Saturday, January 28, 2023 Jan 28, 2023
51° F Dallas, TX


Pez espada, veal piccata, watercress soup
By D Magazine |

Genaro’s Tropical. Dallas has come to expect new and exciting things from the fertile mind of Buffalo George Toomer, the city’s merry prankster. Combine the Toomer mind-set with the superior restaurant knowledge of Moctezuma’s Genaro Silva and the Revenge Inc. partners and the delightful result is Genaro’s Tropical, a reincarnation of a stylish Miami hotel of the Forties transported to the corner of Live Oak and Skillman. Welcome to a triple-threat feast for the eye, the ear and, of course, the palate. From the large hibiscus murals that cover one wall to the flamingos and hotel-art theme, Toomer’s conception is easy on the eye. The room is large and seems spacious even when full, as it usually is by early evening. At night, the stark white walls and black floors combine for another impressive visual effect. And since Toomer also selected the music for Genaro’s, don’t hold your breath for Neil Young or the Jackson Five. Instead, enjoy rare pre-Castro Cuban and Brazilian music by the likes of Carmen Miranda and Yuma Sumac. But the aesthetic thrill of Genaro’s shouldn’t overshadow the surprising menu, which demonstrates that Dallas has only one showcase for genuine tropical cuisine. Of the many fine seafood creations, pez espada (swordfish kebab) deserves special mention. The charcoal-broiled cuts of fish are wrapped in spinach leaves, and the meat’s fine piquancy contrasts nicely with sautéed spinach and carrots. Also droolworthy are the torta del mar (an open-faced sandwich of crab meat and red snapper) and the enchiladas Gen-aro, filled with crab and snapper and covered with sour cream and tomatilla sauce. And you can count on the standard Mexican dishes, which arrive with generous helpings of guacamole, black beans and tomatoes. Many of the dishes look almost too colorful and artfully arranged to eat, but it helps if you contemplate them with one (perhaps two) of Genaro’s special margaritas. And dessert? Try the flan -a Mexican custard with a delicious, lingering caramel sauce. Genaro’s has taken off quickly, and the fast start is well-deserved. What others have tried, Silva and Toomer have accomplished, and Dallas diners are the richer for their success. (5815 Live Oak. 827-9590. Daily: 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. All credit cards. $$)

Clair de Lune. This breezy new Quadrangle restaurant has plenty of room for al fresco dining beneath big red umbrellas. And inside, slick little midnight-blue tables provide a place to eat out of the heat. The best part of Clair de Lune is its bakery, which is open all day and serves cakes, tarts and eclairs that are baked on the premises. Dinner here is a relaxing experience, and the menu offers an interesting and rich assortment of entrées such as Cornish hen, trout, breast of chicken with artichoke hearts and minute steak with fries. We were disappointed with our onion soup au gratin; it lacked cheese, and the hunk of soggy French bread floating in the middle didn’t redeem it. The salad Clair de Lune was huge and fresh with a collection of mushrooms, cheese, tomatoes, green pepper and bacon arranged on top with little or no dressing. By this time, the service, we had decided, was a little slow, but the night breezes kept our impatience at bay. (Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 871-2288. Mon-Thur 8-12:30 a.m., Fri & Sat 8-2a.m., Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m. All credit cards. $$)

Blom’s. Super efficiency mixes with utter class to ease this new hotel restaurant into the circle of elegant continental dining. Cool pastels mix well with Gershwin tunes, but service is apparently hit-and-miss. One spring evening, we encountered a boppy, overly friendly waiter who prattled about diners at different locations in the restaurant and left us with an impression of very unpolished service. Weeks later, we found the service to be exceptionally efficient and professional. The food is, for the most part, excellent. The menu changes daily, with a few classics that are almost always available. The lobster, salmon and scallop terrine prepared with dill and tarragon was smooth; each seafood flavor was distinguishable. The artichoke bottoms filled with crab meat were fresh and were served with a light, buttery sauce. The cream of watercress soup was smooth and rich and was chilled perfectly. Delightful tart sorbets in five or six different flavors are offered before the entrée, and a tree of complimentary petit fours appears after every meal. (The Wes-tin Hotel, 13340 Dallas Pkwy. 934-9494. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 5-11; Sunday brunch: 10:30-2:30. Coat and tie required. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$)

Lurtino’s. This North Dallas establishment might well be called the home of Italian surprises. When Lurtino’s opened more than a year ago, a fairly extensive, average to above-average Italian menu was offered. Now, under its new management, Lurtino’s boasts a menu that changes daily and includes Northern Italian and continental cuisine. The selection and quality have improved commendably. The appetizers include cold and hot antipasto plates; garlicky escargot; spaghetti with homemade, chunky tomato sauce (perhaps a bit too sweet); and the creamiest, best-seasoned fettuccine Alfredo we’ve sampled recently. One of the entrées offered was a whole live lobster cooked in a white wine sauce. The lobster arrived conveniently cracked, served in a light sauce with lemon and a side dish of seasoned butter, proof positive that Lurtino’s continental cuisine equals its Italian fare. The veal piccata was served in a fairly heavy, buttery sauce that was appealing but made the dish too rich to finish. The carrots and snow peas tasted a tad overcooked, but the piping-hot homemade bread served with sweet whipped butter was a masterpiece and, without a little self-control, could have made an entire meal. The service at Lurtino’s seems to be well-intentioned, but our waiter didn’t follow through with his promises. When we had to ask to have our drinks refilled, he enthusiastically responded, “Right away.” Ten minutes later (and it wasn’t very crowded that night), we realized that he wasn’t as enthusiastic about his service as he had originally sounded. If Lurtino’s social graces were as good as most of its food, this would be a top-notch place. (13601 Preston at Alpha, suite C22. 661-9766. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Laurel’s. This is another of the beautiful new North Dallas hotel restaurants in which palate-clearing sorbets and bottled sparkling water are consuetudinary. Floor-length windows span the restaurant, offering wide-angled views of downtown, nearby skyscrapers and all that is in between. We savored every bite of the molasses-nut bread and thought the meal had reached an early peak when we tasted the unusual carrot ravioli appetizer stuffed with veal and served in a pool of broccoli sauce. But subsequent courses easily held our interest. We enjoyed fresh, artfully arranged vegetables, a tartly dressed salad and tenderloin in blueberries (just one of the interesting fruit-sauced entrées Laurel’s offers). We were pleased with the tender beef and the not-too-sweet blueberry sauce. It gave the common berry – heretofore reserved for pies and jellies – a new and delicious mission. We were equally pleased with the scallops in grapefruitsauce; they were tender and fresh and thefruit flavor was deliciously subtle. Settledinto the pinks and purples of our surroundings, enjoying every note from theclassical guitarist and gazing somewherepast Reunion Tower, we were irritated bythe adtalk explanations of water bottlesand bread, delivered as if we’d never hadbottled water before and as though wecared from whence it came. Service neednot be so talkatively familiar where thefood speaks so well for itself. (Sheraton-Park Central Hotel. 385-3000. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 p.m. Closed Sunday. Reservations.All credit cards. $$$)


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 whatsoever 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 $20 for a complete meal excluding wine and cocktails.

$$$$ Very expensive.

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.


Agnew’s. Agnew’s is known as one of the city’s poshest restaurants, but our idea of elegant dining apparently differs from that of the Agnew’s management. The atmosphere is elegant, to a point- the colors are rich; the walls are covered with dark wood paneling; a fireplace adorns a far wall. But if elegance is synonymous with intimacy, the atmosphere here is lacking. Our waiter was friendly, efficient and helpful with menu selections, but somehow his too-chummy attitude didn’t seem to mesh with the tone that the management is trying to achieve. Our cream of yellow pepper soup was perfect; and the spinach salad with bleu cheese and bacon dressing was good, but the dressing was smooth-not chunky. The smoked salmon appetizer was the only disappointment on the menu. The tournedos of beef were excellent: The sauce was light in color and flavor; the meat was tender and cooked to perfection. The veal, served in a similar creamy sauce, was also excellent. The vegetables, though, were not top-notch-the asparagus was bitter, and the potato souffle was too garlicky. Desserts are Agnew’s specialty, and the white-chocolate mousse is a masterpiece. (15501 Dallas N Pkwy in Adelstein Plaza, Suite 300. 458-0702. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10, Fri & Sat seatings at 6:30 & 9:30. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$) The Bay Tree. Twice during the first 10 minutes of our visit to the Wyndham Hotel’s gourmet restau-rant, we heard waiters apologize for its miniscule size. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a beautifully prepared rack of lamb that was artistically arranged in quarter-size slices around a tomato stuffed with eggplant The meat was cooked to perfection- crisp on the outside and juicy toward the middle. The special New York sirloin was also beautifully presented in a red wine sauce topped with tender morels. The double-fudge cake served with orange sauce was rich and creamy. (The Wyndham Hotel, 2222 Stemmons. 631-2222. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30; Sun brunch: 11-2:30. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Belvedere. The red quilted booths are plush; the antique furnishings, lush; and the dinner music, hushed. The Belvedere serves basically the same kind of delicious Swiss-Austrian food as its older sister, The Chimney. 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. $$$)

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 the odds are that it’s prepared with more care. The menu includes many goulash-style dishes, dumplings, veal and vinegary sauces. Our vegetables were 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 5:30-10:30 pm. Closed Mon. MC, V,AE. $$)

Café Capri. Café Capri is another of the Old World-charming, standardly continental new kids in town. The parking lot is filled with cars; the cloak room overflows with expensive fur coats; and the diners here leave filled with high-quality cuts of beef, veal, fish or fowl. But Cafe Capri is better than most newcomers of its genre. The sauces for our entrees were prepared at our table, and although we were a bit nervous as we watched our waiter submerge a beautiful steak Diane in thick brown sauce, we were relieved and delighted to taste the light blend of red wine, cream, mushrooms, shallots, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. One dessert made the drive to Addison worthwhile: Although the waiter bragged on the chocolate rum cake and the Grand Marnier souffle, we insisted on strawberries flambé. The mixture of fresh berries, orange rind, brown sugar and Grand Marnier topped with whipped cream was spectacular (15107 Addison Road north of Belt Line. 960-8686 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$)

Calluaud’s. Martine and Guy Calluaud have resumed their lunch service at the home location on McKinney Avenue, and it’s just like old times. The luncheon salads are as elegant as ever, and the lamb chops with french fries have returned to McKinney perfectly intact. So have the omelets, which are beautifully served with French green beans and shredded carrots. Dinner at Calluaud’s is still one of Dallas’ most sensual experiences. From the expertly assembled champagne cocktails to the excellent after-dinner liqueurs, everything is orchestrated with quiet perfection. We began with pheasant paté with pistachio and truffles en croute, followed by the house salad (asparagus, tomato, artichoke hearts and avocado on a bed of lettuce, covered with a Dijon mustard dressing). Next, the entrees: duck with two sauces (mushroom and bearnaise with tomato), grilled sea bass in tomato sauce with basil, filet en croute in madeira sauce with truffles, and tourne-dos. All were impeccably prepared and artfully served. For dessert: soufflés-what else? (2619 McKinney. 823-5380. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10 pm. Fri & Sat seatings at 7&9:30pm. Closed Sun. Reservations. Jackets and ties required. MC,V,AE. $$$$)

Chlǒe. Once you get past the gorgeous glass front doors and are almost out of earshot of the blaring stereo system, you can enjoy a splendid four-course dinner here. The lobster mousse and the oysters and escargots with spinach are both fine openers. Next, try a baby bibb with leeks salad or a steaming bowl of “soup of the seas.’’ For the main course, the filet of sea bass with beluga caviar is sinfully indulgent, and the duck with black currants is moist and tender with just the right touch of sweetness. For dessert, try the white-chocolate mousse or the amaretto souffle. (8854 N Central Expwy in NorthPark East. 361-9996. Buffet: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:15: dinner: Mon-Thur6:30-10. Fri & Sat 6:30-11; Sun brunch: 11:30-3. All credit cards $$$$)

Clouseau. Pink lamé walls, sparse surroundings and, of course, la nouvelle cuisine is what we found at Clouseau. which takes its name from Inspector Clouseau of the “Pink Panther” movies. The restaurant makes a bold (albeit somewhat unsuccessful) stab at a variety of dining experiences, playful yet serious, with a menu that is one of the most inventive we’ve seen: lobster with grapefruit as an appetizer, salmon with cranberry sauce as an entree and kiwi parfait for dessert, to name just three of Clouseau’s 20-odd offerings. Both entrees we tried -medallions of lamb with pepper sauce, and lotte (a fish that tastes a bit like lobster) with saffron sauce and snow peas-were tasty and beautifully arranged on our plates The kiwi parfait was very refreshing, if a bit boring, and the fresh fruit tart-we chose strawberry-was superb, with lots of thick cream, and was large enough for at least two people. But Clouseau’s attractive art deco church pew booths aren’t terribly comfortable, and our service was slow and less than pampering. (2100Greenville. 828-2131. Lunch: Tue-Sat noon-2:30: dinner: Tue-Sun 6-midnight; Sun brunch: 11-3. Closed Mon. AE $$$)

The Enclave. Here, you expect all the waiters to be named James and to be gentlemen’s gentlemen in their off hours. As for the food, the filet can be a bit dry but is usually very good; and both 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. 363-7487. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6-11:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$)

Enjolie. We doubt that an entire week at a health spa could be as relaxing and soothing as one meal at Enjolie. The atmosphere is clean and crisp, as is the service. And the food is superb. The escargot appetizer is unusually prepared-the snails are in a small dish of garlic butter, and each is individually wrapped in pastry. The cream of artichoke heart soup, served cold, is creamy and very rich. The veal entree is unmatched; it’s tender and cooked to perfection. The menu is filled with such exotic offerings as pheasant mousse and roasted pigeon Desserts are preceded by a complimentary cheese tray to clear the palate and are followed by complimentary chocolate truffles. (Mandalay Four Seasons Hotel, 221 S Las Colinas Blvd. Irving. 556-0800. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner: Mon-Sat 6-midnight Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$)

Francisco’s. Although Francisco’s is not the same caliber as the best of the continental restaurants, it is still good and reasonably priced. Soups are the high point on the menu. The 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 are a quality entree. For lunch, the chef’s salad is commendable. (2917 Fair mount. 749-0906. Mon-Fri 5:30-10:30 pm, Sat 5:30-11 pm. Reservations. MC, V, AE $$$)

The French Room. The French Room retains its status as the créme de la crème of fine Dallas restaurants. The quality of cuisine is. to date, unrivaled. In fact, while savoring succulent braised lobster and tenderloin of lamb, we doubted we could have fared better. The French Room’s management makes sure that along with its superb cuisine comes service that aims to make each diner feel like a member of the first estate. And although the menu selections hold their own, we ordered each course of our meal from among the specials of the day and were not disappointed The duck salad was large enough to have been a meal in itself, and every sumptuous bite was heavenly For dessert, the fruit melange topped with a creamy sauce and the tart raspberry pastry in a caramel sauce were wonderful, but a tad too rich for our tastes. (Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce. 742-8200. Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$)

The Garden Court. This Melrose Hotel restaurant proves that with age can come beauty and grace. The 59-year-old hotel has been born again, and its mix of art deco and traditional styling makes for a relaxing lunch or a romantic dinner. The rich, moist fudge nut cake makes it difficult to choose a sensible entree, but a bowl of seafood chowder crowded with great hunks of fish and fresh vegetables and a crisp Garden Court salad make a perfect lunch. (3075 Oak Lawn. 521-5151. Breakfast: Mon-Fri 6.30-11; lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10, Fri & Sat 6:30-11; brunch: Sat & Sun 7-3. Reservations recommended for dinner. 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 salad. The pates are consistently noteworthy Service is provided by bright young people who probably live lives more fascinating than their clientele (2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6-midnight. MC, V, AS, DC. $$)

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. For the most part, the food at Hearthstone is basic and wonderful. The hot, homemade bread is hard to beat, ana Hearthstone serves a variety of muffins and rolls. Steamy baked potatoes in full dress and all-American entrées such as filet mignon, shrimp, snapper and veal make for 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. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$)

Jean Claude. There is an obvious explanation for the incredible popularity of the pleasant, “terribly French” Jean Claude restaurant. Quite simply, it is Jean Claude himself Besides being a consistently gifted chef, Jean Claude’s personal warmth spreads from his open cook station throughout the tiny dining room, engendering good will and cleansing the air of any pretension. Our selections were light, beautiful to look at and practically flawless A hot crab and lobster salad with vinaigrette and fresh dill along with the scallops en casserole proved wise beginnings, especially with hearty helpings of hot, homemade wheat bread. Our next indulgences were duckling in ginger and soy sauce and fresh Dover sole in a white wine sauce with mushrooms. The duck was superb, and the sole was good, if a little dull. After cleansing our palates with slightly tart greens, we launcned into the chocolate mousse and hot chocolate souffle. At a fixed price of $31.50 a head, Jean Claude’s is worth every penny (2404 Cedar Springs. 653-1823. Tue-Sat seatings at 6 & 9 pm. Reservations. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$)

Jennivine. Although the atmosphere is British, Jen-nivine offers a lovely selection of patés. 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 British-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. The salads are impeccable, and the soups are fresh and flavorful. Recommended entrees are the medallions of veal with mushroom puree and the pepper-sauced filet mignon. And be sure to try the lobster bisque when it’s available. 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 6-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

La Vieille Varsovie (The Old Warsaw). After dining at The Old Warsaw, it’s easy to see why those who can afford to be coddled are The Old Warsaw is an old-line dining establishment dripping in reputation and tradition, plus a few eccentricities. Note the pink flamingos dancing gaily across the forest green walls. Hear the gentle blending of violin and piano as the music drifts delicately across the spacious room. Watch the multitudinous captains and waiters weave in and out of tables, attending to napkins that need placing, cigarettes that need lighting, pheasants that need carving. In the midst of all the theatrics, it can be extremely difficult to keep one’s mind on one’s meal. The artichoke heart appetizer with shrimp and raspberry vinaigrette tasted a trifle boring, with nary a hint of raspberry. The fresh seafood soup fared better, as did our entrées-poached Dover sole with shrimp in lobster sauce, and veal with mushrooms. Both were as tender as one would hope, served in generous portions and accompanied by light, smooth vegetable timbales. After a brief pause (long enough to witness an unbelievable flaming drink production), strawberries in fresh cream and a chocolate souffle were perfect endings. (2670 Maple. 528-0032. Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11 pm. Reservations. Jackets required. All credit cards. $$$$)

Le Boul’ Mich. Since French cuisine has become almost daily fare with I’Anglais, a glimpse at Le Boul’ Mich’s sparse menu is hardly surprising: paté mai-son, quiche Lorraine and omelet after omelet. But each of these items is well-prepared, particularly the omelette Boul’ Mich, which is filled with every variety of garden vegetable. A light, romantic dinner at Le Boul’ Mich is delightful, but the patio and indoor porch of this little white house make it an irresistible luncheon spot as well (2704 Worthington. 8260660. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $$) Le Louvre. Nestled between Wilderness Adventure and No Whar but Texas in the Corner Shopping Center is this elegant restaurant that has absolutely nothing in common with its neighbors. We relaxed in a loveseat beneath a glittering chandelier in a room with enough Old Master-style pieces to remind us of the restaurant’s namesake. The art became incidental, though, after the arrival of a bowl of creamy onion soup topped with Swiss cheese and a lobster bisque sweetened with cognac. The waiter deftly tossed our salads tableside and brought perfectly cooked beef and veal with three varieties of plump wild mushrooms. Our Only disappointment was with Le Louvre’s unsettling mix of music, inappropriate in a restaurant so named. We had coffee to renditions of “Hey Jude” and the M*A*S*H theme. (9840 N Central Expwy. 691-1177 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: daily 6-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

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. Happily, the cuisine is on a par with the rich, subtle surroundings The delicately seasoned escar-gots topped with light pastry were some of the best we’ve ever tasted. And the terrine 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 was sinfully rich. (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: daily 6-10:30. Reservations required for dinner. V, AE, DC, CB. $$$$)

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, croissant sandwiches and omelets-as well as more complicated entries such as coq au vin and seafood dishes. We tried a rare roast beef special served with horseradish that was tender and flavorful. On the appetizer side, we liked the pate served with cornichons and fresh tomato, as well as the cold cucumber soup Le St. Tropez isn’t fancy, but it serves good, basic French tood at reasonable prices. (Northwood Hills Shopping Center. 8030 Spring Valley at Coit. 231-6181 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Fri 5-10:30, Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards; personal checks accepted $$) Les Saisons. Within a setting resembling turn-of-the-century suburban Paris, Les Saisons serves meals that are traditional, expensive and predictably excellent. We enjoyed shrimp Les Saisons (shrimp served in a delicious cream sauce with chablis, mushrooms and shredded carrots) and coquille St. Jacques (tiny bay scallops served with orange quarters). The cream of cauliflower soup was unexceptional, but we were warmly reassured by a bowl of onion soup topped with lots of chewy, stringy cheese. (165 Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn. 528-1102. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-midnight. Reservations recommended. All credit cards $$$)

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 11-3; dinner: daily 5:30-11 All credit cards $$$)

The Mansion. It’s fine to have enough money to do as you please-to dine in all the best restaurants and wear all the right clothes-but if ever the gorgeous spread that the Mansion consistently brings forth leaves you feeling blasé, it’s time to seek counseling. Once we were seated comfortably in a dining room replete with molded ceilings and rich wood furnishings, the music of squeaking wine corks and laughter set us at ease. We began our meal with a salad of lump crab meat in a lobster dressing set on a bed of three kinds of lettuce. When our salad tasted less than superior, we were vaguely disappointed, but the wild, meaty mushrooms in flaky puff pastry that followed were delicious and all but redeemed the Mansion. We sampled a huge, perfectly grilled salmon steak and a crisp serving of asparagus with hollandaise sauce. We also tried the tenderloin strip, which, our waiter informed us. automatically comes medium rare. (2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121 Breakfast: daily 7-10:30; lunch: Mon-Fri noon-2; brunch: Sat noon-2:30 & Sun 11-2:30: tea: Mon-Fri 3-5 30: dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11, supper: Mon-Thur 10:30-midnight, Fri & Sat 11 pm-12:30 am. Reservations. Jackets and ties required All credit cards. $$$$)

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 good. The salads are delicious, and the fettuccine verde is especially good for lunch, as is the crab, bacon and avocado sandwich. For dinner, try the tournedos, with an English trifle for dessert. (2508 Maple. 698-0345 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11:30; Sun brunch 11:30-2:30. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Maitre D’. This relaxing uptown establishment may soon rival the longtime downtown greats if it keeps on its toes The elegant burgundy and brown decor and perfect, well-timed service instantly put us at ease, and the food was far from average. One of the specials we sampled included individual medallions of veal, chicken and beef. We expected far too much meat and too few vegetables but thought that ordering this entree would fulfill our obligation to sample everything we could possibly digest. We were happy with all three and ate every bite. The vegetables were lightly cooked and held much of their natural flavor. (5290 Belt Line. 239-2799. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm; Fri & Sat 11-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Mozart’s. Mozart’s is the newest of the Deutsch in Dallas, and it gives the city’s best (Belvedere or The Chimney, depending on the phase of the moon) a new challenge. The rinder lendenschnitte Habsburg, a forgivably tough filet mignon topped with tasty goose liver and juicy mushrooms, was very filling, and the combination of flavors was extraordinary. The cordon bleu consisted of a delicate crust and tender veal. The side dishes at Mozart’s were served in wonderfully ample portions. We enjoyed fresh spatzle (sautéed noodles) and mixed marinated vegetables (Sheraton Park Central. 12720 Merit. 385-3000. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. All credit cards. $$$)

Pyramid Room. This is Dallas’ old money’s old fave, and try as we might to be impudent and critical, we’re speechless with admiration for this flashy Fairmont restaurant that reminds us a little of both Frank Sinatra and King Tutankhamen. The best thing about the Pyramid Room is that even amid all the poshness, there’s real comfort and gorgeous, delicious food that lends a mood all its own. The Pyramid Room hired a new executive chef. R.J. Lukas, soon after our visit, and we’re anxious to taste his cuisine. But the roast pheasant cooked with mango that we had on our last trip would be hard to top. And the vegetables-wonderful, tender asparagus and some artichoke bottoms stuffed with celery-were top-notch. The petits four tree of glazed cakes and fruits served before we ordered dessert was a magical ending to a very fine meal. (Fairmont Hotel, Ross at Akard. 748-7258. 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 Green ville at Goodwin. 827-6770. Mon-Thur 6-10pm, Fri & Sat 6-11 pm, Sun 5:30-10 pm. Reservations recom mended. All credit cards. $$$)


The Blue Nile. Don’t be intimidated by the names of the menu items here; almost everything is stewlike, spicy and good. Expect the unexpected: The food is served on pizza pans, and no silverware is provided. In Ethiopia, you eat with the right hand, and injera (Ethiopian bread that is spongy and tastes slightly sour) is used as an eating utensil. For the newcomer, The Blue Nile’s 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. 3240471. Tue-Sun noon-midnight. Closed Mon. MC, V, AE. $)

The Red Sea. The Oak Lawn area has just about everything, including one of Dallas’ 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. (2926 Oak Lawn. 528-84 76. Daily 11 am-11 pm. DC; personal checks accepted. $)


Beauregard’s. This tiny gourmet carryout/Europe-an-style grocery carries a varied selection of fresh vegetables from around the world, homemade jams and jellies and an assortment of fresh-baked breads. In addition, owner Beauregard Detterman prepares meat pies to heat at home as well as ready-to-go pasta salads, patés and desserts. On one visit, we sampled a chicken pie with bell pepper, onion, tomato and zucchini, all topped with mozzarella When heated, the pie was a juicy blend of flavors that made a filling meal. The duck liver paté was a smooth, creamy and rich side dish. To finish the meal, we chose Beauregard’s dessert specialty: a chocolate cake that had marinated for four days in French and Austrian chocolate. This cake is for chocoholics only (4603 W Lovers Lane. 3510378. Mon-Sat 10 am-6 pm. Closed Sun. AE. $$$)

Marty’s. Some people want to be stranded on a desert island. We’ll settle for being stranded inside Marty’s, the Oak Lawn gourmet takeout and grocery that is “essential to the epicure.” Some of us borderline epicures might approach such a place with healthy trepidation, but Marty’s is a mouthwatering wonderland of sweets, cheeses, fresh fruits, meats, vegetables and wines Choose a picnic basket and fill it on your way to the checkout line. If you have trouble putting it all together, however, get a current copy of Marty’s weekly menu. We enjoyed some delicious cold lettuce soup, mushroom a la Greave. roasted stuffed squab and some heavenly banana nut cheesecake at home with our own candlelight and crystal. Our only complaint: Don’t count on Marty’s promise that “containers are oven- and microwave-safe ” (3316 Oak Lawn. 526-4070 Mon-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$)

Mirabelle. Mirabelle’s menu varies daily and is incredibly inventive. The pistachio-spiced country ter-rine is an excellent pate. Salads are offered in a wide range of combinations. A good standby is the tarragon chicken salad, and there’s always a pasta salad or two, some with seafood or meat. We tried a mixture of baby shells, peas and ham strongly seasoned with fresh basil. But Mirabelle’s crowning achievements are its desserts: 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 tops and are well worth their hefty prices (7374 Highland Park Village. 528-7589. Tue-Sat 10:30 am-7 pm; Sun & Mon noon-6 pm. MC, V, AE. $$$)

The Winery. Amid the vast wine stock at this shop adjacent to Jean Claude is a display case full of edible goodies perfect for eating in or carrying out. The emphasis is on freshly prepared salads and desserts and home-baked breads and cheeses-including hard-to-find varieties such as mozzarella rolled with prosciutto. Caterer Nancy Beckham will make sandwich or cheese trays, antipasto plates, dips and hors d’oeuvres for parties-or you can sample her hearty soups and sandwiches with a glass of wine on the spot (2404 Cedar Springs at Maple. 749-0250. Mon-Sat 10 am-7 pm, Sun noon-6 pm. Wine tasting every Sun 4:30-6 pm. MC. V. AE. $$$)


Kebab-N-Kurry. 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 is offered as well (401 N Central Expwy. Suite 300. Richardson. 231-5556. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10; Fri & Sal 5:30-10:30; brunch: Sat & Sun 11:30-2:30. Reservations. MC, V, AE. $)

Sahib. Every time we go to Sahib we’re delighted by how pretty it is; the green, peach and bamboo decor and the gentle Indian music relaxes us. Our favorite dish is Maharaja Sahib’s mughlai biryani (lamb cooked with herbs and mixed with long-grain Indian rice, saffron, nuts, raisins and eggs). It tastes even better with some sweet mango chutney and an order of tandoori roti (Indian wholewheat bread).

Service at Sahib can be aggressive, so remember that you can turn down the “Elephant’s Memory” (a pina coladalike drink) and the mango ice cream, but enjoy the advice-the waiters will tell you exactly what to expect from each dish. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy. 987-2301. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$)

Tanjore. At this small North Dallas Indian restaurant, the Middle Eastern mood comes through loud and clear with piped-in Hindi music and the tastes and smells of curry, cumin, cinnamon and coriander. Tanjore offers a large selection of vegetarian dishes as well as poultry, seafood, lamb and beef specialties. We settled on an order of lamb mugali (chunks of tender lamb in a creamy sauce with nuts) and shahi korma (boneless chicken cooked in curry with butter, cream and almonds). The sauce was spiced mildly, but not meekly, in both dishes. For something unusual, try a Tanjorita, a soothing whipped yogurt drink. (Prestonwood Creek Shopping Center, 5409 Belt Line. 960-0070. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sat 11:30-3: Sun brunch: 11:30-3; dinner: daily 6-10. BYOB; setups available. All credit cards. $$)


Bugatti. Bugatti offers 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 doughnut-shaped 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, Campisi’s serves the food that has made it a Dallas institution. Veal marsala with rich mushroom sauce, fettuccine, garlic toast and Campisi’s famous rectangular pizza all exemplify solid Italian cooking at bargain prices. (5610 E Mockingbird. 827-0355. 827-7711. Mon-Fri 11 am-midnight, Sat 11-1 am, Sun noon-midnight. Reservations lor 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, and lovers will enjoy the candle-lit booths. (706 Medallion Center, Northwest Hwy at Skillman. 691-9944. Sun-Thur 5:30-10pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-11 pm. All credit cards. $$)

Cunze’s. It may look suspiciously like another faceless pizza shack, but Cunze’s is far from it. What you’ll find here is serious Italian food-veal scallo-pine, linguine with clams, fresh calamari (squid). Entrees come with the traditional green salad and a steaming side order of pasta in either garlic or tomato sauce. The veal and shrimp combination is an especially tasty entrée-thin slices of tender veal sau-téed with scampi in butter, lemon and garlic. As for atmosphere, Cunze’s interior is about as formal as Mama’s kitchen: but somehow the result is almost romantic. (6101 Greenville. 369-5747. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:15; dinner: daily 5-11. All credit cards. $$$)

DiPalma. It’s still hard to resist this festive restaurant/food store and its wide array of pastas, despite spotty service and inflated prices. DiPalma features several flavorful dishes not found at other Italian establishments (such as chicken lasagna and lemon garlic chicken) as well as the more traditional Italian fare. For an adventurous and rewarding lunch, try the pasta salad sampler. The incredible assortment of Italian pastries is as good as it looks. (1520 Green-ville. 824-4500. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sat 11:30-3; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. 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. The 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. 521-1191. Daily: 5:30-11 pm. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$)

Fabio’s. If Fabio’s isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of Italian restaurants in Dallas, it may be because of its awkward location in the Corner Shopping Center This shouldn’t be a concern, however, because Fabio’s offers fine Italian fare and highly attentive service. Tagliarini belleza (pasta tossed in a combination of mushrooms and seafood) and tagliarini al salmone (pasta in a salmon sauce) make it tempting to stick with the pasta, but the veal and seafood dishes-particularly the sole mugnaia (filet of sole in lemon and butter sauce)-are well worth a detour. (9800 N Central Expwy, Suite 504, in the Corner Shopping Center. 987-3226. Sun & Tue-Thur 6-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 6-11 pm. Closed Mon. Reservations recommended. MC, V, AE. $$$)

La Tosca. This is neither the fanciest nor the most expensive Italian restaurant in Dallas, but it may be one of the best. The elegant black-and-white tiles and black-and-white striped shirts of the waiters give the restaurant just the right touch of class. The rest is left to the food, which is deftly prepared and served. We enjoyed some fine, tender beef and red snapper as well as several different kinds of delicious, piping-hot pasta. The cheesecake is more cakelike than the kind most Dallasites are familiar with, but it is very good. (7713 Inwood. 352-8373. Tue-Thur & Sun 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-77. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$)

La Trattoria Lombardi, Ristoranti Lombardi. It would be difficult to picture a nirvana that didn’t include an occasional alfresco lunch at Lombardi’s on Hall Street. The patio is Old World-style, the breezes are fine and the offerings are among the best Northern Italian fare in town. Smart starters are a piquant combination of mozzarella, juicy beefsteak tomatoes and fresh basil leaves; or a basket full of crisp-tender fried calamari. An assorted antipasto plate is truly rewarding, with ample portions and well-rounded tastes. And the Lombardi pasta is legendary, with the tortellini vying for the top slot in town. The vegetables were a bit on the skimpy side when served at lunch on Hall Street but were inspirational accents to dinner at the Adelstein Plaza location. Diced eggplant and creamed spinach cleverly wrapped in a cut-out potato round were among the best dishes in a lengthy and memorable meal. In addition to creative and varying pasta entrees. Lom-bardi’s offers an impressive list of fish and veal dishes, among them a superb baby lobster, fine sea bass poached with shellfish and wrapped in foil, and veal scallopine delicately flavored with lemon and orange. Top it off with one of the Lombardi family’s soufflés-we sampled the raspberry, the amaretto and the chocolate. (2916 Hall, 823-6040; Adelstein Plaza, 15501 North Dallas Pkwy, 458-8822. Lunch: 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Mario’s. Mario’s is stereotypical of fine Italian restaurants in all the best ways. Black tuxedos, white tablecloths and red furnishings lend elegance to rooms decorated with antique vases, wildlife prints and candlelight. We began by sampling the sharp, locally made cheese served with the bread, then moved into a well-paced meal begun with an appetizer of ciappino, an attractive ragout of crab, scallops and mussels in a basil-flavored tomato sauce. Mario’s pepper steak was huge and tender. An order of scaloppine con carciofi (veal scallops sautéed with artichoke hearts and mushrooms) was less exciting than we anticipated. Although the veal was good, the sauce and artichoke hearts lacked lilt. Mario’s has good desserts and prompt service, but the thing we’ll remember is the fettucine-it’s perfect. (135 Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn. 521-1135. Sun-Thur 6-10:30pm. Fri & Sat 6-11 pm. Reservations. Jackets required for men. All credit cards. $$$)

Now That’s Italian. For starters in this casual little Oak Lawn restaurant, we enjoyed creamy onion soup, greaseless beer-batter fried mushrooms and polenta (a concoction made from deep-fried corn-meal served with lots of tomatoey marinara sauce). Our main courses were a whole-wheat pizza for one, vegetarian lasagna, a meatball sandwich and a heaping plate from the soup-and-salad bar As toppings for the pizza, we chose artichoke hearts and Italian sausage. The combination was wonderful, but the flavor was almost overwhelmed by all the hot mozzarella. The vegetarian lasagna had a smaller assortment of vegetables than we had hoped, but what was there was fresh and crisp. Overall, Now That’s Italian is promising, but on a return visit service was careless. We especially like the logo of the Dallas skyline, including the leaning tower of Reunion (3851 Cedar Springs. 522-2340. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-midnight, Sun noon-10. MC, V, AE. $$)

P. J.’s Ristorante. Don’t judge P. J.’s by its shopping center neighbors or its discolike 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’s almost impossible to finish-but great fun to try. (5410 E Mockingbird. 824-1490. Daily: 5:30-10:30 pm or, on weekends, as late as necessary. V, AE. $$)

Prego Pasta House. As can be determined after a glance at the menu, the owner of Prego, Joe Bar-raco, is also the manager of Campisi’s. And in many cases, we found the food at Prego to be similar to Campisi’s, but the atmosphere and service are generally better. For appetizers, the artichoke hearts and scampi were passable although a bit blah-not much garlic or imagination-but the fried provolone was excellent. As a general rule of thumb, order the authentic Italian specialties; they’re all top-notch. The veal parmigiana is excellent, as is the lasagna. Pizza is the same type as Campisi’s: a thin, tasty crust with oodles of rich, thick Italian topping. (4930 Greenville. 363-9204. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight, Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $$)

Sergio and Luciano. The setting here is not altogether satisfying-it’s half upstairs, half downstairs, and most of the action is on the upper floor. But 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 in small portions as a first course that leaves room for more. If you want pasta, you can’t do better than the fet-tuccine with white clam sauce. The vegetables are carefully prepared, and Sergio and Luciano serves real Italian hard rolls. (4900 Belt Line, Suite 250. 387-4441. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 6-11. All credit cards. $$$)


Café Cancun. We’ve always said “viva” to civilized Mexican restaurants, but Cafe Cancun is so enjoyable you’d swear the chef doesn’t know an enchilada from a calzone. Can you imagine Joe T. escorting you to the oak-and-fern bar, plying you with margaritas and letting you order black bean nachos while you wait? This, mind you, accompanied by lively strains of “Quando Caliente El Sol.” But despite our predilection for luxury, we’ve also maintained since day uno that this is the best Mexico City-style Mexican food in town The tacos al carbon are consistently the best tacos al carbon we’ve had anywhere. The nachos, which combine black beans with jalapenos, guacamole. sour cream and chihuahua cheese, are out of this world. Those hopelessly addicted to Tex-Mex can indulge in decent combination plates. But the chiles rellenos, the crisp sautéed red snapper and anything served with mole sauce are the dishes that keep people who like the real thing coming back for more. (Caruth Plaza, 369-3712; 4131 Lomo Alto, 559-4011. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri 11-midnight, Sat 11 am-midnight at Caruth Plaza; 5 pm-midnight at Lomo Alto. Lunch specials, Sunday brunch, live bands-call for details. MC. V, CB. $$)

Cafe Rincón. This breezy 6-month-old Mexican restaurant is several cuts above what we’ve grown to expect from establishments on Harry Hines. The colorful posters and music (which varies from New Wave and jazz to the bandito marching band) makes the mood just right for a couple of margaritas and a basket or two of chips The menu includes all the Tex-Mex you could want, as well as some fancier fish and steak offerings. The camarones Bohemia (beer-batter shrimp) were large and tasty (owner John Rincón says that if you’re on a diet, his father -the chef-can fry them in Miller Lite). Cafe Rin-c6n’s tortilla soup is an edible grab bag of goodies. The patio can accommodate 100; we expect it to stay full all summer (2818 Harry Hines. 742-4906. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$)

Gonzalez. Rule: Avoid dining inside restaurants with a heavy takeout trade-you’ll be slighted on the amenities, especially service. Exception to rule: Gonzalez. Most of the basics here are reliable; the beans and rice are heaven-sent, and anything served on a corn tortilla is a winner. The hot sauce, which is both spicy and steaming, goes well with the abundant chips and almost makes up for the wimpy, bland guacamole. Puff tacos and chile rellenos are among the standout entrees, all of which cost less than $6. If you’re looking for a breakfast treat, try the chilaquillas (tortilla strips fried with eggs and peppers). You’ll find no frills here (and the voices of the drive-through patrons are a nuisance), but the food makes it all worthwhile. (4333 Maple at Wycliff. 528-2960. Daily: 7 am-9 pm. All credit cards. $)

Guadalajara. This Ross Avenue hole in the wall has made itself respectable with the addition of a new door, new plate-glass windows and a brightly striped awning. We were put off at first, nostalgic about the days when roach and man ate side by side, but Guadalajara is still a far cry from elegant. Service was quicker than in the past, and our Tex-Mex requests were prepared just the way we like them. Sombreros off to Guadalajara for realizing that the charm of sleaze lasts only so long. (3308 Ross. 823-9340. Tue-Fri 11 am-3.30 am, Sat & Sun 9 am-3:30 am. Closed Mon. MC, V. $)

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 9 am-10 pm. Closed Tue. No reservations. No credit cards. $)

Javier’s. Don’t visit this “gourmet Mexican” restaurant when you’re in the mood for Tex-Mex, because you’ll leave with an aching in your heart for retried beans and rice. The alternatives here are undoubtedly a better choice. You’ll leave Javier’s filled with delicious beef, seafood or chicken dishes, desserts other than pralines and an actual vegetable. The tortilla soup is crowded with cheese, avocado slabs and smooth pasilla chiles. The nachos are fine but not too unusual, since black beans and white cheese have caught on even in Tex-Mex hot spots. Javier’s is in the big leagues for what it does to shrimp; they’re big and meaty and sautéed in a diablo sauce (a blend of coffee, orange juice and spices). The mushroom crepes served with corazon de filete is another tasty entree. For dessert, you can’t avoid the cajeta sauce; it comes on the cheesecake and on the crêpes flambé and is dished over the ice cream (4912 Cole. 521-4211. Sun-Thur 5:30-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-11 pm. 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 plagiaristic enough of the mother Joe T ’s to be offensive. (4440 Belt Line. 458-7373. Mon-Fri 11 am-3 pm & 5-11 pm, Sat 11-11, Sun 4-10 pm. MC,V,AE. $$)

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 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. Drinks with $5 membership charge. All credit cards $$)

Mercado Juarez. We’ll admit to being impulsive with our praise for Tex-Mex houses; all at once we fall in love, returning again and again to slurp hot sauce and inhale beans. Right now we’re beside ourselves with cravings for lunch, dinner or anything in between at our new favorite dive. Mercado Juarez meets all our standards of excellence: (1) It’s cheap; (2) it’s clean; (3) it’s unaffected; and (4) we were served a lot of food. Half of the warehouse-type building is devoted to an interesting Mexican craft market; the other half houses the restaurant. The vastness of both the building and the menu scared us at first-we feared Pancho-esque automation- but somehow the staff pulled it off and served us mass quantities of superb nachos, tacos and all the trimmings. (1901 W Northwest Hwy. 556-0796. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm. Fri&Sat 11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$)

Raphael’s. We’ve grown suspicious of civilized Mexican restaurants, wondering if 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 not much higher than those at many of our favorite dives Strong points are the appetizers (including quesadillas) and the desserts (try the sopapillas con fresas) (3701 McKinney, 521-9640:6782 Greenville, 692-8431 Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Sat noon-10:30 pm at McKinney location: Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm. Sat noon-11 pm at Greenville location. Closed Sun. Reservations Mon-Thur only. AE, MC, V, CB. $$)


August Moon. The menu here is vast, so 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 just barely seasoned, and then only to highlight natural flavors. The individual tastes of the meats and vegetables were easily distinguished and not greasy-a difficult feat with so many ingredients presented en masse. The service was polite but at times a bit hurried. (15030 Preston at Belt Line. 385-7227 Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat 10:30 am-11 pm, Sun 10:30 am-10:30 pm. Dim sum served daily. Reservations for eight or more or lor special banquets. Bar by membership. All credit cards. $$)

Bamboo Pavilion. We began a delightful meal with stir-fried minced chicken sautéed with black mushrooms and the freshest, crispiest water chestnuts ever to grace a wok. Served with two pancakes and rolled for us by our waitress, the result was something like an Oriental burrito and was simply delicious. Panda’s Prawns sounded too sweet (the menu describes them as Gulf shrimp marinated in wine and honey and deep-fried), but they were crunchy and left us feeling like another Bamboo chef’s suggestion: a “Happy Family.” Bamboo does a good job of spicing its dishes per request; the obvious key to its excellence is freshness down to every detail. (1790 Promenade Center between Belt Line and Arapaho, Richardson. 680-0599. Daily: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Sat & Sun noon-10:30 pm. MC, V, AE, 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 entrees, however, are inconsistent. (Twin Bridge Shopping Center, 6752 Shady Brook Lane. 987-3877. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-4 am, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-6 am. Sun 5 pm-4 am. AE, DC, MC, V. $$)

Fong Lin. You won’t be bombarded by ceilings strung with glowing paper lanterns or walls lined in red-and-black-flocked paper here, but neither will you encounter spacious rooms filled with Ming vases. You probably won’t notice much about your surroundings at Fong Lin; they’re decidedly ordinary. But the same cannot be said of the food. We could have happily ended our meal after a huge pu pu tray, but we settled on orange beef (sliced tenderloin sautéed in orange peel with sesame seeds) and chicken and shrimp Hunan-style (diced chicken and shrimp sautéed with vegetables in a Hunan sauce). We’ve also tried the moo shu pork, a fine interpretation of another Oriental standard. (8440 Abrams, Suite 408. 343-4514. Mon-Thur 10-10, Fri & Sat 10 am-11 pm, Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$)

Forbidden City. This Chinese spot, next door to Wilson’s and in the same shopping center as three other restaurants, should be welcomed by North Dallasites. The atmosphere is quietly elegant, and the food matches the decor. Everything on our pu pu tray, from shrimp toast to won ton to ribs, was well-prepared and flavorful. The tofu was tender and pleasantly spongy as opposed to the standard recapped rubber-tire versions. The chicken and walnuts is also worth sampling. Our chicken was tender; the walnuts, crunchy-providing a perfect example of the complementary textures so important to Chinese cuisine. Beef with snow peas was a pleasant variation on the same theme; the tender beef was cooked just right, and the snow peas were crisp. The service is efficient and friendly. (5290 Belt Line, Suite 144. 960-2999. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am. Sun noon-10:30 pm. MC, V, AE, DC. $$)

Hunan Imperial. The difference between this Chinese restaurant and almost every other new Chinese restaurant begins with its extensive menu. There are offerings here that are just not readily available at other Dallas Chinese restaurants: string beans with pork, for example. The beans we tasted were crisp and flavorful, with just a smidgen of pork flavor. Another dish we found both palate-pleasing and pretty was the shrimp with pine nuts. The vegetables and the pine nuts were crisp and crunchy; the shrimp, well-cooked but not tough or mushy. And the barbecue ribs served here are tops. The atmosphere, although not quite imperial, was at least subdued and conducive to fine dining. (Walnut Hill at N Central Expwy, Suite 742, in the Corner Shopping Center. 363-3858. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-3 am. All credit cards. $$)

Kobawoo. Our meals at this small Korean restaurant in Oak Lawn have been dining adventures. Lighted Korean posters line the walls, and a color TV is usually blaring an Oriental station. Our waitress wasn’t quite fluent enough to explain what we were eating, but we enjoyed the slices of Mongolian barbecued beef anyway. The menu also offers several good chicken dishes Some of Kobawoo’s vegetables were seasoned beyond recognition; and the sweet and sour pork was neither. Still, this place has charm and friendly service-it’s a good, quick, inexpensive place to grab a late-night Oriental bite. (3109 lnwood. 351-6922. Daily: 11 am-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $)

Lotus. Forget about being hungry again in an hour; we left this restaurant happily filled to the gills, not planning another meal until well into the Chinese new year Lotus runs low on swank (the ambiance is provided by standard paper lanterns and red-and-black booths), but that’s unimportant-the manager is serious about serving well-prepared, well-seasoned Hunan and Szechuan delicacies. Plump, juicy shrimp and crispy egg rolls lav in places of welldeserved honor on a flaming pu pu tray. The entrees selected by the chef for our house special were a seafood club plate full of fresh, crisp vegetables tossed in a light sauce with ample crab, shrimp and scallops and a very spicy (at our macho request) chicken-and-nut dish. The two were culinary oppo-sites, yet proved that the Lotus kitchen is ready for both simple or spicy Oriental food aficionados. (528 W Arapaho, Richardson. 231-9200. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 5-10. MC, V, AE, 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 entrees as a whole a welcome change from the gummy, gooey dishes served at some establishments. (2560 W Northwest Hwy. 3530129. Daily: 11-11. All credit cards. $$)

Plum Blossom. This review differs from many others listed under “Far East” 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 of which has five courses). Almost every item of our Emperor’s Banquet for two was exotic. Our appetizer, a 10-flavor chrysanthemum fire pot with seafood, chicken, beef, vegetables and noodles, at least bordered on the unusual; 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 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jackets required. All credit cards. $$$)

Royal China. If anything enhances the experience of dining here, it’s the unfailing courtesy of the stall and the personal care lavished on diners. Not that the food needs a boost. Buck Kao’s royal prawn entrees are legendary, but lesser-known dishes such as chicken curry (moist slivers of fowl with carrots, celery, water chestnuts and onions) are always excellent. If you begin your meal with the three delicacies soup (laden with shrimp, scallops and chicken), take on a Chinese appetizer plate (the barbecued spareribs are great) and finish up with a dish such as beef with tomato or sliced chicken with mushroom and bamboo shoots, you won’t want to consider dessert. (201 Preston Royal Shopping Center. 361-1771. Daily: 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-10 pm. 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 and the decor is soothingly Oriental. Our waitress made suggestions about our orders and cooked our dinner before our eyes, never expecting us to drop all conversation and “ooh” 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 such as sushi and tempura are also very good. (7402 Greenville. 361-9282. Daily: 5:30-11 pm. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)

Sawatdee. Barbecued beef with bamboo shoots, the sort of dish one craves during softball practice and board meetings alike, is zingy and delicious at this Upper Greenville Thai restaurant. A meal here, best begun with a small, light, crisp Siamese egg roll, is a ravaging blow to the low-sodium diet but is well worth a day of the bland in repentance. Sawat-dee’s fried rice is full of pork, shrimp, egg, tomato and onion and is not the sort of entree you abandon to read the paper. On the whole, Sawatdee is a dependable place for an Oriental feast. (4503 Greenville at Yale. 373-6138. Daily: 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 5-10:30 pm; champagne brunch every Sun. MC, V, AE. $$)

Sate House. We’ll give you three guesses what this restaurant means when it advertises “Indonesian Home Cooking.” If one of your guesses is “an intriguing mixture of Chinese and Dutch cuisine that takes the shape of everything from fried chicken to barbecued beef,” you’re absolutely right. Sate’s menu includes four dinner choices, two salads, a soup and a side dish (risolles) that, as far as we’re concerned, is essential to the Indonesian dining experience. Risolles are egg roll-type tidbits made of ragu, chicken and carrots and have a cheesy taste. Most Indonesian food is prepared in a rather unspectacular manner-the chicken, beef or pork is usually barbecued or fried. Coconut milk and peanut sauces make the difference in taste. Nasi Rames Special is Sate’s version of the combination platter. It’s a good introduction to dishes such as ayam panggang priangan, sate manis and sambal ulek. (12125 Abrams at LBJ Frwy, Suite 108. 680-2803. Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Tue-Sat 5-10; Sunday brunch: 11:30-3. Closed Mon. MC. V, AE. $)

Siam. Siam may no longer be the only Thai restaurant in town, but it’s still just as irresistible. We love just about everything about the place, from the spicy curry sauces to the no-frills decor and always gracious service. A definite must-try appetizer is moo sar-tey: char-broiled, skewered pork strips served with a peanut curry sauce for dipping and accompanied by cucumber slices, red onions and hot peppers in a sweet-and-sour sauce. The skewers are a bit awkward to manipulate (table service does not include knives), but the effort is worthwhile As for entrees, you can’t go wrong with any of the Thai offerings, especially pud poy seon (scallops, jumbo shrimp, abalone and squid combined with mushrooms, young corn, snow peas and onions) and gang ped (chicken, pork or beef slices in a red curry sauce with bamboo shoots, peppers, coconut milk and mint leaves). (1730 W Mockingbird near Harry Mines. 631-5482. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$)

Taiwan. This restaurant is dressier and a bit more expensive than many 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 10:30 am-3 am, Sun 10 am-11 pm Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Uncle Tai’s. When the venerable Uncle Tai (one of New York’s most celebrated Chinese chefs) left the Big Apple to settle in Houston several years ago, it was a decided gain for Texans who enjoy flawless, fiery Hunan cuisine Specializing in the spicy, predominantly stir-fried concoctions of his native Shanghai, Uncle Tai creates dishes that please the palate while subtly expanding it. Chinese food fans who equate environmental dinginess with authentic fare are also in for a surprise. Everything from the curved red lacquer woodwork to the elegant and weighty flatware is plush and handsome But the food is the real revelation. At the risk of waxing effusive, it would be hard to find a restaurant with more careful food preparation, imaginative dishes, courteous service or handsome surroundings (Gal-leria. Suite 3370. 934-9998. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$)


Banno Brothers. While you’re sitting at Banno’s listening to the raucous bleat of Dixieland jazz or watching an oyster shucker do his work, you can almost believe you’re in New Orleans. And you could practically drive there in the time it takes to get service at Banno’s on a busy Saturday night. But the wait is worth it, especially when endured with oysters on the half shell and their natural accompaniment, ice-cold beer. The broiled red snapper is buttery and nicely textured, while the crowded seafood salad makes a good meal for light eaters. Fried snapper, however, could just as well have been fried anything. The little touches are nicely done, with crunchy hush puppies (which, alas, do not come gratis) and a surprising tartar sauce with chopped onions. On the whole, Banno’s gives good weight-for the wait. (1516 Greenville 821-1321. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat 5-11 pm. Sunday, gone fishin’. MC, V. $$)

Boston Sea Party. Before you pop in on this party, be sure that you’re a confirmed seafood lover and that you’re mighty hungry. You’ll want to get your money’s worth ($22.95. prix fixe for dinner), and you’ll want to make sure you sample everything. The all-you-can-eat presentation here is a lot like Sunday brunch at some of the larger hotels around town, and it is as delectable as it is vast. We selected dinner from three different “piers.” The first was a sampler of appetizers-fresh oysters, smoked fish, caviar, salads and chowder. The second was an assortment of steamed oysters, meaty crab legs and shrimp. Then came the main course. Our particular sea party found the whole Maine lobster to be excellent, though a little less tender than the Australian lobster tail; and the char-broiled salmon was plump and flaky. The dessert pier held an appealing selection of small servings of fresh fruits, cheeses, cheesecake, mousse and carrot cake (13444 Preston. 239-7061. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. Sun 4:30-9. All credit cards. $$$)

Champagne Johnny’s. The feel here is straight from the Florida Keys: potted palms, archways, sunset lighting. Champagne is the bartender’s specialty, and he offers a large variety Seafood is the chef’s forte, and there’s a decent selection on that front, too. The poached oysters were an imaginative change from the usual cheese/spinach variations. The house salad consisted of romaine, bibb and iceberg lettuce, black olives and cheese. The scallops in garlic were tender, and the broiled salmon was excellently prepared. It was moist and came with rata-touille, a perfect complement to the subtlety of the salmon and scallops. Servings were large, and most diners probably won’t want dessert. That’s just as well-Johnny’s cheesecake and homemade pies just don’t measure up to the rest of the fare. (2905 Greenville. 823-5800. Tue-Thur 11:30 am-2 pm & 5-11:30pm, Fri 11:30 am-2 pm & 5 pm-2 am, Sat 11:30-2 am, Sun 11-11. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$)

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 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. $$)

Hampton’s Seafood Market. On any given day, this small, quaint seafood oasis adjacent to the Farmer’s Market downtown offers approximately 50 different kinds of seafood for eating in or carrying out. The luncheon menu is limited-as is the seating (only five tables)-but the offerings are excellent. We ordered the salmon salad with cucumber and the swordfish salad with green pepper (both served on flaky croissants). Chunky, slightly tart coleslaw was a complementary side dish. For a taste of Cajun country cooking, try Hampton’s seafood gumbo. The Hampton salad is a delightful combination of shrimp, coleslaw, vegetables and two kinds of fish salads. Hampton’s also sells its own marinade for fish, beef or chicken, as well as shrimp boil, homemade red sauce and tartar sauce. (801 S Pearl. 742-4668. Tue-Fri 8 am-6 pm. Sat 7 am-6 pm. Sun 7 am-4:30 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$)

Jozef’s. “Rough wood elegance” has become a seafood restaurant cliche, but we can think of no better way to describe this comfortable, unpretentious yet very fine McKinney Avenue restaurant. Prices were reasonable, service was bright and we enjoyed every bite from the bread to the cheesecake. The clean, spicy Creole shark soup is worth trying. Jozef’s crab meat Remick and mushrooms (stuffed with crab meat) began our meal perfectly. Our lobster was moist, not overcooked, and was served with an unusually large steak. The chef’s special shrimp was beautifully served with mushrooms, shallots and a light, creamy sauce. Our only complaint was with the vegetables-although they appeared to be fresh, they arrived cold. (2719 McKinney. 826-5560. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Ratcliffe’s. The decor looks like New Orleans, and the fish compares favorably. Especially noteworthy are the clam chowder and the sourdough bread. Add a house salad and soothing raspberry mousse, and you have a pleasant lunch. In the 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. All credit cards. $$$)

Rocco Oyster Bar. If you can forget that we’re landlocked in Central Texas, there’s no less splendid a place than Rocco’s to act like a drunken sailor and eat fresh seafood that still smacks of brine. But the food here tends to be a bit erratic. On one visit, our entrees were uniformly delightful: fresh sole alman-dine, soft-shell crab and the Big Mix-a brochette 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 and blue neon tubing make Rocco’s an exceptionally attractive place. (2520 Cedar Springs. 747-6226. Sun-Wed 11:30 am-11 pm, Thur-Sat 11:30 am-12:30 am. MC, V, AE. $$)

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 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$)

S&D Oyster Company. The newly bricked McKin-ney Avenue outside makes S&D’s stark, casual dining room feel even more like a part of New Orleans. This is fitting since the array of seafood offered here -oysters, shrimp, fish-is fresh and authentically prepared. The hefty crowd lingering outside the door speaks for the food’s reputation. S&D’s service is consistently crisp and friendly. (2701 McKinney. 823-6350. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. No reservations. MC, V. $$)

Spinnaker. The menu here is of manageable size; there is variety, but it doesn’t appear that the chef tries to perform beyond his means in order to impress. Our entree choices included a filet of red snapper with white wine and lemon butter and bouillabaisse marsellaise, rich with shrimp, scallops, crab legs, halibut, sea bass, lobster, mussels, red-fish and clams in a deliciously light, nonfishy broth. The appetizers we sampled were very good, but we missed having salads with our meal and feel compelled to give Spinnaker counsel on its desserts: The chocolate chip-pecan pie and the strawberry tart just didn’t taste up to par (Lincoln Radisson Hotel, 5410 LBJ Frwy at Dallas N Tollway. 934-8400. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 6-11; Sun brunch: 10:30-3 Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Turtle Cove. Decisions are easy to make at Turtle Cove: Order the fresh seafood broiled over a mes-quite wood fire. (You’re bound to catch a whiff 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: Stick with the fresh seafood (2731 W Northwest Hwy near European Crossroads. 350-9034. Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. MC, V, AE. $$)


Brent Place. Lunch customers drive from all over the state to dine in this 108-year-old house in Old City Park The carefully researched menu includes original recipes from the annals of Texas cooking from 1890 to 1910 and changes weekly; we enjoyed mock turtle soup, baked crab, chicken and dumplings, succotash, carrots and apple custard pie-all deliciously authentic Brent Place is a nonprofit project of the Dallas Heritage Society and is staffed almost completely by Society volunteers. The lunch menu changes weekly, but on weekends the chefs try out new menus and prepare old favorites. (1717 Gano. 421-3057 Lunch seatings: Tue-Fri at 11:15. 12:15 and 1:15: brunch: Sat & Sun 11-2. Reservations required weekdays. MC. V, AE. $)Broussard’s. The specialties of this backwoods Louisiana Cajun diner are all fried-oysters, shrimp, catfish, frog legs, hush puppies and potatoes with the crunchy skins left on. All are simply prepared with lightly spiced coatings and are properly fried, complemented nicely by the homemade red sauce Food is served cafeteria-style, but the great jukebox makes the wait seem shorter. (63 Richardson Heights. Belt Line at Central 231-9850. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11: Sun 11:30 am-9 pm. Reservations accepted for parties of 5 or more. MC, V, AE. $$)

Bubba’s. This slate-gray art deco lunch stop near SMU 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 for dessert. Breakfast begins with biscuits served with gravy or 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: personal checks accepted. $)

Celebration. Nothing fancy, nothing snooty, nothing canned is placed on your table at this longtime favorite home-style chow house. Specials change daily, and everything we tried was worth celebrating. We went on a Tuesday to give Celebration the acid test: Would the special of the day, chicken-fried steak, be worthy of our (native Texan) digestive juices? Indeed, it was The gravy was some of the best we’ve tasted. The best part of the meal was the serving of smooth, creamy mashed potatoes, obviously made from scratch and seasoned with drippings from the steak. Every entree comes with three vegetables, a huge salad, homemade salad dressing and a basket of rolls. (4503 W Lovers Lane. 351-5681. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2: dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5-10. All credit cards. $$)

Dickey’s. We talkin’ lean, high-quality meat heah, boy, and good sweet slaw and plenty o’ beans, plus juicy corn on the cob that’ll squish butter right over on your lady if you don’t watch out. This place is crawlin’ with good ol’ boys and bidnissmen around noon, but they don’t keep ya standin’ long. You may need a little extry sauce on the meat, ’less you like it dry, but this ain’t the French Room, so just get on up n’ get it. These ol’ boys’ll give you some ambiance, too: They got signs up with the words spelled like real people say ’em, like “cold slaw” and “sand-witches.” It’s a hoot. And look for the little proverbs on the chalkboard, like, “Girls, be sure you’re right, then ask your husband.” Shoot, that’s tellin’ ’em. Just one hitch: That banana puddin’ tastes like it’s been cozyin’ up to a test tube. No way that’s homemade. (4610 N Central Expwy. 821-1571. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm. Closed Sunday. No credit cards. $)

Fran’s. This little cafe, with its shingled walls and pots of English ivy in the windows, is a homey place for lunch or dinner. We sampled a heaping vegetable plate of mashed potatoes, broccoli and green beans. The green beans were unusually good. Fran’s menu changes daily, but chicken-tried steak is a staple. Chicken and dumplings, beef tips with rice, meat loaf and beef stroganoff are other tasty regulars. Don’t miss the homemade banana pudding or the hot peach cobbler, either. (3005 N Hall. 741-7589. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-9, Fri & Sat 5-10. Cash only. $)

George Wesby’s. There are those who will cringe as they read these words and discover that their long-cherished pub has been discovered. But the secret is too great to keep: George Wesby’s, we hereby proclaim, is Dallas’ best purveyor of chicken-fried steak, thick with white gravy and accompanied by huge cottage fries. There’s hardly reason to say more, to chatter on about Wesby’s burgers, hefty salads or frosty cold beer; the news of chicken-fried steak is quite enough. (3115 Live Oak. 821-1950. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: 6-10. MC, AE. $$)

Peggy’s Beef Bar. If Snider Plaza has hopes of becoming highbrow (a la Highland Park, a la Rodeo Drive), it has to contend with Peggy’s Beef Bar. And Peggy. This quick-bite barbecue dive, complete with numerous pictures of cattle, offers 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-6pm, Sat 10 am-4 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $)

Sonny Bryan’s. This is the kind of no-frills, quality barbecue that must have made Texas famous long ago. And if Texas excess has a good side, it’s the excessive barbecue sauce spilling off Sonny Bryan’s hefty beef sandwiches and juicy ribs. The solid lunch crowd at this small, rustic former drive-in can attest to the great flavor of Sonny’s-if you can get anyone to stop eating. (2202 Inwood. 357-7120. Mon-Fri 8 am-5 pm. Sat 7am-3 pm. Sun 11 am-2pm. No reservations. No credit cards. $)

Taste & Take. Mrs Hugh Davis, owner of this homey little diner and takeout operation on Greenville Avenue, wouldn’t admit it herself, but we suspect that her business philosophy is that people are tired of red beans and chicken-fried steak. Her homemade ham and chicken salads, four kinds of homemade breads and delicious desserts (try the apricot or raspberry squares) offer a lighter, healthier alternative to weighty midday meals. Menus change each week and vary from Cornish game hen to chicken and dumplings. Hill Country preserves, chowchow, homemade dressings, mustards and breads are tor sale, and T&T offers gourmet takeout food, catering and free delivery for orders of $25 or more (4509 Greenville. 691-5161. Mon-Fri 11 arn-6 pm. Sat 11 am-3 pm. AE; personal checks accepted. $$)


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 prepared with aged beef that tastes a lot like country ham). Al also serves up a creamy, cinnamon-flavored cheesecake and lots of friendly chatter in a nice, neighborly atmosphere. (1416 Avenue J, Piano. 424-4534. Mon-Fri 7 am-8 pm, Sat 7 am-4 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards; personalchecks accepted. $) Beefeater. This restaurant serves up thick, juicy beef, pork and lamb cuts of good quality in an Old English pub atmosphere. The extras are limited and simple, with choices including a standard dinner salad, hearty black beans and creamy coleslaw with a bite. Service is good. (3010 N Henderson at N Central Expwy. 826-2553. Mon-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11:30 pm. C/osed Sun. 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 are sure bets. The Bronx has daily wine specials and some of the best spiced tea around. Service can be a bit slow. (3835 Cedar Springs. 521-5821. Mon-Thur 11:30-12:30 am, Fri 11:30-1:30 am, Sat 5:30 pm-1:30 am: Sunday brunch: 11-3. 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 good chili con queso and a taco salad large enough to feed a family of four. Service is as fast and friendly as you want it to be: You order at the counter and pick it up when your name is called. The atmosphere is basic burger joint: loose and relaxed (4501 N Central Expwy. 526-1092. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $)

Crackers. Greek dishes prevail at this casual, comfortable restaurant. Enjoy moussaka, spanokopita, Greek-style baked chicken or souflaki while sitting outside on the balcony among the trees or in the pleasant but nondescript dining rooms. For a taste of 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, Son 11 -5;dinner: Sun-Thur 5-11, Fri&Sat 5-midnight. 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 one. 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, including shakes, sodas and sundaes. (5100 Belt Line, Sako-witz Village on the Pkwy. Suite 410. 386-9078. Daily: 11 am-2 am. All credit cards. $)

Deacon’s Steak House. We’re in favor of anyone who wants to try his hand at a serious steak restaurant, and we think Deacon’s may be on the right track: It’s got high-back booths, ceiling fans and inlaid wooden tables; the waitresses are friendly and seem legitimately Texan. The menu offers steaks of every size and cut as well as grilled onions and baked or fried potatoes. But, like most Dallas steakhouses, the best thing about Deacon’s isn’t its steak; best of show goes to the raspberry and espresso cheesecakes, homemade by an avowed non-Texan, a South African woman named Rene Foreman. Deacon’s has set the stage for an above-average steakhouse, though, and with a little more attention given to quality, it could soon give Hoffbrau a run for its money. (4820 Greenville. 361-2924. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-11 pm, Sun 4:30-10 pm. MC, V, AE, DC. $$)

Hoffbrau. We regret heaping more praise upon this much-adored Dallas institution only because the last time we visited-on a Monday night-we waited 30 minutes for a table. But it was no wonder, for we stood in Hoffbrau-that enchanted place where even SMU kids dress like UT kids. The steaks are large, the potatoes are fattening, the beer is cold and the music is loud. Hoffbrau may have made “Esquire’s” best eats list, but neither prices nor service seem to have suffered. (3205 Knox at Cole. 559-2680. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11 pm, Sun 4-10 pm. All credit cards. $$)

Kobe Steaks. Though we Texans are proud of our beef, Japan-if Kobe Steaks is any indication-has got us beat in the taste and tenderness departments Kobe steaks are the result of a specialized cattle-raising process that includes a daily diet of beer and massage. The hibachi seafood dinner drew raves, especially for the scallops, which were large and succulent. The Kobe “special dinner” was appropriately named; the beef and chicken (cooked in butter, soy sauce and sesame seeds) proved exquisitely tasty. The lobster, however, could have been left off the dish-it was a bit tough and overpowered by the soy flavor. Meals are prepared on a grill built into your table, and waiters perform a variety of stunning hand-acrobatics using knives and condiment shakers. (5000 Belt Line Rd., Suite 600, in the Quorum. 934-8150. Sun-Thur 5-11 pm. Fri & Sat 5-midnight. All credit cards. $$)

The Palm Bar. Nowhere can you find a lighter, lovelier or more innovative meal downtown than at The Palm Bar in the Adolphus Hotel. In addition to such predictable selections as salads and New York deli-style sandwiches, you’ll find lunch variations such as croissant sandwiches with turkey or roast beef and a pot of fresh steamed vegetables dressed with a dab of herb butter. A limited menu is available through cocktail time. (Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce. 742-8200. Mon-Fri 11 am-7 pm. All credit cards. $$)

The unassuming, no-frills steakhouse appearance of Ruth’s makes the prices here a real shock. The entrees (sirloin strip, filet, rib eye and porterhouse) begin at $17 With that you get bread, period. But the steak, which is pan-broiled in butter, is served sizzling hot and juicy and is very good. (6940 Greenville. 691-6940. Mon-Fri 11:30-11:30. Sat & Sun 5-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$)

Tolbert’s Chill Parlor. Tolbert’s may have left Oak Lawn, but not much else has changed at this chili institution (except that the crowd’s gotten even bigger). You’ll still find good 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 chili cookoff photos. (4544 McKinney. 522-4340. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. Sun noon-11 pm. No reservations. MC. V, AE. $)

Wonderful World of Cooking. This rather plain dining room is a mecca for those who crave light, healthy lunches and who aren’t into TM and whole bran We tried some chicken broccoli crepes in a light wine sauce and the ever-popular green enchiladas (which could have stood a bit more chicken and less sour cream and cheese). The chicken and broccoli dieter’s delight was too watery, but the Wonderful World’s salad plate (with spinach, chicken with walnuts and fresh fruit salads) was delightful, especially with the addition of the lemon-nut and cream cheese finger sandwiches. Use the sensible, light entree as an excuse to try dessert: The fudge pecan pie and the Italian cream pie, both served hot, are out of this world. (5007 W Lovers Lane, 358-3345; 13410-G Preston Road. 386-8620; 6023 Sherry Lane, 750-0382; 621 Preston Royal Village, 739-4803 Mon-Fri 9:30 am-6 pm, Sat 9:30 am-5 pm. Closed Sun. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11 am-3 pm. Catering and takeout available.)


Angelo’s. For a real slice of Texas barbecue, it’s still Angelo’s as far as the residents of Fort Worth are concerned. As with most respectable barbecue joints, the drawing card here is the food and drink, not the atmosphere or service, both of which are carefully disguised at Angelo’s. If you don’t watch your step, you can bump into a (live) Grizzly bear modeling an Angelo’s T-shirt or have a cold beer spilled down your back by a diner who missed his step going down the slanting concrete floor into the dining area. You order cafeteria-style from a menu above the counter. A paper plate is heaped with a choice of ribs (served after 5 pm only) or barbecued beef, potato salad, coleslaw, pickle, onion, sauce and bread And to top it off. a large, icy beer is just the thing. (2533 White Settlement Road. (817) 332-8357. Mon-Sat 10-10. Closed Sun. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $)

Caro’s. A longtime favorite Mexican food outpost, Caro’s offers 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 specially fried to puff up instead of sog down. The selection of Mexican dinners at Caro’s pretty much resembles that of any restaurant of its genre, but it’s better. There’s serious spice for those who want it. We like the chicken enchiladas and think the beans are divine. (3505 Blue Bonnet Circle, (817) 927-9948; 5930 Curzon, (817) 737-0304 Lunch: Tue-Sun 11-2 at Blue Bonnet; Tue-Sat 11-2 at Curzon. Dinner: Tue-Sun 5-10 at Blue Bonnet; 4:30-10 at Curzon Closed Mon. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$)

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. (5/36 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. $$$)

Carshon’s Delicatessen. They tell us there isn’t another corned beef sandwich in Texas like Carshon’s, and. judging by the reputation that it’s held in Fort Worth for 40 years, we tend to agree. This delica-tessen-cum-restaurant offers good split-pea and beef-and-barley soups and an assortment of kosher-style food Phone orders accepted; catering available in Fort Worth. (3733 Cleburne Road. (817) 923-1907. Tue-Fri 9 am-6 pm, Sat 9 am-5:30 pm. Sun 9 am-3 pm. Closed Mon. No credit cards. $$)

Cattlemen’s Steak House. 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. Photos of 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 am-10:30 pm, Sat 4:30-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations Mon-Thur only. 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,” the menu states, and we believe it. The bread is baked while you watch (3308 Fairfield, Ridglea Center off Camp Bowie.(817) 731-6961. Tue-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11, Sun 5-10. Closed Mon. No reservations. All credit cards. $$)

Joe T. Garcla’s. This Fort Worth temple to Tex-Mex serves up superior family-style Mexican staples and industrial-strength margaritas that are champions. You’ve got your beans, rice, tacos, enchiladas, gua-camole, 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 am-2 pm & 5-10:30pm. Sat 11 am-10:30pm, Sun 3:30-10 pm. 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 1,000 a day, but each seems to taste as if your mother toiled over a skillet preparing it. Greasy? Of course. But they’re the juiciest, meatiest, best-tasting 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; we enjoyed chicken and veal specialties, fresh fruit salads, soup, lots of hot homemade rolls and fresh vegetables served at very reasonable prices. The service was graceful and attentive; our meal was completely relaxing. (4930 Camp Bowie. (817) 735-1521. Sun-Thur 5:30-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-11 pm. Sun brunch: noon-2. MC, AE, V. $$$)

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. (817) 731-4141. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2: dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5.30-midnight. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Massey’s. Knowing a chicken-fried steak at Mas-sey’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 cream gravy, just the way it’s done 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 available. (1805 Eighth Ave. (817) 924-8242. Daily: 8 am-10 pm. MC, V. $)

Michel. Jean Claude’s younger brother moved from Dallas to Fort Worth last September to make a name for himself. And he has done just that in smashing five-star fashion. Michel is almost perfect. We stumbled in one night foolishly unaware of the treat in store for us in this renovated Camp Bowie house with upholstered walls, stained-glass windows and country-style drapes. We were seated at a linen-clothed table set with tapers and fresh flowers; it was easily large enough for the four-course bounty of food to come. We tried some moist, rich duck and a thick cut of beef for our entrees, which were preceded by a hot, homemade fish paté. The assorted fresh vegetables were artistically arranged and crisp, as was the Boston lettuce salad. For dessert, we chose chocolate and strawberry souffl6s, both fluffy masterpieces. (3851 Camp Bowie. 732-1231. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Tue-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat seatings at 6 and 9. Lunch is prix fixe at $13.50: dinner is $29.50. All credit cards. $$$$)

Old Swiss House. From the time you arrive, when the parking valet assures you that he won’t need a name to remember which car is yours, to the likely appearance of the chef at your table, you’ll be coddled all evening. The lamb chops and the cherries jubilee are awe-inspiring, and the veal Oscar and King Edward broil (a beef filet) are quite good. You don’t have to dress up here, but the service and attention shown by the staff will make you feel as though your dinner is a special occasion.(1541 Mer-rimac Circle. (817) 738-8091. Mon-Thur 5-10 pm, Fri & Sat 510:30pm. Reservations suggested. All credit cards. $$$)

The Original Mexican Food Eats Cafe. Legend has it that this is the first Mexican food restaurant in Fort Worth (hence its name); it’s certainly one of the most popular ones. On a recent Saturday night we faced a wait of more than a half hour for a table, but the wait was worth it. Our waitress was unfailingly pleasant and attentive and kept a full container of corn tortillas on our table. Specialties here include the Roosevelt plate, a tasty combo that includes a taco, enchilada and chalupa. We found the chicken enchiladas to be among the best we’ve ever sampled, and the margaritas were huge. (4773 Camp Bowie. (817) 738-6226. Mon-Thur 11 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-9:30 pm. All credit cards. $)

The Wine Seller. Don’t come here if you’re in a hurry. This place is for those who enjoy a leisurely dinner, complete with four courses and at least one bottle of wine. Wine aficionados may peruse the restaurant’s wine vault to select the proper bottle for dinner. On a recent visit, we chose 1982 Monterey Chardonnay, a perfect complement to an appetizer board of smoked Gouda and Morbier cheeses and pepper pate. Selected wines are also offered by the glass, although sampling these can get expensive. Entrées include selected beet, chicken and fish dishes. The chicken Boursin, a chicken breast wrapped around Boursin cheese, baked in a wine sauce and topped with capers, was outstanding. The open kitchen allows diners to view the chefs as the meals are prepared and lends a casualness to the restaurant. (6720 Camp Bowie. (817) 737-2323. Mon-Thur 10 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 10 am-mid-night. MC,V, AE; personal checks accepted. $$)

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 hippie-types-the kind that need not apply at other, stuffier establishments. We love Zeke’s longhairs, but the thingthat keeps us coming back is the golden, crisp batterthat coats almost everything Zeke’s serves. It’sgreasy in the most delightful of ways, and the factthat orders of fried fish, mushrooms, okra and zucchini look a lot alike doesn’t make them boring, justuniformly superb. (5920 Curzon. (817) 731-3321. Sunnoon-10 pm, Mon-Thur 11 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. Cash only. $)