Saturday, August 20, 2022 Aug 20, 2022
89° F Dallas, TX
Publications

DINING NEW ARRIVALS

The hottest new restaurants in the Metroplex
By D Magazine |

Ristorante Valentino. (Northern Italian) This month, Italy invaded Dallas, and Dallas surrendered happily. Four important new Italian restaurants opened, each with an interesting heritage. Ristorante Valentino was founded by two brothers and a cousin from the old country-all impeccably trained in Italian cooking schools, and all with quite a respectable background in the Dallas restaurant business, since they opened La Tosca several years ago.

Ristorante Valentino has the capacity to surpass La Tosca and just about any other Italian restaurant Dallas has seen to date. The menu is small and imaginative, with notable successes at every stage. It’s set up to be ordered Italian-style, with pasta served before the main course. And the pastas! The fresh lasagna with scallops-lots of rich cheese, whole leaves of basil and no tomato-is sublime, and the small pasta shells with tomato and garlic and the angel-hair pasta with lobster, cognac and tomato are not far behind. The risotto cooked in champagne is another unusual and delicious beginning.

Of course, when they’re going all-out, the Italians choose yet another course before the pasta-the antipasti. The choices at Ristorante Valentino are rather limited, especially when the gratinéed mussels are not available. The fried crepes, stuffed with spinach and cheese and topped with a light tomato sauce, are great fun but are a bit too heavy for the function. The snail soup (very creamy and just touched with curry), the lovely presentation of carpaccio (raw beef) topped with curls of fresh Parmesan and the cold fresh asparagus are all tasty, but we’d like to see a couple of additions to the menu in this category.

The “secondi piatti’-the meat courses that Americans think of as the main course -can be very good. The beef tenderloin in a cream sauce with green peppercorns has an assertive flavor that we found appealing, and the red snapper with a fresh tomato sauce couldn’t be fresher and lighter. We were slightly disappointed in the veal scaloppine with wild mushrooms (the sauce needed to be reduced for a more intense flavor) and with the quail stuffed with veal, proscuitto and herbs, which was a trifle dry. The desserts, too, were excellent without being mind-blowing. The profiteroles (tiny cream puffs) were filled with pastry cream, not ice cream, and are topped with a bittersweet sauce. The homemade pastries had an unusual texture-not quite as light as puff pastry, but very buttery.

The setting of Ristorante Valentino (the location that formerly held Oporto’s and Jett’s) is hardly opulent by Dallas standards: turquoise trim on white, with touches of brass. And although the welcome was warm and personal, the service wasn’t very polished. But the experience of the place was greater than the sum of its parts. The food seemed more authentic and Italian than at any Dallas restaurant, and the imagination expressed in the best dishes was a delight. (2929 N. Henderson. 826-7804. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5

Ristorante Vincenzo. (Italian) This new place in the location that Sergio’s and Via Veneto used to occupy also has a Dallas ancestry and an immediate experience of Italy behind it. The proprietor once worked at Lombardi’s and then returned to Italy for a few years before coming back to Dallas to go out on his own. He presides over his new venture with an aggressive warmth, and Ristorante Vincenzo is a very pleasant place to try an interesting assortment of dishes from all over the Italian peninsula. There aren’t many in any one category-the selection of antipasti, in fact, seems downright sparse, although we enjoyed the mozzarella in car-ozza, in which the cheese is fried in a crust. This problem is offset somewhat by the choice of a salad or soup with every main course. But it’s still difficult to order in the true Italian style here: Although the pastas are listed as “primi piatti,” or first courses, they are priced around $9 and are rather expensive to order in addition to meat courses. The pasta selections are unusual, however, ranging from spaghetti with julienne eggplant to small pasta shells in a sauce rich with ricotta.

The main courses include a flavorfulgrilled swordfish steak with a sauce loadedwith olives and garlic, chicken topped withSwiss cheese and mushrooms, and classicssuch as scampi and veal saltimbocca (withham in a brown sauce flecked with sage).Desserts are fairly standard (crème caramel,cheesecake, cappuccino pie), with one unusual specialtly: tiramisu, literally a “pick-me-up” of cake, custard and chocolateserved in a parfait glass. The coffee is good,the surroundings are freshened up and attractive, and the service is a bit vague anduncommunicative except when Vincenzohimself is hovering over the table, regalingpatrons with stories of the Italian bureaucracy. (2800 Routh in the Quadrangle, Suite165. 742-3872. Lunch: Mon-Fri 10:30-2;dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11.All credit cards. $$$) 6.0

Alfredo Trattoria. (Northern Italian) This new place on the northwestern end of Lemmon Avenue also has a distinguished history: The owner was a partner in Bugatti and Villa Bugatti, and the menu resembles that of those restaurants. You’ll probably recognize most of the waiters as old friends. But the bloodlines have not yet been revealed in the results from the kitchen. Almost everything we have tried at Alfredo Trattoria has been disappointing: commercial noodles in a tasteless cream sauce masquerading as fettuccine della casa, undistinguished veal in a thin Marsala sauce and even overdressed salads consisting mostly of iceberg lettuce. The poor old mollusk in the octopus salad tasted as if it had wrestled its last match many moons ago, and its marinated remains came atop another mountain of iceberg. The oysters baked with oregano tasted even less appetizing: Although they were supposed to be cooked, they had a raw texture, which was odd under the crumb-and-garlic topping.

A few successes kept Alfredo Trattoria from being a total write-off on our visit: The grilled baby salmon had a delicate taste, and the veal fiorentina had an attractive lemony sauce atop its meat, spinach and crab. Several of the desserts were fine: a lemon tart (no meringue, of course), a zuppa inglese (English trifle with an Italian accent) and a cheesecake. Service was attentive, and the place has a laid-back atmosphere that seems to attract more casual diners than other Northern Italian restaurants. But the track record at Alfredo Trattoria will have to improve before it can give the other medium-priced Italian places a run for their money. (5404Lemmon. 526-3331. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Pizzeria Uno. (Pizza) The ancestry of this raffish new bar and restaurant on the western end of the Addison strip is interesting, too. This is the Dallas franchise of the original Chicago deep-dish pizza establishment (which, oddly enough, was founded by a na-tive Texan). We’re happy to have the Lone Star State take credit for the invention: These are pizzas unlike any others we’ve ever tried. They come in three sizes (even the smallest is quite substantial) and arrive at the table in heavy iron pots much like skillets. The crust is at once doughy and crisp-we can’t recall ever fighting for the outer crusts of a pizza before, but we did over these.

We can recall (if you can believe it) American life before pizza. When we first read about this exotic foreign creation, we imagined that a tomato pie would be deep and would have a rich, thick filling. Pizzeria Uno serves the pizzas of our innocent childhood imaginings, with inch-high mixtures of tomato, cheese and meats of various sorts. The pervasive taste of oregano in New York pizzas-the biggest shock when we first encountered the reality of tomato pies-is missing. At Pizzeria Uno, we tried all sorts of combinations-with pepperoni, sausage, cheese, mushrooms, peppers and onions (even one with meat and cheese but no tomatoes)-and found all to be delicious. Even the open-faced beef and cheese sandwich comes on a variation of the novel pizza crust.

Sandwiches and pizza complete the main course offerings, but there are a number of appetizers, and the variety of salads (including Caesar and spinach) is intriguing. We liked the marinated mushrooms, the vegetables for dipping and especially the pizza skins (in effect, slices of mashed-potato pizza). The service was willing but harried, and Pizzeria Uno is the latest in a series of new restaurants in town where lots of metal and glass, old-fashioned tile floors and hordes of people push decibel levels up past the threshold of pain. (4002 Belt Line. 991-8181. Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

Sam’s Bar and Grill. (Eclectic) We’re always complaining that Dallas lacks late-night spots. Here’s an ambitious new place that courts the after-hours trade with a vengeance: It’s open 24 hours a day, and its hefty dinner menu is served until 2 a.m. (after that, sandwiches, omelettes and desserts are available). The proprietors of the renovated Bradford Plaza Hotel, just across from Union Station, have spared no effort in trying to make the place attractive, even going so far as to hire a New York decorator to evoke the feel of the big city. (Rather oddly, the outcome is that the place looks like a typical deluxe New York hotel dining room from the Fifties). It’s a pleasure to have Sam’s to go to after a play or concert, but it does feel odd dining, with very little company, in full view of the street in what one might perceive to be a slightly rough part of town in the wee hours of the morning.

All the food we sampled at Sam’s was very good, but it was also quite expensive. Are people going to venture here just for the food and pay these prices? We would be more sanguine if the menu had just a bit more excitement. The appetizers lean toward good but unexceptional things such as seafood samplers and seafood salads, although some of the cooked dishes, such as the mozzarella marinara and the scampi Siciliani (very garlicky and buttery, sautéed with lots of sweet peppers and served over rice) are really fine. The entrées range from $12.50 to $22.50, and the mesquite-grilled items, such as the Black Angus steaks and the swordfish, are done well. But the bouillabaisse, touted as the chef’s specialty, just seemed odd despite a lovely saffron odor and color; the big pieces of onion floating in the broth seemed out of place, and it contained only shellfish, with none of the types of fish necessary to give the dish character. The rack of lamb, also nicely cooked, was compromised by a too-heavy coating of mustard and crumbs.

The desserts are all excellent, somewhat unusual renditions of standards like cheesecake (very creamy and garnished with a few fresh berries) and chocolate mousse (swirled with orange-flavored whipped cream). A long list of after-dinner potations includes espresso and four kinds of cappuccino. But as good as all this was, we left Sam’s unconvinced that it was something special enough to change Dallas’ dining habits and justify its high prices. (Bradford Plaza Hotel, 302 S. Houston. 761-9090. Open 24 hours daily. Allcredit cards. Breakfast and lunch $$, dinner$$$) 6.0

Catfish Charlie’s. (Seafood) We havelearned our lesson. To wit: If a restaurant hasthe word “catfish” in its name, stick to catfish. The fried catfish filets and the accompanying fries and coleslaw were really quitegood here. The waiters worked hard, andthere was an aggressively cheerful (andloud) Dixieland band on Sunday evening.These things alone give Catfish Charlie’splenty of reason for being. But the restauranthas a longish menu and pretensions to serving other kinds of Louisiana-style foods. Theboiled shrimp in the remoulade weren’t bad(although they were few and were servedatop a mountain of iceberg lettuce, with astrange mustard sauce that no Louisiananative would recognize). From there it wasdownhill. The broiled lemon sole was fishy;the shrimp in the scampi, rubbery and tasteless. The tenderloin, which was advertisedas genuine prime beef, lacked flavor. Eventhe pecan pie was curiously bland. As wesaid before, stick to the catfish. (14865 In-wood, Addison. 392-9402. Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10p.m., Sat noon-10p.m., Sun 5-10p.m.MC, V, AE. $$) 4.5

La Deli. (Middle Eastern) As recently as our October issue, we were lamenting that the Dallas area had no Middle Eastern restaurants and were reminiscing about Khalil’s Beirut, a local restaurant of some years back. But now, La Deli, a storefront delicatessen in northern Las Colinas, turns into a full-fledged Middle Eastern restaurant at night and carries the Khalil name on its menu. Some of the things are as we remembered them, unfortunately, such as the disorganized, slow service. But the main thing-the food-is sadly disappointing. The bountiful assortment of appetizers includes some old favorites such as humus tahini (a dip made from chickpeas) and baba ganouf (a dip made from eggplant), but they don’t have the piquant flavor we remember.

The main dishes fare little better. The broiled shrimp taste mostly of pepper, the lamb shish kebabs are undistinguished, and the sampler platter contains run-of-the-mill stuffed cabbage, grape leaves and overcooked falafel (chickpea patties). The most successful entrée is perhaps the kibbie nayeh-tartar-raw beef and bulgur wheat round together and served cold-but that dish is unlikely to appeal to many customers. Then, too, the dessert baklava is stale and soggy. La Deli was full on the evening we visited, so there is obviously a market for Middle Eastern food here these days. We only wish La Deli lived up to its illustrious ancestry. (5433 N. MacArthur Blvd., Las Colinas. 258-1163. Mon 11 a.m.-6p.m., Tue-Thur 11 a.m.-10p.m., Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 5.0

RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS



D’s revised dining listings have been categorized according to geographical locations, beginning with downtown Dallas and radiating outward to the suburbs. For restaurants that have more than one location, the review is listed under the original location’s listing. All branch locations are listed with their respective addresses and are cross-referenced for your convenience.

The parenthetical phrase immediately following the restaurant’s name indicates the culinary focus as described by that establishment. “Reservations” indicates that the restaurant will accept reservations.

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

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

$ Generally inexpensive. Usually indicates a good value.

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

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

$$$$ Very expensive.

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

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



DOWNTOWN/WEST END



Abio. (Steak/Continental) This deluxe new downtow nrestaurant has sandwiches, omelettes and daily specials for lunch, and the chicken-fried steak has good gravy and mashed potatoes. In the evening, there’s a wider selection. The onion soup is excellent, and the crab-meat meuniere (hunks of crab sautéed in brown butter) is simple but delicious. Steaks are the big specialty: The T-bone is impressively hefty, and the peppered steak (a treatment available with sirloin, filet or rib-eye) has a fine sauce. (One Dallas Centre, Bryan at St. Paul- 922-9070. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun. MC. V, AE, DC. Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 6.0



D REVISITS



Ceret’s Crêperie. (Crêpes) Upstairs at Ceret seems pretty much like downstairs at Ceret: bare concrete pillars from the brewery days, no tablecloths, somewhat frazzled service. But creperie prices are an original idea. Imagine, in Dallas, an elegant meal for as little as $5. We had escargots and mushrooms rolled in a light, delicately sauced crepe. The dessert crepes, as might be expected,are heavenly and well worth a post-theater visit. (703 McKinney in the Brewery. 720-0297. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 6.0



Mason’s. (American Nouvelle) Mason’s isn’t the exciting purveyor of American nouvelle dishes it seems when you read the menu: The cooking doesn’t have much flair or authority. The fixed-price table d’hote dinner, however, is a bargain at $18.50. If you choose wisely, you may be pleased with the bay scallops in vermouth sauce, the thick cut of roast beef or the veal medallions (served with two shrimp stuffed with a salmon-colored mousse). The a la carte menu is wildly overpriced. (Sheraton Dallas Hotel & Towers, SouthlandCenter, 400 N Olive, 922-8000. Mon-Sat 6 pm-midnight.Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 4.5



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

Pacific Pearl. (Chinese) All of a sudden, Dallas has been deluged with luxury Chinese restaurants. Pacific Pearl may be the most pleasing to the eye, but the food is decidedly ordinary – a shock among such lovely surroundings. We tried the sliced prawns with honey walnuts and found them to be deep-fried rather than “lightly sautéed.” as described on the menu. The crispy whole fish was too crisp: It was fried to the point of toughness and dryness. The one dish that stands out in memory is the jellied lamb on the Three Delicacy Cold Platter; this classic Northern Chinese dish is rarely offered in Dallas. (601 Pacific at Market. 745-1688. Sun-Thur 11:15 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:15 am-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

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



D REVISITS



D Restaurant Silvano. (Continental) Noise and an overly relaxed serving pace continue to plague this toniest of West End eateries. The look of the single dining room with its arched alcoves never fails to impress, but smaller spaces would offer more peace and quiet. Similarly, host Silvano Zanetti goes out of his way to exude warmth and friendliness, but we would be happier if we could get the menu or the check when we wanted them. The food this time around wasn’t quite as good as it was on our previous visit. We still think the chefs talent with seafood is extraordinary: Our shrimp and scallop appetizers were perfectly cooked and beautifully sauced. But the main courses (steak in a wine and mushroom sauce and stuffed quail) were less distinguished. Happily, the desserts, including a spectacular Floating Island,restored our faith in Silvano’s. (311 Market. 747-0322. Mon-Thur 6-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 6-11 pm.Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0



MCKINNEY/OAK LAWN



Chiquita.(Mexican) A visit to Chiquita, one of Dallas’best Mexican restaurants for many years, is always apleasure. We find it hard not to order one of the deliciousbeef dishes, and on our last visit the filete de casa,spiked with garlic and peppers and accompanied by acheese taco and a boiled potato, was splendid. Theshrimp in basil sauce, delicate and carefully seasoned,proved a rewarding novelty. The best desserts here arethe ice creams: piquant cinnamon and rich coconut.(381Congress. 521-0721. Mon-Thur 11:30am-10:30pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V. AE.$$) 6.5


D REVISITS

Fran’s.(Southern) This is a rather uptown place to be serving home cooking – the menu is coyly posted on little blackboards, for instance- but the food is reassuringly old-fashioned. “Chicken-fried chicken” turns out to be a breast that’s breaded, fried and topped with gravy (far closer to what Mother used to make than the chicken and dumplings, which arelight on the chicken and heavy on the dumplings).The vegetables are fresh and tasty, but the cobbleris that gooey stuff lacking a fresh-fruit taste that’sserved nearly everywhere now. (3005 N Hall.741 – 7589. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 -2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat5-10. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 5.5



D Jean Claude. (Classic French) Has Monsieur Prevot. the distinguished owner/chef,started to show signs of boredom now that hehas returned to his own kitchen? The first few courseson our last visit here were well below his lofty standards:the goat cheese suffered from being wrapped in a gummy pastry, the escargots were ho-hum, and the pineapple sorbet reminded us of the prosaic sherbets of ourchildhood. We were happier with our main courses,especially the luscious lobster, although the duck in aginger sauce didn’t have quite as crisp a crust as weremembered. The chocolate souffles were as heavenly as always. (2404 Cedar Springs. 748-6619. Tue-Satseatings at 6&9pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservationsrequired. MC. V, AE. DC. $$$$) 9.0

D REVISITS



Herrera. (Tex-Mex) This dumpy little shack, with its crumbling facade, air conditioning unit jutting out in front and fading fresco proclaiming “Café Herrera!,” was recently described in National Geographic as a “nine-table Tex-Mex eatery.” Beneath the water-stained ceiling, hungry folks crowd in for the generic but well-prepared fare of tacos and tamales, enchiladas, rice and beans. Neither beer nor marga-ritas are served, so bring your own beer or order iced tea before trying the hot hot sauce. (3902 Maple. 526-9427. Mon, Wed & Thur 9am-8pm, Fri-Sun 9am-10pm. Closed Tue. No credit cards. $)5.5



D REVISITS



D L’Ambiance. (French Nouvelle) The rathersmall menu here doesn’t change much,and the frequent visitor can soon find favorites such as the salad of watercress, bacon andgoat cheese or the veal with mushrooms in a portsauce. But specials of the day keep boredom fromcreeping in. We were enchanted with the lobsterand shrimp in a tingly ginger sauce and the freshasparagus salad. The desserts are magnificent,and we cant seem to stray very far from the extraordinary Floating Island or the Concord cake. The onedisappointment here is the appetizers; most of themdon’t come up to the quality of the rest of the offerings. (2408 Cedar Springs. 748-1291. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10. Closed Sun. Allcredit cards. $$$) 8.0



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



D REVISITS



Le Boul’ Mich. (French) This cozy gray house across from the Quadrangle has been the favorite “little French restaurant” of many Dallasites for many years. But lately we’ve noticed a little graying around the temples, a fading from glory, a surrender to Old Man Time. The’ food is basically sound – a seafood omelette and a lunchtime quiche we had recently were definitively French and first-rate. The veal Francais was tender and tasty, though underwhelmingly sauced in a simple lemon butter. But the accompanying string beans and carrots arrived shriveled, presumably from overcooking, and the overall presentation just wasn’t impressive. What’s missing here is the aura of festivity so prevalent at Dallas’ more popular French restaurants; Le Boul’ Mich offers the laid-back comfort of home. (2704 Worthington. 826-0660. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 5.5



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

S&D Oyster Co. (Seafood) This often crowded havenfor landlocked lovers of the bounty of the sea never failsto satisfy its large and loyal clientele. Everything isprepared perfectly here, from the seafood gumbo(which is chock-full of oysters) to the broiled redfishand hush puppies that aren’t too greasy. The beaded-board walls and ceiling and the pictures of 19th-centurysailing vessels give the restaurant a wharfside appeal,and the mint leaves in the iced tea are a nice Southerntouch. (2701 McKinney. 823-6350. Mon-Thur 11 am-10pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. No reservations.MC, V. $$) 5.5



KNOX/HENDERSON



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

D REVISITS



D Atiantic Café. (Seafood/Continental)Sleek and snazzy with its etched glass,brass and marble, the Atlantic Cafe offersfood as chic as its decor. No Mexican place in towncan match the ceviche of scallops and shrimp,bright with the taste of cilantro, and no Italian placecan match the mozzarella-and-tomato salad. This isone of Dallas’ premier seafood restaurants; thetender “buster” (baby soft-shell) crabs and the delicately sautéed Dover sole prove that. But it also hassome fine things for those who abhor fish: The pepper steak is exemplary. Desserts are remarkable,too; the crepe filled with fresh strawberries is tasty(though overpoweringly sweet), and the cream custard is rich and light beyond belief. (4546 McKinneyat Knox. 559-4441. Lunch: Mon-Fri & Sun 11-2:30;dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11.MC, V, AE. $$$) 8.0



D REVISITS



Tolbert’s Texas Chili Parlor. (Texana) The late, great Frank Tolbert’s big, open restaurant is an easy place to relax over a beer or get rowdy while watching games on the tube. But it’s an even better place to chow down on some of the area’s best Texas cooking: burgers, nachos. chicken-fried anything and, of course, Tolbert’s famous bowl of red. The generous portion of chicken nachos (fried flour tortillas topped with big chunks of spiced chicken, lots of melted cheese and jalapenos) was a meal in itself, and the “Wild Bill Hickory” burger, with hickory sauce, pickles, cheese and onions, was a perfectly cooked, satisfying sandsich. The huge taco salad was rather ordinary – a bit heavy on the lettuce and light on the cheese sauce, But the golden onion rings and the delicious ChickenFred sandwich (moist grilled chicken on a wheatbun with crisp bacon and Cheddar) were fine. Weappreciated the efficient, friendly service at lunch-time. (4544 McKinney. 522-4340. Mon-Thur 11-11,Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight, Sun noon-11 pm. MC.V, AE. $) B>5.0




MARKET CENTER



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

The Bay Tree.(Continental) After our previous visit tothis elegant Wyndham restaurant, we complained of theelbow-to-elbow crowding in the dining room. This time,we had the place almost completely to ourselves, butwe couldn’t avoid hearing every word of a couple’sargument three tables away. Our roasted duck wasmarvelously pink-centered and juicy, a beautiful sight inits nest of sculpted nouvelle veggies. The souffles are anethereal choice for dessert, but skip the specialty torte.(The Wyndham Hotel, 2222 Stemmons Frwy. 631 -2222.ext 4141. Daily 6-11 pm. Reservations recommended.All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

Nlnfa’s.(Mexican) Houston’s most famous Mexicanrestaurant never fulfilled its plans of being a nationwidechain, but in the remaining local branch you can stillsample the dishes that made Ninfa Laurenzo renowned(although you can’t be assured that you’ll have them attheir best). The table salsas are always non-pareil, andwe seem to have consistent luck with the grilled chickenbreast and the agujas(a meaty, fatty cut of rib). On ourmost recent visit, the problems came with the dried-outpork carnitasand with the flour tortillas: Usually incomparably light and delicate, this time they were floury anddisappointing (1515 Inwood. 638-6865. Mon-Fri 11am-10 pm. Sat noon- 10 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. All creditcards. $$) 5.0

OAK CLIFF/DUNCANVILLE



D REVISITS



Gentile’s Bishop Grill. (Southern) Area grandmothers may now retire. In this frill-less, cafeteria-style refuge, lunch borders on a religious experience. Aside from a potluck at First Baptist, weknow of no place where you can leave so happilystuffed for less cash. Consider Gennie’s chicken-fried steak: The gravy is thick and peppery; thecrust is thin and crisp; the beef tastes like real steak.The vegetables-mashed potatoes, greens, corn-are heaped on your plate, and the desserts areenormous homemade fluffs of sweet meringue or(Gennie’s specialty) peanut butter pie. (308 N Bishop. 946-1752. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm. No creditcards; personal checks accepted. $) 6.0



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



PARK CITIES/LOVERS LANE



Alessio’s. (Northern Italian) The daily specials in this intimate (and often crowded) place are so appealing that you may never look at the menu. We tried the soup and pasta of the day as appetizers, and we found the soup (zucchini with fresh basil, sour cream and pine nuts) extraordinary; the pasta (angel-hair noodles with tiny shrimp and fresh tomato), underseasoned. The salad of fresh mozzarella and tomato was worth the stiff price, and the entrees of veal Toscana (with artichokes and mushrooms) and grilled swordfish can’t be beat in Dallas. Save room for the white chocolate ice cream or the lemon ice, both topped with lots of fresh raspberries.(4117 Lomo Alto. 521-3585. Daily 6-10:30 pm. MC, V,AE. $$$) 7.0

D Café Pacific. (Seafood) On our most recentvisit here, we found perfect seafood: hugeshrimp with a remoulade sauce that needed only a bit more spice to be authentic New Orleans; light,crisp fried calamari; and seafood Pacific, a bounteousmixture of lobster, crab meat, scallops and fish in adelicate cream sauce. An intriguing special was thebroiled yellowfin tuna served with a cream teriyakisauce (which tasted much better than it sounds). Theservice was charming and efficient, and the prices werelower than at some comparable places. Be sure tomake reservations well in advance and to arrive ontime – tables are held only 15 minutes. (Highland ParkVillage, Preston at Mockingbird. Suite 24. 526-1170.Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sat & Sun 11-2:30; dinner; Sun-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. MC, V,AE. $$$) 8.5

Celebration. (Southern) Celebration, one of Dallas’most popular dining spots for all sorts of people, is bigger than it used to be, but it still feels intimate becauseof all the small dining rooms and booths with coppertables separated by earth-toned Indian blankets. Thehome-style food is appetizing, although the portionsseem smaller than we remembered (except for thehuge bowls of salad and the vegetables served family-style, for which seconds are available). The pot roast isthe best entree, and the desserts are fabulous. Celebration serves the only good apple cobbler in town, as wellas first-rate pies and cheesecakes. (4503 W LoversLane. 351-5681. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Sun 5-10. All creditcards. $$) 5.5

D Chez Philippe. (French Nouvelle) PhilippeCarre, who was the chief at Jean Claude for awhile, has recently ventured out to set up hisown establishment. At Chez Philippe, the cooking isserenely self-assured and accomplished. The many interesting innovations are well within the framework ofclassic cuisine, and the results are delectable. Thelobster we tried, served dramatically in the hollowed-outshell, had a subtle saffron sauce; the venison had asauce sparked with raspberry vinegar; the tournedos ofsuperb beef were served with a hearty wine sauce; andthe veal (crowned with a magnificently cooked kidney)had a most unusual sauce flavored with puréed carrots.The chocolate kirsch cake is one of the city’s greatdesserts. Our only complaints were the crowded tablesand the insufficiently polished service. (5027 W LoversLane. 353-9444. Tue-Sat seatings at 6&9pm. ClosedSun & Mon. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$) 9.0



D REVISITS



Kuby’s. (German Deli) A visit to this German delicatessen/restaurant is truly a European experience. The store is crammed with German foodstuffs, meat, pastries and other delicacies. The lunch menu in the restaurant includes a variety of sandwiches, both German and Americanized, as well as soups (a different one each day of the week) and plates of Polish sausage, knackwurst or bratwurst. We opted for a sandwich of peppered beef rolled in a slice of cheese, served on a delicious light rye. The tartar sandwich of raw lean beef seasoned with onions and spices and the jagdwurst sandwich of sausage and pistachio were very good, too. We also enjoyed the hearty, tangy German potato salad (served warm) and the cheesecake and German chocolate cake. (6601 Snider Plaza. 363-2231. Store hours: Mon-Sat 8 am-6 pm: restauranthours: Mon-Fri 8 am-5:30 pm, Sat 8 am-5 pm.Closed Sun. No credit cards lor purchases under$15: personal checks accepted. $) 5.5



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



D REVISITS



The Riviera. (French Provencal) An evening at The Riviera is always a treat (and now it’s open for lunch, too). Host Franco Bertolasi remembers your face after the first visit and gives you a warm welcome, the bright blond interior is cheery, and the food seldom disappoints. The specialty is the cooking of the south of France, reproduced lovingly if not exactly. The chefs (a married couple) have a special way with seafood, and among the best dishes here are the warm scallop salad (lightly touched with orange), the lobster stew and the mixed seafood grill of scallops, shrimp and salmon. Desserts range from light sherbets to rich créme brulée and mocha cake. (7709 Inwood. 351-0094. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Mon-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$$) 7.0



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



LOWER GREENVILLE/EAST DALLAS



Aw Shucks. (Seafood) Although we were slightly shell-shocked at the diminutive oysters (on the eighth-shell?)that we were served at this small seafood establishment,our feathers were smoothed and our palates delightedby the rich Louisiana gumbo, the crunchy fried scallopsand the cups of ice-cold beer. (3601 Greenville.821-9449. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30am-11:45 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. No credit cards. $) SeeMarket Center. 6.0

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

La Botica. (Mexican) La Botica has a gaily painted minibus that picks up a minimum of 10 customers and brings them to the restaurant for a fiesta – imbibing margaritas as they travel. When the revelers arrive, they find a small restaurant that neatly balances a modern, neon-decorated look against ancient-looking wood-and-glass wall cabinets. The food is standard Tex-Mex that’s cooked adequately, along with some more au-thentic and original dishes. We like both the porkcooked with chipotlechiles and the pork Yolanda, witha milder red sauce. The service can be frustratingly slowand unresponsive. (1900 N Haskell. 824-2005. Lunch:Tue-Fri 11 -2; dinner Tue-Sat 5-11. Closed Sun & Mon.No credit cards. $$) 5.0

Las Cazuelas.(Mexican) This interesting restaurantwaydown on Greenville has unusual Mexican specialties such as guisado de lengua(stewed beef tongue),which has a surprisingly tender, gelatinous texture. Forthe fainter of heart, there are grilled chicken and fajitas,but we found these marred by an excessive charcoalflavor. The delicate, feather-light flour tortillas and theguacamole served with a hellaciously hot pico de gallowere outstanding, though. (2001 Greenville. 821-0924. Mon & Wed-Fri 5-10 pm. Sat & Sun 9am-10pm.Closed Tue. No credit cards. $$) 4.0



D REVISITS

Little Gus’.(Greek/Eclectic) One disadvantage ofliving in a melting pot is that over the years, all thefood runs together and begins to taste the same.Thank goodness for Little Gus; he makes his Greekspecialties live up to their heritage. The moussakais at once sharp and sweet and creamy, with layersof beef and spicy eggplant. Gus offers some of thebest hamburgers around at noon, but we prefer hisrestaurant after dark. The taste for the heavy Greekresin wine may be an acquired one, but the candlelight and hot, filling food speak a universallanguage. (1916 Greenville. 826-4910. Mon-Thur7:30 am-4 pm & 6-9 pm. Fri & Sat 7:30 am-4 pm &6-10pm, Sun 9 am-1:45 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $$) 6.0



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



D REVISITS



St. Martin’s. Sometimes a wine bistro isn’t just awine bistro. Granted, this is an ideal nightspot for aromantic interlude-the tables are candle-lit andcovered with crisp white tablecloths and freshly cutred carnations-and its claim to fame seems tohave been built on its wine and cheese-and-fruit orpate board offerings. But it also has a small yetvaried menu ranging from roast beef and veal topasta and swordfish. Although we are usually waryof varied menus, we were pleasantly surprised withthe swordfish and veal medallions we were served.The service is tops. (3020 Greenville. 826-0940.Mon- Thur 11 am-3 pm &5-11 pm, Fri 11 am-3 pm& 5 pm-1 am, Sat 11 am-1 am, Sun 5-11 pm; Sunbrunch: 11-3. All credit cards. $$) 6.0



UPPER GREENVILLE/NORTH CENTRAL



Baja Louie’s Grill & Cantina. (Tex-Mex) A better-than-average union of ferns and fiesta, this singles spot offersrespectable chips and predictable but pleasant Tex-Mex combinations. Olé la Mexidisco! (The Corner Shopping Center, 8021 Walnut Hill at Central Expwy.361-5192. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11 am-11:30pm. Sat 11:30-11:30, Sun 11:30 am-10:30 pm.AII creditcards. $) 5.5

Le Louvre. (French/Continental) The fine food and attentive service that this elegant restaurant is known forin the evening has been successfully carried over intoits new lunchtime effort. From the reasonably pricedmenu, we chose creamy, delicately flavored spinachsoup and lobster bisque. Red snapper sautéed in a tarragon sauce was tasty, but only for tarragon fanatics.The veal piccata was very good, although not especiallytart and lemony, and the caramel custard dessert wasadequate. (The Corner Shopping Center, 9840 N Central Expwy. 691-1177. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner:Mon-Sat 6 pm-midnight. Closed Sun. Reservationsrecommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0



D REVISITS



Royal Tokyo. (Japanese) Royal Tokyo has something for everybody: tatami rooms for those whowant comparative authenticity, hibachi tables forthose who want a show, a sushi bar for those whocrave raw fish, and even a piano bar for those whojust want a drink. The sushi bar turns out the bestfood: The selection of fish and seafood is wide, andeach item we tried was at the peak of freshness (theyellowtail and mackerel were especially fine). Onthe down side were the sukiyaki (carelessly boiledinstead of prepared ingredient by ingredient) andthe tempura (with lots of heavy, underdone batter). (7525 Greenville. 368-3304. Lunch: Sun-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30-11. Sun 5:30-10:30. Allcredit cards. $$) 5.0



D Rolf’s. (German) Echt deutsch dishes and those in a more international style divide the menu here, and the quality is high either way you choose. Three of our choices involved beef, and all were excellent. The Rinds Roulade (beef rolled around sauerkraut and pickles and braised) showed that a hearty dish can be refined. The Baden Baden plate set tender medallions of beef and veal alongside each other, both topped with rich sauces. The appetizer of steak tartare was perfectly fresh and not overseasoned.Our only complaints: The appetizer of shrimp in abrandy-horseradish sauce was skimpy despite a heftyprice tag, and the only dessert that we have foundoutstanding is the apple cake. (Caruth Plaza. 9100 NCentral Expwy, Suite 117. 696-1933. Lunch: Mon-Sat11:30-2:30: dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat5:30-11. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Allcredit cards. $$$) 8.0

D Ruth’s Chris Steak House. (Steak) Just as anexperiment, on our last visit we ordered oneeach of the three basic steaks Ruth’s Chris offers (sirloin, tenderloin and rib-eye), each at a differentlevel of doneness. All were spectacularly good in theirrich butter sauces, but to our surprise, we liked the rib-eye best. (We had thought a true prime rib-eye wouldbe too heavy and fatty, but we were happy to be proven wrong.) Each of the great hunks of beef was cookedto order, if a little on the rare side. The accompanyingpotatoes – fried in two different styles and baked -would have pleased any meat-and-potatoes fan. (6940 Greenville. 691-6940. Mon-Fri 11:30-11:30. Sat & Sun5-11:30 pm. All credit cards, $$$) 7.5



D REVISITS



Sawatdee. (Thai) To a newcomer, most of Sawat-dee’s dishes have unpronounceable names and unlikely-sounding descriptions. But a little sampling will usually allay any misgivings. Thai cuisine has influences from all over and offers something to please everyone. Appetizers include delicious grilled skewered pork with a spicy peanut sauce and whole shrimp wrapped up in thin noodle dough and deep-fried. It’s sometimes hard to tell from menu descriptions just how peppery a dish is going to be, so consult the waiter. Our shrimp in pepper paste was quite innocuous-and delicious-but some Thai dishes leave you spouting fire like a real live dragon. (4503 Greenville at Yale 373-6138. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: daily 5-10:30. All credit cards. $$)6.0



WHITE ROCK



Michelino’s.(Italian) This neighborhood Italian joint isa happy, raucous find where pasta is served piping hotand peppery, garlic bread arrives in generous portions(on request), and waiters are friendly to a fault. Our entrees looked alarmingly similar, and we’d swear thecheesecake was mixed from Jello pudding, but ourmemories of Michelino’s are mostly fond. (6312La Vista.826-2662. Tue-Sat 5-11 pm. Sun 5-10 pm. Closed Mon.MC, V. AE. $$)5.0

The Ribshack.(Barbecue) See Park Cities/LoversLane. (2221 Abrams. 821-8100. Sun-Thur 11 am-10pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. No credit cards; personal checksaccepted. $)6.0



PRESTON ROYAL



Royal China.(Chinese) There was a time when this was one of the fanciest restaurants in Dallas. Now it has settled down into comfortable middle age, with warm service and a relaxed, though enthusiastic, clientele. The food has. if anything, gotten better with the years. Two appetizer platters are offered, and the one with shrimp toast, beef strips and egg rolls may be the best in town -everything is light and fresh-lasting. Several of the best-known dishes here are variations on old favorites. The Golden Crown Pork, for instance, is moo shi pork with the egg resting on top as a lovely thin omelette (we suggest asking the waiter not to dress the Chinese pancakes on which it’s served with bean sauce). The Royal Prawns are a lovely version of shrimp in chili sauce; they’re hot, sweet and pungent with ginger. (Preston Royal Shopping Center. Preston at Royal. Suite201. 361-1771. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30; dinner:daily 5:30-10. MC, V. AE, DC. $$) 5.5



O REVISITS



Frenchy Café. The neighborhood deli is alive andwell in Preston Royal: Step into Frenchy’s, and youstep into a world that’s immediately intimate andfamiliar. Friendly and gracious service is providedby Josey, Yvon and Chris Bouguyon, and thedishes they serve generally match the ambiancethey’ve created. We enjoyed a hot croissant drizzledwith baby Swiss cheese and a good truffle patebefore biting into our lunch entrees. Although theFrenchy crepe (with turkey, spinach and bluecheese sauce) and lasagna weren’t quite as tasty asthey appeared, the ham, spinach and pepperoniquiche (and the cappucino pie we had afterward)proved outstanding. This is an exceedingly pleasant luncheon spot – and Frenchy’s provides takeoutservice, too. (5940 Royal Lane. 369-1235. Mon 11am-3 pm, Tue-Fri 11 am-7 pm, Sat 11 am-5 pm.Closed Sun. MC, V; personal checks accepted.$$) 5.5



STEMMONS/BACHMAN LAKE



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

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



D REVISITS



The Mecca. (Southern/Breakfast) Outside, it’s a two-story house with cars crammed into the parking lot, set in the busiest commercial tract of Harry Hines. Inside, it’s a diner of the old school, swamped by folks of every sort-from politicos to truckers. Best noted for its whopping breakfasts, the Mecca also puts a hearty lunch on the table. Chicken-fried steak is a standby, of course, but there are other down-home things such as ham and cabbage. Brave the crowds and get there early if you want your choice of vegetables-the greens, carrots and macaroni and cheese go fast. (10422 Harry Hines. 352-0051. Mon-Fri 5:30 am-3 pm, Sat 5:30 am-2 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $) 4.5



Peking Szechuan. (Chinese) In its location next to amotel and amidst the snarled traffic patterns at the westend of the Bachman Lake area, Peking Szechuandoesn’t seem to be a very prepossessing restaurant. Butit serves some of the best Chinese food in Dallas.Among the chefs suggestions, the shredded duck ismost unusual: The meat is stir-fried in a spicy sauce androlled in delicate Chinese pancakes. The orange flavorsteak packs plenty of punch, and the shrimp with blackbeans is exemplary. (2560 W Northwest Hwy.353-0129. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat & Sun noon-11 pm. MC.V, AE. DC. $$) 6.0

ADDISON/RICHARDSON/FAR NORTH DALLAS



D REVISITS



Agnew’s at the Promenade. (Continental) Tom Agnew’s new restaurant, tucked away in a hard-to-find cranny of the Promenade shopping center, looks nice with its burgundy and brown appointments. But the food is not as memorable as it was at his previous place. A few dishes, such as the blackened fish, stand out. Others, such as the salmon in red pepper sauce and the duck Chinese style, just seem ordinary. Service is willing but not highly polished. (2500 Promenade Center, Coit Road between Belt Line and Arapaho. 437-0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0



Dynasty. (Chinese) A huge, round entranceway leads to a courtyard, which leads to the enameled and bedizened facade of the Dynasty Chinese Restaurant. The inside is similarly overwlehming: lots of rosewood, silk, gilt tableware and fresh flowers. The menu is almost intimidating, with a choice of expensive complete dinners and a smattering of a la carte selections. The dishes sound very exciting, but our experience here has rarely matched our anticipation. The Dynasty shrimp salad turned out to be an odd concoction of diced potatoes, peas and mayonnaise topped with long slices of cooked prawns, and the Eight Jewel Soup consisted mostly of canned things such as mushrooms and tiny squid. The Emerald Green Chicken Balls (chicken stir-fried with broccoli) gave no hint of the spicy tastes the menu promised. (GardenInn, 4101 BeltLine, Addison.385-7888. Mon-Sat 11-11, Sun 11:30 am-10:30 pm.Jackets required. MC. V, AE, DC. $$$) 4.5



D REVISITS



August Moon. (Chinese) Shine on, shine on, August Moon! We don’t know how you manage tokeep the quality so high with your awesomely complete menu, the huge volume of your customersand the very moderate prices you charge. But wehave never had a better crispy fish Hunan-style thanthe red snapper you served us on our last visit.Everything we tried was outstanding, from theunusual jalapeno pork to the oldest dish in the book,moo goo gai pan, which was distinguished by evenly cut and perfectly tender chicken, the freshest ofvegetables (including mushrooms, so often cannedeven at expensive Chinese places), and a gravy ofjust-right consistency made with rich broth. Wewould have bounced you up into the starry heavensof our “D” rating if your service hadn’t been a bitoff- due, no doubt, to the gala wedding party fillingup half the dining rooms. (15030 Preston at BeltLine. 385-7227. Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri &Sat 11-11. Reservations for four or more or forspecial banquets. Bar by membership. All creditcards. $$) 7.0



D Kebab ’N Kurry. (Indian) At lunch or dinner, this plain-looking little place serves unexcelled Indian food. At noon, the shrimpmasala, served in a rich red sauce, comes with soup,rice and curried vegetables. In the evening, it can bepart of a repast that might include some of the juicymeats grilled in the tandoor (a clay oven), a frighteninglyspicy beef vindaloo and a dish of homemade cheesecubes in a thick spinach puree. The shahajani biryani(chicken in a delicate rice pilaf) and the Indian breadsare sensational. (401 N Central Expwy. Suite 300.Richardson. 231-5556. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner:Sun-Thur 5.30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-10:30; brunch: Sat &Sun 11:30-2:30. Reservations. MC, V. AE, DC. $) SeeStemmons/Bachman Lake. 7.5

Laurel’s. (American Nouvelle) The dishes here look as if they had been lifted off the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens”: too pretty to eat and almost too pretty tobe appetizing. Petals of cold roast lamb and rectanglesof goat cheese, for instance, face each other on a plateand are surrounded by a pinkish sauce and garnishedwith a tomato rose. Everything here, such as the beefand the salmon we tried last time, is cooked competently, but the sauces lack depth and flair. Desserts canseem tasteless, but the view high above the lights of thecity is one of the loveliest in town. (Sheraton Park Cen-tral Hotel. 12720 Merit. 385-3000. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm.Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Jackets andties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.0



D REVISITS



La Bella. (Italian) This cozy neighborhood restaurant has a lot of potential. We say that because the entrées – except for veal dishes – are superb, but the soup (with canned veggies) and salad (of white iceberg lettuce) are dismal in comparison. We tried the linguini with white clam sauce, the fresh red snapper and a spicy sautéed chicken that was the special of the evening. Each was extremely fresh, and there was no skimping on the garlic and fresh spices. Our waiter was especially attentive, and he convinced us to try the cappuccino pie for dessert. Prices are reasonable, but your dinner could get expensive if you succumb to the tempting list of wines. (6757 Arapaho, Suite 721. 991-2828. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon- Thur 5:30-10. Fri 5:30-11. Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$) 4.5



Mr. Sushi. (Japanese) This cozy but stylish nook is far and away our favorite Japanese restaurant. The sushi bar boasts a vast variety of fish and shellfish, and everything we’ve tried has been impeccably fresh and flavorful. At the tables, the service is warm and efficient, and standard Japanese dishes such as tempura, chicken teriyaki and kara age (fried marinated chicken chunks) receive careful treatment. A surprise is how good the desserts are (Westernized, but all the better forthat): homemade rum cake and pina colada or greentea ice creams. (The Quorum, 4860 Belt Line, Addison.385-0168. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30-10. All creditcards. $$)6.5



D REVISITS



Purdy’s.(Burgers) The format is familiar: big burgers, hot dogs and steak sandwiches ordered at awindow, then dressed by the diner at a great big”fixin’s” bar. The sandwiches are of high quality(although the meat in the steak sandwiches couldbe more tender), and the homemade buns aregrilled. The bakery has other goodies, too-wewere impressed by the brownies and chocolatechip cookies. (The Quorum, 4812 Belt Line. 960-2494. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30pm, Fri & Sat 11-11,Sun noon-10 pm. MC. V, AE. $)4.5



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

6.0Ristorante Lombardi.(Northern Italian) We returnedto one of our favorite Italian restaurants anticipating theusual warm ambiance, charming service and delectable food. Well, the ambiance hadn’t changed, and theservice was friendly (if a bit distracted), but to ourdismay, the food wasn’t up to standard. Our tried-and-true favorite pasta, tortellini di parma, wasn’t as creamyas we remembered, though it was just as flavorful. Andthe grilled shrimp in garlic butter was dry and flavorless;there was no trace of garlic, and the shrimp didn’t tastefresh. But the special, veal scaloppine Marsala, was tender and flavorful, and the accompanying souffle of spinach, carrots and potatoes was deliciously light. Thedessert souffles, especially the unusual raspberry, werestill sinfully good. (Adelstein Plaza. 15501 Dallas Pkwyat Arapaho. 458-8822. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 5:45-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:45-11. Closed Sun. Allcredit cards $$$) 6.0



PLANO/LEWISVILLE/LAKE DALLAS



D REVISITS



Fishmonger’s Oyster Bar. (Seafood) This used tobe mainly a takeout place with a few tables for dining in. Recently, it more than doubled its seatingcapacity, and while there is still fresh seafood onsale at the market and plenty of take-home business, Fishmonger’s now feels more like the oysterbar in its name. The food is Louisiana-style, and itcompares favorably with some of the middle-rankNew Orleans places. We’re crazy about the grilledredfish special and the odd but satisfying solestuffed with whole shrimp, crab and cheese. Thefried seafood is fine-although, like the gumbo andeven the fries, it can be overly spicy- and the breadpudding is wonderful. On weeknights, there are all-you-can-eat specials. (1915 N Central Expwy, Suite600, Piano. 423-3699. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri11-11, Sat noon-10 pm. Sun noon-9 pm. All creditcards. $$) 5.5



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



D REVISITS



Hearthstone Manor. This Victorian manor was built in 1885, and much of the charm of that age has been retained through the use of ornate wallpaper, elegant chandeliers and an airy veranda. But this pleasant alternative to high-tech and gimmicky eating spots disappointed our palates. The veal Marsala was flavorless, and the stuffed shrimp tasted as though it had spent too many hours on the dock. Perhaps the artificial taste of the plastic serving shell rubbed off on the bread crumbs and crab meat. The chocolate chip pie was a sweet finish to an otherwise hapless evening. (201 E Main, Lewis-ville. 221-4515. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3; dinner: Tue-Fri 5-10, Sat 5:30-10. MC, V, AE, DC. $$)4.0



GARLAND/ MESQUITE /ROCK WALL



Culpepper Cattle Company. (Steak & Barbecue) Thisis the place to take out-of-state visitors if you want toshow them the Texas they came to see: It’s theatricallyWestern in decor and serves beef cooked all kinds ofways. (The lovely hillside view of Lake Ray Hubbardmay educate the folks to some of the more unexpectedpleasures of the state, too.) We prefer the steaks – whichare of high quality and cooked to order-to the barbecue, at least as exemplified by the rather tastelessspareribs. Perhaps the best thing on the menu, though.is the mesquite-broiled quail: It’s smoky, juicy and verymemorable. (309 E 1-30, Rockwall. (214) 722-1001.Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11 pm. Sunnoon-10 pm. MC. V, AE. $$) 5.5

LAS COliNAS/MID-CITIES



Los Canarios. (Mexican) Friday and Saturday nightsare special nights here, since that’s when the house offers its seafood specialties: shrimp enchiladas, crab-meat flautas and chimichangas. At first, we suspectedthe regular menu of being typically Tex-Mex. But soonwe saw that the usual chili and melted cheese toppingswere absent; instead, the kitchen prefers a green molesauce (a delicate sauce of green tomatoes). Anotherdiversion is the ceviche that’s available Thursdaythrough Saturday nights. The strip-shopping-centerlocale of this restaurant makes it a hard place to find, butscores of Mid-Cities dwellers make this a regular weeklystop. (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 $$) 4.5

Milano’s. (Northern Italian) Judging from the woodenexterior and blue awnings of this Collins Boulevard stop,we didn’t expect to find such a lavish dining room andmenu. The dimly lit, paneled dining room, with its intimate booths and deep cushions, spells romance. ThisItalian restaurant is a place for lovers – if they have hearty appetites. The expansive menu offers several attractive selections in the veal, seafood, beef, chicken andpasta categories. We heartily recommend the vealscampi, a dish that weds huge Gulf shrimp with delicatemedallions of veal Marsala. The fettuccine was betterthan any we’ve tasted in a long time, and the appetizerof crab claws in drawn butter was scrumptious. (815 NCollins, Arlington. (817) 261-2216. Lunch: Mon-Fri11:30-2: dinner: daily 5:30-10:30. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0



FORT WORTH



Angelo’s. (Barbecue) It’s difficult to say anything critical about a place that’s become a Fort Worth institution. No one makes better barbecued ribs than Angelo. His sliced beef plates and ribs make it worth putting up with distressed wanresses and virtually non-existent servtce.If the large portions are more than you can handle, skipthe extras and dive into a pound of sauce-drenchedribs. You can’t go wrong with Angelo’s best. (2533 WhileSettlement Rd. (817) 332-0357. Mon-Sat 11 am- 10pm.Closed Sun. No credit cards. $$) 7.0



D REVISITS



D Michel. (Classic French) In a stately oldhouse that’s been nicely redecorated, theowner/chef offers a fixed-price dinner withfive courses – and exudes his own personal charm(he makes it a point to visit each table during theevening). It takes a photographic memory to recallall the dishes the waiter describes. We settled onsweetbreads and red snapper, and both were doneto a turn. Little things like the sorbet of raspberriesand the very French green salad were executedwith panache, but we were surprised that the highlytouted chocolate-Grand Marnier dessert wasflavorless. And for a restaurant of such pretensions,the housekeeping was a bit careless. (3851 CampBowie. (817) 732-1231. Tue- Thur 6-10 pm. Fri & Sat6 pm-midnight. All credit cards. $$$$) 7.5


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