Mama Taught Me How

★★★★★ I have a friend who refers to her favorite comfort foods-chief among them mashed potatoes and chicken and dumplings-as “Instant Mom.” Such maternal culinary touchstones, it seems to me, are crucial to understanding the appeal of Southern food, which tends to mystify or horrify those who didn’t grow up on the stuff. Another friend, born in Scotland and brought up in England, classifies such fare as “disgusting baby food.”

If you haven’t acquired the taste for the greatest hits of Dix-ified cuisine-chicken-fried steak, chicken and dumplings, red beans and rice, iced tea served in Mason jars, corn-bread, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, vegetables cooked into submission, and pies galore for dessert-I can’t promise that you’ll be converted by Mama Taught Me How. However, if this is your brand of soul food, then it’s a safe bet that you’ll find Mama Taught Me How to be a down-home dream come true.

The name Mama Taught Me How is no trumped-up product of marketing strategy. Mama is Doris Alexander, her daughters are Judy Sharp and Vickie Pi-land, and together they run the place with a combination of charm and warmth that is as specific to the South as are grits.

Speaking of grits, they are on the breakfast menu, along with eggs, biscuits, and cinnamon rolls. No day can be a complete loss if it starts with this kind of lovingly prepared repast. Lunch is of even greater interest, though, because the menu includes entrees (such as chicken and ethereally light dumplings), vegetables (such as sweet creamed corn and satisfyingly lumpy mashed potatoes), and soups (such as flavorful navy bean) that change daily.

The lunchtime menu standards are chicken-fried steak with cream gravy and red beans and rice. Both are as good as these classic dishes get, which is to say we’re dealing with the food of the gods. With the chicken-fried steak you get fragrantly yeasty biscuit/rolls; with the red beans and rice you get correctly unsweet cornbread. Rest assured, though, that any sugar deficiencies can be corrected with dessert. All of the desserts at Mama Taught Me How are quite sweet. In some instances- namely, the peerless coconut cream and banana cream pies- this isn’t a problem. I found the cobblers and pecan pie to be too much, but even in these cases, pastry-making skill of a high order is in evidence.

I love menus with a philosophy, and the menu at Mama Taught Me How is a classic: “Our recipes belong to Mama. She has used and perfected them for over forty years… .With Mama at our side, we plan to provide the Metroplex with a way back home….We use only the freshest ingredients, no mixes, no microwaves.”

Plainly, the emphasis here is on the food. It’s certainly not on the setting, which features orange vinyl booths, calico tablecloths, and family snapshots and baby portraits. But with food like this, Mama Taught Me How could be located in a bunker and still lure those who need a periodic fix of Instant Mom. 14902 Preston Rd., #512 (SE corner of Preston & Belt Line) in Pepper Square. 490-6301. Mon-Fri 7 am-2:30 pm, Thur 5-8 pm. No credit cards. Moderate.


Restaurants are rated with stars. ★(fair), ★★{good), ★★★(very good), ★★★★(excellent). ★★★★★(su-perlative)-for food quality alone. Service and atmosphere are commented on in reviews, but are not considered for star ratings.

Credit cards are: AE/American Express, MC/Master-Card, V/Visa. DC/Diners Club, CB/Carte Blanche. “All credit cards” means that all five are accepted. Restaurant visits are anonymous, and all expenses are paid by D. Inclusion in this listing has nothing to do with paid advertising.

Please send comments and recommendations to Liz Logan, D Magazine, 3988 N. Central Expwy., Suite 1200, Dallas, Texas 75204.


BUI NaSH ★★★★ if you haven’t made it to Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in LA, you can meet your California cuisine needs at Beau Nash, where Puck-trained Steve Singer is chef. The New Wave pizzas – pheasant and smoked salmon/sour cream-are terrific. Fish-such as grilled swordfish with a gingery refish and grilled red snapper- is a good bet here, too. And the grilled veal liver is a must for liver lovers. Desserts are simply dy-no-mite: pies, such as rhubarb raspberry and blackberry buttermilk custard; homemade ice creams and sorbets; and cookies. Beau Nash has the look of a tropical brasserie on a Texas scale, and the dress code and service are relatively relaxed. Crescent Court Hotel, 400 Crescent Court, Maple at McKinney. 871-3240. Breakfast: daily 6-10:30; Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; dinner daily 6-11:30; Sun brunch: 11-2:30. All credit cards. Expensive.

CITY CAFE ★★★★★ City Cafe gives urban civilization a good name. The setting is urbane in a clean-lined, low-key way At night both the lighting and the recorded classical music are subdued, which makes the place romantic, but not too obviously romantic. In fact, the night time is definitely the right lime for City Cafe: although lunch can be very good, it never rises to the heights of dinner. Both the lunch and the dinner menus change weekly (on Wednesdays). Pick hits from past menus include fresh tomato soup, bacon-wrapped oysters brochette, pan-fried Idaho brook trout, blueberry crumble, and coconut cream tart. The all-Amencan wine list is well-chosen and reasonably priced, and the availability of thirteen wines by the glass Is a bonus for the relatively abstemious. 5757 W Lovers Lane (just west of Dallas N Tollway). 351-2233. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-10:30. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Moderate.


DJLMH’S ★★★★ Dakota’s new lunch and dinner menus, modified by new chef Lisa Smith, include more salads and light dishes than did their predecessors. However, the emphasis is still on things Southwestern and mesquite-grilled. To judge from two exemplary items from the dinner menu-grilled lamb chops stuffed with herbed Texas goat cheese with Zinfandel sauce and grilled beef tenderloin fillet with mushroom caps-this is all to the good. Also unchanged, of course, is the slick, heavy-on-the-marble decor. Trivia note: Dakota’s takes its name from the eight million pounds of Dakota Mahogany granite used throughout the restaurant and in Lincoln Plaza. 600 N Akard. 740-4001. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-3; dinner Sun-Thur 5-11, Fri & Sat 5-11.30; Sun brunch: 11 -2:30. AH credit cards. Lunch Moderate, dinner Expensive.

THE MANSION ON TURTLE CREEK ★★★★★ The Mansion has no competition in its melding of Dallas’s historic past and gastronomic future, in the golden glow of the restored, circa 1925 Shepard King mansion, Dean Fearing turns out cutting-edge New American Cuisine with a Southwestern accent. Current standouts: country-fried Texas quail with peanut pasta and creamy garlic sauce; Louisiana crab cakes with a sauce of smoked chilies, lobster, and blood orange; and grilled swordfish with That noodles and mango, cucumber, melon, and lime sauce. Although it is difficult to resist the signature creme brulee with raspberry sauce, the pastry chef’s artistry makes more adventurous choices well worth ordering. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 526-2121. Main dining room -jackets and lies required. Lunch: Mon-Fri noon-2:30; brunch: Sat noon-2:30, Sun 11-2:30; dinner: Sun-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 6-11; supper: Mon-Thur 10:30 pm-midnight, Fri & Sat 11 pm-midnight. Promenade Room-breakfast: daily 7-10:30; Lunch: Mon-Fri 1 1:30-2, Sat & Sun noon-2; tea: Mon-Fri 3-5:30. All credit cards. Expensive.

MOLINE BAR & GRILL ★★★★ This West End bar/restaurant is a shuttered, dimly lit retreat from the literal and metaphoric heat of downtown Dallas. This is an establishment that caters to warring temperaments: those inclined toward lollygagging will find its relaxed tenor conducive to lingering, while their Type A companions can cut deals on the tabletop telephones. Che! Mike Dunn has designed the evolving daily menu with an emphasis on Southwestern grilled fare. All in all, MB & G is one hell of a hangout for the discerningly hungry and thirsty. 302 N Market (entrance on Pacific). 747-6430. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner Mon-Tnur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. All credit carts. Expensive.

PLAZA GAFE ★★★★ Mansion alumni Wayne Broadwell (up front) and Avner Samuel (in the kitchen) have opened what promises to be an oasis for the design community in an area previously bereft of top-quality food. {Ironically, however, the place is not aesthetically breathtaking.) For lunch, the goat cheese pizza, grilled breast of chicken with basil vinaigrette, and creme brulee are all winners. 1444 Oak Lawn. 742-4433. Lunch:Mon-Fri 11:30-230;dinner: Mon-Fri 6-10. Sat 6-11; Happy hour: Mon-Fri 5 pm-7 pm. MC. V, AE. Moderate to expensive.

ROUTH STREET CAFE ★★★★★ Routh Street Cafe’s formula for national gastronomic fame: Stephan Pyles’s New Southwestern Cuisine; a sleek, Tonny Foy-designed setting; and snappy, congenial service. The five-course, fixed-price menu ($42, with surcharges for certain items) is printed daily, but certain items-such as cornmeal catfish with smoked pepper/mint marigold sauce, lobster enchilada with red pepper creme fraiche. lamb with pecan and garlic sauce, berry buckle with cinnamon ice cream, and apple-walnut spice cake-have become near-fixtures. When food-obsessed travelers come to town, this is the reservation they want. This means prime-time reservations should be made well in advance. 3005 Routh at Cedar Springs. 871-7161. Tue-Sat 6-10:30 pm. Closed Sun & Mon. Reservations. All credit cards. Expensive


WEST END OASS★★★★ The new menu at West end Oasis is good news. It retains such pick hits from its predecessor as the fish soup with fresh jalapeno, sweet potatoes, and coconut milk, and the red snapper rolled in cracked peppercorns and roasted in corn husks, and it adds startlingly original choices like pasta Oasis(homemade linguine tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and New Mexico chilies) and gulf shrimp stir-fried in sesame oil with mounds of diced green and red onions. This is still the best-looking restaurant in town, with its granite waterfall, contemporary South western art, and handsome woodsy setting in th restored Tezas Moline Building. 302 N market (entrance on Pacific). 698-9775. Luch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sta 6-11, All credit cards. Very expensive.


SMUFFER’S★★★★ This burger emporium has become a Lower Greenville institution, serving tasty, high-qualityfood from the small but varied menu. Although the burgers are famous, the marinated chicken breast sandwich is no slouch, either. The fried mushrooms with their spicy batter are satisfying as well. But those in the mood for pure caloric sel-indulgence should go straight for the cheddar fries- a huge basket of french fries smothered in quantities of melted cheddar cheese. The dark, woodsy interior is conducive to casual conversation over a few beers with friend, butperhaps Snuffer’s strongest point is that it’s open till 2 a.m. every night, making it one of the few Dallas sanc-tuaries for late-night munching. 3526 Greenville. 826-6850. Mon Sat 11 am-2am, Sun 11:30 am-2am. All credit cards. Inexpensive.


ARCADIA BAR ★★★★ First things first: the Arcadia Bar has nothing to do with the Arcadia Theater, which is across the street. The Arcadia Bar is a no-frills hangout. (The music is mostly recorded, though there is some-time a pianist.) The menu is small, mostly Cajun, and all deftly executed. From a perky green salad to perfect fried oysters to New Orleans-quality dirty rice, the food is first-rate. 2114 Greenville Ave. 821-1300. Daily 5 pm-2 am. MC, V, AE. Inexpensive.

CAFE MARGAUX ★★★★★ The blackened-everythmg brigade-those trend-surfing restaurateurs who don’t know their elbows from their etouffees – have made many local diners deeply suspicious of all Cajun food served outside a fifty-mile radius of New Orleans. Happily. Cafe Margaux is another matter altogether. A recent lunch here measured up to Louisiana’s finest:, house-made rolls, green salad, crawfish etouffee, oysters Bienville, trout with crab-meat stuffing, and bread pudding were all flawless. Good news for regulars accustomed to waiting in line for the twelve tables: expansion has brought the number of tables to twenty, and a well-considered selection of American wine is now available. 4424 Lovers Lane. 739-0386. Sun-Thur 6-10, Fri & Sat 6-11. MC, V. Moderate.


CRYSTAL PAGODA ★★★★ Crystal Pagoda is living up to its promise of becoming one of Dallas’s top Chinese restaurants. Bon Bon chicken, in a spicy peanut sauce, is a zingy appetizer for those who like hot foods- or you might try a half order of Peking duck, a bargain at $12.50 Hunan lamb, though not particularly peppery, proved subtle enough even for those who generally don’t find lamb appealing. And at Crystal Pagoda even an old standby like sweet-and-sour pork receives royal treatment – nice pieces of meat in a crisp crust topped with a delicate sauce. 4516 McKinney. 526-3355. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri 11:30 am-11 pm, Sat noon-11 pm, Sun noon-10:30 pm. MC. V, AE. Moderate.

DYNASTY ★★★★ This elegantly appointed Chinese res- . taurant keeps on getting better as it matures, Instead of a lot of set-price dinners, the menu now concentrates on such interesting dishes as the steamed vegetable dumplings. Pink Lady (shrimp coated in crab roe and fried), and chicken with macadamia nuts. The Dynasty Orange Beef is an excellent version of that now classic dish. Our only complaint is that the very Western pastries we were served for dessert tasted stale from lengthy refrigeration. Garden Inn, 4101 Belt Line, Ad-dison. 365-7888. Sun-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.


FORBIDDEN CITY ★★ Late Saturday night in Addison, and after two false starts – one restaurant with an hour-long wait for a table at 10 p.m. and another with a wedding in progress-my unwilling companion (who is skeptical of any venture north of Mockingbird anyway) and I were in the zone of dangerous hunger and getting testier by the moment. It was, therefore, with a sense of relief and thankfulness that we found Forbidden City open (until 3 a m. on weekends) and uncrowded. Egg rolls were nothing special, and an order of orange beef was unacceplably tough, but the uninformatively named chefs chicken was remarkably good: innocent-looking shredded chicken stir-fried in an incendiary sesame sauce and served on a bed of bean sprouts. 5290 Balt Line 960-2999. Mon-Tnur 11 am- 10:30pm, Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am, Sun noon-10:30 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.



CHEZ GERARD ★★★ Now that Calluaud’s has laid down its life to become a parking lot for the Hard Rock Cafe, it’s a safe bet that former Calluaud’s regulars will be joining the already healthy crowds at Chez Gerard (which is also a Guy and Marline Calluaud operation). The highlights of my most recent dinner checkup visit were topflight treatments of sauteed lamb chop with parsley and garlic and floating island (poached meringue floating atop vanilla custard). Shrimp remoulade, cassoulet (a stew of white beans and sausage that Francophiles adore and the less reverent refer to as the Gallic version of beans and weenies), and creme caramel were less distinguished, but still well within Chez Gerard’s range of dependable quality. The simple. casual decor, while nothing extraordinary, comes closer to achieving the atmosphere of a bistro than any other French restaurant in Dallas. 4444 McKinney. 522-6865. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; dinner: Mon-Sat 6-11. Closed Sun. MC, V.AE. Moderate to expensive.

THE FRENCH ROOM ★★★★ With its cherubs, vaulted ceiling, and trompe I’oeil garden, the rosy-hued French Room is far and away the most baroque-looking restaurant in Dallas. In the five years since its opening, it has had its culinary ups and downs; happily, however, a recent visit suggested that it is in an up cycle. From salads (green bean and green salad with goat cheese croutons) to entrees (salmon and rack of lamb) to dessert (apple tart), the food was all that one could ask for. What’s more, the sommelier is both congenial and well-informed; he is as happy to advise customers on a single glass of wine as a rare bottle. Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce. 742-8200. Mon-Sat 6-10. Jackets and ties required. All credit cards. Expensive.

THE GRAPE ★★★★★ The Grape’s setting-dark as a candle-lit dungeon, with red-checked tablecloths and touches of vinous kitsch- makes it an ideal hangout for Lower Greenville’s resident bohemian yuppies. The Grape paraphernalia displayed near the door-includ-ing T-shirts and a cookbook – suggests that what we have here is not so much a restaurant as a way of life. Although the Grape still serves the cheese and pate of- ferings that were its specialty when it opened in 1972, pasta and fish specials are the ticket these days. The no-reservatton policy drives Type A’s mad. but is a backhanded blessing for those lackadaisical individuals who don’t know on Wednesday where they will want to eat on Saturday. You may have to wait, but at least you’ve got the same shot at a table as everyone else. 2808 Greenville at Goodwin. 823- 0133. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2: dinner: Sun-Thur 6-H, Fri & Sat 6 pm-midnigbt. All credit cards. Moderate.

L’ENTRECOTE ★★★★ After a long sliding spell. L’Entre-cote has, as the French say, pulled up its socks. Thanks to the efforts of chef Michel Platz, the Loews Anatole’s French restaurant is once again one of the best in the city. The watercress and endive salad with pink grapefruit proved to be an exceptionally refreshing appetizer. Gratin of crawfish tails with ginger was light and satisfying, and loin of lamb with rosemary and shallot coulis was a must for lamb fans. Finally, dessert-banana beignets with coconut mousse-was a killer. Loews Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Frwy. 748-1200. Daily 6-10:30 pro. AH credit cards. Expensive to very expensive.

THE RIVIERA ★★★★★ I have attended Grateful Dead concerts (hat were quieter than the Riviera on a Saturday night, but minor hearing loss is a small price to pay for first-rate food in a charming setting. Spicy clams and lobster ravioli – two appetizers that were daily specials (listed, commendably. on a printed menu)-were relatively disappointing on my last visit, but it was all uphill from there. A green salad was nicely set off by sherry vinaigrette, and came with a delectable goat cheese crouton. Sun-dried tomato and smoked bell pepper soup was satisfying, if heavy on the bacon. Norwegian salmon and sea scallops steamed with white wine and served with a light rosemary sauce was one of the best treatments of salmon I’ve ever tasted. And duck breast with intensely flavored lavender and honey sauce was worthwhile, too. For dessert the creditable, very buttery-tasting Grand Marnier creme brulee was outshone by the ethereally light apple tart with almond cream and caramel sauce. This is one for the Dessert Hall of Fame. 7709 Inwood. 351-0094 Mon-Thur 6:30 pm-10:30 pm, Fri & Sat 6:30 pm-11 pm. Sun 5:30 pm-10 pm. All credit cards. Expensive to very expensive.


CAFE KASNTAN ★★★ This is the kind of restaurant that thrills diners in search of small, offbeat ethnic restaurants. Ukrainian food, it turns out, is pretty swell stuff, to judge from Cafe Kashtan’s offerings. Each course outdid its predecessor on my most recent visit. Salanka, an intensely flavored broth with bits of beef. sausage, and vegetables accompanied by pirozski, a meat-filled roll, was good enough to be the highlight of most meals, but it was outshone by the kulebiaka, an utterly satisfying melange of chicken, rice, and mushrooms baked in a buttery pastry shell. And both became a distant memory with the arrival of the simple, perfect almond cake served with tart raspberry sauce. Unlike most small, offbeat ethnic-restaurant finds, which tend to be charmingly funky-looking at best. Cafe Kashtan has a pleasant and refreshingly handsome setting. 5365 Spring Valley Rd at Montfort. 991-9550. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11-2; dinner: Tue-Thur 5-10, Fri & Sat 5-11. Closed Sun. All credit cards. Inexpensive to moderate.



MARTY’S ★★★ What I like about Marty’s: the handsome setting, the well-chosen wine selection, and the consistently rewarding food. A harried Saturday afternoon was much improved by rabbit and hazelnut pate, pasta salad with pesto, smoked mussels, hearts of palm salad, poached salmon with green mayonnaise, peach tart, and ginger cookies. Marty’s takeout menu changes each Wednesday, and is designed to make at-home gastronomic glory possible even for the culinary illiterate: the suggested menu includes serving instructions and suggested wines A recent development is the luncheon case, with pre-packaged sandwiches and salads ready to go for lunch What I don’t like about Marty’s: the hours. Here in Dallas, land of the workaholic, it’s frequently hard to get out of the office by Marty’s 6:30 closing lime. 3316 Oak Lawn. 526-4070. Mon-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm. Closed Sun. All credit cards, Marty’s charge. Expensive.


KEBAB ’N’ KURRY ★★★ Let’s see if we can straighten this out: there used to be one Kebab TV Kurry on Central Expressway in Richardson. Then there was a sibling spinoff on Walnut Hill. Now there are still two Kebab ’n’ Kurries, but they are no longer related In any case, a visit to the Walnut Hill K ’n’ K to check out the S7.95 weekend brunch was rewarding. Although a lew items (mushy strawberry and banana fruit salad, fishy fish curry) didn’t send me, plenty of choices did, including succulent tandoori chicken; fragrant kashmiri pillau (rice with peas, currants, almonds, and cashews); savory palak panir (spinach cooked with homemade cheese); flavorful lamb kofta (meatballs in a mild curry sauce); and lender naan (flat bread). Dessert was a lesson in the outer limits of sweetness-il there is anything on the planet sweeter than gulab jamun (pastry balls in cardamom-flavored syrup), I hope never to taste it. The dark side: service tends to be out of it, and the setting verges on the depressing, thanks to the oppressive shade of gray the walls are painted. 2620 Walnut Hill Ln. 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. MC, V. AE. Inexpensive to moderate.



MASSIMO DA MILANO ★★★★ If there’s a bad item available at this attractive Italian bakery/cafe, I’ve yet to discover it despite exhaustive research. Although the changing pizza, pasta, and salad offerings are always alluring, more often than not I find myself opting for the focaccia sandwich, round flat bread filled with ham, cheese, leaf lettuce, and tomato slices. For dessert, there are any number of pastries to choose from, but nothing suits a cup of espresso better than the little amaretti, moist, almond-flavored cookies. These days, service lor the cafeteria-style service line ranges from disorganized to efficient, which is an improvement over days past, when disjointed to chaotic were the applicable adjectives. 5519 W Lovers Lane. 351-1426. Sun-Thur 9 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 9 am-11 pm. MC, V. Inexpensive.

MOMO’S ★★★ Momo’s is small, plain, and disorganized- none of which matters to devotees of its pastas and pizzas. At lunch, mostly pizzas – including a wonderfully forceful-tasting one of tomato, mozzarella, and gorgonzola-are available. At dinner, the menu is more extensive. (Pasta, such as tortelli di spinaci, is a much better idea than veal, which can be dauntingly chewy.) You can have any wine you want at Momo’s as long as you bring it yourself. 9191 Forest Lane. 234-6800. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-1:30 pm; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-930 pm, Fri & Sat 6-11 pm, Sun 6-9 pm. MC, V. Moderate.

311 LOMBARDI’S ★★★★★ What is the Kalian translation of “good karma”? Our waiter didn’t know, but 311 Lombardi’s has achieved it. Alberto Lombardi opened his most recent restaurant late last year in the West End Historical District. Here, surrounded by the glow created by creamy apricot walls, silky black booths, and butcher paper-covered tabtes. happy hordes of downtown workers get what may well be !he best Italian food in town at reasonable prices. No pasta was visible in the pasta and bean soup, but it was a hearty, herb-enlivened delight anyway. A pizza with leeks, pancetta. goat cheese, and mushrooms could have held its own against New York’s best. The next stop on the menu was good enough to be required eating for potato-philes: potato gnocchi with two sauces (tomato and irresistible gorgonzola). A tender, thin veal cutlet topped with arugula and diced tomatoes was simply immense. Dessert of raspberry ice cream and respectable espresso rounded off a repast that was pure pleasure from start to finish 311 Market. 747-0322. Mon-Fri 11 am-midntght, Sat 5 pm-1 am. Sun 11 am-10 pm. Sun brunch: 11 am-5 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.



SHOGUN ★★★ Shogun serves commendable versions of the standards of Japanese cuisine- lightly battered tempura, juicy teriyaki chicken, and fresh-tasting sushi (commonly referred to as “bait” by non-aficionados) – in a pleasingly serene atmosphere. The only element of the plentiful, reasonably priced lunch that took me aback was the unidentified soup. For all I know, it was superb by the standards of the East, but it resembled primordial ooze from my Occidental viewpoint. This small restaurant is exceptionally pleasant, thanks to the quietly efficient service. 5738 Cedar Springs. 351-2281 Lunch. Mon-Fri 11:30-1:45; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30, Fri & Sat 5:30-11, Sun 5:30-10:30. MC. V, AE. Moderate.


CITY MARKET ★★★★ City Market has acquired a loyal following of downtown habitues hungry for fresh, imaginative soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. However, in the past the pleasures of this light, airy, upscale cafeteria were unpredictable. If, for instance, you loved the marigold mint chicken salad, it might be weeks before you and it were on the premises on !he same day. Now. with the advent of menus printed every week. City Market regulars can predict with assurance when it will be possible to eat pasta salad with Indonesian peanut sauce or marinated beef salad with multicolored bell peppers. Whatever else you get, the light, souffle-like apricot-raisin bread pudding should not be missed. Alas, the coffee that is available is weak stuff. Given that this is the only complaint that can be made about the place, City Market is worth a trip even if you don’t work downtown (park in LTV Center parking and bring your ticket with you for valida-tion). 200 LTV Center, 2001 Ross at Harwood. 979-2696. Mon-Fri 7 am-4 pm MC, V. Inexpensive.

THEO’S DINER ★★★ Although the lyrics don’t specify ; Theo’s by name. I suspect that Theo’s grilled ham and cheese sandwich is what Janet Jackson has in mind ! when she makes musical reference to nasty food in “Nasty Boys.” With its garlic-buttered Texas toast, this is the ultimate grilled-cheese thrill. As for the fries, some people think they’re the best in Dallas. Others disagree: \ they think they’re the best on the planet. Then there is the ambience, which could hardly be more intimate-there are just nine seats around the counter. One more attraction: the proprietor’s plot summaries of “All My . Children.” 111 S Hall St. 741-9130. Mon-Fri 7am-4 pm, Sat 8 am-5 pm. No credit cards. Inexpensive.


CANTINA LAREDO ★★★★★ A belief shared by many Mexican food enthusiasts hereabouts is that great Mex can only be found in grungy, time-worn establishments located in the vicinity of Maple Avenue. However, holding to this belief would mean missing out on Can-tina Laredo, which is situated in a clean, new building in-yes-Addison. Standard Tex-Mex combinations are available here, and they’re quite good, but the com- : ida casera-home-style food-is where the smart money is. Standouts include the tacos al pastor filled with marinated pork, cabrito (baby goat to you, gringo), mesquite-grilled shrimp with garlic butter, and red snapper with lime butter. 4546 Belt Line, Addison. 458-0962 Sun-Thur 11-11, Fri & Sat 11 am-midnight. All credit cards Moderate.


CHIQUITA ★★ My first review of a Dallas restaurant was of Chiquita six years ago. On the basis of a recent lunch, I can say that Chiquita falls into the Restaurant That Time Forgot category Other than minor changes in the menu. I’m not sure that I could tell the difference between the two experiences half a dozen years apart. The place is still packed and noisy; the service is still overtaxed; the decor is still exuberantly pastel; and the food still requires an insider’s knowledge to skip what is lackluster- essentially all the standard combination-plate items-in favor of what Chiquita does best-specialties like polio en crema, pieces of marinated, grilled chicken breast in a parsley-, pecan-, and paprika-enlivened sour cream sauce. 3810 Congress. 521-0721. Mon-Thur 11:30 am-10:30 pm. Fri & Sat 11:30 am-11 pm. Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Moderate.


HIGNLAND PARK CAFETERIA ★★★★★ Standing in line at HPC and moving past the portraits of the presidents is a ritual of unmatched resonance in Dallas dining. HPC is a treasured local institution, from the Southern classics on the menu to the fine staff, some of whom have been on the job for decades. Even the concessions to technology are homey: on the video screens that display the menu, there is offered a Bible verse du jour along with information about the employee of the month. Pertiaps as a result, many regulars believe that heaven itsell will resemble HPC, with hairnetted attendants querying, “Serve you?” and booths always available. The menu on cloud nine: ham or chicken-fried steak, green beans, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, a jalapeno corn muffin, and cherry cobbler. The Addison and downtown branches have their virtues, but they don’t reproduce the allure of the original Knox Street location, 4611 Cole. 526-3801; Sakowitz Village. 5100 Belt Line at Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600. 934-8800; downtown, Akard at San Jacinto, 740-2400. Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 pm & 5:30-8 pm at Cole location; Mon-Sat 11 am-8 pm, Sun 10:45 am-3 pm at Sakowitz Village location; Mon-Fri 7 am-3 pm at downtown location. No credit cards; MC, V.AE for takeout and buffet orders of more than $10. Inexpensive.


DEL FRISCO’S ★★★★★ In this age of Perrier, fish, and steamed vegetables, every so often it is important to balance the system with red wine, beef, and baked potatoes. Del Frisco’s, a straight-ahead steak house with premium fare and prices to match, is made for just such occasions. An appetizer of shrimp remoulade was as good a version as you’ll find this side of New Orleans (which happens to be where owner Del Frisco hails from). I was quite happy with my softball-sned eight-ounce filet until I tasted the twelve-ounce rib-eye that my partner in cholesterol had ordered. This was a steak to remember-a supremely flavorful piece of meat. Some things to bear in mind: your steak will arrive in a pool of melted butter unless you nix this idea. Side dishes are ordered a la carte, and in portions immense enough for four. And bread pudding fans are advised to plan their meat to allow for Del Frisco’s version with raisins, coconut, and Jack Daniel’s sauce. 4300Lemmon. 526-2101 Mon-Thur 5 pm-10 pm. Fri &Sat 5-11,Sun 5 pm-9 pm. MC. V.AE. Expensive.


LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB ★★★★ Finding myself once again on the verge of the big NB (nervous breakdown). I decided on dinner at Lawry’s. The only choices are prime rib, prime rib, and prime rib-in three cuts-so the stress of ordering is minimal. And the fare is hardcore comfort food that takes the overwrought diner back a couple of decades to the Sunday-dinner fare of a simpler time. The beef, carved to order from a trolley that resembles R2D2, was tender and flavorful; and the accompaniments-including a salad of Romaine. iceberg, and watercress; mashed potatoes; and creamed spinach – were admirable. At lunch there are also chicken, fish, and salad options, but prime rib is the point here. At lunch or dinner, the look of Lawry’s is surreally baronial, with tapestry and massive furniture abounding. 3008 Maple. 521-7777. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2; dinner: Mon-Thur 6-10:30. Fri 6-11:30. Sat 5:30-11:30. Sun 5-10; Sun brunch: 11-2:30. All credit cards. Expensive.


SIAM ★★★★★ Gone from the scene for more than two years, Siam has returned in a new location The signature dishes that made the original Siam’s reputation are as good as ever: the pork satay comes with peerless curried peanut sauce, the spring rolls are commendable, the beef salad is rolling in leaves of fresh mint, and pud Thai, a dish of rice noodles with shrimp, ground peanuts, and scrambled egg. tastes better here than anywhere. With its new amenities and more professional service, Siam is one of Dallas’s all-time great Asian restaurants. Northwest Comers Shopping Center, 2415 W Northwest Highway #108 (accessible from Harry Hines). 358-3122 Mon-Thur 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 5-10 pm. All credit cards. Moderate.


CACHAREL ★★★★★ Jean-Claude Prevot, former pro-prietor of Jean-Claude, one of Dallas’s best, longest-running restaurants (before it closed last year), has turned his attention to this new restaurant atop the Brookhollow Two building in Arlington. The result is a pretty establishment, with a glassed-in exhibition kitchen and a fixed price of $10 for lunch and $22 for dinner. The menu changes daily and offers a nice balance of the traditional and the innovative. The fare-inciuding such Gallic classics as green salad with goat cheese, asparagus soup, scallops with an assertive tarragon sauce, and lamb with a natural-juice sauce-would be worth twice the tariff 2221 E Lamar, Suite 910, Arlington 640-9981. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11.30-2:30; dinner Mon-Sat 6:30-11. Closed Sun, All credit cards. Moderate.

D REVISITS CEDARS VILLAGE CAFE ★★★★ I am still trying to figure out how it took longer (specifically, just under an hour) to get from Dallas to Arlington than from Dallas to Fort Worth. All turnpike travail aside, the voyage to Cedars Village Cafe resulted in food that was well worth the effort hummus (a dip of pureed chickpeas served with pita bread); potato salad (dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic}; grape leaves stuffed with rice and ground sirloin; falafel (fried balls of mashed, seasoned chickpeas), and rosewater-flavored rice pudding topped with pine nuts. There is a “light” lunch special that offers a choice of appetizer, entree, and salad for $3.89 that is one of the great bargains in 1he Metroplex. 5801 Green Oaks Plaza, Suite360. 5801 W 1-20, Arlington. (817)483-1988. Mon-Thur 11-3 & 5-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. Sun noon-5. Ail credit cards. Inexpensive.


SAINT EMILION ★★★★ Proprietor Bernard Tronche grew up in Saint-Emilion, a village in France’s Bordeaux area. Happily for the sake of Fort Worth residents, he moved to Cowtown and opened a charming restaurant that serves excellent straight-ahead French food. Considering the four-course fixed price of $20 per person – a great bargain by Dallas standards- it’s surprising that more Dallasites don’t make the trek. The last time I did. the results were impressive. A thoughtfully put together salad (leaf lettuce, radicchio, watercress, walnuts, and bits of bacon dressed with walnut oil), textbook lobster bisque, rich spinach cannelloni, and creditable snails in garlic butter made for a great start. (Order the last with the boneless quail and you’ve got the snail-and-quail special.) Only the over-complicated quail stuffed with Belgian endive was less than impressive Juicy swordfish provencal and nicely roasted duck with cherry sauce were all one could ask for. (Actually, one could ask that the duck be boned.) For dessert, pass on the fluffy, lightweight chocolate mousse and opt for the extraordinary creme caramel. 3617 W Seventh. (817)737-2781 Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 pm & 610 pm. Sat 6-10 pm, Closed Sun. MC, V, AE. Moderate.


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