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Restaurant Reviews

By D Magazine |


Several instances of people representing themselves as D Magazine food critics have been reported to us. Now is a good time to restate our long-standing policies: Our critics never identify themselves and never request special treatment. If anyone visits your restaurant under false pretenses or asks for anything free in this magazine’s name, please call the police.



Dallas’ appetite for sushi isn’t sated and won’t be until every neighborhood niche has been filled. That explains the wait at Chaya in Preston Royal.

Our first visit to Chaya was something of a disaster. Evidently they should have waited another week to open the doors because it was strictly amateur night, with the waiter peering at our menu to understand what we were ordering and the kitchen taking nearly an hour to prepare teriyaki chicken. But the second dinner went more smoothly.

Very cold beer and warm, salted eda-mame-so much better than pretzels- made us happy to start. Then the sushi, ordered as we ate, was consistently good, even the beginner sushi rolls: Rich salmon skin centers contrasted nicely with the very sticky rice and acidic nori; so did creamy slivers of avocado. Red clam, red snapper, and yellowtail were all pristine. For non-sushi lovers, the skewers from the robata-yaki (grill) were good, especially the chicken chunks of moist thigh meat and the cubes of succulent swordfish.

One final hint: In case you haven’t discovered this and need to know, Japanese sticky rice is the perfect food for small children, providing more nourishment than cereal and more entertainment than Play-Doh. 101 Preston Royal Shopping Center, 214-361 -0220. $$.-Mary Brown Malouf


YOU KNOW THE LINE FROM ANNA KaRENINA: All happy families are the same but all unhappy families have a different story. Or something like that. I could add that all hungry families are the same. Iano’s is for those families-undoubtedly unhappy (as everyone hungry must be somewhat unhappy) when they arrive, and varyingly happy when they leave.

Forme, Iano’s didn’t have a lot of drive-up appeal to begin with-too much glass and neon for a place that pushes home-style Italian. And for the first five minutes after I entered the restaurant, I waited by the hostess stand across from a waitress making entries in a book. Not a glance of acknowledgment, not a word of welcome. The hostess herself was too busy with a table to notice me, so by the time she came to seat us, I was feeling a little peevish, a mood heightened by our waitress’ curt. “You need to move this,” touching my daughter’s pack with her foot. I thought she should have offered us a drink before telling us what to do, and certainly she should have rephrased the request.

On the other hand, this is advertised as family dining. Maybe that no-frills attitude is just part of the all-in-the-family ambience. (That’s one definition of family: They’re the people you can mistreat and they have to love you anyway.)

The menu is priced per portion and per “lafamilia.”And it’s thoroughly Italian in that a “la familia” platter was plenty for a family, including parents, several children, grandparents. It was a little much for a family of three. And mostly, il was a hunger fix. The bread was hoi, baked there, but not long enough. Vitello Pugliese, slices of veal shingled on a platter, were thickly breaded, smothered in tomato sauce allegedly enriched with goat cheese and loaded with purple kalamata olives. The same olives, mixed with tomatoes, capers, and garlic, scented the pasta put-tanesca, which was given a pleasant excitement with hot pepper. 250 Spanish Village, 972-866-0888. $$.-M.B.M.


OK, it’s not new, if you want to be prE-cise about it. But it does have a new chef. so I decided to give Rooster a new try. I had high hopes for this neo-Soulhern restaurant when it opened but was disappointed-it seemed to be all about the idea of the South, not the taste of the South. The new chef, Billy Webb, is the real thing- a Louisiana native-so I expected the menu to have turned into the real thing.

It is a lot closer.

The room is as easily gracious as a family dining room. And the staff offered natural Southern-style hospitality, from the friendly greeting at the door to the thoughtful table service. And the traditional Senate bean soup we had for starters was authentic-substantial and scented with smoky ham. But the breadbasket is filled with com muffins and bacon biscuits too heavy and tough for any Southern baker to claim. And most of the menu still tends to the too-cute-what is “Buckhead chicken” supposed to mean, anyway? As far as I know, there’s no distinctive Buckhead cooking, any more than there is a Piano cuisine. Still, the touch of Southern brown sugar sweetness and the pecans that enhance this chicken breast are more to the point than the pointless place name. The grilled meatloaf was an interesting idea. A slice of country paté laid on the grill fora minute or two, it was bolstered by garlicky mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. I’m not positive why it’s Southern-don’t Yankee mamas make meatloaf?-but it was good. And the catfish, thick and white as cake, was crusted with molasses and pecans, then sauced with brown butter.

Dallas is a hybrid of South and West and I’m all for regional cuisine. So I’m rooting for Rooster. But the place is still trying a little too hard. Relax, Billy. Forget about the concept and concentrate on cooking food that tastes good. 3521 Oak Grove Ave., 214-521-1234. $$$.-M.B.M.


Bator’s Ribs. Nothing fancy about this place. Load up your tray with piles of sliced beef, pork, turkey, chicken, cayenne-seasoned St. Louis-cut ribs, and the usual side dishes: potato salad, cole slaw, and beans. We still prefer the Commerce Street location. 2724 Commerce St., 214-748-5433; 4844 Greenville Ave., 214-373- 0082; 488 W. 1-30 at Belt Line Road. Garland, 972-226-7447. $.

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; 5017 W. Piano Pkwy., Ste. 100, Piano, 972-248-3866. $.

Sammy’s Barbecue. Barbecue for the banking crowd at bankers’ hours. Everyday at lunch, Sammy’s is full of white-collar types, ties thrown over their shoulders, chowing on great red-stripe brisket, ribs, and homemade Mom-style pie. No, really-Sammy’s is a family-run enterprise, and all the Pritchards pitch in. 2126 Leonard St., 214-880-9064. $.

D BEST Sonny Bryan’s. For 40 years, Sonny Bryan’s meaty ribs, moist brisket, and classic barbecue sauce have been die standard by which all other Dallas barbecue is judged. The West End and St. Paul locations maintain the original tastes in fancier settings, but for the classic barbecue experience, return to the original Inwood Road joint, sit on the hood of your car, and gnaw on tenderly smoked ribs and chopped beef. 2202 Inwood Rd., 214-357-7120; 302 N. Market St.. 214-744-1610; 325 N. St. Paul St. (in the tunnel), 214-979-0102; 4701 Frankford Rd., 972-447-0102; Macy’s, 3rd level, Galleria, 972-851-5131.$.


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

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, Roadrunner Stout). 4050 Belt Line Rd.. Addison. 972-404-7456. $$.

D BEST Routh Street Brewery and Grill. Although the food has slipped a little, the hand-crafted brew remains some of the finest in Dallas, and an elegant hill country lodge motif with soft lighting makes it a sexy spot for a beer joint. Shy away from the wein-erschnilzle; roasted pork tenderloin fares better. 3011 Routh St., 214-922-8835. $$.


Angry Dog. The menu is standard bar cuisine including some great burgers, nachos, and sandwiches, but it extends to include some inspiring options. The Angry Dog-a grilled, ail-beef hot dog split and served open-faced covered with grilled onions, chili, and cheese-is truly fantastic and a bargain at $4.50. For serious beer drinkers, there are 120 beers to choose from. 2726 Commerce St., 214-741-4406.$.

Klip’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers. Perhaps Dallas’ best rendition of the all-American hamburger is served at Chip’s. Both locations have an atmosphere as wholesome as a Beach Boys song, and the food is fast and fresh, too. A return to a time of innocence, when a good time could be fueled by nothing more than fries and a shake. The skinny onions rings, rich pig sandwich, and hot dogs are just lagniappe. 4501 Cole Ave., 214-526-1092; 4530 Lovers Ln., 214-691-2447. $.

Corner Bakery. Dallas has a number of excellent bakeries now. but the Corner Bakery holds ; its own. Country loaves are crusty, and the sweet stuff-Russian coffee cake, sticky buns. ; and brownies-are all excellent. But the : Bakery has a cafe side, serving pizza (with the deep-dish, 2-inch sides holding a flat rilling), tomato-sauced pasta, and sandwiches. 2401 Preston Rd., Piano, 972-398-1955. $.

D REVISITS Snuffnr’s. There are many who swear by Snuffer’s-our theory is that the too-salty burgers and frosty brew are a sensory way-back machine for those who thought the university years were the prime of their life. They probably were, if you continue to eat things like Snuffer’s cheese fries (a basket of deep-fried strips, cov-ered in gloriously greasy cheese) because you can’t last long if you eat this way often. (Yeah, you can add bacon if you want.) Even Snuffer’s chicken sandwich, the virtuous version of college cuisine, is indulgent food-fill-ing, cheese-garnished, massive. That’s OK. We all need youth food occasionally, and this rambling, loud hangout, the kind of place where the margaritas are served in mugs, is where to get it. 3526 Greenville Ave., 214-826-6850; 14910 Midway Rd? Addison, 972-991-8811. $.


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

Crescent City Cafe. Crescent City still dishes out solid New Orleans chow in authentic French Quarter surroundings. Though the fried food can be spotty, the gumbo’s rich and the po’ boys are consistently good. 2615 Commerce St., 214-745-1900. $.


Arc-En-Ciel. The kitchen employs separate cooks for the Chinese and Vietnamese fare, but everyone really goes there to eat Vietnamese. Our last meal we ordered in a leisurely way, a few dishes at a time-pristine Imperial rolls; shrimp pounded and molded on sugarcane; grilled pork to roll in rice paper with rice noodles, cilantro, mint, lettuce, and sprouts-each dish delightful, fresh, excellent. 3555 W. Walnut St.. Garland, 972-272-2188; 2208 New York Ave., Arlington, 817-469-9999. $-$$.

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 performs a near-ballet in bringing it to your table. And finish with tableside French-pressed coffee. 7979 Inwood Rd., Ste. 121, 214-902-9500.$-$$,

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. $$.

New Big Wong. Large lunches are served here in l’ast-1’ond time, but a leisurely dinner rewards experimentation. The menu is large, and largely authentic, serving a wide variety of wiggly sea creatures. The setting is plain and the service friendly. 2121 S. Greenville Ave., ; 2L4-82MI98.S.

Royal China. Bucky Kao was dishing out Chinese food at his Preston Royal outpost i before the world got so small thai 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.$.

D REVISITS Szechuan Pavilion. It’s now called “Jenny Ho’s Szechuan Pavilion,” and it’s nice to have a name to go with a familiar face. Certainly Szechuan Pavilion has become a familiar face-it’s one of the lop Chinese restaurants in a city with far loo few to choose from, The pink-and-kites decor is still pretty, and we’re glad to report that after a brief slump, the kitchen is back in lop form-service is smooth and the usual Szechuan specialties are as good as ever. Pol stickers filled with juicy pork and a whole crispy fish are worth wailing for-rich fried crust, hot white meat, and sweet-spice sauce blending into a blissful mouthful. 8409 Preston Rd.. 214-368-4303. $$.

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


Cafe Society. Dallas’ most authentic coffeehouse not only roasts its own beans but offers a 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. $.

Cafe Brazil. “Brazil” here is a coffee cue, but this cafe is not just another Java joint. The brews are varied and the laid-back altitude of all three locations make them comfortable chat rooms, but the food is better than il has to be. Breakfasts are particularly notable. 6420 N. Central Expwy.. 214-691-7791; 2221 Abrams Rd., 214-826-9522; 2815 Elm St., 214-747-2730. $.


Deli News. While upscale restaurants have come and gone in Crescent Court’s elite environs, this plainly authentic deli has continued to demonstrate thai you don’t have to be from New York to know the Real Thing when you taste it. Hot cabbage borscht, potato pancakes, and rye-wrapped pastrami are all wonderful. All this plus Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray tonic. 500 Crescent Court, Maple Avenue at Cedar Springs Road. 214-922-3354. $-$$.

Gilbert’s. All you Yankees pining for the comforts of the Carnegie Deli, stop whining. The Gilbert family enters their 11th year of dishing out potato knishes, stuffed derma, and kasha varnishkas as good as any in the Big Apple. They also have a decent plate of spaghetti and meatballs for the shiksa in your group. 11661 Preston Rd.. 214-373-3333. $.

Street’s Famous Sandwiches. We are impressed by the creative combos of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, and “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 Lawn Ave., 214-526-2505. $.


Athénée Cafe. Dallas’ only Rumanian restaurant-are you surprised? Stuffed mountain cabbage is a fabulous signature dish-meatball-size 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. $$.


Bread Winners. One of the prettiest, most atmospheric Old South settings anywhere in Dallas, this Uptown eatery is a favorite for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and now dinner (Wednesday through Sunday). Big triangles of grilled polenta lavished in fresh marinant make a main-dish starter; a single wedge of strawberry chocolate torte serves two. 3301 McKinney Ave., 214-754-4940. $-$$.

The Brick Room. Tables on tiers raked amphitheater-style give live jazz lovers a fine view of the bandstand in this suave food-and-jazz emporium that’s brought a new night-life dimension to Lowest Skillman. Steaks and seafood are main menu draws, pleasant service and a well-tuned bar keep the all-aged faithful happy between sets. 1925 Skillman St., 214-823-2725. $$.

Deep Ellum Cafe. The first legitimate restaurant in Deep Ellum has a lot of competition now. and though this is still one of the most pleasant places to be in downtown, sometimes the food is not so pleasant. The kitchen seems bored with the standards like chicken and dill dumplings and Vietnamese chicken salad; specials are a better bet. Sit outside if you can. 2704 Elm St., 214-741-9012. $-$$.

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-break fast crowd and granola for those who want to start the day on a more spiritual, healthful note. The Quadrangle, 28(10 Routh St.. 214-954-0486; 1133 N. Zang Blvd., 214-943-6448 (breakfast and lunch only this location). $$.

East Side Grid. Hast Side is attached at the hip-hep, rather-to The Barley House bar. and the bar food-nachos, quesadillas-fulfills its purpose with little fanfare. Entrées vary, but the jalapeno honey barbecue chicken is spicy, sloppy, and tasty, accompanied with scrumptious mashed potatoes and vegetables drowned in soy. The chicken-fried steak is humbly good. 2916 N. Henderson Ave,, 214-828-2801. $.

D REVISITS 8.0 Restaurant and Bar. This hip joint is still hopping with pretty people sipping blue margaritas and noshing upscale bar food like thick. 8-ounce burgers and chicken nachos. Lines are out the door at lunch and cocktail hour in the summer, and the patio is swarming with guys and girls cruising for girls and guys. On our last visit. we demolished a plate of Fried Purple Worms-thinly sliced, lightly battered fried onions-and licked the grease happily from our fingers. All the while, blaring music made table conversation nearly impossible. A plate of penne mixed with grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes lasted even better when we saw the luncheon price of $7.95. Mural-covered walls painted by local artists make it a funky place to sit back and watch the show. The Quadrangle, 28(H) Routh St., 214-979-0880, $-$$.

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 the 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. 1928 Greenville Ave., 214-826-2468. $$-$$$.

Fogo de Chao. A churrascaria in Addison with branches in Porto Alegre and Sào Paulo, Fogo de Chao serves traditional cookery from southern Brazil, starling with the caipirinha (a little like a sweet margarila, with cachaca, a sugarcane liquor). Overwhelming abundance is the theme: A neverending parade of meat on long skewers is delivered by gaucho guys in amazing trousers and belts. Very exotic. 43(X) Belt Line Rd., Addison. 972-503-7300. $$.

D BEST The Grape. Hie secret is thai Dallas’ oldest and best wine bar is really one of its oldest and best restaurants- dim and atmospheric, with a blackboard menu that remains interesting and enticing (no matter how often the chef changes), and the tiniest, most romantic bar in town. 2808 Greenville Ave., 214-828-1981. $$

D BEST The Green Room. This ’90s bistro continues to dish out some of the most Inventive cuisine to be found between New York and L.A. The menu is eclectically uptown, and the decor is strictly downtown rock V 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. $$.

Mark’s on Henderson. Chef-owner Mark Jenson has turned this ultimate 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. $$,

Piano Cafe. A feast of vegetables accompanies each meal at this suburban bistro, and most people leave with leftovers. Freshly grilled roast chicken with red pesto penne draws loyal fans. There’s a decent wine list and a winner of a dessert list. 1915 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 500, Piano, 972-516-0865.$$.

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 is overly amiable, with some timing lapses. Once the too-loud cocktail pianist makes way for a combo, conversation is possible and people-watching is its own entertainment. 4513 Travis St., 214-522-2411.$$.

St Pete’s Dancing Marin. The marlin doesn’t mean seafood, it’s just a clue that the owner likes to fish. The only seafood here is the dancing tuna sandwich; mostly, the food is simply designed to go with your beer. Beware the Diablo Tempestuous, pasta doused in fiery jalapeno-tomato sauce. It’s so hot it comes with a chaser of chocolate milk. 2730 Commerce St., 214-698-1511. $.

Tarantino’s. The overall ambience-a dark, New York cafe-shaped space dominated by a long bar-is best at night, when the slight scruffiness is hidden by dim light and the place looks avant instead of under-financed. The food goes back to the basics of Italian and Spanish cuisine, served tapas-style. Polenta crab cakes are served with crab claws and crab salad; smoked duck ravioli is topped with rich duck confit The lake on traditional osso buco, based on a rich, gamy lamb shank instead of veal, is food you lust after. 3611 Parry Ave., 214-821-2224. Dinner only. $$$.

Tarawa. 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 the upstairs terrace. 4514 Travis St., 214-521-2175. $$.

The Thomas Avenue Beverage Company. Chef Michael Smith serves a healthy mix of Southwest. Cajun, and New American cuisine at this old-style pub in brand-new Uptown. 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.$-$$.


Addison Cafe. You might expect a contradictory kitchen from a place that’s subtitled “Le French Bistro.” Our pan-seared snapper melted like butter, but the smoked salmon topping was dry and chewy. Sautéed sea bass was crisp, moist, and flaky, but bread tasted store-bought. And because service is studiedly languorous, we weren’t quite sure who our waiter was. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 108 at Montfort Drive, Addison, 972-991-8824. $$.

D BEST Barclays. Don’t come to Barclays expecting to find a pint of bitters and bangers and mash. This is upper-crust English fare with a European twist. Potato ravioli stuffed with Stilton cheese and wild mushrooms is 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. 2917 Fairmount St., 214-855-0700. $$-$$$.

D REVISITS Chez Gerard. Which is more to be celebrated. French thrift or French style? This understated bistro rephrases the question as a witty equation, endowing organ meats as well as prime cuts with star quality. Skin-thin petals of veal liver, sautéed with onions and grapes in port wine sauce, became the gourmand’s liver and onions-or is it the peasant’s foie gras? Whatever. The filet of sole is simply crisped in lemony butter. Service, as Gallic as the fare, is less egalitarian, lavishing warmth on obvious regulars, tending unknowns (read: us, this visit) with chilly competence. 4444 McKinney Ave.. 214-522-6865. S$-S$S.

French Room. This is the prettiest dining room in Dallas. The rococo-style, cherub-flown ceiling, Versailles-length drapes, and candlelight make it the kind of place that doesn’t mesh with the modern world. It’s only natural to expect perfect food that matches the fairy-tale room. Sweetbread schnitzel is perfect, placed on a bed of asparagus ragout. Lamb ribeye is precisely matched with rosemary goat cheese polenta and tomato confit with basil, combining every Mediterranean high note in a single dish. Hotel Adolphus, 1321 Commerce St., 214-742-8200.$$$.

Jennivine. Jennivine’s slightly anachronistic atmosphere, a quaint old house stranded in the massive new Uptown apartments, still delivers one of Dallas’ most unexpected dining experiences: fine food in fine surroundings at a fair price. 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 or one of their many patés. 3605 McKinney Ave., 214-528-6010. $$.

L’Ancestral. Let L’Ancestral remind you of traditional delights: The civilized dining room is softly lit. tables are draped in starchy white. and the menu is stubbornly, traditionally French. Begin your meal with a bowl of onion soup, about as recherché as you could get. Some ideas need no improvement. The onion tart is just as subtly good. Lamb is cooked perfectly medium rare, and steak au poivre comes with the the best, yes, French fries in town. 4514 Travis St., 214-528-1081. $$-$$$.

La Mirabelle. Thoroughly retro not only in its ambience, which stresses traditional comfort, arid in its food, which is precisely and personally prepared French, but in its service, which actually claims to coddle the customer. Enjoy reading the menu, but don’t order a thing until you hear the specials of the day. That’s where the treasures are. 17610 Midway Rd., 972-733-0202. $$-$$$.

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. $$-$$$.

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. $$$.

D BEST The Pyramid Room. That overused word, opulence, must be hauled out again-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.$$$.

D BEST 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 dining experience. Each dish seems to outdo another. Food credits here mostly belong to Chef de Cuisine Frank Harris, one assumes, with input from David Holben, now executive chef at sibling restaurants Mediterraneo and Toscana. 7709 Inwood Rd.. 214-351-0094, $$$.

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 the 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. $$.

Waters. 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 esoteri-ca that quivers in your palate. Bui you’ll also find exquisite contrasts like delicate rare tuna coated with crunchy peppercorns and lightly structured grilled shrimp with red pepper coulis-all served in a crisp, clean space. 1923 McKinney Ave., 214-720-0323. $$.

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


Bon Vivant Market Longtime Dallas chef Dan O’Leary is the food mind behind this all-purpose market. Bon Vivant has plenty of room to navigate a basket around the central island rilled with prepared meals (veal meal loaf, lasagna), past the bakery (crusty Euro-country loaves), to the grill area (juicy chicken skewers) and sandwich bar. Plus, there’s a real wine department and tables for eating in. 1801 Preston Rd., Piano, 972-818-1177. $-$$.

City Harvest. This neighborhood favorite is open every day and-even on weekdays- serves real morning food. Downtowners take note: Oak Cliff is easy for lunch (buy a bag of Zapp’s chips and a triple chocolate chunk cookie to go with the pesto chicken salad deluxe sandwich), and you can pick up dinner to go while you eat. 939 N. Edgefield Ave., 214-943-2650.$-$$.

Eatzi’s. Bala’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. Checkout lines are infamously long. 3403 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-1515. $-$$.

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-dropping-ly reasonable prices ($4-$ 10). 3316 Oak Lawn Ave.. 214-526-4070. $-$$.

Sigel’s Fresh Market. Besides the stellar cheese counter, dozens of kinds of imported pasta, great selection of olive oils, and other gourmet comestibles, the little deli adjoining Sigel’s liquor store sells perhaps the best roast chicken to go in town. And it’s a deal, too. 15003 Inwood Rd., 972-387-9804. $.

GREEKKostas Cafe. The food is simply Greek and simply good. Appetizer do’s: saganaki and dolmas (musts, really). Entrée don’ts: souvlaki (lough and chewy). 4914 Greenville Ave., 214-987-3225.$$.

D REVISITS Ziziki’s chef-owner Costa Arrabatzis’ food has not waned. It has proved contagious, though-you can hardly get a prime-time table at this contemporary Greek cafe, and they don’t take reservations, except for large parlies. Which meant we ate our last plate of herbed lamb souvlaki, folded in thick warm pita and sauced with tan yogurt, seated at a not-yet-seasonal table outside. Thai’s OK. We wanned up with a good bottle of Greek red, another reason our respect for co-owner Mary Cloutier’s wine savvy has grown. Ziziki’s menu has featured the same idiosyncratic version of Mediterranean food since it opened- we rejoice that some things don’t change, 4? 14 Travis St.. Ste, 122,214-521-2233.$$,


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 Rd., 214-321 -5597. $.

Celebration. Bring your appetite to this longtime mecca for Dallas home-cooking purists. 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 La, 214-351-5681.$.

DC’s Cafe. You’ve been in powder rooms bigger than this super-clean little place, but you’ve had home cooking this tine only in your dreams of classic soul-food plate lunches at penny-ante prices. Pork chops, meatloaf, catfish et al come with three sides; business is about half-and-half eat-in and takeout, and I we’ve never seen the room empty of patrons. 8224 Park Ln., 214-363-4348. $.

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, Plano, 972-423-1524.$.


D BEST Bombay Cricket Club. Lunch buffets are an Indian restaurant tradition, and Bombay Cricket Club’s lineup is excellent. A pretty setting, unfailingly polite service, and excellent food make this one of the top Indian restaurants in town. The quality is steady at lunch, which for some restaurants is a time not to try very hard. 2508 Maple Ave., 214-871-1333.$-$$.

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


Atessio’s. Graze 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. $$-$$$.

Alfonso’s. The menu louches on all the basics, and the house marinara and buttery rolls have held a rapt following for years. An appetizer o artichoke hearts gently wanned in lemon-butter is simply transporting. Lake Highland Village, 718 N. Buckner Blvd. at Northcliff Drive, 214-217-7777. $.

Gampisi’s Egyptian. It’s dark, outdated, and frankly, 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 ha; for decades. Cash or check only. 5610 E. Mockingbird Ln. 214-827-0355. $.

Joey’s. Owner Joey Vallone and chef have created a menu of innovative Italian fare. If you aren’t a “High Profile” regular, chances are you’ll spend most of your evening at the bar o this dizzyingly decorated hot spot. Try the tower of vegetables glued together with Fontina cheese or the rigatoni Vallone with artichokes, asparagus tips, and Louisiana head-on prawns. 4217 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-0074. 5$.

La Dolce Vita. Lakewood’s favorite wood-burning oven is as comfortable a place for pizza and wine as it is for pastry and coffee, The high-ceilinged room with tali windows is a good place to linger if the crowds don’t push you out. Service is unpretentious and friendly; pizzas and pastas are good but not weird. 1924 Abrams Pkwy., 214-821-2608. $-$$.

D BEST Mi Piaci. At all times, these hipper than-hip rooms are filled 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 waiters expertly deboning the tender Dover sole for savvy diners. Our only complaint: The noise level can get pretty high. 14854 Montfort Dr., 972-934-8424. $$.

Modo Mio. “Cucina Rustica Italians” off the Dallas North 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 ladyfin-gers. The overall service is efficient and unobtrusive-this packed restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine. 18352 Dallas Pkwy.. Ste. 112. 972-671-MODO. $$.

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 doesn’t take 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. $$.

Ruggeri’s. It could be that success at its newer Addison spinoff has cost the Uptown original its reputation for dependably fine Italian dining. The formerly flawless food has been less consistent lately: The veal chop was huge and tender, but zabaglione was too much more than froth. The crowd is festive as always. 2911 Routh St. 214-871-7377; 5348 Belt Line Rd. 972-726-9555. $$-$$$.

Terilli’s. A Lower Greenville fixture. Terilli’s packs in a semi-sophisticated crowd for such-as-it-is jazz and an eclectic menu featuring the signature item with the silly name: “Italcho’s” (crisp chips of pizza dough topped with moz-zarella and a choice of toppings). Food ranges from pretty good to so-so, but devotees find thai Terilli’s is more than the sum of its parts. 2815 Greenville Ave.. 214-827-3993.$$.

Toscana. You’ll gladly pay top dollar for Executive Chef David Holben’s fancy versions of Tuscan-based dishes. Appetizers alone are worth the visit: Pan-seared, lemon-thyme calamari is light and delicious, and lightly creamed grilled com soup with toasted pine nuts is reminiscent of the hearty Tuscan soups of Florence. Indulge in tiramisu bread pudding with a Frangelico anglaise sauce. 4900 McKinney Ave.. 214-521-2244. $$.


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. 262-1 Elm St., 214-651-1177. $$-$$$.

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

Rock & Roll Sushi. Rock V roll is here to stay, and obviously, so is sushi. Rock & Roll Sushi’s California concept is part fish, part gimmick. Around the circular bar is a stream with a flotilla of lacquered boats bearing sush The things we like best are the least traditional, and at lunch, the bento boxes are a good deal, each box packed with tempura, teriyaki, sushi, and a bowl of miso. 6109-B Berkshire Ln., 214-987-1966. $$-$$$.

Sushi on McKinney. One of the first sushi bars it Dallas to cash in on the ’80s notion that sushi is cool, Sushi on McKinney remains a popula slop for everything from introductory hand rolls to more esoteric Eastern concoctions. And, somehow, the scene here has stayed coo even in the un-hip ’90s. 4502 McKinney Ave. 214-521-0969. $-$$.

D BEST Teppo. Our only yakitori bar is als one of the city’s most exciting sushi bars and a favorite weekend date destination as well. High-energy atmosphere, high ly chic modern decor, and high-quality food make this one of Dallas’ best Japanese restaurants, even though the menu is mostly skewer and sushi. Be sure to try the specials. 2014 Greenville Ave.. 214-826-8989. $$-$$$.


Adelmo’s. Some go for the food, some go for the intimacy, but almost everybody finds a ret son 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 will hold your attention long after the main ingredients of the dishes had been devoured. 4537 Cole Ave., 214-559-0325. $$.

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

D BEST Mediterraneo. The Quadrangle location will probably totype for future Mediterraneos. It’s a pretty restaurant, stylishly minimalist but surprising ly warm and welcoming, and the food-a bal ance of old and new ideas-is hard to find fault with. Crusts are all the rage: Halibut is mysteriously crab crusted, salmon has a polenta crust, and lamb is crusted with goat cheese. The Quadrangle. 2800 Routh St.. 214-979-0002; 18111 Preston Rd. at Frankford Road, Ste. 120,972-447-0066. $$-$$$.

PoPoLo’s. Wins the popularity contest in its restau rant-free Preston Hollow neighborhood, though against stirrer competition, the menu might rate as many misses as hits. Choose from pastas, risottos, and hickory-grilled meats with mix-and-match sauces. Wood-fired pizzas and breads (from the adjoining bakery) are usually excellent. 707 Preston Royal Shopping Center, 214-692-5497. $-$$.


D BEST 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 retried beans are outstanding. Service is pleasant; the restaurant is immaculate. 4714 Maple Ave., 214-520-2700. $.

Cantina Laredo. The restaurant’s attention to detail shows throughout the meal. Don’t force yourself into a decision-order the monstrous sampler platter and take home the leftovers. 8121 Walnut Hill Ln., 214-987-9192; 4546 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-458-0962. $-$$,

Casa Rosa. There’s almost always a table available at pink-tinted Casa Rosa, but only because the place is so big. The appeal of the food would pack a smaller place. Casa Rosa does well with standards–except the chimi-changa-but the finds here are the more unusual dishes like goat cheese chile relleno and mushroom enchiladas. 165 Inwood Village, 214-350-5227.$.

Dos Charros. This is food for people who break into a sweat at the sight of a habanera 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.$.

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., Piano, 972-596-6783. $.

Herrera’s. In the early ’70s. we used to grab a six-pack and line up on the sidewalk around the original Alamo-like Herrera’s on Maple Avenue waiting for one of nine tables and a No. 10: one tostada with guacamole, one cheese enchilada, and a soft cheese taco. Twenty-five years and six locations later, they continue to serve the same No. 10, along with other reliable Tex-Mex favorites, in tacky surroundings. 4001 Maple Ave., 214-528-9644: 5427 Denton Dr., 214-630-2599; 2853 W. Illinois Ave., 214-330-6426; 1905 N. Josey Ln., 972-242-4912: 9404Ovella Ave., 214-956-0150; 3790 Belt Line Rd., 972^88-2202. $.

Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano. Touted as Dallas’ best “interior” Mexican restaurant, Javier’s lives up to its own high standards. Entrées range from excellent seafood dishes to tender cabrito, though some regulars never stray from the legendary filet Durango. 4912 Cole Ave., 214-521-4211.$$.

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 hot sauce remains a winner. 415 W. 12th St., 214-941-4304.$-$$.

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. $.

Mario’s Chiquita. A Dallas classic, this restaurant eschews velvet paintings and kitsch in favor of a pretty, casual decor and offers upscale Mexico City-style fare, as well as some of the best Tex-Mex combinations in town. 221 W. Parker Rd., Ste. 400, Piano, 972-423-2977. $-$$.

Martin’s Cocina. The kitchen here does magic things with seafood (shrimp especially) and offers a listing of entrées that weigh in at less than 1.000 calories each, including the four chiles rellenos. 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.$-$$.

Mattito’s. Matt Martinez Jr. himself doesn’t have anything to do with Mattito’s, but he did develop the recipes, and those didn’t change when he left. So the chile relleno and griddled flautas are excellent. The service is snappy, and what it lacks in charm, it makes up for in efficiency. 5290 Belt Line Rd. at Montfort Drive, Addison, 972-503-8100; 4311 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-8181.$.

D BEST Matt’s Rancho Martinez. The place is filled with the faithful at ever) meal because the flautas are the best in Dallas, the chile relleno is food for the gods, and even a combination plate satisfies, if you don’t mind processed cheese. 6332 La Vista Dr., 214-823-5517.$-$$.

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. Service is cheerful: the setting is no-frills comfortable. The bad news: beer and wine only. 4322 Lemmon Ave., 214-526-1020. $.

Mi Cocina. This chain has expanded so rapidly, you’d think Dallasites had just discovered Tex-Mex. But at all six locations, the food is dependably good and lines are still dependably long. The menu features upscale dishes in addition to basic tacos and enchiladas-tacos habanas are stuffed with chicken and covered with ground chili and cilantro; Latin stir-fry fajitas provide a new option for vegetarians. 11661 Preston Rd., 214-265-7704; 77 Highland Park Village. 214-521-6426; 18352 Dallas Pkwy. at Frankford Road, 972-250-6426; 7201 Skillman St., 214-503-6426; The Galleria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy. at LBJ Freeway, 972-239-6426: 509 Main St., Fort Worth (817-877-3600). $-$$.

Monica 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 ambience. 2914 Main St., 214-748-7140.$$.

Nuevo Leon. Excellent Mex-Mex food in a -comfortable old Greenville Avenue location draws a mixed crowd but enthusiastic reviews. Cabrito is good, mole is excellent, carnitas are the best. 2013 Greenville Ave., 214-887-8148; 12895 Josey Ln., 972-488-1984. $-$$.

Omega. It’s easy to imagine ending evenings at Omega. But fortunately Omega is also a great place to lunch, and it’s even a comfortable place to eat alone. This friendly little cafe on a Deep Ellum side street serves a complimentary cup of chile con queso with the warmed salsa and tostados. There’s nothing particularly original about the menu, but the basic cheese-oozing enchilada plate is pure comfort food. 212 N. Crowdus St., 214-744-6842. $.

Pepe & Mito’s. The vivid walls and bright lights mean this cafe looks noisy even though it’s not usually crowded. It should be-chips worth mentioning (thick, warm, slightly overcooked), cilantro-laced salsa, and standards like nachos and enchiladas are excellent. Tamales are utterly remarkable, and chicken and beef taquitos are still some of the best in town. 2935 Elm St.. 214-741-1901. $.

Tupinamba. Thankfully, nothing changes at Tupinamba. Those 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? 972-991-8148. $-$$.


Al-Amir. The Mediterranean meets the rising sun at AI Amir, which took the place of a Japanese restaurant. The result is an odd. melting-pot ambience. Concentrate on the plate- Middle Eastern expectations are well-met with good renditions of hummus, baba ghanoush, and lamb. But there are also some less well-known dishes to try here. 7402 Greenville Ave.. 214-739-2647. $$.

AH Baba. Order hummus and you get a bowl swirled with the garlicky purée, pooled with yellow olive oil, dusted with parsley and. adorned with slick olives. That and a slack of hot pita could do you. but the grilled chicken is irresistible, and the tabbouleh, mostly chopped parsley with bits of bulgur and tomato, is a perfect counterpoint to the unctuous chickpea mash. 1905 Greenville Ave.. 214-823-8235. $-$$.

D BEST 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 tabbouleh, 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. $$.

Hedary’s. George Hedary is back with a comfortable clone of the Fort Worth original, menu and all, in North Dallas. Order the menu’s maza appetizer and you’ll get a dozen sampler starters. And tiny cups of Lebanese coffee keep you awake on the drive home. 791? Belt Line Rd.. 972-233-1080. $$.


D BEST 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 accompanies a veiled belly dancer in a purple bra who gyrates and finger-cymbales her way around the room. 5207 W. Lovers Ln., 214-357-4104.$$.


Antares. The Hyatt Regency’s sky-high, revolving restaurant appears to be finding its wings at last. Huge sea scallops were sparked with chile-peanut dressing; grilled beefsteak tomatoes and shiitake mushroom caps wore dollops of melted queso fresco in a roasted shallot vinaigrette. Reunion Tower, 300 Reunion Blvd., 214-651-1234. $$$.

D REVISITS Anzu. The Nakamotos spent a considerable number of dollars to aller Anzu’s entrance so its feng shui would be perfectly balanced. We’re not saying that accounts for the consistently balanced flavors in the bento boxes, but maybe it helps. Lunch at this serene, orientally inclined restaurant has always been one of the best deals in town-a beautiful arrangement of tempura and ; sushi or a plate of Asian-influenced fish or chicken, served gracefully, under a flock of origami birds, for less than $10. The Asian influence here is mainly Japanese because the Nakamotos also own one of the best Japanese restaurants around. The chef is inventive, though his imagination shines mostly at night. 4620 McKinney Ave.. 214-526-7398. $$.

Beau Nash. The genteel bustle of a world-class hotel makes dinner at this restaurant seem like a special occasion. Good picks: a portobello tart or moist-hearted Atlantic salmon. Bad pick: a salad of Belgian endive and unforgivably dry and yellow mache. Service throughout is immaculate and thoughtful. Hotel Crescent Court, 2215 Cedar Springs Rd.. 214-871-3240. $$-$$$.

Fog City Diner. The menu here has always been satisfyingly familiar, with enough finesse and invention to make you feel like you’ve dined, not merely fed. Service is smooth, and the salmon, bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is particularly good-each element actually excellent, and the sum superlative. 2401 McKinney Ave.. 214-220-2401. $$.

Gershwin’s. Pretty people, pretty food, pretty prices set the scene for power lunching in this California-influenced Upper Greenville emporium, where on-track careerists linger over creative fare noontimes and gather after work to share single malts, tall foods, and to people-watch. An outstanding wine list. too. 8442 Walnut Hill Ln., 214-373-7171. $$-$$$.

Going Gourmet. This place is a delicious blend of French bistro and neighborhood favorite: small, intimate, humming with conversation. The food’s a creative melange of Continental, Mediterranean, and New American influences, and the wine you bring yourself. Call for reservations-this tiny space is packed on any given evening. 4345 W. Northwest Hwy. at Midway Road. 214-350-6135. $$-$$$.

Landmark Restaurant. Landmark’s menu may make you wish for an atlas and a thesaurus to find your way around, but if you’ll close your eyes, forget about the origin of your vegetables, and eat them, you’ll have a great trip. The New American food here, under the direction of Jim Anile, is ultra-imaginative, if highly complicated. And the gently refurbished room remains one of the most gracious in town. In the Melrose, 3015 Oak Lawn Ave,. 214-521-5151.$$-$$$-

Laurels, Rising star executive chef and general manager Danielle Custer brings her cutting-edge cuisine to Sheraton Park Central’s 20th floor. Incomprehensible dishes like pear soup with plum wine crème fraiche don’t make sense until you put them in your mouth. You have to trust Custer: She thinks with her palate and the results are brilliant. Sheraton Park Central. 12720 Merit Dr., 972-385-3000. $$$.

The Mansion on Turtle Creek. This isn’t dinner, it’s a dining experience. A dramatic, country club-like, members-only dining experience. The Grande Dame of Dallas dining lives up to its legend-the atmosphere is inimitably posh. the food is predictably innovative. The price? If you have to ask. you can’t afford it. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd.. 214-526-2121,$$$.

The Mercury. This New American grill in Preston Forest tries a little too hard: The sleek interior, designer-dim lighting, and jazzy soundtrack all seem a little too Manhattan. The service, though, is enthusiastic and professional beyond expectation. Bui there is a gap between the food promised by the menu and the dishes delivered. Tuna at lunch is nicely cooked but the pappardelle with roasted chicken tastes like leftovers. 1991 Forest Ln. Ste. 1418,972-960-7774.$$-$$$.

Nana Grill. The new menu broadens Nana’s focus from Southwestern to Regional American. 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. $$S.

Natchez. This restaurant is low-key and upbeat at the same time. Warm ambience and service convey the feel of a comfortable neighborhood gathering place with a short but sophisticated Southern-rooted bill of fare. Grilled pork loin in créole mustard sauce is subtly terrific, and huge sea scallops are pure delight. 2810N. Henderson Ave., 214-821-4552. $$.

Seventeen Seventeen. Artful dining at the Dallas Museum of Art is a definitive Dallas experience. Chef George Brown creates abstract expressionist plates of food, inspired by cuisines from all over the world-the best seem to be those inspired by the orient. Don’t skip without tasting one of the fantasy desserts, dreamed up by pastry chef Katie Brown. 1717 N. Harwood St., 214-880-0158. $$-$$$.

Sevy’s. The thoroughly American Prairie-style interior perfectly complements chef-owner Jim Severson’s hearty American cuisine. The plates here present classic ideas with imaginative updates. The menu is varied but beef is a reliable choice-the tenderloin is slightly hickory smoked. The marinated mushroom appetizer is the best portobello in town. 8201 Preston Rd., 214-265-7389. $$.


AquaKnox. Stephan Pyles’ swanky seafood spot has commanded national attention, and the swell decor and meticulous food mostly merit it. Luscious red snapper in red curry masa is an example of the global approach to seafood. The rich and the wannabes are sipping bright blue Aquatinis in the elegant lounge, eating from a simpler menu that includes platters of fresh shrimp, oysters, clams, and small-plate versions of the dinner entrées, an excellent option for those who want a taste of the high life without the high tab. 3214 Knox St., 214-219-2782.$$$.

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. 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. 214-526-1170. $$-$$$.

Daddy Jack’s. Chef Jack Chaplin’s liny restaurant with its casual, cozy atmosphere is perfect for a date or for breezing in after a day at the lake. But forget about 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 is worth every penny. 1916 Greenville Ave., 214-826-4910. $$.

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 com. 2723 Elm St., 214-653-3949. $$.

Fish. This elegant downtown spot got very hot very fast, and it may have gone to their heads. Not only have we seen inconsistencies in the food, but service has been snooty. When they’re on. the acclaimed Green Soup-a shallow bowl piled high with shells, legs, and tails protruding recklessly from a broth-is divine. Late-night menu from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. 302 S. Houston St., 214-747-3474. $$-$$$.

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 corn for $10.95. 4021 Bell Line Rd., Addison, 972-774-9518. $S.

D BEST Lombardi Mare . Don’t be put off by the nondescripi exterior; the interior is a mind-blower. Lighting fixtures designed to appear like a school of fish swim across the ceiling. 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. $$.

D REVISITS Mainstream Fish House. The evening started with great promise. Our waiter, who was way too happy, recited the enticing chef’s specials and reminded us that we have the option to mix and match types of seafood with different sauces. Grilled swordfish with spicy tomatillo sauce or fried catfish with housemade tartar sauce. But then we hit troubled waters. The New Orleans Bread Pot appetizer-round bread gutted and filled with Cajun butter-bar-becued shrimp-never arrived. Grilled sword-fish was fresh, but overcooked and rubbery. The enough-for-two portion of leek- and basilcrusted trout on a mound of rice pilaf was tasty, but a tad soggy. Unfortunately, on the night we visited, the recent opening of their second location in Turtle Creek Village robbed the kitchen of head chef Jim Olson. Maybe by the time this review hits the stands, they will be back to serving quality seafood at reasonable prices. Unless you order a few too many chardonnays at $6.50 a glass. Preston Forest Shopping Center, 11661 Preston Rd., Ste. 153, 214-739-3474.$$.

Newport’s. Some of the freshest seafood you’ll rind in land-locked North Texas. Choose from mesquite-grilled fish, seared, blackened, or fried seafood, and sautéed 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. $$.

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.$$.

D REVISITS Sea Grill. Mall sprawl makes this Piano oasis hard to find, which would make its unflagging popularity hard to explain if Chef Andy Tun’s highly creative takes on seafood were not so arresting. Dip a half-dozen raw oysters (farm-raised, utterly fresh on their half-shells) in Tun’s tangy grapefruit-horseradish sauce, and you’ll wonder why you ever overwhelmed such delicacy with ketchup. And your fork’s own weight slides through the barely seared jumbo sea scallop or a moist-hearted cut of grilled tuna. Even unreconstructed urbanités will find this clubby enclave worth whatever effort it takes to get there, including a call ahead for directions. 2205 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 180, Piano. 972-509-5542. $$,

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. They come in four sizes, and they’re ruinously expensive. Truluck’s showcases an attentiveness 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.$$-$$$,


Flying Burro. The Burro’s brand of Mexican food isn’t purely New Mexican-there’s more meat and cheese richness on this menu than most New Mexicans (except those from California) can afford to relish. Enchiladas are slacked and come lopped with an egg. 2831 Greenville Ave., 214-827-2112.$.

No Place, Tender elk sirloin and boneless rabbit are sided with sautéed portobello mushrooms and onions. Better-than-beef chicken-fried venison comes with Matt’s famous smoked mashed potatoes. The food is why Matt Martinez Jr. is a legend-in his own neighborhood, anyway. 6325 La Vista Dr., 214-328-9078. $$-$$S.

D BEST Star Canyon. Chef owner Stephan Pyles has created a Dallas destination with his innovative New Texas Cuisine. An appetizer of fried green tomatoes stacked high with layers of Dallas-made mozzarella is a rare case of tall food tasting as good as it looks. And the bone-in cowboy ribeye on a bed of pinto beans and covered with a mound of shoestring onion rings dusted with red chile should be listed in Fodor’s under Dallas’ top attractions. 3102 Oak Lawn Ave.. 214-520-7827. $$.

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 corn cake, a vast flapjack concealing nuggets of crab, shrimp, oysters, and com kernels. Entrées range from basic steaks to turkey, catfish, shrimp, and the Muy Grande Tex-Mex Platter. 702 Ross Ave., 214-744-3287. $-$$.


Barcelona. Tapas in Spain, of course, are Spanish food. Greenville Avenue is global. So Barcelona serves snack food from all over the world, such as chicken satay, mezes, and tab-bouleh, as well as the stacked potato omelet that is the quintessential Spanish tapa and the buffalo burger-juicy and lean on a toasted roll. 2100 Greenville Ave., 214-826-8600. $.

Cafe Madrid. Dallas’ first tapas cafe is as tiny a place as the tapas. And besides the two dozen or so tapas always available, a daily changing blackboard lists many more, including everything from potato omelet to wine-poached rabbit to blood sausage. That last is a near-religious experience. 4501 Travis St.. 214-528-1731. $$.

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, is a standout. Entrées 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. $$.


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 the appropriate price. 4300 Lemmon Ave., 214-528-9446. $$-$$$.

D BEST Chamberlain’s Prime Chop House. Prime rib and a trimmed-to-lean ribeye are robustly rare and complemented with garlic mashed potatoes. Figure in service that is, 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. $$-$$$.

Kirby’s Steakhouse. Unlike the in-town reincarnation of the 1950s original, this vast place has Piano-style prosperity written all over it- upscale splendor with a midscale attitude. The menu’s the same, though-mostly steaks, with the usual few seafood and fowl entrees, plus starters and a list of à la carte sides. 3408 Preston Rd.. Piano, 972-867-2122; 3525 Greenville Ave., 214-821-2122. $$.

Paul’s Porterhouse. Devoted fans of this Restaurant Row 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 choices are 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, Vic-torian home-cum-restaurant can make you feel like you’re having dinner at a friend’s. Bui your friends never served steaks like these. Graded prime and cut by hand, these beauties are rich and buttery. Ten seafood selections offer plenty of alternate choices. 7026 Main St.. Frisco, 972-335-3066.$$-$$$.

Stone Trail Steakhouse. Lavish decor, live music for late dancing, an upscale menu and wine list mark this sprawling steak spread as the brainchild of restaurateur Tony Taher-zadeh, former owner of Farfallo and Papillon. A clubby ambience and prescient service support terrific beef treatments (try the bone-in ribeye); seafood and other meats provide variety. Dinner only. 14833 Midway Rd., 972-701-9600.$$$.


Chow Thai. A strip shopping center doesn’t seem a likely spot for a Thai food epiphany, but you’ll have one here. Excellent Thai classics like vegetables in a fiery green curry and pad Thai taste clean and light. A dessert of fresh mango atop sticky rice is a spectacular ending. 5290 Beltline Rd. at Montfort Drive, Addison. 972-960-2999. $$.

Royal Thai. Furnished with ornate Thai antiques and traditional arts, Royal Thai is a pleasantly upscale change from the starkly serviceable interiors of so many Thai restaurants. Chicken packets are wrapped in tenderizing banana leaves. Curries are fragrant and benefit from their presentation under a little domed top. In Old Town, 5500 Greenville Ave., 214-691-3555.$-$$.

Toy’s Cafe. This hole-in-the-wall joint has all the elements of a great neighborhood “find.” The tantalizing aroma of curry and garlic is welcoming. Thai iced tea is a hit; eggplant and tofu in a Thai green curry coconut milk is perfectly prepared. Fresh squid salad with Thai herbs is fresh and tasty. 4422-B Lemmon Ave., 214-528-7233.$.


Mai’s. Mai’s is one of those places that has lots of loyal customers. The menu is stocked with authentic Vietnamese specialties, including lots of noodle and rice entrées and the classic hot pots: exotic meats, vegetables, and spices cooked and served in clay pots. Be sure and try the legendary Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk. 4812 Bryan St., 214-826-9887.$.

Mai’s Oriental Cuisine. The Vietnamese menu is the one to go for. Proprietor Mai Pham opened the first Vietnamese restaurant in Dallas, and her food is still terrific at her little restaurant in Snider Plaza. The hot pots are especially good-“hot chic” is the regulars’ favorite. 6912 Snider Plaza, 214-361-8220. $-$$.

Saigon Bistro. Authentic Vietnamese food translated into English. Saigon Bistro aims for the authenticity of a point-and-order Vietnamese restaurant, without the risk. The menu lets you know what to expect, and this is one of the only places in town that serves “festive beef.” a special occasion dinner in Vietnam- one you shouldn’t miss. 17390 Preston Rd.. Ste. 490, 972-380-2766. $-$$.


Angelo’s Barbecue. The Fort Worth landmark is one of the bookends of Dallas-Fort Worth area barbecue, its Dallas counterpart being the original Sonny Bryan’s. Famous for fabulous ribs smoked so tender the meat falls off the bone at the slightest nudge from the incisors, which are properly enjoyed with a couple of Shiners. 2533 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth, 817-332-0357.$.

Angeluna. Come to see and be seen, but not heard. The food somewhat redeems the jack-hammer decibel levels. The “one-world-cuisine” features multicultural dishes with arty presentations. Don’t miss Joe’s Shrimp Pae-sano-lightly breaded jumbo prawns sautéed in vodka-lemon butter. Skip the goat’s milk ice cream and splurge on the Key lime tart. 215 E. 4th St., Fort Worth, 817-334-0080. $$.

Benito’s. Like an old familiar 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 flamed tableside and served with fresh pico de gallo and hot flour or corn tortillas. Order it first and then spend some time with the menu-everything on it is worth trying. 1450W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-332-8633. $$.

Bistro Louise. This gem of a bistro offers takeout now, but the staff seems curiously challenged by the idea. The famed smoked duck and stuffed lamb loin travel well, but even delicate reheating of an appetizer of Brie roasted in pastry petals fails to restore it. Savored in the sunny bistro, the cuisine works Mediterranean magic. Enjoy it there as often as possible. 2900 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth, 817-922-9244.$$.

Cacharel. With country French decor, this fixed-price ($34.50) refuge easily tops Arlington’s dining scene, such as it is, with its ninth-floor business building location as well as its New French cuisine. 2221 E. Lamar Blvd., Ste. 910. Metro 817-640-9981. $$$.

Cattlemen’s Steak House. Fort Worth ate cattle before cattle was cool, and Cattlemen’s is still the quintessential stockyard steakhouse. There’s not much but beef accompanied by rolls, potatoes, and iceberg lettuce salad, but the atmosphere is genuine cowboy. 2458 N. Main St.. 817-624-3945. $$-$$$.

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. $.

Forest Park Cafe. A Franco-Texan neighborhood bistro atmosphere with a slightly quaint menu that features crepes and patés, as well as simple sandwiches and handmade vegetable ravioli with roasted tomato sauce. Stellar Saturday and Sunday brunches have become a West Side tradition. 2418 Forest Park Blvd., 817-921-4567.$,

Joe T. Gardas Esperanza’s Mexican Bakery. Although not as fancy as its cousin around the corner, 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 St.. Fort Worth, 817-626-5770.$$.

D BEST Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Dishes. The quintessential Fori Worth restau’ rant. Its location near the Stockyards is a rambling plantation that can handle the crowds for whom the restaurant’s status hovers somewhere between “institution” and “nirvana.” Wait for a spot outside by the pool and order the enchiladas. Joe doesn’t do credit cards or reservations, either. 2201 N. Commerce St., Fort Worth, 817-626-4356. $$.

Piccolo Mondo. This neighborhood Italian restaurant is a suburban strip-mall surprise. It features an elegant, parquet-floored piano bar, a white tablecloth dining room, and service to match the basic Italian fare-heavy pastas, variations of veal scaloppine. If you want imagination, look to the specials. 829 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, 817-265-9174. $-$$.

D BEST Reata. The flavors purveyed (upscale, ranch contemporary) are 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., Fort Worth, 817-336-1009. $$-$$$.

Reflections. Surely among the most gracefully romantic dining settings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Worthington Hotel’s flagship restaurant in downtown Fort Worth offers a refined escape from high-decibel stress. Intuitive service and avant bill of fare live up to the ambience. Delicate pan-seared foie gras with sautéed apples and grilled, whiskey-sauced ostrich medallions with red lentil risotto are representative of the kitchen’s inventions. 200 Main St., Fort Worth. 817-882-1660 or 800-433-5677. $$$.

Saint Emilion. Some are surprised to see (his 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. $$$.

Sundance Deli & Market There’s no better spot in Sundance Square for a casual, imaginative meal. Basics include sandwiches, salads, breakfast, gourmet coffees, and homemade desserts. This is the rare restaurant that’s quick enough for just a bite, but whose smart decor, great coffee, and excellent food make it perfect for lingering. 353 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth, 817-335-3354. $.

Water Street Seafood Company. Although Fort Worth is 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 entrées that would make a coastal restaurant proud. 1540 S, University Dr., Ste. 120, Fort Worth, 817-877-3474. $$.

Piece of Cake

Construction on Central Expressway is a major obstacle between you and a slice of cake at the Sample Mouse Soup Shop, but once you make your way through the orange barricades at Willow Creek Shopping Center, the cake seems ample reward: baked fresh daily, the flavors varying according to the baker’s mood, $2.95 a serving. That’s not to say that the soup isn’t fine.

Sample House, 9825 N. Central Expwy., 214-369-5148

Cream of the Crop

Holly Forbes, chef at GourmetDallas, was one of eight chefs chosen from 1,800 applicants to study with food guru Madeleine Kamman, the sharper-tongued counterpoint to Julia Child, at the School for American Chefs at Beringer Vineyards in California. A jump-start for experienced chefs and one of the most coveted courses a cook can take, this chance to study with the acknowledged master-mistress?-is a once-in-a-lifetime experience according to Chef Forbes, who adds, “I could tell you I learned how to poach chicken in bag. But really I learned the most about myself.”

GourmetDallas, 972-484-4954

Toast of Downtown

Finally, there’s a place to get a drink downtown. The Gold Bar, located in the newly renovated Titche-Goettinger building, is the canary of new downtown Dallas, the gold-brocaded harbinger of what downtown boosters and investors hope will be a lively street scene of bustling businesses and restaurants. The plan is to emphasize cheese, caviar, and champagne-here’s to its success.

The Gold Bar, 1900 Elm St, 214-747-4653

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