DINING NEW ARRIVALS

The hottest new restaurants in the Metroplex

Chez Philippe. (French Nouvelle) Philippe Carre was the chef at Jean Claude during the period when Jean Claude Prevot stopped cooking for a while; before that, he headed kitchens in France, Hong Kong and Bangkok. When he announced that he was opening his own restaurant in Dallas, Carre said that he would be incorporating Asian elements into his dishes. Anyone who feared that the results might be too odd or too incendiary, however, can relax. Chez Philippe’s menu is original, all right, but the cooking is serenely self-assured and accomplished. The innovations are well within the framework of the classic cuisine, and the results are delectabl.

The opening of the new restaurant was delayed for several months, but the look of the place is worth the wait. All the elements of the decor have been seen before-etched mirrors, gleaming brass, burgundy fabrics, exotic flowers-but the feel of the combination is individual enough. Our only complaint is that the elegantly appointed tables have been placed too close to each other for comfort. This encourages a certain feeling of intimacy (we’ve never seen a formal restaurant where there is so much conversation among strangers), but privacy obviously suffers. As at Jean Claude, the kitchen is in full view of the back dining room, but Carré makes a point to say that all of his previous restaurants had this setup, too.

Although Carré, in his white toque, spends his time visiting with customers rather than overseeing the kitchen during the dinner hour, his touch is definitely seen in the food. The $38.50 prix fixe menu offers five courses, including a sorbet and a house salad topped with a crouton spread with goat cheese (it’s served before or after the main course at the diner’s discretion). The choices of both appetizers and entrées are outlined on a handwritten menu that changes frequently (we much prefer this to the struggle of trying to comprehend a spoken menu). We admired the variety in both departments. The platter of smoked fish included eel and two kinds of caviar; the mousseline of fish (much lighter than similar dishes elsewhere) was topped with two sauces, and the galantine of duck held large chunks of rich meat. Our only disappointment among the appetizers was the salad of pigeon and foie gras, in which the fowl was tough and gristly. The sorbet that followed, made from kiwi fruit, was sweeter than a between-course refreshment should be, but its full flavor and slightly acid bite compensated for the sweetness.

The real glories at Chez Philippe were among the main courses. The lobster, served dramatically in its hollowed-out shells, had a subtle saffron sauce; the venison had a sauce sparked with raspberry vinegar; the tournedos of superb beef were served with a hearty wine sauce; and the veal (crowned with a magnificently cooked kidney) had a most unusual sauce flavored with pureed carrots. These sauces convincingly display Carre’s creative imagination and his ability to balance disparate flavors into a perfect union. The desserts, whose manufacture he person ally supervises, are almost as impressive. The chocolate kirsch cake is one of the city’s great desserts, and the fruit tarts and the pear Charlotte are classic preparations. All of this fine food is complemented by the wines that Chez Philippe offers-at inflated prices, but no worse than at most other places. The serv ice during the first weeks was courtly, but slow and insufficiently attentive; we can on ly hope that as things settle down, it will rise to the level of the cuisine and the ambiance. (5027 W. Lovers Lane. 353-9444. Tue-Sat searings at 6 & 9p.m. Closed Sun & Mon. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$) 9.0

La Botica. (Mexican) In the competitive world of Dallas’ Mexican restaurants, you’ve got to have a gimmick if you want to get ahead. La Botica has a gaily painted minibus that picks up a minimum of 10 customers and brings them to the restaurant for a fiesta-imbibing margaritas as they travel. The proprietors expected that this particular gimmick would appeal to conventioneers and other out-of-towners, but it’s the downtown business set that seems to have taken it up. Dallas office parties will never be the same.

When the revelers get to La Botica, they find a small restaurant that neatly balances a modern, neon-decorated look against ancient-looking wood-and-glass wall cabi nets (“La Botica” means “drugstore” in Spanish, and the cabinets were part of the drugstore that previously occupied this space.) The tables are small and too close together, but that only contributes to the fiesta-type atmosphere. The food is standard Tex-Mex that’s cooked adequately, along with some more authentic and more original dishes. We liked both the pork cooked with chipotle chiles (very hot!) and the pork “yolanda” with a milder red sauce. The fa- jitas, though a bit too scorched on their siz zling round platter, came with world-class refried beans and a pico de gallo enlivened with lots of cilantro and not too much pep per. Our one frustration was that although the staff seemed to be huge (several bosses were supervising, and several waiters were on duty) and the clientele wasn’t too large, we had the slowest and least responsive service imaginable. Everybody was perfect ly nice, and we noticed the proprietor trying to urge our waiter to do better. But we do hope that La Botica learns to deliver food to the table with the same gusto that it uses to deliver customers to the restaurant. (1900 N. Haskell. 824-2005. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11-2; dinner: Tue-Sat 5-11. Closed Sun & Mon. No credit cards. $$) 5.0

Maidie’s. (Southern) This haven of coun try cooking started out in Lancaster and is rapidly profilerating throughout the Metro- plex. We checked out the new location on Upper Greenville and found that some of its food is excellent. The catfish filets, crunchy and spicy, are standouts, as are the spiral whole-wheat and cinnamon rolls that are served with every meal. The portions of such things as the pot roast (tasty but a bit stringy) and the fried pork chops are unman ageably big for anyone who’s not playing linebacker this season. Lots of vegetables are available, from super-spicy black-eyed peas to peppery mashed new potatoes. For dessert, the banana pudding is better than the cobbler. Both service and housekeeping could have used some improvement on our visit. (7035 Greenville, 987-4011; 2598 Royal at Harry Hines, 243-2021; 2404 W. Irving Blvd., Irving, (214) 790-5783; 3307 W. Plea sant Run, DeSoto, (214) 224-7825. Sun-Thur 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri & Sat 7 a.m.-11 p.m. at Greenville location; Sun-Thur 7 a. m.-9 p. m., Fri & Sat 7 a. m. -10 p. m. at other locations. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Pacific Pearl. (Chinese) All of a sudden, Dallas has been deluged with luxury Chinese restaurants. The newest, Pacific Pearl, may be the most pleasing to the eye. Beautifully appointed in its renovated older building in the West End historical district (on me same block as Restaurant Silvano), it has cannily divided dining areas that create a feeling of cozy privacy and a subdued but colorful decor sparked by comfortable salmon-upholstered chairs. One problem for evening diners is that the restrooms are in the hall outside the restaurant, and the poor lighting can make a visit to them seem a dark and lonely walk.

A much bigger problem is the quality of the food. It isn’t bad, but it is decidedly ordinary-a shock among such lovely surroundings. The chef’s specialties are mostly standard dishes: stir-fried steak, petpour-ris of different meats and fried items. We tried the sliced prawns with honey walnuts and found them to be deep-fried rather than “lightly sautéed” as described on the menu, and the nuts on top were not crisp and honeyed. The crispy whole fish was too crisp-fried to the point of toughness and dryness.

Several dishes suffered from shortcuts that are reprehensible in a place with pretensions to elegance. The hacked chicken, for instance, was coated with a sauce obviously made from a peanut-butter base rather than from sesame seeds. The shredded pork with garlic sauce and the chicken with broccoli were executed adequately, but the sautéed string beans had less authority-they were limp and overcooked. The one dish that stands out in our memory is the jellied lamb on the Three Delicacy Cold Platter. This classic Northern Chinese dish is rarely offered in Dallas, and the version at the Pacific Pearl was fine. Otherwise, the visual elegance of the place needs to be matched by the food. (601 Pacific at Market. 745- 1688. Sun-Thur 11:15 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Fri & Sat 11:15 a.m.-11:30 p.m. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Dynasty. (Chinese) This Oriental palace opened the same week as Pacific Pearl did at the northern end of town. When you enter the parking lot of the Garden Inn, you may think you’ve made a right turn off Belt Line into the heart of Peking. A huge, round en-tranceway leads to a courtyard, which leads to the enameled and bedizened facade of the Dynasty Chinese Restaurant. The inside is similarly overwhelming: lots of rosewood, silk, gilt tableware and fresh flowers. The menu is almost intimidating, with a choice of expensive complete dinners and a smattering of a la carte selections.

The dishes sound very exciting, but our experience here has rarely matched our anticipation. Among the appetizers is the Dynasty shrimp salad (if the Chinese do wonderful things with cold chicken, why not with cold shrimp?). But the dish turned out to be an odd concoction of diced potatoes, peas and mayonnaise topped with long slices of cooked prawns. The spring rolls, with a filling of Chinese greens, were more delicate than usual, and die fried cakes made of slivered turnip and a bit of pork wrapped up in flaky dough were interesting enough. But the soups were ordinary (the Eight Jewel soup consisted mostly of canned things such as mushrooms and tiny squid).

The main courses have been similarly an-ticlimactic. The Emerald Green Chicken Balls were stir-fried with broccoli; the chicken was cut into large chunks, and the texture was very nice, but there was no hint of the spicy tastes the menu promised. Our other selections were even less satisfying. The Sizzling Tenderloin was anything but tender-the meat had muscle fibers going every which way, so we don’t see how it could have been real tenderloin. The Lucky Shrimp turned out to be fried shrimp coated with cracker meal-period.

Dynasty is clearly trying very hard to provide a first-class Chinese dining experience. The table settings are ornate beyond comparison, the servers are plentiful, and the pace of the meals is formal and measured. But the food simply isn’t of the quality to sustain all the elaborate decor-not to mention the prices. The shrimp salad was $9.50, and the entrees were in the $15 to $16 range. These are almost twice as high as the prices at Han Chu, a similarly ambitious new Chinese restaurant that’s more successful in the kitchen. We’re all for adventure in Chinese eating, and we wouldn’t mind paying prices commensurate with those at the top European-style restaurants if the quali ty were there. But so far, at Dynasty, it isn’t. (Garden Inn, 4101 Belt Line, Addison. 385-7888. Mon-Sat 11-11, Sun 11:30 a.m.- 10:30p.m. Jackets required. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$) 4.5

Mason’s. (American Nouvelle) The refurbished Sheraton Dallas downtown opened a new dining room some time ago, and it’s already on its third executive chef and third menu. This time, the menu accentuates American-sounding dishes and ingredients with nouvelle touches such as sauces made of fresh herbs. The new concept and the new dishes sounded intriguing, so we went to check the place out in the hope that the apparent jinx on the place might have been broken. We found that the new Mason’s is a comfortable place to spend an evening, but it isn’t the exciting purveyor of American nouvelle dishes that it appears to be when you read the menu. In tone, the place seems to be trying to emulate Café Royal, with perhaps a touch of an American Colonial accent. The warm browns of the room are set off nicely by some handsome pictures, and the live piano music is among the best in town. The service is gracious, very efficient and not at all pretentious.

Like Café Royal, Mason’s offers both a fixed-price table d’hote menu and a more expensive a la carte one, but Mason’s fixed price menu is, at $18.50, the most reasonable in town, and ordering a la carte is quite expensive (every last sprig of cauliflower or broccoli is going to cost extra). If you choose wisely among the table d’hote offerings, you may be pleased with your bargain. The bay scallops in vermouth sauce were oddly served over mashed potatoes, and the shellfish was a tad overcooked, though the flavor was hearty. No one could accuse the chef of excessive subtlety in the oxtail soup or the snow pea salad, but at least they had some taste. The thick cut of roast beef and the veal medallions, served with two shrimp stuffed with a salmon-colored mousse (all arranged to look like an enormous butterfly) offered plenty of value for the low price.

But the a la carte menu was extremely disappointing. The 24-ounce porterhouse was neither tender nor flavorful, the salmon was ordinary, and the pastry in such appe tizers as the mushrooms in puff pastry and the snails in sourdough proved soggy and doughy. Only the rack of lamb, roasted in mustard seeds and bread crumbs, piqued much interest. Even the desserts, which looked wonderful on their towering cart, proved tasteless except for the cheesecakes -one studded with blueberries and one topped with fresh strawberries. (Sheraton Dallas Hotel & Towers, Southland Center, 400 N. Olive. 922-8000. Mon-Sat 6p.m.- midnight. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 4.5

RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS



D’s revised dining listings have been categorized according to geographical locations, beginning with downtown Dallas and radiating outward toward the suburbs.

For those restaurants that have more than one location, the review is listed under the original location’s listing. All branch locations are listed with their respective addresses and are cross-referenced for your convenience.

The parenthetical phrase immediately following the restaurant’s name indicates the culinary focus as described by that establishment.

These listings are updated and supplemented periodically. Visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatment. Inclusion in this directory has nothing to do with paid advertising.

The pricing symbols used are categorical, not precise. They indicate a general price range.

$ Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.

$$ Middle ground and very general. Usually indicates a menu with a wide price range.

$$$ Expensive. Expect to spend more than $20 for a complete meal for one (excluding wine and cocktails).

$$$$ Very expensive.

“Reservations” indicates that the restaurant will accept reservations.

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.

Restaurants have been rated on a 1 to 10 scale, with a rating of 10 being the highest recommendation. Restaurants receiving a rating of 7.5 and above have been designated with a bold D.

DOWNTOWN/WEST END



Abio. (Steak/Continental) This deluxe new downtown eatery has sandwiches, omelettes and daily specials for lunch, and the chicken-fried steak has good gravy and mashed potatoes. In the evening, there’s a wider selection. The onion soup is excellent, and the crab-meat meunière (hunks of crab sautéed in brown butter) is simple but delicious. Steaks are the big specialty: The T-bone is impressively hefty, and the peppered steak (a treatment available with sirloin, filet or rib-eye) has a fine sauce. (One Dallas Centre. Bryan at St. Paul. 922-9070. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat6-10. Closed Sun. MC. V. AE. Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 6.0

Café Cancun. (Mexican) See Park Cities/Lovers Lane. (Plaza of the Americas. 650 N Pearl. 969-0244. Mon-Fri 11 am-7 pm. Closed Sat & Sun. MC. V. AE. $$) 5.5

D Café Royal. (French/Continental) This excel lent restaurant seems to be struggling to find its niche in the hierarchy of Dallas’ French kitchens. The latest gimmick is what Café Royal calls its menu de dégustation, which usually means a multi- course sampling of the chefs specialties. Here it’s really Just a prix fixe dinner in which the diner has few choices, but it may be more of a bargain than ordering a la carte. And the chef seems to give more attention to it, so the food may be better than items ordered randomly off the menu. (Plaza of the Americas, 650N Pearl. 747-7222. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Mon-Sat 6:15-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0

Charcuterie. (Lunch) Sanger Harris does an uncom monly good job with its in-house eatery. The croissants are warm and flaky, and if you’re into salads of any persuasion, they’re bound be served here. The onion-mushroom soup deliciously offers the best of two favorites. The sandwiches are intriguing; the chicken breast with cheese on a croissant was particularly good. (Sanger Harris, 303 N Akard. 749-3990. Mon-Fri 11 am-3 pm. Closed Sat & Sun. AE, Sanger Harns charge. $$) 5.0

Deli Italia. (Italian/Deli) At lunch. Deli Italia serves both delicatessen items and Italian dishes The deli items are the standard sandwiches; we enjoyed a tasty (if rather fatty) hot pastrami. The cheesecakes are tasty and creamy enough to tempt even the most virtuous dieter. The Italian side of the menu is more substantial, and the Italian dishes are all the restaurant offers when it is open in the evening. The kitchen does a lot of things well, from unusual appetizers such as mozzarella in Carroz za to desserts such as ices and cannoli. There are dis appointments among the main dishes, but some of the pasta and veal selections are exceptional. (2121 Main at Central Expwy. 939-0666. Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm. Closed Sat & Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

D The French Room. (French Nouvelle) With its heavy rose-colored draperies and gilt trim, this is the most formal dining room in Dallas. And its still probably the best kitchen, too. Few restaurants combine dependability and excitement so well. We loved everything about our last meal here, from the lovely salad with goat cheese to the feuilleté of berries surrounded by hot caramel sauce. But be forewarned: If you go in for the lobster or the pastry stuffed with a whole truffle, your meal will be the most expensive in the city, as well as the most elaborate. (Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce. 742-8200 Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jackets and ties re quired. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0

Hampton’s Seafood Market. (Seafood) For a Hamp ton’s sampler, start with a bowl of the unusually thick, murky gumbo, redolent of bay leaves, sage and the mysterious je ne sais quoi that belongs to this dish. After a crab or oyster cocktail, try the salad platter, which features mounds of tuna, halibut and crab with a heap of savory coleslaw. On the way out, browse through the market, which offers fresh, flown-in herring, sea bass, Louisiana extra-select oysters and other treasures from the deep. (801S Pearl. 742-4668. Mon-Sat 8 am-6:30 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards; personal checks ac cepted. $$) See Preston Royal. 6.5

D Newport’s. (Seafood) We had heard some disturbing reports about this favorite sea food restaurant, and we had a less-than-happy experience here ourselves at a recent lunch marred by high noise levels and scallops that didn’t taste fresh. But when we went back, we had better luck- nicely sau- téed shrimp, good broiled swordfish and some of the best fried potatoes in town. (703 McKinney in the Brew ery. 954-0220. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. MC, V. AE. DC. $$$) 8.0

Pacific Express. (Nouvelle Lunch) New downtown restaurants are popping up as fast as skyscrapers; one of the nicest is Pacific Express, next door to the Majestic Theater. You’ll never eat in a fancier place where you have to carry your own food on a tray. The food might be characterized as “New Wave tearoom.” You’ll find salads, sandwiches and desserts, plus suitable accom paniments such as fresh-squeezed orange juice and several wines available by the glass. The meat in the chicken salad has been smoked, and it’s coated with shallot-vermouth mayonnaise. Fresh pasta salad comes with peas, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and pesto sauce. (1910 Pacific. Suite 103. 969-7447. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm. Closed Sat & Sun. No credit cards. $$) 5.5



D REVISITS



The Palm. (Steaks) Our first visit to the Palm was a bit disappointing, in view of the expectations raised by a $72 lobster-or, for that matter, a $20 steak. Now we know what to order (filet mignon) and how much (one steak for two people). As a friend observed about the Palm’s policy on splitting orders, “Sometimes you have to stare down the waiter, but they’ll do it.” We also sampled the pork chops, and they were flavorful and moist. Side dishes are superb: light, crisp onion rings, bountiful salads and real New York cheesecake. And the rowdy ebullience on a Friday night is a true tonic at the week’s end. (701 Ross. 698-0470. Mon-Thur 11:30 am- 10:30 pm, Fri 11:30 am-11 pm, Sat 5-11 pm, Sun 5-9:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.0



Richard’s Café Américain. (Lunch) If you’re the type of person who favors light lunchtime fare, replete with colorful patés, spiced tea, tiny muffins with strawberry butter and inventive variations on salad and sandwich themes-in short, if the word “dainty” is for you an ap pealing adjective-then climb high atop the Manor House to this cozy little tearoom in the sky. It’s brightly adorned with pleasing pastel colors and original art, and the service is competent and attentive. A pianist adds spice to the mélange in the afternoons. (Manor House, 1222 Commerce, 25th floor. 761-0143. Lunch: daily 11-2:30: tea: daily 4-5: happy hour: Mon-Fri 4-7: Sun brunch: 11-3. MC, V, AE, DC. $) 5.0

Sfizi. (Italian) The burgeoning West End historical district now has three Italian restaurants within one block. The newest, Sfizi, is an unpretentious café with high-tech decorations and plain concrete floors. The food is listed on a short menu, with most of the more elaborate dishes written on a blackboard as specials of the day. One of the principal offerings is pizza- delicious with thick but very crisp crusts. Other dishes range from adequate fried Calamari to a tasty baked ziti casserole. (1718 Market. 698-9390. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-4 am, Sun 11 am-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

Tangerine. (Chinese) This informally elegant new Chinese restaurant is one of the best restaurants downtown. Beautiful porcelain figures and dark orange accents lend a festive air to the high-windowed rooms with their dramatic views of the new skyscrapers in the neighborhood. The food is excellent, too; one senses a definite desire to avoid cliché. But for now, Tangerine is open only for lunch. (2401 floss. 969-1011. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm. Closed Sat & Sun. MC. V, DC. $) 6.0



MCKINNEY/OAK LAWN



Adriano’s. (Italian) The delights of salmon-and-goat- cheese pizza dont seem to have caught on in Dallas the way they have in Los Angeles. Can it be that we’re ob tuse here, or Just more sensible? Even if you don’t go for Adriano’s more exotic offerings, you can enjoy pizza with pancetta (an Italian version of bacon), crispy brown roast chicken or any of a number of other not-too-trendy items. The rich chocolate ice cream is a good follow-up. (The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 871-2262 Lunch: Mon- Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 6.0

The Bronx. (Eclectic) After our recent meal here, we’re ready to hand out “Honk if you love the Bronx” bumper stickers. Everything from start (chunky, lemony gua-camole with crisp tostadas) to finish (a not-too-sweet but creamy amaretto cheesecake) was a delight. The menu is not expansive, to say the least: Variations on the omelette theme are the mainstays. But the omelettes, sautéed in butter, are fluffy and filling, and they come with various side dishes, such as bagels or Italian sausage (try one with a glass of delicious spiced iced tea). The wooden booths lining the walls make intimate conversations easy; the service is prompt and efficient. (3835 Cedar Springs. 521-5821. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-3; dinner: Mon- Thur 5:30 pm-12:30 am. Fri & Sat 5:30 pm-1:30 am; Sun brunch: 11-3. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Café Rincon. (Mexican) If you stick to the best dishes here, you can get a sensational meal served on the shady patio. Café Rincon serves the tenderest, most buttery-tasting beef in town in its Mexican steak dishes and alambres (shish kebab). The red snapper is always impeccably fresh and can be ordered with a picante veracruzana sauce of peppers, onions and tomatoes or with mole de ajo, a strong garlic butter. The service is warm and efficient beyond compare- we dont know of a friendlier restaurant. (2818 Harry Hines. 742-4906. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11 am-midnight, Sat 5 pm-midnight. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 6.5

D Calluaud. (French) After a rather disappoint ing lunch not long ago, we went back to Dallas’ Establishment French restaurant, and we’re happy to report that all was well. The appetizers showed that owner/chef Guy Calluaud is willing to buck French tradition if a good idea comes to him: Where in the old country can you find a refined version of ceviche cloaked under the description “marinated seafood salad”? Our main courses (which were where we had problems the last time) were back on track, with perfect ly cooked scallops and sweetbreads, both of which had Just the right touch of garlic. We also detected a local in fluence in one of the luscious desserts-or do they real ly make lemon tarts with fluffy meringue tops in la belle France? (2619 McKinney. 823-5380. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat seatings at 7 & 9:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0

Chiquita. (Mexican) A visit to Chiquita, one of Dallas’ best Mexican restaurants for many years, is always a pleasure. We find it hard not to order one of the delicious beef dishes, and on our last visit the fileté de casa, spiked with garlic and peppers and accom panied by a cheese taco and a boiled potato, was splendid. The shrimp in basil sauce, delicate and carefully seasoned, proved a rewarding novelty. The best desserts here are the ice creams: piquant cin namon and rich coconut. (3810 Congress. 521-0721. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 6.5

Chow To Go. (Gourmet Carryout) Caterer Mike Hearn has opened a takeout establishment with a few tables available for eating lunch on the premises. A blackboard beautifully decorated with colored-chalk drawings advertises the sandwich selections. They sound fairly far-out, and they taste that way, too. The lamb sandwich, for instance, comes with caprino (a goat cheese that’s made in Dallas) and sun-dried tomatoes -but it comes off as a trifle gimmicky and even a bit dry. The sandwich of smoked turkey, cheese, guacamole and salsa is much more successful- Perhaps the best things at Chow to Go are the baked goods. Muffins are available in many flavors, as are the brownies and the extraordinary cookies. (2404 Cedar Springs at Maple. 871-7145. Mon-Sat 10am-7pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards for purchases under $25; MC, V. $$) 5.5

Ciao. (Italian) Although pink neon, a checkerboard-tiled floor and a gallery of black-and-white photographs speckled with colored glitter beckoned us inside, the real welcome at Ciao was its carefully prepared (and amply proportioned) Italian offerings. We started ciao- ing down on a salad that was topped with mounds of Parmesan and freshly ground pepper and was accom panied by a complimentary loaf of hot, crusty bread. We also tried an appetizer of fettuccine, rich and creamy with bits of bacon, and a gourmet pizza adorned with spinach sautéed in garlic butter and pimentos. Stuffed but not daunted, we ended our feast with a piece of nutty, spicy Italian Wedding Cake-truly a marriage made in heaven. (3921 Cedar Springs. 521-0110. Mon-Sat noon-midnight. Sun 5 pm-midnight. MC, V, AE. $$) 6.0

Clair de Lune. (Traditional French) Located in one cor ner of the Quadrangle, this handsome French restau rant offers good (although not consistently good) food at moderate prices. After being seated for lunch in the airy dining room, we began our meal with a pleasantly spicy gazpacho. Our entrées were enjoyable but un even in quality. The trout amandine was delicious, but the accompanying potatoes were a disappointment; the roast beef sandwich was dressed in too much cab bage, but the bread was crunchy and fresh. This trend continued with the desserts: Although the chocolate mousse was rich, the texture was grainy, and the ap ple pie won’t satisfy a sweet tooth. Service was crisp and has vastly improved from past visits. (The Quad-rangle, 2800 Routh. 871-2288. Mon-Wed 10:30 am- midnight, Thur-Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun 11-11. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Crackers. (Greek/Eclectic) Greek food is the specialty at this 81 -year-old house on McKinney Avenue, but you’ll also find quiche, burgers, sandwiches, soups and assorted entrées such as steak and fish. Both the moussaka and souflaki are fine, while the spanokopita (a flaky phyllo pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese) is ex citing but very rich. Soups are usually good, and the large Greek salad is wonderful. (2621 McKinney. 827-1660. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30. Sat 11-3, Sun 11-5; dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11:30. MC. V, AE. $$) 5.5

Cremona. (Northern Italian) Tucked away on a side street off Cedar Springs, Cremona is a restaurant with no pretensions. A typical luncheon menu might offer one appetizer (sautéed mushrooms with garlic), a wide choice of pastas and a single lackluster chicken dish. Among the pastas, the tortellini was delicate and rich; the lasagna, good but unprepossessing. Although we don’t usually like flavored cheesecake, the one with amaretto is a fine end to a meal. (2600 Woodrow be tween Cedar Springs and Routh. 742-4330. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

D. Michael. (Nouvelle) This new arrival serves some of the farthest-out nouvelle cuisine in town. Not all the recipes sound as strange as the “breast of moulard duck with candied jalapenos, served with cassis sauce,” but most of them are pretty recherché, whatever their description. The general complaint here is that wonder fully cooked meat is accompanied by blah sauces, the primary exception being the Pacific king salmon roasted with thyme, tarragon and fennel. The presentation of five colorful scoops of sorbet on one dish is lovely, but who needs three melon ices (honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon) in a single serving – especially if the other two are mango and blackberry? (2917’Fairmount. 871-0123. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30. Closed Sun. MC. V. AE. $$$) 6.0

Fuddrucker’s. (Burgers) Fuddrucker’s lives up to its boast of presenting the “world’s greatest hamburgers.” The home-baked buns are grilled to perfection, and the meat is tender and juicy The other sandwiches may be even better-the steak sandwich is a sizable rib-eye the hot dogs come in two lengthy links, and there are both white and red sausages for wurst tans. All these can be dressed at fixihs bars bursting with onions tomatoes and pickles. Avoid the desserts at the bakery counter: Both kinds of cookies and the brownies are tasteless and overpriced. (2614 McKinney. 871-2068. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm Sun 11:30 am-10:30 pm. MC. V, AE. S) See Upper Greenville/North Central. 6.0

D Jean Claude. (Classic French) Has Mon sieur Prevot, the distinguished owner/chef, started to show signs of boredom now that he has returned to his own kitchen? The first few courses on our last visit here were well below his lofty standards: goat cheese suffered from being wrapped in a gummy pastry, escargots were ho-hum and pineapple sorbet reminded us of the prosaic sherbets of our childhood. We were happier with our main courses, especially the luscious lobster, although the duck in a ginger sauce didn’t have quite as crisp a crust as we remembered. The chocolate soufflés at the end were as heavenly as always. (2404 Cedar Springs. 748-6619. Tue-Sat seat- ings at6&9pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations re quired. MC, V. AE, DC. $$$$) 9.0

D Jennivine. (Continental) Heavens! Jennivine. once a bastion of excellent, rather down-home British-styte cooking, has gone nouvelle on us. No more simply broiled fish, no more bowls of deli cious mashed potatoes and home-style carrots. Now, poached salmon comes with an arty sauce and a spray of underdone vegetables on the side. You can also find the likes of quail with passion-fruit sauce. The food, mind you, is still excellent-and, given the level of the cooking, is actually underpriced. But we confess that we do miss the old style a bit, since nearly every other place in town is going the chichi nouvelle route. At least we can content ourselves with the extraordinary plates of patès and cheeses- they’re Just like the Jennivine of old. (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. $$) 7.5

Joanna. (Continental) Joanna Hazeltine, the pro prietress of this new restaurant in the location where Patry’s used to be, is also the namesake of the famous New York restaurant called Joanna. It may be that the cachet of the name will draw glamorous crowds to Joanna, but it won’t be because of the food, which is mostly in the region between odd and boring. The baby new potatoes with caviar and sour cream proved to be our favorite appetizer. The most interesting main dish, the grilled breast of chicken flavored with turmeric, was also the least expensive. The desserts were probably the best things we had at Joanna: The crème caramel was wondrously light and delicate, and the cream puffs filled with cherry ice cream were an intriguing novelty. (2504 McKinney. 748-3754. Daily 11 am-2 am. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Jozef’s. (Seafood) This pleasant seafood restaurant, with its small dining room and rough wood walls, is warm yet elegant. We began our meal with fresh, chilled oysters on the half shell and ceviche, a fresh, tangy combination of fish, onion, tomato, green pepper and cilantro in a lime marinade. Our entrées, however, drew mixed responses. The scallops in cream sauce had a wonderful flavor, but they were rather tough. And the Maine lobster, likewise, was sweet in flavor but chewy in texture. But the chocolate mousse cake (which looked exactly like a pie) was a melt-in-the- mouth ending. (2719 McKinney. 826-5560. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 -2:30: dinner: Sun- Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) See Stemmons/Bachman Lake. 5.5

D L’Ambiance. (French Nouvelle) We love this place so much that we’re even becoming convinced it has atmosphere. Maybe it’s the talented guitarist who plays during dinner that compensates for the crowded tables. But it’s the food that has us hooked, although on our last visit, the appetizer of noodles in a basil and tomato sauce was overcooked and flavorless. But it was clear sailing from there: The thin slices of poached salmon in a rich green sauce, the crisp sliced duckling in raspberry sauce and the sau- téed striped bass were without flaw. Dont skip the salad or the desserts here; the watercress with bacon and goat cheese, the Concord cake of chocolate and me ringue and the Floating Island dessert are all great. (2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 8.0



D REVISITS



La Trattoria Lombardi. (Northern Italian) From our appetizers of crab claws sautéed with white wine sauce to our order of creamy fettuccine Al fredo, from our entrees of shrimp (sautéed in garlic butter) and veal (breaded and topped with cheese and tomato sauce) to our delicious dessert of homemade cappuccino pie, this pleasant restau rant excels. The candlelit green-and-white interior is charming, as is the attentive service. This is food-and ambiance-to savor. (2916 N Hall. 823-6040. 528-7506. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10:30, Fri & Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0



D La Vieille Varsovie (The Old Warsaw). (French/Continental) With its violinist and pianist and its flamingoes on the walls, this grand old place is a Dallas tradition. Our last meal was a trifle disappointing (the pastry in our salmon feuilleté was tough, for instance), but there’s no doubt that stan dards are higher here than they were a few years ago. The ornate salads and the dessert soufflés are con sistently satisfying. (2610 Maple. 528-0032. Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 6-11:30 pm. Reservations. Jackets required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0

Lawry’s. (Prime Rib) There’s something reassuring about Lawry’s unabashed adulation of thick, juicy red meat. Here’s an establishment that has refused to suc cumb to the nouvelle bent, and the result is solid, satis- tying fare: top cuts of prime rib cooked the way you like them, a choice of potatoes (we liked the oven-roasted version best), thick slices of hot sourdough bread and a wine list that’s appropriately strong on full-bodied reds. We like the Old World look of the neoclassical facade and the clubby feeling of the bar and dining rooms. It seems a little like another era-even another City. (3008 Maple. 521-7777. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30, Sun 4-10. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5

Les Saisons. (Country French) This is a lovely place for lunch or dinner, although the construction going on outside has detracted from the view from the dining rooms. The standard bistro menu is executed with aplomb, and you can find all the old favorites, from paté to chocolate mousse. Ordering a steak will get you exquisite french fries as an accompaniment. (Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn, Suite 165. 528-1102. Sun-Fri 11:30 am-11 pm, Sat 11:30 am- midnight. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

Lucas’ B&B. (American/Breakfast) Our previous reviews of this Oak Lawn institution were more than glowing, but our last visit was disappointing. It oc curred to us that regardless of how charmed we are by the waitresses’ beehive hairdos and the orange vinyl booths. $4.55 is pretty steep for two eggs, a patty of sausage, two biscuits and coffee with one warm-up- especially since our Saturday morning service was slow and careless. Lucas’ may be an endearingly Tex an place to take visitors from out of town, but for the working man’s breakfast, we’ll opt for Bubba’s. (3520 Oak Lawn. 526-8525. Daily 24 hours, except 1:45-3 pm. MC. V. $) 2.5

D The Mansion on Turtle Creek. (American Nouvelle) The miracle in the kitchen here continues-and of course, this has always been one of the grandest-looking restaurants in town. Most of the menu is now nouvelle to the point of overkill. On our last visit, we marveled over an ap petizer of red shrimp, a salad of smoked tuna and a side dish of grilled asparagus. Even old favorites such as green pasta with medallions of lobster had a won derful new taste; for once, the shellfish was tender and the pasta al dente. We also found that the service was more pleasant than before, although we still hear com plaints that it can be haughty and sullen. (2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Main dining room (Jackels and ties required, except at brunch) – lunch: Mon-Fri noon-2.30. brunch: Sat noon-2. Sun 11-2: dinner: Sun- Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat 6-11 : supper: Mon- Thur 10:30 pm-midnight. Fri & Sat 11 pm-midnight. Promenade Room-breakfast: daily 7-10:30: lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: tea: Mon-Fri 3-5:30. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.5

Mario’s. (Italian/Continental) Red velvet walls, water-colors of game birds and classical music give this Italian restaurant its longstanding reputation for ritziness. Perfectly prepared beef tournedos make this place more than just a fine purveyor of pasta and veal. The prices are high, but justifiably so, and the service is pleasant, though at times a little forgetful. The management of Mario’s has done a good job of not allowing this Dallas legend to decline. (135 Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn. 521-1135. Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5



D REVISITS



Pepe’s Café. (Mexican) The gentrification of Oak Lawn has left at least one sanctuary of ethnic un-chic. The folks who eat at Pepe’s may be upscale, but the place is resolutely unpretentious-this is a frame shotgun house amid all the high-rises and tony nouvelle establishments. The Tex-Mex is much better than average (we can’t remember the last time we enjoyed old-fashioned beet tacos as much), and the fancier dishes like fajitas and chiles rellenos are creditable. (3011 Routh. 698-9445 Mon-Fri 10:30 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Sat 10:30 am-10 pm. No credit cards. $) 5.5



Ratcliffe’s. (Seafood) On our latest visit to one of Dallas’ favorite seafood restaurants, we were daunted by the appetizers-a bland assortment of crab, shrimp and oysters and a strange fish mousse covered with a filet of smoked salmon and served cold – but the rest of the meal was heavenly. The grilled swordfish couldn’t have been sweeter or juicier, and an extravagant dish of filets of three different kinds of fish sautéed and served over vegetables with a light sauce was succulent. Did we say ’heavenly”? Maybe we should have said “astronomical” – prices here rival all but the most expensive French restaurants. (1901 McKinney. 748-7480 Lunch: Mon- Fri 11:30-2; dinner: daily 6-11. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

Rocco Oyster Bar. (Seafood) Are we Just getting blasé, or is the high-tech look becoming a bit dated? We find that the lower, patiolike room at Rocco is nicer to look at than the chic starkness of the main room. Luckily, the food holds up better than the decor. We like having a choice among oyster varieties, and the crab meat cocktail is generous in size, though pricey. Both broiled fish entrées we tried – redfish and salmon – were done to a turn. Desserts are mostly ice cream pies-again, pleasant but rather overpriced. (2520 Cedar Springs. 747-6226. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-midnight, Sun 4-11 pm MC. V. AE. $$) 5.5

D Routh Street Café. (American Nouvelle) This is the hardest restaurant at which to get a reservation in town, and perhaps the finest as well. The new Amencan cuisine includes exquisite preparations of every dish, starting with the muffins-flavored perhaps with squash or hickory nuts-that begin the meal. Among the choice items on the menu, which changes daily, are the flaky tart filled with wild mushrooms, the game dishes (the wild boar was divine -unexpectedly mild and tender), the unusual sorbets and ices and the rich, rich desserts. The wine list, printed by a computer daily, contains only American vintages-too bad if you had your heart set on a French grand cru to accompany the wonderful food. (3005 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-7161 Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Lounge: Mon-Fri 4:30 pm-1 30 am. Sat 6 pm-1:30 am. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0



D REVISITS



S&D Oyster Co. (Seafood) This often crowded haven for landlocked lovers of the bounty of the sea never fails to satisfy its large and loyal clientele. Everything is prepared perfectly here, from the seafood gumbo (chock-full of oysters) to the broiled redfish and hush puppies that aren’t too greasy. The beaded board walls and ceiling and the pictures of 19th-century sailing vessels give the place a wharf-side appeal, and the mint leaves in the iced tea are a wonderful touch. (2701 McKinney. 823-6350. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. No reservations. MC. V. $$) 5.5



Szechuan. (Chinese) Starting with one of the most generous pu-pu platters we’ve seen, our meal here was well worth the wait-and there wasn’t much of a wait. The spareribs are unusually thick and juicy, and the en trées are a delight, whether simple (sweet-and-sour chicken) or complex (moo shi pork and Lake Tung Ting Shrimp). The lunch specials, by the way, are available on the weekends. (4117 Lemmon. 521-6981. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30-11:30. All credit cards. $$) 5.5



KNOX/HENDERSON



The Beefeater. (Steaks) This place has been around under one guise or another for a long time, and time seems to stand still amid the dark woods and oil paintings. The service can be so leisurely as to stand still, too, but it is wonderfully hospitable, and the Beefeater’s relaxed atmosphere is delightful after the hustle and bustle of chain steakhouses. Red meat and potatoes are handled with great skill. Sirloin, tenderloin, prime rib, huge lamb chops and baby back ribs all satisfy the carnivorous spirit, and the baked, au gratin and hash-brown potatoes are admirable accompaniments. Everything else is pretty much a throwaway, but that doesn’t keep the Beefeater from being a rewarding place to eat. (3010 N Henderson at Central Expwy. 826-2553. Mon-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11:30 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 5.0

Chip’s. (Burgers) What a great hangout! Chips has all the ingredients: iced-down longnecks in an old-fash ioned cooler near the door, a barrel of peanuts for munching, neon beer signs on the wall and a TV. Of course, there are also some great burgers, with one- third pound of beef, sliced onions, pickles, tomatoes and assorted condiments and sauces- all on a grilled poppy-seed bun. A shish kebab, a steak or chicken sandwich, a Coney dog or a taco salad are also listed on the chalkboard menu, and the tasty fries are espe cially good. (4501 N Central Expwy. 526-1092. Sun- Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. No credit cards; per sonal checks accepted. $) 5.0

Da Piccolo. (Italian) This narrow, slightly unkempt Ital ian bistro is now open for lunch. At noon, the fried Calamari, which had always been one of our dinner fa vorites here, turned out to be underdone and chewy. The tortellini, stuffed with a sage-flavored filling and served in a tomato sauce with flecks of basil, had been cooked too long and were slightly gummy. The lasagna tasted of fresh tomato (but little else), and the veal Mar sala suffered from a harsh and overly glutinous sauce. At lunch. Da Piccolo didn’t live up to its reputation as one of the better Italian places in town. (4537 Cole. 521-1191. Lunch: Mon & Wed-Fri 11-2; dinner: Wed- Mon 5:30-11. Closed Tue. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

D Exposure. (Continental) The propnetors here will give you a friendly welcome even if you aren’t among the beautiful people who comprise the regular clientele. Chef Bruce Auden’s food is wonderful-he recently added duck to the nightly menu – and can be had most reasonably on the special pre-theater prix fixe dinner or at lunch. The prix fixe meal includes marvelously original soups, zesty salads, almost any main course on the menu, dessert and cof fee. But to get one of Auden’s innovative appetizers, you have to order a la carte. (4516 McKinney. 528- 0210. Lunch: Fnncon-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur&11, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. Lounge: Mon-Fri 4:30pm-2 am, Sat 5 pm-2 am. Closed Sun. Jackets required for men. All credit cards. $$$) 8.5

Highland Park Cafeteria. (Southern) Everybody in Dallas knows about the great home-style cooking at Highland Park Cafeteria, but not everyone has heard about the lavish buffet sometimes offered upstairs. We used to think of it as a clever and sybaritic way of avoid ing the crowded lines in the regular cafeteria, but the price ($9 for adults, $4 for children) means that you can’t quite take the alternative lightly. Go when you’re really hungry and can eat a mountain of the salads, fried chicken, brisket, fresh broccoli and squash casserole, rolls and the always-tempting desserts: meringue, ap ple and rhubarb pies, multilayered cakes and the like. We stuck to one dessert apiece and thought ourselves impossibly virtuous. (4611 Cole. 526-3801. Mon-Sat11 am-8 pm. Closed Sun. No liquor. No credit cards. $) See Addison/Richardson/Far North Dallas. 6.0

Hoff brau. (Steak) If what you want is a thick, juicy slab of beef without a lot of unnecessary frills, head for Hoff-brau. You won’t find any pseudo-English pub atmosphere here; the decor can only be loosely described as “fun Texas funk.” And there’s not a lot of choice about what will accompany your steak (a salad and potatoes come with each entrée; only one salad dressing is offered, and the chunky potato slices are pan-fried), but it doesn’t really matter. Everything we tried was good, especially the steaks. The service was efficient, and gold stars must be given to the busboys in particular: Friendly and sharp-eyed, they were poetry in motion. Go early to escape the inevitable wait. (3205 Knox. 559-2680. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat noon- 11pm. Sun noon-10 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.0



D REVISITS



Javier’s. (Mexican) Don’t expect to find Tex-Mex here. The menu runs more to fantasies on Mexican themes-steak and seafood with rich sauces made from exotic ingredients-that can be excellent in their own right. The steak cantinflas, for example (named after the famous Mexican comic), is split laterally, stuffed with cheese and topped with a sauce made of mild chiles anchos. The red snapper with garlic sauce is less unusual but Just as satisfying. The soups are the best starters, and the desserts are very sweet. (4912 Cole. 521-4211. Mon-Thur5:30-10 pm. Frig, Sat 5:30-11 pm. Sun5:30-10 pm. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5



Knox Street Oyster Garage. (Seafood) Under the same ownership as (and sharing a kitchen with) Hoff-brau, Knox Street Oyster Garage goes for a sleeker crowd. But the food disappoints. The peel-’em-yourself shrimp have little taste other than salt and can be chewy to the point of toughness. The kitchen fries only shellfish-shrimp, scallops and oysters-but only the oysters have much interest. Of the house specialties, the waitress told us that the scallops with fresh mint were the best. We hope she was wrong, because they were tough and fishy, and the sauce (composed of lots of fresh mint, tomatoes and onions) had an unpleasant taste. (3201 Knox. 522-0842. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri 11 arn-rnidnight. Sat noon-midnight. Sun noon-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 4.0

On the Border. (Mexican) On weekends, it seems as though everyone in town is trying to crowd into this “South Texas Café,” as it bills itself. And no wonder, since it may serve the best fajitas around. The sizzling strips of beef (or chicken) are meaty, tender and not overly marinated, as they sometimes are elsewhere. The grilled whole chicken breasts come from the kitchen golden from the smoke. And the praline cheesecake makes a sweet ending. (3300 Knox. 528-5900. Mon-Thur & Sun 11 am-midnight. Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am. All credit cards. $$) See Las Colinas/Mid-Cities. 5.5



MARKET CENTER



Aw Shucks. (Seafood) See Lower Greenville. (4535 Maple. 522-4498. Mon-Thur 11 -11. Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11:45 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. No credit cards. $) 6.0



D REVISITS



The Bay Tree. (Continental) After our last visit to this elegant Wyndham restaurant, we complained of the elbow-to-elbow crowding of the dining room. This time, we had the place almost completely to ourselves, but we couldn’t avoid hearing every word of a couple’s argument three tables away. Our roasted duck was marvelously pink-centered and juicy, a beautiful sight in its nest of sculpted nouvelle veggies. The soufflés are an ethereal choice for dessert, but skip the specialty torte. (The Wyndham Hotel. 2222 Stemmons Frwy. 631 -2222, ext4141. Daily 6-11 pm. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

Café Italia. (Italian) This is strictly an unpretentious storefront operation, although there are some nice decorative touches in the apricot-colored tablecloths and the airy white metal chairs- The menu mainly offers Northern Italian dishes, and they are priced at the low end of the local scale for this sort of thing, especially at dinner (when prices are about the same as they are at lunch). Although the kitchen doesn’t make its own pasta, it cooks its noodle dishes so well that we think they are the best bets. The linguni pescatore. flavored with shrimp, clams and scallops-and plenty of garlic – is among the tastiest of such in town. The veal and chicken dishes are good without knocking your socks off. (5000 Maple. 521-0700. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE $$) 4.5

Escondido. (Tex-Mex) The name means “hidden away,” and this little Mexican place could easily be overlooked. It’s rather bedraggled on the outside, but nicer within. Whether it’s worth searching out if you’re not in the Parkland Hospital neighborhood depends on how much you appreciate a good value-the Tex-Mex is dependable and offers a lot for the price. Don’t stray too far from the standard dishes, though; we thought mushroom enchiladas sounded intriguing and ordered them only to find that they were plain old cheese en chiladas served in what seemed to be canned mush room soup. (2210 Butler. 631-9912. Lunch: daily 11-2; dinner: daily 5-9. No credit cards. $) 4.0

Gonzalez. (Tex-Mex) For a fried-chicken stop gone Tex-Mex, Gonzalez does a reliable job, though never an outstanding one. Both in atmosphere and in spice, the word is bland. The nachos we tried were nothing but store-bought tortilla chips with cheese and scant peppers, and they arrived at the same time as our en trées. And the margarita we ordered was too sweet to finish. But the meal was quick, and the place was clean. We prefer a mediocre chile relleno to the unknown chicken any day. (4333 Maple. 528-2960. Daily 7 am-9 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

Mistral. (French/Japanese) In this disco/restaurant, a huge screen displays Duran Duran videos, and neon abounds (we counted seven shades of red and blue in the ceiling decoration alone). How many $45 per per son prix fixe dinners have you eaten while seated on plastic-upholstered banquettes, looking at statues of swans lighted by rose-colored spotlights and being served by a waiter dressed New Wave-style with a single diamond stud piercing his left ear? The food is excellent without being extraordinary. It’s rather far-out nouvelle with even more Asian influences than usual in the style (the chef was born in Japan and trained in Europe-he once cooked at Buckingham Palace). We found the service, though earnest, a trifle gauche. (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 760-9000. Tue-Sat 7-11:30 pm. Closed Sung, Mon. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.5



D REVISITS



Ninfa’s. (Mexican) Houston’s most famous Mex ican restaurant never fulfilled its plans of being a na tionwide chain, but in the remaining local branch, you can still sample the dishes that made Ninfa Laurenzo renowned (although you cant be as sured you will have them at their best). The table salsas are always nonpareil, and we seem to have consistent luck with the grilled chicken breast and the agujas (a meaty, fatty cut of rib). On our most re cent visit, the problems came with the dried-out pork carnitas and with the flour tortillas: Usually in comparably light and delicate, this time they were floury and disappointing. (1515 Inwood. 638-6865 Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm, Sat noon- 10 pm, Sun noon- 9 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.0



Nana Grill. (American Nouvelle) The most beautiful view of the city may be the one from this spacious restaurant atop the new addition of the Loews Anatole Hotel. The food is “New Southwestern Cuisine”- which in this case means that all meats and fish are grilled over mesquite and are accompanied by sauces that include a lot of cilantro, peppers and spices. The grilling is ex pert, leaving the basic foodstuffs juicy and tender. Side dishes can be interesting or Just plain odd, and the desserts seem to have improved enormously since the place opened. (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: daily 6-10:30. Reservations recommended for dinner. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Plum Blossom. (Chinese) The simplicity of the sur roundings here bespeaks elegance, and the careful service contributes to the peaceful atmosphere as well. The menu offers a choice among elaborate set dinners that range from $20 to $27.50 (with a smattering of a la carte offerings). We splurged on the most expensive and were served delicious scallops in a potato nest, a chrysanthemum firepot (a tureen of rich broth in which all kinds of meat and vegetables were cooked), Peking duck and other treasures. The meal was satisfying, ex cept for the chicken and banana roll in a sweet-and- sour sauce (which tasted as unappetizing as it sounds) and the lychee sherbet. (Loews Anatole Hotel. 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jackets required. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

Ray’s Blue Note. (American Nouvelle) This place now serves Texas nouvelle cuisine, and the new menu concentrates on mesquite-grilled red meats and a bit of seafood. Everything is served with fantastic attention to visual detail, with garnishes such as flowers or baskets carved out of tomatoes and flavorful relishes made of sweet and hot peppers. The steak and the pork chop are delicious with their crusty, seared surfaces. The sausages(which include some venison) are robust and ex- cellent. The apricot-and-apple is actually sweeter than either of the dessert specialties: an odd, grainy rice pudding and a weird serving of vanilla ice cream with “spiced” fresh fruit-“spiced” in this instance meaning peppery-hot. The neighborhood is run-down enough to discourage some diners. (5490 Denton Cutoff. 631- 6199. Mon-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 4.5

Rosita’s. (Tex-Mex) Rosita’s sits on the edge of the Maple Avenue Hispanic district, both geographically and metaphorically. The neighborhood patrons and the North Dallas tourists, with a full spectrum of Dallasites in between, make up a thoroughly eclectic crowd. This restaurant’s universal appeal comes from its longstanding success at producing simple, well-prepared Tex-Mex standards, served by an efficient and courteous staff for a reasonable price. The atmosphere is that of a south-of-the-border bar in a Grade-B Western, and pictures of such infamous outlaws as Pancho Villa, Geronimo and Willie Nelson make you feel obliged to order a bottle of mescal (or something equally revolutionary) from the fully stocked cantina. This is a great place for Texans to get their weekly taco/enchilada fix. (4906 Maple. 521-4741. Mon-Fri 7 am-10 pm. Sat & Sun 9 am-10 pm. MC. V, AE. $) 5.0

Shogun of Japan. (Japanese) This tiny imitation of a Japanese inn, located a bit south of Love Field, even smells new with its freshly varnished wood. But its ap proach to Japanese dining in America is mostly as old- fashioned as that of its sister restaurant, Royal Tokyo. The emphasis is on Americanized combination dinners -a bit of tempura, a bit of teriyaki and the like. The tastiest of the cooked dishes is probably the ginger beef, which was slightly undercooked and heavy on the ginger. In addition to two rooms with tables and a small tatami room, there is a sushi bar with excellent sushi and sashimi. (5738 Cedar Springs at Inwood. 351- 2281. Lunch: daily 11:15-1:45; dinner: daily 6-10:30. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Siam Orchid. (Thai) Under its new management and name, this place continues to turn out excellent Thai food. We don’t seem to be able to eat here without ordering our old favorites-pork sate, spring rolls and the intriguing noodle dish called pud Thai-but there are plenty of dishes on the menu to reward a bit of exploration. The beef with lime leaves in a spicy sauce, for instance, offers a truly novel flavor for the adventurous. And you have to feel adventurous even to venture into Siam Orchid, which is situated among adult bookstores and theaters. Inside, however, the polite staff makes everyone feel comfortable. (1730 W Mockingbird near Harry Hines. 631-6505. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5-10:30 pm. Sat & Sun noon-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Sonny Bryan’s. (Barbecue) Lordy, can these folks cook barbecue! The brisket is tender and juicy, with a crisp crust that is the essence of wood smoke; the ribs are perfection. It’s of little consequence, we suppose, that the side dishes are nothing to speak of and that the hubbub and housekeeping are insufferable. If such things really bother you, you can do as many others do and order to go. (2202 Inwood. 357-7120. Mon-Fri 8 am-5 pm. Sat 8 am-3 pm. Sun 11 am-2 pm. No credit cards. $) 6.5



OAK CLIFF/DUNCANVILLE



Hondo’s. (Texana) Although the sign on top of the restaurant says ’Real Texas Burgers.’ the boasting at Hondo’s is about its chicken-fried steak, which it claims is the best anywhere. Unfortunately, this Texas-sized boast falls short of the mark. The meat was tender, but the batter was bland; the gravy, tasteless. The steak was more like what you’d find in a TV dinner than anything even remotely resembling homemade. But the surroundings are typically Texan, with old bottles, rusty horseshoes and weathered lumber creating a thoroughly rustic look. It’s too bad the food isn’t as authentic. (Wheatland Plaza. 450 E Wheatland. Duncanville. 298-0873. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, Sat 11-4; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-8, Fri 5-9. Sat 5-8:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $) 4.0

La Calle Doce. (Mexican) This comfortable Oak Cliff restaurant serves excellent Tex-Mex food as well as a wide range of more authentic specialties. We’ve had the best luck when we’ve ordered the beef dishes. The car-nitas tampiquenas, though uncharacteristically cooked with soy sauce, are delicious, as is the stewlike guiso. The accompanying beans, rice and flour tortillas are memorable, too. The only real disappointment was a “slightly fishy-tastjng snapper veracruzana. (415 12th St. 941-4304. Mon-Thur 11 am-9:30 pm, Fri 11 am-10:30 pm. Sat 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Sun 11:30 am-8:30 pm. MC, V, AE, DC. $$) 5.5

Longhorn Bar-B-Q. (Barbecue) This far South Dallas restaurant may be lacking in atmosphere, but it serves outstanding beef, sausage and ribs with all the usual side dishes. The beef sandwiches have plenty of lean, tender, tasty meat on fresh grilled buns. The trench fries and baked potatoes are good, too, and the cafeteria- style service is fast and courteous. (315 S Hwy 67. Cedar Hill. 299-5092. Mon-Sat 11 am-8:30 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 4.0



PARK CITIES/LOVERS LANE



D REVISITS



Alessio’s. (Northern Italian) The daily specials in this intimate (and often crowded) place are so appealing that you may never look at the menu. We tried the soup and pasta of the day as appetizers, and we found the soup (zucchini with fresh basil, sour cream and pine nuts) extraordinary; the pasta (angel-hair noodles with tiny shrimp and fresh tomato) underseasoned. The salad of fresh mozzarella and tomato was worth the stiff price, and the entrées of veal Toscana (with artichokes and mushrooms) and grilled swordfish cant be beat in Dallas. Save room for the white chocolate ice cream or the lemon ice, both topped with lots of fresh raspberries. (4117 Lomo Alto. 521-3585. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Sun & Mon 6-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$$) 7.0



D Au Bon Gout. (French) We’ve been listing this enterprise as a gourmet carryout business for several months, but now it has become one of the premier places to eat in Dallas as well. On Friday and Saturday evenings, chef Christian Gerber prepares whatever he feels like cooking for no more than 30 people. The $35 prix fixe is worth every penny and more: The food is perfection. (4424 Lovers Lane. 369-3526 Tue-Thur 11 am-6 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-6 pm & 7-10 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations. All credit cards; personal checks accepted. Lunch $$, dinner $$$$) 8.5

Belvedere. (Austrian) If we mention that Belvedere (under the same ownership as the Chimney) is on the second floor of an apartment house, you’ll probably get a false impression. Actually, the restaurant is airy, elegant and undauntedly cheerful, with lovely appointments and very helpful service. The food is pleasing without being exciting. Veal is the specialty, but the portion we were served was not quite tender and tasted a bit overfloured. The scallops in mustard sauce were much more satisfactory. (Crestpark Hotel, 4242 Lomo Alto. 528-6510. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5

Café Cancun. (Mexican) This Mexico City-style restaurant, it’s fair to say. has become part of the old guard. Those of us who eat out often know Cancun. We remember fondly the black beans and the tangy molé. But as do many favorite restaurants, Cancun reached a degree of success that demanded a decision-expand or be content-so it expanded to a four-link chain. While the above-mentioned staples remain very fine, some of the polish and all-around quality has faded. We upset our waiter by ordering a non-lunch special for lunch, and we were disappointed by tough beef and a wickedly imbalanced margarita. (4131 Lomo Alto. 559-4011. Mon-Thur11 am-10pm, Fri 11-11, Sat 5-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) See Downtown/West End, Upper Greenville/North Central, Las Colinas/Mid-Cities. 5.5

D Café Pacific.(Seafood) On our most recent visit here, we found perfect seafood: huge shrimp with a rémoulade sauce that needed only a bit more spice to be authentic New Orleans; light, crisp fried Calamari; and seafood Pacific, a bounteous mixture of lobster, crab meat, scallops and fish in a delicate cream sauce. An intriguing special was the broiled yellowfin tuna served with a cream teriyaki sauce (which tasted much better than it sounds.) The service was charming and efficient, and the prices were less than at some comparable places. Be sure to make reservations well in advance and to arrive on timetables are held only 15 minutes. (Highland Park Village, Preston at Mockingbird, Suite 24. 526-1170. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. MC, V, AE. $$$) 8.5



D REVISITS

Celebration. (Southern) Celebration, one of Dallas’ most popular dining spots for all sorts of people, is bigger than it used to be, but it still feels intimate because of all the small dining rooms with booths with copper tables separated by earth-toned Indian blankets. The home-style food is appetizing, al though the portions seem smaller than we remem bered (except for the huge bowls of salad and the vegetables served family-style, for which seconds are available). The pot roast is the best entrée, and the desserts are fabulous. Celebration serves the only good apple cobbler in town, as well as first-rate pies and cheesecakes. (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. $$) 5.5



Casa Rosa. (Mexican) If you come here when the crowds are lining up outside to get in, you may think that Casa Rosa is slow to serve you because of all the business. Rest assured that its Just as slow during off hours. The food is obviously carefully cooked: The tamales taste homemade, and the enchiladas are rolled to order. But it all seems a little too prim for the robust pleasures of Tex-Mex. And we don’t think chicken fajtas should come with melted cheese on top. Probably the best dish here, the biftec con camarones-a thin steak nicely grilled with a few big shrimp on top and a cup of black beans on the side-seems to fit the preppy atmosphere better than the more typical Mexican food. (Inwood at Lovers Lane, Suite 165. 350-5227. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-2 pm & 5-10 pm, Fri 11:30 am-2 am & 5-11 pm, Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Sun 11:30 am-10 pm.AII credit cards. $$) 4.5

Ewald’s. (Continental) Time hasn’t diminished this place’s popularity How many restaurants of a certain age are full even on a Monday evening? Maybe the patrons come here to be reassured; there’s nothing trendy about Ewald’s, but ifs highly dependable. The specialties are veal and beef, cooked authoritatively and smothered m heavy sauces. The accompaniments can be rather odd bananas stuffed with raisins and a bit of curry, parsley fried to an appetizing crisp and canned hearts of palm instead of artichoke bottoms atop a veal steak. (5415 W Lovers Lane. 357-1622 Mon-Fri 6-10:30 pm. Sat 6-11 pm. Closed Sun. Reser vations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 7.0

II Sorrento. (Traditional Italian) With its showy, intricate recreation of an Italian piazza, II Sorrento has long been a favorite Dallas dining spot. Even on a weeknight there can be crowds, and since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations on weekends, there’s almost always await. While the food isn’t sensational, it’s easy to see the appeal The menu is huge, with house specialties such as shrimp Diane (in a buttery sauce flecked with scallions) and veal zingara (meaning “gypsy-style”) with ham and mushrooms. The best part of our last meal here was the desserts: a rum cake with cream and orange rind and a dense, bittersweet chocolate mousse. (8616 Turtle Creek Blvd. 352-8759. Sun-Fri 5:30-11 pm. Sat 5:30 pm-midnight. All credit cards. $$$) 5.0

La Tosca. (Northern Italian) Why can’t everything here be as good as the best things? We had an ethereal ap petizer of steamed mussels on our last visit, followed by overcooked and underseasoned paglio e fieno (green and white pasta in a sauce touched with tomato and cream). Our main dishes of veal and shrimp were unex citing. Still, this may well be Dallas’ best Italian restau rant by default. (7713 Inwood. 352-8373. Tue-Sun 6- 10:30 pm. Reservations Tue-Thur & Sun only. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$) 7.0

Le Panier. (Eclectic) At lunch, this place serves sand wiches and other light meals and calls itself the Lunch Basket In the evening, it becomes a bit more formal, raises the prices (although they’re still reasonable) and becomes Le Panier. The cozy atmosphere provides a pleasant environment in which to sample good recipes from all over. They range from “Oklahoma Burn’-a steak seared to the point of blackness outside but perfectly cooked within-to a Central European duck dish with blackberry sauce. The staff is efficient and knowledgeable, although the servers don’t seem to smile much. (3404 Rankin. 369-3241. The Lunch Basket: Mon-Sat 11 am-3 pm; Le Panier: Tue-Sat 6-10 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations for evenings only. MC, V. DC, CB. $$) 6.0



D REVISITS



Mr. Peppe. (French) This little restaurant has kept its charm and its personal touch through the many years it has been in business. The food is obviously cooked with love and is most reasonably priced, but we fear it is beginning to seem a trifle too old-fashioned. Of course, beef Wellington probably hasn’t been fashionable since the time of the Iron Duke himself, and it’s a particularly hard dish to bring off successfully. But it really shouldn’t suffer both from tasteless meat and soggy pastry. The soup of the day (lightly touched with curry), the bland appetizers and salads, the unremarkable desserts and the lackluster main dishes could use a boost. (5617 W Lovers Lane. 352-5976. Mon-Sat 6-10 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$) 5.5



Peggy’s Beef Bar. (Barbecue) The most surprising thing about Peggy’s is the funky, old-time-barbecue-joint atmosphere in the middle of the Park Cities, although the ladies behind the counter are too refined to remind you of the people who used to work in such places. The barbecue is good, if unremarkable, and the portions are not overwhelmingly large The best of the accompaniments are the onion rings. (6600 Snider Plaza. 368-9422 Mon-Fri 7am-6prn. Sat 10am-4pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards; personal checks ac cepted. $) 4.5

The Ribshack. (Barbecue) This admirable establish ment has yet another new outpost, this time in North Richardson. Like its predecessors, it offers an in teresting range of indigenous Texas foods. Those who come expecting traditional Texas barbecue, however, will be disappointed. The sugar-cured, smoke-cooked ribs (beef or pork) are drier and less crusty than regula tion barbecue, and the smoked beef is like very lean roast beef. We prefer the juicier smoked chicken and the three kinds of chili, not to mention the delicious side dishes. (4615 W Lovers Lane. 351-3400. Sun-Thur11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$) See White Rock, Addison/Rich- ardson/Far North Dallas. 6.0

The Riviera. (French Provencal) The Riviera, as its name hints, largely concentrates its offerings on the specialties of the south of France – a region known for its flamboyant use of herbs, tomatoes and garlic. A number of the famous specialties of that part of the world show up on the menu. The modestly named lob ster stew is a version of its fabled fish soups and in cludes lotte (a firm-textured fish), scallops and mussels, along with a bounteous portion of lobster. A bowl of rouille (a garlicky light mayonnaise) is served on the side. The veal chop, too, has the heady perfume of Provence; the big, meaty chop is topped with rosemary butter and a sprig of fresh rosemary. One accompany ing vegetable dish is zucchini with peppers and onions (a ratatouille without the eggplant), cooked better than it is anywhere else in town. The hardwood floors and the warm, not-too-formal decor make you feel you are tru ly in an elegant country inn. (7709 Inwood. 351-0094. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6:30-11 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$$) 7.0

Szechuan Pavilion. (Chinese) Some restaurants soar and flame like comets, then are gone. And some, like this one. continue with quiet, reliable excellence through the years. All of our entrées, especially the masterfully prepared Prime Minister’s Chicken, were fresh and subtly layered with delicate, unexpected tastes. Chick en and shrimp with cashew nuts (with bamboo shoots, baby corn and mushrooms to supplement the crunchy nuts) ran a close second, and we especially recom mend the hearty egg drop soup. But the egg rolls had a leathery crust-a minor and, we hope, temporary failing. (8409 Preston. 368-4303. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 4:30-10 pm; Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 4:30-10:30 pm, Sat noon-10:30 pm, Sun noon-10 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.5



LOWER GREENVILLE/EAST DALLAS



Aw Shucks. (Seafood) Although we were slightly shell-shocked at the diminutive oysters (on the eighth-shell?) that we were served at this small seafood establishment, our feathers were smoothed and our palates delighted by the rich Louisiana gumbo, the crunchy fried scallops and cups of ice-cold beer. (3601 Greenville. 821-9449. Mon-Thur 11:30am-11 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11:45 pm, Sun noon-10 pm. No credit cards. $)See Market Center. 6.0

Chickeria. (Texana) Inside this small, spare diner with its turquoise tables and chairs, you’ll find a variety of down-home selections as well as a few Tex-Mex items. Chickeria’s specialty is barbecued chicken grilled over a mesquite fire, and it’s Just what it’s supposed to be: juicy inside and smoky outside. Other choices from the grill include ribs and shrimp, and all are offered with tasty homemade vegetables such as corn on the cob, baked beans and mashed potatoes (with the skin on). If home-style cooking doesn’t suit your taste buds, try the fajitas (served on a flour tortilla with some excellent guacamole on the side) or the delicious chicken tacos (601 N Haskell. 821-9072. Mon-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. AE, DC. $) 6.5

DiPalma’s. (Italian) It’s a delicatessen! It’s a wine bar! It’s a bakery! No, ifs a super Italian restaurant- or rather, it’s all of the above, and it’s wonderful. The imported food, the Italian wines (including a marvelous selection by the glass) and the pastries will all knock your eyes out even before you get your meal. The an-tipasto salads are mouthwatering, but the pasta is even better, homemade, cooked perfectly al dente and anointed with subtle sauces of cream, wild mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes. The main dishes aren’t foolproof (the roast chicken can be a tad dry, with skin that’s less than perfectly crisp), but they can include such delicious offerings as a skewer of broiled shark and shrimp that’s moist and meaty (1520 Greenville. 824-4500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. MC. V, AE. $$) 7.0

El Gallito. (Mexican) El Gallito is not the old-line Mexican place it seems to be. The menu indulges in the fashionable dishes of the day-fajitas are the leading item. The grilled steak and the chicken breast basted with garlic butter are both extremely well-prepared -fresh, smoky-tasting and tender. The guacamole is unequivocally our favorite version in Dallas; it’s properly thinned out and acidified by plenty of tomato and onion. The gringo sandwiches, such as hamburgers and grilled chicken, are well worth sampling. (4202 Ross. 826-6681. Mon-Wed 11:30 am-10 pm; Thur 11:30 am-midnight; Fri & Sat 11:30 am-3:30 am, Sun 5-10 pm. AE..$$) 4.5

Genaro’s Tropical. (Mexican) The magical ambiance here is out of a Thirties movie, and the swordfish kebab is to die for. But a lot of the other dishes, including the much-touted ones based on seafood, can be pretty ordinary The crab meat enchiladas, for instance, are merely fishy. And why won’t these folks put up a sign outside? You could drive up and down for an hour and still not find this place-it occupies the corner where Skillman dead-ends into Live Oak. (5815 Live Oak at Skillman. 827-9590. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm; Fri-Sun 11 am-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



D REVISITS



Kirov’s. (Steak) It’s not exactly the Ritz, but Dallas’ oldest steakhouse is comfortable and has a homey charm. Your steak won’t be the best you’ve ever tasted, but it may be the best cheap steak you’ve ever had. The dinner salads are large and tasty, and the baked potatoes are better than average. We also like the service: The waitress may remind you of your mother, and she’s liable to call you “honey.’ Don’t take a magazine to read with dinner -the lighting is extremely low-level. (3715 Green ville. 823-7296. Sun & Tue-Thur 5:30-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-11 pm. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$) 5.0



D L’Ancestral. (Country French) We’re tempted to say that L’Ancestral presents home cooking, French style. The veal roast with onions is sim ple and unpretentious and comes with fried potatoes that any Texan would recognize and admire. And for dessert, the clafoutis is for all the world like a bread pud ding studded with cherries. But we don’t know many homes where you can get such feather-light creations as the quenelles of red snapper or the Floating Island with a sauce of cassis and crème anglaise. (5631 Alta. 826-0006. Tue-Sun 6:30 pm-1 am. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5

La Pagode. (French/Vietnamese) Situated on the border of Deep Ellum, this restaurant hasn’t drawn the crowds it deserves. The standard Oriental dishes are fresher than usual here, and the French influence offers a surprising selection of entrées and soups, as well as a more European than Vietnamese decor. Banh Xeo, La Pagodes special crêpe, is filled with a choice of chicken, pork or shrimp and bean sprouts. For dessert, choose lechees on ice. beans with coconut milk or, if you prefer, a more familiar French pastry. (4302 Bryan. 821-4542. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 9-9 MC, V. DC: personal checks accepted. $$) 5.0



D REVISITS



Las Cazuelas. (Mexican) This interesting restau rant way down on Greenville has unusual Mexican specialties such as guisado de lengua (stewed beef tongue), which has a surprisingly tender, gelatinous texture. For the fainter of heart, there are grilled chicken and fajitas, but we found these marred by an excessive charcoal flavor. The delicate, feather- light flour tortillas and the guacamole served with a hellaciously hot pico de gallo were outstanding, however. (2001 Greenville 821-0924. Mon& Wed- Fh5-10pm,Sat&Sun9am-10pm.ClosedTue.No credit cards. $$) 4.0



Pantell’s. (Greek) This wine bar with mostly Greek food is a delightful place for an after-theater supper. The ap petizer plate is bountiful, with dolmas and lots of vegetables and hunks of cheese. The skewered lamb is exceptional-tender and full of flavor. The people who work here are exceptionally nice, too; they won’t rush you even if you’re the last ones in the place. (1928 Greenville. 823-8711. Mon-Thur 11 am-1 am, Fri & Sat 11 am-2 am, Sun 4:30-11 pm. MC, V, AE $$) 5.5

Pietro’s. (Southern Italian) For an unpretentious Italian dinner at unpretentious prices, you can’t improve on Pietro’s. The basic pastas are reliable, and the salad is crisp and nicely enhanced by green peppers. The spe cials are usually pleasant, and the garlic bread is so temptingly loaded with butter, garlic and parsley that it’s hard to stick to just one big slice of it. Although it’s not playing in the super sweepstakes of some of the newer, higher-flying Italian restaurants in town, this family-run, neighborhood establishment is still a favorite of many who have frequented it for years. (5722 Richmond. 824-9403. Tue-Thur 5:30-10 pm, Fri a Sat 5:30-11 pm. Closed Sun a Mon. MC, V. $$) 5.5



D REVISITS



Snuffer’s. (Eclectic) This small, casual restaurant next to the Granada Theater is one of those rare places where you feel at home immediately. Snuf fer’s has a limited but somewhat varied menu (burgers, chip-and-dip combinations, salads- even peel-and-eat shrimp). Everything we tried was wonderful. We started with fresh, hot tostadas and perfectly flavored guacamole studded with chunks of fresh tomato. Then we tried the justifiably famous burger-medium-rare beef on a bun with all the best trimmings-and a tasty chicken sandwich. The accompanying fries, served in a big basket with a generous shake of seasoned salt, were crunchy and hot. (3526 Greenville. 826-6850. Mon-Sat 11 am-2 am. Sun noon-2 am. All credit cards. $) 5.5



Three Vikings. (Swedish) You probably won’t come here for the decor, which is basically dark mishmash, but the Scandinavian fare is good, if not memorable, and the family-style service is warm and charming. Par ticularly good dishes: the marinated cucumber salad, the roast duck with almond sauce and the very tender lamb chops with wild mushrooms. Also try the house vegetable: potato pancakes, three for 80 cents. (2831 Greenville at Goodwin. 827-6770. Mon-Thur 6-10 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11 pm. Sun 5:30-10 pm. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



UPPER GREENVILLE/NORTH CENTRAL



Arthur’s. (Continental) Once considered one of the premier places in Dallas and still a favorite of the business crowd, Arthur’s (judging from our most recent visit) needs to expend more care in the kitchen if its reputation is to be maintained. There can be no excuse for food of less than first quality at these elevated prices, yet in one meal we encountered shrimp with an iodine aftertaste, excessively bitter Belgian endive and even a “prime” steak aged past prime condition. In the other dishes, the level of the cooking was not such as to make us forget the problems; the scallops in a cream sauce, for instance, were oddly flavored with orange slices. And it s a shame that a restaurant with such a striking all- American wine list doesn’t offer better-quality wine by the glass. (Campbell Centre, 8350 N Central Expwy. 361 -8833. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun-Fri 6-11. Sat 6 pm-midnight All credit cards. $$$) 5.0

Bobbi. (Eclectic) Bobbi, the newest enterprise of the Vaccaro group of restaurants, is as much a bar as a place to eat. The menu is as trendy as the clientele- one might be tempted to call it short-order nouvelle There are separate sections for pizza, pasta and sand wiches even on the short dinner menu, and the New Wave touches are found throughout. Among the start ers, the sashimi, the salad with duck and oranges, the gazpacho and the marinated octupus are all satisfying. The grilled tuna is accompanied by an interesting onion marmalade, and the Texas omelette (scrambled eggs wrapped in a flour tortilla) is seriously spicy. (NorthPark East. 8854 N Central Expwy. 691-5833. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 am. Sat 11 am-4 am. Sun 11 am-midnight. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5



D REVISITS



Baja Louie’s Grill & Cantina. (Tex-Mex) A better- than-average union of ferns and fiesta, this singles spot offers respectable chips and predictable but pleasant Tex-Mex combinations. Ole la Mexidisco! (8021 Walnut Hill in the Corner Shopping Center. 361-5192. Mon- Thur11am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $) 5.5



Bourbon Street Oyster Co. (Seafood) This place does remind you of New Orleans in a couple of ways: The street lamps that set off the levels of the restaurant are reminiscent of the Crescent City, and the relaxed atmosphere reflects the way New Orleans denizens like to eat their seafood. But the dishes that try most to copy the famous New Orleans dishes (such as oysters Rockefeller and gumbo) don’t taste much like the real thing. There is some good seafood here, however, such as the fried seafood platters and the daily broiled specials. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy. 363-2333. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. MC, V, AE. DC. $$) 5.0<BR>Café Cancun. (Mexican) See Park Cities/Lovers Lane. (Caruth Plaza, Park Lane at Central Expwy. 369-3712. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.5

The Chimney. (Austrian) Small wonder that the Chim ney continues to comfort its clientele-it radiates warmth like the coziest fire in winter. The food has always been prepared according to exacting standards, with veal dishes of every description at the top of the list. On a recent visit, the veal forestiere, with luscious duxelles in a fine brandy cream sauce, was excellent, as was the more plebian but nonetheless tricky Wiener schnitzel. The buenderfleisch (thin, air-cured, beet-red beef) was tasty and ample enough for two, but the special Chimney appetizer-a seafood crepe in a hollandaise sauce-won hands down. Another fine starter is the salad with house dressing, which comes with a little mound of delicate fried onions. For dessert, the Austrian snowball-vanilla ice cream, almonds and chocolate sauce-is still our favorite. (Willow Creek Shopping Center. 9739 N Central Expwy at Walnut Hill Lane. 369-6466. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations requested. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

Cunze’s. (Southern Italian) This place has the feel of a cozy neighborhood restaurant, even if you don’t happen to live in the neighborhood. The pasta is good, although the accompanying sauces are rather predictable. We especially enjoyed the boneless chicken with mushrooms. One minor gripe: The service is attentive to a fault; in fact, it’s difficult to carry on a coherent con versation, much less enjoy a meal. (6101 Greenville. 369-5747. Mon-Sat 5-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm. Reserva tions. All credit cards. $$) 4.0

Fangti China 1. (Chinese) The two things everybody knows about Fangti China is that it was the first Chinese restaurant in town to stay open until the wee hours (things really start hopping around 2 a.m.) and that it was the first to have a woman chef running the kitchen. Otherwise, it’s very typical of the many Chinese places that have opened all over Dallas during the last few years. Both the Cantonese and the spicier Chinese dishes will satisfy, if not excite. (Twin Bridge Shopping Center, 6752 Shady Brook 987-3877 Mon-Thur 11:30 am-4 am, Fri 11:30 am-6 am, Sat 5 pm-6 am, Sun 5 pm-4 am. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

Fuddrucker’s. (Burgers) See McKinney/Oak Lawn. (1520 NorthPark Center. 987-3733. Mon-Sat 11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $) 6.0

Gulf Coast Oyster Co. (Seafood) Oyster lovers might want to think twice before investing in the shellfish here. We rejected several of ours on sight as simply too small and discolored to consider; they were courteously re placed with specimens that were only slightly larger and rather tasteless. Likewise with the shrimp-or shrimpettes. This is a pleasant, airy little cafe, but the portions just won’t do. (8041 Walnut Hill Lane. 361- 1922. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 3.5

Han-Chu. (Chinese) The owners of Taiwan have pro duced an even more tastefully appointed new Chinese restaurant in Han-Chu, which is sleek in its dimly lit decor of plum and black. The ham served with jujubes (Chinese dates) and twists of steamed bread on the side is wonderful for those who want a sweet dish to balance the spicier ones, and the chewy beef with crispy noodles, although difficult to manage with chopsticks, is worth the effort. The steamed duck served over a bed of spinach has a wonderful smoky flavor and a smooth and slippery texture quite unlike any other duck dish. (Caruth Plaza. 9100 N Central Expwy at Park Lane, Suite 191. 691-0900. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm.Fri & Sat 11:30-11:30, Sun 5-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 7.0

La Tartine. (French Deli) This place on the eastern (less pretentious) end of NorthPark serves lovely lunches. Soups include French onion and daily specials such as spicy, thick tomato. The sandwiches, made with the crusty French bread that’s baked in-house, range from roast beef to an informal bread pizza. Most fun of all, you can go to the case beside the cash register to pick out dessert. We tried cheesecake and baba au rhum, but there were fruit tarts and all sorts of other goodies, too. (919 NorthPark Center. 692-8498. Mon-Sat 9:30 am-9 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) See Stemmons/Bachman Lake. 5.5

Le Louvre. (French/Continental) The fine food and at tentive service that this elegant restaurant is known for in the evening has been successfully carried over into its new lunchtime effort. From the reasonably priced menu, we chose creamy, delicately flavored spinach soup and lobster bisque. Red snapper sauteed in a tar ragon sauce was tasty, but only for tarragon fanatics. The veal piccata was very good, though not especially tart and lemony, and the caramel custard dessert was adequate. (The Corner Shopping Center, 9840 N Cen tral Expwy. 691-1177. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6 pm-midnight. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Prego Pasta House. (Italian) This Greenville Avenue spot owes much of its popularity to its pleasant atmos phere, which is stylish but unpretentious enough that even families with kids feel comfortable. The pizza is of the thin-crust variety. The lasagna is basic: good, filling and inexpensive. Other kinds of pasta are, to our relief, not overcooked. But more elaborate entrees such as veal Marsala aren’t worth the higher prices. (4930 Greenville. 363-9204. Mon-Thur 11-11,FtiH am-mid- night. Sat 5 pm-midnight, Sun noon-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

D REVISITS



D Rolf’s. (German) Echt deutsch dishes and those in a more international style divide the menu here, and the quality is high ei ther way you choose. Three of our choices here in volved beef, and all were excellent. The Rinds Rou ade (beef rolled around sauerkraut and pickles and braised) showed that a hearty dish can be re fined. The Baden Baden plate set tender medal lions of beef and veal alongside each other, both topped with unctuous sauces. The appetizer of steak tartare was perfectly fresh and not oversea- soned. Our only complaints: The appetizer of shrimp in a brandy-horseradish sauce was skimpy despite a hefty price tag, and the only dessert here that we have found outstanding is the apple cake. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy, Suite 117. 696-1933. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 8.0



Royal Panda. (Chinese) The name of one of our entrees, Three Delights, set the tone for a delightful meal. That dish-shrimp, scallops and crab meat with chopped vegetables in a white sauce-was almost matched by the moo shu chicken, with its tangy sauce and Chinese pancakes cut wonderfully thin. Our appetizers, especially the Royal Panda soup, were nicely presented but lacked significant taste, while the surprisingly large shrimp toast was some of the best we’ve had. (8021 Walnut Hill Lane. 363-3858. Sun-Thur 11 am-4 am, Fri&Sat 11 am-6am. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



D REVISITS



D Ruth’s Chris Steak House. (Steak) Just as an experiment, on our last visit we or dered one each of the three basic steaks Ruth’s Chris offers (sirloin, tenderloin and rib-eye), each at a different level of doneness. All were spec tacularly good in their rich butter sauces, but to our surprise, we liked the rib-eye best. (We had thought a true prime rib-eye would be too heavy and fatty, but we were happy to be proven wrong.) Each of the great hunks of beef was cooked to order, if a lit tle on the rare side. The accompanying potatoes- fried in two different styles and baked-would have pleased any meat-and-potatoes fan. (6940 Green ville. 691-6940. Mon-Fri 11:30-11:30, Sat & Sun 5-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5



Sahib. (Indian) This is a warmer, friendlier restaurant than it once was. It was always the most attractive In dian restaurant in town, and now the service adds to the charm instead of detracting from it. The food, although no longer extraordinary, is still very good. The appetiz ers include pakoras (deep-fried, battered vegetables) and samosas (little pastries filled with potatoes and other vegetables). Among the main dishes, we liked the chicken tikkha masala, served in a rich, tomatoey sauce. Don’t fail to order one of the numerous varie ties of Indian flatbreads here, such as the many-lay ered paratha of whole wheat. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy. 987-2301 Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 5:30-11; Sun brunch: 11:30-3. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5

Sakura. (Japanese) Sakura. the loveliest of Dallas’ Japanese restaurants, offers something for everyone in its multilevel array of dining rooms: tatami mats where traditional meals can be eaten on low tables, a sushi bar with Western-style tables surrounding it, teppan-yaki rooms where (on Friday and Saturday evenings only) samurai chefs wield their knives around big grills. The food can be excellent, as in the shabu shabu, a gently simmered casserole of beef and vegetables in broth that’s prepared tableside, and the crisply broiled salmon teriyaki. Or it can be disappointing, as in the tonkatsu, the Japanese version of fried pork chops. The fish offered at the sushi bar is mostly fresh enough to eat as the Japanese prefer (that is, raw), but on our last visit, one of those in the selection we tried tasted as though it had been soaked in lemon juice to refresh it. (7402 Greenville. 361-9282. Mon-Thur & Sun 5:30-11 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30 pm-midnight. Reservations recommended on weekends. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Taiwan. (Chinese) The eye is always charmed at Taiwan. For example, a whole fish cooked Hunan-style may be garnished by a net carved miraculously from a carrot. But the last time we ordered that lovely looking dish, it didn’t taste as good as it looked: The sauce was bland, and the skin of the fish wasn’t crisp and fresh-tasting. The caring service complements the elegant dining rooms and makes Taiwan one of the most pleas ant Chinese restaurants in town, even when the chef is having an off night. (6111 Greenville. 369-8902. Mon-Fri 11 am-3 am. Sat 10 am-3 am, Sun 10 am-10:30 pm. Reservations recommended. MC, V, AE, DC $$) See Addison/Richardson/Far North Dallas. 7.0



WHITE ROCK



Alfonso’s. (Italian) This 2-year-old family-owned restau rant is fun (though dry) and dependable, and families are welcome. When we called to see if it would be okay to bring “a very good 7-month-old.’ we were told, “Sure, and he doesn’t need to be good – none of them are.” We found good pizza, enormous helpings of cheesy lasagna and patiently accommodating service. (328 Casa Linda Plaza, Buckner at Garland. 327- 7777. Mon- Thur 11 am-2 pm & 5-9:30 pm, Fri 11 am-2 pm & 5-10:30 pm, Sat 11 am-10:30 pm, Sun noon-9:30 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 4.0

Casa Cavazos. (Mexican) This is a Mexican restaurant with decor in the tradition of El Fenix. Inside, the prices are low, and the food can stand up to a trendy hole in the wall any day of the week. Although it’s not superb, it’s well-equipped to stave off cravings for beans and rice. (5409 Jim Miller Rd. 388-2292. Mon-Sat 11 am-9 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 3.5

China Inn. (Chinese) From the road, China Inn doesnt look any classier than the Keller’s Drive-In or the taco fast-food joint nearby. But step inside this cracker box. You’ll discover that there arent any Woolworth-vintage Oriental chandeliers or tacky Chinese plaques adorn ing the walls. Instead, you’ll find good food in a quiet, pleasant atmosphere. The egg rolls are crisp and tasty; the rice, tender. We were also pleased with our shrimp and sweet-and-sour pork entrees. The service was very attentive, even though we were lulled into thinking that our cola refill wouldn’t show up on the bill. (6521 E Northwest Hwy. 369-7733. Lunch: Sun-Fri 11-3: dinner: Mon-Thur 5-11, Fri & Sat 5 pm-1 am. MC, V.AE.$) 5.0

Circle Grill. (American/Breakfast) Question: Where can I take my friends from back east to show them what real Texas is all about and to feed them breakfast in the tradition of all great Texas truckers, ranchers and bidnessmen? Answer: the Circle Grill. Have a couple of juicy fried pork chops, eggs, hashbrowns and light, hot biscuits-or just gravy, biscuits and coffee, if you aren’t so hungry. The waitresses are friendly as can be, and the eavesdropping on the fishermen’s talk is priceless. (440 EI-30. 226-7745. Daily 5:30 am-11 pm. Nocredit cards: personal checks accepted. $) 5.0

The Ribshack. (Barbecue) See Park Cities/Lovers Lane. (2221 Abrams. 821-8100. Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. $) 6.0



D REVISITS



Michelino’s. (Italian) This neighborhood Italian joint is a happy, raucous find where pasta is served piping hot and peppery, garlic bread arrives in generous portions (on request), and waiters are friendly to a fault. Our entrees looked alarmingly similar, and we’d swear the cheesecake was mixed from Jello pudding, but our memories of Michel ino’s are mostly fond. (6312 La Vista. 826-2662 Tue-Sun 5-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Hong Kong. (Chinese) On countless treks up and down Garland Road, we noticed the crowded lot in front of this storefront Chinese restaurant. Once inside and well into a heaping plate of moo goo gai pan, we found that the food well deserves praise. Every bite of stir-fried vegetables was fresh and crisp. Each mush room and snow pea held its flavor, apart from the mounds of tender meat and fluffy rice. (9055 Garland Rd. 328-2320 Tue-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 5-10 pm, Sat & Sun 11:30 am-10pm. Closed Mon. MC.V. AE. $) 5.5

Shrimper’s Seafood Cafe. (Seafood) Dallas has so many new seafood places of all sorts that there hardly seems room for another, but Shrimper’s seems more than able to hold its own among the less pretentious ones. The oysters on the half shell were small and sweet and very cold; the boiled shrimp, tasty; the shrimp salad, not too gooey. All the fried seafood we sampled was excellent, especially the oysters. The barbecued shrimp wasn’t very close to the way it is fixed in New Orleans, but the smoky sauce with a strong rosemary taste was good enough on its own terms. All the entrees came with a not-too-sweet slaw, and some were served with a delicious Florentine rice, richly speckled with bits of spinach. (4040 Abrams. 827-5955 Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. V. AE. DC. $$) 5.0



PRESTON ROYAL



Hampton’s Seafood Market. (Seafood) See Downtown/West End. (Preston Royal Shopping Center. Preston at Royal. Suite 113. 696-5400. Mon-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards: personal checks accepted. $) 6.5

Jean Paul. (French) This small Preston Royal restaurant seems to have an older, more loyal crowd than some of the newer, snazzier French places about town. Its owners have chosen (wisely) to invest in good food rather than in plush decor, but some of the dishes were a little too ornate. Escargots in puff pastry were so heavily doused in sauce as to be indistinguishable from mushrooms in puff pastry. The lamb chops topped with bleu cheese were well worth sampling, though too rich to finish. (5934 Royal Lane. 692-9515. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. MC. V. AE. $$$) 5.5

Royal China. (Chinese) There was a time when this was one of the fanciest restaurants in Dallas. Now it has settled down into comfortable middle age, with warm service and a relaxed, though enthusiastic, clientele. The food has, if anything, gotten better with the years. Two appetizer platters are offered, and the one with shrimp toast, beef strips and egg rolls may be the best in town -everything is light and fresh-tasting. Several of the best-known dishes here are variations on old favorites. The Golden Crown Pork, for instance, is moo shi pork with the egg resting on top as a lovely thin omelette (we suggest asking the waiter not to dress the Chinese pancakes on which it’s served with bean sauce). The Royal Prawns are a lovely version of shrimp in chili sauce; they’re hot, sweet and pungent with ginger. (Preston Royal Shopping Center, Preston at Royal. Suite 201. 361-1771. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30: dinner: daily 5:30-10 MC. V, AE, DC. $$) 5.5



STEMMONS/BACHMAN LAKE



Bachman Café. (Seafood) This place advertises itself as a “Louisiana-style seafood restaurant.” It’s promising, although it has some way to go to fulfill that promise. The gumbo had a peppery bite and the authentic smoky taste of a long-stirred roux. The catfish filets on the seafood platter were possibly the best in town, but the other components (except for the excellent home made french fries) were only so-so. (3049 W Northwest Hwy. 351-0959. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30: dinner: daily 5-9:30; limited menu daily 9:30 pm-1 am. MC, V, AE. $$) 4.5

Cafe Moustache. (Russian/Indonesian) This cafeteriastyle lunchroom serves a hearty, home-cooked Russian lunch from a menu that typically features three or four selections. We tried the marinated briskette with mush rooms and the ginger chicken with vegetables, although the chicken-stuffed cabbage rolls looked great. Both meats were moist and tender, but the frozen mixed vegetables and the tough broccoli spears were a disappointment. A chocolate amaretto cake, the only dessert offered, was fabulous. Cafe Moustache serves an interesting selection of Indonesian food on Friday and Saturday evenings. (9454 Marsh Lane. 350-9314 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 -2: dinner: Fri & Sat 5-10. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Don’s Seafood and Steakhouse. (Steak & Seafood) We mean it in the best of ways when we say that Don’s is the Sears of seafood. This sprawling emporium is a far cry from fancy (who cares about the difference ’twixt turbot and turbo-diesel?), but the long menu of mostly fried fish and Cajun specialties offers a sound value for fish lovers who prefer quantity over chichi. (2361 W Northwest Hwy. 350-3667. Sun-Thur11 am-10 pm, Fn & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. $$) 4.0



D REVISITS



Joy Inn. (Chinese) It’s too bad, but this middle- aged Chinese restaurant seems to be in decline, like much of the rest of the Bachman Lake area. “Okay- sums up the food; a dinky appetizer plate featured okay ribs (make that “rib,” singular), a smidgen of foil-wrapped chicken and some good beef strips. Our Madras Curry was the best thing on the table, just hot enough (the Bombay is fiery) and generously laden with shrimp, beef and chicken. The shrimp in the Snow Pea Shrimp were plump and large, but the snow peas lacked that crisp snap. The service was not okay at all: We were largely forgotten after the meal, had to ask twice for much-needed water refills and waited 10 minutes for the waitress to pick up our money. With the room half-full, this is inexcusable. (9404 Ovella at Northwest Hwy. 352-1088. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm, Fn & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 4.0



Jozef’s. (Seafood) See McKinney/Oak Lawn. (2460 Walnut Hill Lane. 351-5365. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30: dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat 6-11. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5

D Kebab ’N’ Kurry. (Indian) See Addison/Rich- ardson/Far North Dallas. (2620 Walnut Hill Lane. 350-6466. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2: dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30: brunch: Sat& Sun 11:30-2:30. Reservations. MC. V, AE, DC. $) 7.5

Kosta’s. (Greek) This Greek restaurant has a lovely view of old live oaks and Bachman Lake, with a patio where you can dine if the weather is right. What more could you want? Well, you can’t get the whole gamut of Greek dishes here, and some of the best-known (such as the spanokopita) can be disappointing. But you can get fantastic grilled shrimp, a creamy moussaka and rich desserts. The selection of wines is wider than you might expect, and our last visit produced none of the problems with service that we’d had in the past: Our waiter was both well-organized and very helpful. (2755 Bachman. 351-4592. Mon-Sat 11 am-midnight. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

La Tartine. (French Deli) See Upper Greenville/North Central. (4343 Northwest Hwy, Suite 360. 351-4408. Mon-Sat 9:30 am-6pm. ClosedSun. MC, V.AE. $$) 5.5

Mercado Juarez. (Mexican) If you never get tired of “Guantanamera,” the classic Cuban guitar ballad, then don’t waste a minute: You can hear it played at least four or five times an hour by genial strolling musicians who will play it for you as though it’s their first time. Of course, they’ll play |ust about anything, but-like the menu options-choose the familiar, and you’ll be satisfied. The south of the border specialties aren’t prepared as deftly as the more-requested standard Tex-Mex dishes. Perhaps that’s the irony of a large operation: More is less when the menu’s too expansive to adequately han dle everything perfectly. But we don’t hesitate to recom mend the pork fajitas; they are marinated and broiled to perfection. The other dishes (especially those with pork) are a notch above most Tex-Mex restaurants. And the margaritas (especially those with Cuervo Gold) pack a sure punch. We enjoy everything here except the wait on busy nights. (1901 W Northwest Hwy. 556-0796. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm. Fri&Sat 11-11. Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) See Las Colinas/Mid- Cities. Fort Worth. 5.0



D REVISITS



Peking Szechuan. (Chinese) In its location next to a motel and amidst the snarled traffic patterns at the west end of the Bachman Lake area, Peking Szechuan doesn’t seem very prepossessing. But it serves some of the best Chinese food in Dallas. Among the chefs suggestions, the shredded duck is most unusual-stir-fried in a spicy sauce and rolled in delicate Chinese pancakes. The orange flavor steak packs plenty of punch, and the shrimp with black bean dish is exemplary. (2560 W North west Hwy. 357-6640. Mon-Thur 11-11. Fri & Sat noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE, DC. $$) 6.0



Piccolo Mondo. (Adriatic) This restaurant delivers tasty versions of standard Adriatic cuisine, including fine tortellini and fettuccine. Fish and shellfish get a par ticularly nice treatment, but the standard veal dishes don’t have much zing to them. Our first visits made Pic colo Mondo seem a possible contender for the superior Italian restaurant Dallas doesn’t yet have, but more re cent experience hasn’t fulfilled those initial hopes. (9507 Overtake Drive at Ovella. 357-2983. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10:30, Fri-Sun 5-11. All credit cards. $$$) 5.0

Pop Bailey’s. (Seafood) When we first entered this Northwest Highway “catfish restaurant and oyster bar,” we weren’t quite sure what to think. Pop’s art consisted of enlarged antique photographs and brightly colored Chinese kites, and the dining room wasn’t exactly crowded. But by the time we’d finished our enjoyable appetizer of peel-and-eat shrimp (served with gratis fried biscuits and honey butter), Pop’s was completely full. We knew why after savoring our entrees: The fish is fantastic! Both the char-broiled red snapper and cornmeal-wrapped fried catfish filets were plump, juicy and flavorful. Side dishes and the one dessert offered, oreo cappuccino ice cream pie, are good but not great; when you pop over to Pop’s, get your calories from the catfish instead. (3750 W Northwest Hwy. 350-9748. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm, Fri&Sat11-11, Sunnoon-9:30 pm.All credit cards. $$) 5.0

Turtle Cove. (Seafood) Our most recent visit restored our confidence in the place that set the Dallas trend of broiling seafood over mesquite. Our salmon was per fectly cooked over the coals, and the kitchen showed it could manage other techniques by frying up some snapper perfectly. The trick to keeping expenses down is to forego the appetizers and desserts: They run the bill up, and they’re not worth the extra price. (2731 W Northwest Hwy. 350-9034. Sun-Thur 11 am-10pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. MC. V. AE. $$$) 6.5



ADDISON/RICHARDSON/FAR NORTH DALLAS



Agnew’s at the Promenade. (Continental) Tom Ag-new’s new venture has nothing to do with the original Agnew’s, which closed earlier this year. The food is something of a surprise. The chef tends to prepare a lot of puff pastries for the appetizers, and the sauces for such things as the escargots with cheese and ham are heavy and creamy. The blackened red snapper (blackening fish is all the rage in New Orleans) is superb, and the desserts are very rich, sweet and luxurious. (2500 Promenade Center. Coit Road between Belt Line and Arapaho. 437-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fn 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat6-10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$) 7.0

August Moon. (Chinese) Every time we go back to this Far North Dallas favorite, we are more impressed- August Moon offers a variety of really unusual dishes. Among the appetizers are Ming shrimp in Chinese pancakes and beef-stuffed dumplings that are the tastiest in town. Equally exotic is the authentically prepared Eight Treasure Duck, which is first baked, then steamed and luxuriously sauced. But August Moon does equally well with standbys such as egg rolls and sweet-and-sour pork. The quality here is hardly a secret, so you can expect a wait during peak hours. (15030 Preston at Belt Line. 385-7227. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 11 am-10:30 pm. Reservations for four or more or for special banquets. Bar by membership. All credit cards. $$) 7.0

D BIom’s. (French Nouvelle) Dinner at Blom’s is an elegant experience. The inspired menu here is in perpetual flux: The left side changes seasonally; the right side, nightly. The constant is a sense of adventure that blends the methods and some of the style of nouvelle cuisine with the complexity and fantasy of more classic French cooking. Our lamb chops, for instance, came coated with a mousse of capon in which fresh rosemary was embedded, surrounded by a light sauce and a garnish of assorted beans cooked until they were barely tender. Caribou was artfully presented with a subtly tart gravy. Entrees were preceded by a soup containing julienne frog legs and lettuce, an overly vinegared salad and a sorbet of applejack and tarragon. Our dinner ended on a more conservative but delicious note with a gratin of fruit and a chocolate marquise. (Westin Hotel. Galleria, 13340 Dallas Pkwy. 934-9494. Dinner: Mon-Sat 5-11; Sun brunch: 10:30-2:30 Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.5

Cafe America. (Eclectic) What a disappointment! Maybe we expected too much from this typical department-store lunch spot because it’s housed inside trendy Bloomingdale’s. The badly stained seat cushions and carpet were an immediate affront to cleanliness, and our waiter lacked experience. He advised us not to order a Reuben sandwich because it takes too long to thaw out the corned beef. Later, he seemed surprised that we wanted our gazpacho appetizer before our entrees. We opted for a well-seasoned but lukewarm vegetable lasagna and a nicely flavored, spicy Oriental beef dish ladled over crunchy noodles. A final note: Skip the desserts. (Bloomingdale’s, Valley View Center, LBJ Frwy at Preston. 450-2300. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm. Closed Sun. AE, Bloomingdale’s charge: personal checks accepted. $$) 3.5

Café Capri. (Continental) It’s obvious from the cars out front, even at lunch, that the Far North Dallas moneyed set has taken Cafe Capri to heart. (We are accustomed to seeing assorted Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs, but the block-long Rolls-Royce limo impressed even us.) The decor is posh without breaking any new ground, and the service is surprisingly warm. The food isn’t revolutionary, either, but the standard dishes, from pale and shrimp cocktail to creme caramel and chocolate mousse, are executed reliably. One rather original touch was a lavish use of garlic in the veal piccata. (15107 Addison Rd near 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. $$) 5.5

Chu’s. (Chinese) From the robust pu-pu platter (with standout shrimp toast) to the plump mushrooms that adorn the GeneraTs Chicken, from the beautifully ornate dishes and colorful Japanese lanterns to the courteous, smiling waitress, our dining experience here was memorable. Just one flaw: The boneless braised duck, while dreamily tender, is not entirely boneless. (15080 Beltway, Addison. 387-1776. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 -2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 4:30-10, Fri & Sat 4:30-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Chuck’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers. (Burgers) The key word here is “old-fashioned.” Chuck’s doesn’t serve those newfangled burgers that are as big as your fist, but it does offer good versions of the near-vanished kind that have thinnish (though still one-third pound) patties. The burgers come (unless you specify otherwise) with the once-classical trimmings of mustard, onion, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes-no mushrooms or sauteed things. But what really makes them good is the grilled buns. Hardly anybody knows how to do that anymore, and it makes the difference between good and heavenly hamburgers. (502 Spanish Village Shopping Center, Coit at Arapaho. 386-7752. Mon-Thur & Sun 11 am-9pm.FriSSat11-11.No credit cards. $) 4.5

Enclave Spectrum. (Nouvelle) After an initial display of independence, this new restaurant in the building at the hub of all the development in the Addison area now shows an increasing resemblance to its namesake on Walnut Hill. Enclave Spectrum no longer has the prix fixe dinner that made it such a bargain. Some of the more adventuresome dishes are still around, but other things on the a la carte menu are in the more old- fashioned continental style of the original Enclave. (5080 Spectrum Dr. Suite 115E. 661-3390. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-11, Fri & Sat 6-11:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Fuji-Ya. (Japanese) At first glance, this place seems less traditional than other Japanese restaurants in town. There’s no tatami seating, for example, and the wait resses are more often dressed in jeans than kimonos. The food, though, is both traditional and excellent. We tried most of the appetizers and found that they were appetizing indeed. Among the entrees, the shabu shabu (vegetables and thin slices of beef cooked at the table) is our favorite, Fuji-Ya also offers “bento” meals, with bits of everything tucked into individual compart ments on a lacquered tray. (13050 Coit. 690-8396. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat5-11. Sun 5-10. MC, V, AE. $$) 4.5

Gallé. (French/Continental) The burgundy velvet banquettes and etched glass partitions of this roomy hotel restaurant contrast oddly with the sounds of the honky- tonk piano from the bar outside, and on a slow night, the place can seem deserted. But the food is prepared expertly, if not always memorably. The appetizer selec tion of patés, like all the other dishes here, looks lavish: Three differently patterned patés compete for attention with a tomato tulip filled with caviar. The salads are similarly fantastic: potpourris of Belgian endive, toma toes, pickled quail eggs and bleu cheese. The portions of sirloin steak and Dover sole topped with crab meat and hazelnut sauce that we ordered were so large we couldn’t finish them, and they were garnished with a bevy of vegetables that included wild asparagus in hol landaise and glazed turnips. (Lincoln Hotel. Lincoln Center, 5410 LBJ Frwy. 934-8400 Tue-Sat 6-11 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations requested. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.5

Golden Chopsticks. (Chinese) We thought we knew all about Far North Dallas, but Far North Addison was terra incognita even for us. This new Chinese restaurant is attractive enough without being fancy, and it has some excellent dishes, especially in the spicy (though not very hot) Hunan and Szechuan styles. The most impressive one we tried was General Chio’s Spicy Chicken: large chunks of chicken breast fried and then stir-fried, flavored with lots of sweet pepper and fresh ginger. The Pork and Shrimp Hunan Style was a lovely dish, contrasting chewy shreds of pork flecked with black beans with tiny shrimp in a mild, tomatoey sauce. (16601 Addison Rd. Addison. 931-6868. Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Highland Park Cafeteria. (Southern) See Knox/Hen derson. (Sakowitz Village, 5100 Belt Line at Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600. 934-8800 Mon-Fri 11 am-8 pm, Sat 11 am-8 pm, Sun 11 am-3 pm. No liquor. MC, V, AE for takeout orders only. $) 6.0

Hamburger Hut. (Burgers & Argentinian) You couldn’t guess from the name or the very plain storefront exterior that this is perhaps the only Argentinian restaurant in the Metroplex. The delightful family that runs the place serves first-rate charcoal-broiled hamburgers and cheap steaks-which shouldn’t be too surprising, since the land of the gauchos is cattle country. In the evening, there are a few ethnic specialties such as steak Milanesa (a slightly spicy chicken-fried steak) and Argentinian sausage. But the accompaniments-limp salad, canned peas and frozen french fries-aren’t very exciting. The real discovery here is the empanada, a fried pastry filled with meat, eggs and potatoes and served with spicy chimichurri sauce-a bargain at $1.25. (30 Arapaho Village, Arapaho at West Shore, Richardson. 235-5387. Lunch: Mon-Sat 10:30-3; din ner: Wed-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun. MC. V. $$) 4.0

Jasons. (Steak & Seafood) It had been awhile since we visited this cozy, elegant restaurant, since its lobster special wasn’t. Unfortunately, the only thing memorable about our latest visit was the check. It didn’t reflect the skimpy appetizers of steamed clams, crab-stuffed mushroom caps or baked oysters, all of which were fla vorful except the bacon-laden oysters. The evening special, crab-stuffed Calamari, was a disappointment; the crab flavor was overwhelming. A luscious-looking prime rib was flavorless. The evening was saved, however, by a tasty combination of shrimp scamp; and pasta. And a fresh blueberry tart from the pastry cart was a pleasant surprise. (Sakowitz Village, 5100 Belt Line at Dallas Pkwy. 960-2877. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2, dinner: Mon- Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 4.5

Joe T. Garcia’s. (Tex-Mex). The smell of cooking oil pervades this place every time we come here – it even reaches out into the parking lot. It’s too bad that the oil and everything fried in it is so unpleasant, since there’s some very good cooking going on at the Addison branch of the famous Fort Worth landmark. The grilled beef, the chilaquiles (an egg-and-tortilla casserole), the retried beans and the guacamole are all exemplary. (4400 Belt Line, Addison. 458-7373. Mon-Fri 11 am- 2:30 pm&5-11 pm, Sat 11-11. Sun 11 30 am-10 pm; Sun brunch: 11:30-3. MC, V. AE. $$) 4.0



D REVISITS



D Kebab ’N Kurry. (Indian) At lunch or din ner, this plain-looking little place serves un excelled Indian food. At noon, the shrimp masala, served in a rich red sauce, comes with soup, rice and curried vegetables. In the evening, it can be part of a repast that might include some of the juicy meats grilled in the tandoor (a clay oven), a frighteningly spicy beef vindaloo and a dish of homemade cheese cubes in a thick spinach purée. The shahajani biryani (chicken in a delicate rice pilaf) and the Indian breads are sensational. (401 N Central Expwy. Suite 300. Richardson. 231-5556. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30: brunch: Sat & Sun 11:30-2:30. Reservations. MC. V, AE, DC. $) See Stemmons/Bachman Lake. 7.5



Korea House. (Korean) This place has been less than dependable throughout its existence. On our last visit, we hit it on a downswing; the fried appetizers, for instance, were dismally soggy. But even when it’s not at the top of its form, Korea House offers many pleasures. The most famous Korean dish, bulgoki (a kind of barbecued shredded beef), is always good here, and the side dishes of cold vegetables are wonderful: marinated cucumbers, spinach with sesame seeds and the spicy fermented cabbage called kimchee. The wait resses, who wear long, silk Korean gowns, try hard to please. (Promenade Center, Cat at Belt Line. Suite 610. Richardson. 231-1379 Daily 11 am-10 30 pm. MC. V. AE. $$) 4.5



D REVISITS



Laurel’s. (American Nouvelle) The dishes here look as though they had been lifted off the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens’-too pretty to eat, and almost too pretty to be appetizing. Petals of cold roast lamb and rectangles of goat Cheese, for instance, face each other on a plate and are sur rounded by a pinkish sauce and garnished with a tomato rose. Everything here, such as the beef and the salmon we tried last time, is cooked competent ly, but the sauces lack depth and flair. Desserts can seem tasteless, but the view high above the lights of the city is one of the loveliest in town. (Sheraton Park Central Hotel. 12720 Merit. 385-3000. Mon- Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun Reservations rec ommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.0



Le Train Bleu. (Continental) It’s not easy to imagine an air of seclusion in the middle of Bloomingdale’s, but once you board Le Train Bleu, you are indeed in another world. The offerings here are ambitious (extraordinarily so when you stop to consider that you’re sampling department-store fare) and, for the most part, successful. A paté Campagne was wonderfully country-rich and was presented beautifully with thinly sliced new potatoes in a mustard vinaigrette. We tried the snails served in a hollowed-out square of bread with an unusual sauce of honey, anchovies, garlic and diced green pepper and were delighted with the results. A cold sliced lamb plate was less pleasing; it was properly pink but gritty in spots. The frozen caramel soufflé and the creamy crème brulée confirmed Le Train Bleu’s expertise in French desserts. (Bloorningdale’s. Valley View Center. 13320 Montfort. 450-2290 Lunch: Mon-Sat noon-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-8. Closed Sun. AE, Bloomingdale’s: personal checks accepted $$$) 5.5

Mario & Alberto. (Mexican) Probably the best Mexican restaurant in Dallas, this popular place distinguishes itself by constant innovation. Among the new offerings on our last visit were the delightful flautitas (tiny, deli cate, crisp fried flutes of chicken-stuffed tortillas) and the pork in a peppery red sauce. Old favorites such as the beef tenderloin studded with garlic and peppers never fail to delight, either. At the end of a meal here, we can never bring ourselves to order dessert from the menu – we look forward with too much relish to eating the pra lines. (Preston Valley Shopping Center. LBJ Frwy at Pres ton. Suite 425. 980-7296 Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11.30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. Drinks with $5.50 membership charge. MC. V. AE. $$) 6.5

Mother Shuckers. (Seafood) This oyster bar at the west end of the Addison strip has good food and modest prices. You order at a counter and take away fresh-shucked oysters and boiled shrimp yourself (servers bring cooked items to you when they are ready). The menu consists mainly of fried seafood dishes, which are done well for the most part. Shrimp fried in a beer batter and whole catfish coated with corn- meal were our favorites among the main dishes. Ac companiments include charming spiral-cut fried pota toes and a slaw that’s not too sweet. There are occa sional specials such as boiled crawfish, served all-you- can-eat. (3957 Belt Line between Midway and Marsh. 788-2772. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11- Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

D REVISITS



Mr. Sushi. (Japanese) This cozy but stylish nook is far and away our favorite Japanese restaurant. The sushi bar boasts a vast variety of fish and shell fish, and everything we’ve tried has been impec cably fresh and flavorful. At the tables, the service is warm and efficient, and standard Japanese dishes like tempura, chicken teriyaki and kara age (fried marinated chicken chunks) receive careful treatment. A surprise is how good the desserts are (Westernized, but all the better for that): homemade rum cake and pina colada or green tea ice creams. (The Quorum, 4860 Bell Line. Addison. 385-0168. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30- 10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Sun 5:30-10. All credit cards. $$) 6.5



Oysters. (Seafood) We hate to be redundant, but we have to ask the same question we asked on our last visit: You guys can sure do good things with the fish, so why not give the same attention to the extras? We have nothing but compliments for the redfish, broiled with butter and a touch of lemon juice, and the deep sea scallops, served in a light butter sauce. But the Idaho french fries didn’t taste fresh, the coleslaw tasted watery, and the flavor of the hush puppies was nil. Both the dining and decor in the new Piano location are casual and comfortable, and the service is above average. (4580 Belt Line. 386-0122 Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) See Piano, Las Colinas/Mid-Cities. 5.0

The Ribshack. (Barbecue) See Park Cities. (913 Can yon Creek Center, Custer at Lookout, Richardson. 644-7427. Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$) 6.0

Ristorante Lombardi. (Northern Italian) We returned to one of our favorite Italian restaurants anticipating the usual warm ambiance, charming service and delec table food. Well, the ambiance hadn’t changed, and the service was friendly (if a bit distracted), but to our dismay, the food wasn’t up to standard. Our tried-and- true favorite pasta, tortellini di parma, wasn’t as creamy as we remembered, though it was Just as flavorful. And the grilled shrimp in garlic butter was dry and flavorless; there was no trace of garlic, and the shrimp didn’t taste fresh. But the special, veal scaloppine Marsala, was ten der and flavorful, and the accompanying soufflé of spin ach, carrots and potatoes was deliciously light. The dessert soufflés, especially the unusual raspberry, were still sinfully good. (Adelstein Plaza, 15501 Dallas Pkwy at Arapaho. 458-8822. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Rusty Pelican. (Seafood) If Fantasy Island has a seafood restaurant, ifs probably an outpost of this California-based chain. Plants hang down from every where, photographs of catamarans dot the walls, and instead of rotary fans on the ceiling there are large cloth ones that move back and forth in synchronization. The Rusty Pelican is a seafood chain, as you can tell by the display of iced-down fish that greets you when you en ter, but it shouldn’t be confused with the other seafood chains that bear similar names. This one has an impres sive variety of unusual selections. In general, the qual ity is good, but on return visits we have had some dis appointments. (14655 Dallas Pkwy, Addison. 980-8950. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3; dinner: Sun-Thur 5-11. Fri & Sat 4:30 pm-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Stetson’s. (Steak & Seafood) This is a surprisingly good spot for the new generation of board-room Texans (rather than the barroom variety). Stetson’s is a steak place-there’s no doubt about that-but the furnishings are different from what we’ve seen in most places that serve 2-inch-thick steaks with all the trimmings: The dining room looks downright nice. That scared us at first, but the service was friendly, and the beef was cooked to perfection. The only concession to North Dallas chic was the baked potatoes served in printed, resin-coated paper jackets. Stetson’s serves great hot rolls and the Ortega salad, a tough-guy appetizer with the biggest beefsteak tomatoes we’ve seen in years, served with peppers and slabs of sweet red onion and marinated in vinaigrette dressing. (The Reg istry Hotel. 15201 Dallas Pkwy. 386-6000. Lunch: Mon- Fri 11:30-3:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Reservations recommended. $$$) 7.0

The String Bean. (Southern) Suburban families flock to eat the home cooking at The String Bean-there’s even a kiddie playroom so the youngsters won’t feel they’ve missed something by not going to McDonald’s. The meats include tender barbecued chicken and crisp chicken fingers along with rather stringy pot roast and a good version of the ubiquitous chicken-fried steak. It might be hard to entice kids to eat the accompanying vegetables, since the string beans are highly seasoned with pepper. We can’t recommend the blueberry cob bler we tried, but the chocolate brownie with ice cream was worth fighting over. (8846Spnng Valley. 783-9947 Mon-Sat 11 am-10pm. All credit cards. $) 4.5

Tanjore. (Indian) Indian food is still an adventure for most Dallas folks, and a meal here is a delight. Settle into the calming apricot-colored environs, accustom your ears to the Hindi music and begin by sampling the Tanjore Tray, a selection of lightly fried meats and vegetables. Beef magulai, murg mussalam and shrimp masala are three entrées that show off the breadth of the unfamiliar and the variety of combinations of curry, coriander and other Eastern spices that our culture neglects. Enjoy the different meat, chicken and lamb dishes with saffron rice, and close the meal with mango lassi (a kind of Indian ice cream) or a Tanjorita, a smooth yogurt drink. (Prestonwood Creek Shopping Center, 5409 Belt Line. 960-0070. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 6-10; brunch: Sat 11:30-3, Sun 1-4, Bar membership available. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Tong’s House. (Chinese) We heard months ago about the fabled food at this small, out-of-the-way Chinese restaurant in Richardson, but our first visit didn’t impress us. But continued raves from acquaintances drew us back, and this time we found the praise justified. On weekends especially, there are marvelous seafood spe cials. Although the kitchen ran out of the beautiful cracked crab before we could get any, the scallops with hot peppers and the shrimp with snow peas were both excellent. Most of the specialties at Tong’s House are spicy, such as the outstanding eggplant with garlic sauce and the beef with orange peel, but there are other fine dishes (the Szechuan soup with bacon and the white radish soup) that are easy on the tongue. (1910 Promenade Center, Richardson. 231-8858. Tue-Sun 11 am-9:30 pm. Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

D Uncle Tai’s Hunan Yuan. (Chinese) As Dallas’ best Chinese restaurant matures, the staff seems to be becoming more hospitable, and the food, as always, is stellar. The spicy Hunan dishes can be complemented with such offerings as beef with snow peas or chicken with walnuts, not fiery with pep pers but still robust. The menu has lots of byways to explore-frog legs, rabbit and dishes cooked in the Hunan steamer pot. (Galleria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy, Suite 3370. 934-9998. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Jackets required for dinner. All credit cards $$$) 8.5



PLANO/LEWISVILLE/LAKE DALLAS



Albert’s Delicatessen. (Deli) Part of the attraction of this old-fashioned-looking place in downtown Piano is its owner. There are also some excellent sandwiches, including juicy hamburgers. The most unusual sand wich is made of basturma, an aged, dried beef with a spicy flavor of the Middle East. We are growing to love the cinnamon-flavored cheesecake. (1416 Avenue J, Piano. 424-4534. Mon-Fri 7 am-8 pm, Sat 7 am-4 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards; personal checks ac cepted. $) 4.0

Bob Willy’s. (Barbecue) Get on out here while it’s still more or less country-there’s an ominous-looking crane looming across the way. You’ll want to go to Bob Willy’s because it’s the nicest place you’ll ever eat barbecue. Attached to a homey antiques store, this res taurant is the picture of a country dining room, and it overlooks a grove of willow trees and open fields. The barbecue is good, if not outstanding-everything comes doused in a sweetish, slightly spicy sauce. The pecan and buttermilk chess pies will reinforce your con viction that your grandmother- or somebody’s grand mother-must be hovering about the place some where. (1933 Preston, Piano. 985-0624 Breakfast: daily 6-11; lunch: daily 11-2:30; dinner: Thur-Sun 5:30-9. No credit cards $$) 5.5

D REVISITS<BR>

Duck Inn. (Catfish) We ducked in and had to wad dle out of this Lake Dallas establishment, just like the sign by the cash register said we would. For $7.95, we ate all the hush puppies and fresh fried catfish we could hold. The whole (headless) catfish are tastier than the sliced catfish steaks, but the slices have fewer bones to mess with. We heard the homemade onion rings were outstanding, but the cook ran out of batter before we could give them the taste test. The only thing that saved the skimpy salad bar was a chunky blue cheese dressing, and the french fries and coleslaw were less than note worthy Remember, Lake Dallas is dry, so “club memberships” are $3 to $5. The Duck Inn doesn’t offer dessert, but the fish is so good it doesn’t matter. (503 Main; take I-35E to the Lake Dallas exit. (817) 497-2412. Tue-Sat 5-9:30 pm, Sun 11 am-9:30 pm. Closed Mon. No credit cards; per sonal checks accepted. $$) 5.0



Jimanny’s. (Steak & Seafood) The best thing about Jimanny’s is that it isn’t an outpost of some chain. There is a bar, and the lighting is dim, but it feels more like an unpretentious small-town restaurant than one of those slick places from the television ads that keep assuring you what a good time you’re going to have. The beef is served in large portions (especially the Jimanny’s cut of prime rib), but it can have something of an off taste, as though it had been treated with seasoned salt before getting to the table. The serving staff is very youthful and not always professional. (2109 W Parker, Piano. 985-1339. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-midnight, Sat 5 pm-1 am. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 4.0



D REVISITS



French Bakery/Café de France. (Bakery/French Deli) This delightful Piano bakery has tables outside and in and serves omelettes for breakfast and sandwiches (on split croissants) for lunch. The croissants aren’t the flakiest we’ve had, but the cheese danishes are the best around. Of the many eyecatching desserts, our favorites are the tarts with tiny fresh raspberries. (2969 W 15th. Piano. 985-0003. Mon-Thur 7:30am-8pm, Fri & Sat 7:30 am-9 pm, Sun 7:30 am-6 pm. All credit cards. $) 4.5



Oysters. (Seafood) See Addison/Richardson/Far North Dallas. (2901 N Central Expwy at Parker. 422- 2469. Mon-Thur 11:30am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11:30am-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Sarducci’s. (Northern Italian) The menu at this Piano restaurant is Northern Italian-fairly adventuresome for Dallas and very adventuresome for Piano. Most North ern Italian restaurants have their biggest successes in cooking pasta and veal, but so far, these aren’t Sarduc ci’s strong points. Instead, the Vitello tonnato appetizer was far and away the best version we’ve had in town, with paper-thin slices of veal roll floating on a lemony tuna sauce. The best entrées we tried were the river trout (crusty and served with a green sauce on the side) and the soothingly creamy chicken Delfino. (Harvey House Hotel. 1600 N Central Expwy at 16th, Piano. 578-8555. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 -2:30; dinner: daily 5-11; Sun brunch: 10:30-2. All credit cards Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 5.5

GARLAND/ MESQUITE /ROCKWALL



Café Maria. (Mexican) This Mexican restaurant in Southeast Garland is a puzzler It looks like a barbecue joint, and the personnel seems anything but ethnically authentic, yet someone is obviously trying hard to turn out unusual and authentic Mexican specialties. But maybe they’re trying too hard. The menu is so long that not everything could be cooked well, let alone authen tically. The ordinary Tex-Mex isn’t bad here, but it’s hard to adjust one’s expectations, aroused by the appealing- sounding dishes on the menu, to the prosaic realities on the table. (6541 Duck Creek, Garland. 271-8456. Mon- Thur 11 am-9:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10 pm. Sun 11 am-3 pm. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Chuggs. (Burgers) The motto of this unique Garland sandwich shop is “Love at first bite,” and truer words were never advertised. The hot dogs-Vienna (a brand name) 100-percent kosher beef-are great, although the chili served on the chili dog is impossibly sweet and contains (horrors!) beans. The sautéburger we tried, with sautéed mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and real Cheddar, was unequaled by any hamburger in our previous experience. The Reuben was also a definitive sandwich. There’s no need to trumpet the praises of the desserts at Chuggs; members of the family that owns the place are always ready to recommend their favor ites. (730 W Centerville, Garland. 686-1500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $) 6.5

Culpepper Cattle Company. (Steak & Barbecue) This is the place to take out-of-state visitors if you want to show them the Texas they came to see: It’s theatrically Western in decor and serves beef cooked all kinds of ways. (The lovely hillside view of Lake Ray Hubbard may educate the folks to some of the more unexpected pleasures of the state, too.) We prefer the steaks, which are of high quality and cooked to order, to the barbe cue, at least as exemplified by the rather tasteless spareribs. Perhaps the best thing on the menu, though, is the mesquite-broiled quail-smoky, juicy and very memorable. (309 E 1-30, Rockwall. (214) 722-1001. Mon- Thur11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11 pm. Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.5



LAS COLINAS/MID-CITIES



The Brussels. (Belgian) We don’t know of a less pretentious place in the Metroplex offering authentic European food than this Arlington restaurant-and as far as we know, it’s the only one that claims to offer Bel gian cuisine. Certainly we dont know of any place where you can get a meat course and three vegetables for as little as $4.25-thafs all the broiled chicken will set you back. The beef and fish entrées are higher but are still a good bargain. Since even kids are made to feel welcome (there are children’s plates and American dishes). The Brussels is a useful addition to the environs of Arlington Stadium and Six Flags. (1300 Copeland near the l-30/Hwy 157 interchange, Arlington. (817) 861-4488. Mon-Fri 11:30 am-11 pm, Sat & Sun 5-11pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

The Café. (American) The Café may be the Metroplex’s great American restaurant-if the term ’American’ means the food that people around here have eaten for ages. The large dining area is lined with charcoal-gray booths and lit by pink neon, memorabilia such as old- fashioned Coca-Cola ice chests are scattered around, and the food consists of old-fashioned favorites that are often given a modern twist. Nobody fries foods any bet ter than the Café does. There are fried mushrooms, zuc chini and dill pickle slices as appetizers, a heavenly chicken-fried rib-eye and even fried strawberries for dessert. For other appetites, there are excellent vegetable soup, shish kebab and brownies. (715A Ryan Plaza Dr, Arlington. Metro 261-1000 Mon-Thur 11:30-11:30. Fri & Sat 11 30 am-midnight. Sun 10:30 am-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.5

Café Cancun. (Mexican) See Park Cities/Lovers Lane. (Lincoln Square Shopping Center, Arlington. 792- 3388. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.5

Café Cipriani. (Italian) Café Cipriani, across the street from the Mandalay Four Seasons Hotel in Las Colinas, is the sleekest of the Lombardi restaurants to date and offers the most interesting menu. The food is an intrigu ing mixture of cucina nouva (the Italian answer to nouvelle cuisine) and a more internationalized, Italian/ continental style. The artichoke appetizer offers beautifully cooked and trimmed fresh artichokes, and the duck salad has meaty slices of duck over lettuce. Pasta offerings are more traditional; we’re crazy about the very delicate linguini Carbonara and the standard Lombardi specialty of crab cannelloni. The main courses at Café Cipriani tend to be heavily sauced and lush. (220 E Las Colinas Blvd. Irving. 869-0713. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 7.0

The China Rose. (Chinese) This Arlington restaurant, which serves Hong Kong-style Chinese food, has had its ups and downs. This time, we’re happy to report that both food and service are on the upswing. We fared best with the chicken and pork dishes; the seafood, in comparison, was bland. The decor and ambiance (in cluding minor “street” parades, with authentically clad waiters pulling dragon kites and floats) were as lavish and loud as we remembered. (1401 N Collins. Arlington. (817)277-5888. Sun-Thur 11:30am-10pw. Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 4.0

China Terrace. (Chinese) This new restaurant in the northwestern reaches of Las Colinas is among the more ambitious Chinese establishments in the Metroplex. The hors d’oeuvres include delicate spring rolls and an assorted cold plate featuring excellent cold chicken with sesame sauce. In the China Terrace prawns, you will find nearly three dozen toasted hot peppers among the well-cooked shrimp and peanuts. The fresh spinach with garlic and sesame seeds is a delightful way to eat your green vegetables. If you’re feeling extravagant, the most delightful dessert here is the Empress Fruit Sculpture: gothic spires made of apples surrounding carved oranges, honeydew and chunks of banana. (5435 N MacArthur, Irving. 258-1113. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm, Fri 11-11, Sat5-11 pm. Sun5-10pm. MC,V, AE. $$) 5.5

D En jolie. (Nouvelle) If you want to be pampered with some of the best cuisine in town in a re laxed but elegant environment, try Enjolie. The pheasant mousse, surrounded by a not-too-sweet blue berry sauce, is an ethereal beginning to a meal. The main course of three different kinds of fish, each in its own sauce, is subtle rather than showy. And all the desserts are spectacular-if you can find room be tween the French cheeses and the petits fours served after dinner. (Mandalay Four Seasons Hotel, 221 S Las Colinas Blvd. Irving. 556-0800, ext. 3155. Lunch: Mon- Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0



D REVISITS



Los Canarios. (Mexican) Friday and Saturday nights are special nights here, since that’s when the house offers its seafood specialties: shrimp enchi ladas, crab-meat flautas and chimichangas. At first, we suspected the regular menu of being typically Tex-Mex. But soon we saw that the usual chili and melted cheese toppings were absent; instead, the kitchen prefers a green mole sauce (a delicate sauce of green tomatoes). Another diversion is the ceviche that’s available Thursday through Saturday nights. The strip-shopping-center locale of this res taurant makes it a hard place to find, but scores of Mid-Cities dwellers make this a regular weekly stop. (Hwy 10 at Raider, Euless. (817)283-4691. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2: dinner: Mon-Thur5-10. Fn&Sat5-11. Closed Sun. MC. V, AE. $$) 4.5



II Nonno’s. (Northern Italian) As a rule, restaurants located near airports are unspectacular, drawing customers who happened to be there rather than those who really wanted to be there- II Nonno’s, in the Amfac East Tower at D/FW airport, is the exception. The food, service and decor all make it well worth your while. Among the appetizers, our favorite was the Carbonara: pasta in a rich cream sauce with bits of bacon and herbs. The entrées we sampled, veal parmigiana and eggplant Parmesan, were memorable, too. The service should also be singled out: The waiters and waitresses sang and served with equal enthusiasm. And we were impressed by II Nonno’s willingness to go the extra mile: After we ordered cappuccino and were told there was none left, we received other drinks free of charge. (East Tower, Amfac Hotel. D/FW airport. 453-8400. Daily 6- 11 pm. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5

Mercado Juarez. (Mexican) See Stemmons/Bachman Lake. (2220 Miller Rd, Arlington. (817)649-3324. Mon- Thur 11 am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Sun 11:30 am-10 pm. MC. V. AE. $$) 5.0



D REVISITS



Milano’s. (Northern Italian) Judging from the wooden exterior and blue awnings of this Collins Boulevard stop, we didn’t expect to find such a lavish dining room and menu. The dimly lit, paneled dining room, with its intimate booths and deep cushions, spells romance. This Italian restaurant is a place for lovers-if they have hearty appetites. The expansive menu offers several attractive selec tions in the veal, seafood, beef, chicken and pasta categories. We heartily recommend the veal scam pi, a dish that weds huge Gulf shrimp with deli cate medallions of veal Marsala. The fettuccine was better than any we’ve tasted in a long time, and the appetizer of crab claws in drawn butter was scrumptious. (815NCollins, Arlington. (817)261- 2216 Lunch: daily 11:30-2; dinner: daily 5:30- 10:30. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0



On the Border. (Mexican) See Knox/Henderson. (2011 Copeland. Arlington. (817) 460-8000. Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Oysters. (Seafood) See Addison/Richardson/Far North Dallas. (8206 Bedford-Euless Rd, N Richland Hills. Metro 498-5511. Daily 11.30 am-midnight. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Poppa’s Ristorante. (Northern Italian) If you enjoy eating to operatic overtures, this is the place for you. From a raised platform in the center of the dining room, owner Phil Wolcott and songstress Karen Fontenot serenade guests with a medley of opera classics: In ad dition to the music, Poppa’s features Northern Italian veal, beef and chicken entrées and an ample selection of pastas. (On a recent visit, our favorite was the tortellini in a light cream sauce with just a hint of beef.) We found the veal medallions to be tender and perfectly sauced with capers and citrus; the Tuscany chicken, however, tasted of too much breading. (226 Lincoln Square, Ar lington. (817) 460-1327. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$) 5.5



FORT WORTH



Autumn Moon. (Chinese) With typical decor and standard but unremarkable dishes, the East Side’s Autumn Moon establishes itself in the middle of the slender ranks of Oriental restaurants in Fort Worth. Our advice: Stick to the basics. The shredded pork with garlic sauce, for example, was fairly spicy and well worth our investment, and the shrimp with snow peas was equally good, though rather basic. (5516 Brent wood Stair. Fort Worth. (817) 496-6633. Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. V, AE. DC. $$) 3.5

Aventino’s. (Northern Italian) A pleasant surprise awaited us at this intimate Italian strip-shopping-center restaurant. Although the restaurant is barely more than a hole in the wall, patrons are treated to a showroom production of Paraguayan harp and classical guitar music every Friday night. Our meal was on an even par with the entertainment. An appetizer of soft melted cheese (served with fresh bread for dunking) was a de licious starter. Among the entrées, veal (lightly bread ed and served with fresh lemon) and spinach fettuccine were recommended and proved to be wise choices: They were satisfying, yet light enough to leave room for cheesecake and espresso. (3206 Winthrop Ave. (817) 731-0711. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-ThurS-10, Fri & Sat 5-11, Sun 5-9. MC. V, AE. $) 5.0



D REVISITS



Angelo’s. (Barbecue) It’s difficult to say anything critical about a place that’s become a Fort Worth in stitution. Noone makes better barbecued ribs than Angelo. His sliced beef plates and ribs make it worth putting up with distressed waitresses and vir tually non-existent service. If the large portions are more than you can handle, skip the extras like beans and bread and dive into a pound of sauce- drenched ribs. You can’t go wrong with Angelo’s best. (2533 White Settlement Rd. (817) 332-0357. Mon-Sat 11 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $$) 7.0



Bella Italia. (Italian) Every neighborhood should boast such a place-one where you can relax with a glass of Chianti after a hectic day or where you can bring your new in-laws. Bella Italia’s well-worn atmosphere makes you feel at home, even if it’s your first visit. The food is a mite lackluster, and the strolling accordion and guitar players play with a bit too much enthusiasm and vol ume, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen such un pretentious service in comfortable surroundings with modest prices. The menu is wisely limited (why propose to do more than a small kitchen can adequately do?), with a select few pasta, veal, chicken and beef entrées. The baked artichoke appetizer with shrimp, scallops and cheese was a good start. From the menu, we were impressed with the veal scaloppine, which was tender and mercifully not coated in a thick breading. Of the pastas, the one with artichoke hearts, eggs, bacon and cream was the most creative. (2913 Walton. (817) 294-7979. Tue-Thur 6-10 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11 pm. Closed Sun S Mon. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

Benito’s. (Tex-Mex) Our all-time favorite waiter, Tino, is still in fine form at this haven of traditional Mexican cuisine on the South Side. ’I’ve got some nice fajitas for you, madame; for you, sir, I’ve got some really nice chile rellenos.” We must admit that the gregarious service is one of the things that attracts us to Benito’s, but the main stars of the show are the delicious, authentic dishes that are a standout in the Metroplex. For weekend brunches or late-night snacks, migas (scrambled eggs with tor tillas and a fiery sauce) are always in demand. When the menu says ’sizzling fajitas,” that’s what you get; we almost wish they’d pass out welder’s masks with each order. And the fine tortilla soup comes with Just about everything. Simply put, the food is some of the best Mexican cuisine around. (1450 W Magnolia. (817) 332-8633. Sun-Thur 10-10, Fri & Sat 10am-3am. No credit cards. $) 6.0

Cattlemen’s Steak House. (Steaks) The only frills you’ll find at Cattlemen’s Steak House are on the waitresses’ imitation chiffon aprons. Extras like bacon, cheese and lemons cost more. Our salad was strictly a plain iceberg-lettuce version, and the brown bread was stale. But customers don’t come to the historic restaurant for the frills. They come for the steak, which compensates for any flaws leading up to the main course. The filet mignon was cooked as ordered and was tender and juicy; the ribs, accented with a spicy barbecue sauce, were equally good. Cattlemen’s is the only place we know where the waitress fluffs your baked potato and fusses over customers with mother ly sincerity. Even the cheesecake was smooth and creamy. (2458 N Main. (817) 624-3945 Mon-Fri 11 am-10:30 pm, Sat 4:30-10:30 pm, Sun 4-10 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Edelwelss. (German) The crowds at this cavernous German-style restaurant attest to its continuing popular ity. On weekends, the wait can exceed an hour for a table and longer for food. But the dirndl-clad frauleins are friendly and try to make the best of a slow kitchen. And owner/entertainer/band leader Berndt Schnerz- inger does his part to keep your mind off the wait: He sings requests and old standbys such as “My Way” (with – you guessed it – a German accent). The food is generally of high quality: The heaping sauerbraten plates continue to please, and we found the ribs (both pork and beef) delectable. (3801-A Southwest Blvd. (817) 738-5934. Mon-Thur 5-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 5-11 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 4.0

D Escape. (French/Continental) It took us quite a-while to find this hideaway. It’s an obscure white house that looks like any of the other quiet residences on this street, except that valet parking attendants line the tiny parking area with Cadillacs and BMWs. But it’s a wonderful escape-a seven-course evening that comes mighty close to rivaling the five-star offering at Michel. Our entrée of veal wrapped in herbs was simply presented, not drenched in an overpowering sauce. (3619 Pelham. (817) 738-9704. Sun-Thur 6-10 pm. Fri & Sat 6-11 pm. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5

D Hedary’s. (Lebanese) The word must be out. For the first time, we encountered a line at Hedary’s, the fine West Side Lebanese res taurant. But we endured the wait because we knew that the meal would indeed satisfy our cravings for lamb shish kebab and various spicy sausage and beef dishes, all served in a piping-hot fold of Lebanese bread. The family-run restaurant manages to keep prices low and servings generous. Come hungry, since the best way to start your dinner is with the seven- sampling salad course that can be a meal in itself. (3308 Fairfield at Camp Bowie. (817) 731-6961. Tue- Thur 5-10 pm. Fri & Sat 5-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm. Closed Mon. No reservations. All credit cards. $$) 7.5

Joe T. Garcia’s. (Tex-Mex) In combing the Southwest in search of the perfect margariat, our tequila elixir was found next to a plate of enchiladas, beans and rice in this celebrated family-style restaurant. This margarita packs a wallop. No mixes, no diluted mixtures of sweet and sour-just tequila, lime juice and Triple See. The food – the standard dinner plus a few choices such as steak a la Mexicana-was, as always, great. But our memories (what we can remember) lie with the liquid menu. (2201 N Commerce. (817)626-4356. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30pm& 5-10:30 pm, Sat 11-11, Sun 2-10 pm. No credit cards. $$) 6.5

Kincaid’s. (Burgers) Next time you’re longing for the days when life was easier and burgers were beefier, stroll on over to Kincaid’s. This old-time grocery store with the grill in the back is a comforting slice of the old days. And Kincaid’s famous burgers are the best part: They’re thick, flavorful and stuffed with such tried-and- true additions as lettuce, tomato, onions and mustard. You probably won’t even notice that you can’t sit down, so Just stand at one of the shelf-top counters and munch contentedly while you peruse one of the nearby mag azines. Ahhh, the good old days. (4901 Camp Bowie. (817) 732-2881. Mon-Sat 10am-6:15pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 6.5

Le Café Bowie. (Continental) This restaurant is one of the best in Fort Worth for dinner. Sadly, the nighttime sparkle of this unpretentious spot fades when the sun’s up. At a recent brunch, the Eggs Louis IX (described as being scrambled with shrimp) had the texture and taste of pureed eggs. The consistency was far too thin, and the occasional bite of shrimp didn’t redeem it. But heart ier appetites may be satisfied: A few dinner-type selec tions are also offered for brunch. We still enjoy the homey atmosphere at Le Café Bowie, but in the future, we’ll stick to dinner dates. (4930 Camp Bowie. (817) 735-1521. Lunch: Wed-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11: Sun brunch: noon-2. MC, V: personal checks accepted. $$$) 6.5

Mercado Juarez. (Mexican) 1651 E Northside Dr. Sun-Thur 11 am-1 am, Fri & Sat 11 am-2 am. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

D Michel. (Classe French) Michel’s fixed-price menu has climbed to $34.50 from the previous $29.50. but even though the price has gone up, the portions of our latest four-course meal seemed to be on the lean side. Michel’s dedication to quality, however, remains unchanged. The sea scallops were tender and juicy; the escargots, rich with butter and garlic; the entrées of lobster and lamb, deftly prepared The accompanying crisp vegetables with pasta were perfect complements to both dishes. Fortunately, our mam courses didn’t leave us feeling too full for the fluf fy chocolate-Grand Marnier soufflés, which disap peared without a trace. (3851 Camp Bowie. (817) 732-1231. Tue-Thur 6-10 pm, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. All credit cards. $$$$) 7.5

The Original Mexican Food Cafe. (Tex-Mex) The long lines at this popular Mexican food restaurant are due more to tradition than to outstanding food. Oh. the combination plates are okay, and the service is quick and efficient, but overall, the food isn’t really exceptional. But that’s not the point, as throngs of Fort Worth natives will tell you. The margaritas are huge, and, moreover, the restaurant looks like the real thing, with concrete walls, cracking linoleum floors and bustling waiters and waitresses. (4713 Camp Bowie. (817) 738-6226. Sun, Mon, Wedi Thur 11 am-9:30pm, Fri&Sat 11 am-10 pm. Closed Tue. All credit cards. $) 5.5

Ristorante Lombardi. (Northern Italian) The cobblestone, brick and wrought-iron entryway, subdued lighting, fragrant aromas and bustling waiters and busboys all combine to make this among the most romantic spots for dinner in Fort Worth. And the European-inspired dining room, decorated in moderate tones of green, cream and dark wood, adds to the overall charm. One detraction, though, is that the tables are very close together (if we had stretched out, we could have sampled our neighbors’ dinner). The appetizer of fried Calamari, mozzarella and shrimp let us enjoy several of the appetizer offerings in moderation, which happily left us room to try the frequent special of steamed clams, which were plump and rich with herbs. Lombar-di’s offers several seafood selections, and the seafood brochette (with shrimp and scallops) offered ample portions of two of them. The veal piccata, served in a light wine sauce, didn’t overwhelm our senses with citrus. (300 Mam in Sundance Square. (817) 877-1729. Lunch: Sun-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$) 7.0

Robert’s. (Mexican) Housed in the building where Hamp’s Hoffbrau used to be, Robert’s is making an impressive showing on the local dining scene. The best steak, appropriately called Robert’s Steak, is as wide as it is thick. The fajitas are top-notch, and the guacamole surpasses all others we’ve tasted in Cowtown; chunky and spiked with Just the right amount of hot sauce. (215 University. (817)877-5515. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon-8 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Sardine’s. (Italian) When the uncontrollable urge for steaming plates of pasta hits you, don’t waste a minute: Get over to Sardines, squeeze into one of the booths or the many tiny tables and feast on a delectable order of spaghetti Carbonara-a pasta lover’s delight of whipped cream, hunks of bacon, mushrooms, onions and eggs. This dish outranks such standards as fettuc-cine Alfredo and traditional spaghetti. For something lighter and less sinfully carbohydrate, the daily chefs special, a Northern Italian bouillabaisse, is chock-full of shellfish served in a rich red sauce that’s Just right for dunking garlic bread. Despite the slightly too-dim lighting, the too-loud jazz band and the always bustling atmosphere, you can bet we’ll be back for more. (3410 Camp Bowie. (817) 332-9937 Sun- Thur 5:30 pm-mid-night. Fri& Sat 5:30 pm-1 am. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Stockyards Hotel Restaurant. (Steak) This stately three-story hotel dates back to 1907, when it was a lively center during the cowboy boomtown days. It has now been dusted off and reopened to attract the throngs of tourists that regularly invade the historical stockyards area. Once the obvious is accepted – namely, that this is a novelty hotel and restaurant – then it’s easy to like the haute cowboy decor of the hotel and the attempts at rustic ambiance in the saloon/restau rant. Although the kitchen can turn out a basic steak, our rib eye had a bit too much gristle, and the T-bone was overdone. The real treats were the delicious beans and the homemade corn bread and jalapeno bread. We have just one question: How are ladies supposed to sit sidesaddle at the bar? (109 E Exchange. Fort Worth. (817) 625-642. Daily 6:30 am-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 4.0

Szechuan. (Chinese) We wish we could find another Chinese restaurant in the Fort Worth area that can match this place. What Szechuan lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for in heaping portions and helpful, good-natured service. On every visit, our waiter has spent time with us, going over the menu’s best selections and steering us clear of those that may be too hot and spicy for timid palates. Our recommendations are the house specialties. The House Beef arrives gar nished with fresh, crisp broccoli and Chinese mush rooms, and the House Pork is a consistent winner, with a mild garlic sauce complementing the shredded meat. Don’t bother with the exotic drinks, but try the deep- fried green beans in the pu pu tray. (5712 Locke off Camp Bowie. (817) 738-7300. Mon-Thur 11:30am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11.30 am-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

D Tours. (Continental) We continue to be im pressed with the formidable presence Tours has established on the Fort Worth dining scene. The small strip-shopping-center location and the tiny, boxlike room at first appeared to be detrimen tal factors to this restaurant’s growth, But the owners have remained undaunted and continue to present an original and evolving menu. The serene pastels and un obtrusive yet pleasant service soothe work-wearied nerves, and the unflagging fare with nouvelle touches satisfies our gastronomic cravings. We were captivated from the beginning with the novel appetizers, which in cluded a delicate but substantial egg roll and an up scale version of a traditional quesadilla. Among the entrées, we found the veal medallions with shallots to be so tender we could use a fork, and the steamed salmon with a slightly tangy spinach sauce was the freshest we’ve tasted since we last visited the North west. (3429B W Seventh St. (817) 870-1672. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations recommended on weekends. MC, V, AE. $$$) 7.5



D REVISITS



Tuscany. (Northern Italian) The exterior of Tuscany is not very inviting, but what the restaurant lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for in food and service. The fish soup was served in a crock brimming with scallops, shrimp and pasta. Less adventuresome types can’t miss with the classic veal parmigiana, served with a side dish of pasta. The veal was tender and smothered in sauce and mozzarella. For dessert, we love the Italian pastries; they’re so sweet and rich they’re worth skipping a week’s worth of meals for. (4255 Camp Bowie. (817) 737-2971. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner. Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5-10. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



The Wine Seller. (Continental) Dinner by candlelight is made even more romantic if you can have a chilled bottle of your favorite champagne and a wine, cheese and paté board, too. Such is the premise of the Wine Seller, and it excels in both the romance and epicure departments. Although the cozy bistro has a daily menu of well-prepared continental fare (chicken, beef and pasta dishes), we find the appetizers perfect for a light dinner, especially the pepper and truffle patés and smoked Gouda and Boursin cheeses. Accompanied by fresh fruit and scrumptious French bread, the “boards” are the perfect complement to any bottle of wine, which can be selected from the restaurant’s am ple wine vaults. (6120 Camp Bowie. (817) 737-2323. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30 am-mid-right. Closed Sun. MC. V. AE. $$) 6.5

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