, and Chef Jean LaFont’s specialties are always just that-special treats. The Dover sole Veronique and the salmon in puff pastry are two wonderful selections. “Gracious” best sums up the service and atmosphere; it is elegant but not pretentious. (6306 Greenville. 692-6920. Lunch: Sun-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5.30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

S & D Oyster Company. S&D could easily survive for years on its substantial assemblage of regulars who would much rather fight the growing crowds than switch. Why do droves flock to this humble establishment? Because S&D has some of the best fresh seafood in Dallas. Period. Broiled whole flounder and fried shrimp are among the freshly simple choices. And don’t forget S&D’s great sides- crisp coleslaw, crunchy hush puppies and French fries. (2707 McKinney. 823-6350. Mon-Thur 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. No reservations. MC, V. $$)

Turtle Cove. Decisions are easy to make at Turtle Cove: Order the fresh seafood broiled over a mes-quite wood fire, a whiff of which you’re bound to inhale as you enter. The mesquite provides a low. moist heat that cooks the seafood to perfection. Mesquite-broiled vegetables are a better choice than salad, and the best appetizers are the fresh oysters and broiled shrimp. Just remember to stick with the fresh seafood. (2731 W Northwest Hwy near European Crossroads. 350-9034. Mon-Sat 11-11, Sun noon-11. MC, V, AE. $$)



SOUTHERN SPECIALTIES



Broussard’s. The specialties of this backwoods Louisiana Cajun diner, located in Irving, are all fried-oysters, shrimp, catfish, frog legs, hush puppies and potatoes with the crunchy skins left on. All are very simply prepared with lightly spiced coatings and are properly fried, complemented nicely by the homemade red sauce. The food is served cafeteria-style, but the wait is shortened by the great jukebox. (707 N Belt Line in Irving, one mile S of Hwy 183. 255-8024. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Fri 5-10, Sat 11-10. Closed Sun. No reservations. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. $$)

Bubba’s. This slate-gray art deco lunch stop near the SMU campus offers dependable chicken-fried steak, fried chicken and chicken and dumplings. With them you can have mashed potatoes and cream gravy, vegetables cooked with salt pork, salad, luscious hot rolls and cobbler lor dessert. Breakfast begins with biscuits-with gravy or in sausage sandwiches. This is a great place for reading the Sunday papers or, in the case of one SMU history prof, Pericles. (6617 Hillcrest. 373-6527. Daily: 6:30 am-10 pm. No credit cards. $)

Celebration. This is the closest thing to a home-cooked meal you’re going to find in a Dallas restaurant. Meat loaf, pot roast, baked chicken and fresh trout are proven favorites. But most of Dallas knows about Celebration, so either go early or be prepared for a half-hour wait. (4503 W Lovers Lane. 351-5681. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sal 5:30-11, Sun 5-10. Reservations lor six or more: no reservations on the weekend. All credit cards. $$)

Crawdaddy’s. Here you can dine on a terrific whole catfish dinner in rough-cut wood surroundings. The catfish is moist and tasty and accompanied by the best, lightest hush puppies you’ll ever eat Although it doesn’t seem to be in season very often, try ordering some form of crawfish when it is available. The beignets sprinkled with powdered sugar make a perfect finish (2614 McKinney. 748-2008. Sun noon-11, Mon-Thur 11-10, Fri 11-11:30, Sat noon-11:30. No reservations. MC, V, AE. $$)

Highland Park Cafeteria. To dine at this Dallas institution can mean waiting in line for as long as 20 minutes at peak hours. But don’t give up; the line moves quickly and soon you’ll be enticed by the aroma of HPC’s home-style food. HPC offers all kinds of green salads, coleslaw, congealed salads and fresh fruits. Next in line are the entrées-roast beef, fish-baked or fried, casseroles and more. The vegetables here are actually semi-crisp, not steamed into mush The assortment of breads and desserts is tempting. (4611 Cole. 526-3809. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm. Closed Sun. No liquor. MC, V. $)

Papa Zaby’s Cafe. A cross between Dixie House (up the road) and Little Gus’ (down the street). Papa Zaby’s is a welcome addition to the lower Greenville Avenue area. Breakfasts are noteworthy: fluffy omelets, biscuits, gravy and hashbrowns. At dinnertime, the chicken-fried steak with a bacony country gravy, mashed potatoes and vegetable of the day is entirely satisfying. (2114 Greenville. 821-4563. Mon-Fri 7:30 am-11 pm, Sat 8 am-11 pm, Sun 10 am-11 pm; brunch: Sat 8 am-2 pm, Sun 10 am-2 pm. All credit cards. $)

Peggy’s Beef Bar. If Snider Plaza has hopes of becoming high-brow (a la Highland Park, é la Rodeo Drive) it has to contend with Peggy’s Beef Bar. And Peggy This quick-bite barbecue dive, complete with pictures of cattle, oilers juicy sandwiches, heaping barbecue plates and some terrific spicy onion rings But you city slickers stay home. Peggy’s servin’ up the real McCoy (6600 Snider Plaza. 368-9422. Mon-Fri 7am-6 pm, Sat 10:30 am-4 pm. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. $)

Sonny Bryan’s. There’s a reason all those people are standing in line in front of this greasy, fly-blown former drive-in: They are praying to the great god of barbecue, and Sonny Bryan is their Moses. They’re waiting for a generous slice of beef in the $1.90 sandwich; for ribs crusty and crinkled on the outside, juicy inside, with a sauce good enough to slurp out of the cardboard basket. They are here tor real barbecued meat. (2202 Inwood. 357-7120. Mon-Fri 7 am-5 pm, Sat 7am-3 pm, Sun 11 am-2pm. No reser-vations. No credit cards. $)



STEAKS, BURGERS, ETC.



Albert’s Delicatessen and Catering. The menu features deli sandwiches and “specialties.” which include croque monsieur sandwiches, soups, hot dishes such as lasagna and moussaka, and bastur-ma (an egg dish fixed with aged beef that tastes a lot like country ham). Al also serves up a creamy, cinnamon-flavored cheesecake and lots of friendly chatter Albert’s has a nice, neighborly feel to it (1416AvenueJ. 424-4534. Mon-Fri 7am-8 pm, Sat 7 am-4 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $)

Bohemia. The owners of this charm-laden little Bavarian restaurant are Czechoslovakian, but the cuisine is not all that different from your favorite German establishment, and odds are that it’s prepared with more care. The menu includes a lot of goulash-style dishes, dumplings, veal and vinegary sauces. The vegetables were outstanding, cooked perfectly. The sauerkraut, in fact, was the best we’ve ever had The desserts, too, were homemade -a fluffy cheesecake with real whipped cream and an apple strudel of flaky pastry and tart, plump fruit slices. (2810 N Henderson. 826-6209. Tue-Sun 5:30-11. Closed Mon. MC, V, AE. $$)

The Bronx. Pinpointing the ambiance of The Bronx is not easy-it’s somewhere between Soho chic and Southern simplicity. In any case. The Bronx is a great place to sit back, relax and choose from a limited menu of quiches, omelets and salads, or perhaps the meat loaf plate, all of which are sure bets The Bronx has daily wine specials and some of the best spiced tea around (3835 Cedar Springs. 521-5821. Mon-Thur 5:30 pm-12:30 am, Fri 5:30 pm-1:30 am, Sat 6 pm-1:30 am; Sunday brunch: 11 30-4 MC. V, AE. $$)

Chili’s. Once you’re finally inside Chili’s and find most of the hired help rushing around in tennies, it may require a conscious effort to keep from joining the frenzy and gulping down your food and drink But the burgers are consistently good-thick and juicy and available with all kinds of toppings. You can expect a long line almost any time of the day on weekends, but take heart, the line moves fast (all that hustling and bustling) and there’s a bar right inside the door. Just grab a frozen margarita and relax (7567 Greenville. 361 4371 4291 Belt Line, 233-0380. 1901 N Central Expwy. 423-0925. 924 Copeland, 261-3891. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11-1, Sun 11:30-11. No reservations. MC, V, AE. $)

Chips. Basic burgers, with everything necessary to make them good fresh, lean ground meat, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard and mayonnaise-and a fresh poppy-seed bun The options include cheese, of course, and double meat And there’s a taco salad large enough to feed a family of four, and great chili con queso. Service is as fast and friendly as you want it because you order at the counter and pick it up when your name is called The atmosphere is basic burger joint: loose and relaxed. (4501 S Central Expwy. 526-1092 Mon-Thur 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. $)

Crackers. Greek dishes prevail at this casual, comfortable restaurant Dine on moussaka, spano-kopita, baked chicken Greek-style or souflaki on the balcony amid the trees, or in the pleasant but nondescript dining rooms For something on the lighter side, quiche and sandwiches are available Almost all entrees are preceded by a cup of soup and a crunchy, cheesy tidbit followed by a fresh green salad (2621 McKinney. 827-1660. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30, Sat 11-3, Sun 11 5; dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. MC, V, AE. $)

Dalt’s. This is a formula restaurant (it’s owned by the same people who own TGI Friday’s), but it doesn’t look or feel like a formula restaurant Dalt’s resembles a Thirties malt shop-lots of black and white tile and such The burgers are big and juicy, as are some of the concoctions that come from the bar And Dalt’s has some excellent malt shop offerings such as shakes, sodas and sundaes. (5100 Belt Line, Sakowitz Village, Suite 410. 386-9078. Daily: 11 am-2 am. All credit cards. $)

Hoftfbrau. Sink into the deep vinyl booths (deep because the springs are shot), put your elbows on the table, have a beer and listen to the genuine Texas accents of the polyester-clad cowboys (the kind that let you know, in case you doubted, that this is a real steak restaurant) The chief charm of this delightfully Austinesque restaurant is the atmosphere, followed closely by the juicy lemon-butter steaks. You’ll leave as full as your Levis can handle for less than $15. (3205 Knox at Cole. 559-2680. Mon-Sat 11-11, Sun 4-10. All credit cards. $$)

Judge Bean’s. Another in a seemingly endless procession of “fat-burger” joints, Judge Bean’s offers serious carnivores a half-pound burger available with almost any imaginable topping from hickory sauce to retried beans, chips, onions and hot sauce. Also worth trying are Bean’s hefty nachos and curly-cue french fries. And for the true Texan, there’s the world’s largest hamburger (or so Judge Bean says) -a 4-pound burger consisting of 2 pounds of meat and 2 pounds of fixins. That one has to be seen (or perhaps eaten) to be believed. (8214 Park Lane, 363-8322, and 14920 Midway, 980-4400. Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am. MC, V, AE. $)

Kobe Steaks. This plush Japanese steakhouse offers combinations of steak, seafood and/or chicken. Beef is the featured attraction, and it is of the highest quality. Dinners come with delicious beef broth, a piquant shrimp appetizer and smooth green tea as well as salad and rice. However, the group seating arrangements offer little privacy while you dine. (15000 Quorum Drive at Belt Line off Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600. 934-8150. Sun-Thur 5-11, Fri & Sat 5-midnight. All credit cards. $$$)

TGI Friday’s. The creator of singlemania, Friday’s is still the spot for after-hour intermingling. The pace is frenetic; the noise level, deafening; the drinks, plentiful; and the food, consistently reliable. Try the great potato skins, Mexican pizza or the numerous burger selections. (5500 Greenville, 363-5353. 5100 Belt Line, 386-5824. Mon-Sat 11:30-2, Sun 11-2. No reservations. All credit cards. $$)

Tolbert’s Chill Parlor. Tolbert’s may have left Oak Lawn, but nothing else has changed at this chili institution (except the crowd’s gotten even bigger). You’ll still find great mainline Texas cooking-Tolbert’s version of chili (Texas red), burgers with every type of dressing, burritos, hearty fries and superb onion rings-but now you’ll get it served up in an even bigger warehouse-style room with even more photos. (4544 McKinney. 522-4340. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight, Sun noon-11 pm. No reservations. V, MC, AE. $)



FORT WORTH RESTAURANTS



Angelo’s. Hallowed has become the name of Angelo’s among devotees of the almighty rib, and for a real taste of Texas, we’ll take the tender, meaty, succulent barbecued ribs served here. For $5.75, you get a pile of ribs, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, pickle, onion, sauce and bread. Ribs are served after 5 p.m. only. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m., after which the price of beer doubles. (2533 White Settlement Road. (817)332-0357. Mon-Sat 11-10. Closed Sun. No reservations. No credit cards. $)

The Back Porch. A fun place to visit after an afternoon in the park or an hour at the museum. Wholewheat pizzas, a weigh-and-pay salad bar (which, for 16 cents an ounce, includes fresh, juicy hunks of a wide assortment of fruits and a good guacamole salad), three kinds of homemade soup and great heaping ice cream cones make this a favorite spot for Fort Worth diners. (2500 W Berry, (817) 923-0841. Mon-Thur 11-9, Fri & Sat 11-10. Closed Sun. 3400 W Camp Bowie Blvd, 332-3941. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-3; ice cream Mon-Thur 11-9, Fri & Sat 11-10. Sun. ice cream only, 1-9. No credit cards. $)

The Balcony. Here you’ll find continental cuisine, specializing in beef dishes, fried shrimp and veal cordon bleu. The elegant restaurant overlooks bustling Camp Bowie Boulevard and is a good place for relaxed dining and conversation. (6100 Camp Bowie. (817) 731-3719. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-10:30. Reservations. Jackets required for dinner. All credit cards. $$$)

The Carriage House. This is a refreshing retreat from area steakhouses that are big enough to accommodate basketball tournaments. The atmosphere in the two small crystal-laden dining rooms is not quiet, but it is relaxed. The tenderloins win best of show, with South African lobster tails, mushroom appetizers and soothing brandy ices vying for second place. (5136 Camp Bowie Blvd. (817) 732-2873. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11, Sun 6-10; Sunday brunch: 11-2. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Cattlemen’s. First-time visitors are excited by the rustic Texas-style setting in the heart of the old Stockyards area, but the prime steak is the thing that brings them back a second time. Blue-ribbon beeves are displayed to document the superb quality of meat that has been devoured here, but tasting is believing. When the steaks arrive, all else becomes incidental The prime cuts of rib eye and K.C. sirloin are delectable, and the 18-ounce prime boneless strip is a third-degree sin. (2458 N Main. (817) 624-3945. Mon-Fri 11-10:30, Sat 4:30-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations Mon-Thur. All credit cards. $$$)

Crystal Cactus. The Crystal Cactus, which gets its name from the etched-glass room dividers, is a pleasant repose and an admirable effort to provide quality dining to downtown Fort Worth The service is proficient and attentive, and the offerings are attractively presented The rock lobster salad with tarragon dressing is delicious, and the beef tenderloin is equally well-prepared Interesting luncheon specialties are featured during the week, including a spicy fisherman’s stew. (Hyatt Regency Hotel. 815 Main. (817) 870-1234. Dinner: daily 5-11; Sunday brunch: 11-2. Reservations. Jackets and ties required lor dinner. All credit cards. $$$)

Edelweiss. Edelweiss is a big, joyous beer hall with food. Of course, there are German wines and beers, and a cheese soup as thick as we’ve ever tasted. For entrées, try the sausages in mushroom sauce or the cordon bleu Kartoffein (schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese), which is reputed to be the house specialty. The potato pancakes spiced with onion make a tasty side dish. (3801-A Southwest Blvd. (817) 738-5934. Dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations lor 10 or more. All credit cards. $$)

Hedary’s. Where else in Fort Worth can you sit down to a meal of hoummus bit-tahini (chickpea dip seasoned with lemon and garlic), khyar bil-laban (sliced cucumbers in fresh yogurt) and a plate of magdoos (pickled eggplant stuffed with walnuts)? Hedary’s is intimate, a bit idiosyncratic and thoroughly old fashioned in its methods. “No hot table, freezer, chemicals or can opener,” says the menu, and we believe it. The bread is baked while you watch (3308 Fairfield, Ridglea Center off Camp Bowie Blvd. (817) 731-6961. Tue-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11, Sun 5-10. Closed Mon. No reservations All credit cards. $$)

Joe T. Garcia’s. This Fort Worth temple to Tex-Mex serves up industrial-strength margaritas that are champions, and superior family-style Mexican staples. You’ve got your beans, rice, tacos, enchiladas, tortillas and, if you must, nachos. No questions. No substitutions. That’s it. But it’s the best, and it makes for an inherently good time. Time after time. (2201 N Commerce. (817) 626-4356. Mon-Fri 11-2 & 5-10:30, Sat 11-10:30, Sun 4-10. Reservations for 20 or more. No credit cards. $$)

Kincaid’s. This west Fort Worth grocery store serves, almost as an afterthought, the best hamburger in the state of Texas. Kincaid’s cooks more than 1,200 a day, but each seems to taste as if your mother toiled over a skillet preparing it. Greasy? Of course. They are also the best-tasting, juiciest, meatiest burgers you’ll ever wrap your hands around That’s why businessmen in three-piece suits are more than willing to stand in line at the noon hour for a chance to grab one of these delightful burgers, a bag of potato chips and a Dr Pepper from the machine. (4901 Camp Bowie. (817) 732-2881. Mon-Sat 10 am-6:15 pm. No credit cards. $)

Le Café Bowie. To our great misfortune, we were late in visiting this excellent French restaurant in an old frame house on Camp Bowie. The recited menu changes daily, but we enjoyed chicken and veal specialties, fresh fruit salads, soup, lots of tiny, hot homemade rolls and fresh vegetables served at very reasonable prices. The service was graceful and attentive: our meal was completely relaxing. Le Cafe Bowie may be the best restaurant in Cowtown. (4930 Camp Bowie. 735-1521. Dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Lunch: Tue-Sun 11:30-2, Sat noon-2; Sun champagne brunch: noon-2. MC, AE, V. $$$)

L’Oustau. In this pleasant, open room with lots of skylights, French-accented waiters bring forth a fine selection of continental food. The best offerings include the lamb chops (served in a delicate sauce) and the coq au vin, which evokes memories of real country cooking in Burgundy. Try a strawberry tart, which comes with a layer of custard and a thin crust of chocolate. Or, if you’re into self-denial, limit yourself to one fresh strawberry dipped in chocolate. (300 Main Street. (817) 332-8900. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations are recommended. MC, V: personal checks accepted. $$$$)

Massey’s. Knowing a chicken-fried steak at Mas-sey’s is knowing the best of the breed, the créme de la créme, the piéce de résistance of chicken-fried steak The portions are huge, and the tender meat is cooked with a heavenly breading and topped with yellow creamed gravy, just the way they do it on that great spread beyond the sunset. At lunchtime, you get salad, two vegetables and homemade biscuits with your steak Seafood and Mexican dishes are also served. (1805 Eighth Ave. (817) 924-8242. Daily: 8 am-10 pm. MC, V. $)

The Melting Pot. Regardless of how good a restaurant is, a shopping mall address draws skepticism. But we were favorably impressed by The Melting Pot. on the upper level of Ridgmar Mall (also around the corner from Neiman’s), which offers a full menu, including savory baked brie to be scooped from the plate with homemade Melba toast or an apple slice. Among the appetizers is a whimsical selection of croissants, omelets, fondues and pasta All are reasonably priced (nothing on the menu costs more than $11.25; many entrees are under $5). Everything we tried was good-the crab-meat croissant was filling, flaky and well-seasoned The pasta arrived delightfully hot. but could have been more vigorously seasoned (Ridgmar Mall, 2166 Green Oaks Road 731-1502. Tue-Sat 11:30-3 & 5-9; Patio: Mon 9-8:30, Tue-Sat 9-11 & 3-5. AE, MC, V. $$)

River House. This welcome spot considerably lessens the pain in a city aching for reasonably priced yet digestible seafood. The seafood platter is a delightful sampling of shrimp, oysters, fish and deviled crab; the assorted shore dinners, which include an appetizer, salad, entree, drink and dessert (try the Key lime pie), are a worthy catch. (1660 S University. (817)336-0815. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon & Tue 5-9, Wed-Sat 5-10. Reservations for six or more All credit cards. $$)

Zeke’s. This smaller sister-restaurant of The Hop(it’s run by the same family) was for many years happily located next to Freak Imports and is run by whatis a minority in Cowtown: longhaired, freaky people.The kind that need not apply at other, stuffierestablishments. We love Zeke’s long-hairs, but thething that keeps us coming back is the golden, crispbatter that coats almost everything Zeke’s serves.It’s greasy in the most delightful of ways, and thefact that orders of fried fish, mushrooms, okra andzucchini look quite a bit alike doesn’t make themboring, just uniformly superb (5920 Curzon.731-3321. Sun-Thur 11-11, fri & Sat 11-midnight. Nochecks, no credit cards. $)

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