BABY DOE’S MATCHLESS MINE

Perhaps the biggest dining secret in Dallas: What’s the deal with Baby Doe’s? They don’t take reservations for parties of less than six, and the wait for a table on weekends is 45 minutes to one-and-a-half hours. How does this place hang on when so many other Dallas restaurants fail? Have you ever eaten there? Since 1976? In a Sherlockian attempt to solve the mystery, I put the car in second gear and scooted up Goat Hill to arrive breathlessly behind the famous waterfall billboard. Oops. Missed it by that much. {The secret: Don’t curve to the right.) I backtracked down, then up, left the car with the valet, and I hiked to the restaurant, past the smell of donkey dung (a live donkey lives outside the entrance to add to the mining ambience) into the odor of hot fat. The mar-garita tasted like Fresca with tequila, and the menu is an artifact from the ’70s-honey mustard dressing congealed on the plate, famous beer cheese soup that coated my tongue like Mylanta, and a steak not worth mentioning. No one whose palate is pampered would consider dinner at Baby Doe’s, and no one who eats here would be less than delighted.

It’s still a secret. I have no idea why this place remains so popular. And you know what? You can’t even seethe famous billboard from Baby Doe’s.

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