DINING NEW ARRIVALS

Three hits and a miss

Belvedere. Often the best restaurants are the least conspicuous, the most carefully tucked away. On the southern edge of Highland Park, a couple of blocks down from Café Cancun in the Crestpark Hotel, as the maitre d’ will tell you, is Belvedere, a 4-month-old baby sister of The Chimney (in Willow Creek Shopping Center at Walnut Hill). Belvedere, which serves the same sort of delicious Swiss/ Austrian food as the 14-year-old Chimney, strikes a comfortable note of elegance. Stace Carrington, part owner with Hinz Prast, says Belvedere chef Walter Schmid varies the sauces a bit from those used at the Chimney, but the food is basically the same. Plush red-quilted booths and a nearby table of German-accented guests, luscious antique furnishings and classical piano dinner music made us feel as though we should be accustomed to fine dining. We were ignorant on all counts when we chose to have dinner at Belvedere -we only knew that it was “new” and phoned for reservations. The maitre d’ declined to provide us with a dress code, only saying “come casual.” We did, but we were treated as though we wore crimson robes. We settled down before an elegantly appointed table. The French onion au gratin soup was good, but not grand; my companion’s shrimp cocktail quickly drew my attention from my soup’s stringy moz-zarella to his several pink, meaty crustaceans in no time. The sauces are the winning point of Belvedere: The veal (the restaurant’s specialty) approached L’ Am-biance’s excellence, and the beef was tender, but the light spirited sauces made the meal. The asparagus came close to stealing the show, however, as did some of the other vegetables. Too bad the servings were so petite. Dessert is always essential, (as far as we’re concerned), but try it at the Belvedere even if it’s to the exclusion of an entrée. The Austrian snowball, ice cream rolled in toasted almonds with an otherworldly hot fudge and whipped cream topping, may have been laughably simple for Chef Schmid to concoct, but for us it was paradise. The Sachertorte was an interesting combination of chocolate cake with an apricot marmalade filling and Swiss chocolate icing; a noble invention, indeed. Free valet parking is available, as are private dining rooms for parties of up to 60. (4242 Lomo Alto. 528-6510. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. All major credit cards. $$$)

Caté Jasper. Café Jasper describes itself as “chic, unique, convenient” -three of our least favorite words when it comes to good food. Imagine crossing a French patisserie with a Burger King and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this place is all about. It’s a great gourmet-cafeteria concept that is probably being written about in restaurant trade magazines, but what we sampled proved to be less savory than we’d hoped. It will, no doubt, be a great success with business people downtown who’ve been starving for light paté and fruit salad lunches, quiche, croissant sandwiches, soups and cheeses served up on plastic plates they can take back to the office and toss out after they’ve eaten. Through the window, amid the gay red, white and blue surroundings, croissants can be seen baking. From the sidewalk they look golden brown and buttery, but on the plate they become leaden and bready and are lacking in the flaky texture that makes croissants so great elsewhere. The paté that came with our fruit salad was an inexpensive variety that left us unimpressed and thinking that the names of things are what they’re selling here. Paté! Croissant! Sounds like just what you wanted to eat at midday. The reality of the meal is less exciting. There are a few nice cosmetic touches that make Café Jasper’s sins seem less severe: The place has a pleasant collection of imported beers. It offers fruit juices. Honey and jam condiments are in baskets by the cash register. Jars of Dijon are resting on every table. And the people working behind the counter look as though they’ve earned their masters degrees at reputable universities; we found them friendly and quite helpful. (Hartford Building, 400 N. St. Paul at Federal. 760-7336. Mon-Fri 7:30 am-7pm. $)

Francis Simun’s. Our dining experience here was the most unpleasant we’ve had in quite a while, but that should not be the final word on an establishment that everybody’s already calling “that cute new health food place in Snider Plaza.” Francis Simun’s tries to be both cute and serious at the same time. On the walls you’ll see decorator touches like large paintings that struck us as cheap rip-offs of Clifford Stills. Our waitress was young, well-dressed, coy and harbored real misunderstandings about what waitresses are supposed to be. She forgot our iced tea, spent far too much time stooped over our table retallying the bill and then condescendingly asked if we were “not yet” vegetarians. When we said “no,” her face turned to ice as if she had nothing more to say to the eaters of red meat. Bad attitude. What we tried at lunch could be found at lower prices in any health food store. The dinner menu (which has been set up to confuse luncheon guests into thinking dinner entries are among their options) is reeking of “healthy” things like quiche, salads and crepes, all of which seemed too familiar. It’s health food served a la sledgehammer: Eat it, you fool; it’s good for you. Thanks, but no thanks. (6922 Snider Plaza. 368-7789. Lunch: 11-2; dinner: 5-10. No credit cards. $$)

La Calle Doce. This Mexican restaurant is another harbinger of the resurgence of Oak Cliff. Gracefully housed in a converted house on 12th Street (hence the name), 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; and the food, carefully prepared and well-presented. The chile relleno is the best we’ve had in Dallas: a poblano pepper stuffed with tender, flavorful beef bits and cheese; a batter that’s light and unobtrusive. The beef dishes we’ve tried have all been splendidly done, the meat not overcooked, as happens so often in Mexican restaurants. A clear fish soup, served with the snapper entrée, is subtle and delicate -another rarity in Mexican eateries. La Calle Doce is well worth a trip to Oak Cliff. (La Calle Doce. 415 W. 12th. 941-4304. Mon-Thur 11-9, Fri 11-10, Sat 5-10. MC, V, AE. $$)

Hunan Imperial. It’s not your imagination if you think there’s a new Chinese restaurant opening in Dallas every day. It’s true. If it’s not a new Szechuan-style eatery, it’s a new Hunan-style place. Or Mandarin. Or Peking-style. What all this means is that Dallasites can now pick and choose which kind of Chinese food they want, just as they’ve always been able to do with barbecue and Tex-Mex. Now, there’s another to add to the list of top-dynasty Oriental spots. Hunan Imperial recently opened in the Corner Shopping Center at Walnut Hill and Central Expressway. The difference here begins with the extensive menu. There are offerings that are just not readily available at other Dallas Chinese houses. String beans with pork, for example. The beans are crisp and flavorful, with just a smidgen of pork flavor. The bright-green color is matched by the bright-green flavor. Another dish we found both palate-pleasing and pretty is the shrimp with pine nuts. The shrimp are laced with bits of carrot and green pepper. The vegetables and the pine nuts are crisp and crunchy; the shrimp well cooked but not tough or mushy. And as for the appetizers, we found the soups good, the barbecue ribs tops, but the egg rolls disappointingly greasy.

The atmosphere, although not quite imperial, is at least subdued and conducive tofine dining. The tables are fewer than inmost Chinese restaurants, and the noiselevel is correspondingly tolerable. The service was helpful and gracious. (The Corner Shopping Center, Walnut Hill andCentral Expressway. 363-3858. Daily:11:30-11. AE, V, MC. $$)

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/American Express. DC/Diners Club, CB/Carte Blanche. “All credit cards” indicates that all five are accepted.



CONTINENTAL



Cafe da Paris. Continental cuisine served in a comfortably sophisticated and cheery atmosphere. Offerings include tender beef bourguignonne, salmon bearnaise covered by a tasty sauce and a French onion soup that is easily one of the best in the area. Dessert highlights are the fruit tart, served warm with fresh whipped cream, and the praline pie. (2800 Routh, The Quadrangle. 653-1027. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6-11:30. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Caté Riviera. The culinary emphasis here is on seafood and continental offerings, both Italian and French. The food preparation can be haphazard, considering the hefty bill. 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. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Cafe Royal. The surroundings are as exquisite as the Mozart played by the pianist on duty during dinner. Good bets are scallops in pepper sauce, a fine appetizer; and nouvelle cuisine-inspired entrees such 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 11:30-3: dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6:30-11. Jackets and ties required for 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. As openers, the delicate lobster souffle and garlicky escar-gots de bourgogne are excellent. Lovely terra-cotta and cream-colored surroundings are quietly elegant, as is the service. (2619 McKinney. 823-5380. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-9:30; Fri & Sat seatings at 7 and 9:30. Closed Sun. Jackets 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 entrees are veal, so we expected the veal forestiere to be good; it was better than that. Also recommended is the Rehsteak Chimney, breathtakingly tender tournedos from Montana venison. (Willow Creek Center, 9739 N Central 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-Fri 6-10; Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

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 the veal Pagallo Superb desserts include the strawberries Romanoff and the cream caramel. (5415 W Lovers Lane. 357-1622. Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations. MC. V, AE. $$$)

Francisco’s. Its ambiance may not rival that of other continental restaurants, but Francisco’s 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. Among lunchtime entrees, the chef’s salad is commendable. (2917 Fairmount. 7490906. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30;dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6-11:30: seatings Sat at 7 & 9. Reser-vations. 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 resembles what Cecil B DeMille’s vision of Louis XIV’s dining room must have looked like. Every dish is superb -from the bisque of langoustine and crawfish to the foie gras in aspic, the roast lobster with thyme and caviar sauce, and the Grand Marnier mousse. Service is excellent and intimate (chef Roland Passot 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 for men. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$$)

Frenchy Cafe. As close as you’ll come in Dallas to a real Parisian cafe-even if it is a bit too new to be quaint Standards include baguettes, butter croissants, quiche and soups The salads are outstanding, but the pates are the prime example of French culinary skill. (5940 Royal. 369-1235. Mon-Sat 11-7. Closed Sun. MC, V. $)

The Grape. Everyone loves The Grape, but the people who seem to love it most are lovers Candlelight is conducive to other than romantic sorts of conversations, such as 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 patés 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 6-1. AE, MC, V. $$)

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. $$$$)

Jennivine. Although the atmosphere is British, Jen-nivine offers a lovely selection of French wines, patés 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 recommended choices. 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. MC, V. AE, DC. $$)

L’Ambianca. 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. The pastry selection is varied and gorgeous. (2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30. Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

La Vieille Varsovie. Tableside food preparation with a theatrical flair highlights dining in the Old Warsaw. Menu fortes are the poached salmon in champagne sauce, the fresh lobster and the Dover sole with lemon butter. (2610 Maple 5280032. Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations. Jackets required for men. All credit cards. $$$$)

La 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, pepper steak and uncommon offerings of duck and rabbit. (3237 McKinney at Hall. 745-1985. Tue-Sat 11:30 am-1 am. Sun 11 am-1 am. Closed Mon. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Les Salsons. 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 roughly 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. $$$)

The Mansion. Brisk, efficient waiters work in a carefully calculated decor often supplemented by dining celebrities. Menu stars include the tortilla soup and the béarnaise sauce that tops the red snapper, and the paté that garnishes the duck with brown sauce. (2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Lunch: Mon-Fri noon-2:30: brunch: Sat noon-2:30, Sun 11-2:30: dinner: Sun 6-10, Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri &Sat 6-11’;supper:Mon-Thur 10:30-midnight, Friand Sat 11-midnight. Reservations. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$)

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 the stronger points of this place 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 6-10:30. 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-Thur6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$)



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, if 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. $$)

Sahib. On visual terms alone, the place is commendable: Gauze canopies float over a lovely teal and peach color scheme. As for food, the Maharaja Patiala 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 $6.95 lunch buffet (somewhat mis-leadingly referred to as “brunch” on weekends). (9100 Central Expy, 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. AE, V, MC, DC. $$)

Campiti’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. 8270355, 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, Carusos’ 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 wine 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. $$)

DiPalma. Whether or not you’re Italian, DiPalma is the pertect 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 par-migiana and bracciole. A daily special is always offered on the menu. Desserts include pastries, fresh pear cake and a delicious orange hazelnut torte. (1520 Greenville. 824-4500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm, Fri & Sat till 10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V. $)

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 here 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. Reservations on weekdays only. 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 scaloppine al marsala and involtini nicola, two veal dishes. Dessert treats are profitterol al cioccolato (a cream-filled pastry) and ice cream with Strega, an Italian liqueur. (7713 Inwood. 352-8373. Sun, Tue-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri 4 Sat 5:30-11. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$)

La Trattoria Lombardl. This place may never be as good as the old Lombardi’s on McKinney, but when it’s 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 lorn-bardi’s traditionally good service. (2916 Hall. 823-6040. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat till 11. Closed Sun. 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 to merit the delivery. Superb pasta, veal entrees and sauces are fitting preludes to dessert, possibly one of Mario’s outstanding soufflés, (135 Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn. 521-1135. Daily 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. PJ.’s isn’t to be judged by its shopping center neighbors or its disco-like front wall Inside beckons soft light, cordial service and sumptuous homemade pasta. Since our friendly waiter told us (unknowing, of course, of whom he was speaking to) “that the critics love our antipasto.” we took his or their word for it, and began our meal with some delicious, spicy stuffed mushrooms and marinated artichoke hearts. Veal marsala was good, but its sauce was merely adequate. The pasta giovanni, named after the son of PJ.’s owner Papa Jack, was a pasta lover’s fantasy island The heaping plate offered spaghetti, ravioli, manicotti, meatballs, lasagna and sausage. It was impossible to finish, but great fun to try. We ended our very enjoyable dinner with some “damn good” cheesecake and typically delicious cappucino pie. (5410 E. Mockingbird. 824-1490. Daily: 5-10 pm or, on weekends, as late as necessary. AE, MC, V. $$$)

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. (Suite 233, The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 742-3872 Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)



MEXICAN



Café Cancun. Most good Tex-Mex in Dallas is served in places you wouldn’t feel safe visiting at night-perhaps that’s Cafe Cancun’s secret to success. This isn’t Tex-Mex, but Mexico City-style Mexican food. The standout menu items are too numerous to sample during one visit, but there are a few superlative items you shouldn’t miss. Try the corn soup, which is thick with cheese and corn meal, and the enchiladas verdes (chicken enchiladas with spicy green tomatillo sauce). Then sample the excellent tacos al carbon, the quesadillas Cancun and the nachos Cancun (black bean nachos). (4131 Lomo Alto. 559-4011. Mon-Thur 11-11. Fri 11-midnight. Sat 5-midnight, Sun 5-70. All credit cards. $$)

Chiquita. With its pastel tablecloths, candles and the color-coordinated costumes of the waiters, Chi-quita is out of the ordinary when compared to most Tex-Mex places in town. 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. (3810 Congress off Oak Lawn. 521-0721. Mon-Thur 11:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 11:30-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$)

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 only okay. Stick with the basics-enchiladas, tacos, tamales, chili rellenos, guacamole-and you’ll leave satisfied, with only a minimal dent in your wallet. (2616 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 entries are standard no-frill, reasonable-bill 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 frijoies, 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-Sun 11 am-3:30am. Closed Mon. No reservations. No credit cards. $)

Herrera. Despite the (act that this dumpy little restaurant on Maple Avenue has more customers than it can possibly serve, the Tex-Mex 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. Quite a bit different from the standard Tex-Mex found at most Mexican restaurants, Javier’s offers Mexico City-style gourmet dining. To begin, chips are served with red and green salsas. Javier’s excels with its fish and chicken dishes, but also serves creditable beef dishes. For dessert, try the smooth and satisfying mango mousse, or the cafe Pierre, which is flamboyantly prepared at the table. (4912Cole. 521-4211. Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri&Sattill 11. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)

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 is generally high, and the view inside the Anatole’s atrium is beautiful. The stout margaritas are a welcome change from the usual 7-Eleven Slurpee variety. (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Fwy. 748-1200. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, 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, LBJ at Preston. 980-7296. Mon-Thur 11:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 11:30-11. Closed Sun. Drinks with $5 membership charge. MC, V, AE. $$)

Moctazuma. Besides the usual Tex-Mex, this bastion of Dallas’ South of the Border restaurants features some excellent chicken and fish dishes. The nachos and the margaritas are tops. On sunny summer days you can 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 11-11:30. 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. Breakfast is served from 9 until 11 a.m. (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. Closed Sun. Reservations Mon-Thur only. All credit cards. $$)

Rosita’s. The unanimous conclusion of our party after only a first few bites at Rosita’s was that “Yes, indeed, it’s better than Escondido’s.” And not nearly as scrungy. And we suffered no usual, post Tex-Mex side effects. The chicken enchiladas, and chicken flautas we tried were reliably average 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 available. (4906 Maple Ave., 521-4741. Tue-Fri 10-10. $)



MIDDLE EASTERN



The Plta Place. It is important to the management that you know that this is an Israeli restaurant (although the food resembles Lebanese). Whatever you call it, this is good food. Try the specials, such as the Jerusalem chicken (a tender, spicy, roasted chicken served with rice, beans and a salad) or the kebab (ground sirloin with chopped onions, parsley and spices). And you obviously wouldn’t want to eat here without trying the fresh pita bread; we recommend hoummus (ground chickpeas with lemon and garlic) as an excellent dip/spread. (The Corner Shopping Center, 9820 N Central Expy at Walnut Hill. 987-3226. Tue-Sun 11-10, Closed Mon. AE, MC, V, DC. $)



NATURAL POODS



Marvins Garden. There is an earthy charm about this small, comfortable restaurant that we have not felt elsewhere in Dallas. Purity in food is the emphasis here, but your taste buds may find some dishes bland. The Mexican offerings seem consistently good and the Sunday brunch is a laid-back work of art. (6033 Oram at Skillman. 824-5841. Sun-Thur 11-10:30; Fri & Sat 11-11. MC, V, DC. $$)



ORIENTAL



Asuka. Dining at Asuka is a soothing experience that will transport you a thousand miles away from the construction and congestion 50 yards outside the door. Try any one of the Kaiseki dinners, such as the Ishiyaki 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. What you’ll get on an average day is better than what you’ll find in a neighborhood Chinese place; however, some of the sauces have been tempered to suit Cream of Wheat North Dallas tastes. Recommended are the spicy and tangy lamb, the Mongolian barbecue, curried beef hibachi and the rumaki. (15030 Preston at Belt Line. 385-7227. Mon-Thur 11-10:30, Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11, Sun noon-10:30 Reservations lor 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. Because 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 entrees, however, are inconsistent. (Twin Bridge Shopping Center, 6752 Shady Brook Lane 987-3877 Sun-Thur 11 am-4 am, Fri 11 am-6 am, Sat 5 pm-6 am. AE, DC, MC. V.)

Sakura. The program here seems designed for local business people on expense accounts entertaining out-of-town business people on expense accounts. There is a $15 fee tor the tatami rooms, but you can sit on the floor and wear Japanese “happy robes” for free. If raw fish is what you’re interested in, try the sushi bar. As for other entrees, the beef dishes are above average, but the lobster entrees can be questionable. (7402 Greenville near Walnut Hill. 361-9282. Mon-Fri 11:30-2. 5:30-11:30, Sat & Sun 5:30-11:30. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

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, 5-10:30. AE, MC, V. $$)

Slam. 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 entree, 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. DC. $$)

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-wrackingly overattentive to somewhat absentminded. (6111 Greenville. 369-8902 Mon-Sat 11:30-3 am, Sun 10:30 am-11 pm. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Yunnan Dynasty. Most of the specialties here are hot and spicy, like the boneless duckling with ginger root in hot pepper sauce, although some of the non-combustible dishes, such as beef and scallops with oyster sauce are also solid selections. One of our all-time favorites is steamed fish (served whole) with garlic and black bean sauce, which is not only spicy and tasty, but is also low in calories. Yunnan’s pleasant decor and location make it a notch above its Oriental competitors. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expy, Suite 191. 739-1110. Sun-Thur 11:30-10, Fri & Sat 11:30-11. AE, V, MC. $$)



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 truly bland and the numerous fried offerings are only average, but the charcoal-broiled fish (trout, red snapper, swordfish steak) can be quite good. (5438 Belt Line. 934-8501. Sun-Thur 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. MC. DC, V, AE. $$)

Crazy Crab. This is the kind of place that seems franchised even though it isn’t yet (lots of little gimmicks). It’s a family place-a restaurant where you can find decent Dungeness crab from the West Coast, when it’s in season, and good steamed Alaskan King crab legs. (3211 Oak Lawn at Hall. 522-5310. Daily 11-11. All credit cards. $$)

Fausto’s. Among the culinary triumphs listed on the ambitious menu are tender and sweet frog legs, juicy swordfish steak and poached salmon steak topped with a luscious green peppercorn sauce. The extras are equally deserving of praise: marbled black and rye bread toast with Parmesan cheese that arrives before the menu, homemade pear sorbet to clear your palate before the main course, and decadent desserts. All these delights are served up in a darkened dining room that is one of the city’s plushest. (Hyarf Regency Hotel. 651-1234. Dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11; Fri & Sat 6-midnight; Sun brunch: 10:30-2:30. 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 meal 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 sophisticated dress of the clientele and the classy (if somewhat mismatched) decor seem out of place in the family-style atmosphere of this seafood restaurant. The food is not up to its former high standards. Among the choices are shrimp and crab in a white wine sauce, seafood saute and scampi Mediterranean. The most memorable features of the meal are the San Francisco sourdough bread and the soothing raspberry mousse. (1901 McKinney. 748-7480. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur & Sun 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. No reservations. AE, V, DC, CB. $$$)

Seascape Inn. This seafood restaurant has taken a position among 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: elegant but not pretentious. (6306 Greenville. 692-6920. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30. 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 outside 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. (2701 McKinney. 823-6350. Mon-Thur 11-10. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. No reservations. MC, V. $$)



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-Fri5-10, Sal 11-10. Closed Sun. No reservations. No credit cards. Personal checks accepted $$)

Bubba’s. This slate-gray art deco lunch stop with self-service near the SMU campus offers dependable chicken-fried steak, fried chicken, chicken and dumplings served with mashed potatoes and cream gravy, vegetables cooked with salt pork, salad and luscious hot rolls with cobbler for dessert. Breakfast focuses on biscuits with gravy plus biscuit and sausage sandwiches. 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-10pm. No credit cards. $)

Celebration. This is the closest thing to a home-cooked meal you’re going to find in a Dallas restaurant. Entrees include standbys such as meat loaf, pot roast, baked chicken and fresh trout, all of which have proved to be consistently reliable. But since most of Dallas knows about Celebration, 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 & Sat 5:30-11, Sun5-10. Reservations for six or more. V. AE. $$)

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. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm, Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11, Sun noon-10 pm. 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 entrees-roast beef, fish-baked or fried, casseroles and more. The vegetables here are actually semi-crisp, not steamed into mush And the assortment of breads and desserts is tempting. (4611 Cole. 526-3801. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm. Closed Sun. No liquor. No reservations. MC. V. $)

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 for real barbecued meat. (2202 Inwood. 357-7120. Mon-Fri 7 am-5 pm. Sat 7 am-3 pm, Sun 11 am-2 pm. No reservations. No 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 own 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. $)



STEAKS, BURQERS, ETC.



The Bronx. Pinpointing the ambiance of The Bronx is not easy-it’s somewhere between Soho chic and Southern simplicity. This 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 the best glass of spiced tea around. (3835 Cedar Springs. 521-5821. Mon-Thur 11:30-12:30. Fri 11:30-1:30, Sat noon-1:30. MC, V. $$)

Chill’s. The big tip-off to Chili’s atmosphere comes once you’re finally inside 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. Luckily, 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 maragarita and relax. (7567 Greenville, 361-4371. 4291 Belt Line, 233-0380. 1901 N Central Expy, 423-0925. 924 Copeland, 261-3891. Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri&Sat 11 am-1 am. No reservations. MC, V, AE. $)

Crackers. Greek dishes prevail at this casual, comfortable restaurant. Dine on moussaka, spano-kopita, baked chicken Greek-style or souflaki-all traditional Greek dishes-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 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. The setting 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. 386-9078. Daily 11 am-2 am. All credit cards. $)

Hoffbrau. Sink into the deep vinyl (deep because the springs are shot) booths, 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. But you’ll leave as full as your Levi’s can handle for less than $10. (3205 Knox at Cole. 559-2680. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11, Sun 5-10. All credit cards. $$)

Kobe Steaks. This plush Japanese steak house 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. $$$)

The Palm Bar. Nowhere downtown can you find a lighter, lovelier or more innovative meal than at The Palm Bar in the Adolphus Hotel. In addition to such predictable selections as salads, white tuna plates and New York deli-style sandwiches, you’ll find lunch variations such as the croissant sandwich with turkey or roast beef and a pot of fresh steamed vegetables dressed in a little dab of herb butter. A limited menu is available through cocktail time. (Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce. 742-8200 Mon-Fri 11-3 am; cocktails until 8. All credit cards. $$)

Papa Zaby’s Cafe. A cross between Dixie Mouse (up the road) and Little Gus’ (down the street), Papa Zaby’s is a welcome addition to the lower 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 9:30 am-11 pm, Sat 8 am-11 pm, Sun 10 am-11 pm. MC, AE, V. $)

Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The unprepossessing no-frills steakhouse appearance of Ruth’s makes the prices here an unexpected shock. The entrees (sirloin strip, filet, ribeye and porterhouse) begin at $17. With that you get bread only. But the steak, pan-broiled in butter, is served sizzling hot, juicy and is very good. (6940 Greenville. 691-6940. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-11:30 pm. Sat & Sun 5 pm-11:30 pm. 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 and 5150 Belt Line. 386-5824. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 am, Sun 11 am-2 am. No reservations. All credit cards. $$)



PORT 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. Whole wheat pizzas, a weigh-and-pay salad bar (which, tor 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. Sun 1-9. 3400-B Camp Bowie Blvd. 332-3941. Lunch only: Mon-Sat 11-3. Ice cream served until 9. $)

The Balcony. Continental cuisine, specializing in beef dishes. Fried shrimp and veal cordon bleu are among the specialties. 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 and Sat 6-10:30. Reser-vations. Jacket and ties required for dinner. All credit cards. $$$)

Benito’s. This is a real Mexican restaurant, not the place for Pancho-style taste buds or first semester Spanish students. This small, family-run establishment is managed by the daughter of the former headwaiter at Caro’s. and she’s made sure her restaurant’s beans and rice are just as tasty and non-greasy as theirs. But she’s done more: Benito’s (named after owner-Marias husband) serves all sorts of Mexican breakfasts, as well as specialties sucn as menudo-that’s tripe, in case you don’t know; they say it’s great for hangovers. (1450 W Magnolia. (817)332-8633. Mon-Thur 8 am-10 pm; Fri & Sat 8 am-3 am; Sun 8 am-10 pm. No credit cards. Personal checks accepted. $)

Bill Martin’s. A family seafood restaurant with notable hushpuppies and fried, baked and broiled fish of many breeds. The peel em and eat em shrimp is a favorite with regulars. We’ll take the large portion of catfish filets. Martin carries out the newspaper theme in the menus and names of all his “editions.” (2nd Edition, 4004 White Settlement Road. 737-4004 3rd Edition. 5425 E. Lancaster. 4th Edition, 7712 South Freeway. (817)293-9002. Mini-Edition, 4615 Highway 377 S. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10, Fri 5-11. Sat 11-11. Sun 11-10. All credit cards $$)

Burgundy Tree. A pleasant spot for good omelets, crepes, quiches, and even an occasional London broil or batch of jumbo shrimp. The Burgundy Tree’s University Drive location makes it an easy drive from Casa Manana, Will Rogers or a show on Camp Bowie. (1015 University Dr. (817)332-3309. Daily: 11 am-2 am; Sunday brunch: 11-3. V, AE, DC. MC. $$)

Caro’s. A longtime favorite Mexican food outpost offering the best plate of mixed goodies in the Southwest. “Mixed goodies” is Caro-lingo for tortilla chips piled alternately with cheese and guacamole after being fried specially to puff up instead of sog down. The selection of Mexican dinners at Caro’s is pretty much like that at any restaurant of its genre, only better. There’s serious spice for those who want it, and not much grease. We like the chicken enchiladas and think the beans are divine. (3505 Blue Bonnet Circle, 927-9948. 5930 Curzon, (817) 737-0304. Lunch: Tue-Sun 11-2; dinner Tue-Sun 4:30-10. Closed Mon. $$)

The Carriage House. A refreshing retreat from area steakhouses that are big enough to accommodate basketball tournaments is yours at the Carriage House. 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 6-70; Sunday brunch: 11-2. Reservations. MC. V, AE. $$$)

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 entrees, 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. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10:30, closed Sun. Reservations for 10 or more. MC, V, DC. $$)

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. $)

London House. Many a prom date, graduate, newly engaged and golden-aged couple have celebrated at the London House. The steaks and chicken are tender and flavorful. The crab, too, is tender and moist. The soup and salad bar, always a strong point, has gotten even better with the addition of items such as watermelon chunks. (4475 Camp Bowie Blvd. (817) 731-4141. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5:30-mid-night. Closed Sun. Reservations. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$)

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 evoked 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 a fresh strawberry dipped in chocolate. (300 Main Street. (817)332-8900. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations are recommended. MC, V. $$$$)

Massey’s. Knowing a chicken-fried steak at Massey’s is knowing the best of the breed, the crème de la crème, the piece de resistance 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. $)

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