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The hottest new restaurants in the Metroplex

Dakota’s. (American Grill) Dakota’s was a hit from its opening: It has that sense of drama that’s requisite these days, plus excellent food. You enter the restaurant from a kiosk in the middle of an intersection adjacent to the new Lincoln Plaza building. Inside, the place is full of the marble from which it takes its name, and at night, when the piano is being played, the hard surfaces can intensify the noisy atmosphere.

Dakota’s specializes in mesquite-grilled items-everything from artichokes to every conceivable meat. The ones that we tried, from steak to pheasant, were exemplary. The pheasant was one of the best treatments we have sampled of that recalcitrant bird: The skin was crisp, the meat was juicy, and all was flavored with a piquant chili poblano sauce. The baby back ribs in a ginger sauce were exceptional, and even the artichokes took well to the grill.

The menu provides some good choices for those who aren’t in the mood for mesquite-grilled food. Among the appetizers, the barbecued shrimp were as good as any we’ve had outside New Orleans, and the lobster bisque went to the head of its class. The blackened red snapper was not quite worthy of its Louisiana heritage, but it was tasty all the same. The fresh lobster was cooked to perfection-tender, rich and meaty.

Unfortunately, the desserts bordered ondisappointment. The pecan cheesecake oddly resembled Christmas fruitcake in flavor,and the chestnut mousse sounded better thanit tasted. The ice cream concoctions (afudge- and nut-encrusted sundae and amocha pie) turned out to be the best bets.The nicest part of the end of the meal,though, was the check. While it’s not inexpensive, Dakota’s is reasonably priced forsuch a tony place. (600 N. Akard. 740-4001. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, Sun 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 5-10:30, Fri & Sat 5-11:30; Sunbrunch: 11-2:30. All credit cards. Lunch $$, dinner $$$) 8.0

Café Kashtan. (Ukrainian) We almost hesitate to recommend Café Kashtan-despite some unique and very appetizing food -because of the sometimes maddeningly slow service. On our first visit, the service was snail-like, but the next time, things had improved enough that we can advise you to go-if you can allot a couple of hours for a leisurely dinner. After all, how many Ukrainian restaurants can Dallas boast? Cafe Kashtan is run by a family that left the Soviet Union just five years ago. It’s the only place we know of in town where you can order chicken Kiev cooked by a native of Kiev. And its atmosphere is pleasantly and unpretentiously formal-looking, with white tablecloths and dark paneled walls.

Not everything on the menu here is outstanding, but there are many delights. All the soups we’ve tried have been terrific (we haven’t been able to try the borscht-they’ve always been out of it on our visits). All the soups are accompanied by pirozhki (fried chicken-stuffed dumplings). Among the appetizers, the kholedtz (chopped chicken jellied in aspic) and the liver paté are interesting, but we prefer the Kashtan Sampler (mounds of cold salads made from beets, radishes and homemade sauerkraut).

The main dishes featuring veal and steak aren’t very exciting, and even here, we must say, we find chicken Kiev boring. But the chicken Tabaka (flattened, flavored with garlic and grilled), the mustardy beef stroganoff and the cabbage rolls are all worth exploring. The desserts change every night, but the ones we have tried (an almond cake with raspberry sauce and a raisin strudel) were exceptional. (5365 Spring Valley at Mont-fort. 991-9550. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10 Closed Sun. MC, V. $$) 6.0

1st wok. (Chinese) In a location that most recently held Peking China, 1st Wok has opened its doors. New Chinese places open with such frequency that it’s hard for one to attract much attention, but 1st Wok serves food good enough to be noticed. The long menu looks standard enough, except for some fairly unusual appetizers. We tried the noodles in sesame sauce and the scallion pancakes (also called Chinese pizza) and found both delightful, but they were more like snack food than appetizers.

The long list of house specialties seemsho-hum (how many Happy Family dishesdoes it take before the assortment of meatsand vegetables stops seeming so special?),but 1st Wok cooks them all with panache.The Orange Flavor Beef and the 1st WokDouble Flavor Feast (shrimp in hot chilisauce and pork in black bean sauce) are top-notch. One sure test of a Chinese kitchen ishow well it cooks a simple dish like chickenwith snow peas, and 1st Wok passed with flying colors, with chicken that was particularlytender and juicy. Only a few places in towncan top 1st Wok, and most of them are considerably more expensive. (7001 Fair Oaks. 369-2737. Mon-Thur 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m., Sun noon-11 p.m.All credit cards. $$) 6.0

La Cave. (French/Wine Bistro) We have never taken very seriously the pretensions of the original La Cave on Henderson to being a restaurant rather than merely a pleasant wine bar. But this new branch, located in a rather deserted corner of the West End warehouse district, has food that clearly should be reckoned with. Besides the pates, cheeses and sandwiches that make up most of the fare at the other location, there are some more ambitious dishes. We found the arle-quin of fish (sole wrapped around spinach alongside mullet in a coral-colored sauce) to be buttery and delicious. The coquelin (game hen broiled and accompanied by a garlicky, but for us insufficiently rich, aioli)was less impressive but still creditableenough. We didn’t like the ratatouille, but weenjoyed the desserts: a lovely apple tart anda rich chocolate mousse. Of course, theadventure of going to the wine cellar to pickout a bottle at a reasonable price-alwaysone of the joys of going to La Cave-isamplified here, where the cellar is reallyunderground. (2019 N. Lamar. 871-2072. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6 p.m.-midnight; Sun brunch: 11-3. All creditcards. $$) 6.0

Fortune Garden. (Chinese) Among the fanciest and best of the new Chinese places in Richardson is Fortune Garden. Since it occupies the quarters of the defunct Rheun Thai (a Thai restaurant of treasured memory), we knew it had to be good for us to love it. Although its decor is marked with a few strange contradictions (such as oilcloth-covered tables amid ornate chandeliers and fabric-covered walls), the atmosphere is pleasant. And the menu includes some very good dishes.

We haven’t found Fortune Garden to be a propitious place for Americanized dishes. The pu pu platter, for instance, is more curious than satisfying. It’s much wiser to start with soup. The hot and sour soup is unequivocally the best in the Metroplex, with good flavor and no extraneous ingredients. The won ton soup Hong Kong style has lots of tasty won tons, and the watercress soup is unusual. For those who don’t want a liquid appetizer, the fried dumplings are well-prepared.

Among the main courses, the Steak withOrange Flavor is an unusually fine version-large, pillowy pieces of meat that aren’tdrowned in a gooey sauce. The pan-friedshrimp Chinese-style are delicious but hardto eat: You have to peel the crustaceans at thetable, and it’s difficult to retain the flavor ofthe garlic and ginger in which they have beencooked. More ordinary dishes, such as porkwith snow peas and chicken with cashewnuts, have distinct flavors. The menu offersunusually generous selections of vegetables(we loved the Chinese cabbage with creamsauce), casseroles (we were puzzled by theTung-Kwong Bean Curd-it was more like asoup) and noodle dishes (we were dauntedby the listing-in Chinese ideograms only).The service at Fortune Garden tries hard,but it’s impeded by the language barrier. (Keystone Park Shopping Center. 13929 N.Central Expwy., Richardson. 235-3032. Sun-Thur 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-midnight. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Puerto Vallarta. (Mexican) Mexican restaurants with ambition don’t seem to open as often as we would expect in Dallas. This is one of the most attractive places in one of the city’s largest Mexican neighborhoods, but it doesn’t seem to have caught its stride yet. The hot sauce with bits of cilantro is tasty, and the service is polite. From the restaurant’s name, we expected to find some seafood dishes on the menu, but the only one(shrimp) was unavailable when we visited.We enjoyed the more unusual dishes, such asthe vegetarian enchiladas and the chickenMilanesa (a breast beaten thin and sautéedwith a bit of garlic). The steak tampiquenawas tender, cooked to order and accompanied by good rice and beans. But the standard Tex-Mex items, such as beef enchiladas,tacos and guacamole, were dull, and the fa-jitas lacked taste. Since Puerto Vallarta doesexhibit some potential, we hope it will become more consistent. (2525 Wycliff, Suite126. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, Mon-Sat 5:30-10; Sat & Sun brunch: 8-3. All credit cards.522-9173. $$) 5.0

Alfredo’s. (Pizza) This small pizza joint has attracted a lot of notice, and one of the biggest surprises is just how far north it is. Alfredo’s pies have a wonderfully crisp crust and are made entirely to order. (We love watching the dough being tossed high in the air, although the wait can be long.) We do wish the pizzas had more tomato sauce to give them a bit more flavor, however. There are also some other standard Italian dishes available; and we enjoyed the cannelloni and the eggplant parmigiana. (4043 Trinity Mills at Midway. 242-7135. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-midnight, Sun noon-10 p.m. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $) 5.0

City Park Café. (Eclectic) At first glance, this small South Side establishment may remind you more of TV’s Cheers than a neighborhood cafe”, but stick around for the food. This is one neighborhood café that goes way beyond chicken-fried steak.

Our first surprise came when we encountered smelts on the appetizer menu (our first sighting of the small, sardinelike fish in North Texas). Our suspicions about their freshness were soon put to rest when they arrived, fried in a light batter and accompanied by a lemon wedge.

The rest of the menu takes a more traditional route, with offerings such as steak Diane, veal piccata and fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp and crab. For lighter appetites, there’s a selection of salads and sandwiches (Cobb salad, chicken divan, Monte Cristo). And all the entrees are accompanied by sau-téed fresh vegetables that are neither too crisp nor overdone.

There’s just a handful of tables in this cozyrestaurant near TCU, and the service reflectsthat intimacy. Our waitress was always athand during our meal, offering suggestionsfor each course. The recommended timbalewafer with ice cream and hot praline saucefor dessert was a rich ending to a satisfyingmeal. (2418 Forest Park at Park Hill. (817) 921-4567. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3, Sat 11-4, Sun11:30-4; dinner: Mon-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11, Sun 5-9. MC, V, AE.) 5.5


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” indictes 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.



D Café Royal. (French/Continental) Trying to reclaim its place at the top of the heap, Cafe Royal has lowered prices (to $31.50 prix fixe) and has become more classical and less nou-velle in its cooking style. The food can be marvelous, as with the terrine of fresh American foie gras or the mullet with a watercress sauce we sampled. Or it can be ordinary, as with the beef Wellington the captain recommended. Besides the lapses in the food, what keeps Cafe Royal from the highest rank in Dallas restaurants is the service, which we found courteous but woefully inefficient on our last visit. (Plaza of the Americas, 650 N Pearl. 747-7222. Lunch; Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.0

Caret’s Creperie. (Crepes) Upstairs at Ceret seemspretty much like downstairs at Ceret: bare concretepillars from the brewery days, no tablecloths, somewhatfrazzled service. But crêperie prices are an original idea.Imagine, in Dallas, an elegant meal for as little as $5. Wehad escargots and mushrooms rolled in a light, delicately sauced crêpe. 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-Thur 6:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 6.0

D The French Room. (French Nouvelle) Like something out of a Fragonard painting with its Corinthian columns and swags of drapery, the French Room offers the most lavish table in town. It can be difficult to get a reservation (we called a week ahead and had to settle for a 10 o’clock seating), but the food was worth it, from the opening pithiviers of snails to the concluding pastries. The lamb cooked in a brioche-dough crust and the assertively garlicky loup (a European sea bass) topped with an eggplant puree were both mightily impressive. The service, although still quitepolished, didn’t seem quite as stately as before. (Adol-phus Hotel. 1321 Commerce. 742-8200. Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jacketsand ties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0


Ferrari’s. (Italian) The veal dishes are wonderful here, but on a recent visit, service was uneven. The veal in lemon-wine sauce and the fettuccine were worth waiting for. The tomato sauces are fresh, and the pastas include a rich cannelloni. When dessert finally arrived, we enjoyed the chocolate mousse cake. (1713 Market 741-5538. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11-2: dinner: Tue-Thur & Sun 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11; Sun brunch: 11:30-2:30. MC, V, AE. $$$) 6.5

The Palm. (Steak/Seafood) Our first visit to the Palmwas a bit disappointing, in view of the expectationsraised by a $72 lobster – or, for that matter, a $20 steak.Now we know what to order (filet mignon) and howmuch (one steak for two people). As a friend observedabout the Palm’s policy on splitting orders, “Sometimesyou have to stare down the waiter, but they’ll do it.” Wealso sampled the pork chops, which were flavorful andmoist. Side dishes are superb: light, crisp onion rings,bountiful salads and real New York cheesecake. Andthe rowdy ebullience on a Friday night is a true tonic atthe week’s end. (701 Ross. 698-0470. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11:30 am-11 pm, Sat 5-11 pm. Sun 5-9:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.0

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. vve still think the chefs talent with seafood is ex-traordinary: Our shrimp and scallop appetizers wereperfectly cooked and beautifully sauced. But the maincourses (steak in a wine and mushroom sauce andstuffed quail) were less distinguished. Happily, thedesserts, 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

Sam’s Bar and Grill. (Eclectic) Here’s an ambitiousnew place that courts the after-hours trade with avengeance: 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). It’s a pleasure tohave Sam’s to go to after a play or concert, but it doesfeel odd dining, with very little company, in full view ofthe street in what one might perceive to be a slightlyrough part of town in the wee hours of the morning. Allthe food at Sam’s is very good, but it can be quite expensive. The best bets are the mesquite-grilled items,such as the Black Angus steaks and the swordfish.(Bradford Plaza Hotel, 302 S Houston. 761-9090. Open 24 hours daily. All credit cards. Breakfast and lunch $$,dinner $$$) 6.0


Capriccio. (Northern Italian) Of all the remodeled old houses that have served as restaurants in Dallas, this one may have kept its character the best and turned out to be the loveliest. Some care has also been given to the food, although it’s not as exciting as the look of Capric-cio. The spaghetti topped with chicken livers is an interesting choice for those with a taste for giblets, and the angel-hair pasta in fresh tomato sauce has a lively taste of fresh basil. The entrees we’ve tried have been pleasant but unexceptional; the best is probably the tournedos in a light wine sauce. Desserts at Capriccio, though, are something special. Both the Concord cake(of chocolate and meringue) and the rum cake (something like a cheesecake in texture, with lots of raisins) arememorable. (2616 Maple. 871-2004. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner daily 6-11. All credit cards. Lunch $$,dinner $$$) 5.5

D D. Michael. (Nouvelle) This temple of the NewSouthwestern Cuisine is settling into some finecooking. The best dishes are now magnificent:patties of lamb sausage served over fettuccine in threecolors and a walnut-and-apple cake surrounded by twosauces. We also like the autumn salad and the venisonin Cabernet sauce. Some dishes still don’t work-theokra served with the red snapper and shrimp doesn’tjibe with the achiote sauce, and both fish and shellfishwere burnt. But chef David Pisegna is weeding out mostof the losers, and the slow service that once prevailedhas been replaced by a reserved efficiency. (2917 Fair-mount. 871-0123. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6:30-10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V. AE. $$$) 7.5

Fran’s. (Southern) This is a rather uptown place to beserving home cooking-the menu is coyly posted on little blackboards, for instance-but the food is reassuringly old-fashioned. ’Chicken-fried chicken” turns out tobe a breast that’s breaded, fried and topped with gravy(closer to what Mom used to make than the chicken anddumplings, which are light on the chicken and heavy onthe dumplings). The vegetables are fresh and tasty, butthe cobbler doesn’t have a fresh-fruit taste. (3005 N Hall.741-7589. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 5.5


J. Papa Gonzalez. (Mexican) Turquoise and pink decor define this Oak Lawn establishment as “Nou-veau-Mex,’ and the shrimp and spinach enchiladas confirmed our judgment. This is a successful hybrid, with a plethora of excellent traditional Tex-Mex dishes sometimes tempered by annoyingly mild sauces. Desserts like the praline pie and sopapillas with strawberries make it worthwhile to linger rather than rushing to get the check. (The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. 971-0366. Mon-Thur 11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-11 pm. Sat noon-11 pm, Sun noon-9 pm. MC, V, AE. $$) 5.0

Herrera Café. (Tex-Mex) This dumpy little shack withits crumbling facade, air conditioning unit jutting out infront and fading fresco proclaiming “Café Herrera!’ wasrecently 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, riceand beans. Neither beer nor margaritas are served, soyou’d better bring your own beer or order a tall glass oficed tea before trying the hot hot sauce. (3902 Maple. 526-9427. Mon. Wed & Thur 9 am-8 pm, Fri-Sun 9 am-10 pm. Closed Tue. No credit cards. $) 5.5


D Jean-Claude. (Classic French) Unfortunately, the impression we had on ourprevious visit was confirmed by our mostrecent one: The glories of Jean-Claude are asometime thing these days. There are always somefine dishes in any meal here; for instance, thechocolate souffle with Grand Marnier always seemsto be perfect. But on our last visit, three dishes wereoff the mark. Both a shrimp appetizer and a venisonentree tasted as if someone had gone berserk witha vinegar bottle. The lovely-looking individuallobster wasn’t hot when served, and its sauce wastasteless. Jean-Claude keeps its “D” for now by virtue of successes like the frog’s leg mousse- but wehope that the downward trend can be reversed.(2404 Cedar Springs. 748-6619. Tue-Sat seatingsat 6 & 9 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations required. MC, V. AE, DC. $$$$) 8.0<BR>D Jennivine. (Nouvelle) Now that Jennivine hasdecided to play in the big leagues by offeringnouvelle cooking, the dear old girl has to bejudged by the highest standards. And she holds up verywell: On our last visit, the shrimp and scallops in a honeyvinaigrette was outstanding, and the duck in gingersauce was crisp on the outside and pink and juicywithin. The pates are still among the best in town (welove the platters with several patés, cheeseS and fruits).The salads and desserts aren’t quite up to the level of therest of the food, but the prices are moderate enoughthat there is plenty of value. (3605 McKinney. 528-6010. Lunch: Tue-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10. Fri & Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. Reservations. All creditcards. $$$) 7.5

D L’Amblance. (French Nouvelle) The rathersmall menu here doesn’t change much, and thefrequent visitor can soon find favorites such asthe salad of watercress, bacon and goat cheese or theveal with mushrooms in a port sauce. But specials of theday keep boredom from creeping in. We were enchanted with the lobster and shrimp in a tingly gingersauce and the fresh asparagus salad. The desserts aremagnificent, and we can’t seem to stray very far from theextraordinary Floating Island or the Concord cake. Theone disappointment 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. All creditcards. $$$) 8.0

La Trattoria Lombard!. (Northern Italian) From our appetizers of crab claws sautéed with white wine sauce to the order of creamy fettuccine Alfredo, from our entrees of shrimp (sautéed in garlic butter) and veal (breaded and topped with cheese and tomato sauce) to the delicious dessert of homemade cappuccino pie, this pleasant restaurant excels. The candle-lit 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 La Vieille Varsovie (The Old Warsaw). (French/Continental) If soft lights, lavish trappings and a violin-and-piano duo can entrance you, this is your spot. The food can be very good, as with the tournedos Rossini and the sea bass garnished with lobster and crab that we sampled on our last visit. It can also be dull, as the salmon feuillete and oystersHarlequin proved. On the whole, this doyenne of Dallasrestaurants has slipped a bit from the heights it hadonce attained a year or so ago. (2610 Maple. 528-0032.Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11:30 pm. Reservations. Jackets required. All credit cards. $$$$) 7.5

Le Boul’ Mich. (French) This cozy gray house acrossfrom the Quadrangle has been the favorite “little Frenchrestaurant” of many Dallasites for many years. But latelywe’ve noticed a little graying around the temples, a fading from glory, a surrender to Old Man Time. The foodis basically sound – a seafood omelette and a lunchtimequiche we had recently were definitively French andfirst-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 theoverall 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 offersthe laid-back comfort of home. (2704 Worthington. 826-0660. Mon- Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. Closed Sun. MC. V, AE. $$$) 5.5

D The Mansion on Turtle Creek. (American Nouvelle) When you arrive here, you feel as if you ought to roll up in your Rolls-or at least a Jag (this is still the toniest place in Dallas). The food can be extraordinary. Our venison with black-bean polenta and our filets of salmon and halibut in a mild mustard sauce scaled the heights, and the grilled shrimp on a bed of pasta with horseradish sauce was superb. The filet of sole in a sauce of yellow peppers was an appealing combination. But our desserts-chocolate-chip ricotta cake and chocolate mousse cake-lacked the ultimate refinement that one expects in a restaurant ofthis caliber. (2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Maindining room (jackets and ties required, except atbrunch)-lunch: Mon-Fri noon-2:15: brunch: Sat noon-2:15, Sun 11-2:15; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11; supper: Mon-Thur 10:30 pm-midnight, Fri & Sat 11pm-midnight. Promenade Room-breakfast: daily7-10:30: lunch: Mon-Fri noon-2: tea: Mon-Fri 3-5:30.Reservations. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.5

Palermo. (Italian) This new Italian place occupies thesite of Shannon Wynne’s short-lived restaurant, Mexico,and uses some of the same decor. The specialties include some authentic and (for Dallas) unusual Italianrecipes, but so far the talent in the kitchen is underwhelming. Some of the notable disappointments wehave had here include a tasteless stuffed artichoke,pasty cauliflower soup, grossly oily prosciutto servedwith cantaloupe, gummy cappelletti (essentially tortellini)and rum cake with no flavor of spirits. The salmon a lastimpirata had no flavor other than the capers in thesauce, and the veal suprema was tough and was sabotaged by a rubbery topping of baked cheese, although the bordelaise sauce gave it a nice flavor. Thebest dishes we had at Palermo were the spaghetti withmeat sauce and the silk pie. (2911 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-5083 Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-1am, Sun 5-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 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 is much better than average (we can’t remember the last time we enjoyed old-fashioned beef tacos as much), and the fancier dishes like fajitas and chiles rellenos are creditable. (3011 Routh. 871-9445. Mon-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm & 5:30-10 pm, Sat 10:30 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 5.5

Ristorante Vincenzo. (Italian) This new place in the location that Sergio’s and Via Veneto used to occupy offers an interesting assortment of dishes from all over theItalian peninsula. The pasta selections are unusual,ranging from spaghetti with julienne eggplant to smallpasta shells in a sauce rich with ricotta. Main courses include a flavorful grilled swordfish steak with a sauceloaded with olives and garlic, chicken topped with Swisscheese and mushrooms, and classics such as scampiand veal (with ham in a brown sauce flecked with sage).(The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh. Suite 165. 742-3872. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Fri 5:30-10, Sat 5:30-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0


D Routh Street Café. (American Nouvelle) Try not to schedule your hard-to-get reservation here right after the place has been closed for a vacation-it takes a while for chef Stephan Pyles to get back up to full speed. When he regains his form, he turns out what is probably the best food in town. Everything we had on our last visit was marvelous, so we’ll just reel off a few names to set your mouth watering: sweetbreads and shrimp with chervil and saffron sauces, grilled sea scallops with sun-dried tomatoes and pecans, veal scallops with pomegranate and leek sauces, roast squab with ancho chiles and shitake mushrooms. In between came matchless ices and salads, and to end the meal were spectacular pumpkin-pecan and chocolate brownie pies. (3005 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-7161. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Lounge: Tue-Sat 6 pm-1:30 am. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0

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


D Atlantic Café. (Seafood/Continental) Sleek and snazzy with its etched glass, brass and marble. Atlantic Cafe offers food as chic as its decor No Mexican place in town can match the ceviche of scallops and shrimp, bright with the taste of cilantro, and no Italian place can match the mozzarella-and-tomato salad. This is one of Dallas’ premier seafood restaurants; the tender “buster” (baby soft-shell) crabs and the delicately sautéed Dover sole prove that. But it also has some fine things for those who abhor fish: The pepper steak is exemplary. Desserts are remarkable, too; the crêpe filled with fresh strawberries is tasty (though overpoweringly sweet), and the cream custard is rich and light beyond belief (4546 McKinney at 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. DC $$$) 8.0


Bohemia. (Czechoslovakian) This tiny, romanticjewel never fails to leave us happily replete after asturdy, country-Czech meal served in a room dancing with Viennese waltzes and flickering candlelighton lace tablecloths. Our favorite is sauerbratenserved with cranberries, soup or salad, severalchoices of vegetables and boiled potatoes or thick,pasty dumplings. The sauce is dark and viscous inappearance, but one bite proves it light and delightfully spiced, a waltz in itself. Pfefferhasen (roastedrabbit) is a real native treat. And. as always, wedidn’t pass up the homemade apple strudel. Bohemia offers perhaps the most filling and romanticunder$40 meal for two in the city, with two glassesof Czech wine and dessert. (2810 N Henderson.826-6209. Sun & Tue-Thur 5:30-9:30 pm. Fri & Sat 5:30- 10:30 pm Closed Mon. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

Chez Gerard. (Country French) Guy and Marline Calluaud have installed their French associates, Gerard Rousset and Pascal Cayet. as chef and manager, respectively, at this tiny new establishment, which is about as close to the French provinces as you can get on upper McKinney The food is hearty country fare, French style. The swordfish grilled on a skewer is marvelously cooked, and the casserole of rabbit braised in red wine is tasty, if a bit chewy. The pepper steak (filet in a creamy black peppercorn sauce) is an excellent version of this standard dish. Desserts strike the same high average as the rest of the food. Chez Gerard also offers a light lunch menu, with omelettes, sandwiches and salads. (4444 McKinney. 522-6865. Lunch. Mon-Fri 10:30-2:30, dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. MC. V. AE Lunch $$. dinner $$$) 6.0


Highland Park Cafeteria. (Southern) A trip to thePrestonwood-area location of this old Dallas institution can be a bit disappointing. Some of the mostfamous dishes, such as the unique chopped spinach salad with horseradish, are usually not available, and the fried chicken often fails to come up tothe standard of the original Knox-Cole location.There are still many pleasures, though, such as thestuffed peppers and the incredible desserts. Wealways seem to go for the coconut pie or the German chocolate cake. (4611 Cole. 526-3801. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm. Closed Sun. No liquor. No creditcards. $)See Addison/Richardson/Far NorthDallas. 6.0

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

D Ristorante Valentino. (Northern Italian) Themenu at this excellent new Italian restaurant issmall and imaginative, with notable successesat every stage. The lasagna with scallops- lots of richcheese, whole leaves of basil and no tomato -issublime, and the small pasta shells with tomato andgarlic and the angel-hair pasta with lobster, cognac andtomato are not far behind. The beef tenderloin in acream sauce with green peppercorns has an assertiveflavor, and the red snapper with a fresh tomato saucecouldn’t be fresher and lighter. (2929 N Henderson. 826-7804. Sun-Thur 6-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-11 pm.All credit cards. $$$) 7.5

Tolbert’s Texas Chill Parlor. (Texana) The late, greatFrank Tolbert’s big. open restaurant is an easy place torelax over a beer or get rowdy while watching games onthe tube. But it’s an even better place to chow down onsome of the area’s best Texas cooking: burgers,nachos, chicken-fried anything and, of course. Tolbert’sfamous bowl of red. The generous portion of chickennachos (fried flour tortillas topped with big chunks ofspiced 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 aperfectly cooked, satisfying sandwich. The huge tacosalad was rather ordinary-a bit heavy on the lettuceand light on the cheese sauce. But the golden onionrings and the delicious Chicken Fred sandwich (moistgrilled chicken on a wheat bun with crisp bacon andCheddar) were fine. We appreciated the efficient, friendly service at lunchtime. (4544 McKinney. 522-4340. Mon-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. Sun noon-11 pm. MC, V, AE. $) 5.0


Alfredo Trattoria. (Northern Italian) Almost everything we have tried at Alfredo Trattoria has been disappointing: commercial noodles in a tasteless cream sauce masquerading as fettuccine della casa. undistinguishedveal in a thin Marsala sauce and even overdressedsalads consisting mostly of iceberg lettuce- A few successes kept Alfredo Trattoria from being a total write-off:The grilled baby salmon had a delicate taste, and theveal fiorentina had an attractively lemony sauce atop itsmeat, spinach and crab. Several of the desserts, suchas the lemon tart and zuppa inglese, were fine, too.(5404 Lemmon. 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

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 6-10:30 pm Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.5

D The Verandah Club. (American Nouvelle) Dean Fearing, formerly at Agnew’s, may be the most talented chef in town, so it was good news to hear that he has a kitchen to work in again at The Verandah Club, a sports-and-spa establishment on the grounds of the Loews Anatole Hotel. Here, Fearing produces some of the New Southwestern Cuisine dishes that made Agnew’s so distinguished, plus some further innovations in the style. Although The Verandah Club is private, it accepts non-member diners who want to give it a try. There are a few disappointments among the mostly fabulous opening salads and elegantly sauced entrees, but you couldn’t have a better dish than the grilled salmon in a jewel-like golden sauce that we tried recently. (Loews Anatole Hotel. 2201 Stemmons Frwy 748-1200. Daily 6-9 pm. MC. V. AE. DC. $$$$) 8.5


Plum Blossom. (Chinese) The fate of somerestaurants parallels the fate of certain rock starsand TV mini-series: Their delivery can’t match theirhype. Or did we catch the chef on an off night? Itwas his Great Dynasty Banquet, after all, that beganthe evening with crispy shrimp and soft noodles thatwere both far too salty, his Mongolian fire pot wasa forgettable blend of beef, pork, chicken andgreen noodles salvaged only by some tender scallops. The bad dream was momentarily dispelled bythe arrival of the main course: duck, lobster and seatrout, the latter in a fine kumquat sauce. But thesetop-flight dishes were followed by a disappointingafterthought of dessert, a yawn-inducing mix ofpineapple and other fruit. If our banquet was indicative of the other multi-course meals here, we’d suggest ordering a la carte from the regional dishes ofChina, which include a lovely chicken and eggplantin garlic sauce (Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm Closed Sun. Reservations required. Jackets required. Allcredit cards. $$$) 6.0


Boulevard Café. (Steak/Burgers) This pioneer in the Jefferson Boulevard renaissance only dimly resembles any place on Lower Greenville: There are plants around, but the place isn’t really trying to be chic. This is urban populism at its most appealing, with diners of every description. They come for the sandwiches (good burgers and grilled chicken) and thin, honest steaks at reasonable prices. The homemade chili (filled with big. ragged chunks of meat, just enough grease and lots of flavor-the real Texas thing) is the best item on the menu. We hope that the service we experienced here was atypical – it was inattentive and extremely spacey (367 W Jefferson. 941 -2812. Mon- Thur 11 am-9 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, DC. $) 4.5


La Calle Doce. (Mexican) Sitting in the shadows of the Oak Cliff Bank, this bright, airy house-turned-restaurant is one of the few Tex-Mex spots in thesouthern part of the city that offers more than theusual fare Among the more authentic specialties,all of the beef dishes are excellent (especially thechile rellenos). and the seafood items (which aredescribed on the menu as “fresh from the Trinity”)are also worthy of praise. The shrimp are meaty andcooked in garlic butter, and the snapper is coveredwith spicy tomatoes and bell peppers. The onlydisappointment was the rice, which was rather dry.(415 12th St. 941-4304. Mon-Thur 11 am-9:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm, Sun 11 am-8:30 pm. MC.V, AE. DC. $$) 5.5

Gennie’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, we know of no place where you can leave so happily stuffed for less cash. Consider Gennie’s chicken-fried steak: The gravy is thick and peppery; the crust is thin and crisp; the beef tastes like real steak. The vegetables-mashed potatoes, greens, corn-are heaped on your plate, and the desserts are enormous homemade fluffs of sweet meringueor peanut butter pie. (308 N Bishop. 946-1752. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm. No credit cards; personal checks accepted. $) 6.0

Plea’ Barbecue. (Barbecue) Mr. Ples started his catering business in 1931, and he’s been turning out barbecue ever since. In his converted Dairy Queen, Ples andhis wife prepare delectable ribs, sliced beef and sausage and serve it cafeteria-style with all the trimmings:turnip greens, beans, corn on the cob, corn bread anda slab of sweet potato pie that is poetry en croute. (1212 W Kiest. 371-5533. Mon-Thur 11 am-8 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-9 pm. Closed Sun. No credit cards. $) 6.0


Alessio’s. (Northern Italian) The daily specials in this intimate (and often crowded) place are so appealing thatyou may never look at the menu. We tried the soup andpasta 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 tinyshrimp and fresh tomato), underseasoned. The salad offresh mozzarella and tomato was worth the stiff price,and the entrees of veal Toscana (with artichokes andmushrooms) and grilled swordfish can’t be beat inDallas. Save room for the white chocolate ice cream orthe lemon ice, both topped with lots of fresh raspberries.(4117 Lomo Alto. 521-3585. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Sun & Mon 6-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $$$) 7.0


D Au Bon Gout. (French) This place dishes out extraordinary lunches and takeout specials by day and serves dinner on Friday and Saturday nights by reservation only. We were surprised to find so few tables occupied on our last evening visit, because the food is usually perfect. After a tiny hors d’oeuvre of puff pastry, the waiter brought us a cream of wild mushroom soup, a sorbet and a salad. We had a choice of entrees and took venison and salmon- both superb. The dessert was a rich, rich, rich terrine of chocolate. Maybe the unprepossessing environment and the influx oflavish restaurants in the neighborhood makes people unwilling to shell out the stiff price for a dinnerhere, but we think they are missing an opportunity.(4424 E Lovers Lane. 369-3526. Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner: Fri & Sat 7-11. Takeout hours: Mon-Sat 10 am-6 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations. Allcredit cards; personal checks accepted. Lunch $$,dinner $$$$) 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 Lovers Lane. 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) Philippe Carre, who was the chef at Jean Claude for a while, has recently ventured out to set up his own establishment. At Chez Philippe, the cooking is serenely self-assured and accomplished. The many interesting innovations are well within the framework of classic cuisine, and the results are delectable. The lobster we tried, served dramatically in the hollowed-out shell, had a subtle saffron sauce; the venison had a sauce sparked with raspberry vinegar; the tournedos of superb beef were served with a hearty wine sauce; and the veal (crowned with a magnificently cooked kidney)had a most unusual sauce flavored with 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 Lovers Lane. 353-9444. Tue-Sat seatings at 6 & 9 pm. Closed Sun & Mod. MC, V, AE, DC. $$$$) 9.0

Kuby’s. (German Deli) A visit to this German delicatessen/restaurant is truly a European experience. Thestore is crammed with German foodstuffs, meat, pastries and other delicacies. The lunch menu in the restaurant includes a variety of sandwiches, both German andAmericanized, as well as soups (a different one eachday of the week) and plates of Polish sausage, knack-wurst 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. Wealso 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; restaurant hours: Mon-Fri 8 am-5:30 pm. Sat 8 am-5 pm. Closed Sun. No creditcards tor 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

The Riviera. (French Provencal) An evening at TheRiviera is always a treat (and now it’s open for lunch, too). Host Franco Bertolasi remembers your face afterthe 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 crème 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



Campisi’s. (Italian) Is it still worth jockeying for ahard-to-find parking place and waiting in the inevitable long lines to dine here? We think so.Although the dimly lit dining room is cramped andnoisy, and the service can be mixed, the heapingplatter of crab claws drenched in garlic butter is, at$9, a bargain; the Italian dishes (we tried veal par-migiana with mostaccioli) are satisfying; and thelocally famous pizza (we went “all the way”) is still thetops in town. (5610 E Mockingbird. 827-0355, 827-7711. Mon-Fri 11 am-midnight. Sat 11 am-1 am, Sun 11:30 am-midnight. Reservations for six ormore. No credit cards. $$) 4.5

Banno Brothers. (Seafood) Like so many good, moderately priced seafood restaurants, Banno Brothers is cool and dimly lit, with a garish decor no doubt salvaged from a closeout sale in Davy Jones’ Locker. The menu can be trusted from top to bottom, from oysters on the half shell (shucked on location) to large, meaty fantailshrimp drenched in butter. The fried snapper has takena quantum leap for the better since our last visit; now it’stender, not too crusty and large. By the way, this is thesort of place where you can still order a “schooner” ofbeer and be understood. Ignore Banno’s venial sin ofcharging for hush puppies, and enjoy. (1516 Greenville. 821-1321. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri 11-11. Sat 5-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC. V. AE. $$) 4.5

DiPalma. (Italian) This crowded deli/wine store/pastry shop/restaurant can be the most exciting and lively Italian restaurant in Dallas, but it’s hardly the most consistent. Our most recent meal had everything from a wonderful shellfish soup with succulent scallops and shrimp in a garlicky broth to inedibly underdone veal grilled on a skewer with chicken and sausage. Pasta is usually impeccable here (although the pasta salads are sometimes overcooked and mushy). But the decorative desserts sometimes don’t taste as good as they look. (1520 Greenville. 824-4500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Closed Sun. MC. V. AE. $$) 6.0


Guadalajara. (Mexican) Some of the finest Mexican cooking in town still lurks in this classic dive justeast of downtown. On our last visit, we had an excellent milanesa (kind of a Mexican chicken-friedsteak) and a tasty, if rather tough, steak cooked withgarlic and chile pequin. Side dishes such as guaca-mole, fried potatoes and refned beans were exceptional. But if you venture here, be prepared for funkysurroundings and service that can border on theabusive. (3308 Ross at Hall. 823-9340. Mon-Thur 11 am-3:30 am. Fri 11 am-3:30 am. Sat & Sun 10:30 am-3:30 am. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

La Botica. (Mexican) La Botica has a gaily paintedminibus that picks up a minimum of 10 customers andbrings them to the restaurant for a fiesta-imbibingmargaritas as they travel. When the revelers arrive, theyfind a small restaurant that neatly balances a modern,neon-decorated look against ancient-looking wood-and-glass wall cabinets. The food is standard Tex-Mexthat’s cooked adequately, along with some more authentic and original dishes. We like both the porkcooked with chipotle chiles 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-Fri 5-11. Sat 5-10. Closed Sun& Mon. MC. V. $$) 5.0

Little Gus’. (Greek/Eclectic) One disadvantage of living in a melting pot is that over the years, all the food runs together and begins to taste the same. Thank goodness for Little Gus; he makes his Greek specialties live up totheir heritage. The moussaka is at once sharp andsweet and creamy, with layers of beef and spicy eggplant Gus offers some of the best hamburgers aroundat noon, but we prefer his restaurant after dark Thetaste for the heavy Greek resin wine may be an acquired one, but the candlelight and hot, filling foodspeak a universal language. (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 creditcards: personal checks accepted. $$) 6.0

Snuffer’s. (Eclectic) This small, casual restaurant nextto the Granada Theater is one of those rare placeswhere you feel at home immediately. Snuffer’s has alimited 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-2 am, Sun noon-2 am. All credit cards. $) 5.5

St. Martin’s. (Continental/Wine Bistro) Sometimes a wine bistro isn’t just a wine bistro. Granted, this is an ideal nightspot for a romantic interlude – the tables arecandle-lit and covered with crisp white tablecloths andfreshly cut red carnations-and its claim to fame seemsto have been built on its wine and cheese-and-fruit orpate board offerings. But it also has a small yet variedmenu ranging from roast beef and veal to pasta andswordfish. Although we are usually wary of variedmenus, we were pleasantly surprised with the swordfishand veal medallions we were served. The service istops. (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; Sun brunch: 11-3. All creditcards. $$) 6.0


Han-Chu. (Chinese) The most sophisticated-looking Chinese restaurant in town, with black-mirror tiles and hand-painted murals, also offers some of the best food. Dishes that are ordinary elsewhere, such as spring rolls and hot-and-sour soup, take on real elegance here. The menu has lots of innovative dishes, but not all are cooked with the finesse one might expect. The beef with asparagus, for instance, can be marred by raggedly cut and overcooked meat. The Wu Shi spareribs. though, are tantalizing in their camphor flavored sauce. (Caruth Plaza. 9100 N Central Expwy at Park Lane. Suite 191. 691-0900. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30-11:30, Sun 5-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 7.0


Mariano’s. (Mexican) This Old Town restaurant has undergone some changes during the past few years, including a recent remodeling that has made the place much more airy and attractive. We chuckled at the notice on the door that pronounces the restaurant’s membership policy: “Members and non-members only ” Exclusivity aside, we still love Mariano’s famous frozen margaritas, tostadas and hot sauce, nachos and guacamole: All are cant-miss appetizers. But the Tex-Mex entrees were rather ordinary. (Old Town, 5500 Greenville at Lovers Lane 691-3888. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-midmght. MC, V, AE. $$) 4.5

D Rolf’s. (German/Continental) Echt deutschdishes and those in a more international styledivide the menu here, and the quality is higheither way you choose. Three of our choices involvedbeef, and all were excellent. The Rinds Roulade (beefrolled around sauerkraut and pickles and braised)showed that a hearty dish can be refined. The BadenBaden plate set tender medallions of beef and vealalongside each other, both topped with rich sauces.The appetizer of steak tartare was perfectly fresh andnot overseasoned. Our only complaints: The appetizerof shrimp in a brandy-horseradish sauce was skimpydespite a hefty price tag. and the only dessert that wehave found outstanding is the apple cake. (Caruth Plaza, 9100 N Central Expwy. Suite 117. 696-1933.Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30, dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5.30-11. Closed Sun Reservationsrecommended. All credit cards. $$$) 8.0

D Ruth’s Chris Steak House. (Steak) Just as an experiment, on our last visit we ordered one each of the three basic steaks Ruth’s Chris offers (sirloin, tenderloin and rib-eye), each at a different level of doneness All were spectacularly good in their rich butter sauces, but to our surprise, we liked the rib-eye best. (We had thought that a true prime rib-eye would be too heavy and fatty, but we were happy to be proven wrong.) Each of the great hunks of beef was cooked to order, if a little on the rare side. The accompanying potatoes-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 & Sun 5-11:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$) 7.5

Royal Tokyo. (Japanese) Royal Tokyo has something for everybody: tatami rooms for those who want comparative authenticity, hibachi tables for those who wanta show, a sushi bar for those who crave raw fish andeven a piano bar for those who just want a drink. Thesushi bar turns out the best food: The selection of fishand seafood is wide, and each item we tried was at thepeak of freshness (the yellowtail and mackerel wereespecially fine). On the down side were the sukiyaki(carelessly boiled instead of prepared ingredient by ingredient) and the tempura (with lots of heavy, underdone batter). (7525 Greenville. 368-3304. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2. Sun 11:30-2:30: dinner: Sun & Mon 5:30-10:30, Tue-Thur 5:30-11, Fri & Sat 5:30-11:30. Allcredit cards. $$) 5.0

Sawatdee. (Thai) To a newcomer, most of Sawatdee’sdishes have unpronounceable names and unlikely-sounding descriptions. But a little sampling will usuallyallay any misgivings. Thai cuisine has influences fromall over and offers something to please everyone. Appetizers include delicious grilled skewered pork with aspicy peanut sauce and whole shrimp wrapped up inthin noodle dough and deep-fried. It’s sometimes hardto tell from the menu descriptions just how peppery adish is going to be, so consult the waiter. Our shrimp inpepper paste was quite innocuous-and delicious -but some Thai dishes leave you spouting fire like a reallive dragon. (4503 Greenville at Yale. 373-6138. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30: dinner: daily 5-10:30. All creditcards. $$) 6.0


Tea Pot Inn. (Chinese) We still find this place one of the most handsome mid-priced Chinese restaurants in town. It’s basically European, but with enough Oriental details that we don’t think we’re eating Italian food. The cooking is slightly better than average, with special successes among the spicy dishes. The shrimp with bean curd, with lots of garlic and ginger, is one of our favorite Chineseofferings in Dallas. (11343 N Central Expwy. 369-6268. Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. All credit cards. $$) 5.0


Mlchelino’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. (6312 La Vista.826-2662. Tue-Sat 5-11 pm. Sun 5-10 pm. Closed Mon. MC. V, AE. $$) 5.0

Southern Kitchen. (Southern) These two restaurants are old favorites of many Dallasites, especially those who like to consume mass quantities of food. Dinners come in two principal courses. The first brings all the shrimp, crab meat and oysters you can eat. The seafood may be a bit on the bland side, but there is an undeniable joy in being able to satisfy a shellfish craving in this manner. The second round brings on platters of fried and barbecued chicken, fish and delectable homemade biscuits and cinnamon rolls. If you prefer, you can also order steaks (generally excellent) or other items instead. No desserts here, though. Nobody has enough room for them. (6615 E Northwest Hwy. 368-1658. Mon-Sat 5:30-10 pm, Sun 5-9:30 pm. All credit cards. $$$) See Stemmons/Bachman Lake. 4.0


Frenchy Café. (French Deli) The neighborhood deli is alive and well in Preston Royal: Step into Frenches, and you step into a world that’s immediately intimate and familiar. Friendly and gracious service is provided by Josey, Yvon and Chris Bouguyon, and the dishes they serve generally match the ambiance they’ve created. We enioyed a hot croissant drizzled with baby Swiss cheese and a good truffle paté before biting into our lunch entrees. Although the Frenchy crêpe (with turkey, spinach and blue cheese sauce) and lasagna weren’t quite as tasty as they appeared, the ham. spinach and pepperoni quiche (and the cappuccino pie we had afterward) proved outstanding. This is an exceedingly pleasant luncheon spot-and Frenchy’s provides takeout service, too. (5940 Royal Lane. 369-1235. Mon 11 am-3 pm. Tue-Fri 11 am-7 pm. Sat 11 am-5 pm. Closed Sun. MC. V; personal checks accepted. $$) 5.5

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

Royal China. (Chinese) There was a time when this wasone of the fanciest restaurants in Dallas. Now it has settled down into comfortable middle age, with warm service and a relaxed, though enthusiastic, clientele. Thefood has. if anything, gotten better with the years. Twoappetizer platters are offered, and the one with shrimptoast, beef strips and egg rolls may be the best in town:Everything is light and fresh-tasting. Several of the best-known dishes here are variations on old favorites. TheGolden Crown Pork, for instance, is moo shi pork withthe 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 RoyalPrawns are a lovely version of shrimp in chili sauce;they’re hot, sweet and pungent with ginger. (Preston Royal Shopping Center. Preston at Royal, Suite 201. 361-1771. Lunch: daily 11:30-2:30: dinner: daily 5:30-10 All credit cards. $$) 5.5


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 andcabbage. Brave the crowds and get there early if youwant your choice of vegetables-the greens, carrotsand 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 very prepossessing. But it serves some ofthe best Chinese food in Dallas. Among the chef’s suggestions, the shredded duck is most unusual – stir-friedin a spicy sauce and rolled in delicate Chinese pancakes. The orange flavor steak packs plenty of punch,and the shrimp wrth black beans is exemplary. (2560 W Northwest Hwy. 353-0129. Mon-Fri 11-11, Sat & Sunnoon-11 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0


Agnew’s at the Promenade. (Continental) TomAgnew’s new restaurant, tucked away in a hard-to-findcranny of the Promenade shopping center, looks nicewith its burgundy and brown appointments. But thefood 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 theduck 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

August Moon. (Chinese) Shine on, shine on, August Moon! We donn’t know how you manage to keep the quality so high with your awesomely complete menu, the huge volume of your customers and the verymoderate prices you charge. But we have never had abetter crispy fish Hunan-style than the red snapper youserved us on our last visit. Everything we tried wasoutstanding, from the unusual jalapeno pork to theoldest dish in the book, moo goo gai pan, which wasdistinguished by evenly cut and perfectly tender chicken, the freshest of vegetables (including mushrooms, sooften canned even at expensive Chinese places), anda gravy of just-right consistency made with rich broth.We would have bounced you up into the starry heavensof our “D” rating if your service hadn’t been a bit off-due. no doubt, to the gala wedding party that filled uphalf the dining rooms. (15030 Preston at Belt Line. 385-7227 Sun-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11-11. Reservations for tour or more or for special banquets. Bar by membership. All credit cards. $$) 7.0

D Blom’s. (Nouvelle) Dallas is blessed with hotelrestaurants that transcend the category, andBlom’s is one of the finest. The chef is magnificently inventive, offering a dozen new dishes nightlyand a whole new menu every season. On our last visit,we were impressed by the luxurious taste of smokedshrimp in a salad with watercress, another salad of lightly sautéed vegetables, tender slices of beef in a saucemade from pickled walnuts and a dessert crêpe filledwith hazelnuts. Less exciting, but still very good, werea West Texas game pie, pan-fried monkfisn with tomatocoulis and a chocolate Charlotte. This time, the servicewas the most polished and professional we have encountered here. (Westin Hotel. Galleria, 13340 Dallas Pkwy. 934-9494. Dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30: Sun brunch:10:30-2:30. Reservations recommended. Jackets andties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 8.5


Cantu’s. (Tex-Mex) This pleasant, sparkling-clean restaurant serves some of the mildest Mexican food we’ve ever tasted. it’s just right for beginners, but it’s not too exciting for a true lover of hot and spicy dishes. Evervthina from the beef enchiladas to the chile relleno stuffed with cheese is mild, mild, mild.But our fajita expert says that the mesquite-grilledbeef in the fajitas is better than at nearby Raphael’s,although they’re a little heavy on the marinade.(5290 Belt Line. Suite 132, Addison 991-9105. Tue-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 5-10 pm.Closed Mon. All credit cards. $$) 4.5

Catflsh Charlie’s. (Seafood) We have learned ouiasson; to wit: If a restaurant has the word “catfish” in itslame, stick to catfish. The fried catfish filets and the ac-:ompanying fries and coleslaw were really quite gooonere. The waiters worked hard, and there was an ag-gressively cheerful (and loud) Dixieland band on Sunday evening. These things alone give Catfish Charlie’sblenty of reason for being. But avoid the other entries orhe longish menu. (14865 Inwood. Addison 392-9402.Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm. Sat noon-10 pm. Sun 5-10 pm.MC, V. AE. $$) 4.5


Dynasty. (Chinese) So many people told us wewere wrong about Dynasty that we went backsooner than usual. Sure enough, the food wasmuch better than in the first weeks the place wasopen. It ranged from excellent (the crispy oystersappetizer) to very good (the sharks’ fin soup and theminced pork in lettuce leaves). Unfortunately, westill found the prices high. No doubt all the luxurioustrappings (the silver-and-gilt soup tureens, therosewood furniture) cost plenty. And to be sure, theportions are quite large, as with the Dragon and thePhoenix, which contained enough shrimp to satisfythe most avid seafood lover. The question is whether these factors justify a check that can easily total$35 a person. (Garden Inn. 4101 Belt Line, Addison. 385-7888. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11 am-11:30 pm. Sun 11:30 am-10:30 pm.Jackets required. MC. V, AE, DC. $$$) 6.5


Forbidden City. (Chinese) Our last meal here wasour best to date. The beef with scallops was succulent, with lots of crisp vegetables, and the shrimpwith hot garlic sauce, though hardly incendiary, wasassertive enough. The chicken with cashew nutsrounded out the meal perfectly. Our waitress tookrather a long time to take our order, but once themeal began, it proceeded at a good pace. (5290 Belt Line, Suite 144. 960-2999. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am, Sun noon-10:30 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Highland Park Cafeteria. (Southern) See Knox/Hen-derson. (Sakowitz Village, 5100 Belt Line at Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600. 934-8800. Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm, Sun11 am-3 pm. No liquor. MC, V, AE. $) 6.0

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 purée. 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. All credit cards. $) See Stemmons/Bachman Lake. 7.5


Kobe Steaks. (Japanese Steakhouse) One of the most popular places along the Addison strip, this place combines food and show in one event. Japanese cooks who look like samurai chop and flip pieces of beef, seafood and vegetables on a tep-pan yaki grill with martial abandon. It’s all very entertaining, but the steak, shrimp, zucchini, bean sprouts, etc., all wind up tasting pretty much the same under the avalanche of oil, salt, soy sauce and sesame. (The Quorum, 5000 Belt Line, Suite 600. 934-8150. Sun-Thur 5-11 pm, Fri & Sat 5pm-midnight All credit cards. $$) 5.5

La Bella. (Italian) This cozy neighborhood restauranthas a lot of potential. We say that because the entrees – 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 withwhite clam sauce, the fresh red snapper and a spicysautéed chicken that was the special of the evening.Each was extremely fresh, and there was no skimpingon the garlic and fresh spices. Our waiter was especiallyattentive, and he convinced us to try the cappuccino piefor dessert. Prices are reasonable, but your dinnercould get expensive if you succumb to the tempting listof 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

Laurel’s. (American Nouvelle) The dishes here look asif they had been lifted off the pages of “Better Homesand 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 Can-tral Hotel. 12720 Merit. 385-3000. Mon-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. Jackets andties required. All credit cards. $$$$) 6.0

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 andflavorful. At the tables, the service is warm and efficient,and standard Japanese dishes such as tempura, chicken teriyaki and kara age (fried marinated chickenchunks) receive careful treatment. A surprise is howgood 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-Thur 5:30-10:30. Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Sun 5:30-10 All creditcards. $$) 6.5

Pizzeria Uno. (Pizza) This is the Dallas franchise of theoriginal Chicago deep-dish pizza establishment. Thepizzas come in three sizes (even the smallest is quitesubstantial), and they arrive at the table in heavy ironpots almost like skillets. The crust is at once doughy andcrisp, and it contains inch-high mixtures of tomato,cheese and meats of various sorts. Among the otherdishes, we liked the marinated mushrooms, the vegetables for dipping and especially the pizza skins (in effect, slices of mashed-potato pizza). (4002 Belt Line. 991-8181. Daily 11 am-2 am. MC. V, AE. CB $$) 5.0

Purdy’s. (Burgers) The format is familiar: big burgers,hot dogs and steak sandwiches ordered at a window,then dressed by the diner at a great big fixin’s’ bar. Thesandwiches are of high quality (although the meat in thesteak sandwiches could be more tender), and thehomemade buns are grilled. The bakery has othergoodies, too-we were impressed by the brownies andchocolate chip cookies. (The Quorum, 4812 Belt Line. 960-2494. Mon-Thur 11 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11.Sun noon-10 pm. MC, V, AE. $) 4.5

D Uncle Tai’s Hunan Yuan. (Chinese) This is a great restaurant if you know your way around the menu, but there are some ordinary things here, too. Among the best appetizers are the Two Delicious Platter (shrimp with peppercorns and Hacked Chicken) and the Chicken Packets. The spicy dishes on the list of specialties generally stand out. In addition to the fabled Uncle Tai’s Beef, we are partial to the boneless frog’s legs with eggplant. Standard things such as chicken with walnuts and crispy duck are good, but they’re no better than at a number of less expensive Chinese restaurants. (Galleria. 13350 Dallas Pkwy. Suite 3370. 934-9998. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri & Sat 11 am-10:30 pm. Closed Sun. Jackets required for dinner. All credit cards. $$$) 8.5


Fishmonger’s Oyster Bar. (Seafood) This used to be mainly a takeout place with a few tables for dining in. Recently, it more than doubled its seating capacity, and while there is still fresh seafood on sale at the market and plenty of take-home business, Fishmonger’s now feels more like the oyster bar in its name. The food is Louisiana-style, and it compares favorably with some of the middle-rank New Orleans places. We’re crazy about the grilled redfish special and the odd but satisfying sole stuffed with whole shrimp, crab and cheese. The fried seafood is fine – although, like the gumbo and even the fries, it can be overly spicy – and the bread pudding is wonderful. On weeknights, there are all-you-can-eat specials. (1915 N Central Expwy. Suite 600, Piano. 423-3699. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm. Fri 11-11. Sat noon-10 pm. Sun noon-9 pm. All credit cards. $$) 5.5

Hearthstone Manor. (Continental) This Victorianmanor was built in 1885, and much of the charm of thatage has been retained through the use of ornate wallpaper, elegant chandeliers and an airy veranda. But thispleasant alternative to high-tech and gimmicky eatingspots disappointed our palates. The veal Marsala wasflavorless, and the stuffed shrimp tasted as though it hadspent too many hours on the dock. Perhaps the artificialtaste of the plastic serving shell rubbed off on the breadcrumbs and crab meat. The chocolate chip pie that wehad tor dessert was a sweet finish to an otherwisehapless evening. (208 E Main. Lewisville. 221-4515. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Tue-Sat 5:30-10. All creditcards. $$) 4.0



Chuggs. (Burgers) Chuggs has opened a backroom and put up a mural, but it’s still the samelovable place we discovered last year. The Chicago-style sandwiches are something special: Viennahot dogs, huge hamburgers, definitive Reubens.There are even gyro sandwiches tor those who arein the mood for something a bit more exotic. Therevolving glass case full of homemade dessertsholds some real treasures. (730 W Centerville, Garland 686-1500. Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat11-11, Sun noon-10 pm. No credit cards; personalchecks accepted. $) 6.5


The Café. (American) The Cafe may be the Metroplex’sgreat American restaurant – if the term “American”means the food that people around here have eaten forages. The large dining area is lined with charcoal-graybooths and lit by pink neon, memorabilia such as old-fashioned Coca-Cola ice chests are scattered around,and the food consists of old-fashioned favorites that areoften given a modern twist. Nobody fries foods any better than the Cafe does. There are fried mushrooms, zucchini and dill pickle slices as appetizers, a heavenlychicken-fried rib-eye and even fried strawberries fordessert. For other appetites, there is an excellent vegetable soup, as well as shish kebab and brownies. Beerdrinkers can choose from more than 80 brands of brew.(715A Ryan Plaza Dr, Arlington. Metro 261-1000. Mon-Thur 11:30-11:30, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-midnight. Sun11-11. MC, V, AE.$$) 6.5

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

D Enjolie. (Nouvelle) The new chef has institutedan alternative menu that’s low in calories but stilldelicious. We tried the Bourbon Shrimp, the tomato and mushroom salad and the Dover sole (rolledup into pinwheels with salmon mousse and spinach)and found it hard to believe that a meal so deliciouscould be good for us. The richer dishes were fine, too:lobster cooked with cabbage, rabbit in two mustardsauces and desserts like the Praline Parfait and the LeSucces (a meringue and butter cream cake). (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. Closed Sun. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$$) 9.0

La Deli. (Middle Eastern) The bountiful assortment ofappetizers at this Lebanese restaurant includes someold favorites such as humus tahini (a dip made fromchickpeas) and baba ganouf (a dip made from eggplant), but they don’t have the piquant flavor we recallfrom the owner’s previous place, Khalil’s Beirut. Thebroiled shrimp taste mostly of pepper, the lamb shishkebabs are undistinguished, and the sampler plattercontains run-of-the-mill stuffed cabbage and grapeleaves and overcooked falafel (chickpea patties). Themost successful entree is perhaps the kibbie nayeh-tartar- raw beef and bulgur wheat ground together andserved cold. Service can be disorganized. (5433 N MacArthur, Las Colinas 258-1163. Mon 11 am-6 pm,Tue-Tnur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 -11. Closed Sun. Allcredit cards $$) 5.0

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 weekly stop. (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 havehearty appetites. The expansive menu offers several attractive selections in the veal, seafood, beef, chickenand pasta 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 N Collins. Arlington. (817) 261-2216. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: daily 5:30-10:30. Reservations recommended. All credit cards. $$$) 6.0



Angelo’s. (Barbecue) Is Fort Worth’s most famous barbecue joint slipping, or did we |ust have some bad luck on our last visit? The huge portion of ribs was as satisfying as ever, and the side dishes, such as potato salad and slaw, were far above average. But the thickly sliced brisket was so dried-out that the tangy sauce could hardly redeem it. Angelo’s mystique can’t survive many disappointments in the quality of the beef. (2533 White Settlement Rd. (817) 332-0357. Mon-Sat 11 am-10 pm Closed Sun. No credit cards, personal checks accepted. $) 6.0

Cattlemen’s Steak House. (Steak) The only frills you’llfind at Cattlemen’s are on the waitresses’ imitation chiffon aprons. Extras like bacon, cheese and lemons costmore. Our salad was strictly a plain iceberg-lettuce version, and the brown bread was stale. But customersdon’t come to this historic restaurant for the frills. Theycome for the steak, which compensates for any flawsleading up to the main course. The filet mignon wascooked as ordered and was tender and juicy; the ribs,accented with a spicy barbecue sauce, were equallygood. Cattlemen’s is the only place we know where thewaitress fluffs your baked potato and fusses over customers with motherly sincerity. Even the cheesecake,whicn seems totally out of place in this rustic setting, wassmooth and creamy. (2458 N Main. (817) 624-3945 Mon-Fri 11 am-10:30 pm, Sat 4:30-10:30 pm. Sun 4-10 pm. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

Crystal Cactus. (Continental) From salad to dessert, the food was even better this time around than on our last visit. The appetizer of salmon wrapped around rata-touille sparkled, and so did our veal Diane, with a sauce that was both piquant and delicate. The atmosphere, which is the epitome of highbrow Texas chic, is relaxed – maybe too relaxed, given the extreme levels of noise that tables close to the bar area have to suffer. The service wasn’t quite as elaborate as we remembered it, but we were still amused by the after-dinner bonbons that arrived on a tray over a container of smoking dry ice. (Hyatt Regency Hotel, Eighth & Commerce. (817) 870-1234. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11: Sun brunch: 10:30-2. All credit cards. $$$) 7.0


Benito’s. (Mexican) This funky place on the nearSouth Side offers real Mexican dishes rather thanTex-Mex. A wait of only a few minutes will producean appetizer of sopes, a cousin of the chalupa witha thicker base of cornmeal dough. Fajitas comewith grilled scallions in true Mexican fashion, butthey can be a bit tough. Part of the fun here is thehomey atmosphere and the courtly service. (1450 W Magnolia. (817) 332-8633. Sun-Thur 10-10, Fri & Sat 10 am-3 am. No credit cards: personal checksaccepted. $) 6.0

D Michel. (Classic French) In a stately oldhouse that’s been nicely redecorated, theowner/chef offers a fixed-price dinner with fivecourses-and exudes his own personal charm (hemakes it a point to visit each table during the evening).We tried the sweetbreads and red snapper, and bothwere done to a turn. Little things like the sorbet of raspberries and the very French green salad were executedwith panache, but we were surprised that the highlytouted chocolate-Grand Marnier dessert was flavorless.(3851 Camp Bowie. (817) 732-1231. Tue- Thur 6-10 pm,Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnight. Closed Sun. All credit cards.$$$$) 7.5


Le Café Bowie. (Continental) This Fort Worthfavorite, which is now beginning to show its age abit, maintains high quality in the evenings by keeping things simple. Everyone gets soup and salad asstarters, and the entrees are mostly variations onbeef tenderloin and veal scallops. Sauces lean toward rich hollandaise and béarnaise sauces. If LeCafe Bowie is seldom exciting, it is mostly dependable. (4930 Camp Bowie. (817) 735-1521. Lunch: Wed-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10, Fri & Sat 5:30-11; Sun brunch: noon-2. MC, V; personalchecks accepted. $$$) 6.0

Reflections. (French/Continental) Tall columns shaped like lotuses grow out of the tiny reflecting pool that flows through the center of this sophisticated hotel restaurant. The food invites meditation, too: We found the lobster bisque and the lamb served with lamb sausage espe-cially worthy. But the shrimp grilled on a skewer was toosweet, and the Black Forest cake lacked distinction.(200 Main. (817) 870-9894. Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30 pm, Sat 6:30-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. $$$) 7.0

Tours. (Continental) Inside, this doesn’t look like thestorefront restaurant it is: Tours is small, but it’s verysophisticated-looking. The menu is sophisticated, too,but on our most recent visit, the food didn’t quite comeup to the level we had experienced previously. Theseafood gumbo was really not a soup-the shellfishwere sauced with a bit of okra and a lot of spicy tomato.The chicken with wine vinegar and garlic proved to bean interesting version of a nouvelle classic. The desserts-boule de neige and lime mousse -were interesting but unexciting. (3429B W Seventh St. (817) 870-1672. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11:30-2: dinner: Tue-Sat 6-10.Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations recommended onweekends. MC, V, AE. $$$) 6.5

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.(4255 Camp Bowie. (817) 737-2971. Lunch: Mon-Fri11:30-2:30, dinner: Mon-Thur 5:30-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11. Sun 5-10. All credit cards. $$) 6.0

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