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 at every table, but beware of the blisteringly hot “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 the dressing. New potato salad, however, was chunky and firm with the right mix of egg and seasoning. 9810 N, Central Expwy. at Walnut Hill Lane, Ste. 600. 368-RII3S or fax 373FAXS for orders to go. Inexpensive.
Sonny Bryan’s. The basic barbecue sandwich plate remains as fresh and new as the day the late Sonny first lit the fire in the barbecue pit: tender, flavorful meat piled on a soft bun, accompanied by wondrously spicy sauce, smoky beans, and cole slaw with a hint of tartness. The onion rings are to be treasured, a crusty shell around a soft, piping hot. sweet onion. The food may be as good at the new locations, but like an old hometown, the gritty ambience of the original must be visited from time to lime. 2202 Inwood Rd., 357-7120; and other locations. Inexpensive.
Hubcap Brewery & Kitchen.
.1701 N. Market St., 651-0808. Moderate.
The Rock Bottom Brewery.
4050 Belt Line Rd.. West Addison. 404-7456. Moderate.
Rout h Street Brewery and Grill. For starters, try the musky, rich mushroom soup and a heaping bowl of buttery ale-steamed mussels. Fried fish and chips were hearty and crisp and the Wiener schnitzel is huge and delectable, A hickory-grilled half chicken was to swoon over, splendidly accompanied by horseradish-scented whipped potatoes and a rosy pear-and-red cabbage mélange. The beer is also noteworthy. Try the sampler of five two-ounce servings that will help you settle on one to drink with your dinner. The desserts, however, were disappointing-the spiced apple strudel ’s crust has a toughness reminiscent of microwaved pastries. 3011 Routh St.. 922-8835. 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. 696-2739. Moderate.
Yegua Creek Brewing Co. 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 the White Rock Red. But 86 that Apricot Ale. 2920 N. Henderson Ave.. 824 BREW. Inexpensive.
Chips 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 the 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 salads are good, simple-if fattening-fare. 4501 Cole Awe., 526-1092. Inexpensive.
Mac’s Bar& Grill.
2301 N. Central Expwy., Piano, 881-2801. Inexpensive to moderate.
Snuffer’s. Every so often someone publishes the number of fat grams in a serving of Snuffer’s cheese fries, and we all pretend to be shocked-shocked!-and swear never again to let those straight-from-Satan munchies pass our lips. But inevitably we give in. Snuffer’s has a limited menu, but it’s hard to go wrong with burgers, the chicken sandwich, or the chicken Caesar salad. Go early on weekend nights, as the crowds build quickly. 3526 Greenville Ave., 826-6850; 14910 Midway Rd., Addison, 991-8811, Inexpensive.
Cafe Margaux. Kay Agnew endows whatever space her restaurant occupies with a distinctively Southern comfort, as well as outstanding food. Prime examples: A half-dozen fried oysters, their little frills crisped with corn 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., 520-1985. Moderate to expensive.
Copeland’s of New Orleans. The menu lists low- calorie choices 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 icecream or the traditional bananas Foster. Do, however, ask them to turn down the music. It’s way too loud- 5353 Belt Line Rd., 661-1883. Moderate.
Crescent City Cafe. Don’t come for the decor, with its brick walls, wobbly tables, and neon signs; or for the service: Each member of the staff gamely attempts to handle two or three times a normal load. But seafood gumbo, a wealth of a meal in a bowl, is reason enough to become a regular; pair it with half of a po-boy, and you’re set for the day. (Steer clear of the po-boys featuring roast beef, though; this tough, stringy beef tastes like Mom’s overcooked pot roast). The classic New Orleans muffaletta sandwich, slathered with a tangy olive dressing that zips up the meats and cheeses, travels well-a perfect (oil to airline food or something to lake home for dinner. Sample those New Orleans-style doughnuts, beignets, before you leave, though-they’re best hot. 2615 Commerce St.. 745-1900. Inexpensive.
Cathy’s Pacific. At this ambitious offshoot of Piano’s Cathy’s Wok, Chinese-American dishes dominate the menu along with “light and healthy” entrées. Appetizers both hit and miss-meaty honey-garlic wings start a meal well, as do skewers of satay chicken, but pot stickers disappoint with their nondescript filling, and beef satays are tough. Seafood dishes are a good bet here, and the single best item might be the Vietnamese bouillabaisse, loaded with savory king crab, plump shrimp, miniature clams, and seaworthy scallops. Cathy’s uses top ingredients, from jumbo nuts in the cashew chicken to the crisply sautéed vegetables in the spring rolls. Note: Food can be ordered moderately hot, hot, or extra hot. Go with hot. 5950-A Royal Ln._ 739-3378. Inexpensive to moderate.
May Dragon. Blending Mandarin, Hunan, Cantonese, and Szechwan-style Offerings, May Dragon serves Chinese banquet-style dishes any day of the week. At lunch, try the unusual Ming lettuce rolls, consisting of a large iceberg lettuce bowl lapped with hoisin sauce and filled with minced chicken and vegetables. From the elaborate dinner menu, the Magic Seafood Basket of Maine lobster tail, crab meat, scallops, and shrimp in a knitted noodle basket was beautiful : the crab and lobster were exquisite, though the sherry sauce was surprisingly strong. 4848 Belt line Rd., 392-9998. Moderate to expensive.
Szechwan Pavilion. Peking duck aficionados love the fact that this classic Chinese entree is available at Szechwan Pavilion anytime, in half or whole portions, without the customary need to call ahead and order it. Tableside, waiters brush the delicate pancakes with hoisin sauce, then layer on perfectly roasted duck, crispy skin, and wisps of seal-lions, and present the rolled-up treats on a platter ringed with slices of orange. Between bites, you’ll notice lots of regular customers greeting each other in this tranquil, soft-pink setting punctuated with black lacquered chairs. Top-quality ingredients star here, from the fat shrimp in the vegetable-loaded sizzling nee soup to the juicy roast pork in the lo mein. Szechwan beef, marked as spicy, had just the right amount of burn. The “wonderful shrimp” would be more wonderful if they weren’t coated in a soggy batter, but they sure are big, butter flied beauties. 8411 Preston Rd.. 368-4303. 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., Ste. 200. Addison, 367-2333. Moderate.
Uncle Tai’s. When it opened more than 10 years ago. Uncle Tai’s earned massive acclaim, but lately it’s been coasting too much on its reputation. The “two delicacy” cold platter spunklly begins a meal, especially if it teams slivered chicken in an assertive sesame sauce with peppercorn-topped tender prawns, but meals can slide rapidly downhill to candy-sweet ’hot spicy shrimp” and over-tenderized chicken with cashews. Spring rolls start off well, with a greaseless crisp crunch, but the filling remains a mystery. The setting, overlooking the wannabes on The Galleria’s ice skating rink, offers more enjoyment than the food does. In The Galleria. 13350 Dallas Pkwy.. 934-9998. Moderate.
Java Island. With its jungle decor, you really feel like you’ve landed on a tropical island, But there is no Gilligan-like isolation here-scan the Internet on the in-house computers while enjoying one of the menu’s Italian selections or cre-ate-your-own sandwiches, Of course, the main draw is 40 flavors of coffee at $1.25 a cup. 3020 Legacy Dr.. Ste. 270. Piano, 491-1695. Inexpensive. Java Jones. Offering one of the least expensive cups of coffee among Dallas’ upscale java joints ($1.60 per bottomless cup), Java Jones also hits an H Lilian menu-pani-ni, pasta, and gelato. The restaurant attracts a body-pierced, tattooed crowd. 3211 Oak Lawn Ave.. 528-2099. 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 garlicky new cucumber pickles. For those who long for Eastern European dishes, specialties include stuffed cabbage, knishes. and chicken or flanken in the pot. 127 Preston Forest Village, 373-3333. Inexpensive.
Street’s.This sandwich shop puts 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: 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.. 526-2505. Inexpensive.
Deep Ellum Cafe. The menu descriptions here do not do the food justice-the Dagwood sandwich conjures up images of a piled-high sub, but it arrives gooily warm, a gourmet knife-and-fork treat, with an unmentioned side salad (like perfectly ripe fruit. salad lopped with strawberry puree) that fights for equal attention. Desserts, also homemade, are so rich that a bite or two suffices, although the chocolate terrine positioned on a butter-rich caramel sauce can lead you, trance-like, back for a few more bites. This eclectic menu borrows from cuisines all overt he globe, and pays plenty of attention to vegetarians. 95001 Bell Line Rd., Addison, 392-0894, Inexpensive to 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 seal. 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 goaf isn’t to attract epicureans. The “Lava Lamp.” an 8.0 drink involving jeIlo shots and vodka, has a loyal following, and the blue frozen mar-garitas are nothing but fun in a glass. The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh St., S79-OB80. Inexpensive.
Fox and Hound. Although the restaurant calls itself an “English Pub and Grill.” don’t look for toad-in-the-hole here. Despite the silly British names that dot the menu, m ’lord will encounter hearty h
The Grape, The interior of The Grape Is painted to look mol- lowly 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 ;.<>. 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,, 82a 1981. Moderate.
Sipango. Meals start off promisingly at Slpango. where tables are packed with the impossibly young, than, and trendy. They dip morsels of the excellent fine-crumbed crusty bread in oil and peruse the very thorough wine list. After that, it’s hit or miss, with food that often looks better than It tastes. Sautéed shrimp-corn cakes contain lots of rubbery shrimp and a stray kernel or two of corn; the accompanying lime aioli lacks zip. So does the much- praised Caesar salad’s dressing. The best choices seem to come from the grill or the pizza oven, and a pizza topped with juicy grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, and mushrooms nicely combines both. 4513 Travis St,, 522-2411. Moderate.
Addison Cafe. The intimate setting, clusters of long-stemmed flowers, une 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 beaufully prepared and cooked that it’s tompting 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 Bell Line Rd., Addison. 991-8824. Moderate.
Calluaud’s Bistro. Long one of Dallas’ most charming French eateries. Calluaud’s now concentrates on casual entrees 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 owner’s 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., 352-1997, Moderate.
Chez Gerard. This quintessential little French restaurant with its flowery wallpaper, lace curtains, and cozy feel brings to mind your grandmother s dining room. However, Grandma never cooked like this, and she sure didn’t offer wines like these. The classic French onion soup, crowned with toasted bread and melted cheese, makes a nicely sized, thoroughly satisfactory appetizer; as does a zesty dish of mixed seafood with avocado and lime. The heady-with-mustard dressing coating tender greens and wisps of mushroom make the house salad a winner and perk up the palate for what follows. The menu la resolutely Frtench, with intensely flavored crawfish souffies delicate heel in a won-derful peppery sauce, and the best pommes frites around. Desserts, from the cloud-filled praline soufflé to the crusty crème brulée, should never be skipped. 4444 McKinney ten,, 5226865. Moderate,
The French Room, At Dallas’ pie-eminent grand occasion restaurant, 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 (i roasted breast of guinea hen. split and filled with sweet crabmeat. Chef Donald Guilfory’s cuisine makes dining here a Special occasion. In the Adolphus Hotel. 1321 Commerce St.. 742-8200. Expensive.
The Greon Room. Che! Chris Pyun’s spring menu folds fusion into French with lively effect: witness briny little Malpeque oysters, clinging to their half-shell under dollops of color ful.crunchy frying fish caviar, a sweet rice wine vinaigrette stung with minced fresh jalapeno for dipping. Witness French Brie baked in puff pastry and topped with Granny Smith apples,onion confit, and oil-azed mesclun leaves. Those were star starlets: so was the fole gras- superbly fresh, barely seared petals crowning sweet potato puree and steamed spinach, a circle of candied banana slices completing the plate’s exquisite play of flavors. Another main dish, while more substantial. was less exciting-a not-quite-tender pork lib chop, thyme-roasted and stuffed with corn, bacon, and green onion bits, laid for some reason atop rather than alongside herbed mashed potatoes (can anyone see the end of this stacking craze?!. An apple and dried cherry tart enfolded in airy puff pastry was délectai ’tie but needed mu a of the raspberry-port wine puree barely painted on its plate. Next time, we’ll know to request a bigger brush. 2715 Elm St.. 748-7666. Moderate.
La Petite Maison. The young and enthusiastic Robert Barone, the chef-owner of this new restaurant, has made a good start. with this daring venture. From our first thrilling spoonful of soup to the last plate- s craping nibble of chocolate creme. Barone’s fare was beautifully prepared, presented, and served. Take the lobster bisque, for example. its deep auburn color hinted at Its lush, splendid flavor. Also good was the seafood Mas t&i of smoked salmon, scallops, and shrimp (lung will! capers and green onion. The “Grand Mere’ oven-toasted chicken, sprinkled lavishly with hearty smoked bacon squares, was served with carved potatoes and tiny onions. The pork medallions zinged with Dijon mustard and a side of garlic whipped potatoes and baby carrots, while roasted rack el iamb matured three rib chops on a bed of toothsome couscous spiced with subtle curry. The dessert we tried-silken chocolate creme under a tepee of fragile pastry triangles rooted in whipped cream and a layer of raspberries-was a dramatic creation. The only selection we haven’t enjoyed so far is a gingerbread and ice cream dessert that lacked finesse. 291.7 Fairmount St.. 855-0700. Moderate.
Le Chardonnay. Restaurateur Michel Baudouin’s same-name Dallas spin-off of his Fort Worth establishment serves the same menu as the original. Vet the two could hardly be more different physically. The western Le Chardonnay is merry and casus), while the Dallas version strikes a serene, urbane note. At both locations, M. Baudouin’s French fare is modulated to appeal to Texas palates. Black bean soup and beef tenderloin sauced with jalapeno and cilantro are popular favorites, as is a rather sweet tart featuring apples with purple, green, and Vidalia onions on sturdy pastry: A pan-seared veal chop with port sauce was flavorful. Finish it all with a lighter-than-air serving of Floating Island. 500 Crescent Court. Ste. 165. 922-4555. Moderate to expensive.
Old Warsaw. Romance is on the menu here, with its candlelit atmosphere, unobtrusive service, etui strolling violinists. The menu is solidly Continental and features lots of tables’de preparation. The lobster crepe, packed with cubes of sweet meat, makes an excellent appetizer, as does the rich, creamy Brie soup. Entrées 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-, 528-0032. Expensive.
The Pyramld Room. Despite the plush atmosphère 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 S24 per person offered nightly, with dishes such as sautêed calamari. chilled cucumber soup, homemade sorbet, and grilled beef tenderloin on polenta Dessert is included. and 1 he beautifully garnished macadamia nut torte 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 Wine Spectator, is outstanding. Live music nightly. Fairmont Hotel, 1717 N. Akard St.. 720-52-19. Ex pensive.
The Riviera. We know of no place 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 trufifles, Between those grace notes, every course shines with the exuberance chat’ acteristic of the restaurant’s namesake Mediterranean region. One appetizer featured rich nuggets of Maine lob Ster with fresh-scented celery root in sauteed cakes nes-tied in basil-lobster sauce along with infant leaves of arugu-la and cilantro. We also found a perfect soup: a chilled Provencal blend of fresh ami sun-dried tomato afloat Willi ripe avocado slices around a crouton heaped with crab meat. 7709 Inwood Rd., 351-0094. Expensive.
Watel’s. This homey little restaurant, half of it an art-filled cozy interior and hall an enclosed patio, might have been lifted, menu intact, right of a Paris m Brussels side stree, The menu features brains, rabbit, and sweetbreads tor sophisticated customers, but also plenty of pasta, gnilled fish, and vegetarian dishes for the less brave. And a filling appetizer of toast rounds served with a zesty eggplant relish and an intense tapenade is a steal at $3.50. As enticing as those réguler favorites are, don’t miss the daily spe-cials. like heaps of incredibly tiny mussels in a cream-enhanced garlicky broth. Another nice touch: a cheese plate for dessert, with a half-dozen types of perfectly ripe cheeses, carefully trimmed fruit slices, and a freshly heated basket of bread. On lazy Sunday afternoons, customers can order from Watel’s regulat lunch menu or opt for one of the brunch specials. 1923 McKinney Ave.. 72O0323. Moderate.
Gourmet to Go
Eatzi’s. Okay, it’s not a restaurant, but the orepared foods’ and breads you can buy here make it worth frequent trips to turn a meal in your own dining room into a special occasion. Make your way to the bread shelves, where you’ll find 14 varieties and enough spreads and fillings to make you dizzy. At the salmi counter. just desoribe the saind of your pared foods. The quality of the deli meats is unsurpassed. Eatzi’s is a runaway success whose only problem. In the early going, was an inadequate checkout systom, 3403 Oak Lawn Are.. 526-1515. Inexpensive to moderate.
Kostas Cafo.A light, temony flavor underscores the saganaki. a creamy, mild cheese that’s breaded, fried, and served m flames, and the dolmas bulge with their rice and meat filling. The ever popular spinach ana feta cheese pie called spanakopita can be ordered either as an appetizer or entrée, and it packs a light, airy mouthful of flavor. Skip the dreary salads; and move on to a Byro sandwich paoked with lamb and beef, or kabobs starring succulent grilled pork tenderloin. Combination platters offer the best way to sample the menu, and be sure to peruse the wine list, with 21 wines available by the glass. The homemade rum cake may not be an authentic; Greek dessert (don’t worry, there’s also baklave), but it packs a tasty punch 4621 W park Blvd.. Plano. 596-8424. Moderate.
Barbec’s. 8949 Garlond Rd., 321-5597, Inexpensive.
Celebration. The restaurant looks like a house, with its wood paneling, fireplaces, and cozy furnishings. The waitresses are extremely friendly and chatty, and put you right at home the minute they bring a basket with melba toast, sesame breadsticks, and other packaged crackers to your table. The menu features such home-cooked treats like chicken and dumplings, and turkey and dressing. While portions are generous, save room tor the freshly b3ked roils and muffins. No fries here; instead you’ll get a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit. 4503 W. Lovers Ln.. 351-5681. inexpensive.
Mecca. On a recent visit we found the quality of the highly touted Mecca breakfast had slipped considerably. The gravy was downright thin and tasteless, and you can get eggs, grits, hash browns, and bacon cooked this compe-tently at. a number of place. Biscuits are harder to find, though, and the Mecca’s are certainly acceptable-nufly and hot. but not remarkable. But this veteran establishment can’t be beat for atmosphere: it’s got the feel and the look of a truckstop diner, except it’s clean and bright and offers a nonsmoking section land has enough nonsmoking customers, apparently, to make that distinction more factual than symbolic). 10422 Harry Hines Blvd., 352-0051. Inexpensive.
Natchez. Southern hospitality is warmly dispensed here, m surroundings that suggest a large home’s dining room. Tim food’s. markedly Southern, too -even tortilla soup, that Southwestern cliche, was gumbo-thick, dusky, and doold. edly piquant. The small menu’s potato cakes, delicately crisp-skinned, were lapped in a sweet honey-mustard sauce; the king cake, a tender patty of chopped scallops, crawfish, shrimp, and salmon, came on a tangy tartar sauce, garnished with cllantro-kissed chopped tomato. Stuffed chicken breast was two helf-breasts tilled with crew fish and white cheese, bound together for cooking. then bedded on subtle cilantro pesto cream, Corn-crusted catfish, a huge filet, emitted a to-die-for fragrance and tasted as good with its unexpected beurre blanc sauce. But the bill surprlse of our visit was an outstanding creme brolee,its sugar-shell top still warm and crackling beneath the spoon. It blew us away 2810 N. Henderson Ave., 821-4552. Inexpensive to moderate
Poor Richard’s Cafe. Located m a strip shopping center in Fast Piano,this country i,sfe 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 are plentiful, courteous, and efficient. 2442 Avenue K at Park Boulevard. 423-1524. Inexpensive.
India Palace. With gracefully figured arcades, a glass win dow 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 tandoor oven, are without parallel. End it all with a luscious mango custard or creamy rice pudding with almonds, pistachios, and a hint of rosewater, 12817 Preston Rd., 392-O190. Moderate.
The Adriatic. The Italian food here is complemented by the high caliber of the service and the tranquillity of the setting, which includes live (and blissfully quiet) piano music. Start a meal with the excellent steamed clams in garlic broth or the Caesar salad-fresh, but needed more of the excellent croutons and shredded cheese. The rack of lamb, perfectly cooked, was a treat with heaping sides of zucchini and carrots and the garlic-laden scalloped potatoes. The pepper steak special is a tender, tasty meat-feast sided by a nicely braised cabbage dish that’s not often served today. Expect generous portions here and peruse the wine list, which impresses with its variety and reasonable prices. Bargains abound on the lunch menu, which features everything from a fruit and cheese platter to crab and cannelloni. The restaurant also has a regal, yet welcoming bar. This may just be the neighborhood spot we all seek for a romantic dinner or to unwind from the workday. 19009 Preston Rd.. 248-2500. Moderate.
Alessio’s. Among the frequently superb offerings, we espe-cially recommend the light-as-air gnocchi with Gorgonzola, the grilled double veal chops steeped m five herbs, and the creamy, tomato-scented pasta fra diavolo. As an appetizer, escargot, tough and chewy, were disenchanting, all the 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,, 521-3585. Moderate.
Angelo’s Italian Grill. Hew to the spicier side of the menu-clams in red sauce over linguine. say. or Pasta Romano with Italian sausage, pepperoni. olives, and Roma tomatoes over penne-and you’ll be fine. Entrées in the white-sauce family, however, can be cloyingly rich, as was a three-cheese pasta on a recent visit. The Gorgonzola, Parmesan, and fontina swamping the linguine lost their individual tastes in the creamy sea, and only a heavy application of red pepper helped us finish half the plate. But given the affable service, reasonable prices ($7.95-$12.95), and generous portions, we’ll be back-with fingers crossed. 6341 La Vista Dr., 823-5566. Inexpensive.
Campisi’s Egyptian. Shove open the padded red vinyl door. stumble to a leatherette booth in this darkened room, and plunk a quarter in your mini jukebox to have the Chairman of the Board or Dean Martin croon a tune as you sip Chianti. People swear by Campisi’s rectangular pizzas, with their ultra-thin crusts, but they use scallions instead of onions, and what appear to be canned mushrooms instead of fresh, so we prefer the heaps of red-sauced pastas, especially the cheesy lasagna. Herbs lace the giant meatballs, the scampi is a garlicky delight, and the light-tasting cheese cake (made by a local German baker) is an absolute must. 55610 E- Mockingbird Ln.. 827-0355. Inexpensive.
Ciao Bella. The very menu begins the seduction with its lyrical, mouth-watering description of the cuisine of Chef Tommaso’s Italian home of Bologna; when our dinner was served, its exquisite flavor and the loving, handmade care with which Tommaso recreates his home cuisine brought joy to our palates and fueled the culinary romance. An appetizer of baked artichoke filled with veal, ricotta, spinach, and herbs seemed somehow to expand to more than the sum of its flavor components once it reached the tongue, and linguine with clams, herbs, garlic, and white wine did not disappoint. The star of our meal was a special, peppered salmon in brandy sauce, which was flaky, succulent, and oh-so-smooth, with just the right amount of pepper kick. 3232 McKinney Ave.. 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 Rip’s a great place to just hang out and sample the unusual imported beers and wines- 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 il could make a meal, but why stop there? The manicotti will put smites on faces and songs in stomachs. 1520 Greenville Ave.. 824-9944. Moderate.
Joey’s. Every dish we saw or sampled here was beautifully composed on the plate and only three were less Inter- esting than they looked-an avocado pancake, Joey’s Nutty salad, and capellini-crusted salmon. On the plus side. Joey’s serves a delicious rotisserie-roasted duck with fresh raspberries and richly seasoned wild rice. Also good is the fazzoletto, a tissue-thin pasta handkerchief folded around arugula. spinach, and ricotta cheese. The shrimp and crab cheesecake with pesto was mouthwatering. Desserts were anticlimactic after the meal, but the seven-layer cheesecake and house tiramisu are pleasant. 4217 Oak Lawn Ave,, 526-0074. Moderate to expensive.
Mi Piaci. The artful, minimalist decor, complete with soaring, twisted columns, makes for an upscale setting, but Mi Piaci’s food would taste great anywhere. You have to like a restaurant that bakes its own breads (including killer breadsticks). cures its own olives, and grows its own herbs. Pasta, which you can watch Mi Piaci’s chefs roll, shape, and cook, never (alls to please, especially the earthy fusil-li with wild mushrooms. The menu always offers at least four types of made-to-order risotto, a classa Italian, labor-intensive, meltingly tender rice dish: along with Italian standards such as osso buco and veal scaloppine. For a knockout alternative, sample the mammoth, juicy, grilled pork chop, served with velvety sage-laced mashed potatoes, pungent oven-dried tomatoes, and sweet roasted onions. Hefty portions of garlicky bruschetta start a meal in style, and the lemon tart in a pistachio crust ends it on a light note, 14854 Montfort Dr., Addison, 934-8424. Moderate.
MoMo’s Italian Specialties. This eatery plays like an Italian opera, from the soprano highs of the al dente homemade pastas to the baritone lows of its strip-mall decor. The pizzas (the menu lists two dozen mouthwatering versions) achieve perfection, with crusts that retain their crispness. topped with the freshest brush of tomato sauce and the softest puddles of mozzarella. The stuffed pastas, like lasagne, rotolo verde. and spinach-filled ravioli satisfy the heartiest appetites, and a pungent parsley pesto enlivens the complimentary focaccia. So far, excursions onto the secondi piatti (second course) list haven’t met the expectations created by what precedes it. There’s no wine list, so bring your own Chianti. Be sure to end your meal with a slice of the chocolate mousse cake MoMo’s wife makes, or one of the many ice cream selections, each crowned with homemade whipped cream. 9191 Forest Ln., 234-G800. Inexpensive to moderate.
Nicola’s. It took four visits to this smoothly polished Italian gem before we could bear to order anything other than their killer quatro stagioni pizza (divided into four sections of artichokes, mushrooms, prosciutto. and tomato/basil). The pizza dough, like the homemade breads, gets its distinctive crunch from ;i high-heat stint in the wood-burning oven in this smartly designed restaurant’s exhibition kitchen. Homemade mozzarella graces the pizza, as well as several of the pasta dishes, like the lush lasagne special layered with chicken and spinach. Minestrone starts the meal in a hearty fashion: it’s a better choice than the lackluster salads. A bottle of Antinori Chianti complements Nicola’s food perfectly, and dinners end best with a dish of homemade gelato (rich ice cream). Be careful, however, if you order the focaccia Nicola appetizer. You’ll never stop with just one order.The Galleria. third floor, 13350 Dallas Pkwy.. 788-1177. Inexpensive to moderate.
Pomodoro. Here you’ll find 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? 871-1924. Moderate.
Ruggeri’s Ristorante. This congenial restaurant has a following of prosperous regulars who swear by the dependable excellence of its cuisine, from crab claws Lamente sautéed m lemon butter, garlic, and crunchy minced shal-lots to creamy zabaglione afloat with fresh raspberries and strawberries. The strawberries were winter-firm for our visit and should have been omitted, but everything else we sampled demonstrated Ruggeri’s exacting standards. Cappeline at Salmone was. as usual, a transcendent com position of angel hair pasta punctuated with smoked salmon curls and caviar in vodka sauce. Scalloppine allé Carciofo presented veal scallops sautéed with artichoke hearts and mushrooms In a lively lemon butler sauce. 2911 Routh St., 871-7377. Moderate.
Tramontana. The bistroesque. intimate new restaurant in Preston Center offers diners a charming place to enjoy the wizardry of Chef Jose Sanchez, who has cooked at Old Warsaw and Les Saisons. Marvelous starters include the marinated goal cheese, peppered and nestled on lop of herbed gréons. Those same greens shone in a mesclun salad strewn with chunks of walnuts and fart goat cheese. We also savored the soups-deep-flavored French onion was topped with fine Gruyère cheese and the haricots vert have a strong, fresh presence in the creamed green bean potage. Entrees exceeded our expectations. Pen-seared salmon was transcendent, bathed in a tart caper sauce and served with grilled polenta and steamed spinach. Ditto on the ravioli stuffed with spinach and mushrooms and on the super-plump filet mignon sauced with Cabernet and sided with crunchy green beans and rosemary potatoes. The desserts are made in-house, but the bread is from Massimo’s. Preston Center’s got itself a winner. 8220B Westchester Dr.. 368-4188. Inexpensive to moderate.
Hana. We give Hana high marks tor authenticity, from the sushi bar to the tatami room to the stacks of Japanese newspapers and magazines available for their customers’ perusal. The Sashimi’s predictably good, especially the flavor-packed salmon, although the sushi list should explain just what things like “Texas roll” consist of for those of us who don’t know. Both the lunch and dinner menus offer bento boxes, Japan’s version of a combination platter, and these taste impeccably fresh. The crisp tempura shrimp and vegetables have only recently emerged from their hot oil bath; the chicken or beef in teriyaki sauce are minutes off the grill. Extra care has even been given to the salads, with slices of real Japanese cucumbers and flecks of grated ginger in the dressing. 14865 Inwood Rd.. 991-8322. Moderate.
Nakamoto. Ruisseau Village. 3309 N. Central Expy., 881 032H. Moderate.
Sushi at the Stonelelgh. The setting here, like the food, is immaculately fresh. Blond tables and chairs and double doors opening onto a landscaped terrace create an airy ambience, and track lighting draws the eye to the knife-wielding sorcery of Chef Masa Nagashima, who serves up every known sushi/sashimi standard, plus creative specialties, from his 68-item menu. Every bite we sampled was delectable, from the basic raw tuna, yellowtail. and salmon cuts to a more exotic spider roll of crunchy-cooked. soft-shell crab wrapped in seaweed and rice. Chef’s-spe-ciai baked mussels were divine, warmly blanketed in the half-shell by a lush blend of mayonnaise and golden smelt eggs. The salmon roe on seaweed-wrapped rice burst voluptuously on the tongue. Don’t forget appetizers: The miso soup, with hidden cubes of silken tofu. and gently pickled emerald seaweed were delightful. 292? Maple Ave., 871-7111. Inexpensive to moderate.
Deco’s By Arthur. With textured aluminum overhangs, a black and purple theme, and around neon clock, this strict ly kosher restaurant is an attractive contemporary diner. You’ll find vast quantities of pizzas, pasta, and baked arti-choke bottoms. and a $6.95. heart healthy, a 11-you cart-eat buffet of salads, vegetables, and pasta. Among the many dishes, the mushroom soup and smoked salmon pasta are delightful. Several rights a week, ja?/ and Jam sessions entertain the diners. (The restaurant closes for the Sabbath at 2:30 p.m. Friday and reopens at 10:30 a.m. Sunday for brunch.| 1418 Preston-Forest Square. 788-2808. Inexpensive.
Adelmo’s. Anyone here researching out-of-sync experiences? Here’s one for you: Our last dinner at Adelmo’s (two people, same table) might have been prepared in two separate restaurants, course by course. A starter of lob ster ravioli was a lively, lovely affaii, the lender pasta pillows plump with toothsome filling in a spicy vodka tomato sauce. Salmon tartare was a soupy mess-innocent snippets of fresh, raw pink lost in a near-liquid amalgam sparsely studded with onion and too many capers. The spécialité de la maison grilled veal chop was perfect as always, an awesome cut splendidly browned outside, juicy and luscious inside, large enough for two. A day’s special grilled trout was innocence betrayed again, by an unnecessary assault of strong accent elements-dried cherry tomatoes, capers, pickled artichoke hearts, and mushrooms, all laid on in a florid over-treaiment that overwhelmed the delicate, sweet trout meal’s flavor. Ah, well, the introductory tray of pickled vegetables was a charming gesture, our cozily close-seated co-diners all seemed happy, and service was as warmly intimate as the setting. 4537 Cole Ave., 559-0325. Moderate to expensive.
Cafe Istanbul. With lis 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 sword-fish 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.. Ste. 222, 902-0919. Inexpensive to moderate.
Mediterraneo. This might just be the most inspired, creative menu in town, and the daily specials soar way beyond special (pray that lobster with Roquefort-whipped potatoes is on the list). The crab-filled corn pancake appetizer, with its mushrooms and sun-dried tomato/lobster/butter sauce, demonstrates how skillfully executive chef David Hoi ben combines flavors and textures. 18111 Preston Rd.. Ste. 120, 447-0066. Moderate.
Sambuca. At the gorgeous new Addison location, deep, inviting booths with animal prints, a high-tech-bar area, and a forest scene mural all create a wild atmosphere that is good for people-watching and enjoying live jazz. Compared to this noise and color. Sambuca’s menu seems almost restrained. To start off a meal, the spinach salad with a sun-dried cherry vinaigrette and the appetizer pizzas get high marks. For Hie main course, the specials seem more assertively flavored than the regular menu items. For dessert, dive into the rich Romana Sambuca cake, which is drenched with anise-flavored liqueur. 15207 Addison Rd., Addison. 385-8455. Moderate.
Vincent’s Home Cooking. Mediterranean specialties such as dolmades. hummus, and baba ghanoush share equal space on the buffet table with salads and a variety of meats. Plus, don’t forget a slice of the homemade bread. The feast, which includes a selection of desserts such as chocolate cream pie, costs as little as $5.95; 2874 Walnut Hill Ln.. 351-1860. Moderate.
Cantina Laredo. Skip the wimpish, disappointing gua-camole salad, and save your appetite for the Guadalajara plate, loaded with cheese enchiladas, a chunky tamale. tacos ai 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. margaritas with a pleasant sting, and you have just had a good time. 8121 Walnut Hill In.. 987-9192. Inexpensive.
Caen Rosa. Traditional Mexican dishes are offered, but so are dishes that put a California-type spin on classic Mexican by adding things like goat cheese, wild mush-rooms, and mesquite-grilled red snapper. The interior appeals with its giant murals, spot-lighted plants, and a muted, comforting decor. The peppery salsa and thin, crisp tortilla chips awaken appetites, and flawless service moves meals along smoothly. Nicely grilled meat stars in the tacos ai carbon, and chicken enchiladas come packed with shredded meat and topped with a subtly smoky red sauce. Good, creamy flan stars for dessert, although “topped with fresh fruit” is a stretch for the lone, tanned strawberry. 165 Inwood Village, 350-5227. Inexpensive.
Cenaduria Mexicans. This restaurant’s goal is to offer authentic homemade Mexican-not Tex-Mex-food. It achieves this through such offerings as the barbacoa, a Mexican pot roast, that is served weekdays only. You get a generous plate of fork-tender beef mixed with onions, chiles, and tomatoes. With the basket of tortillas, ifs a roll-your-own feast. The side of beans gets high marks for the smoky flavor and a hint of what we suspect is beer in the juices. Unfortunately, bland is prevalent here. The que-sadillas could be fed to a baby with their tasteless white cheese and tortillas-they need some jalaperios, chopped onions, anything. The soupy salsa served with chips before the meal can be tongue-tingling one day and bland the next. Chicken gorditas. a better choice, still need to be doused with salsa. Breakfast is also served until noon each day with nothing over $4.95. Cenaduria is sure to get regulars coming to see the mariachis and ballet dancers perform. 2013 Greenville Ave.. 827-1494. Inexpensive.
Chuy’s. Separate yourself from the roar of the crowd, and pay attention to the food and intelligent service-this is Tex-Mex with a healthy attitude. Charros, lightly spiced beans sans fat, offer a happy ;i|i..:i native to the retried standard here-and even that’s thoughtfully cooked with canota oil instead of lard. Fine, thin tostadas are greaseless: sat sas carry fresh, addictive bite. House-special enchiladas feature blue corn tortillas stacked with big Bites of smoky grilled chicken in a tart green tomatillo sauce; grilled chicken and cheese lake on Spirited tang with a more delicate tomatillo sauce made with herbs, sour cream, and spices. And a prime starter before all this is rajas con queso-chiles and onions bathed in a nippy white cream cheese sauce, thin but hauntingly rich in flavor. 4544 McKinney Ave., 559-2489. Inexpensive to moderate.
Flying Burro. Bringing his own style of New Mexico-Mex to Dallas, owner Scott Cain has a neat sense of the cuisine’s essential basics. To Texas tongues, the most alien dish on the menu will probably be Winnie’s Killer Queso. a dark, spicy, burn-the-baby melange of peppers. The fried Jalapenos- uncommonly crisp and pickled, are filled with vinegary chicken and cheese, all hot as hell. The Burro’s sauces, in red or green, are gentler on the tongue and add the right spice to the chicken and New Mexican enchiladas. Be wary, however, of the posole, which had been overcooked and oversalted when we visited. The pounded chicken breast also hud been baked too long, Overall, the restaurant makes a happy addition to the casual dining scene. 2831 Greenville Ave.. 827-2112. Inexpensive.
Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano. Start by dipping chips into the warm, piquant green salsa, wash them down with handmade margaritas. then opt for tart, flush ceviche while you ponder; Barra de Navidad. enormous fresh shrimp sautéed in diablo sauce (coffee, orange juice, tomato), or delicate Snapper Mojo de Ajo in garlic and lime, or mouthwatering Filete con Champinones (steak with mushrooms and brandy)? Decisions, decisions. 4912 Cole Ave.. 521-4211. Moderate.
La Celle 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 a bed 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 recom mendations, 415 W. 12th St., 941-4304. Inexpensive.
Mattito’s. Mattito’s aims to please, with a menu that offers all the anticipated Mexican and Tex-Mex choices, but also throws in chicken-fried steaks, stuffed zucchini, and a Larry North heart-healthy menu. Chicken quesadillas, listed as an appetizer, qualify as a full meal, and are much tastier than the grilled vegetable nachos (broccoll on a nacho?). Go for the spinach enchiladas with their zippy green sauce, and don’t miss the chile rellenos. topped with the usual sauce, cheese, and sour cream, but also with chopped pecans for crunch and raisins for sweetness. The fajitas and tacos are standard fare; s;ive your calories for the homemade flan and sopaipillas Instead. Mattito’s bar packs a lively crowd, and lunch bargains abound, with specials ranging from $4.95 to S6.95. including a foot-long enchilada with beans and rice and two versions of chicken-fried steak. 4311 Oak Lawn Ave.. 526-8181, Inexpensive.
Mia’s. No question- Mia’s would be a prime member on anyone’s list of classic Dallas restaurants. For 14 years. this venerable institution has dished up definitive Tex-Mex food to addicts who stand in line on Tuesdays, when owner Ana Enriquez satisfies their lust for her incomparable chile rellenos. Other days, they make do with a menu of house specialties, combo plates, and sides thai read like standard Tex-Mex on paper, but on the palate translate into transcendent fare. Try the bean soup, a truly noble amalgam of pintos with minced chiles, bacon, onion, and cilantro accents, miles richer in flavor than prissy upscale black-bean concoctions. Fork into a cheese enchilada crowned with honest beefy chili, or a soft cheese taco’s tenderly molten heart. Ladle the bracing house salsa onto a bean-spread chalupa or a beef-filled taco, and savor the texture contrasts of greaseless tortilla shells and fine-ribboned lettuce. Service is cheerful, the setting is no-frills comfortable, and long-loyal habitues will tell you: You might pay more other places, but you won’t get better food. 4322 Lemmon Ave., 526-1020. Inexpensive.
Monica’s Aca Y Alla. Her ads say she’s not beautiful, but Monica sure knows how to cook. She does, she does- and never a dull cliché on the plate, Her tortilla soup’s a miracle of textures and flavors that shames tonier places with its crisp tortilla ribbons and rainbow-pretty passe! of vegetables. The salad that comes with it at lunch is all perky mixed greens, brightened with lime-dill vinaigrette. Pan-fried catfish is soulfully tender (if regrettably cursed with thread-thin bones) in garlic butler lime sauce. And the brown rice risotto in mild chipotle sauce strikes a neat chord in harmony with sautéed shrimp. The key lime cheesecake is a favorite, the house flan is a lively gingered chocolate. Don’t look for the mundane here-this is one of Deep Ellum’s prime health-conscious, people-watching spots, even at noon on weekdays. Live music, dance rhythms as spicy as the food, is featured on Friday and Sunday nights. 2914 Main St.,. 748-7140 Moderate.
Piano Tortilla Factory & Cafe. Not exactly ?round the corner, not much atmosphere, and no alcohol served, but this little authentic Mexican joint will have you eating to the belt-loosening stage. Your best game plan: Arrive after 11 a.m.. when your meal will start with free, fresh com-tast-ing chips, spicy salsa, guacamole. and pico de gallo. Buttery tasting chicken quesadilias, stewed pork-filled taquitos. and a split corn tortilla stuffed with inch-thick cubes of tender chicken team up nicely for a generous à la carte meal that would satisfy any linebacker, and would still leave enough from a 10-spot to pay for dessert and a drink. Combination plates, complete with rice and beans, average about $5. Make sure to take home a copy of the menu-this place does big take-out business. 1009 E, 18th St., Piano, 423-6980. inexpensive.
Tupinamba. Eddie Dominguez’ family has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, so he’s trying to uphold the family’s reputation. He has risen to the occasion, Dominquez and his family still put together the secret ingredients before handing them to the staff with instructions on how to finish the dishes. Meals commence with tortilla chips and a zesty bowl of salsa-fiery one day, almost tolerable the next. Nachos are crisp with shredded chicken and cheese, and the shrimp cocktail combines fresh shellfish with a drinkable gazpacho soup/sauce, “Tupy” tacos, although deep-fried. Hie hard to stop eating. Two small disappointments-the sour cream enchiladas were bland and the fajita salad was topped with dry chicken and an uneventful vinaigrette dressing. Desserts are definitely worth ordering. 12270 Inwood Rd., 243-2355. Inexpensive.
All 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., 823-8235. Inexpensive.
Dream Cafe. Dallas’ most accessible organic breakfast spot, Dream Cafe unapologetically 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 hid entertainment! should delight fastidious health-conscious types. The ambitious menu occasionally lives up to its glorious nouvelle descriptions (“Mystic Pasta, grilled chicken Brie, caramelized onions” and so forth); try daily specials for best bets. 2800 Routh St., 954-0486. Moderate. 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 corn 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 Frankford Rd., 713-8167. Inexpensive.
Americana. Meals here start with crusty slices of bread just waiting to be dipped into a roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato aioli. The silky wild mushroom and cheese chowder is decadently rich. The knockout appetizer, though, was the smoked ham and Brie ravioli. Served in a bowl soup-style, their rich broth enlivened by fresh corn, herbs, and tomato nuggets, these ravioli luck intensely smoky ham and earthy Brie between rustic homemade layers of pasta and created an unbeatable meal. The inventive appetizers set the stage for equally tasty entrées such as roast chicken (pure comfort food gone upscale, with heavenly whipped potatoes and spinach) and peppery beef tenderloin comes with a wealth of caramelized onions and morels. Now if they’ll just warm up the cold, almost clinical atmosphere. 3005 Routh St., 871-2004. Moderate.
Anzu. This is the kind of place where no one will share appetizers-they’re too good. Bui Anzu’s entrées 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.. 526-7398. Moderate.
Beau Nash. The restaurant’s trademark grilled, corn and smoked chicken soup 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; angel 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 entrées 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.. 871-3240. Moderate.
Cafe Sierra. This casual, unpretentious restaurant offers dishes that combine Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Middle Eastern cuisines with Southwestern accents. About the most exotic dish on the menu is a portobello mushroom and zucchini sandwich grilled on rosemary focaccia bread with provolone spread, wild greens, and a sliced tomato. Happy tartness comes through in prosciutto-studded lin-guine and in moist filled swordfish spiked with hearts-of-palm vinaigrette on a bed of seasoned couscous. A trio of marinated pork chops dripping in their brown-grilled juices would be comfort food anywhere. For dessert, a country tart with three types of berries in a flaky crust looked as good as it tasted, and the chocolate layer cake was a beautiful wedge of dark-brown sin. 2900 Greenville Ave., 827 1813. Inexpensive to moderate.
City Cafe. Here’s what’s in store: 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., 351-2233. Moderate.
D REVISITS Dakota’s. Dakota’s poses a tough choice-dine outside on the highly romantic patio (but far away from the very loud, although beautiful, waterfall} or inside, win ne the rich woods, etched glass, and stunning granite floors evoke images of classic New York restaurants. Start with an appetizer sampler or warm homemade breads and the addictive fried, cayenne-spiked onion shreds as you peruse the menu, which includes plenty of items marked as “lighter fare.” Choices from the wood-burning grill never disappoint, but a recent daily special was especially intriguing-colorfully striped, smoked mozzarella ravioli showered with sweet crab and sautéed bell peppers with a light garlicky sauce to tie all the elements together. Bargain-seekers will love the $15.95, three-course “twilight menu” offered daily, with choices that might include a first course of venison sausage quesadillas followed by roasted salmon and chocolate pecan pie. 600 N. Akard St., 740-4001. Moderate.
D REVISITS Landmark Restaurant. After s mys-teriously brief liaison with peripatetic chef Avner Samuel, the Landmark is securely back on track-newfy named executive chef Jim Anile’s menu (fie was sous chef during the departed Kent Rathbun’s kitchen reign) displays a sure mastery of the virile multilingual cuisine Rathbun introduced, with exciting interpretations that are Anile’s own. A day’s-special starter, on our visit, topped a crisp-edged potato pancake with a single huge seared sea scallop and zipped the pairing with caviar-caper rémoulade. Another sandwiched a succulent grilled shiitake mushroom between Roma tomato halves, crumb-coated and fried, on baby greens dressed with basil-balsamic vinaigrette. Both were luscious, as was a haunting-ly smoky tomato soup dolloped with pale green basil cream-a made-in-heaven marriage of flavors and hues adorned by a flash-fried basil leaf. An entrée of charred rare ahi tuna was stellar stuff indeed, the thick, meaty cut crisp-seared on the outside, its heart rosy-dark and ten- der; its accompanying warm salad Nicoise was studded with pressed kalamata olives that provided spirited accent to the gentle smoothness of the dressing, a vintage Balsamic vinegar and saffron aioli. The warm cardamom spice cake shared for dessert was a trifle dry, but the red pear coulis and vanilla crème fraiche that dressed It redeemed it as well. 3015 Oak Lawn Ave.. 521-5151. Moderate to expensive.
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 the New American cuisine Is dazzling. A recently introduced prix fixe menu melds North and South American foods in a selection of health-aware appetizers, entrées, and desserts labeled with their calorie and fat contents for $49,50, including wine, beer, or soft drinks, and coffee. Or try entrées 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., 385-3000. Expensive.
The Mansion on Turtle Creek. We’ve never spent a more pleasant evening nor been more tenderly served than at the Mansion on this most recent visit. Nor had better food-the near-brashness that has at times marked chef Dean Fearing’s cuisine as more showy than soul-satisfy-ing has been polished into a sophistication and balance that justify the international recognition he has received. Take two starters: A mammoth orange-caramelized sea scallop partnered divine flash-seared foie gras on a duck confit crêpe with blackened turnip slices and gingered currant sauce; and risotto perfumed with Oregon truffles offered gentle counterpoint to pesto-glazed shrimp with tomato essence and grilled zucchini salad. A request to split an entrée was honored without a murmur of condescension, and the ranch-reared antelope proved adequate for two, a substantial cut. rare and honey-glazed on a hearty posole stew gilded with roast yellow tomato, punctuated with barbecued venison fajitas. A less costly tasting menu ($65 complete) was as outstanding-bay scallops on deep-flavored fennel puree with basil-creamed noodles: a curl of warm lobster and shrimp fritters with celery root in a salad dressed with truffle-tomato vinaigrette; pan-fried golden trout so succulent its layers slipped apart like satin, with parsley potatoes, black trumpet mushrooms, a crunchy bouquet of minced parsnips, young asparagus, and green beans completing the plate. Hang the cost. Go there. Do that. And don’t be dismayed if you mention wine by the glass and the sommelier drops you like a stone-it’s just his way. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., 559-2100. Expensive.
Nana Grill. The hotel’s name may have changed, but people-watching in the Wyndham Anatole Hotel 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 house favorite. In the Wyndham Anatole Hotel tower, 2201 Stemmons Fwy., 761-7479. Expensive. Yellow, With new chef Christian Svalesen, a new seafood-rich menu that displays his talents, and lowered prices. Yellow scores a triple play. The potent little pots of garlic butter make it easy to polish off the crusty bread as you admire the crisp, clean decor-a white palette accented with clear, bright blue and, of course, yellow. You’ll find almost as many appetizers as entrees, and here, finally, is a restaurant that does both equally well. The best appetizer ranks among the best in town-a crab cake packed with Dungeness crab, lightly crusted, perched on a tantalizing coriander sauce. Among the lunch choices is a winner of a grilled salmon club sandwich, although it’s Impossible to eat without a knife and fork. The dinner menu includes tasty options, like duckling in blackberry sauce, for those who don’t like seafood, but make sure that someone at your table orders the aptly named pyramid of sword-fish. Desserts, especially the pistachio crème brulée, don’t disappoint-now, if only they’d expand the list. 2719 McKinney Ave,. 871-1772. Moderate.
Cafe Pacific. Magical food: a starter of lime-seasoned ceviche was as tony as the clientele, an extravagance of lobster and shrimp chunks with bay scallops, all bedded on jicama matchsticks and deep-green ribbons of spinach. A day’s special entree starring Gulf red snapper was even prettier, the fish delicately moist inside a crisp corn-tortilla crust atop a fine, crunchy salsa balancing tart tomatillo and sweet diced pineapple. The too-sweet nubbly crust on a warm apple crisp dessert overwhelmed its firm, fresh fruit filling, but the vanilla bean ice cream that crowned the whole affair helped cut the sweetness, as did bracing espresso. 24 Highland Park Village, Preston Road and Mockingbird Lane, 526-1170. Moderate to expensive.
Daddy jack’s. Try steamed Manila clams, plump fresh things, their sturdy feet clinging stubbornly to shells, freckled with minced garlic crunch in dippin’-good broth. Savor an entrée-sized appetizer of fresh mixed salad greens bedding meaty por tobello mushrooms overlapped with ripe peeled tomato slices drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette, Share a snapper and lobster tail special, sauced with spicy beurre blanc that nips you with warm afterburn-but only with someone you love enough to let him or her nibble at your big baked potato and sweet, barely steamed corn on the cob. One safe bet: Nobody goes home from here hun-gry. Or feeling neglected, either. 1916 Greenville Ave., B26-4910. Moderate.
Eighteen-O-One. Owned by well-known caterer Dary Richardson, this West End eatery in the Dallas World Aquarium features a superb, aquatically inspired menu reflecting the four regions from which the aquarium’s fish hail. Start with the warm bread and a cup of Daryl’s famous corn chowder, a spicy blend of fresh corn, peppers, and chunks of potatoes in a creamy base. Some of the international delicacies include coconut shrimp, quesadilla del Dia, sate of the day, and an Australian grilled sandwich. Or try one of the house specialties such as the grilled Caesar salad or crab cakes. Top it all off with ice cream and a homemade brownie. You’ll have to pay the admission fee for the aquarium in order to get to the restaurant, so plan some extra time to tour the museum, either to work up an appetite or walk off your meal. 1801 N. Griffin St., 720-2224. inexpensive.
Joe’s Crab Shack. 3855 Belt Line Rd.. Addison. 247-1010. Inexpensive to moderate.
LuLu’s Bait Shack. The old Crackers location has been transformed into a ramshackle, faux-bayou hangout serving an array of authentic Cajun cuisine with regional nuances ranging from hot to hotter. Buffalo shrimp are hotsy-totsies nicely balanced in a blue cheese dip, and jam-balaya carries a major kick. For tamer tongues, try the Chicken Rockafella with oysters, cheese, and spinach. Homey mashed Mardi Gras pasta is a mixture of fresh vegetables with capers and sun-dried tomatoes, while a lunch trip’s oyster po-boy proved a happy marriage of com meal-battered oysters with tomato, lettuce, and mayo, the plate fetchingly sprinkled with paprika. One warning: The house drink Is a 96-ounce fishbowi containing various types of alcohol, served with a plastic alligator and several straws, Share with friends, or the bon temps may roulez all over your head. 2621 McKinney Ave., 969-1927. Inexpensive to moderate.
Mainstream Fish House. The name, smacking of inoffensive blandness. is deceiving: Ih?se rmi>ple know food. Bread pot shrimp-a hollowed out loaf of sourdough filled with the sauteed 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 $11.95 with two side orders. Key lime pie provides the perfect ending to a pleasant meal. Preston Forest Shopping Center, 11661 Preston Rd., Ste. 153. 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 min 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., 954-0220. Moderate.
Remington’s Seafood Qrill. The menu here has Its highs and lows. Crab cakes are nicely meaty, teamed well with fresh chopped slaw and skin-on fries. However, scoops of marganne. not butter, accompany the baskets of good bread and the baked potatoes, which are further insulted by promised chives. Skip the clam chowder in favor of the sprightly Caesar, and be sure to order the tiniest, tastiest dessert around, the $1.39 sundae-a mini-scoop of vanilla ice cream awash in caramel and fudge sauces, topped with chopped Hershey’s kisses. 4580 Belt Line Rd., 386-0122. Moderate.
The Roaring Fork. Restau tuteurs Phil and Janet Cobb, savvy masters at creating first-class impact, have unveiled a restaurant as intriguing as its odd name. Fresh seafood. flown m daily, receives major emphasis here, from Blue Point and Malpeque oysters, divine in their briny liquor, to an Alaskan crab claw that made us wonder why some seafood is cooked at all. Worth Hie trip alone, was the signature appetizer called Duck Cigars-Asian egg rolls holding braised duck leg meat spiked with jalapeno and cilantro. A crawfish cake was less memorable, but crisp-skinned. Maytag blue cheese enlivened a wonderful salad with fanned pear slices and gave zip to the grits that came with the half-split, double pork chop and apple fritters. The nearest we came to disappointment was with the veal tenderloin that arrived as slightly overcooked medallions: the wild mushrooms in a brandied cream sauce overwhelmed the veal’s delicate flavor. However, the succulent swordfish steak coated with a horseradish crust found the perfect partners in ils mustard cream sauce and wild rice cake. 14866 Montfort Dr.. 387-3675. Expensive.
S&D Oyster Company. The intenor is cool pale yellow and white, though the mostly fried food is not as light as the atmosphere. We suggest you skip the shrimp dip and go straight lor 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.. 880-0111. Moderate.
D REVISITS Sea Grill. Asian accents are subtly woven into this seafood-intense menu, where every bite surprises-a touch of lemongrass in the iced tea. a splash of sake enlivening a black beah sauce. Don’t even bother with the menu If a lobster sandwich is one of the daily specials; just order It quickly before they run out. Hunks of sweet lobster meat tossed with a lemon/Dijon mayo make this open-faced sandwich a winner, and it’s served not only with fries, caraway seed-flecked slaw and slices of mango, but also with the good house salad. The setting may be strip mall-pedestrian, but the food, right down to the homemade desserts, transcends It. The orange cheesecake, as delicate as a mousse, ends a meal on a tight, but flavor-intense note. Sea Grill even offers a wine list that does justice to its food (although the by-the-glass onces are sleep;. 2205 N. Central Expy. Ste, 180. Piano. 509-5542, Moderate.
Shell’s Oyster Bar & Grill. Despite its one big flaw-waiters that are blasé about their duties-we couldn’t help but .ike Shell’s. Start with the peel ’n’ eat shrimp, a hefty portion of perfectly prepared crustaceans. One evening’s fish special turned out to be a tasty, perfectly cooked, thin cut of excellent swordfish teamed with lightIy cooked vegetables and rice, but the grilled shrimp dinner with slaw and fries was even better. Cajun touches dot the menu from po-boys to red beans and rice, but Shell’s, hoping to establish itself firmly as a seafood restaurant, is oft to a good start. The desserts need work, though, so try an after-dinner drink or cappuccino rallier than the overly-sweet, pastry-less peach cobbler. 6617 Snider Plaza, 691-8164. Inexpensive
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 host thing we tried was me jerk chicken and Key lime mustard slaw sandwich. The fun-filled cantine 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, 458-0458. Mod-Grate.
Loma Luna Cafe. Muled, soil earth tones, subtle lighting, and good art provide a tranquil setting for meals that start with hot chips and two assertively spicy salsas. The Botanas Platter, a generous. assortment. of appetizers, also zings the taste buds. Entrées, though, can de curiously bland, as though made by a different chef altogether. Silky flan dan 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 entrées come with home fries and beans, and you’ll also be served blue com muffins, a fruit cup. a bottomless glass of champagne. and coffee. 8201 Preston Rd., Ste. 100, 691-1552. Inexpensive,
Stat Canyon. Superchef Stephan Pyles has a gift for Slipping happy little surprises into even the most mundane-sounding dishes. Garlic potato soup, for instance, hid crunchy niblets of mild garlic in its creamy depths, as well as golden cubes of baked sweet potato. A grilled quail was not only halved but boned on a first-course plate mounded with arugula that coyly concealed poached pear slices and zip-spiked Cajun pecans. Coriander-cured venison lived up to its legendary reputation, grilled rare and sliced into rosy petals complemented by whipped yam and an assertive dried fruit empanada; and pan-seared salmon staked its own claim to stellar status sided with a musky black bean-roasi banana mash fired with coconut-serrano broth. Even as simple a dessert as bread pudding departs from the commonplace here-the oread’s brioche, dark chocolate enriched; the sauce is sambuca-scented in gentle milk chocolate; the combination of subtle flavors and smooth texture is transcendent. Service was friendly and fast, as always, and we salute a wine list thai covers a comfortable price range, as well as overall menu prices lower than many restaurants of lesser rank charge. 3102 Oak Lawn Ave,, 520-7827. Moderate to expensive.
Bob’s Steak * Chop House. Bob’s packs a crowd, belying the notion that people aren’t eating much beef anymore. Sute, the menu offers plenty of fish and seafood, as well as enough appetizers, salads, and vegetables to satisfy any vegetarian’s hunger; but beef rules in these richly appointed dining rooms. Options abound-three sizes each of filets and strip steaks, a 16-ounce prime T-bone. ana a dazzling 2&ounce prime porterhouse are just a few of the choices. The rib-eye, cooked to a crust outside and tender inside, couldn’t be better : although the juicy rack of lamb offers heads-on competition. Unlike most steak- houses, Bob’s offers accompaniments-a choice of potatoes (pick the garlicky “smashed* potatoes) and a sweet, whole steamed carrot, free with each meal. Equal attention has been given to the massive salads here, from a classic rendition of a Caesar to a meal-in-itself spinach bacon salad. 4300 Lemmon Ave., 528-9446. Moderate to expensive.
Chamberlain’s Prime Chop House. Pace yourself here. 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 mus- tard 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’t reach the same heights as the food that precedes them. 5330 Belt Une Rd., Addison, 934-2467. Moderate
. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. This is a “he-man” of a restaurant, complete with a bustling Dai 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 after thought.) The menu is just what you’d expect, with lots of meat and side dishes, lob- star, 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., 490-9000. Expensive.
Kitty’s Steakhouse. 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., 821-2152. Moderate to expensive.
. Morton’s of Chicago. If you’re an unrepentant carnivore who just doesn’t C3re that huge slabs of juicy red rib-eye steak and chops of veal aren’t chic anymore, Morton’s is for you-and your more nutritionally correct family and friends can enjoy lobster, shrimp, or chicken ii>> well as sim-ply prepared fresh fish. Understatement reigns here, from dark wood to etched glass, starched white linens, and muted Sinatra, and there are more than 30 martini varieties. 501 Elm St., 741-2277, Expensive.
D REVISITS The Palm. This institution’s ebullient breshness seems so Texan that Dallas diners easily forget the restaurant didn’t originate here. Monster steaks and lobsters large enough to dance with (as waiters have demonstrated on past visits) are the main draw here, but veal, seafood, and poultry are featured, too. Prime rib on a recent visit was an over whelm-ing platterful. vast and lusciously rare in a crusty coating of seasonings; the veal chop sampled was less delectable. moist but decidedly chewy These followed a warm appetizer of clams casino-on the half-shell, beneath a chop of celery, carrot, and garlic, topped with a crisp curl of bacon- and a cold one involving roasted pimlento blanketing Iceberg lettuce under anchovy filets and many capers. Dressed with light vinaigrette. the latter is always fantastic; alas, though, instead of the usual quarter-head chunk of lettuce, the plate held a mere slice this trip-an odd place to cut corners, we thought, A side of green beans was fresh and crunchy: chocolate layer cake was fine, The most recognizable color caricatures of celebs, local and other, that cover the walls were fascinating as usual- although this was the first time wed realized they were glued, rather than painted directly on the plaster. Tech! 701 Ross Ave., 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 check out the Remington sculptures, lofty menu prices, and a knock-out of a wine list (Wine Spectator gave it one of the six” Awards of Excellence” In Dallas) Other surprises quickly follow, like; grand wheels of mild cheddar at each table, and maybe a complimentary bowl of quail soup or dessert (if Paul’s around and in a good mood). Prime beef (including a 28-ounce porterhouse) shares the menu with plenty of seafood items as well as deer, elk. ostrich, pheasant and rabbit. 10960 Composite Dr.. 357-0279. Expensive.
Stone Trail. The creative appetizer list includes a crab cake combining a wealth of lump crab meat with zestful chile, served with a tangle of vegetables; cattish with green apple tartar sauce; and grilled goat cheese in grape leaves. The rest of the menu bears more typical steakhouse fare, including lobster and an astonishingly pricey free-range chicken. Beef, crusty and juicy, makes the best entree with cheese-rich potato casserole or chile-jazzed whipped potatoes on the side. At lunch, Stone Trail serves a wonderful quesadil-la that we’ll put up agate! any in town. Desserts change dairy, but your best choice after dinner may be a drink or cap-puccino in the beautiful knockout of a bar. where a jazz singer will entertain you. 14833 Midway Rd.. 701-9600. Moderate to expensive.
Texas Land & Cattle Company. Night or day, this place jumps, and it has carved oui its own Dallas niche with popular entrees liked smoked sirtoin. mesquite grilled trout, and fried pickles. Meals begin with loaves of sourdough bread and a bucket Of shell-on peanuts-plain or roof-of-your-mouth-burning spicy. The shrimp cocktail, Caesar, and house salads are flood stmts. Then dive into the star attraction- meat. These thick slices of tender beef pair nicely with the heavenly skin-on homemade mashed potatoes, rich with garlic and pepper. But there are plenty of other choices from mesquite grilled shrimp to campfire chili. Don’t hesitate to fill up on the steak and potatoes, because none of the desserts are worth the calories, so far. 3130 Lemmon Ave., 526-4664. Moderate.
Chow Thai. This strinking restaurant-with an eclectic atmosphere that includes lozenge shaped lighting and light wooden chairs-amazes both the eyes and the mouth. The restaurant’s cooks and owner, who are from Bangkok, of fer their customers authentic Thai fare with some exciting orig-inaldishes such as the Chow Thai duck, marinated in an exotic honey sauce, and yum pis muk, cafemarl 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. Don’t let courteous, young waiters steer you away from the more exotic dishes, 5290 Belt Line Rd,, Ste. 1.44, 960-2999. Moderate.
Thai-Thai. Here’s the place for inexpensive food that hits the high points of freshness and authentic seasonings as satisfyingly as more exotic Thai eateries. A near-full house on our last visit made noon service near-brusque and near-Instant, but the fare suffered not at ail-steamed Thai dumplings were frilled purses plumped with shrimp, pork, and vegetables, served with a zesty dipping sauce. Tom Kha Gai (chicken coconut soup) was a miracle of subtle flavor interfacings, smooth coconut milk cushioning pepper heat and filled with white chicken strips, baby corn, lemon grass., lime, and cllantro leaves, and those dark-capped little mushrooms that look like Disney dancers. Pad woon Sen heaped an entrée plate with stir-fried glass noodles, chicken, and every vegetable known to the Pacific Rim, plus rice and a crisp-skinned spring roll, ail for under $5. Even the iced coffee that is a Thai meal’s most fitting dessert was a time-saver; Instead of weating one of those drip caps thai take forever to brew. it was ready-made and absolutely delicious. 1731 Greenville Ave. at Ross. 828-9795. Inexpensive to 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, mii Inexpensive eating. Don’t miss Toys mee grob. pinkish rice noodles studded with scailions 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, ore among. “Toy’s. strongest sults. Scrumptious main courses begin with broad, soft fresh dee noodles sill-tried with tofu. shrimp. or crab. Cash only. 4422-B Lemmon Ave., 528-7233. Inexpensive.
Tuppee Tong. Although you can order the food with the heat toned down, don’t, You’ll miss the punch of the peanut sauce that comes with the satays (appetizers of skewered chicken, meat, or shrimp) and the kick of the red curry chicken (made dairy from home-grown sprees). 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 long translates as “big golden spoon. ” so keep In mind that portions Eire large. And, even better, prices are low. The Village at Collin Creek, 621 W. Piano Pkwy., Ste. 247. Piano. 509-7979. Inexpensive.
Angela’s Barbecue. Simply put still Texas’ best barbecue.This legend has no feet of clay-and sadly, no sawdust on the floor. It’s been gone for years, thanks to the Health Department, but the ambience, the casual friendliness, and mud importantly, the barbecue, remain. No trills hero, just the basic best-tender beef and pork ribs, greet sliced and chopped beef sandwiches. There’s also beer, beans, cole slaw, chips, pickles, peppers-all the traditional extras. Near downtown, it’s a favorite hangout for attorneys, cowboys, t;ops, mechanics, ami business men and women, as well as familles, childred abound, They tithe checks, but no credit cards. Beef and rib plates are served after 3:30 p.m. Monday mroi^n Saturday. 2533 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth, 817-332-0357. Inexpensive.
City park Cafe. This TCU-area cafe with Its small, intimate. and oddly shaped interior would be right at home in New York or San Francisco, cities where many great restaurants ere tucked into odd spaces. The menu is American-Louisiana spicy chicken and fish, grilled steaks, good salads. The house salad is the thing to order. Several heart-healthy offerings ara Included on the menu, although good intentions can die in the arms of the sinful chocolate desserts, The waiters and waitresses have been the same for many years, lending an air of comfortable friendliness to an overall sophisticated image. Sunday brunches are excellent at this popular courting spot for adult couples. 2418 Forest Park Blvd., 817-921-4867. Moderate.
Daddio’s Downtown Nearly Jazz Cafe. Lite the music its name celebrates, this cafe provides a constantly evolving riff on the theme of service-sometimes it’s faster than other times. But the Greek salad is the best in town, and the rest of the menu gives a unique Texas tone to classic Greek spe-clalties. Breakfas and lunch except on Friday and Saturday, when you can also get dinner and great music at night, 715 W. Magnolia. 817-926-7000. Inexpensive.
8.0 Restaurant & Bar. Once you’re inside the historic Knights of Pythias building-you know, the only building with a knight in full shining armor tucked into a third-floor niche above Main Street-you’ll find the mixture of old brick walls and funky new murals by Fort Worth artists creates a place at once warmly welcoming, even cozy, and yet cutting^dge. Singles love it. The waiters are sassy but efficient, and the food is good. The olivada crostini is an appetizer to die for, if you happen to like o\Ww ami ^ailir, The herb crusted salmon is flaky and Havorful; the steaks made even a stock show crowd happy on our recent visit; and the pasta dishes pleased the vegetarians in our midst. Live music Thursday through Saturday nights. Ill E. 3rd St., 817-336-0880. Inexpensive.
Qaylen’s. The array of taxider mlilied hunting triumphs hanging on the walls of ibis restaurant correctlyst its owner is an avid hunter; it comes as more of a surprise to discover the hunter’s name is Darla Tinsley. Appropriately enough, meat is king at Gaylen’s: a complete range of barbecue possibilities is offered, including beef, sausage, ham, pork loin, chicken. salant,and bologna. At a recent family dinner, melt-in-your-mouth ribs and flaky, moist beef got high marks, as did accompanying onion rings (the kind with the smooth, rather than flaky, breading). Forget the side dishes-get a sandwich and some onion rings if you’re really hungry, but under no Circumstances should you skip dessert, Gaylen’speach and blackberry cobblers are sensual experiences not to be missed-full of fruit, with a tender, flaky crust, served warm: vanilla ice cream is optional. 826N. Collins, Arlington. 817-277-1945. Inexpensive.
Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Dishes. Probably the Fori Worth restaurant best known to Dallasites. Joe T.’s is an excellent example of mythology winning out over reality. Fort Worthers take their out-of-town guests hero if they insist but there is much better Mexican food to be Had in Fort Worth (Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Bakery on North Main comes to mind.) However, if it’s atmosphere you want for a big party, Joe T.’s does an excellent job of feeding large groups decent food in record time. Mariachi players stroll among the diners and will take requests. On a nice spring night. Joe T.’s patio can’t be beat-it’s one of Fort Worth’s best outside dining experiences. Food is served 1am-ily style and it rarely varies. Sotid find dependable. Cash end local checks only. 2201 N. Commerce St.. Fort Worth. 817-6264356. Moderate.
Kowloon Seafood Restaurant. Housed in an upscale shopping center in an Arlington neighborhood where virtually every business is Asian-owned, Kowloon Seafood Restaurant aptly rep resents exactly thi’tt^neigliboi hood Chinese-Vietnamese gone upscale. At lunch, dim sum is available, and the dinner menu lists familiar Chinese dishes as well as Vietnamese noodle and rice dishes, soups, and hot pots. At dinner we had acceptable, but not extraordinary spring rolls. However, the crab meat com soup could haV8 been 8 meal itself; il was full of what tasted like fresh crab meat, with a rich, creamy base and a hint of heat balanced by the com flavor. A signature dish, vermicelli with charcoal broiled shrimp wrapped in sugar cane, lived up to its rave word-of-mouth advance-seasoned shrimp are trans formed Into a flat piece of meat that is wrapped around s stalK of sugar cane and cooked, then served with a stack of rice paper wraps, spicy sauce, and a plate of fresh vegetables (greens, peppers, cilantro). You unwrap the shrimp from the sugar cane and make a son of tasty Vietnamese fajita out of it with the sauce, vegetables. and the nee paper. 100 W. Pioneer Pkwy.. Arlington, 817-261-6699. Inexpensive to moderate.
Lucile’s-A Stateside Bistro. Here’s the latest successful restaurant to occupy one of West Fort Worth’s landmark buildings-the old Finley’s Cafeteria. The funny wedge-shaped building that once supplied fresh homemade pies to Its neighborhood is now feeding folks Lucile’s ’American classics,” Pasta, wood-roasted pizzas, lots of roasted veggies, steaks, and sandwiches (including an excellent hamburger as well as several entrees marked “heart healthy” keep patrons coming back for more. Friendly service, pretty presentation, consistently good food, a lively piano bar- what more can you ask of a neighborhood bistro? They’ll even feed you breakfast on .Saturday and Sunday. 4700 Camp Bowie Blvd., 817 738-4761. Moderate.
Rickshaw Chinese Restaurant. No wonder Fort Worth s East Siders have been keeping this a secret. This tiny restaurant tucked into a strip shopping center is nothing fancy, but the food is invariably tasty, well prepared, and nicely served. Show up more than twice and they most likely will not only remember your name, but also your favorite order. You can’t go wrong with the house specials, the best of which is the Double Delight, made with shrimp in a white sauce and pork in a hot black bean sauce that will delight Texas palates sea soned on spicy Tex-Mex. They also make the best hot and sour soup in Fort Worth, No overheated buffet here: food is prepared fresh when you order, and it shows. Lunches ere varied and quick, but go lor dinner so you’ll have more lime to savor the rich flavors. 1229 Wood Haven Blvd.. Fort Worth, 817-496-6767. Inexpensive to moderate.
Una’s Pizzeria. Chicago Bar & Grill. Deep dish pizzas are the specialty here-not only the traditional sausage, pep peroni, etc., but also some interesting twists on the traditional ingredients-such as a spinach and mozzarella cheese combo, and an eggplant and artichoke mix. For those with less hearty appetites, they oiler plizzettas. thin-crust pizzas for one Including a vegetarian version and a lemon-lime chicken with cilantro. The Caesar sal ad is excellent. with anchovies offered on request. Their pasta is al dente. the sandwiches are generous, ana Uno is family friendly, with a kids’ menu designed to please kids, not moms. Wickedly delicious desserts range from a traditional bu! tasty hut apple pie with Ice cream to a splendid Brownie Bowl. 300 Houston St.. Fort Worth. 817-885-667. Moderate.
Water Street Seafood Company. This seafood restaurant’s been around lor several years, but now finds itself smack dab in the middle of what has become University Park. Fort Worth’s hottest new shopping area. Regular customers wor-ried that Water Street might go all trendy on us. But not to fear. The tastefully bare-bones decor, the wonderfully wacky wall mural behind the bar (featunng a cowboy riding a buck ing fish), the dally specials, and the solidly good food have remained the same, lue only mi;i> of change is a new dining room to the south of the main room. The waitresses are friendly and usually quite knowledgeable about the menu. Specials change daily, always featuring some mesquite-grilled or blackened offerings, but any fish offered on special can be prepared any way the customer likes. Near the TCU campus. 1540 S. University Dr., Fort Worm, 817-877-3474. Moderate to expensive.