Friday, January 27, 2023 Jan 27, 2023
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The hottest new restaurants in Dallas
By D Magazine |

Ray’s Blue Note. This is an old name among Dallas eateries, but it’s an entirely new presence. The remodeled, reopened restaurant now serves Texas nouvelle cuisine, cooked by the female chef who opened the Loews Anatole’s Nana Grill to much acclaim. The style of cooking is basically the same as the Nana Grill’s, although the dishes themselves are different. 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.

As at her previous location, the chefs biggest successes come during the main course. The steak and pork chop are delicious with their crusty, seared surfaces. Chicken breasts and the lone fish offering (orange roughy from New Zealand) are delicate, but almost too much so-they’re tasty, but not very exciting. The accompanying sauces and relishes are unobtrusive enough that classic steak-and-potato-loving Texans should feel at home here.

The appetizer offerings are more imaginative, but they don’t quite live up to their promise. The Texas fire shrimp belie their name-they’re just barely spicy-but the pepper sausages (which include some venison) are both robust and excellent. The soups are a trifle odd, especially the chilled apricot and apple soup. It’s actually sweeter than either of the dessert specialties, an odd, grainy rice pudding and a serving of vanilla ice cream with “spiced” fresh fruit (“spiced” in this case meaning peppery-hot). We like exploring new tastes, but for us this went a little too far.

Despite the remodeling, this still isn’t a fancy restaurant, and the neighborhood is run-down enough to discourage some diners. The service is personable and pleasant, the food distinctive. We hope Chef Spiesshoefer finds her audience and refines her menu so that Ray’s Blue Note can be a reborn presence on the Dallas dining scene. (5490 Demon Cutoff. 631-6199. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Fri & Sat 6-10:30. All credit cards. $$$)

Lenǒtre. In the high-rent western end of NorthPark Center and in Sakowitz Village in Far North Dallas, Gaston Lenǒtre, one of the most famous pastry chefs in France, has opened two stores (soon to be followed by several more in the Dallas area). Customers can eat in or take out the chefs creations at the NorthPark location; at Sakowitz Village, no meals are served, and the selection is more limited. A meal can be insubstantial and rather expensive for what you get. (The pate’s are better bargains taken home by the pound). We also tried a quiche of scallops and spinach and found it unimpressive. But in the store or at home, the sweets are heavenly. The ice cream, for example, may be the tastiest in town-we were taken with the very dark and smooth chocolate and the rubylike raspberry sorbet.

The cakes are ornate and unusual; thepastries, rich beyond imagination. BlackForest cake, for instance, we generally findto be an overrated washout, but at Lenǒtre,it is delicious and delicately perfumed withrum. And the exquisite chocolate candies-some layered with light and dark chocolate,others little rosebuds with a hazelnut in thecenter-are to die for. The help appearsunusually trustworthy in their recommendations. They don’t seem to mind at all if youjust drop in for a dessert and coffee, but beforewarned-once you’ve nibbled, you maynot be able to resist loading up with a wholesackful of sweets to take home. (NorthParkCenter, 369-4988; Sakowitz Village, 934-8300, ext. 210. Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m.;tearooms close at 5:30 p.m. AE. $$)

Mother Shucker’s. This oyster bar on the west end of the Addison strip seems to have attracted a lot of business during the first weeks of its existence with its good food and modest prices. You order at a counter and take away freshly shucked oysters and boiled shrimp yourself; servers bring cooked items to you when they are ready. The menu consists mostly of fried things, but, for the most part, they are done well. Shrimp fried in a beer batter and whole catfish cooked in commeal were our favorites among the main dishes. The soft-shell crabs, an unusual item in a Dallas restaurant as informal as this, came off less well. Deep-fried strips of chicken filet are about the only resource for the non-seafood-lover. They’re better than Chicken McNuggets, but that’s about all we can say for them. Accompaniments include charming spiral-cut fried potatoes and a slaw that isn’t too sweet. Mother Shucker’s also has occasional specials such as boiled crayfish, which is served all-you-can-eat. (3957 Belt Line between Midway and Marsh. 788-2772. Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$)

Dante’s Rendezvous. This is another new idea from the folks who gave us People’s Restaurants. You can tell from the sign outside (in the shape of a devil’s head) that this place is going to be a little racier. The decor is a curious mixture of elegant Italian artifacts (including some that smack of the occult) and high-tech disco. Thirty-two video monitors playing Liza Minnelli and the like confront patrons everywhere, and there’s even a small dance floor.

Among all this paraphernalia, the food seems to have been relegated to last place. Several items sound like fun-the upside-down pizzas and the “gourmet” pizzas especially-but they turned out to be less exciting in the tasting than in the describing. Other disappointments were the soggy fet-tuccine and the freezer-burned Italian ices. Our best food experience at Dante’s came from the tasty cold shrimp on display at the big central bar. But they weren’t enough to compensate for the rest of it. (10443 N. Central Expwy. 361-9907. Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m. MC, V, AE. $$)

Fuddrucker’s. New on the local scene, Fuddrucker’s is a transplant from a longtime Houston location. We’ve seen several similar elements in other fancy burger places in Dallas, but none do better at living up to Fuddrucker’s 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, so tasty on its toasted bun that it needs no dressing or condiments. The hot dogs come with two lengthy links of sausage and are served on crusty hunks of homemade bread. There are also coarser-ground sausages, both white and red, for wurst fans. All these can be dressed to suit your taste at fixings bars bursting with onions, tomatoes and pickles and can be accompanied by smoky pinto beans, decent wedges of fried potatoes and a wide selection of beer. Our only complaint about Fuddrucker’s is the selection of desserts at the bakery counter: Both kinds of cookies and the brownies are tasteless and overpriced. (2614 McKinnew 871-2068. Mon-Thur 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Sun noon-10:30 p.m. MC, V, AE.$)


These listings are revised 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 tor 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/Amencan Express, DC/Diners Club. CB/Carte Blanche. “All credit cards” indicates that all five are accepted.

indicates a restaurant located on or north of LBJ Freeway.


Bob Willy’s. This antique shop on the West Piano plains used to serve French food. Now it otters barbecue, which seems more appropriate. The ribs are wonderfully meaty and tender, and the brisket is succulent. The sausage and ham are also good. The potato salad is serious stuff: The pickles are sour, andthere is hardly a hint of sweetness. The slaw is creamy,and the beans are honest, plain pintos. Even dessert(pecan pie) is worth the calories. (1933 Preston, Piano.985-0624. Breakfast: daily 6-11; lunch: daily 11-2:30:dinner: Thur-Sat 5:30-8:30. No credit cards. $$)

Dickey’s. We talkin’ lean, high-quality meat heah, boy,and good sweet slaw and plenty o’ beans, plus juicycorn on the cob that’ll squish butter right over on yourlady if you don’t watch out. Around noon, this place iscrawlin’ with good ol’ boys and bidnissmen, but theydon’t keep ya standin’ long. You may need a little extrysauce on the meat, ’less you like it dry, but this ain’t theFrench Room, so just git on up ’n’ git it. These ol’ boys’llgive you some ambiance, too: They got signs up withthe words spelled like real people say ’em, like “coldslaw” and “sandwitches.” It’s a hoot. And look for the littleproverbs on the chalkboard, like: “Girls, be sure you’reright, then ask your husband.” Shoot, that’s tellin’ ’em.Just one hitch: That banana puddin’ tastes like it’s beencozyin’ up to a test tube. No way that’s homemade.(4610 N Central Expwy, 821-1571; 14885 Inwood,233-3721; 7770 Forest, 361-6537. Mon-Sat 11 am-8pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $)

The Rib. This place is rather a paradox, with courtly waiters in tuxes attending tables covered with oilcloths. Oh well, barbecue was never meant to be elegant. Relax with the appetizer of grilled sausage, then dive into short, sweet pieces of the ribs for which the place is named. Don’t overlook the barbecued shrimp, which are juicy and taste of real smoke. Prices are rather high here – especially if you take the all-you-can-eat option – but the portions are huge. (5741 W Lovers Lane. 357-8139. Daily 5-10 pm. Carryout available daily 4-10 pm. All credit cards. $$)

The Ribshack. Good mental health demands at’ least occasional barbecued ribs: Tearing at tender, juicy columns of meat and allowing streams of thick red sauce to drip down one’s chin satisfies the primal spirit and makes a tough impression at a power lunch. The Rib-shack is right for enjoying all forms of barbecue, beans, cole slaw and ice cold beer. And the chili rice is out of this world. (4615 W Lovers Lane. 351-3400 Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. Sun 11 am-9 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$)

Salih’s Bar-B-Que. This rustic restaurant on the Ad-dison strip is a popular lunch spot for North Dallasworkers because it serves hearty, home-style meals.Salih’s offers plates of mild barbecued beef, pork,chicken or sausage, as well as sandwiches. Both typesof entrees are served with surprisingly good vegetables(including green beans, french fries, cabbage, pintobeans and – our favorite – potato salad), all servedbuffet-style. And the friendly service makes the placeseem even warmer. (4801 Belt Line, Addison. 387-2900. Mon-Sat 11 am-8:30 pm. Closed Sun. No creditcards. $)

Sonny Bryan’s. Lordy, can these folks cook barbecue! The brisket is tender and juicy, with a crisp crust that is the essence of woodsmoke; 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-Fn 7 am-5 pm, Sat 7 am-3 pm, Sun 11 am-2pm. No reservations. No credit cards. $)


Little Gus’. For a good, down-to-earth breakfast, you’ve come to the right place. At Little Gus’, you place your own order and hunch over your coffee and paper, but you won’t wait long. You can trust all the standard meat-and-egg combinations here, especially the hefty ham and cheese omelette. But if you’d like an unorthodox opening to your day, try the Greek omelette. The chili, mushrooms and zingy spices should sound reveille to your taste buds. (1916 Greenville. 826-4910. Mon- Thur 7:30 am-4 pm & 6-9 pm, Fri & Sat 7:30 am-4 pm & 6-10 pm,Sun 9 am-1:45 pm. No credit cards. $)


Circle Grill. 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 bidness-men?’ 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 E 1-30 at Buckner 226- 7745. Daily 5:30 am-11 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $)

Lucas’ B & B. Our previous reviews of this Oak Lawn institution were more than glowing, but our last visit was disappointing. It occurred to us that regardless of how charmed we are by beehive hairdos and 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 Texan place to take visitors from out of town, but for the working man’s breakfast, well opt for Bubba’s. (3520 Oak Lawn. 526-8525. Daily 24 hours, except 1:45-3 pm. MC, V. $)


D RevisITs

Agnew’s. There can be magic in Agnew’s kitchen. No restaurant anywhere cooks meat or fish better or surrounds them with more imaginative, delicious sauces. Witness the dishes we reveled in during our last visit: crusty tenderloin of veal, pink in the center and served in a ginger-lime sauce, as well as the lightly sautéed halibut in a macadamia-nut breading with lobster sauce. The glories here range from the complex (a salad combining slivers of Virginia ham and green peppers in a little nest surrounded by red pepper sauce) to the simple (a to-matillo relish accompanying a veal pate). Even the desserts use lots of lavish ingredients (such as pistachios and walnuts) to great effect. Only a few things keep Agnew’s from being the very great restaurant it ought to be: an occasional lack of attention to detail (for example, a salad of lovely greens too sharply dressed with vinegar) and serv-ice that can be overly aggressive and condescending. (Adelstein Plaza, 15501 Dallas Pkwy, Suite 300. 458-0702. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2, dinner:Mon-Fri 6-10:30, Sat seatings at 6:30 & 9:30.Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All creditcards. $$$$)

Agnew’s at the Promenade. Tom Agnew’s new venture has nothing to do with the original Agnew’s a fewmiles west in Addison. The food is something of a sur-prise The chef tends to prepare lots of puff pastry forthe appetizers, and the sauces for such things as the es-cargots with cheese and ham are heavy and creamy.The blackened red snapper (blackening fish is all therage in New Orleans restaurants these days) is superb,and the desserts are very rich, sweet and luxurious.(2500 Promenade Center, Coit Road between Belt Lineand Arapaho. 4370133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30;dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V. AE, $$$)

Au Bon Gout. We’ve been listing this enterprise in our Gourmet Carryout dining section for several months, but now it has become one of the premier places to eat in Dallas as well. On Thursday, 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. Mon-Sat 10 am-7 pm.AII credit cards; personal checks accepted. Reservations. Lunch $$, dinner $$$$)

The Bay Tree. The Wyndham Hotel recently changed management teams and put a new chef in its petite dining room – to the improvement of the food, if not the overbearing service. Previously, the cooking was satisfactory, but now several of the dishes are much better. It sometimes seems that every restaurant in town has a sautéed shrimp appetizer, but the one at The Bay Tree is a marvel. Intense heat has given the crustaceans a lovely reddish-brown crust, and the buttery wine sauce tickles the tongue. The noisettes of lamb are sauced superbly, too, although they have hardly a trace of the fresh rosemary mentioned on the menu. There are still some rather pedestrian things here, such as the asparagus soup and the sautéed snapper with a pistachio breading, but the comparatively moderate prices and the improved food make The Bay Tree worth considering even it you’re not staying at the Wyndham. (The Wyndham Hotel, 2222 Stemmons. 631-2222. Daily 6-10 pm. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Belvedere. If we mention that Belvedere (under the same ownership as The Chimney) is on the second floor of a retirement 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 overiloured. The scallops in mustard sauce were much more satisfactory. (4242 Lomo Alto in the Crestpark Hotel. 528-6510. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2; dinner 6-10:30. All credit cards. $$$)


Blom’s. 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 barely tender. A 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. 13340 DallasPkwy. 934-9494. Dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30; Sunbrunch: 10:30-2:30. Reservations recommended.All credit cards. $$$$)

Bohemia. A little corner of the old country is hidden behind the unpreposessing exterior of this place. Airy lace and perpetual Mozart set the tone here, and the food can be excellent. We especially enjoyed the rich liver pate as an appetizer, and the strudel is the real thing. But the main dishes show that the food is basically sturdy, Czech-style home cooking rather than anything more elaborate. The sauces on the sauerbraten and the pork roast are excellent, but the meats themselves are sliced coarsely and thereby lose appeal. But is there any other place in Dallas where you can order Tokay, the Hungarian dessert wine, by the glass? (2810 N Henderson. 826-6209. Sun& Tue-Thur 5:30-10 pm. Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30 pm. Closed Mon. All credit cards. Reservations recommended. $$$)

Cafe Royal. At intervals during this year, Cafe Royal is putting aside its regular dinner menu and playing host to distinguished chefs from famous European hotel restaurants. Call to inquire – you may find an inexpensive substitute for a jaunt to Paris, Madrid or Vienna. (It’s hard to say what this promotion will do to the standards of Cafe Royal when only the home team is in town.) In any case, the regular staff will prepare lunch as usual, with occasional specials created by the visiting stars. (Plaza of the Americas, 650 N Pearl. 747-7222. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30. Reservations recommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$)


Café Moustache. This cafeteria-style lunchroom serves a hearty, home-cooked Russian lunch from a menu that typically features three or four selections. We tried the marinated briskette with mushrooms 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 Ama-retto 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: Thur-Sat 5-10. MC, V, AE. $$)

Ceret. Francophiles continue to rally around what may be the one true French bistro (translation: solid French cooking at moderate prices) in town, but we find that the “haute-y” air here can be stifling. Nevertheless, the food is mostly of the highest quality, and for $20 for four courses, who’s complaining? Occasionally, we have hit a sour note: The salmon mousse appetizer, for instance, had an unpleasantly pasty consistency and a canned taste However, a special, calamari (squid), was meltingly tender and sauced to perfection. Soups are generally excellent: We love the mussel soup and the potage aux champignon (a soup du jour), and the ox-tail soup is hearty without being heavy. All the seafood entrees are honest and well-prepared, but the rib-eye steak, our waiter warned us, “is not much better than you would get at Cork & Cleaver.” so beware. Two huge scoops of homemade sorbet or the chefs puff pastry with vanilla sauce top off a meal handsomely. (703 McKinney in The Brewery. 720-0297. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30, Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$)


The Chimney. Small wonder that the Chimney 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 Forestiére. 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 crépe in a hol-landaise 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. (9739 N Central Expwy at Walnut Hill Lane. 369-6466. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2. dinner: Mon-Sat6-10:30 Closed Sun. Reservations requested. All credit cards. $$$)

Enjolie. This place is amazing – It’s clearly one of the top nouvelle cuisine restaurants in the city We began our meal with delicately poached oysters surrounded by spinach, which was punctuated with decorative slices of red pepper – a visual as well as gastronomic delight. Among the extraordinary entrees we tried were a John Dory soufflé with sorrel sauce, salmon wrapped in spinach, and quail and partridge. Among the lovely desserts were a Bavarian cream with raspberry sauce and a trio of fresh sorbets. (Mandalay Four Seasons Hotel. 221 S Las Colinas Blvd. Irving. 556-0800. ext. 3155. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$)


Crackers. 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 entrees such as steak and fish. Both the moussaka and souflaki are fine, while the spanoko-pita (a flaky phyllo pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese) is exciting but very rich. Soups are usually good, and the large Greek salad is wonderful. The patio and balcony make Crackers ideal for sunny luncheon dining. (2621 McKinney. 827-1660. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 -2:30. Sat 11-3. Sun 11 -5: dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10. Fri & Sat 5-11. MC. V. AE. DC. $$)

Gallé. The burgundy velvet banquettes and etched glass partitions of this roomy hotel restaurant contrast oddly with the sounds of 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 selection of pǎtés, like all the other dishes here, looks lavish: Three differently patterned pates ccmpete for attention with a tomato tulipfilled with caviar. The salads are similarly fantastic: pot-pourris of Belgian endive, tomatoes, pickled quail eggsand bleu cheese. The portions of sirloin steak andDover sole topped with crab meat and hazelnut saucethat we ordered were so large we couldn’t finish them,and they were garnished with a bevy of vegetables thatincluded wild asparagus in hollandaise and glazed turnips. (Lincoln Hotel, Lincoln Center. 5410 LBJ Frwy.934-8400. Mon-Fri 6-11 pm. Sat 6-11.30 pm. Reservations requested. Jackets and ties required. All creditcards. $$$$)

The Grape. We’re ever loyal to The Grape. The hot, soft bread, classical music, interesting wines by the glass and the best mushroom soup in town are enough to keep us true. But we’re also impressed with the grace and imagination evident in other items served here. Veal topped with toasted peanuts and brown sauce showed confidence and flair on the part of the chef; a generous slice of duck pate was a complicated master blend of seasonings. Even The Grape’s amaret-to cheesecake was lighter and more enjoyable than the heavy slabs we’re accustomed to finding around town. (2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-11. Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnghl. MC. V, AE, DC. $$)


The French Room. With its heavy, rose-colored draperies and gilt trim, this is the most formal dining room in Dallas. And despite a recent change of chefs, it’s 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 feuillete of berries surrounded with hot caramel sauce. But be forewarned: If you go in for the likes of the lobster or the pastry stuffed with a whole truffle, your meal will be the most expensive you can get 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 required. All credit cards.

L’Ambiance. 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. Still, it’s the food that has us hooked. On our last visit, the appetizer of noodles in a basil and tomato sauce disappointed us by being 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 sautéed striped bass were without flaw. Don’t skip salad or dessert here; the watercress with bacon and goat cheese, the Concord cake of chocolate and meringue, and the Floating Island are all great dishes. (2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 30-2; dinner: Mon-Sal 6-10. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

L’Ancestral. We still find this dignified bistro just as charming as we did when it opened last fall. The lentil salad, served warm, is a pleasurable surprise, and the potatoand-leek soup is very French and very satisfying. The roast veal and filet of sole are cooked to perfection. Desserts continue to be a disappointment, but that’s a minor factor compared to everything else – which is superb country French cooking. (5631 Alta. 826-0006. Tue-Sun 6.30 pm-1 am Closed Mon. MC, V, AE. $$$)


Jennivine. Heavens! Jennivne, once a bastion of excellent, rather down-home British-style cooking, has gone nouvelle on us! No more simply broiled fish, no more bowls of delicious mashed potatoes and home-style carrots. Now, poached salmon comes with an arty sauce and a spray of underdone vegetables on the side. Now. you 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 nou-velle route. At least we can content ourselves with the extraordinary plates of pates and cheeses-they’re just like the Jennivine of old. (3605 McKin-ney 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 $$)

Laurel’s. This penthouse restaurant appeals mightily to the eye. The view is breathtaking, the decor is elegant, and the presentation of each dish is elaborately imaginative. The nouvelle-type food may not taste quite as good as it looks, but it is excellent nonetheless. The oysters were beautifully poached, and the lamb was cooked to order, but neither of the sauces on the dishes was memorable. The prices, however, are a bit lower here than at most restaurants of comparable ambition. (Sheraton Park Central Hotel. 12720 Merit. 385-3000 Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun Reservations recommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$)


La Tartine. This place on the eastern (less pretentious) end of NorthPark Center serves lovely lunches. Soups include French onion and daily specials such as spicy, thick tomato. 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 cheese-cake and baba au rhum, but there were fruit tarts and all sorts of other goodies, too. (919 NorthPark Center, 692-8498.4343 Northwest Hwy at Midway, Suite 360, 351-4408. Mon-Sat 9:30 am-9 pm at NorthPark location: Mon-Sat 830 am-8 pm at Northwest Hwy location. MC. V $$)

Manhattan. There’s nothing terribly surprising when you enter Manhattan, located in a North Dallas strip shopping center Unlike some other posh area restaurants, the inside has fairly nondescript decor that looks sort of thrown together at the last minute. But the food, fortunately, is better than the decor. The menu is extensive; the veal and shrimp are especially good, and the vegetables seem to be fresh and well-cooked. But the desserts, for the most part, aren’t worth the calories. (1482 Preston Forest Square 385-8221. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, dinner- daily 5:30-11 All credit cards. $$$)

The Mansion. It seems that the Mansion has finally arrived as a purveyor of excellent American nouvelle cuisine. In the past, the elegant surroundings had to carry the whole show, but now the fine food is doing its part, too. At a recent lunch, we found the John Dory on soya pasta with scallions to be a marvelous seafood special. From the regular menu, shrimp with tiny slivers of zucchini basked in a sauce that was subtle and appealing. We couldn”t be happier that this place is at last living up to its press. (2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Main dining room (jackets 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-midnight, Fri & Sat 11-midnight. Promenade Room -breakfast: daily 7-10:30 am: lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; tea: Mon-Fri 3-5:30. Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$)

Maple Street East. The star that has been shining on this renovated manse near downtown has dimmed somewhat since we heralded its beginnings almost two years ago. Maple Street East is still a lovely place to dine – if you don’t get stuck in an empty room. But the food is spotty, and we can’t quite figure out why. On a recent visit, a starter spinach salad was close to perfect, while the fettuccine Alfredo fell limp and mushy in a deluge of sauce. Our grilled lamb chops were skimpy and charred, but a butterflied filet sauced in red wine was hearty and satisfying. Fresh asparagus – the exquisite skinny variety – was cooked crisp-tender, then covered in a hollandaise that was a watery mess. Desserts were the saving grace, especially an unusual but good blueberry tart. (2508 Maple. 698-0345. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11:30. MC, V. AE. $$$)

Rolfs. Since it opened a year ago, Rolfs has established itself as a major presence among Dallas restaurants. The tone is formal without being forbidding, and the food is sophisticated and delicate without betraying its hearty German roots. Even a simple dish like consomme with liver dumplings is memorable, not to mention such complex creations as the appetizer of tiny shrimp and scallops marinated with fresh dill and dill seeds and flecked with tiny bits of tomato and mushroom. Few restaurants treat pork as royally as Rolfs, with its rolled roast stuffed with sauerkraut and herbs. The only disappointment on our last visit was the vaunted apple strudel (it was mushy from being reheated and was doused with too much sauce), but the ethereal cheesecake more than compensated for it. (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. $$$)

Routh Street Cafe. With its glossy salmon-and-pearl-gray interior, Routh Street Café combines excitement and comfort. A number of lighter dishes are available in the anteroom by the bar, but the main restaurant offers five courses at a fixed price of $35. The concept is American nouvelle. Main courses include baby Coho salmon, mesquite-grilled veal or lamb and occasional game choices such as venison. The meats are cooked expertly, but we found the sauces a trifle undersea-soned. Desserts, which are prepared in a separate pastry kitchen upstairs, are on the highest level. Other elements, such as the all-American wine list, are world-class, too, (3005 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-7161. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Lounge: Mon-Fri 4:30 pm-2 am, Sat 6 pm-2 am. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$)


August Moon. 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 sauced luxuriously. 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 11-11, Sat 10:30 am-11 pm, Sun 10:30-10:30. Dim sum served daily. Reservations for four or more or for special banquets. Bar by membership. All credit cards. $$)

China Inn. From the road, China Inn doesn’t look any classier than the Keller’s Drive-In or the taco fast food joint nearby. But step inside this cracker box. You’ll be relieved to discover that there aren’t any Woolworth-vintage Oriental chandeliers or tacky Chinese plaques adorning 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 entrées. 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. Mon-Thur 11 am-2:30 pm & 5-11 pm, Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5 pm-1 am, Sat 5 pm-1 am, Sun 11 am-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $)

Forbidden City. Perhaps because it’s named after the royal heart of China, this place definitely tries harder. The waiters and even the manager line the walls of this ambitious Far North Dallas restaurant, making sure that no empty plate lingers on the table and that no glass goes unfilled. But we do wish that they’d relax and smile occasionally and that the food lived up to all the effort. This is good, standard North Chinese stuff – chicken with cashews, beef with snow peas, shrimp with two sauces-all unexceptionable but unexceptional. How about applying some of that hard work to the kitchen? (5290 Belt Line, Suite 144. 960-2999. Mon-Thur 11am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am, Sun noon-10:30pm. All credit cards. $$)

Fuji-Ya. At first glance, this place seems less traditionalthan other Japanese restaurants in town. There is notatami seating, for example, and waitresses are moreoften 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 entrées, the Shabu Shabu (vegetables andthin slices of beef cooked right at the table) was our favorite. Fuji-Ya also offers “bento” meals, with bits of everything tucked into individual compartments on a lacquered tray. (13050 Coit. 690-8396. Tue & Wed 11am-10 pm, Thur-Sat 11-11, Sun 5-10 pm. MC, V, AE.$$)

Golden Chopsticks. 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 veryhot) Hunan and Szechuan categories. The most impressive one we tried was General Chio’s SpicyChicken: large chunks of chicken breast fried and thenstir-fried, flavored with lots of sweet pepper and freshginger. The Pork and Shrimp Hunan Style was a lovely dish, contrasting chewy shreds of pork flecked withblack beans with tiny shrimp in a mild, tomatoey sauce.(16601 Addison Rd., Addison. 931-6868. Daily 11-11.All credit cards. $$)

Joy Inn. Possibly the most popular Chinese restaurant in Dallas, this place can seat a regiment and still serve a meal in record time if you say you’re in a hurry. The appetizer platter, with its tasty egg rolls and tender shrimp, is a good beginning. But don’t stray too far from the Cantonese standbys when you order main courses, since the so-called Hunan dishes are hardly recognizable imitations. Come here when you want good of moo goo gai pan served with a smile. (9404 Ovella at Northwest Hwy. 362-1088. Sun- Thur 11:30 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. All credit cards. $$)

Kobawoo. The first thing you’ll notice here are the swaying songsters belting out popular Korean tunes – on the video cassette player. The next thing you’ll notice – and with good reason – is the food. Kobawoo has an ambitious menu featuring mostly Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes. The Oriental staples – won ton, chow mein, tempura – are well-prepared, if not overly stimulating. But there are plenty of exotic offerings to explore. One entree we liked was Wang Gae: Alaskan king crab with vegetables in an egg-based sauce that was spiced just right. The spicing in general, however, ranges from mild to eye-watering hot, so it’s a good idea to inquire before you order. (3109 Inwood at Cedar Springs. 351-6922. Daily 11-11. All credit cards. $$)

Mr. Sushi. Dallas’ newest Japanese restaurant, Mr.Sushi, offers an authentic sushi bar: a counter behindwhich several formidable Japanese men wield vicious-looking knives to slice hunks, cubes and slivers of rawfish. The large blocks of fish, along with tentacles of octopus, squid, shrimp and salmon eggs, sit meticulously wrapped in plastic in refrigerated cases atop the bar.If a bar whose sole purpose is to divvy up raw fishdoesn’t excite you. maybe it’s just because you haven’tbeen brave enough to try it. This is the place to experiment with tuna (which is as tender as the best rare beef)or yellowtail, which is softer and richer. Octopus andabalone may be too chewy for most American tastes,but most explorers will find something to like in thebright, refreshing taste of the marinated rice, spicypickled ginger and incredibly pungent green horse-radish. Mr. Sushi also does a very good job with thestandard cooked Japanese items. (The Quorum, 4860Belt Line, Addison. 385-0168. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2;dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11, Sun5:30-10. All credit cards. $$)

The New Big Wong. Let’s not belabor the obvious. If you’re looking for pleasant, quick service; cheap, hefty lunches; a voluminous dinner menu that both challenges and delights; crunchy, colorful vegetables; interesting decor; tanks full of eels and turtles (talk about fresh); and baffling music that changes daily, you’ll find it here. (2121 S Greenville. 821-4199. Daily 11 am-4 am. MC, V, AE. $$)


Korea House. This place has been less than absolutely 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 waitresses, in their long, silk Korean gowns, try hard to please. (Promenade Center, Cat at Belt Line, Suite610, Richardson. 231-1379. Daily 11 am-2:30 pm& 5-10 30 pm. MC, V, AE. $$)

Peking China. This restaurant in the middle of Singlesville in the Park Lane area advertises itself as the first place in town to serve authentic Mandarin cuisine. Actually. the menu and the cooking are hardly distinguish-able from a couple dozen other Chinese places in town. But Peking China (in the location that once housed China Sea) is a very creditable and friendly neighborhood restaurant. The Mandarin Beef we sampled had an interesting crinkled texture, with tons of black and red hot peppers and a hint of vinegar in the sauce. The braised shrimp in a gingery sauce were marvelously soft – the texture that the Chinese call live.” For dessert, we tried the sugar-spun apples – here, they are served authentically, with the coating hardened by a short swim in ice water. (7001 Fair Oaks. 369-2737. Lunch: daily 113; dinner: daily 5 pm-3 am. V, AE. $$)

Plum Blossom. The simplicity of the surroundings 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 in price from $20 to $27 50 (with a smattering of a la carte offerings alongside). 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 cook), Peking duck and other treasures. The meal was satisfying, except for the chicken and banana roll in a sweet-and-sour sauce (which tasted as unappetizing as it sounds) and the lychee sherbet. (Loews Analole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jackets required. All credit cards. $$$)

Peking Szechuan. The food and service here more than make up for the odd location and lack of decor. The hospitable, knowledgeable waitresses push several of the house specialities – and they clearly know what the kitchen does well. The Seafood Delight was a delicately cooked assortment of brightly colored vegetables amid shrimp and scallops. The beef with orange peel had a wonderfully crunchy coating under the hot, sweet sauce. We intend to go back and test the waitress’s contention that the chef can cook the whole repertory of Chinese dishes just as well. (2560 W North-west Hwy. 353-0129. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm. Fri-Sun 11:30-11:30. MC, V, AE, DC. $$).


Rheun Thai. The cooking has changed in style a bit since this unpretentious Thai restaurant opened last year. Everything we tried on our last visit was excellent, but perhaps without the special zing that once promised to make Rheun That the best of the burgeoning number of Siamese places in town. You can’t go wrong with any of the standard favorites – the spring rolls, the pork satay, the Pud Thai noodles – and there are also unusual things, such as the Thai sausage. Rheun Thai is as good as any of the other Thai restaurants in town, but we were hoping that it would clearly establish itself as the best. (Keystone Park. 13929 N Central Expwy, Suite 400. 437-2484. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Sun 5-10 pm. All credit cards. $$)

Sawatdee. You can definitely Thai one on at this place, one of Dallas’ most attractive Asian restaurants. The hot dishes are plenty fiery, but otherwise the tastes here seem toned down in comparison to those of Sawatdee’s competitors. We enjoyed several first-rate novelties on our last visit. The Sawatdee Oyster, for instance, contrasts the crunch of the lacy batter around the oysters with the crunch of bean sprouts, and the Panang Beef is served in a sauce heady with the flavor of lime leaves. (4503 Greenville at Yale. 373-6138. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner: daily 5-10:30. All credit cards. $$)

Slam Orchid. When a new owner took over Siam (the defunct Thai restaurant that had long been one of the top Asian restaurants in town), he kept the menu and some of the staff intact. But we still detect some changes: The service seems to be a bit more efficient and helpful, and the food is still good, though not quite as exciting as before. Some of our old favorites, such as the sliced beef salad and pud Thai (a delicious, unpretentious dish of noodles sauced with sprouts, shrimp and ground peanuts), somehow taste earthier. And the pork sate (strips of meat broiled on a skewer) has a softer, almost mealy texture. Siam Orchid is a very fine restaurant, but with so many new Thai places in town, it’s not the place of pilgrimage its predecessor was. and its prices now seem rather high for what you get. (1730 W Mockingbird near Harry Mines. 631 -5482 Mon- Thur 11 am-2.30 pm & 5-10 pm, Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5-11 pm, Sat & Sun noon-11 pm. All credit cards. $$$)

Taiwan. This ranks as one of the top Chinese restaurants in town as much for its elegantly appointed surroundings and careful service as for its excellent food. The cold appetizer plate – with sliced beef, smoked fish and slivers of chicken in a spicy sauce – is an authentic way to begin a Chinese meal. Seafood and vegetables receive especially nice treatments here, and the smoked duck is exceptional. (4980 Belt Line, Addison. 387-2333. Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Reservations recommended. MC. V. AE. $$)

Tangerine. 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. Only a few dishes are available (unless you give the kitchen a day’s notice), but they are rotated weekly. (2401 Ross. 969-1011. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm. MC, V, DC. $)

Tea Pot Inn. The striking thing about Tea Pot Inn (aside from its subtle, tasteful decor) is just how well the chef executes the old standbys. When was the last time you had a perfectly cooked egg roll with a light, crisp shell and a meaty filling that wasn’t mostly stale-tasting cabbage? The chef at the Tea Pot Inn is Cantonese, but unlike a lot of chefs from South China, he really knows how to cook the spicy Szechuan dishes, too. The shrimp with bean curd is one of the city’s best hot and spicy dishes. If you don’t like spicy food, try the beautifully browned fried dumplings or the Wor Sue Duck. The service is amiable; the prices, exceptionally reasonable. (11343 N Central Expwy. 369-6268 Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. $$)


Marty’s. Our dream is to be able to afford to do all of our grocery shopping at this granddaddy-of-’em-all gourmet carryout shop. Specialty foods from around the world are offered here: scores of imported cheeses, homemade patés and carryout entrées such as duckling, pasta (the tortellini is superb), aged meats, smoked meats and a variety of French specialties. The desserts (mostly pastries) are scrumptious; the cheesecake (which comes in a variety of flavors) is extra special. Marty’s is the perfect place to pick up everything – appetizers, entrees, desserts, coffee and wine – and then take it all home and pretend you made it yourself. (3316 Oak Lawn. 526-4070. Mon-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm. Closed Sun MC. V, AE. Marty’s charge. $$)

Mirabelle. Located in the heart of Highland Park Village, this gourmet takeout shop is a feast for the eye – and the palate Pinky-peach walls and wicker baskets laden with croissants and imported |ams soften the high-tech look of chrome counters, and just looking at the neat rows of boxed biscuits, tins and full wine racks is a delicious experience. But don’t stop there: A world of freshly prepared delights awaits you. Offerings change periodically; On our last visit, we sampled sal-mon mousse; a heavenly chicken salad; crisp, delicately spiced carrots and zucchini; and two kinds of prepared salads – a pasta salad and a chunky potato salad. (Save room for desserts- the goodies are out of this world ) Given the quality of the food. Mirabelle’s prices are very reasonable. (Highland Park Village. Preston at Mockingbird, Suite 73-74. 528-7589. Tue-Sat 10:30 am-7 pm. Sun & Mon noon-6 pm. MC, V, AE $$)

Uptown Deli. It seems that our appetite for gourmet-to-go is insatiable: Yet another chic little takeout place-cum-caterer has opened on lower McKmney. Not to sound blasé, but there are the usual oh-so-trendy salads, a quiche of the day and sandwich fare on croissants. You’ll find some novel twists, however: hot Mexican panuchos (flour tortillas packed with cheese, ham and stick-to-the-ribs refntos) and a special “San Francisco-style” (whatever that is) entree each day. The sweets reflect the same care and quality as everything else; we especially like the rich, thick cheesecake. But why. oh why. do they have to close at 3 pm? (2404 McKinney. 871-7120. Mon-Fri 10 am-3 pm. No credit cards, personal checks accepted. $$)


Kebab ’N’ Kurry. You can’t buy better Indian food than the last dinner we had here. The flaky fried-pastry appetizers (samosas) filled with meat and peas and pakoras of cauliflower and eggplant were light and del-cate. The main dishes balanced beautifully We tried boti kebab (lamb) that was fork-tender, korma (chicken) drenched in cream and fresh coriander, eggplant and potatoes in a mild curry sauce. The Indian desserts were rich and flavorful, too. This place is a leading candidate lor the best bargain in the city. (401 N Central Expwy, Suite 300. Richardson. 231 -5556, 2620 Walnut Hill Lane. 350-6466. Lunch; daily 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, $)


Sahib. This is a warmer, friendlier restaurant than it once was. It was always the most attractive Indian restaurant in town, and now the service adds to the charm rather than detracting. The food, though no longer extraordinary, is still very good. The appetizers 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 varieties of Indian flatbreads here, such as the many-layered paratha of whole wheat. (Caruth Plaza. 9100 N Central Expwy. 987-2301. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30. Sat & Sun 11:30-2:45; dinner: daily 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$)

Tanjore. 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 entrees 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 saffronrice, and close the meal with mango lassi (a kind of Indian ice cream) or a Tanjonta, a smooth yogurt drink.(Prestonwood Creek Shopping Center, 5409 Belt Line,960-0070. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily6-10; brunch: Sat & Sun 11:30-3 Bar membershipavailable. All credit cards. $$)


Adriano’s. A pizza isn’t just a pizza anymore. The owners of Adriano’s have seen to it that |ust about anything – from escargots, chicken, shrimp and crab to more traditional toppings such as pepperoni and ricotta cheese – make for a proper pizza pie. An excellent roast chicken and a creamy fettuccine Alfredo are also available for non-pizza lovers. The atmosphere is cool and breezy; the service, laid-back and friendly. (The Quadrangle. 2800 Routh. 871-2262. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat 6-midmght. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE.$)

Bugatti. Since we’re the ones who did much to trump the old Bugatti, it’s never pleasant to have to rein in our praise. But our last experience was definitely a downer. Under the new ownership of Ross Segal (“Mario has gone back to Spain”), Bugatti has retained the old chef, the menu, the location, the works – but something is missing. Maybe it’s the frantic pace of the service, or the fact that the fettuccine della casa comes already heaped with grated cheese. These are surface complaints, it’s true. But worse was the fact that the veal was mealy and tough, the gamberoni shrimp so overrun with a cloying sherry cream sauce as to be almost inedible. One standout remains steadfast, though: the cool, cool cappuccino pie. (2574 Walnut Hill Lane. 350-2470. L unch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon- Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$)

Campisi’s. The legend of this dimly lit Mockingbird landmark is one of the first ones that a Dallas newcomer hears. It is the story of hot, floury-crusted, four-star pizza loaded with ingredients and cut into rectangular slices But save for an occasional delicious artichoke heart, we’ve found it wise to stick to enjoying Campisi’s pizza and reputation – the rest of the menu would best be forgotten. The lasagna tasted canned and, like the veal, was drenched in a nasty all-purpose sauce. (5610 E Mockingbird. 827-0355, 827-7711. Mon-Fri 11 am-midnight, Sat 11 am-1 am. Sun noon-midnight. Reservalions for six or more. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$)

Cremona. 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. In nice weather, Cremona’s sunny patio is a pleasant place to dine. (2600 Woodrow between Cedar Springs and Routh. 742-4330. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations required. All credit cards. $$)


Cunze’s. This place has the feel of a cozy neighborhood restaurant – even if you don’t happen to live in the area. The pasta here 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 makes it difficult to carry on a coherent conversation, much less a meal. (6101 Greenville. 369-5747. Daily 5-11 pm. Reservations. All credit cards. $$)

II Sorrento. With its showy, intricate re-creation of an Italian piazza, II Sorrento has long been a favorite Dallas dining spot. I here can be crowds even on a week night, and since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations on weekends, there’s almost always a wait- While the food isn’t sensational, it’s easy to see the appeal of the place. The menu is huge, with house specialties such as shrimp Diane (in a buttery sauce flecked with scal-lions) 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. $$$)

La Pranzo. At this downtown lunch spot, we tried a salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and zucchini with basil dressing that would make a delicious light lunch in itself. Sfinciuni, much like a delicate, double-doughed pizza encasing a hearty filling of either cheese and vegetables or sausage and ham, was delicious. But the restaurant has already sparked a reputation of being too slow for anyone with hopes of returning to work with time left in the day. and on our first visit, the service was confused to the point of being comical. (SPG Building. 1530 Main. 2nd floor 698-0493. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm. MC. V. AE. DC. $$$)

La Trattoria Lombardl. More than any other type of food, Italian cuisine sets a mood, and Lombardi’s hot, creamy pasta manages to warm and relax you and make life in general seem considerably more pleasant. At La Trattoria, quiet music, brick archways and traditionally good-natured and competent service completed the spell that began when we sampled several appetizers. Carpaccia (perfectly spiced, paper-thin slices of juicy raw beef served with capers and light Dijon mustard) practically dissolved in our mouths. But the veal with sweetbreads and the chefs own recipe for homemade green lasagna were the crowning glories of the evening. (2916 Hall. 823-6040; 528-7506. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner:Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri&Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Pietro’s. For an unpretentious Italian dinner at unpretentious prices, you can’t improve on Pietro’s. The restaurant serves mostly fare from Southern Italy. The basic pastas are reliable, and the salad is crisp and nicely enhanced by green peppers. The specials 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 & Sat 5:30-11 pm. MC. V. $$)

Ristorante La Bella. It’s time for us to quit looking down our noses at suburbia when it can boast a place like La Bella. Comfortable yet classy, La Bella may not be worth a drive from Oak Lawn, but if you live in the northern reaches of our world, this place should become a regular part of your work week. La Bella’s hot antipasto tray, a kaleidoscopic collection of meaty mushrooms, artichoke hearts and other things valuable, is particularly noteworthy. At first, we were overwhelmed by La Bella’s enormous menu, but except for some rather commonplace desserts and a measly serving of veal, everything we tried was better than average. The pasta was hot and well-spiced; the wine list, though not ambitious, was nevertheless complete. (6757 Arapaho, Suite 721. 991-2828. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Mon-Sat5-10. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$)

Ristorante Lombardi. The tile floors and Italian-accented (and occasionally condescending) waiters lend this place a certain cachet. The food is mostly the real thing, too, although it’s executed with varying levels of perfection. At our last meal, the most successful items were the tortellini with a rich chicken filling and the desserts (a Grand Marnier souffle and a nut-filled rumcake). The least successful was a gummy, odd-tastingveal in a sauce flavored with orange. At these prices,we would expect a meal to consistently deliver at thehigher end of the quality scale. (15501 Dallas Pkwy inAdelstein Plaza. 458-8822. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2;dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. ClosedSun. All credit cards. $$$)

Sarducci’s. The menu at this Piano restaurant is Northern Italian – fairly adventuresome for Dallas and veryadventuresome for Piano. Most Northern Italian restaurants have their biggest successes in cooking pastaand veal, but so far, these aren’t Sarducci’s strongpoints. Instead, the vitello tonnato appetizer was far andaway the best version around, with paper-thin slices ofveal roll floating on a lemony tuna sauce. The best entrees were the river trout (crusty and served with agreen sauce on the side) and the soothingly creamychicken Delfino. (Harvey House Hotel. 1600 N CentralExpwy at 16th. Piano. 578-8555. Lunch: Mon-Fri11-2:30; dinner: daily 5-11. All credit cards. Lunch $$,dinner $$$)


Prego Pasta House. This Greenville Avenue spot owes much of its popularity to its pleasant atmosphere, 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, Fri 11 am-midnight, Sat 5 pm-midnight. Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V. AE. $$)

Sergio & Luciano. Our last several visits have shownSergio & Luciano to be at top form – and that is formidable. The pastas in particular have been expertlyprepared. Our favorites among the regular menu offerings are the torteilini stuffed with chicken and the Panieridello Chef (a pastry shell with seafood in a cream sauceserved on a leaf of radicchio). Among the specials, thelinguini jardiniere – with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms in olive oil – is a marvelous way to enjoy somepasta and eat your vegetables at the same time.Among the other dishes, the shrimp in champagnesauce is a standout. (The Quorum, 4900 Belt Line, Suite250. 387-4441. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner:Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat 6-11. Sun 6-10. All creditcards. $$$)

Via Veneto. In the former quarters of Sergio’s, under the same ownership and with the same phone number, Via Veneto really is a new restaurant – with a new menu and new ambitions to match. Many of the antipasto dishes are based on shellfish. Perhaps the best is a dish of large scallops tossed with strips of peppers and slices of black olives. When it comes to pasta dishes, almost all are available either in smaller portions as first courses or as main courses. The most promising entrees are those from the grill: The thick veal chop, still on its bone, came off the fire at just the right moment, showing just a blush of pink when sliced. But the service is less than attentive. (The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 742-3872. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. Reservations for dinner only. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$)


Cafe Cancun. We’re not so sure that this is the best Mexican restaurant in town anymore (perhaps expansion to three locations has compromised quality a bit), but Cafe Cancun does serve many excellent dishes, from the charming appetizer of julienne jicama (a mild-tasting root vegetable) to the rich desserts. The tampi-quena steak comes with an excellent enchilada and other side dishes, but the molé sauce on the chicken tasted as though the chef had taken the common shortcut of using a mix rather than starting from scratch. (Caruth Plaza, Park Lane at Central Expwy. 369-3712; 4131 Lomo Alto. 559-4011; Plaza of the Americas, 650 N Pearl, 969-0244; Lincoln Square Shopping Center, Arlington, 792-3388. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon- 10 pm at Caruth Plaza and Arlington locations; Mon- Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat 5-11 pm, Sun noon-10 pm at Lomo Alto; Mon-Fri 11 am-7 pm at Plaza of the Americas. MC, V, AE. $$)


Chiquita. This has been one of Dallas’ dining treasures for a long time. It was the first of the fancier restaurants serving more authentic specialties along with Tex-Mex plates, and it may still be the best- The standard line about this place is that the specialties are better than the Tex-Mex dishes, but on our last visit, the basic enchiladas and tacos were well above average. The fajitas were rather odd (no sizzle and little flavor), but we enjoyed the steak studded with garlic and peppers and accompanied by a soft taco and a roasted potato as much as ever. (3810 Congress, 521-0721, Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V,AE.$$)

Genaro’s Tropical. This is Mexican food with a different spirit: upbeat, New Wave, jazzy, Latin and hot! Genaro’s takes the notion of stretching our palates with border delicacies even farther than Café Cancun by adding irresistible nuggets of fresh seafood to how-can-you-miss favorites like enchiladas, tacos and nachos. The pez espada (swordfish kebab) is truly outstanding, as are the tacos al carbon and the enchiladas Genaro. The shrimp dishes, though tasty, are a bit light on the shrimp. But nothing really misses here, not even traditional Tex-Mex. One complaint: For a large room, the tables seem a tad small. (5815 Live Oak. 827-9590. Mon- Thur 11 am-10:30 pm: Fri & Sat 11 am-11 30 pm, Sun 11 am-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$)

Herrera. The most outstanding characteristic of this pleasantly dumpy Tex-Mex house is its smallness. Hot hot sauce, greaseless tacos and dynamite flour tortillas may draw hungry crowds to Herrera, but you can bet that the masses don’t sit down to sup together – there isn’t room. But if you don’t mind a line and guaranteed tight quarters, if you’re looking for authenticity and for fresh, high-quality ingredients, and if your tongue is flame-retardant, then head for Herrera. (3902 Maple. 526-9427. Mon. Wed & Thur 9 am-8 pm. Fri-Sun 9 am-10 pm. Closed Tue. No credit cards. $)

J. Pope Gonzalez. This fancy new Mexican restaurant in the Quadrangle isn’t for purists (the margaritas are sweetish, and the food doesn’t have much zing to it), but there seems to be an infinitely expandable market for safe, responsibly prepared Mexican specialties. The combination plates provide lots of variety – there are several with excellent sour cream chicken enchiladas as well as the ones made with beef. Probably the most unusual among the more authentic Mexican dishes are the shrimp-and-spmach enchiladas. They aren’t particularly exciting, but it was nice to know we were getting our daily quota of green vegetables. Pollo a la Pepe (grilled breast of chicken) and the carnitas dinner (with three baked pork burritos) were substantial and tasty. (The Quadrangle. 2800 Routh. 871-0366. Mon-Thur 11 am-230 pm and 5:30-10 pm, Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-11 pm. Sal 11-11, Sun noon-9 pm. MC, V, AE $$)


Gonzalez. For a fried-chicken stop gone Tex-Mex.Gonzalez does a reliable job, though never an outstanding one. Both in atmosphere and in spice, theword is bland. The nachos we tried were nothingbut store-bought tortilla chips with cheese andscant peppers, and they arrived simultaneouslywith our entrées. And the margarita we orderedwas too sweet to finish. But the meal was quick, andthe place was clean. We prefer a mediocre chilerelleno to the unknown chicken any day. (4333Maple. 528-2960. Daily 7 am-9 pm. All credit cards.$$)

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

Mariano’s. This is neither hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex nor “gourmet” Mexican, but something all its own Enjoy the unpretentious but gracious surroundings and the polished service as you run the gamut from a well-stuffed chile relleno to steak Milanesa and pechuga a la parilla (breast of chicken char-broiled with a delicious mist of garlic butter and cilantro). (Old Town. 5500 Greenville at Lovers Lane. 691-3888. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Sun 11:30 am-10 pm. All credit cards. $$)

Mario & Alberto. This country cousin of Chiquita (we use the term ’country” loosely; the restaurant is located across from Valley View Center in North Dallas) is a peach of a place in which to sample non-traditional Mexican cuisine in enchantingly pastel surroundings. New additions to Mario & Alberto’s menu (which is already peppered nicely with selections of chicken and seafood) include Polio Ranchero, a delicious dish of diced chicken and sautéed vegetables, and Shrimp al Ajillo, a serving of meaty shrimp cooked and served inhalf shells. The usual Tex-Mex offerings (we sampled abeef enchilada and refried beans a la carte) were alsoenjoyable. For appetizers, both the chicken nachos(thoughtfully served with jalapefios on the side) and theguacamole were excellent; for dessert, the Kahlua pieand the cinnamon ice cream are sure bets. (PrestonValley Shopping Center, LBJ Frwy at Preston, Suite425. 980-7296. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30pm. Fn&Sat11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun Drinks with $5.50membership charge. MC, V, AE. $$)

Moctezuma’s. A few blocks down from its old location, the new Moctezuma’s has lots of space and a patio out front – great for sunny days if you can stand all the dust from the nearby construction. The food, starting with great chips and hot hot sauce, can be excellent. The appetizer plate is grandiose, with flautas and spinach quesadillas in addition to the usual guacamole and nachos. The standard Tex-Mex, including homemade tamales, is fine, but the many specialty dishes deserve the name the restaurant gives itself: “gourmet Mexican.” The carnitas of pork, wrapped in a flour tortilla, are delicate and come with a sauce in which lots of fresh cilantro is floating. (3202 McKmney. 559-3010. Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri&Sat full menu 11 am-11:30pm; appetizers 11:30 pm-12:30 am. Reservations forparties of six or more. All credit cards. $$)

Raphael’s. We had almost given up on the old locations of Raphael’s on McKinney and on Greenville, butthe new place on the Addison strip seems to embodythe virtues that once made Raphael’s the top Mexicanrestaurant in town. The food is good, from a simpleplate of enchiladas to such complexities as carnitas ofbeef, grilled shrimp with lots of garlic and chickenbreast covered with cheese and lots of cooked freshpeppers, onions and olives. Even more refreshing is thesolicitous service we encountered at the new Belt Linelocation (the waiters at the older ones sometimes haveseemed to be competing for new levels of churlishness). Our only problem with the new spot is thateveryone else in North Dallas seems to have discovered it too. (3701 McKinney, 521-9640; 6782 Greenville, 692-8431; The Quorum, 4900 Belt Line. 991-3610.Mon-Fri 11:30 am-3 pm & 5:30-10:30 pm, Satnoon-10:30 pm at McKinney location; Mon- Thur 11:30am-3 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Fri 11:30 am-3 pm & 5:30 pm-10:30 pm. Sat noon-11 pm at Greenville and Belt Linelocations. Closed Sun. Reservations Mon-Thur only.MC, V, AE, CB. $$)

Rio Grande Grill. This is the south-of-the-border branch of the Bennigan’s school. Fresh, crisp tortilla chips are served gratis with hot queso sauce. Flautas, fajitas and chimichangas are made with fresh beef and chicken, and good service isn’t in short supply. But, as with any restaurant whose menu begins with nachos and ends seven pages later with ice cream drinks, nothing is extraordinary. Save Rio Grande for those times when only a fern-bar fiesta will do. (5111 Greenville. 692-9777. Sun-Thur 11-11. Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am. MC. V, AE, DC. $$)

Rosita’s. 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. Tue-Fri 7 am-10 pm, Sat & Sun 9 am-10 pm. Mon 7 am-2:30 pm. V, MC. AE. $)


Atlantic Café. With its etched glass and elegant stone floors, this new seafood restaurant has a chic air and a glamorous clientele. You may well have a wait, but you will also have some marvelous food. Among the first courses, the ceviche of shrimp and scallops is the standout, and the baked oysters and the exquisite tomato and fresh mozzarella salad are also memorable. Our salmon steak was perfectly broiled, with a crunchy exterior and juicy interior, and our sautéed scallops were delightfully sauced. The angel-hair pasta with seafood was a pleasant change of pace for those not in the mood for fish by itself, and there is an ample selection of veal and beef offerings, too. (4546 McKin-neyatKnox. 559-4441. Lunch: daily 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. MC, V, AE. $$$)

Bachman Café. 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 the authentic smoky taste of a long-stirred roux and a peppery bite. The catfish filets on the seafood platter were possibly the best in town, but the other components (except for the excellent homemade french fries) were only so-so. (3049 Northwest Hwy. 351-0959. Mon-Sat 11 am-2:30 pm & 5-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $$)

Boston Sea Party. Quantity rather than quality is what you pay your hefty $22.95 (fixed price) for here. Several of the dozens of mostly seafood items on the all-you-can-eat buffet tables are good enough to devour en masse – we were especially fond of the king crab legs and the hot popovers. There’s even a decent (and again, hefty) cooked-to-order course of lobster, salmon or steak. But far too many of the dishes had a bland, standardized style and a bitter aftertaste suggesting the Deepfreeze for us to take too much pleasure in all this bounty. (13444 Preston. 239-7061. Mon-Thur 5:30-10 pm, Fri & Sat 5-10 pm, Sun 4:30-9 pm. All credit cards.

Café Oceana. The look hasn’t changed much since Piaf’s became Café Oceana; we still like the spacious, airy feeling and the crisp green of the plants against white and wood tones. The specialty now is seafood. It isn’t bad, but we wish it were better. Among the array of appetizers, we tried the gumbo (too thick for our tastes), the boiled shrimp (too bland) and the oysters Rockefeller (which tasted as though they had been cooked in a simple sauce of mock hollandaise and frozen spinach). The main courses showed a bit more talent in the kitchen. The fried fish (especially the catfish) was very well-prepared; the barbecued shrimp, cooked on a brochette in a tomatoey barbecue sauce, were fine for those who like their seafood on the sweet side. The side dishes varied from creditable fried potatoes to one of the oddest coleslaws we’ve ever had – dressed in a reddish sauce that smacked of horseradish. (4527 Travis. 526-3730. Lunch: Mon-Thur 11-3, dinner: Mon-Thur5-11. Fri & Sat 5-11:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE,

Charley’s Seafood Grill. Clustered on a hill in Las Col-inas are three of Dallas’ most successful formula restaurants: Chili’s, Bennigan’s and Charley’s Seafood. All three are winners because they adhere to strict tenets: Keep it simple, and do it right. Charley’s capitalizes on the city’s new-found love affair with fresh fish and shellfish, which is served either mesquite-grilled, lightly fried or sautéed. We tried a temperately spiced brochette of shrimp and scallops (very good) and a portion of fried catfish (tasty and without a trace of grease). Good homemade fries, a simple light slaw and possibly the best hush puppies around came along as side dishes. If you don’t like cheesecake, you won’t like Charley’s desserts (cheesecake, cheesecake or cheese-cake), but don’t worry: Two Snickers candy bars arrive with the check. (O’Connor Blvd at Hwy 114, Las Col-mas. 659-9751: 5348 Belt Line. Addison. 934-8501. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat 5-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm at Las Colinas location: Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11 at Addison location. MC. V. AE. $$)

Fishmonger’s Market Seafood Café. At this tiny Piano fishmarket, which doubles as a restaurant and takeout shop, both fried and broiled seafood come off admirably. The broiled scrod was impeccably fresh and delicate in texture, and the fried catfish and oysters were both crunchy, needing just a bit more salt to be delectable. All orders come with a not-too-sweetslaw and a choice of freshly cut french fries or redbeans and rice. (1915 N Central Expwy, Suite 600,Piano. 423-3699. Mon-Thur 11 am-9 pm, Fri 11 am-10pm, Sat noon-10 pm. Sun noon-9 pm. All credit cards.$$)

Gulf Coast Oyster Co. 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 replaced 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.

Hampton’s Seafood Market. It’s nearly impossible to get into a conversation with a North Dallasite without being regaled with the news that Hampton’s has opened a branch in Preston Royal Shopping Center. The excitement stems from the new northern accessibility of Hampton’s hot lunches, salads, sandwiches and frozen dinner entrées – not to mention the wondrous varieties of fish and seafood available for cooking at home. We enjoyed our salad plate: little scoops of mysterious fish salads on a bed of lettuce (we felt secure in identifying the flaked salmon and tuna, but the others could have been anything from monkfish to herring). The Hampton’s St. Jacques was a casserole of tiny bay scallops-tasty but a mite dried-out around the edges. Sandwiches come on large croissants and are served with either gumbo or chowder. (Preston Royal Shopping Center, Suite 113, 696-5400,801 Pearl, 742-4668. Mon-Sat 8 am-6:30 pm, closed Sun at Preston Royal location. Tue-Sun 8 am-6:30 pm, closed Mon at Pearl location. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $)


Fausto’s. A few months ago, the flagship restaurant at the Hyatt Regency got a new seashell-pink decor and a new chef. The only remnants of the old Fausto’s are a few visual elements and a general orientation toward seafood. The change is all for the better. Now the presentation of the food is so striking that Fausto’s dishes may be the most beautiful in town. The food doesn’t taste quite as good as it looks, but it can be excellent nonetheless. We were mightily impressed by the feuillete of scallops, the various house patés and a salad of asparagus and shrimp. A few components of the bounteous bouillabaisse were overcooked, though, and the perfectly poached turbot was underseasoned and un-dersauced. If Fausto’s continues to improve, it could be a contender among the city’s French restaurants – emphasis on seafood or not. (Hyatt Regency Hotel, 300 Reunion Blvd. 651-1234. Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30 pm; Sun brunch: 10:30-2. All credit cards. $$$$)

Newport’s. You can’t buy fresher-tasting fish and shellfish than that served at Newport’s. We tried a half-dozen each of tiny bluepoint oysters and of heftier Loui-sianas, and all were fresh and cold. The boiled shrimp is also first-rate, whether alone in a cocktail or with crab in a Dijon sauce. The fried shrimp and oysters stand out in our memory, and the french fries were light and crisp. But our memories of the charcoal-broiled swordfish and salmon are heavenly, too. Newport’s looks very dramatic, with several airy levels of tables on rough wooden floors surrounding a huge well (which once held the water that went into making the beer at the brewery that long ago occupied the premises). (703 McKinney in the Brewery. 9540220. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri & Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$)

Pop Bailey’s. This unpretentious place does simple things well. The large Louisiana oysters are bracing, and, for once, the plain boiled shrimp had plenty of taste. Pop Bailey’s does a creditable job of frying -which is, after all, the classic American way of cooking seafood. Perhaps more surprisingly, the restaurant also broils fish well: We were most pleased with the red snapper. There is also a decent rib-eye steak for the seafood hater who is trapped among a bunch of aficionados. (3750 W Northwest Hwy. 350-9748. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat & Sun 4-11 pm. All credit cards. $$)

Rocco Oyster Bar. Are we just getting blasé, or is the high-tech look getting 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 entrees we tried – redfish and salmon-were done to a turn. Desserts are mostly ice-cream pies from Baskin-Robbins-again, pleasant but rather overpriced. (2520 Cedar Springs. 747-6226. Sun-Wed 11:30-11:30, Thur-Sat 11:30 am-12:30 am. MC, V, AE. $$)

Seascape Inn. With so many new seafood restaurants in town, you could overlook Seascape Inn if the food weren’t so fine. The baked oysters Seascape with egg-plant and mozzarella weren’t as tasty as we remembered, but everything else was wonderful. The fettuc-cine with seafood was perfectly al dente, and the grilled salmon was flaky and tender, with a lovely hollandaise. You don’t expect dessert to be the highlight of the meal at a seafood restaurant, but the deep-dish apple pie-actually a delicate tart with an apricot glaze-looked and tasted magnificent. (6306 Greenville. 692-6920. Lunch: Sun-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10 30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$)

Turtle Cove. On a recent visit, we waited 30 minutes for a table, although we had made reservations. Thus began an evening that ended in reservations of another sort. Our waiter was cordial enough and well-informed, but he was hard to find during the meal. Our oysters on the half shell were dry and disappointingly small, and the sauces were pre-mixed. an assembly-line insult to personal taste. The gumbo had some of that authentic funky fire but was sadly lacking in ingredients. As for our mesquite-grilled entrees, the red snapper had a distant smokmess and little else. The scallops, however, were a toothsome revelation-fat, moist and chewy. As a final blow, the staff betrayed its eagerness to reuse our table while we were still using it-and the prices here are too steep for hurrying. (2731 W Northwest Hwy. 350-9034. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V. AE $$$)


Bubba’s. Is this the Park Cities riposte to fast foods? Or an art deco diner? Whichever, Bubba’s serves some of the best fried chicken and hot rolls anywhere The other down-home dishes are not quite so memorable, but they’re still good. Not only does Bubba’s offer chicken-fried steak and chicken and dumplings, but you can also find vegetables such as black-eyed peas, corn and green beans, plus a slaw with a touch of garlic. You’ll certainly never feel trendier at a place where you carry your own food on a tray. (6617 Hillcrest. 373-6527. Daily 6:30 am-10 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $)


Highland Park Cafeteria. 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 avoiding 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, apple and rhubarb pies, multilayered cakes and the like. We stuck to one dessert apiece and thought ourselves impossibly virtuous. (4611 Cole, 526-3801; Sako-witz Village, Belt Line at Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600, 934-8025. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm. closed Sun at Cole location. Mon-Fri 11 arn-230 pm & 5:30-8 pm, Sat 11 am-8 pm, Sun 10:45 am-3 pm at Sakowitz Village location. No liquor. No credit cards. $)

Chickeria. 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. Chick-eria’s specialty is barbecued chicken grilled over a mes-quite 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 (mashed with the skin on). If home-style and barbecue selections don’t suit your taste buds, you might want to try the fajitas (served on a flour tortilla with some excellent guacamole on the side) or the delicious chicken tacos. (601 N Has. kell, 821-9072. Mon-Sat 11 am 10 pm Closed Sun. V. AE.$)

Don’s Seafood and Steakhouta. 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 otters a sound value for fish lovers who prefer quantity over chichi any day of the week. (2361 W Northwest Hwy. 350-3667. Sun-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11 All credit cards. $$)

Dovie’s. Soldier/actor Audie Murphy’s house used to be out in the country. Now it’s in the middle of booming Addison. and its comfortable and elegant rooms are a good place to eat down-nome cooking. The onion soup is the best in town; the chicken-fried steak and pot roast, excellent, the mashed potatoes, homemade rolls and home-cooked vegetables, delicious. The sautéed snapper and the wonderful-sounding desserts were disappointing, but the enthusiastic, skillful service wasn’t. (4671 Midway. 233-9846. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-9 30, Fri & Sat 5:30-10, Sun 5:30-9; Sun brunch: 11-2:30. MC. V. AE. DC. $$)


Hoffbrau. If what you want is a thick, juicy slab of beef without a lot of unnecessary frills, head for Hoffbrau 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 entree; there’s only one salad dressing 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 busooys in particular: friendly and sharp-eyed, they were poetry in motion. A hint: Go early to escape the inevitable wait. (3205 Knox 559-2680. Mon-Fri 11 -11, Sal noon-11 pm. Sun noon-10 pm. All credit cards $$)


The Bronx. After our recent meal here, we’re ready to hand out “Honk if you love the Bronx” bumper stickers. Everything, from start (chunky, lemony guacamole 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, including 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 $$)

Lawry’s The Prime Rib. This is the third location of a restaurant that was established in Beverly Hills in 1938, The gimmick is that it only serves one dinner entree: roast beef (although other selections are offered at lunch). The surprise about Lawry’s is the lavishness of it all. You don’t expect valet parking, anterooms with wood-burning fireplaces and fancy decor at a meat-and-potato place The food should please an all-American appetite: The roast beef is excellent. We recommend getting one of the larger cuts, since the smallest is sliced more thinly than we like our roast. (3008 Maple. 521-7777. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: din-ner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30. Sun 4-10. All credit cards. $$$)

Nana Bar and Grill. Atop the new high-rise addition to the Loews Anatole, with a magnificent view of the Dallas skyline, the Nana Bar and Grill serves the much-vaunted “New Southwestern Cuisine’- here sometimes more than a gimmick. Among the appetizers, we en-loyed the scallops marinated in lime juice and served cold with a sprinkling of red caviar and the salad of black-eyed peas with bacon and lots of garlic. The main dishes, by far the best things on the menu, include a thick veal chop, beautifully char-broiled salmon and juicy slices of wild turkey breast. Desserts here are equally ambitious, but we didn’t find them quite as successful as the main courses. (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. $$$)

Palm Restaurant. This new branch of the famous New York restaurant is for big spenders. Are you ready for a lobster that costs $72 – without salad or potatoes? Our New York strip was disappointing: The meat wasn’t as butter-rich and tender as corn-fed beef should be, and it had been carelessly cooked so that it tasted of nothing but its charred exterior. It’s too bad that the star attractions of the Palm were such busts, because there was a lot of good cooking going on in other departments. The potato dishes (the crunchy hashbrowns and the crisp, thin cottage fries especially) and the delicate strings of onion rings were sensational (although we couldn’t understand why they were served before the appetizers, a half hour before the meats they were meant to accompany). Lunches are less devastating to the pocketbook, but the food is even less successful. (701 Ross. 6980470. Mon-Fri 11.30 am-10:30 pm, Sat 5-11 pm. Sun 5-9:30 pm. MC. V. AE, DC. $$$$)


Charcuterie. Sanger Harris does an uncommonly good |ob with their in-house eatery. The croissants are warm and flaky, and if you’re into salads of any persuasion, they’re bound to serve them here. The onion-mushroom soup deliciously offers the best of two favorites. The sandwich offerings are intriguing: the chicken breast with cheese on a croissant was particularly good. (Sanger Harris, 303 NAkard. 749-3990. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, AE, Sanger Harris charge. $$)

Purdy’s. This is the home of the high-tech – and high-priced – hamburger. Under the exposed heating ducts and amid the yards of bent neon (an American flag in addition to a myriad of beer logos), you belly up to the counter to order huge burgers on homemade buns. Then, when your name is called, you add all the fixin’s you want from another bar. There’s also a meat market and a bakery on the premises and lots of longnecks and soft drinks in old-fashioned bottles. The quality is high, but we find it difficult to shell out $3.95 for a burger and almost another buck for some home-cooked but not very remarkable fries. (The Quorum, 4812 Bell Line. 960-2494. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnighl. Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V. $)

Richard’s Caté Americain. If you’re the type of person who favors light lunchtime fare, replete with colorful pates, 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 appealing 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 works of art, and the service is both competent and attentive. (Manor House, 1222 Commerce, 25th floor. 761-0143. Lunch: daily 11 -2:30; tea: daily 3-5: happy hour: Mon-Fri 3-7, Sun brunch: 11-3. MC, V, AE. $)

Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Still the queen of Dallas steakhouses, this place packs the customers in at all hours in the quest for the ultimate in meat and potatoes. The huge hunks of USDA prime beef, perfectly cooked and drizzled with butter and parsley, look as though no one could ever finish them, but somehow we polished them all oft with no need for a doggy bag. The prices here are as high as the quality of the beef; the side dishes (all of which – even salad and potatoes – cost extra) are no great shakes; and the service can seem harried even if well-intentioned. But none of these things will matter at all to someone who insists on the best in steaks. (6940 Greenville. 691-6940. Mon-Fri 11:30-11:30. Sat & Sun 5-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$)

Tolbert’s Texts Chili Parlor. Frank Tolbert may be gone, but his legacy lives on at his chili parlor. There should be consolation enough in this Elysium of Texas Red – the chili is still tasty, and the burgers are outstanding, too. The one problem we found in this paradise was with the chicken-fried steak. It was the real thing, all right – a single piece of meat rather than some prefabricated substitute. But the crust didn’t hold onto it very well, and the gravy was unremarkable. The crunchy fries, large drinks and our sweetheart of a waitress just about made up for it. though. (4544 McKin-ney. 522-4340. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight, Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $)


Stetson’s. 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-mch-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 vogue were the baked potatoes served in printed, resin-coated paper jackets. Stetsons serves great hot rolls, soft butter 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 Registry Hotel. 15201 Dallas Pkwy. 386-6000. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-3 pm & 5:30-11 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Reservations recommended. $$$)


Bruni’s. There’s something to be said for cheap Italian restaurants like Bruni’s, located In a Bedford strip shopping center – especially if “cheap” means solid, reasonably priced meals in clean, modest surroundings. You won’t find strolling musicians here, just tables covered with red-and-white checked oilcloths and friendly waitresses to take your order. We sampled a variety of the offerings, including fried ravioli, fried artichoke hearts, shrimp scampi and spaghetti with mushrooms. Our favorite item was the huge batch of artichoke hearts – only $3.50. Our least favorite dish was the spaghetti (specifically the sauce, which was too heavy on the tomato paste and too light on the spices). (2855 Central Dr.. Bedford. (817) 283-4380. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 4-10. Reservations. MC, v,AE.$$)D REVISITS

The China Rom. 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 (including minor “street” parades-authentically clad waiters pulling dragon kites and floats) were as lavish and loud as we remembered. (1401 N Collins. Arlington. (817) 277-5888. Sun-Thur11 am-10 pm. Fri&Sat 11-11. MC, V. AE $$)

Empress of China. The garish red-and-yellow sign that announces “Empress of China” to the world might make you think that decor isn’t one of the restaurant’s finer points. Think again. Inside, the Empress is almost regal: spare, white and subtly elegant. The food is mostly middle-of-the-road Chinese – better than adequate but less than outstanding. One dish to try: the Shrimp (or Seafood) Wor Bar. (2648 N Belt Line, Irving. 252-7677. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm; Fri & Sat 11-11: Sun noon-10 pm Reservations. MC, V, AE, DC. $$)

Los Canarios. People who aren’t from Euless may find it hard to locate this family-run restaurant hidden away in a shopping center, but do try; it serves excellent Mexican specialties. The steak for the carne asada is marinated in orange juice and brushed with butter while on the grill, creating an enticing beef dish. The crab chimichangas (crunchy fried burritos) are unusual and satisfying. The standard mixed platters are good, but they’re not quite what we Texans are used to – the restaurant’s owners hail from Mexico and Southeast Asia, and Tex-Mex is not a native cuisine to them. (Hwy 10 at Raider, Euless. (817)283-4691 Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$)


Aventino’s. A pleasant surprise awaited us at this intimate Italian strip-shopping-center restaurant in Fort Worth. 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 delicious starter. Among the entrees, veal (lightly breaded with fresh lemon) and spinach fettuccine were recommended, and they proved to be wise choices: satisfying, yet light enough to leave room for cheesecake and espresso. (3206 Winthrop Ave. (817) 731-0711. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2: dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10. Fri & Sat 5-11. Sun 5-9. MC, V, AE. $)

The Balcony. Overlooking the lights of busy Camp Bowie Boulevard from inside The Balcony, we began our meal with escargots drenched in butter. Broiled lamb chops and fresh lobster followed. We were surprised at the size and freshness of the crustacean: It was expertly prepared, with the sweet flavor of the meat enhanced (but not overpowered) by the drawn butter The unhurried pace of the service, the flickering candle-light and the distant tinkling of a piano lent a romantic air to our evening. But this restaurant is certainly not just for lovers. We spied a family celebrating a birthday, three women co-workers enjoying dinner and severa tables of business-suited men discussing the latest stock market flurry. The diversity, however, only adds to the charm. (6100 Camp Bowie. (817) 731-3719. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat 6-10:30. All credit cards.)

Billy Miner’s. Across the street from Fort Worth’s avant-garde Caravan of Dreams is a saloon with a 19th-century facade that serves some of the biggest, gooiest and most delicious hamburgers in town. The burgers are reminiscent of the famous ones at Kmcaid’s, but at Billy Miner’s you can belly up to the bar and sip a beer, a glass of wine – whatever – while you feast. Steaks and hot dogs are also on the menu, but the hamburger bar (where you build your burger with all the fixin’s) appears to be the main attraction. While you wait for your order to come off the grill, heaping baskets of peanuts in the shell will help you while away the time. (150 W 3rd at Houston. (817) 877-3301. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. MC. V AE. $)

Café da Vinci. Oh. Leonardo, where are you? This Fort Worth restaurant could use a shot of your artistic ability in the food department, which is, in a word, uninspired. But, on the other hand, the crew here seems to be trying hard to please, and there are few nice restaurants on this edge of Meadowbrook, which accounts for the full parking lot on most nights. We found the veal to be only so-so, but the homemade pasta appetizer did show signs of untapped creativity in the kitchen. Don’t expect too much, and you won’t be disappointed. (5504 Brentwood Stair. (817) 496-5183. Lunch: daily 11 -2, dinner: Sun- Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-midmght, Sun brunch: noon-2:30. MC. V. AE. $$)

Calamity’s. Calamity’s is a novelty restaurant/bar named after the infamous Calamity Jane. The interior is upgraded mine-shaft, and the food is average at best, but there are some clever touches: At Sunday brunch, the champagne flows freely, and a cappuccino machine and real whipped cream await you at the end of the buffet. The salad bar is well-stocked, and the view of the downtown skyline of Fort Worth is impressive. (1900 Ben St (817) 534-4908. Sun- Thur 5-10 pm. Fri & Sal 5-11 pm. Sun brunch: 10:30-2. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$)

Edelweiss. The crowds at this cavernous German-style restaurant attest to its continuing popularity in Fort Worth. On weekends, the wait can exceed an hour for a table – and longer for food. But the dirndl-clad frau-leins are friendly and try to make the best of a slow kitchen. And owner/entertainer/band leader Berndt Schnerzinger 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 sauer-braten 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. All credit cards. $$)


Hedary’s. The word must be out. For the first time, we encountered a line at Hedary’s. the fine West Side Lebanese restaurant. 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 familyrun 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 Fair-field at Camp Bowie. (817) 731-6961. Tue-Thur 5-10 pm, Fri & Sal 5-11 pm, Sun 5-10 pm. Closed Mon. No reservations. All credit cards. $$)

J.J.’s Oyster Bar. At J.J,’s, you can have your seafood any way you like it. as long as you like it fried. Cholesterol counts aside, you’ll love J.J.’s. It’s just what an oyster bar should be: a long bar with stools for perching, some “tall tops” (tall, round tables with matching stools) and waitresses in |eans who bring you plastic baskets bulging with deep-fried fish and shellfish. Purists can feast on orders of raw oysters. (929 University. (817)335 2756. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 -midnight, Sun noon-9 pm. No credit cards. $)


Kincaid’s. 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 those happily remembered 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’ll be in such a hurry to eat that you probably won’t even notice that you can’t sit down – just stand at one of the shell-top counters and munch contentedly while you peruse one of the nearby magazines. Ahhh, the good old days. (4901 Camp Bowie Blvd. (817) 732-2881. Mon-Sat 10 am-6:15 pen. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $)

Michel. 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 entrees of lobster and lamb, deftly prepared. The accompanying crisp vegetables with pasta were perfect complements to both dishes. Fortunately, our main courses didn’t leave us feeling too full for the fluffy chocolate-Grand Marnier souffles, which disappeared without a trace. On weekends, there are two seatings for dinner; one at 6. the other at 9. If you arrive for the latter, be prepared to wait. (3851 Camp Bowie. (817) 732-1231 Tue- Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat seatings at 6 & 9. All credit cards. $$$$)

The Original Mexican Food Café. 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: concrete walls, cracking linoleum floors and bustling waiters and waitresses. (4713 Camp Bowie. (817) 738-6226. Sun-Thur 11 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-9:30 pm. Closed Tue. All credit cards. $)


Le Café Bowie. Does Le Café Bowie live up to its fine dinnertime reputation at brunch? Sadly, we must report, the nighttime sparkle of this unpretentious spot fades when the sun’s up. At a recent brunch, the Eggs Louis IX (described as scrambled with shrimp) had the texture and taste of puréed eggs. The consistency was far too thin, and the occasional bite of shrimp didn’t redeem it. But heartier appetites may be satisfied: A few dinner-type selections are also offered for brunch. All in all, we still enjoy the homey atmosphere at Le Cafe 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. All credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$$)

Reflections. This restaurant’s subdued, peachy pastels work well with black trim, and the quality of the food is superb. As far as hotel restaurants go, this place manages to break the stereotypes and deliver well-prepared and thoughtful dishes comparable to any of the best restaurants in Fort Worth. For starters, try the scallops wrapped in bacon or the paté plate with a sweet sauce. The New York sirloin with Bercy sauce is overpriced at $18.50, but the cut is as tender as butter; and the Ginger Duck is delightful, with a perfectly sweetened sauce that enhances but doesn’t over-power. (200 Main. (817)870-9894. Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30 pm. Sat 6:30-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $$$)

River House. One thing to remember here is that you shouldn’t show up on a weekend night and expect to be seated within an hour. It doesn’t matter if they tell you it’ll be shorter; expect a long wait anyway. And once you’re seated, don’t expect too much in the way of great seafood: The standard fare of shrimp and fish was very basic. The service can be a little absent-minded, too. (1660 S University. (817) 336-0815. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon & Tue 5-9, Wed-Sat 5-10. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$)

Tours. This place reminds us less of Fort Worth than any other restaurant in town; we spied nary a cowboy hat and didn’t hear even a trace of a Texas drawl the entire evening. The staff tries hard to please. The salmon was fresh, with a light hollandaise sauce that was neither too strong nor too lemony. The veal, likewise, was cooked simply but well. For dessert, there’s a chocolate cake that will satisfy even the most diehard chocolate lover. (3429B W Seventh St. (817) 870-1672. Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2: dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations recommended on weekends. MC, V, AE. $$$)

The Wine Seller. This place is for people who enjoy a leisurely dinner, complete with four courses and at least one bottle of wine. Wine aficionados may explore the restaurant’s wine vault to select the proper bottle for their meal. On a recent visit, we chose a Monterey Chardonnay, a perfect complement to an appetizer board of smoked gouda and Morbier cheeses and pepper paté. Selected wines are also offered by the glass. Entrees include beef, chicken and seafood dishes. The Chicken Boursin (a chicken breast wrapped around Boursin cheese, baked in a wine sauce and topped with capers) was outstanding. (6120 Camp Bowie. (817) 737-2323. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, $$)