Tuesday, January 31, 2023 Jan 31, 2023
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Restaurant Reviews

By D Magazine |


Peggy Sue’s Barbecue. This ’50s-style joint in Snider Plaza is serving some of the best BBQ in town. Terrific appetizers include Texas Torpedoes-cream cheese-filled fried jalapenos. Baby back ribs, chicken, polish kiel-basa sausage, and brisket are smoked to perfection. Vegetables, usually second-class in the macho world of meat, go first-class here. 6600 Snider Plaza, 214-987-9188. $. (L-6)

Red Hot & Blue. A place to pig out literally: RHB specializes in pulled pork and dry ribs- that is. Southern-style, as opposed to Texas-style, barbecue. It’s all good, though there are gimmicky touches like the fried onion loaf. For lone-star diehards, there is plenty of beef, too. The ’blues’ are on the walls, in the form of concert posters, and in your ears. Friendly waitstaff. 9810 N. Central Expwy., 214-368-7427 (L-5); 5017 W. Piano Pkwy., Ste. 100, Piano, 972-248-3866. $. (K-2)

D REVISITS Sammy’s Barbecue. This State-Thomas joint, run by the Pritchard family of Highland Park, serves great beef brisket, ribs, and chicken. During our recent visit family members served customers from behind the cafeteria-style counter and shouted, “Mom, we need some more ribs.” Mom emerged from the kitchen, restocked the ribs, then hurried over to ring up our total, and fill us in on delicious details of the apple pie recipe-10 apples in each pie, and don’t leave without trying it. Prices are downright cheap- a three-meat combo with two sides tops the menu at $8.95. Beware of the bankers* hours- they are only open for lunch. 2126 Leonard St., 214-880-9064. $. (K-7)


Copper Tank Brewing Company. The beer is microbrewed, but the setting is macro. This huge pub, an Austin import, functions as a sports bar, watering hole, and restaurant, and while the beer wins awards, the food deserves some attention, too. Our favorite pretzel replacement: onion rings with a zesty apple-horseradish dipping sauce. 2600 Main St., 214-744-2739. $. (L-7)

The Rock Bottom Brewery. Generous appetizers could make their own meal, especially the asia-go cheese dip or signature green pork chili. How’s the beer? Thought you’d never ask. Six regular brews range from ultra-light (Coyote Western Ale and Palomino Pale Ale) to deep and roasty (Pelican Brown Ale and our fave, Roadmnner Stout). 4050 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-404-7456. $$. (K-4>

Routh Street Brewery and Grill. The food has slipped a bit, but the hand-crafted brew remains some of the finest in Dallas. An elegant hill country lodge motif with antler chandeliers, dark leather booths, and soft lighting make it a sexy spot. Shy away from the weiner-schnitzle; roasted pork tenderloin with shallot-flavored mashed potatoes fared better. 3011 Routh St., 214-922-8835. $$. (K-7)

Two Rows Restaurant & Brewery. A crisp, cozy place with a predictably young, energetic staff and a menu that provides information (including how many fat grams) as well as social commentary (check out the Central Expressway Jackhammer Ale). 5500 Greenville Ave., Suite 1300, 214-696-BREW. $-$$. (L-6)

Yegua Creek Brewing Co. Recently snatching a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival (the second time in three years) for its Scotch Ale. Yegua Creek continues to brew stellar suds. A home-grown brew pub. Yegua Creek meets the usual size requirements, but its menu strays from the burger/pizza path into less-traveled Southwest byways, with mixed success. 2920 N. Henderson Ave., 214-824-BREW. $$. (L-7)


The Ozona Westex Grill and Bar. “Mellow” is the operative word. Set back amid a tangle of trees, this popular gathering spot provides a surprisingly cool, green, countrified retreat in the city. A bottle of domestic beer starts at $2.75, (here are abundant lunch specials, and the portions are very generous. 4615 Greenville Ave., 214-265-9105. $-$$. (L-6)

Snuffer’s. The perfect college menu-big burgers, outrageous cheese fries, sneaky margaritas that taste like Slurpees, and, of course, beer. Go early on weekend nights; the crowds build quickly. 3526 Greenville Ave., 214-826-6850 (L-7); 14910 Midway Rd? Addison, 972-991 -8811.$.(K-4)


Copeland’s of New Orleans. Cajun staples are complemented by an array of more creative appetizers and entrées. The blackened redfish was nicely done if a bit lame. What’s more, every staff member from the manager on down was friendly and polite. 5353 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-661-1883. $$. (K-4)

Crescent City Cafe. Crescent City still dishes out solid New Orleans chow in authentic French Quarter surroundings and remains one of our favorite “glad-you-thought-of-that-place” alternatives. Though the fried food can be spotty, the gumbo is rich and the po’ boys consistently good. The seafood salad makes a great alternative for anybody actually counting calories. 2615 Commerce St.. 214-745-1900. $. (L-7)

LuLu’s Bait Shack. The tackiest place in town and proud of it. Cajun cuisine with regional nuances ranging from hot to hotter. For tamer tongues, try the Chicken Rockafella with oysters, cheese and spinach. 2621 McKinney Ave., 214-969-1927.$-$$. (L-7)


Arc-En-Ciel. The menu at both locations offers more than 300 Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, some authentic, some Americanized, some untranslatable, many mysterious. Dim sum is also available. 3555 W. Walnut St., Garland, 972-272-2188 (M-4). 2208 New York Ave., Arlington. 817-469-9999. $-$$. (F-9)

Cafe Panda. The personnel here roll out the red carpet and the mostly excellent food reflects a meticulous attention to detail, performing some service rituals as complex as the cuisine. Start with quail curl and watch as a team of servers perform a near-ballet in bringing it to your table. And finish with tableside French-pressed coffee.7979 Inwood Rd., Ste. 121, 214-902-9500. $-$$. (K-6)

Jasmine. Ersatz nightclub ambience collides with hustle-bustle service, but freshly prepared cuisine fortunately transcends both. Exquisite Ming chicken, redolent with spices and served in a crispy cold iceberg lettuce shell, was almost a meal in itself. 4002 Bell Line Rd., Addison, 972-991-6867. $-$$. (K-4)

May Dragon. An inscrutable strip center location belies one of the city’s best Chinese restaurants. Just stay away from the neon sweet and sour stuff, and you’ll be happy. Try a duck instead. 4848 Belt Line Rd.. Addison, 972-392-9998. $$.(K-4)

Royal China. Bucky Kao was dishing out Chinese food at his Preston Royal outpost before the world got so small that global became a cuisine. It’s still family-run, which means service can waver, but the dry-stirred beef never seems to. 201 Preston Royal Village, 214-361-1771. $. (K-5)

Taiwan Restaurant. One of the big-time Chinese restaurants in Dallas, Taiwan only stumbles when it’s too sure of itself. The upstairs dining rooms overlook only a parking lot. Focus on the tableside view, instead-plates are gar-nished with surreally carved vegetables. Lunch specials are a steal, ranging from $5.95 to $9.45. 4980 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 200, Addison, 972-387-2333. $$. (K-4)

Uncle Chow. The menu might be small, bu the flavor’s all there, especially if you start with the pan-fried chicken dumplings, jam-packed with tender white meat. 19021 Midway Rd., 972-306-CHOW. $. (K-2)

Uncle Tai’s Hunan Yuan. After a hard day of shopping the mall, it’s good to plop down in a comfortable chair and nosh on sweet, crunchy walnuts while waiting for the solicitous staff to bring you Uncle Tai’s hot and spicy cuisine. The food is so good that you’ll want to ta te some home, but shlepping garlic-laden Chinese through the mall does inhibit further shopping. In the Galleria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy. at LEJ. 972-934-9998. $$. (K-4)


Cafe Society. Dallas’ most authentic coffeehouse not only roasts its own beans, but offers à comfortable but hip environment for serious discussion, flirtation, hanging out, listening to music, and feeling generally plugged-in and with it. 209 Henry St., 214-745-1964. $. (L-7)


Deli News. This New York-style deli is uninviting with rudely inattentive service-perhaps a stab at regional authenticity, though only a deli outside the Big Apple would dare to serve this pitiful chicken soup. The bagels are excellent. Crescent Court, Maple Avenue at Cedar Springs Road, 214-922-3354. $-$$. (K-7)

Gilbert’s. The deli menu doesn’t disappoint, from the finest grilled Reuben in town to overstuffed sandwiches on good rye. You can order from an extensive breakfast menu all day long and even chug down a Dr. Brown’s soda or a chocolate egg cream. 11661 Preston Rd., 214-373-3333. $. (K-4)

Street’s Famous Sandwiches. We are impressed by (he creative combos of meats, cheeses and vegetables, but “Gene’s Favorite” is ours, too- grilled chicken and onions with melted provolone and spicy Dijon. Sides include a cheese tortellini salad with walnuts, Chinese sesame noodles, potato salad and coleslaw. 4246 Oak LawnAve., 214-526-2505. $. (K-7)


Athenée Cafe. Dallas’ only Rumanian restaurant-are you surprised? Stuffed Mountain Cabbage is a fabulous signature dish-meatball-sized beef rolls oven-roasted in delicate cabbage leaves with a red wine sauce, just like grandma in Transylvania used to make. Other highlights: Rumanian sausage, and veal chop. The wine list is adequate. 5365 Spring Valley Rd., Ste. 150, 972-239-8060. $$. (K-4)


Bread Winners. The menu here reflects a mélange of influences, from homey to refined Asian. A mustard-grilled pork chop comes partnered with scalloped sweet potatoes, and a grilled tuna steak wears a tropical salsa of spiced diced fruit. Desserts and breakfasts are fine, too, but the main attraction is the prettiest patio in town. 3301 McKinney Ave., 214-754-4940. $-$$. (L-7)

Doolittle’s. Make of it what you will-this slick, combination restaurant-bar offers a buffet of menu and music styles-from chicken and dumplings to martinis, modern jazz to Jimmy Buffet. There’s something for everyone here- cigars, single malts, boutique beers, home-cooking, burgers, and new American. 5920 Beltline Rd.. Addison, 972-991-2030. $$. (K-4)

Dream Cafe. This Quadrangle eatery’s pastoral-in-city setting seems particularly appropriate for the Dream Cafe’s menu, though there are those who insist that “dream” refers to the often seemingly somnolent service. The Dream Cafe’s famed breakfast menu remains an intriguing blend-solid egg dishes to entice the power-breakfast crowd and granola for those who want to start the day on a more spiritual, healthful note. The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh St., 214-954-0486 (L-7). 1133 N. Zang Blvd., 214-943-6448. $. (K-8)

East Side Grill. This little neighborhood pub offers down-home dishes with kicky accents that lift them above common bar food. Notable examples: Chicken-fried steak with terrific twice-baked mashed potatoes and a healthy stir-fry of vegetables. 2916 N. Henderson Ave., 214-828-2801.$. (L-7)

8.0 Restaurant and Bar. Get to this way-cool spot early or risk missing out on imaginative blue- and green-plate specials like black bean tamales in a tomatillo sauce. Stay the hell away on Thursday nights unless you like to watch the beautiful people booze and schmooze shoulder-to-shoulder. Better to go when you can actually see the floor-to-ceiling murals by Dallas artists. In the Quadrangle, 2800 Routh St., 214-979-0880. $-$$. (K-7)

Firehouse. This restaurant is the ultimate in food cross-dressing. Chef Bruno Giovanni Mella displays great dexterity in crossing pork chops with mango salsa or andouille sausage with barbecued shrimp. Fire-eaters have hit me mother lode. But there’s plenty for those who feel faint at the site of a jalapeno. Try the roasted garlic and eggplant dip served in a whole roasted onion. 1920 Greenville Ave., 214-826-2468. $$-$$$. (L-7)

Gershwin’s. The ambitious menu at this handsome room reaches for the top New American tier and gets there more often than not. Best bets are the more traditional ones like steaks, pizzas, and salads-all a deal compared to what’s served at more famous New American venues. 8442 Walnut Hill Ln. at Greenville Avenue,214-373-7171. $$.(L-5)

D REVISITS The Grape. At age 25, The Grape is still a true gem. This romantic bistro has tabletops the size of checkerboards and a dim dining room, illuminated by grape-shaped chandeliers. The service is refreshingly set-your-own-pace, and the food deserves five-star status. The menu (revised weekly) offers intrigues like sunflower seed salmon with zucchini hummus and duck breast with tomato goat cheese sauce. Appetizer must-haves: mushroom soup and crawfish cheesecake. And the time you spend with the crème brulée will be an affair to remember. 2808 Greenville Ave., 214-828-1981 .$$. (L-7)

The Green Room. This ’90s bistro continues to dish out some of the most original and inventive cuisine to be found between New York and L.A. The menu is eclectically uptown, and the decor is strictly downtown rock ’n’ roll. The contrast between them is cool. At $34, the fixed-price, four-course, “Feed Me” menu is the best deal in town. 2715 Elm St., 214-748-ROOM. $$. (L-7)

Margaux’s. Cafe Margaux owner Kay Agnew has reopened, in a smaller space wearing a suitably shorter name and with a mealtime menu that includes lunch weekdays and dinner on Thursday only. Shrimp and sausage gumbo is the real thing, and cornmeal-crusted oysters are crisp-skinned delights. 2404 Cedar Springs Rd., 214-740-1985. $-$$.(K-7)

Mark’s on Henderson. Chef-owner Mark Jenson has turned this intimate 13-table bistro into a grown-up wine bar by serving hot food. Browse the cellar and choose a bottle or sample international wines by the glass. A moderately priced chalkboard menu lists an eclectic selection of daily entrées such as Russian chicken-a breast covered with a sauce loaded with grilled onions and cilantro. 2926 Henderson Ave., 214-841-0900. $$. (L-7)

Mel Hollen’s Bar and Fine Dining. Mel Hollen, who has designed and opened a number of well-loved Dallas eateries, finally has opened a place of his own, featuring his slightly dated classics like baked oysters “Bingo”-six tasty Blue Points on the half-shell over a bed of creamed spinach, shallots, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. 15175 Quorum Dr., Addison, 972-233-6357. $$-$$$. (K-3)

Sipango. The Cal-Ital menu offers selections various enough to allow for grazing as well as course-by-course dining at this currently cool cafe-cum-nightspot. Service was overly amiable, with some timing lapses; and once the too-loud cocktail pianist made way for a combo, conversation was possible and people-watching was its own entertainment. 4513 Travis St., 214-522-2411. $$. (L-7)

Tarazza. This menu borrows ideas from all over the world-a Japanese version of Italian risotto, a French duck confit salad, a Thai soup- adds its own spin, and leaves taste buds dancing. Listening to piano music at the inviting bar area is the best way to end to your meal unless the stars invite you out to me upstairs terrace. 4514 Travis St., 214-521-2175. $$. (L-7)

The Thomas Avenue Beverage Company. Strip away the pretentious facade that has become the trademark of most of Dallas’ “finer” restaurants, replace it with a healthy dose of culinary finesse, and you have the Thomas Avenue Beverage Company. Chef Michael Smith serves a healthy mix of Southwest, cajun, and New American cuisine. The roast pork chop with spinach sautéed with apple butter literally melts off the bone. The menu changes weekly, based on availability of fresh ingredients. 2901 Thomas Ave., 214-979-0452. $-$$. (L-7)

Yvette. The menu here suits the Cadillac setting-dark wood, etched glass, and red velvet curtains. Over-the-top Yvette, part-owned by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Barry Switzer, does score some absolute touchdowns, like a perfect Caesar salad and a Dover sole so tender and nicely seasoned it’s gone before you have time to appreciate it. 14775 Midway Rd.. Addison, 972-503-9777. $$-$$$. (K-4)


Arthur’s. A seventies artifact, this restaurant’s longtime reputation as a prime steak place is still deserved but too limiting. The kitchen’s ways with seafood, veal, fowl, and even pasta are winners, too. Vive les classiques! 8350 N. Central Expwy. (in Campbell Center), 214-361-8833. $$$. (M-3)

Barclays. Don’t come to Barclays expecting to find a pint of bitter and bangers and mash. This is upper-crust English fare with a European twist. Potato ravioli stuffed with Stilton cheese and wild mushrooms was of regal status. And if you’re looking for that perfect place to “pop” the question or celebrate something special, look no further, this place is a gem-a real bobbydazzler. 2917 Fairmont St., 214-855-0700. $$-$$$. (K-7)

The French Room. Perfection is not a word to be tossed lightly into restaurant reviews, but the Adolphus Hotel’s gorgeous crown jewel conies close. One entree plate presents roasted duck breast on lemon thyme polenta in ruby port wine sauce; another holds roasted veal tenderloin with Brie cheese and pear gratin on truffled opal basil risotto. The French Room’s by-the-glass wine selection offers a nicer variety than we’ve seen elsewhere. In the Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce St., 214-742-8200. $$$. (L-7)

Lavendou. If you’re in search of a classic French meal, head to Lavendou and get textbook Provence-from the food down to the yellow and blue decor. Duck with black currants would please even the pickiest Francophile and pomme frites are pure Paris. Lavendou is as capitalist as they come, though-patrons can purchase pottery from their line of ochre and lavender objets. 19009 Preston Rd., 972-248-1911.$$-$$$. (K-3)

Old Warsaw. Hanging on to a reputation as one of Dallas’ oldest elite restaurants is tough business, but La Vieille Varsovie is valiant. It takes effort to find much fault with the fancy food- from appetizers to dessert, the meal is an anachronistic treat. Servers, however, are only acceptably pleasant. 2610 Maple Ave., 214-528-0032. $$$. (K-7)

The Pyramid Room. That vastly overused word, opulence, has to be hauled out yet again here- the Fairmont Hotel’s flagship restaurant demands it. Here is service and ambience that beggar less extravagant description. The food, too, deserves superlatives. You can hardly ask for more cosseting at any price than that provided by this serenely cosmopolitan restaurant. Fairmont Hotel, 1717 N. Akard St., 214-720-5249. $$$. (K-7)

St Martin’s. Rich paneling, soft-lit paintings, and touches of muted gold update the famous romantic setting; live music shapes the proper evening mood. And chef Rich Hollister’s food delivers sophisticated fulfillment. The by-the-glass wine selection is broad and service strikes the correct balance between attention and discretion. 3020 Greenville Ave., 214-826-0940. $$-$$$. (L-6)

Tramontana. An unassuming little cafe that delivers more than it modestly promises. Savor 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. Entrées, too, exceeded our expectations, and desserts are made in-house. 8220B Westchester Dr., 214-368-4188. $-$$. (L-6)

Watel’s. Sure, you’ll find weird organ meats like calves’ brains doctored with capers and veal kidneys touched with mushrooms to satisfy the strand of old-world gastronomic esoterica that quivers in your palate. But you’ll also find exquisite contrasts like delicate rare tuna coated with crunchy peppercorns and tightly structured grilled shrimp with red pepper coulis-all served in a crisp, clean space. 1923 McKinney Ave., 214-720-0323. $$. (L-7)

What Else. Serious well-prepared French-country cooking in a cozy dining room. Slow cooked, tender duck-leg confit falls off the bone and is accompanied by a creamy risotto. A classic tarte tatin-upside-down apple tart- is authentic. Pay-by-the course menu reminds us that eating French food doesn’t have to be an intimidating or expensive experience. 1915 Greenville Ave., 214-874-WHAT. $-$$. (L-7)


Betty’s Brisket and Gourmet Foods. At this takeout shop, order brisket or turkey as a meal complete with mashed potatoes, vegetables and bread; or order meat by the pound. Also: killer desserts, appetizers. 17390 Preston Rd? 972-931-9094. $.(K-2)

City Cafe To Go. This tiny, restaurant-related gourmet shop is jam-packed with good stuff. Soups score high marks, from the famous tomato soup to die buttery clam chowder; sandwiches and salads earn major points for creativity. Desserts are even better, from a thoroughly decadent Blum cake, with its cascades of sugary crisps, to a simple dish of berries. 5757 N. Lovers Ln? 214-351-3366. $$. (K-6)

Eatzi’s. Eatzi’s definitely lives up to its circus hype. Hear the strains of opera and waltz through the crowds collecting the already cooked makings of a gourmet dinner-down to the imported beer, fresh bread, and flowers. Or choose salads or sandwiches made to order. Check-out lines are infamously long. 3403 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-1515. $-$$.
La Spiga. You may have to track down La Spiga, tucked away in a warehouse area, but it’s worth it–these rustic, crusty loaves of preservative-free bread are served at many of the best restaurants in town. Bui there’s plenty more being dished up here, including homemade soup, panini, quiches, pizza-style focac-cia, and Caesar salads. 4203 Lindberg Dr., Addison, 972-934-8730. $. (K-3)

Marty’s Cafe TuGogh. The new cafe in the old store offers excellent food in confusing surroundings. A marinated salmon sandwich with caramelized onions, a beef tenderloin Caesar salad and a tangy hearts of palm salad are all standouts. Marty’s is now a true wine bar with weekly wine-by-the-glass selections featuring some of the most distinctive pours from the world’s major wine regions-at jaw-droppingly reasonable prices ($4-$10). 3316 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-4070. $-$$. (K-7)


D REVISITS Kostas Cafe. The Mediterranean blue-paint and music let us know we were in a Greek restaurant. And then the food confirmed it. For those who know Greek, Kostas does all of the staples well. Appetizer do’s: saganaki and dolmas (musts, really). Entrée don’ts: souvlaki (tough and chewy). Instead, try the spanakopita or the veal dishes. The dim lighting seemed to suggest romance and the service seemed to encourage between-courses conversations. 4914 Greenville Ave., 214-987-3225. $$. (L-6)

Ziziki’s. The beautiful wood bar is one of the places to be seen in Dallas, but it’s the neo-Mediterranean food that rules. Greek-styled lamb and shrimp star, and the homemade Italian cream cake ends meals on a sweet note. The wines, from all over the globe, demonstrate the owners’ quest for the best. Visit the coffee bar/take-out shop. 4514 Travis St., Ste. 122, 214-521-2233. $$-$$$. (L-7)


Barbec’s. Barbec’s regulars love the tabloid newsprint menu, the hearty, what-canget-you-Hon? waitresses, the awesome anytime breakfasts. The food ranges from pretty good to good, but it’s all cheap, and they’ve always got those legendary beer biscuits, sweet and high and truly loved by all. Great meringues. 8949 Garland Road. 214-321-5597. $. (M-6)

Casa Linda Cafeteria. The hairnet is alive and well in Casa Linda, behind die virtually endless serving counter at this culinary heir to the Highland Park Cafeteria. We are always amazed at the quantity of food selections here-a dozen salads, 30 entrées (even though too many of diem are geriatrically under-seasoned), 20 sides, 10 types of bread, a dozen desserts. There’s a to-go section full of salads, soups, etc. 300 Casa Linda Plaza; 214-324-5000. $. (M-6)

Celebration. Bring your appetite to this longtime mecca for Dallas home-cooking purists. In this rambling former residence are several dining areas, each housing a few tables. Entrées run the gamut from broiled fresh fish to pot roast to fried chicken, all accompanied by an endless supply of vegetables. Don’t worry if your entrée seems small-you can reorder as often as you wish. 4503 W. Lovers Ln., 214-351-5681. $. (K-6)

Doody’s Roadhouse. Attainable goals are the key to success–why can’t aspiring restaurateurs remember that? The owner of Doody’s did. It’s a casual neighborhood joint where locals drop in for casual food and drink and fill the patio on pretty days. Food here is strictly no frills and trend-free. Spinach dip. Buffalo wings. Burgers. In huge portions. 2847 N. Henderson Ave., 214-828-9600. $-$$. (L-7)

Poor Richard’s Cafe. Honest home-cooked food, featuring a huge spread of the one meal Mom told you never to leave home without-breakfast. 2442 Ave. K at Park Boulevard, Piano, 972-423-1524. S. (M-2)

Spin’s New York Cafe. This place has all the elements of a great neighborhood joint: Relaxed, come-as-you-are atmosphere, regulars chatting with each other, and an owner who comes out to greet his customers and hand them a bag of bagels as they depart. The Greek salad that comes with that chicken fried steak might be the best we’ve ever tasted. 700 E. 15th St., Piano, 972-881-2959. $. (M-2)


Bombay Cricket Club. The food here is cricket with us, especially the incendiary chicken vin-daloo, the soothing saag paneer (chunks of homemade cheese in creamed spinach), the curry-kissed aloo bengan, which combines eggplant, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes, and the leg of lamb from the tandoor. 2508 Maple Ave., 214-871-1333. $-$$. (K-7)

India Palace. Delicate spices imbue truly line Indian cuisine. And, similar to a fine perfume, too much is an assault on the senses, too little and there’s no magic. India Palace has kepi the proper balance for nearly a decade and shows no signs of slowing down. 12817 Preston Rd., Ste. 105, 972-392-0190. $-$$. (K-4)


Alessio’s. We grazed on complimentary bruschetta and fresh vegetables while reviewing the pricey menu and a difficult-to-read chalkboard describing the even pricier evening specials. This is a Dallas favorite, especially for romantics, but we’re not in love with the value since inconsistency mars the food. 4117 Lomo Alto Dr., 214-521-3585.$$$. (K-7)

Campisi’s Egyptian. It’s dark, outdated, and frankly, kind of a dump. The food is predictable and mostly pedestrian, except the famous pizza. But all an institution has to do in order to succeed is endure. Dallas loves Campisi’s and has for decades. Cash or check only. 5610 E. Mockingbird Ln? 214-827-0355. $-$$. (L-6)

Coco Pazzo. Turns our that Tuscany transplanted to the Metroplex takes on the sheen of the surrounding culture. Both Dallas locations of Coco Pazzo (links in the chain owned by noted New York restaurateur Pino Luongo) are a little less rustica and quite a bit glitzier than one might find in the Italian countryside. Food is similarly stylish, but usually very good, particularly pastas and desserts. 2504 McKinney Ave., 214-871-2606. $$$. (L-7)

Covino’s. Buried deep inside a series of strip malls, Covino’s draws raves for its New York-style pizza. Owner Joe Covino (a transplanted New Yorker) is usually on hand greeting the regulars while his wife Michèle is at home making cheesecakes for the restaurant. Bring the kids, bring the baseball team, bring a bottle of Chianti, but the prices are so low you won’t need to bring much money. 3265 Independence Pkwy., Piano, 972-519-0345. $. (L-2)

Joey’s. If you aren’t a High Profile regular, chances are you’ll spend most of your evening at this dizzyingly decorated hot spot nursing a cocktail in the overstuffed bar. The good news is Joey’s now takes reservations. Owner Joey Vallone and chef have created menu of innovative Italian fare-like a tower of vegetables glued together with Fontina cheese or the riga-toni Vallone with artichokes, asparagus tips, and Louisiana head-on prawns. And then, there are all [hose pretty people. 4217 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-0074. $$-$$$. (K-7)

Mi Piaci. At all times, these hipper-than-hip rooms are filled with people who look like they just stepped off the fashion pages. The menu focuses on classic Tuscan cuisine, with homemade pasta, made-to-order risotto and superb breads. You’ll always see serious waiters expertly deboning the meltingly tender Dover sole for savvy diners. Our only complaint: The noise level can get pretty high. 14854 Montfort Dr., 972-934-8424. $$. (K-4)

Modo Mio. “Cucina Rustica Italiana” off the North Dallas Tollway. Charming decor, excellent staff, and innovative menu. Gnocchi Modo Mio isn’t Rome, but it beats the pants off local imitations, and the tiramisu has the perfect proportion of mascarpone to ladyfingers. The overall service is efficient and unobtrusive–this packed restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine. 18352 Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 112, 972-67t-MODO.$$.(K-2)

Pomodoro. The white-tiled walls and floors and odd faucet-like lighting of this trendy dining spot give this Cedar Springs mainstay showerlike appeal. But this in no way takes away from the charm of the little garlic trees that sit in the windows or the fresh flowers that grace each table. As for the food, Pomodoro deserves applause for consistent innovation. 2520 Cedar Springs Rd., 214-871 -1924. $$. (L-7)

D REVISITS Terilli’s. Nestled on bustling lower Greenville, Terilli’s stays packed and must be doing something right; it’s just not always clear what. On our last visit, the food-even the signature item with the silly name, ’italcho’s”-was uniformly unimpressive. The rest of the Monday night throng seemed happy to overlook the substandard food, and our pleasant waiter overlooked little details like supplying plates for our bread and extracting the over-sized fly backstroking around one of the water glasses. Go see and be seen if you must, but unless our meal was an anomaly, be prepared to settle for that and not much else. 2815 Greenville Ave., 214-827-3993- $$. (L-7)


Deep Sushi. Remember that American sushi is as much style as substance and you’ll be happy here. There’s a lotta style, and even some good sushi, if you fish carefully. Watch out for the Dragon Lady Roll, a combination of tuna, avocado, and rice flashed with incendiary wasabi, red pepper sauce, and Japanese yellow mustard wrapped in seaweed and sliced. 2624 Elm St., 214-651-1177. $$-$$$. (L-7)

Nakamoto. Service tends to range from the sublime to the abrupt at this stylish, roomy North Piano institution, but cuisine (tempura, bento, sushi, and sashimi) remains uniformly excellent. 3309 N. Central Expwy. at Parker Road, Piano. 972-881-0328. $$. (M-2)

Sushi at the Stoneleigh. The sedate old hotel surprisingly houses an excellent though small sushi restaurant, serving everything from the basic raw tuna, yellowtail, and salmon cuts to the more exotic spider roll of crunchy-cooked, soft-shell crab wrapped in seaweed and rice. 2927 Maple Ave., 214-871-7111. $-$$. (K-7)

Sushi Sake. Sushi Sake is half-hidden in a Fleetwood Square strip that we would call hard to find if so many aficionados weren’t finding it. Many of them are admirers from chef-owner Takashi Soda’s former days as sushi chef of Nakamoto in Plano and they find here a warmly upbeat ambience, willing attendance to every need, an arresting selection of sakes, hot and cold-and of course, the food. 220 W. Campbell Rd., 972-470-0722. $$. (M-3)


Adelmo’s. Some go for the food, some go for the intimacy, but almost everybody finds a reason to go back to this well-hidden gem. Service is unhurried and patient, and the wine list varied and reasonable. Entrées and appetizers alike feature creatively bold sauces that held our attention long after the main ingredients of the dishes had been devoured. 4537 Cole Ave., 214-559-0325. $$-$$$. (K-6)

The Bistro. Don’t restrict dinner to a single starter, one entree, and dessert. That option’s still on the menu at this quiet restaurant, but so’s the opportunity to sample hot and cold teasers of every Mediterranean sort from a listing of more than 30, plus daily specials. 5405 W. Lovers Ln., 214-352-1997. $-$$. (K-6)

Cafe Express. Fresh, health-conscious, budget-friendly, and efficient is the goal at this amusingly designed cafe. The wholesome and healthy emphasis can be found in the salads, sandwiches, chicken, and pastas. But beware: There are a bevy of burgers (like the blue cheese and bacon burger) and a bountiful display of desserts {like chocolate pot de crème) to tempt the weak. 3230 McKinney Ave., 214-999-9444. $. (L-7)

Cafe lnstanbul. The tiny kitchen overachieves on most of its Turkish dishes, especially if you like it spicy. The dining room gets cozy at night thanks to the ubiquitous candles, but those who tolerate early evening daylight are rewarded with a happy hour. Solid service tops off a superb all-around experience. 5450 W. Lovers Ln.. Ste. 222, 214-902-0919. $-$$. (K-6)

Medrierraneo. Chef David Holben’s exquisite culinary artistry, a casually elegant decor, and efficient, non-stuffy service combine to create a sublimely magical Mediterranean bistro that’s a sibling to the very successful Riviera. Of particular interest: Mediterraneo’s $9.95 luncheon menu includes appetizer and entrée. I81I1 Preston Rd. at Frankford Road, Ste. 120, 972-447-0066. $$-$$$. (K-2)

Sambuca. Both of Sambuca’s locations {Deep Ellum and Addison) are wonderfully vibrant restaurants featuring innovative Mediterranean cuisine for (hose who enjoy their meals with jazz. Each location presents well-known groups seven nights a week, but the decibel level prohibits any casual dinner conversation during performances. The food is tasty and satisfying, utilizing lots of spices, garlic and herbs. 15207 Addison Rd., Addison, 972-385-8455 (K-3); 2618 Elm St., 214-744-0820. $$. (L-7)

Toscans. There are flaws-a starter of yellow-corn polenta that should have been crispy was soggy, it’s too noisy, and (he tables are too crowded-but the winning trio who founded Riviera and Mediterraneo have another success story in Toscana, a super Tuscan-themed restaurant with all the cachet of its sisters. 4900 McKinney Ave., 214-521-2244. $$. (K-6)


Avila’s. This is the food you’d come home to if you could and leave home for if you must, starting with the eye-watering salsa. Beef tacos are brim-full of good, greaseless ground beef, and a plump enchilada is perfectly partnered with a soft cheese taco. The refried beans are outstanding. The service is pleasant, and the restaurant is immaculate. 4714 Maple Ave., 214-520-2700. $. (K-7)

Cantina Laredo. It’s the little things that separate the best from the also-rans of Tex-Mex. Cantina Laredo’s attention to detail evidences itself throughout the entire meal. Chips come with two excellent warm sauces, and our entrees were flawless, led by some of the tastiest fajita meal we have ever run across. Don’t force yourself into a decision-order the monstrous sampler platter and take home the leftovers. 8121 Walnut Hill Ln., 214-987-9192 (L-5): 4546 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-458-0962. $. (K-4)

Casa Navarro. This wonderful descendant of downtown’s late, lamented El Taxco offers classic Tex-Mex in true hole-in-the-wall style. A godsend for North Dallas-types hankering for a real-Mex fix. There’s breakfast, too. In the Park Forest Shopping Center, 11742 Marsh Ln., Ste. A, 214-357-0141. $. (J-4)

D REVISITS Chuy’s. From the moment you enter you become so busy checking out the kitschy collection of hubcaps, velvet paintings, and disco balls, not to mention the kneeling, jewel-belted Elvis fountain, you may fail to notice the mediocre Mexican fare. The “Big As Your Face” burritos were soggy as a swamp. Good fresh lime margaritas, chips and salsa, and quesadillas, still make this a fun hang out and popular scene. It’s much more of a munch place than it is a Tex-Mex haven. 4544 McKinney Ave., 214-559-2489. $. (K-7)

Dos Charros. This is food for people who break into a sweat at the sight of a habanero chile. The extensive menu has plenty of seafood choices and healthful options added to the list of traditional favorites. 108 University Village Shopping Center, Belt Line and Piano Roads, 972-783-7671. $. (M-4)

El Norte. The decor varies from the authentic look of specials painted directly on the walls to cheesy plastic flamingos in the flower boxes, but some solidly good food comes out of the kitchen. This is a great family spot with a reasonable all-you-can-eat special. 2205 W. Parker Rd., Plano, 972-596-6783. $. (L-2)

Escondido’s. The rickety surroundings exude genuine “dump” appeal, which simply means that the food should be as good as the place is bad. And for the most part, it is. 2210 Butler St., 214-634-2056. $. (K-7)

Janet’s Gourmet Mextcano. Consistently touted as Dallas’ best “interior” Mexican restaurant, Javier’s lives up to its own high standards. Entrees range from excellent seafood dishes to tender cabrito, though some regulars never stray from the legendary filet Durango. A spacious cigar bar has been added in the rear. Make reservations. 4912 Cole Ave., 214-521-4211.$$. (L-6)

La Calle Doce. Those who don’t like seafood will appreciate more traditional Mexican offerings served in this old Oak Cliff house, such as spinach enchiladas carefully covered with green sauce. And La Calle Doce’s celebrated hoi sauce remains a winner. 415 W. 12th St., 214-941-4304. $-$$. (K-8)

Las Cazuelas. This tiny East Dallas jewel serves up marvelous food, starting with the killer salsa that’s made with fresh cilantro, onion, and tomato essences. On Mondays, the special caldo de res, chunky with beef and vegetables, is fabulous as is the super-hot chile relleno. 4933 Columbia Ave., 214-827-1889. $. (L-7)

La Valentina. A taste of big city Mexico in suburbia. The beautiful menu makes fascinating reading which doesn’t always translate to the plate. The polio en mole poblano tops a chicken breast with a sensuous sauce that includes 54 types of chilies, spices, and a touch of chocolate, resulting in a richly layered smoky-sweet flavor. Forget that fascinating menu when it’s time for dessert and just ask for the flan. 14866 Montfort Dr., 972-726-0202. $$. (K-4)

Martin’s Cocina. The kitchen here does magic things with seafood (shrimp especially) and offers a listing of entrees that weigh in at less than 1,000 calories each, including the four chiles rellenos. Martin himself lost 100 pounds eating his own food. But only skimp if you want to-the most basic combination plate starts with a lettuce-topped chalupa, its toasty tortilla thickly spread with guacamole. 7726 Ferguson Rd-, 214-319-8834. $-$$. (N-5)

Mattito’s. A bustling, family restaurant, which inherited its menu from Matt Martinez Jr. Don’t miss the chile relleno, topped with the usual sauce, cheese, and sour cream, but also with chopped pecans for crunch and raisins for sweetness. Save some calories for the homemade Han and sopaipillas instead. 4311 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-8181.$. (K-7)

Matt’s Rancho Martinez. Outstanding grilled (not fried) flautas, as well as the signature chile relient), are the hallmark’s of this Austin-style menu, but, oddly, Mall’s chicken-fried steak (served three ways) is some of of the best in town. It’s hard to go wrong with this menu and there’s a great outdoor patio, too. 6332 La Vista Dr., 214-823-5517. $. (L-7)

Mia’s. 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 chiles rellenos. Other days, they make do with house specialties, combo plates, and sides thai read like standard Tex-Mex on paper, but on the palate translate into transcendent fare. Service is cheerful; the setting is no-frills comfortable. The bad news: The restaurant serves only beer and wine. 4322 Lemmon Ave., 214-526-1020. $. (K-7)

Monica’s Aca Y Alla. This cool place has been around long enough to be a tradition in these days of restaurants that open and close-especially in Deep Ellum. The ambitious menu offers intriguing Southwestern-inspired options as well as more standard Tex-Mex, in a hip and hopping ambiance. New weekend brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday & Sunday. 2914 Main St., 214-748-7140. $$. (L-7)

Nuevo Leon. If you start with the fajita nachos here, you won’t have room for lunch or dinner. Dig into the warm chips and warmer salsa and then get ready to gorge. The taco macho is 10 inches of tender flour tortilla stuffed with cheese, avocado, and your choice of chicken, beef, or pork. 12895 Josey Lane at Valley View Rd., 972-488-1984. $. (J-4)

Piano Tortilla Factory. If you live in Piano, then this little place should be on the top of your list for a quick bite, take-out, or delivery. Piano Tortilla Factory’s appeal doesn’t end with the food-the friendly owner is quick to strike up a conversation and make you feel welcome. Low prices are a bonus, too. 1009 E. 18th St., Piano, 972^23-6980. $. (M-2)

Rodolfo’s. Start with the home-fried chips, huge half-tortilla rounds served with a full-bodied salsa. Then try the Big Tex-Mex dinner or the Number 0 (yes, they start numbering at zero). The star on the Number 0 plate is the Idaho enchiladas made of, yes, mashed potatoes, pleasantly spiced and available with a choice of seven different sauces. 2002 S. Edgefield Ave., 214-942-1211. $.(K-9)

Tupinamba. Nothing changes at Tupinamba. And, boy, are we glad. Those of us who have followed Tupy’s for 30-some-odd years to its several locations (now, fourth) have come to depend on it for massive quantities of delicious food in a friendly, attentive atmosphere. 12270 Inwood Rd., almost to the Tollway, 972-991-8148. $-$$. (K-4)


Cafe Izmir. A unique dining experience: In this popular and charming little cafe, diners choose a vegetarian or a meat-based meal rather than ordering from a menu. And then a parade of delightful food appears—lemon-zested tab-bouleh, hummus, Mediterranean cole slaw, pita quarters, grilled kabob tubes of ground beef and marinated chicken, and lamb. A scarce Greek red wine called Boutari Maossa is a happy find here, and the sweet Turkish coffee in fragile cups is as irresistible as the desserts. 3711 Greenville Ave., 214-826-7788. $$. (L-7)

Hedary’s. George Hedary is back with a comfortable clone of the Fort Worth original, menu and all, in Far North Dallas. But the question is: Can one Lebanese oven produce enough of the family’s famed pita rounds to satisfy us all? Order the menu’s maza appetizer and you’ll get a dozen sampler starters on tiny plates. And tiny cups of Lebanese coffee keep you awake on the drive home. 7915 Belt Line Rd., 972-233-1080. $$.(L-3)


Marrakesh. Just what is Moroccan cuisine, and what is it doing in Dallas? It is lamb and couscous and fresh vegetables spiced with mysterious combinations of nutmeg, paprika, and cumin-wonderful. The Moroccan Feast-a sample of almost everything on the menu-is a bargain at $25.95 per person. Vibrant Middle-Eastern music accompanied a veiled belly dancer in a purple bra who gyrated and finger-cymbaled her way around the room. 5207 W. Lovers Ln., 214-357^104. $$. (L-6)


Anzu. The uncluttered feng shui decor induces relaxed pleasure. Service supports [he mood, loo, with knowledgeable dish descriptions and friendly attention to small needs. Each dish on the menu is a compelling example of East-meets- West culinary compatibility. 4620 McKinney Ave., 214-526-7398. $$.
Beau Nash. The genteel bustle of a world-class hotel makes dinner al this restaurant always seem like a special occasion. If you want things dusky and romantic, the garden room is perfect. Menu is always ambitious, usually good. Good picks: a portobello tart, delectably grilled with crunchy fennel cubes and rich juices in a buttery crust, or the crisp-edged perfection of moist-hearted Atlantic salmon. Bad pick: a salad of Belgian endive and unforgivably dry and yellow mache. Service throughout, though, is immaculate and uncommonly thoughtful. Hotel Crescent Court, 2215 Cedar Springs Rd., 214-871-3240. $$-$$$.

City Cafe. Basic California-style food comes graced with a Cajun touch here, a hint of the Southwest there. The menu changes every two weeks, but a few customer favorites, like the succulent tomato soup, appear regularly. Check out the award-winning wine list and the nice choice of after-dinner drinks. 5757 W. Lovers Ln., 214-351-2233. $$. (K-6)

Dakota’s. Choices from the wood-burning grill in this handsome, underground, downtown restaurant seldom disappoint, and pastas can be excellent also. Bargain-seekers will love the daily $15.95, three-course “twilight menu.” 600 N. Akard St., 214-740-4001. $$.
Huntington’s. This is one of the best places in Dallas for a reasonably priced, reliably good meal. Lobster bisque delivers the very essence of lobster, best enjoyed as you wolf down the light, crusty rolls slathered with garlic-studded whipped butler. Don’t miss the meaty crab cakes, and end your meal with a crusty crème brulée. Westin Galleria, 13440 Dallas Pkwy., 972-851-2882. $$-$$$. (K-4)

D REVISITS Jennivine. Simply put, Jennivine still delivers one of Dallas’ rarest dining experiences-tine food in fine surroundings al a fair price. Housed in an historic small home on a nondescript stretch of McKinney Avenue, the cozy country English atmosphere is romantic and intimate. Relaxed waiters let you take your time on even the busiest of nights, and the appetizers and entrees alike are first-rate, if you’re not up for one of the excellent meals, enjoy a glass of wine and a sampling of cheese from around the world or one of their many pates. 3605 McKinney Ave.. 528-6010. $$.(L-7)

Landmark Restaurant. The dining room is full of antique grace, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about the food. This kitchen has a tradition of being one of the top in town, generally specializing in cutting-edge American food involving lists of ingredients and gorgeous garnishes. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. 3015 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-521-5151. $$-$$$. (K-7)

The Mansion on Turtle Creek. Chef Dean Fearing’s cuisine has been polished over the years so that the early brashness has evolved into a sophistication and balance that justify his international recognition. Like many of the entrées, the Ranch-reared antelope is adequate for two, a substantial cut, rare and honey-glazed, on a posole slew gilded with roasted yellow tomato, punctuated with barbecued venison fajitas. Hang the cost. Go there. Treat yourself because you deserve it 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., 214-559-2100. $$$. (K-7)

Nana Grill. The new kitchen king of this elegant room-with-a-view is Ron Rosenbaum and his new menu broadens Nairn’s focus from Southwestern to Regional American. We found the transition mostly hard to fault. Service is supremely suave and caring, the accouterments define luxe and the ambience is as comfortably refined as always in this upscale establishment. In the Wyndham Anatole Hotel Tower, 2201 Stemmons Fwy., 214-761-7479. $$$. (K-7)

NorthSouth. Great gimmick. Not-so-great food. Order an item prepared “North” (low fat version) or “South” (the real thing). If you must go, and plenty of people do, go “South,” and if you are watching what you eat, eat half of the real thing. Chicken fried steak is not meant to be breaded with cracker crumbs and baked. Fitness guru/owner Larry Norm should slick with what he does best: motivating us to work out after we go South on junk food. 2800 Routh St.,2l4-849-O000.$$.(L-7)

The Riviera. We knew the moment an airy avocado cream hors d’oeuvre passed our lips that we were doomed, once again, to a near flawless (and therefore difficult to describe without sounding gushy) dining experience. Each dish seems to outdo another. Food credits here mostly belong to Chef de Cuisine Michael Weinstein, one assumes, with input from David Holben, now executive chef at sibling restaurants Mediterraneo and Toscana. 7709 Inwood Rd., 214-351-0094.$$$. (K-7)

Rooster. David Burdette-former chef at The Grape-has drawn inspiration from old South “vittles.” He dubs this action “New American Southern cuisine,” which is actually a disciplined orchestration of traditional influences and imaginative diversions with a deftly assembled wine list. Oak Grove and Lemmon Avenues, 214-521 -1234. $$-$$$. (K-7)

D REVISITS Seventeen Seventeen. In the oddly art-free decor of the Dallas Museum of Art’s fine dining room, the plates provide the visual excitement. Artfully conceived, abstract expressionist conglomerates of ingredients from all over the globe, the menu here usually provides a conversation- starting with a game of stump-the-diner. “Chechoslovakian” dumplings? Think potstick-ers with red cabbage. And cheese. Chef George Brown has mixed success but great daring- macadamia nut-crusted chicken breast was wonderful, rich, and crisp, but the accompanying tart was a brittle-crusted mess, minus the promised spinach. The best dishes here were those with a palatal serenity that seemed to come from their oriental inspiration-ginger-scented soba, for instance. 1717 N. Harwood St., 214-880-0158. $$-$$$. (K-7)

Sevy’s. The thoroughly American Prairie-style interior perfectly complements chef-owner Jim Severson’s hearty American cuisine. Like the room, the plates here present classic ideas with imaginative updates. The menu is varied but beef is a reliable choice-the tenderloin here is slightly hickory smoked. The marinated mushroom appetizer is the best portobello in town. 8201 Preston Rd.. 214-265-SEVY, $$. (K-6)


Cafe Pacific. Cafe Pacific continues to delight as one of Dallas’ most reliable luncheon and dinner restaurants, as well as the place to witness the social structure of Dallas’ power people in action. Paintings of the 19th-century Italian countryside grace the walls, and fresh flowers fill large vases. Menu favorites like calamari, clam chowder, Caesar salad, salmon, and red snapper are superbly prepared and presented by an experienced waitstaff. 24 Highland Park Village, Preston Road and Mockingbird Lane, 214-526-1170.$$-$$$. (K-6)

Clive & Stuart Island Cuisine. If not for the subtitle of this restaurant, “Island seafood,” you might expect to find a hair salon. The interior does indeed remind you of a seaside resort (is that a good thing?), and the mostly seafood menu is a collision of cuisines, apparently referring to the global island. The successful dishes are the simplest ones and they relate more to the Italian peninsula-for example, sea bass on ravioli with goat cheese. 2614 McKinney Ave., 214-871-9119. $$-$$$. (K-7)

Daddy Jack’s. Chef Jack Chaplin’s tiny lobster-red restaurant with its quaint, red-and-white checked tablecloths and casual, cozy atmosphere is perfect for a date or for just breezing in after a day at the lake. But forget about the atmosphere. What we’re really talking about is fantastic, though richly prepared, seafood. Also worth noting are the relaxed, efficient service and fair prices; The experience was worth every penny. 1916 Greenville Ave., 214-826-4910. $$. (L-7)

Daddy Jack’s Wood Grill. This Jack Chaplin restaurant offers lively service and food that manage to combine homey familiarity with twists of near-elegance. For example, a grilled red snapper topped with shrimp and lobster brandy could grace a tonier table, but here it’s served with an ear of corn. 2723 Elm St., 214-653-3949. $$. (L-7)

Fish. This elegant downtown spot doesn’t seem too inviting at first glance, but inside it is airy and elegant. Peruse the menu while sipping on the restaurant’s signature cocktail: Veuve Clicquot champagne. Fish’s other temptations include the acclaimed Green Soup-a shallow bowl piled high with shells, legs, and tails protruding recklessly from a broth. There’s a late menu nightly from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. 302 S. Houston St., 214-747-FISH. $$-$$$. (K-7)

Lefty’s. Although the menu is small, Lefty’s features everything you’d expect a good lobster house to have, including beef for those who don’t like seafood. One big bargain: the one-pound lobster with baked potato and com for $10.95. 4021 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-774-9518.$$.(K-4)

Lombardi Mare. Don’t be put off by the nondescript exterior, the interior is a mind-blower. Lighting fixtures designed to appear like a school of fish swim across the ceiling. This place is a seafood lovers paradise. Feast on five types of farm-fresh oysters, shrimp cocktail, steamed mussels, and lobster, and finish with Tuscan pudding. 5100 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-503-1233. $$. (K-4)

Mainstream Fish House. Mainstream will reel you in (just like it has Ross Perot and Roger Staubach) with its properly seasoned chowder studded with juicy clams to the mouth-puckering Key lime tart. Your best choice between them? The daily specials, This hands-on operation of owner Kelly Hagen and family (his dad owns the fish market a few doors away) knows its fish, as does every employee, so take their recommendations and you can’t go wrong. Preston Forest Shopping Center. 11661 Preston Rd., Ste. 153, 214-739-3474. $$. (K-4)

Newport’s. Some of the freshest seafood you’ll find in land-locked North Texas. Choose from mesquite-grilled fish, seared, blackened, or fried seafood, and sauteed chicken. Housed in the old Dallas Brewery and Bottling works, Newport’s three-tiered dining room actually holds a huge, open Artesian well that once fed the pre-Prohibition brewing operation. 703 McKinney Ave., 214-954-0220. $$. (K-7)

Picardys Shrimp Shop. New American inventiveness at family-style prices. Picardys finds a regional inspiration for most of its mostly shrimp dishes: Coconut tempura shrimp are tender, juicy, and pleasantly sweet, and a side of honey-sour sauce added a potent bite, despite the damp blanket of rice pilaf. Grilled shrimp nachos, with shrimp, black beans, white cheese, and salsa, were light and chewy. Picardys’ kid-friendly atmosphere is a plus. 6800 Snider Plaza, 214-373-4099. $-$$. (L-6)

S&D Oyster Company. Serving fresh seafood in an authentic New Orleans atmosphere for more years than we care to remember. S&D has become a mainstay of quality. 2701 McKinney Ave., 214-880-0111.$$. (K-7)

Sea Grill. Asian accents are subtly woven into this seafood-intense menu, where every bite surprises-a touch of lemon grass in the iced tea, a splash of sake enlivening a black bean sauce. Don’t even bother with the menu if a lobster sandwich is one of the daily specials. The setting may be strip mall, but the food, right down to the homemade desserts, transcends it. Sea Grill offers a wine list that does justice to its food (although the by-the-glass prices are steep). 2205 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 180, Piano, 972-509-5542. $$. (M-2)

Truluck’s Steak & Stone Crab. Miami-inspired. this striking art-deco eatery is the only spot in Dallas that serves the infamous stone crab seven days a week, year-round. Truluck’s stone crabs come in four sizes-medium, large, jumbo and colossal-and they’re ruinously expensive. Truluck’s showcases an attentive-ness to detail and skillful service-even if it demands you crush your piggy bank before savoring those claws. 5001 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-503-3079. $$-$$$. (K-4)


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, making this something beyond the usual Lower Greenville watering hole. To Texas tongues, the most alien dish on the menu will probably be Winnie’s Killer Queso, a dark, spicy, burn-the-baby mélange of peppers. 2831 Greenville Ave.,2l4-827-2ll2.$.(L-6)

Sam’s Cafe. Sticking to the Southwestern theme after others abandoned it for global, Sam’s still serves King Ranch casserole, a palate-pleasing mixture of chicken, com tortillas, roasted peppers, cheeses, and onions, which makes an excellent take-out dish for a family dinner. Quesadillas, all five varieties, score high marks, and regulars like the eight inventive pastas. Sam’s offers a good-sized bar, with a house specialty called the “Grand Canyon”-a 32-ounce margarita. In the Preston Center Shopping Center, 8411 Preston Rd., Ste. 112, 214-739-2288 (K-6); 100 Crescent Court, 214-855-2233.$$. (K-7)

Star Canyon. A real star, this is the place that most visitors would like to go but usually usually can’t-tables are booked for weeks ahead. It’s worth giving il a shot. Superchef Stephan Pyles has a gift for slipping happy surprises into even the most mundane-sounding dishes. For instance, coriander-cured venison lived up to ils legendary reputation, grilled rare and sliced into rosy petals complemented by whipped yam and an assertive dried fruit empanada. Service is friendly and fast, and the decor is legendary. 3102 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-520-7827. $$-$$$. (K-7)

Y.O. Ranch. This food may be dubbed “early Texas cooking,” but we doubt many Old West ranch cooks whipped up this sophisticated a menu, starting with the seafood com cake, a vast flapjack concealing nuggets of crab, shrimp, oysters, and com kernels. Entrées range from basic steaks (we enjoyed a huge, glorious ribeye) to turkey, catfish, shrimp and the Muy Grande Tex Mex Platter. 702 Ross Ave., 214-744-3287. $-$$. (K-7)


Cafe Madrid. Dallas’ first tapas cafe is as tiny a place as the tapas. Besides the two dozen or so tapas always available, a daily changing blackboard lists as many more, including everything from potato omelet to crisp-fried baby smelt, from wine-poached rabbit to blood sausage– and that last is a near-religious experience. 4501 Travis Si., 214-528-1731. $$. (L-6)

La Tasca Espanola. So many tapas, so little time. You can make a meal by choosing two or three from the list of 22-and do it for under $20. Tortilla Espanola, a thick, pie-shaped omelet, was a standout. Entrees include exceptional Paella Valenciana-a lovely presentation of mussels, clams, shrimp, chicken, and calamari with saffron rice and peas. Home of the friendliest staff in Dallas, this place is trying hard and succeeding. 4131 Lomo Alto Dr., 214-599-9563. $$. (K-6)


Bob’s Steak & Chop House. This place dazzles with juicy, tasty cuts of meat-coupled with veggie and potato-and pleasant, attentive service. All at die appropriate price. 4300 Lemmon Ave., 214-528-9446. $$-$$$. (K-7)

Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House. Prime rib and a trimmed-to-lean ribeye were robustly rare and confidently complemented with garlic mashed potatoes. Figure in service that was. if not clairvoyant, almost uncannily empathetic, and you’ll have some grasp of the comfortable ambience that keeps this cigar-friendly outpost filled even on weekday evenings. 5330 Belt Line Rd.. Addison. 972-934-2467. $$. (K-4)

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. Now in its North Dallas digs for more than four years, Del Frisco’s still serves up one mean slab o’ meat. Our filets were virtually perfect, fashioned from cuts of meat thick as couch cushions. The wine list is varied and complete. Heck, we even thought the vegetables were great. Not a joint for the faint of pocketbook but worth serious consideration when you’re in a mood to blow it out red-meat style. 5251 Spring Valley Rd., 972-490-9000. $$$. (K-4)

Kirby’s Steakhouse. Unlike the in-town reincarnation of the venerated 1950s original, this vast place has Piano-style prosperity written all over it-all upscale splendor with a midscale attitude (confidently casual service and ambience, an at-ease clientele outfitted for comfort from Dockers to Nikes.) The menu’s the same, though–mostly steaks, with the usual few seafood and fowl entrées, plus starters and a list of a la carte sides. 3408 Preston Rd., 972-867-2122. $$-$$$. (K-1)

Morton’s of Chicago. Understatement reigns here, from dark wood to etched glass, starched white linens and muted Sinatra, and more than 30 martini varieties. And, of course, there are steaks-big, beautiful steaks. 501 Elm St., 214-741-2277. $$$. (K-7)

The Palm. General manager Al Biernat has built this steak-and-lobster New York import into the downtown power-lunch spot. Gentlemanly bonhomie reigns, from the greeting at the door to the professional cast of waiters and waitresses. Come to see and be seen, and maybe even to cut a deal, but don’t come for the food. Over the past several months our samplings have gone from bland to worse. Is the problem turnover in the kitchen or bad buying at corporate headquarters’? 701 Ross Ave,. 214-698-0470. $$$. (K-7)

Paul’s Porterhouse. Fans of this mainstay make a compelling argument that it deserves a prominent spot in your regular red-meat rotation. The menu features an array of steak variations, and our choices were thick, fine cuts of meat cooked exactly to order. Unexpected alternatives like ostrich and game complicate your entrée decision; so might the taxidermy decor. 10960 Composite Dr.. 214-357-0279. $$$.
Randy’s Steakhouse. A meal in this cozy, Victorian home-turned-restaurant can make you feel like you’re having dinner at a friend’s home. But your friends have never served steaks like these. Graded prime and cut by hand, these beauties tasted rich and buttery. The 10 seafood selections offer plenty of alternate choices, and all meals come with rich, cheesy potatoes au gratin or a baked potato and fresh vegetables. 7026 Main St., Frisco, 972-335-3066.$$-$$$. (K-1)

Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The steaks, served sizzling with butter, come as either a filet, a rib-eye, a New York strip, a porterhouse, or a T-bone. Although you have to order side dishes a la carte–including eight types of potatoes- most of the side dishes will serve two. There is a huge wine list, and for serious grape lovers, the restaurant has a wine room for tastings. 17840 Dallas Pkwy., 972-250-2244. $$$. (K-2)


Royal Thai. Accented with small lamps casting delicate pools of light, this is the prettiest of Dallas’ That restaurants. That old standby, lemon grass chicken, is skillfully executed, but try less familiar items, too. On a recent visit, one entrée of crab, scallops, fish, shrimp, squid, and peppers on curried rice was delightful. In OldTown, 5500 Greenville Ave., 214-691-3555. $-$$.(L-6)

Toy’s Cafe. This hole-in-the-wall joint has all the elements of a great neighborhood “find.” We were welcomed warmly by three friendly Asian women and the tantalizing aroma of curry and garlic. Our Thai iced tea was a hit; eggplant and tofu in a Thai green curry coconut milk was perfectly prepared. Our fresh squid salad with Thai herbs was fresh and tasty. 4422-B Lemmon Ave., 214-528-7233. $. (K-6)


D REVISITS Angelo’s Barbecue. The Fort Worth landmark is one of the bookends of Metroplex barbecue, the counterpart to Sonny Bryan’s. Angelo’s is famous for fabulous ribs, ribs smoked so tender the meat falls off the bone at the slightest nudge from the incisors. Unfortunately, at 7:30 on a Monday night, we were told that only a single order of ribs remained in the kitchen. Instead of civil strife, we settled the issue over a couple of Shiners, under a dozen taxidermified beast heads and were preparing to split our few ribs when, to and behold, more ribs were discovered and delivered to our table-free. 2533 While Settlement Rd., Fort Worth, 817-332-0357. (A-9)

Angeluna. This new centerpiece of Sundance Square features an aggressively chic atmosphere. Come to see-and-be-seen, but not heard. The food somewhat redeems the jack ham mer decibel levels. The “one-world-cuisine” menu features multicultural dishes with arty presentations. Don’t miss Joe’s Shrimp Paesano- lightly breaded jumbo prawns sautéed in vodka-lemon butler. If you can find your waiter, skip the goat’s milk ice cream and splurge on the key lime tart. 215 E. 4th St., Fort Worth, 817-334-0080. $$. (B-9)

Benito’s. Like a familiar, old friend, Benito’s appearance may be spruced up from time to time, but some things never change, like the food. The queso flameado, with or without chorizo, is (lamed tableside and served with fresh pico de gallo and hot flour or com tortillas. Order it first and then spend sometime with the menu–everything on it is worth trying. 1450 W. Magnolia Ave.. Fort Worth, 817-332-8633. $$. (B-9)

Bistro Louise. We’ve rarely found food wonderful enough to warrant a 40-mile return trip, but here the tea-smoked duck-moist and fat-free, its satin skin smoked black and its luscious meat’s near-sweetness offset by a tan cranber-ry-port salsa-is such a dish. Almost everything we tried here was just as stellar. Daringly traditional French decor and attitude. 2900 S. Hulen St. (south from 1-30), Fort Worth, 817-922-9244. $$-$$$. (A-10)

Casa Jose. The best Tex-Mex cafe in Arlington offers all the regular Tex-Mex dishes but specializes in soft flour tortilla tacos. Their thick. Slightly chewy, warm, handmade flour tortillas offer a tasty base from which to build a taco. 2030 S. Cooper St.. Arlington, (Metro) 817-265-5423. $. (A-5)

D REVISITS Cattlemen’s Steak House. Fort Worth has been eating cattle since before it was cool and Cattlemen’s has been the quintessential steakhouse for 50 years. There’s not much but beef to recommend and the kitchen has definite ideas about how to cook it-the degrees of doneness are described in detail on the menu, the recommendation is rare. Steaks come with rolls, potatoes, and iceberg salad. If you need more than that, you’re more hat than cattle. 2458 N. Main, 817-624-3945. $$-$$$. (B-9)

Daddio’s Downtown Nearly Jazz Cafe. The Greek salad is the best in town, and the rest of the menu gives a unique Texas tone to classic Greek specialties. Breakfast and lunch only, except on Friday and Saturday, when you can listen to music while enjoying dinner. 715 W. Magnolia Ave., 817-926-7000. $. (B-9)

D REVISITS Forest Park Cafe. The former City Park Cafe has been reborn as a cross between that restaurant and the late Le Chardonnay. Thankfully, the Franco-Texan neighborhood bistro atmosphere remains, as do the stellar Saturday and Sunday brunches that had become a West Side tradition. In comparison to current global excesses, the menu here is slightly quaint-it features crêpes and paies, as well as simple sandwiches. Our pick was the vegetable ravioli with a roasted tomato sauce. 2418 Forest Park Blvd., 817-921-4567. $. (A-9)

Joe T. Garcia’s Esperanza’s Mexican Bakery. Although not as fancy as its cousin around the comer on North Commerce, the chefs do an excellent job preparing all the old favorites from burritos to tamales. Breakfast is a work of art here. And on your way out. the bakery, in an alcove off the dining room, sells traditional Mexican breads, rolls and sweet rolls. 2122 N. Main. Fort Worth, 817-626-5770. $$. (B-8)

Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Dishes. The quintessential Fort Worth restaurant, Its location near the Stockyards is a rambling plantation that can handle the predictable crowds for whom die restaurant’s status hovers somewhere between “institution” and “nirvana,” On a balmy night, wait for a spot outside by the pool and order the enchilada dinner. Joe doesn’t do credit cards, or reservations, either, for that matter. 2201 N. Commerce St., Fort Worth, 817-626-4356. $$. (B-9)

D REVISITS Piccolo Mondo. This neighbor-hood Italian restaurant is another strip-mall surprise-it features an elegant, parquet-floored piano bar, a white tablecloth dining room, and service to match. The menu is basic solid Italian-heavy pastas, variations of veal scaloppine. If you want imagination, look to the specials. Piccolo Mondo’s definitely a place for dates and celebrations, but Mid-city mavens also drop by in casual dress, without reservations, 829 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, 817-265-9174. $-$$. (B-5)

Reata. The flavors purveyed (upscale, ranch-contemporary) were crisp and deftly defined. With a good wine list, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a thick glaze of western decor (including a menu finished in leather), you’d have to be a pretty crusty cowboy not to be roped-in. 35th floor. Bank One Tower, 500 Throckmorton St, Foil Worth, 817-336-1009. $$-$$$. (B-8)

Saint Emilion. Some are surprised to see this Fort Worth restaurant on the list of top 10 restaurants in the area. But the brick-walled, country French atmosphere is charming and the food is mostly terrific. The wine list features many vintages from the Saint Emilion region, as you might expect. 3617 W, 7th St, Fort Worth, 817-727-2781. $$$. (B-9)

Sundance Deli & Market There is no better spot in Sundance Square lor a casual, imaginative brunch, lunch, or dinner. Basic offerings include sandwiches, salads, breakfast, gourmet coffees, and homemade desserts. This is the rare restaurant that’s quick enough for just a bile, but whose smartly minimalist decor, great coffee, and excellent food make it perfect for lingering. 353 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth. 817-335-3354. $. (B-8)

Water Street Seafood Company. Although Fort Worth is a landlocked, there’s still serviceable seafood to be had. The dining room could use a few more walls and a few less tables, but plenty of daily specials supplement a range of regular entrees that would make a coastal restaurant proud. 1540 S. University Dr., Ste. 120, Fort Worth, 817-877-3474. $$-$$$. (A-9)


Surprises with Sausage

British bangers. Cajun style. Chicken and pork with cilantro. Chicken with basil and dried tomato. Duck with herbs. Merguez. Pheasant with juniper berries. Provencale with shallots and parsley. Rabbit and pork with mustard seeds and thyme. Southwestern with chili and pork. Move over Jimmy Dean-from delicate to robust, spicy to mild, rich to almost virtuous, these sausages are guaranteed to redefine the food as you knew it. Karen Cassady and Roger Buret, owners of L’Epicurien, are well-known caterers and makers of fine pates, but since it is, after all, October-wurst month-it’s appropriate that the tubular side of their charcuterie be highlighted. L’Epicurien, 2025 Irving Blvd., 214-747-5885.


Neiman’s Feeds Downtown

Downtown lunch is a problem. Always. Neiman’s is trying to solve it with freshmarket., a new lunchroom in the old Epicure Shop on Commerce. The new, single-word space tries to capture Madison Avenue chic in a clean and slick cafeteria-line of tried, true, and new lunch options. Choices range from Helen Corbitt classics tike orange soufflé on greens with chicken salad to latter-day indispensables like grilled portobello mushroom caps. Sure, some of it seems a little pricey-six bucks for a club sandwich-but this is Neiman’s. And after all, what’s your choice?

Neiman’s freshmarket, 1525 Commerce St, 214-741-6911

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