HOUSTON LORE HAS IT that when Tony’s (Tony Vallone’s namesake restaurant) closed las) year to reinvent itself, sales in the city’s smartest shops dipped dramatically: if one couldn’t see and be seen lunching at Tony’s, the social set’s reasoning went, one hardly needed to maintain a dazzling wardrobe.
Comes now Joey Val-lone, son of Tony, exploding onto the Dallas dining scene with a namesake restaurant of his own and a beaming disregard for civic sensitivities. “I love Dallas, but it doesn’t have the restaurants chat Houston has,” he told a Houston Business Journal writer, Confiding his intent to correct the problem here in drowsing, browsing chain-eatery land.
Ah, well. And did Dallas punish such brashness by greeting his restaurant with haughty indifference? You know better- the moment it opened in late October, Joey’s was jammed. I know, because I was there, too curious and deadline-pressed to allow the usual shakedown time before reviewing. but willing to view minor glitches and gaffes with mercy.
As it happened, there was very little to forgive: my mercy went unstrained, unlike my voice (if Joey Vallone had not raised high the ceiling of the former Wine Press, the incredible noise level would). Joeys claims to seat 165 diners; I’d swear double that number ware there the first night, and the waiters and waitresses performed all manner of little mir-acles to serve them near-flawlessly that night, as well as on a later, less harried visit.
Tables are set so close together that walking between them is difficult, Joey’s intent to turn them two or three times a night may be to pay for the decor, which is extravagant, exuberant, and witty. Color blazes in wall and ceiling murals and on columns embedded with shards of tile and porcelain; gaslights flicker in wall fixtures; and a balcony defeats patrons who try to enter from Oak Lawn Avenue-Joey’s faces Herschel Avenue, where valet parkers wait by a circular drive’s fountain.
Every dish we saw or sampled was beautifully composed on the plate; only three were less interesting than they looked. An avocado pancake starter stacked three bland green pancakes alternately with crab meat that was thick with bits of shell. Joey’s Nutty salad insulted fresh greens with gluey candied nuis and an overly sweet dressing. Ca-pellini crusted golden salmon would have been better without its tangled coating of thread-thin crisp pasta; better still beside its cheesy polenta rather than squashed atop it.
On the plus side fazzolet-to, a Tissue-thin pasta handkerchief folded around spinach, arugula, and ricot-ta, was a meltingly lovely appetizer: shrimp and crab cheesecake, a savory, airy wedge with pesto and the seafoods, was an even more inspired first course. The Italian wedding soup held a splendor of perfectly diced vegetables and pasta segments in transparent, toothsome broth; can-neloni casalinga, a home made crêpe stuffed with souffle-light chicken, ricotta, and spinach, held subtle delight in its garden-fresh wash of tomato sauce.
Rotisserie roasted duck was crisp-skinned and shockingly wonderful sided with fresh raspberries and dark, richly seasoned wild rice. But the star entree of the house has to be an osso buco that outshone any other I’ve ever tasted. More French than Italian in style, the usually peasant-plain dish took an ele gant turn, the veal shank slowly braised in a wine sauce to utter succulence, served with herbed risotto.
Desserts, after that, were anticlimactic; a seven-layer chocolate cake was pleasant, the house tiramisu, moist and fine. The small !T;KX”-note touches’ -roasted garlic and good bread up front, superior biscotti at dinner’s end-while not as stunningly novel here in the hinterlands as the host perhaps might think, are charming. -Betty Cook
Joey’s. 4217 Oak lawn Ave., 214-526-0074. Lunch, Monday-Friday, 11:30a.m-2p.m.; dinner, Sunday, 5:30p.mAOp.m., Monday-Thursday, 5:30p.m.-l 1 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5:30p.m.-midnight. Moderate to expensive.
TEXAS LAND & CATTLE COMPANY
TEXAS LAND & CATTLE COMPANY SEEMS TO have already carved out its own Dallas niche, with popular entrees like sliced smoked sirloin (served in 10- or 16-ounce portions), mesquite grilled trout, and fried pickles (why fry pickles?). Night or day, this place jumps. The decor is familiar-a massive stone fireplace topped with a stuffed steer’s head, log cabin-type walls, and that steakhouse requisite, enormous steak knives.
Meals begin with buckets of shell-on, “plain-old” or spicy (yes, they certainly are!), peanuts from the bar and little loaves of hot sourdough bread served on cutting boards. The shrimp cocktail, Caesar, and house salads are good starters, with a spicy flavor that gives TLCC the edge over most steak places. The shrimp cocktail is especially good. The big, tender shrimp are served with a typical, but good, bottled-type cocktail sauce, There’s plenty to choose from, including ribs or fried onion strings, chili or quail.
Meat, no surprise, stars, and the sliced smoked sirloin is the house specialty, served each day as long as it lasts. These thick slices of tender beef pair nicely with the heavenly skin-on homemade mashed potatoes, rich with garlic and pepper. A hefty rib-eye steak flanked by crisp steak fries won raves at one dinner, while the steak fries accompanying one lunch’s pretty decent cheeseburger tasted warmed-over and tired.
TLCC’s menu allows for lots of choices, from the mesquite-grilled shrimp to the Double Eagle tenderloin filet to the baked potato with butter and a cinnamon sugar sauce. There’s campfire chili by the cup or bowl, smoked pork ribs, and ranch house beans with ground steak and bacon. Cheesecake, served partially frozen, doesn’t make the grade. Several of the desserts are made in-house, but, so far, I’d rather dive into a bowl of the mashed potatoes and call that dessert. -Suzanne Hough
Texas Land & Cattle Company. 3130 Lemmon Ave., 214-526-4664. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-W:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-1.1:30p.m. Moderate.
ROUTH STREET BREWERY AND GRILL
SO HERE WE ARE, AWASH IN BREWPUBS, AS IT were, and who’s to know which offers more than another in gustatory satisfaction.
The menu is the first clue in this case. Unlike the establishments that regard food as secondary (a blotter to soak up the suds, so to speak), this confident newcomer features an arresting spread of edibles and more than two dozen by-the-glass wines, as well as its own array of beers.
RSB’s confidence is not misplaced. Food, beverages, and the decor are all keyed to one identifying theme that is virtually guaranteed to push a wistful Texan’s Eureka! button; the Hill Country. Designer Paul Draper (Anzu, the Riviera, Sfuzzi, the Crescent Club, et al ) has somehow transformed what once was a pleasantly dowdy old home into a casually luxurious lodge that juxtaposes corrugated steel wainscoting against Texas limestone walls; deer antler and rough cedar door hardware against brick floors: and a serenely intimate lower-level lounge against the restrained up-front hubbub of food service, live music, and talk.
One pair of starters-a musky, rich forest mushroom soup and a heaped bowl of buttery ale-steamed mussels-illustrated the country-cum-cosmopolitan contrasts of the cuisine. Wild mushroom strudel was tender and delicately seasoned; fried fish and chips with home-brewed malt vinegar were hearty and crisp, as was a Wiener schnitzel big enough to roof a small house but too delectable to inspire such a profane comparison, A hickory-grilled half chicken was to swoon over, deboned except for one little wing handle, splendidly accompanied by horseradish -scented whipped potatoes and a rosy pear-and-red-cabbage mélange. Five-peppercorn salmon, a thick, silken cut, slipped apart in moist layers under the fork’s lightest touch and was elegantly seasoned. If I had a disappointment, it was in desserts-a spiced apple strudel’s crust had a toughness reminiscent of microwaved pastries I’ve known; a towering wedge of chocolate cream pie was frozen and had little flavor.
But what about the beer? The sampler of five two-ounce servings included Bavarian Wheat, English Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Session Beer, and Irish Stout. While I chose the refined, near-fruity delicacy of Bavarian Wheat to accompany the chicken-fried Texas quail appetizer I had as an entrée,! could have found pleasure with any of them. Brewmaster Al Kinchen calls his beers hand-crafted and classically styled. I call them terrific, and Routh Street Brewery a bound-to-be success. -B.C.
Routh Street Brewery and Grill. 3011 Routh St., 214-922-8835. Open Monday-Wednesday & Sunday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. (bar stays open until 2 a. m.) Moderate.
ON FIRST GLANCE, THIS RESTAURANT SENDS mixed messages. The decor, almost surrealistic, transfixes customers, who alternate staring at the ceiling, which seems to be constructed of rose-tinted crumpled aluminum foil, and at the massive paintings of cobras (be grateful that the art display changes every three months). The piano player, however, soothes the ears with some classic tunes. The service might be overly attentive at one meal; another night your waiter might be brand new to the job, bumbling but well-intentioned.
But Globe Bistro holds one very important card up its sleeve: the food, which exceeds all expectations. The menu dips into many cuisines, mainly from Mediterranean countries, and the wine list, while small, offers nicely selected bottles from all over. The smoked salmon appetizer, loaded with plenty of good fish but not enough of the excellent toast to heap it on, scores big flavor points, although the plate came dusted with dried, not fresh, dill. The Caesar’s another winner, rich with cheese and garlic and impeccably fresh inner leaves of romaine. The entrées offer a little tour of Europe also, and you have to like a place that will serve gorgonzola-stuffed filet mignon, nicely crusty scalloped potatoes, and a wealth of vegetables for just $15.95. Those good potatoes also nestle alongside tender, perfectly cooked lamb perched on fine ratatouille. Steak Diane, a special of the day, also gets a ’90s twist when it is served vertical-style, atop vegetables, and in an unconventionally thick steak cut instead of the usual thin pounded slices of beef.
You can also explore The Globe at lunch, when nothing on the menu costs more than $7.25. You’ll definitely want to get a taste of Italy by choosing one of the enormous sandwiches served on tasty pannini bread spread with heavenly garlic mayonnaise. They’re served with fries, a rather pedestrian house salad, or a soup of the day (which always seems to be Italian vegetable). Berries, served in a cookie “bowl,” end the meal on a light note, and deliver contented diners back to America. -S.H.
Globe Bistro. 5000 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 214-661-8006. Monday-Saturday, V a.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. Moderate.
THESE RESTAURANTS REPRESENT THE BEST in Dallas and Fort Worth dining. It is implicit that we recommend all of them highly. These listings are revised and supplemented periodically.
Visits by our critics are made anonymously to avoid preferential treatment.
Inclusion in this directory has nothing whatever to do with paid advertising. KEY:
25 Named one of D Magazines
25 Best Restaurants [August 1995]
● Inexpensive: Dinner entrees under $10
● Moderate: Most entrees $10 to $25
● Expensive: Most entrees $25 or more (Based on a typical dinner for one, not includ ing drinks, tax, and tip.)
Breadwinners Cafe And Bakery. With the most charming open-air courtyard in the city at the site of the old Andrews, Breadwinners is winning renown: Loyal breakfast and lunch customers forced the small bakery to open for dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays, and daytime joys like Normandy French Toast and San Antonio Tacos now segue into such eclectic dinners as shrimp macadamia nut stir fry, veggie faji-tas, and lack Daniels barbecued baby back ribs. 3301 McKinney Ave., 214-754-4940. Inexpensive.
Red, Hot & Blue. This restaurant promises Memphis blues and red hot barbecue, and it delivers. Go for the “wet” smoked pork ribs and add the dry seasoning that’s ai every table, but beware of the blisteringly hoi “hoochie-koochie” sauce on the table. The baked beans, with green pepper and onion, were tangy but the cole slaw was bland; we wondered if someone forgot [he dressing. New potato salad, however, was chunky and firm with the right mix of egg and seasoning. 9810 N. Central Expy. at Walnut Hill Lane, Ste. 600. 214-368-RIBS or fax 214-373-FAXS for orders to go. Inexpensive.
Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. Deep in the heart of Texas barbecue, Houston has Goode’s, Fort Worth has Angela’s, and Dallas has Sonny Bryan’s. And while Sonny maybe gone, his sainted name goes on in franchising; the original dump on Inwood is father to two downtown spots and a strip-mall storefront in far North Dallas. The meat is what matters here; falling-off-the-bone ribs; tender, thick slices of smoky beef; and wonderfully greasy sausage, all kissed with spicy, thick sauce. 2202 Inwood Rd., 214-357-7120; and other locations. Inexpensive.
The Rock Bottom Brewery. The place to be on Date Night in Addison-the crowd is full of breathlessly hip, buffed, and gelled singles looking for Mr./Mrs. Right. While scanning the crowd, enjoy a glass of Roadrunner Stout, a spicy, almost gingery-flecked pint of power. Avoid the mutant Jazzberry. The burgers, nachos, and sandwiches have cutesy names and reasonable prices, but so-so presentations. 4050 Beit Line Rd., West Addison, 214-404-7456. Moderate.
Two Rows Restaurant & Brewery. The best beer at this SMU hangout is the Route 66 Amber Ale; the strangest is Uncle Red’s Raspberry Ale. The food is hearty and filling-anyone who can finish the humongous nachos should receive a complimentary beer and Turns. 5500 Greenville Ave., Ste. 1300,214-696-2739. Moderate.
Yegua Creek Brewing Company. You may come for the beer, but you’ll come back for the food. The pheasant quesadillas easily win Bar Food Hall of Fame status. To quench your thirst, try the Icehouse Pale Ale and die White Rock Red. But think twice before ordering the Apricot Ale. 2920 N. Henderson Ave., 214-824-BREW. Inexpensive.
Chip’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers. You loved it on Central. You’ll love it on Cole. Chip’s award-winning burgers are as good as ever served at the new location in die turn-of-the-century structure that was built as a Baptist church. The classic hamburger is a messy delicious concoction. Seasoned fries, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, and some salads are also on the menu, and are good, simple-if fattening-fare. 4501 Cole Ave., 214-526-1092; or its other new location, 4530 Lovers Ln., 214-691-2447. Inexpensive.
Fresh ’N Lite. The name can be a little misleading-the menu does offer a lot of fat-free foods, but this place is out to please everyone, so the menu includes burgers, croissant-based sandwiches, and even com dogs. Most popular are the enormous bowls of salad in 13 varieties. The Caesar features perfectly grilled chicken, olives, and onions, and makes a satisfying meal, although the accompanying pasty white rolls need improvement. Save room for a hot fruit cobbler. 6150 FrankfordRd.,214-713-8167. Inexpensive.
The San Francisco Rose. Good, standard fare- salads, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and a Larry North special for the health-conscious. Special kudos to the veggie quesadillas, full of fresh vegetables and probably the best in town. 3024 Greenville Ave., 214-826-2020. Inexpensive.
Slider and Blues. The menu here offers simple, cheap fare, with most choices in the S3 toS6 range. Best picks are the appetizers (“sliders”), which include hot tortilla chips with salsa, peppery curlicue fries, and buffalo wings; the burgers; and the ultra-thin crust pizza. Parents can linger over a by-the-glass house wine or an on-tap beer while kids head for die noisy game room. 8517 Hillcrest Ave., 214-696-8632; Slider and Blues Frankfort. 18110 Midway Rd., 214-732-6363; and other locations. Inexpensive.
Café Margaux. Kay Agnew has a talent for endowing whatever space her restaurant occupies with a distinctively Southern comfort. The cafe’s food is outstanding. Prime examples: A half-dozen fried oysters, their little frills crisped with com meal, came arranged on a pale, lemony sauce laced with nuggets of cracked pepper, while the day’s special of blackened halibut, with gilding pearly leaves of moist, sweet flesh, delivered a truly subtle murmur of Creole warmth in seared surface seasonings. Crestpark Hotel, 4242 Lomo Alto Dr., 214-520-1985. Moderate to expensive.
Copeland’s of New Orleans. Copeland’s takes its food much more seriously that the somewhat garish salmon-colored exterior of the restaurant would indicate. They excel at fried food, and it’s worth even’ calorie, especially the fat, peppery, uttterly crisp and greaseless popcorn shrimp and the enormous fried seafood platter. The menu lists lower calorie choices, too, like steamed vegetables and grilled fish, but classic Cajun food is the real star here-po-boys and deep-fried catfish, gumbo and shrimp étouffée. Don’t skip the thick, rich homemade ice cream or the traditional bananas Foster. Do, however, ask diem to turn down the music. It’s way too loud. 53 53 Belt Line Rd., 214-661-1883. Moderate.
Pappadeaux. Pappadeaux may be a chain, but it consistently prepares lively Cajun and stately-New Orleans style food in a welcome and authentic manner. Fresh, ice-cold Gulf oysters are delec-tably topped with crab meat, spinach, and hollandaise on a bed of rock salt. We found die fried alligator to be so sweet, juicy, and lightly fried that we plan to have it again, even though it did taste like chicken. 3520 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-521-4700; and other locations. Moderate.
25 Gloria’s. Dallas’ first El Salvadoran restaurant may have a casual, relaxed atmosphere, but the service couldn’t be better. Over 70 items crowd the order-by-number menu. We especially liked number 24, tender, nicely seasoned shrimp and onions over Spanish rice, and number 29. a seafood soup loaded with cubed fish, vegetables, and-surprise!-half an enormous crab in the shell, uncracked. and every bit worth the work of dislodging the succulent meat. 600 W. Davis St., 214-948-3672; and other locations. Inexpensive.
New Big Wong. This Lower Greenville spot still does a good lunch and late-night business, vending reliable and tasty Chinese standards and an assortment of challenging dishes for bolder palates. Start with cold noodles drizzled with hot sesame sauce, then move on to walnut shrimp, bean curd with crab meat, or the excellent eggplant with minced pork in a feisty garlic sauce. Or, divvy up one of die large bowls of soup; we stand behind the mixed deluxe with bean curd, almost overloaded with shrimp and pork. 2121 S. Greenville Ave., 214-821-4198. Inexpensive.
Taiwan Restaurant. The menu might look like a lot of other Chinese restaurants’, but that’s where any similarity ends. First, the decor; These elegantly decorated, spacious rooms are lined with windows to take advantage of the view from Taiwan’s second-floor location. Second, dim sum is offered daily (11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.), and it’s authentic, complete with carts loaded with little plates of these Chinese appetizers. There’s sticky rice, egg rolls, dumplings, and much more. 4980 Belt Line Rd.,Addison.214-387-2333. Moderate.
Cafe Brazil. With an international menu-muffalettas to croque madames-and 51 flavors of coffee, this is a place to linger with the eclectic crowd. 6420 N. Central Expy., 214-691-7791; 2815 Elm St., 214-747-2730; 2221 Abrams Rd., 214-826-9522. Inexpensive.
Grinders. This is a place where the Generation X crowd comes for a cup of joe; a sandwich, a bagel, or a pastry; and a good time with friends. While sampling some of the 30 varieties of coffee. Grinders guests can also play board games. Take note: the patio gets crowded. 2100 Greenville Ave., 214-827-2740. Inexpensive.
Java Island. With its jungle decor, you really feel like you’ve landed on a tropical island. But there is no Giliigan-like isolation here-scan the Internet on the in-house computers while enjoying one of the menu’s Italian selections or create-your-own sandwiches. Of course, the main draw is the 40 flavors of coffee at SI.25 a cup. 3020 Legacy Dr.,Ste. 270, Piano, 214-491-1695. Inexpensive.
Java Jones. Offering one of the least expensive cups of coffee among Dallas’ upscale Java joints ($1.60 bottomless cup), Java Jones also has an Italian menu-panini, pasta, and gelato. The restaurant attracts the body-piercing, tattooed crowd.3211 Oak Lawn Ave.,214-528-2099;5706 E. MockingbirdLn.,214-823-3345. inexpensive.
Starbucks. The national chain is solidly entrenched in Dallas with many of its outlets accessible through side doors of the Barnes and Noble bookstores. In highland Park Village, its corner location offers a nice view of the shopping scene, but die impersonal interior discourages lingering. Although there are 25 flavors to choose from, refills are not free. You can get baked goods from local merchants to accompanying your coffee. 100 Highland Park Village and other locations. 214-528-0121. Inexpensive.
Gilbert’s New York Delicatessen. Mile-high combination sandwiches, best on rye. include “The Brooklyn Bridge,” a triple-decker of corned beef, lean pastrami, chopped liver, and onion, and “The Queensboro Bridge,” stuffed with turkey, pastrami, Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and thousand island dressing. Be sure to sample the fabulous borscht with sour cream and the garlickly new cucumber pickles. For those who long for Eastern European dishes, specialties include stuffed cabbage, knish-es, and chicken or flanken in the pot. 127 Preston Forest Village, 214-373-3333. Inexpensive.
Street’s. This is the sandwich shop that should put most others to shame. After chomping through most of Street’s menu, one of our favorites is the V.I.P, a turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce sandwich. Another favorite is the vegetarian number with grilled portobello mushrooms layered with onion, tomatoes, and melted cheese, Two common threads run throughout the menu: The bread is good, and the quality of the produce is high. For dessert, the buttery rum cake and carrot cake are especially satisfying. 4246 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-2505. Inexpensive.
Franki’s Li’l Europe. Try the reliable German combo of brarwurst, ham, sauerkraut, and baked apples; the jaeger schnitzel, served with savory spaetzle; or the awe-inspiring pork medallions in wild blackberry sauce, quickly voted Dish We Wish We’d Ordered by the nibblers at our table. The star of the show is the ebullient Franki himself, always in suspenders and ready to laugh. 362 Casa Linda Plaza, 214-320-0426. Inexpensive to moderate.
Deep Ellum Cafe. Great people watching, but whether it’s the addition of die Addison location or the crush of the weekend crowds, this Deep Ellum stalwart seems to have lost its focus. The appetizer of fried calamari with lemon pepper aioli was tender but tasteless, and the Cafe Salad- with its ordinary greens and icebox tomatoes- was a “why bother?” The grilled chicken lasagna with black beans and green chili cream couldn’t decide if it was Mexican or Italian or just a hodgepodge, and the curry, lemon-grilled Atlantic salmon arrived nicely sautéed, but sauceless, with not a hint of curry. Stick to the tried-and-true Vietnamese grilled chicken salad or die creative sandwiches. 2704 Elm St., 214-741-9012. Moderate.
8.0 Restaurant and Bar. Head here on any Thursday night to mingle with the standing-room-only, coolest crowd in Dallas. Even the non-hip crowd comes for Sunday brunch, especially for a courtyard seat. Healthful cooking is stressed, but pancakes, chili cheeseburgers, and bacon appear alongside the “workout omelette.” You’ll find large portions and low prices, but 8.0’s goal isn’t to attract epicureans. The “Lava Lamp,” an 8.0 drink involving jello shots and vodka, has a loyal following, and the blue frozen margaritas are nothing but fun in a glass. The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh St., 214-979-0880. Inexpensive.
Fog City Diner. This glitzy, San Francisco-spawned transplant is to the traditional plate-lunch palace what Rockefeller Center is to the tepee. Some dishes pay lip service to the diner concept-chili dogs, burgers, and shakes are available-but you’ll know you’re riding the crest of trendmania when you see “warm chocolate chili tart with coffee ice cream” on the dessert menu. 2401 McKinney Ave., 214-220-2401. Inexpensive.
25 The Grape. The interior of The Grape is painted to look mellowly aged, like a wine cellar, and it’s guaranteed to stir up romance. Chef David Burdette toils behind a glass wall, and a huge blackboard displays the day’s menu, specials, and wine by the glass. Whatever you order, start with the mushroom soup-it’s famous, and justifiably so. The menu changes every few days and includes classics like beef tournedos, osso buco, and grilled swordfish, each given a unique Burdette sauce or accompaniment. 2808 Greenville Ave., 214-828-1981. Moderate.
Martini Ranch. On the weekends, this is a happening place for singles while the rest of the time, Martini Ranch is conducive to hanging out for an evening, drink in hand, talking endlessly with friends. Many of the martinis on the menu have high prices and froufrou names-the jokingly hot “martini picante” with jalapenostuffed olives; the sickly sweet “side car” with brandy and curacao; and the chocolate martini, Godiva liqueur in a chocolate rimmed glass (much better than it sounds, but save it for dessert). Among nibblies, try the excellent smoked trout, crab claws, and crispy calamari. The Jackie “O,” a baked potato soused with vodka and dabbed with caviar, is cooked to death and overpriced. 2816 Fairmount St., 214-220-2116. Inexpensive to moderate.
25 Sipango. Some may resent the compulsory $3 charge for valet parking in Sipango’s spacious, private lot, and others may wonder why some patrons are on a California kissy-kissy basis with Sipango’s powers-that-be while mere mortals receive a stony glance at best, but, aside from that, there are plenty of reasons to recommend this attractive, trendy Travis Street restaurant. Nearly all of Sipango’s California, Pacific Rim, and Italian dishes are light, like an unusual shrimp cake appetizer brightened with peppers and ginger, or a grilled vegetable entree including por-tobello mushrooms, zucchini, pimento, tomatoes, and eggplant. Try the extraordinary three-layer chocolate mousse cake for dessert. 4513 Travis St.. 214-522-2411. Moderate.
Quean of Sheba. This longtime favorite offers a low-cost luncheon buffet as well as Italian dishes, but it’s best to order from a group of freshly prepared Ethiopian special selections. This will allow you to sample a more interesting group of offerings from $8.75 for vegetarian to $ 11.25 for beef, including a main dish and a panoply of vegetables and salad. 3527 McKinney Ave., 214-521-0491. Inexpensive.
Addison Cafe. Behave nicely at this little French charmer, and you might be offered a complimentary glass of port after you’ve lapped up the last silky mouthful of the chocolate mousse. The intimate setting, clusters of long-stemmed flowers, and regal service bode well for a night of amour. Hot crusty rolls and a “Salade Victor Hugo,” greens topped with juicy grilled chicken, tomatoes, and walnuts, team up for a swell lunch; and a spinach, gruyère, and sun-dried tomato salad makes a nice segue into dinner. The heaps of vegetables served with the entrees are so beautifully prepared and cooked that it’s tempting to polish them off first. However, you’ll be devoting equal time to the beef tournedos in their intoxicating bordelaise sauce if you’ve been clever enough to order that. Prestonwood Place, 5290 Belt Line Rd., Addison. 214-991-8824. Moderate.
25 Calluand’s Bistro. Long one of Dallas’ most charming French eateries, Calluaud’s now concentrates on casual entrées and tapas, with an occasional “small bite” from the restaurant s previous, skillfully executed, traditional French menu. Among the entrees, try the moist, perfectly cooked red snapper topped with tomatoes, onions, green peppercorns, rosemary, and a touch of vinegar, served with sautéed squash. And don’t be surprised if you’re seated by the owners wife or teenage daughter, or if the chef himself, Guy Calluaud, comes out of the kitchen to set a table or straighten the silver. 5405 W. Lovers Ln., 214-3524997. Moderate.
25 Chez Gerard. Chez Gerard makes French cuisine approachable while upholding the restaurant s reputation for exquisite food, service, and wine. Try simple, rustic Country French dishes like casserole of scallops in red wine sauce, rabbit fricassee, or dishes rarely seen outside France like roasted pigeon, grilled mullet, or halibut tartare. Meals are served in the cozy, dimly lit inside room or in the covered patio, and both locations set the stage for romance, 4444 McKinney Ave., 214-522-6865. Moderate.
25 The French Room. The French Room is perhaps Dallas’ pre-eminent grand-occasion restaurant. For one thing, the price is haughty, although the courtly and unassuming staff certainly is not. And the menu is charged with such romantic eloquence it might make the best-seller lists as The Dishes of Dallas County. But it’s not just hype- every dish we sampled more than lived up to its billing, from an appetizer of foie gras terrine with mesclun salad to a roasted breast of guinea hen, split and filled with sweet crabmeat. Chef Donald Guillory’s cuisine makes dining here a special occasion, In the Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce St., 214-742-8200. Expensive.
25 The Green Room. Chef Chris Pyun’s food will stop you from wondering whether the Green Room’s decor is Victorian melodrama, French farce, or Deep Ellum send-up; the Culinary Institute of America alum cooks avant French, scaled down in price by resourceful mixing of local and seasonal ingredients with more exotic elements. An occasional snap of piquancy salutes Southwestern influences, as in the consummately delicious red bell pepper soup barely laced with lingering fire from a float of jalapeno coulis. 2715 Elm St., 214-748-7666. Moderate.
Old Warsaw. Romance is on the menu at Old Warsaw, with its candlelit atmosphere, unobtrusive service, and strolling violinists. The menu is solidly Continental and features lots of tableside preparation. The lobster crepe, packed with cubes of sweet meat, makes an excellent appetizer, as does the rich, creamy Brie soup. The entrees include braised pheasant, rack of lamb, and sweetbreads. Crab-stuffed tenderloin, a favorite choice, is meltingly tender and a visual delight. The wine list is excellent, and you’ll have plenty of time to study it if, as often happens, you’re shown to the bar for a lengthy wait until your table’s ready. 2610 Maple Ave., 214-528-0032. Expensive.
The Pyramid Room. Despite the plush atmosphere and impeccable service, you don’t have to spend big bucks to have a fine meal here. In addition to the regular menu, there’s a five-course dinner for $24 a person offered nightly, like sautéed calamari, chilled cucumber soup, homemade sorbet, and grilled beef tenderloin on polenta. Dessert is included, and the beautifully garnished macadamia nut tone is a favorite. The lobster bisque is a classic, smooth and rich with morsels of lobster, and the basket of breads is irresistible. The wine list, recognized by The Wine Spectator, is outstanding. Live music nightly. Fairmont Hotel, 1717 N. Akard St., 214-720-5249. Expensive.
25 The Riviera. We know of nowhere in Dallas where food, service, and ambience unfailingly come together in a more pleasurable whole, from seating and gift hors d’oeuvres to bitter smooth farewell chocolate truffle. Between those grace notes, every course shines with the exuberance characteristic of the restaurant’s namesake Mediterranean region. One appetizer featured rich nuggets of Maine lobster with fresh-scented celery root in sautéed cakes nestled in basil-lobster sauce along with infant leaves of arugula and cilantro. We also found a perfect soup: a chilled Provencal blending of fresh and sun-dried tomato afloat with ripe avocado slices around a crouton heaped with crab meat. 7709 Inwood Rd., 214-351-0094. Expensive.
25 Watel’s. This spirited eatery on McKinney Avenue treats guests with neighborly informality and uncommonly amiable, caring, and personal service. And the kitchen feels secure enough to vary its mostly classic country French bill of fare with not-so-Gallic dishes like pasta, vegetarian specials, and even an occasional Asian accent. But it’s in its house specialties that Watel’s culinary nationality is defined-in a white bean-based cassoulet bulging with lamb, duck confit, sausage, and smoked pork, and in the organ meats, prepared here with consummate skill. 1923 McKinney Ave., 214-720-0323. Moderate.
Barbec’s. Traditionally, good food is served at this East Dallas casual establishment. On our last visit, however, eggs ordered over medium were runny and sausage sat too long under a heating lamp. Grits are the standout item while the well-known beer-batter biscuits are slightly sweet. On weekday mornings, the line can stretch out the door. 8949 Garland Rd., 214-321-5597. Inexpensive.
Mecca Restaurant. This vintage coffeehouse might have been lifted, unchanged, out of Mayberry, U.S.A. The best foods here are the ones that Andy Griffith himself might have enjoyed, like hen and dumplings washed down with a glass of cold buttermilk. Breakfasts are especially good, with plate-sized pancakes, thick ham steaks, and shredded hash browns. Chicken-fried chicken is cooked to a juicy crunch, and the pies are homemade and worth every calorie. 10422 Harry Hines Blvd., 214-352-0051. Inexpensive.
Norma’s. This southern diner with its Gumpesque quirky quality serves man-sized portions of standard breakfast fare. Everything from cereal and pancakes to bacon and eggs can be combined into a meal for $3 to $5. The coffee is good and kept hot by the friendly, pampering waitresses. 3330 Belt Line Rd. and other locations, 214-243-8646, Inexpensive.
Poor Richard’s Calé. Located in a strip shopping center in East Plano, this country cafe has been serving families and working folks for more than 20 years. The menu has a range of stout breakfast and lunch offerings. In the morning, the signature BBQ Omelet is a western-style delight and the pancakes are light and fluffy. The waitresses and plentiful, courteous, and efficient. 2442 Avenue K at Park Boulevard, 214-423-1524. Inexpensive.
India Palace. With gracefully figured arcades, a glass window overlooking the deep clay tandoor ovens, and a bountiful buffet, India Palace can appear quite splendid. Try the mulligatawny soup-tomato with an undercurrent of coconut-and pureed lentil punctuated with a host of distinct herbs. Curried chicken is creamy, tender, and moist, while the bright-red marinated tandoori chicken and grilled flat bread or naan, both seared by the intense dry heat of the tan-door oven, are without parallel, End it all with a luscious mango custard or creamy rice pudding with almonds, pistachios, and a hint of rosewa-ter. 12817 Preston Rd., 214-392-0190. Moderate.
Tipperary Inn. It’s pints of the good black Guinness you’ll be hoistin’ here, not to mention the sainted Fullers ESB and dozens of other brews by the glass and bottle. But the food is more than an afterthought at this cavernous Irish joint that moved east from Greenville Avenue a few years ago and settled down with a comfortable sigh into the old Genaro’s spot. Enjoy earthy beef stew, smoked salmon, and high-piled sandwiches. 5815 Live Oak St., 214-823-7167. Inexpensive.
Alessio’s. Among the frequently superb offerings, we especially recommend the light-as-air gnocchi with gorgonzola, the grilled double veal chops steeped in five herbs, and the creamy, tomato-scented pasta fra diavolo. As an appetizer, escargot, tough and chewy, were disenchanting, all die more so when we discovered that our waiter had failed to reel off the day’s inventive list of savory appetizers. To compensate, we were treated to a heavenly dessert of homemade vanilla ice cream with blanched almonds, ripe strawberries, and chocolate sauce. Service, including frequent visits from the owner, was personable and caring. 4117 Lomo Alto Dr., 214-521-3585. Moderate.
Angelo’s. The ticket here is what might be called Italian comfort food, from perfect fettuccini alfredo and mama-mia spaghetti dishes to any entree involving the succulent Italian sausage. The fare leans more to retro than nouveau, as witness the generous bowls of the house red sauce, a zesty concoction that accompanies baskets of delicious warm bread-dipping encouraged. The staff is friendly and competent, and diners here good get weight for the dollar. 6341 La Vista Dr., 214-823-5566. Inexpensive.
Ciao Bella. Chef Tomazo, a farm-reared native of Italy, honors the sunny simplicity of his region’s dishes with finesse. A first course of roasted sweet peppers, tender mozzarella, and ripe tomato sparkled in a lacing of virgin olive oil. A pasta plate’s tangle of al dente spaghetti wore exactly the right amount of lively tomato sauce scented with basil snips. Every dish we tried demonstrated how total dedication to freshness can turn the plainest fare into poetry. 3232 McKinney Ave., 214-871-2074. Inexpensive to moderate.
Flip’s Wine Bar And Trattoria. Original art on the walls, soul music in the background (but not too loud), and eclectic, friendly servers make Flip’s a great place to just hang out and sample the unusual imported beer and wine-but don’t miss the food. Flip’s Italian nachos are a must-we had Texas goat cheese and red bell peppers on ours. Order some bruschetta with the nachos and it could make a meal, but why stop there? The manicotti will put smiles on faces and songs in stomachs. 1520 Greenville Ave., 214-824-9944. Moderate.
25 Mi Piaci. The name means “you are pleasing to me.” You’ll see why when you check out this Addison restaurant, with its team of workers making fresh pasta, an 80-pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano on display, and columns twisting from wood floor to high, sponged ceiling. The pasta is outstanding, especially the fusil-li loaded with earthy wild mushrooms, and the risotto ranks among the best in town. Delicious homemade bread and a largely Italian (and largely superb! wine list will make for a dining experience very pleasing to you. 14854 Montfort Dr., Addison. 214-934-8424. Moderate.
25 MoMo’s Italian Specialties. There is food to die for here, like the quattro stagioni pizza; the lasagna; the bresaola-thin slices of air-dried beef; and the carpaccio-sliced tenderloin topped with savory mayonnaise and accompanied by cucumber, radicchio, radishes, and hearts of palm, 9191 Forest. Ln., 214-234-6800; 8300 Preston Center Cir., 214-987-2082. Moderate.
Pomodoro’s. Pomodoro’s offers up fresh, delectable Italian pasta, frittatas, veal, and fish in a Napa Valley-esque setting just north of downtown. Go light (and cheap) with minestrone, complimentary fresh bread with sautéed tomatoes, and a Chianti Classico, or belly up to spicy Penne Arrabiata or Linguine Verde con Popla di Granchio (spinach linguine with crabmeat), Appetizers shine, especially the silky Carpaccio Pomodoro and bountiful Calamaretti. Service is spunkily efficient. 2520 Cedar Springs Rd., 214-871-1924, Moderate.
Mr. Sushi. The menu s enormous, complete with chicken teriyaki, shrimp tempura, and sukiyaki, but the action is at the huge, U-shaped sushi bar. A 16-ounce Ichiban beer provides the perfect accompaniment for the best of the sushi: tender halibut, smoothly rich salmon, and a lightly spicy tuna roll. 4860 Belt Line Rd., Addison. 214-385-0168. Expensive.
Nakamoto.The lunch menu looks familiar-complete meals featuring teriyaki, tempura, tonkat-su. and other favorites of Americans. But the dinner menu offers these and much more. Every night, the finest seasonal foods fill the multiple-layered little drawers in a bento box, a multi-course feast-for-one. You can choose traditional tea ceremony cooking, “boat dinners” (combination platters perfect for sharing), or meals like shabu-shabu cooked at your table. And whether at lunch or dinner, don’t miss ordering from the sushi bar, which lists about four dozen of the freshest sushi and sashimi in town. Ruisseau Village, 3309 N. Central Expy., 214-881-0328. Moderate.
Sumo Sushi. Regally hooded rattan chairs enthrone diners in the lower lounge, striking an exotic note of Eastern mystery, but abundant: servings and well-prepared food are the true hallmarks of this newcomer. Get your fill of cool cuts of raw sea creatures-one handroll stuffed with rice and seafood could serve as an appetizer on its own. Or feast on the Grand Champion (boxed) Lunch, which includes battered shrimp, vegetable slices, a pair of gyoza dumplings, avocado-centered California rolls, salad, chicken drumettes, soup, rice, and a dessert orange wedge. 7402 Greenville Ave., 214-987-2333. Moderate.
Teppo. From its arrow-narrow space on Lower Greenville, Teppo dishes up delectable offerings of sushi, sashimi, and yakitori, While the simple one-page menu might seem limiting, don’t be fooled: There’s plenty of pleasure in store. Stan with the grilled items (the beef sirloin nuggets studded with garlic and crisp-edged duck virtually dripped flavor, as did a chicken breast strung with bits of green onion) and work your way toward the more subtle flavors and textures of the fresh, artfully presented raw seafood. We thoroughly enjoyed both the salmon skin roll and the Teppo roll, tuna wrapped in chewy-firm conch ribbons in a magical marinade. 2014 Greenville Ave., 214-826-8989. Moderate to expensive.
Deco’s By Arthur. With textured aluminum overhangs, a black and purple theme, and a round neon clock, this strictly kosher restaurant is an attractive contemporary diner. You’ll find vast quantities of pizzas, pasta, and baked artichoke bottoms, and a $6.95, heart-healthy, all-you-can-eat buffet of salads, vegetables, and pasta. Among the many dishes, the mushroom soup and smoked salmon pasta are delightful. Several nights a week, jazz and jam sessions entertain die diners. (The restaurant closes for the Sabbath at 2:30 p.m. Friday and reopens at 10:30 a.m. Sunday for brunch.) Preston Road and Forest Lane, 214-788-2808. Inexpensive.
25 Adelmo’s. At Adelmo’s, owner Adelmo Banchetti is always on hand to see that the customer is properly looked after. While you are perusing die menu, you might be treated to a platter of pickled cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, and olives with rolls and butter. Try the grilled veal chop, easily a meal for two, marinated in olive oil and herbs, seared on the grill, and served with the bone still in; or die rack of lamb, gently scented with rosemary: or the exquisitely grilled, soft-shell crabs. 4537 Cole Ave., 214-559-0325. Moderate to expensive.
Cafe Highland Park. Mix them together-a French bistro, an Italian trattoria, and a Mediterranean sidewalk cafe-and it spells Cafe Highland Park (formerly Highland Park Cafe). Loaded with artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, and Kalamata olives, and garnished with a cheese-topped baguette slice, the Mediterranean salad awakens die taste buds. Grilled salmon with its pungent roasted garlic sauce is a winner, as is the sautéed veal with rich, meaty strips of mushrooms. Flavorful angel hair pasta and flawlessly cooked vegetables accompany both. 69 Highland Park Village,214-521-7300. Moderate.
Cafe Istanbul. With its brick and whitewashed walls and heavy wooden tables, this tiny, comfortable cafe conjures up a Turkish seaside taverna, albeit in Inwood Village. The mood is set for a Middle Eastern meal that starts with meze, a platter of assorted cold appetizers accompanied by Raki, an anise-flavored liqueur, or beer. Follow with the Bolu Tavuk, a chicken breast sautéed with unusual herbs in olive oil or the tender and sumptuous marinated swordfish with vegetables. The perfect way to end the meal is with the sweet sekerpare cookies and a cup of thick Turkish coffee. 5450 W. Lovers Ln., 214-902-0919. Inexpensive to moderate.
Eduardo. On our last visit, the owner was overheard yelling obscenities at a supplier, and later, when we mentioned that the mussels, in an otherwise heavenly saffron-scented sauce, tasted off, the owner and his son swore up and down that the seafood had arrived that morning, and that we must have been wrong. When we asked for a spoon to enjoy the marrow hidden inside a braised veal shank (a fatty piece served in an overly-spiced sauce), we were handed a soup spoon, which was much too wide. Deserving of praise, however, were the fresh, sautéed, soft-shell crabs, crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside; and other diners raved about their golden strom-bolis and calzones. Desserts were a delight- especially the candied chocolate cups filled with raspberries floating in crème anglaise. 4131 Lomo Alto Dr., 214-522-0606. Moderate.
Mediterraneo. Forget buns of steel, you’ll need nerves of steel to survive dinner at this hip ’n happening restaurant. But the ethereal food will quickly render you amnesiac about both the long wait for your reserved table and the oddly paced, erratic service. This might just be the most inspired, creative menu in town, and the daily specials soar way beyond special (pray that lobster with Roguefort-whipped potatoes is on the list). The crab-filled com pancake appetizer, with its mushrooms and sun-dried tomato/lobster butter sauce, demonstrates how skillfully executive chef David Holben combines flavors and textures. 18111 Preston Rd., Ste. 120,214-447-0066. Moderate.
Cantina Laredo. Skip the wimpish, disappointing guacamole salad, and save your appetite for the Guadalajara plate, loaded with cheese enchiladas, a chunky tamale, tacos al carbon, pico de gallo, and a decent dollop of guac. Speaking of green, the spinach enchiladas here are for the real spinach lover; the leaves retain some of their crunchy integrity, spared the thermonuclear zapping the dish receives at most places. Add good chips, sauce that belongs in the Tex-Mex Hall of Fame, friendly service, strolling mariachis, mar-garitas with a pleasant sting, and you have just had a good time. 8121 Walnut Hill Ln.,214-987-9192. Inexpensive.
25 La Calle Doce. Take a charming old Oak Cliff house, add a dash of restoration, stir in a smattering of family photos, cover with family staff and management, and you’ve got La Calle Doce, known for its outstanding ceviche; good, stout margaritas; and some of the best seafood around. The herb-marinated grilled catfish, served whole on abed of Spanish-style rice with plenty of vegetables, can convert the most strident “catfish-is-so-ugly” snob. Owners Oscar and Laura Sanchez, along with Laura’s sister Alma, are ready to answer all questions and make informed recommendations. 415 W. 12th St., 214-941-4304. Inexpensive.
Rosita’s Restaurant. Incendiary salsa, tortilla chips with a fine, oily sheen, and chicken nachos piled high with sour cream, tender chicken, and fresh jalapenos say this place is genuine Tex- Mex, so pass the butter and leave the cholesterol gauge at home. Try the lettuce-laden Puffed Tacos for a lighter treat. Imported cervezas are served icy cold. Daily lunch specials for $3.25 are classic combos of enchiladas, tacos, and burritos; try the all-you-can-eat weekend buffet for a true Mex-fest. 4906 Maple Ave., 214-521-4741; 120 W. Airport Fwy.,Irving,214-445-4741. Inexpensive.
Ali Baba. Bring your family here for exceedingly low prices, abundant portions, and authentic Middle Eastern cuisine. Start off with the maza plate, a traditional sampler of hummus, baba ghanoush, grilled eggplant, and tabouleh, a parsley, lemon juice, tomato, and wheat salad. Then try the falafels, deep-fried chick peas and sesame seeds in a yogurt sauce; kibi, deep-fried cracked wheat and beef; or grilled shish Tawook, spicy chicken cubes with smoky rice and vermicelli. 1905 Greenville Ave., 214-823-8235. Inexpensive.
Dream Cafe. Dallas’ most accessible organic breakfast spot. Dream Cafe un apologetically offers ultra-hip ’90s-style breakfasts, complete with superb joe, warming the hearts of artsy advertising types and button-down bankers alike. Black bean and rice luncheons and alfresco dinner-fests (Monday night specials include kid entertainment) should delight fastidious health-conscious types. The ambitious menu occasionally lives up to glorious nouvelle descriptions (“Mystic Pasta, grilled chicken Brie, caramelized onions” and so forth); try daily specials for best bets. 2800 Routh St., 214-9540486. Moderate.
25 Anzu. This is the kind of place where no one will share appetizers-they’re too good. But Anzu’s entrees are as delightful as its starters; every bite brings a heady thrill of pleasure to the tongue. Teriyaki grilled portobello mushroom was a huge, marinated single cap, meaty as steak, sliced for chopstick convenience, and strewn with slivers of vinaigrette-zipped tomato and leek. Asian influences abound in Anzu’s self-styled “New American” menu and decor, from the origami birds fluttering from the ceiling to the sake warmed to just the right temperature. 4620 McKinney Ave., 214-526-7398. Moderate.
Aransas Pass. The patio at this Henderson Avenue eatery overlooks a charmingly landscaped side yard; year-round alfresco dining is made possible by a windowed canvas tent arrangement that can be completely or partially closed or rolled up and put away. Such creativity extends to the food: fresh corn and roasted eggplant soup with piquant croutons, chopped tomato, scallions, and Parmesan shreds; and steamed mussels bathed in herbed Chardonnay. 2912 N. Henderson Ave., 214-827-8650. Moderate.
Beau Nash. Many menus elaborate to the point of tedium in describing dishes. Executive chef James Rowland’s menu almost errs in the opposite direction: Beau Nash’s bill of fare is so tersely worded that the dish one gets often is nothing like the dish one thought one ordered. The restaurant’s trademark grilled corn and smoked chicken soup, tor instance, turned out to be merely another take on the ubiquitous tortilla cliché, albeit a virtuously fat-free version. Pumpkin-brandy cheesecake was a rather too-solid ball thickly encrusted with shaved almonds-for the sake of a novel appearance, we suppose, at the delicate texture’s expense. Other presentations, though, were pretty without being contrived–grilled asparagus fanned beautifully under shiitake mushroom slices with peppered goat cheese; anger hair pasta lay heaped with lump crab meat and diced tomato on a wash of basil coulis. Creative pizzas (try steak}, sandwiches (try lobster), and entrees all speak with the lively Asian accents we’re currently calling fusion. The Hotel Crescent Court setting is splendidly casual; the service manages to charm without being chatty. 400 Crescent Ct., 214-871-3240. Moderate.
25 City Cafe. Complimentary marinated vegetables and olives at each table, excellent service, white tablecloths-and an exhibition kitchen featuring chef Katie Schma’s innovative dishes, like escolar-similar to halibut but juicier and tastier-served vertically with cumin-crusted stacked filets sitting on Spanish-style rice flecked with tomatoes and onions, topped with fried onion shreds, and surrounded by drizzled sauces of smoked plum and cilantro-spiked mango. And brother Doug Schma makes chocolate Kahlua cake: layers of meringue and butter-cream. ..mmm. 5757 W. Lovers Ln., 214-351-2233. Moderate.
25 Dakota’s. Dakota’s outdoor patio, with its five-tiered waterfall and hundreds of tiny white bulbs, is one of the most romantic spots in town. Sample appetizers like smoky grilled portobello mushrooms, tiny, delicate crab cakes, and smoked chicken quesadillas; revel in soups like smoked chicken chowder; and try not to become addicted to the lamb chops, served with pots of mint jelly, feta cheese vinaigrette, and angel-hair pasta. But, whatever you do, save room for the homemade desserts-cheesecake, “ooey-gooey” brownies, and the divine, sweet-tart Key lime pie. 600 N. Akard St., 214-740-4001. Moderate.
25 Landmark Restaurant. Ensconced in the mellow confines of the grand Melrose Hotel is a piquant treat: the “New World” cuisine of Landmark Restaurant chef Kent Rathbun. Rathbun’s experience of the Far East is evident in such creations as “pressed sushi” with daikon and beet confetti salad. It’s lovely, with rounds of firm fish sided with crisp, white radish and scarlet beet, but be warned-the dish is incendiary, even the rice. The spicy presence, though assertive, is just right in masterpieces like the grilled rack of lamb. In the Melrose Hotel, 3015 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-521-5151. Moderate to expensive.
25 Laurels. Everything about this lofty restaurant-atop a North Dallas hotel-does more than just look good. The space is lavish, the view is spectacular, and die New American cuisine is dazzling. A recently introduced prix fixe menu melds North and South American foods in a selection of health-aware appetizers, entrees, and desserts labeled with their calorie and fat contents for $49.50, including wine, beer, or soft drinks, and coffee. Or try entrees like the mixed grill-antelope, lamb, and quail, all splendidly set out on a sun-dried cherry sauce and gilded with pear-jalapeno chutney. In the Sheraton Park Central, 12720 Merit Dr., 214-385-3000. Expensive.
25 The Mansion on Turtle Creek. Dean Fearing, along with Stephan Pyles and several others, perfected the New Southwest cuisine by introducing surprising ingredients and novel interpretations into such simple dishes as salsas, enchiladas, and marinades. Tortilla soup-chicken broth, a touch of tomatoes and onions, topped with toasted shredded tortillas and cheddar cheese-is justifiably famous. Or try the lobster taco, a soft flour taco filled with luscious lobster meat and runny white cheese, a subtle and delicious treat. And, of course, you’ll enjoy the superlative service-captains and sommeliers materialize from the mar-blework, and flutes of premium champagne wash away your cares. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., 214-559-2100. Expensive.
25 Nana Grill. The name may have changed, but people-watching in the Wyndham Anatole lobby won’t-sheiks and secretaries, politicians and potentates, conventioneers and corporate power brokers. But sit in the 27th-floor Nana Grill and you’ll feel you could buy and sell them all-partly because of the altitude, the plush decor, and the staffs polished competence, of course, but also because of chef Scott Blackerby’s cosmopolitan fare-like the ambrosial baked oysters with cilantro pesto, a trademark bouse favorite, In the Wyndham Anatole Hotel tower, 2201 Stemmons Fwy., 214-761-7479. Expensive.
25 Yellow. Bright yellow awnings shade the windows, yellow accents the interior, and each dish displays a touch of-you guessed it-yellow! Sample such delights as a sesame-crusted seared ahi appetizer, served with a tangle of mixed greens, or honey-spited duck with a tamarind plum sauce. But seafood reigns here, and the best entree might be the corn-crusted halibut with a delicate lemongrass butter sauce. 2719 McKinney Ave., 214-871-1772, Expensive.
Aw Shucks. Picnic tables, self-service, rolls of paper towels on each table, and payment by the honor system characterize this tiny breath of sea air across from the Granada on Greenville Avenue. The shrimp cocktail is a nice starter, and we are great fans of the hot-as in heated-Cajun shrimp, nestled in their soil shells with the heads still on, sprinkled lightly with celery salt and cayenne. Another favorite is the Alaskan king crab, nearly as sumptuous as lobster. 3601 Greenville Ave., 214-821-9449, Inexpensive to moderate
Joe’s Crab Shack. This kitsch-filled restaurant, complete with a whale swimming overhead, wants its customers to feel like they’ve paused, mid-scuba dive, for a meal. And it is a bubbly place, with some of the perkiest servers around. Whack the blue crabs with a wooden mallet, dunk the sweet meat in the melted butter, toss the shells in the recessed bucket in the table, and repeat, pausing only for slugs of beer. The crab bisque adds just the right spicy note, and, if your cholesterol level allows it, the crab fingers and fried shrimp can’t be beat. 3855 Belt Line Rd.. Addison. 214-247-1010. Inexpensive to moderate.
Mainstream Fifth House. Owned by Kelly Haden, who also owns the fish market T.J.’s a few doors down from Mainstream, and by the powers behind Mi Cocina, Mainstream’s name is deceiving: These people know food. Bread pot shrimp- a hollowed out loaf of sourdough filled with the sautéed sea creatures- and creamy crab cakes are not to be missed. Go for the daily specials-a good Canadian salmon for $12.95 or chargrilled tuna at $13.95 with two side orders. Key lime pie provides the perfect ending to a pleasant meal. Preston Forest Shopping Center, 11661 Preston Rd., Ste. 153, 214-739-3474. Moderate.
Newport’s. Entering Newport’s in the West End’s historic brewery building, with its tables set on semicircular rings leading toward a seemingly bottomless pit, seems at first like descending into Dante’s Inferno. But the food is heavenly. New England clam chowder was rich, creamy, and delicious. Mesquite grilled Maine lobster was so meaty, moist, succulent, and filled with coral or roe that we ate almost everything but the gills. For dessert try the Kahlua Nest. 703 McKinney Ave., 214-954-0220. Moderate.
S&D Oyster Company. The interior is cool pale yellow and white though the food, mostly fried, is not as light as the atmosphere. We suggest you skip the shrimp dip and go straight for the fresh oysters on the half shell. The menu does offer a few selections of broiled fish, but we recommend the fried oysters with french fries and hush-puppies for a rare treat in these low-fat times. Finally, cleanse your palate with a refreshing piece of lemon pie. 2701 McKinney Ave., 214-880-0111. Moderate.
25 Sea Grill. Chef Andy Tun’s Thai roots put an Asian-American spin on classic seafood dishes like mussels in lemongrass broth, and smoked salmon appetizer with capers, caviar, dill, horseradish, and toasted pumpernickel. At night, with soft lighting, Harry Connick Jr. in the background, and a bottle from the nicely priced wine list, you might even forget you’re next door to a Fuddrucker’s and a Ming Garden. 2205 N. Central Expy., Piano, 214-509-5542. Moderate.
Yoll’s Seafood & Grill. We came away from Yoli’s doing the comic’s line about “buttah,” which remains the universal seasoning here. We followed buttery crab claws with Yoli’s Platter, a favorite, featuring a choice of blackened fish and sautéed shrimp on a robust tangle of linguini- drenched in butter. Also good: a special of Atlantic salmon with shrimp and vegetables- and plenty of butter. This is filling, cheap fare (half-priced appetizers and drinks from 5-7 p.m., Sunday-Monday) but it’s not for the cholesterol-conscious. 9220 Skillman St., 214-341-3533; 3827 Lemmon Ave., 214-521-9654. Inexpensive.
Blue Mesa Grill. This popular restaurant marries die flavors of Mexico and New Mexico, and does both well. The understated decor, with white stucco walls simply accented with brick, wood, and colorful primitive art, matches the pared-down, understated menu that delivers even more man it promises. The many sampler platters, whether of appetizers, desserts, or entrees, showcase the kitchen’s range, which even offers food for dieters. Guacamole, made tableside, can’t be beaten, and anything smoked or grilled is outstanding, Skip dessert in favor of an icy blue margarita. Village on theParkway,5100 Belt Line Rd.,Addison,214-934-0165. Moderate.
Lavaca Cantina. The Cantina sits with three other restaurants in the entertainment-restaurant-bar complex known as Pepper Square. The menu offers cowboy chow-grilled food, Mexican specialties, and lots of stuff for snacking. The best thing we tried was the jerk chicken and Key lime mustard slaw sandwich. The Cantina steals the show at happy hour, when 26 types of tequila draw some serious attention and the appetizer list gets a workout. If you’re going just for the food, lunch is a better deal. 14902 Preston Rd., Ste. 700 in Pepper Square, 214-458-0458. Moderate.
Loma Luna Cafe. Muted, soft earth tones, subtle lighting, and good art provide a tranquil setting for meals that start with hot chips and two assertively spicy salsas. The “boranas platter,” a generous assortment of appetizers, also zings the taste buds. Entrees, though, can be curiously bland, as though made by a different chef altogether. Silky flan and honey-drizzled Navajo fry bread ends the meal on a sweet note. Brunch, offered on both Saturdays and Sundays, is a $10.95 bargain, and offers a welcome change of pace-eggs scrambled with smoked mushrooms, onions, and poblano peppers. Most entrees come with home fries and beans, and you’ll also be served blue corn muffins, a fruit cup, a bottomless glass of champagne, and coffee. 8201 Preston Rd., 214-691-1552. Inexpensive.
25 Star Canyon. Chef Stephan Pyles, one of the founders of Southwestern cuisine, is now in his “new Texas” phase: Santiago Pena door handles, rawhide banquettes, hook ’em horns sconces, chuck wagon murals-and dish alter dish combining native Texas fare with intricate, unexpected, and exotic flavors: Tamale tart, much like a quiche, mildly seasoned with garlic and lump crabmeat; lean, cilantro-cured venison sliced thin, arranged in a fan; and the ever-popular Cowboy rib-eye steak, bone-in Angus beef delectably singed over hickory flames. 3 102 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-520-7827. Moderate to expensive.
Macho’s Cafe And Bar. Owners Nestor and Chris Macho are trying to make their restaurant all things to all people-at lunch, pasta, salads, and soups attract the ladies; at dinner, the Cuban and Spanish dishes interest younger diners; and at Sunday brunch, the disparate assortment of Cuban, American, Italian, and Spanish fare draws the after-church crowd. Our response was accordingly mixed. Of the Cuban and Spanish offerings, we recommend the empanadas, pockets of dough filled with beef, olives, and raisins served with cranberry and jalapeno dipping sauces; the sweet and flavorsome plantains sautéed in butter; and the shrimp sautéed in a coconut batter and bathed in coconut milk. On a lunch visit, an artichoke unpleasantly doused in bread crumbs was sent back. The S8.95 brunch was also disappointing. The dishes suffered from sitting out on warming trays for too long, and the selections seem incongruous. 97 3 9 N. Central Expy., 214-369-6466. Inexpensive to moderate.
Bob’s Steak & Chop House. Bob’s is a classic steak-house, complete with dark paneled walls, Sinatra crooning in the background, and a pot of fat pickles on each table. The Caesar is superb, with a nicely balanced, creamy dressing and lots of crunchy croutons, served on a chilled plate. The rib-eye steaks are especially good, with tender, juicy meat and a properly crusted surface. Meals are served with a choice of potatoes and a wealth of vegetables, including an outstanding steamed, honey-brushed, whole carrot.The wines have been carefully chosen and arc reasonably priced, whether by the bottle or glass, and the service is attentive while never fawning. 4300 Lemmon Ave. 214-528-9446. Expensive.
Chamberlain’s Prime Chop House. You need to pace your appetite in this comfortable neighborhood steakhouse, where chef-owner Richard Chamberlain often pops out of the kitchen to greet his customers, The perky garlicky aioli, spread on airy, lightly crispy rolls, can cause you to empty the breadbasket, but save room for the black bean soup, an intense, smoky bowl of: pureed magic, The crisp deviled crab cakes, in their subtle mustard sauce, can also start a meal in fine style. As tender and juicy as the lamb chops are, beef is the reason to visit Chamberlain’s, and prime rib heads the roster of favorites. Horseradish-whipped mashed potatoes star on the list of side dishes, although the fresh, bacon-laced corn casserole finishes a close second. Desserts, while respectable, don’l reach the same heights as the food that precedes them. 5330 Belt Line M, Addison, 214-934-2467. Moderate.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. This is a “he-man” of a restaurant, complete with a bustling bar of regulars slapping each other on the back. The wine list is huge, filled mainly with lots of expense account bottles, but bargains can be found among them. (The wines available by the glass seem to be a pitiful afterthought.) The menu is just what you’d expect, with lots of meat and side dishes, lobster, and a token fish of the day. The two prime cuts, a rib-eye and a strip, are the best steaks on the menu, and they’re rich in flavor and perfectly cooked. Service is fast-paced unless you request otherwise. 5251 Spring Valley Rd., 214-490-9000. Expensive.
Kirby’s Steakhouse. The return of the old Greenville favorite is apparently pleasing a wide range of diners: Clientele include dating teenagers, families with kids, and nostalgic past patrons. While the born-again Kirby’s is under new ownership, the clubby, comfortable restaurant relies heavily on recipes from the past: Steaks are cooked to perfection and have a hint of the forbidden flavor of fat. The new menu reflects ’90s notions with pasta, chicken, and seafood. The fried okra appetizer just may be the best in town. 3525 Greenville Ave., 214-821-2122. Moderate to expensive.
25 The Palm. The Palm came here during Dallas’ roaring ’80s and handily held its own during lean times as well. The insouciant service and lack of cushiony frills bespeak a brawling, brassy, particularly Texan attitude, and [he food, from lamb to linguini, veal to seafood, vegetable sides to salads-and unforgettable steaks and lobster-is superb. This New York import flatters its clientele-political figures, business executives, and VIPs-by splashing their colorful caricatures all over its walls. 701 Ross Ave., 214-698-0470. Expensive.
Paul’s Porterhouse. Expect the unexpected at Paul’s. Outside, you’d peg it for a $7.99 all-you-can-eat beef joint. Inside, you’ll see otherwise, as you checkout i he Remington sculptures, lofty menu prices, and a knock-out of a wine list (Wine Spectator just gave it one of the six “Awards of Excellence” in Dallas). Other surprises quickly follow, like grand wheels of mild cheddar ai each table, and maybe a complimentary bowl of quail soup or dessert tit Paul’s around and in a good mood). Prime beef (including a 28-ounce porterhouse) shares the menu with plenty of seafood as well as deer, elk, ostrich, pheasant, and rabbit. 10960 Composite Dr., 214-357-0279. Expensive.
Chow Thai. This striking new restaurant–with an eclectic atmosphere that includes lozenge-shaped lighting and light wooden chairs- amazes both die eyes and the mourn. The restaurant’s cooks and owner, who are from Bangkok, offer their customers authentic That fare with some exciting original dishes such us the Chow Thai duck, deliciously marinated in an exotic honey sauce, and yum pla muk, calamari served in a bed of fresh vegetables. If you choose items from the hotter side of the menu, cool off with Thai tea, a special blend with soy milk that is extremely soothing. I “he young waiters are courteous, but don’t let them steer you away from the more exotic dishes. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 144, 214-960-2999. Moderate.
Toy’s Cafe. Previously known as Thai Toy. this place specializes in vegetarian and seafood dishes, and is a good spot for informal, wholesome, and inexpensive earing. Don’t miss Toy’s mee grob, pinkish rice noodles studded with scallions and cilantro, deep-fried in a non-cloying sweet-and-sour sauce; or the deep-fried marinated shrimp lingers wrapped in rice paper. Soups, which feed two to four, are among Toy’s strongest suits. Scrumptious main courses begin with broad, soft, fresh rice noodles stir-fried with tofu. shrimp, or crab. Cash only. 4422 B Lemmon Ave., 214-528-7233. Inexpensive.
Tuppee Tong. Although you can order the food with the heat toned down, don’t. You’ll miss the punch of a peanut sauce that comes with the satays (appetizers of skewered chicken, meat, or shrimp) and the kick of a red curry chicken (made daily from home-grown spices). Balance the heat with a Thai salad of carrot, cucumber, and radish slivers in sweetened vinegar, and try one of the eight or so soups offered here in three sizes. Tuppee Tong translates as “big golden spoon,” so keep in mind that portions are large. And, even belter, prices are low. The Village at Collin Creek. 621 W. Piano Pkwy., Piano, 214-509-7979. Inexpensive.
The Zodiac Room. While this institution of Old Dallas atop the downtown Neimans remains popular with ladies who attend luncheons, execs who “do” lunch, and a certain number of passers-through-town intent on getting a taste of Southern tradition, the food here fails to match the high quality synonymous with the Neiman Marcus label. One member of a trio of salads- a bland, inexplicable glob alleged to be tuna (actually chicken) hit a sour note with one of our reviewers. Hamburgers were small and dry; crab cakes were better, but the accompanying fried potatoes were greasy and soggy. Service remains white-glove impeccable, but prices for die too-small portions of less than stellar cuisine are astro-nomical. 1618 Main St., sixth floor. 214-573-5800. Moderate to expensive.
Angelo’s. (Barbecue) 2533 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth, 817-332-0357. Inexpensive.
Cafe Matthew. (Southwestern) 8251 Bedford-Euless Rd., North Richland Hills, 817-577-3463. Moderate.
Cacharel. (French/Continental) 2221 E. Lamar, Brookhollow Two, Arlington, 817-640-9981. Moderate.
Dorris House Cafe. (New American) 224 E. College St.. Grapevine, 817-421-1181. Moderate.
Esparza’s Restaurante Mexicano. (Mexican) 124 E. Worth St.. Grapevine. 817-481-4668. Inexpensive.