Restaurant Reviews

Beau Nash

Now that you’ve changed the pastry chef, please don’t change another thing. We love Beau Nash, and even though It’s no spring chicken by Dallas standards, it doesn’t need any facelifts. The beautiful dining room Is aging gracefully, and the light-sparkled, romantic Conservatory at night remains one of the delights of Dallas dining, although the service can be a tad too leisurely. Our snapper was slightly overcooked, but the cheese grits were great. The Cobb salad and smoked chicken corn chowder still win Best of Kind. And the dessert was a dream-something like a deluxe ice cream sandwich, a rich pillow of mocha mousse sandwiched between two dark chocolate cake slices. Hotel Crescent Court, 2215 Cedar Springs Rd., 214-871-3240. $$-$$$.

NEWCOMERS



TEXAS DE BRAZIL

Oh, let’s not go to a steakhouse again-let’s go to a churrascaria instead.

Because we’re so beef-weary, we decided to regard this new Brazilian churrascaria as an alternative to the multitude of meat palaces that have opened in Dallas in the past yean It’s a stretch: Texas de Brazil serves mostly meat and potatoes, but they ’ re masked as exotic dining. And these days we’re delighted to be fooled by anything more novel than a sirloin strip and a wedge salad, relieved by any break from the straightforward steakhouse.

For instance, we could see as soon as we walked in that Texas de Brazil doesn’t have a cigar room, and we were thrilled about that deviation from the usual steakhouse formula. And instead of triple-digit bottles from a gargantuan wine room, everyone was ordering Caipirinhas-a cocktail made of cachaca (sugarcane liquor similar to rum but stronger), crushed ice, and fresh lime, muddled with extra fine sugar. We think of it as a Brazilian mint julep, arid if that sounds confusing, please remember: this is a Texan Brazilian steakhouse run by a Lebanese guy. We feel perfectly justified about mixing any metaphor we want.

The leftover Italian ambience (previous tenants were Coco Pazzo and Sfuzzi) has been neutralized, but it wasn’t exactly replaced with anything that evokes Texas. Or Brazil. The main color used to accent the attractive wood interior is a deep blue. You could only call it, well, Mediterranean. The only real reference to Texas at Texas de Brazil is the switch from gaucho to cowboy-the waiters wear blue jeans instead of pantalones.

No need for menus here-it’s one price fits all; we were handed a round card, red on one side for “Nao Obrigado” (“No, thank you”) and green on the other for “Sim Por Favor” (“Yes, please”). Don’t fiddle with it because once you turn it green side up-even inadvertently-the onslaught begins. Hold still. The scene around your table looks like something from The Three Musketeers, with skewer-swagging waiters slicing varied cuts of slow-roasted meat from their swords right onto your plate. Our waiter recited the types of beef at the speed of sound, and then it was a feeding frenzy for carnivores-filet, pican-ha, rack of lamb, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, pork loin, all kinds and cuts from top-of-the-food-chain protein. The meats were extremely flavorful, and the sides were extremely boring-mashed potatoes with a consistency close to instant and baked bananas that may have tasted okay but were almost too ugly to eat.

Fearing we would dream of waiters bombarding us with meat like a slasher film, we flipped our card back to red and took a look at the salad bar-a huge table with 30 hefty items besides salad, including dishes that looked like dinner to us-tabbouleh and marinated mushrooms, and the required feijoada (the national dish of Brazil). Back at the table with our PC plates, we were approached by a few guys still trying to sell us meat, but they backed off at the sight of the red card.

We forced down the papaya creme for dessert because it’s an enzyme drink supposed to ease our digestion of the meat, though we slept like pythons. Texas de Brazil, 15101 Addison Rd., 972-385-1000. $$$.



PURPLE COW

The decibel level in this ’50s-style burger-and-shake diner can get pretty scary, and we were raised in the ear-drum-busting ’60s. It’s a soccer scene-moms and teams gather here for after-practice and post-game snacks. But kids are people, too, and they need someplace to unwind and sugar load after a hard day at St. Mark’s or Ursuline. Actually, the quietest spot is at the U-shaped glass block counter on swivel stools. To add to the confusion there’s also a Seebring Matador jukeboxful of 45’s featuring the Ventures and the Suprêmes.

It’s not often we commit culinary heresy- we know what’s good, and our opinion doesn’t change-but the milkshakes and malts at Purple Cow rank right up there with those at Highland Park Pharmacy. We know-that sounds like saying that George Zimmer of the Men’s Wearhouse stacks up to Stanley Marcus. But after all, you don’t have the option of an amaretto shot in your shake at the Pharmacy-and when you’re surrounded by rocking soccer teams, it’s an especially good idea.

Purple Cow uses Blue Bell ice cream and features 10 flavors of milkshakes, including the signature Purple Cow (made with custom-colored Blue Bell-do not try this at home) and the Peanut Butter and Jelly. We assume you have to he under 15 to appreciate that one and are thankful we’re safe in our 40s.

It’s burger fare here, but there are other kinds of comfort food. We started with a homemade chicken soup filled with chunks of tender chicken and fresh vegetables. In fact, we found the basic cheeseburger-the mainstay of any soda shop-to he our least favorite of everything we tried. Ordered medium, the first one delivered was charred to the consistency of a worn shoe. We sent it back, and the second patty was well-done. At this rate, it was going to take a couple more tries before the kitchen reached our preference, so we settled. The Blue-Cheeseburger was a great variation, dripping with rich, creamy blue cheese. Most of the sides we tried-onion rings, fries, cheese sticks- were passable, but nothing special.

The reason we’ll go back to the Purple Cow (with ear plugs) is the grilled Palm Beach- a hot pimiento cheese sandwich that oozed chops were from Colorado-they came globally served with psychedelically purple Peruvian potatoes, and the bones had been scraped white so that-technically- you could eat them with your fingers, dipping them into a rosemary balsamic syrup. We couldn’t pass up the bone-in filet because we don’t see it anymore; most people don’t know tenderloin ever had a bone-But the bone gives this cut flavor, and the truffled mashed potatoes and cubed root vegetables sautéed together made a plate that satisfied all senses.

A lower of chocolate stuffed with white chocolate cheesecake took second place to The Perfect Dessert: a satiny sphere of white chocolate split and filled with fresh blueberries and raspberries sliding around in a pool of crème Anglaise. In an era of post-modern, over-wrought architectural desserts, this is the Guggenheim Bilbao, the culmination, the destination dessert.

There are no references to the old Chapparal Club in the new Chapparal Club, but if this is the way they’re going, we’ll go with them. Sink into the leather seats in the bar and listen to David Williams playing a jazzy version of “Cheek to Cheek”-some pleasures never age. Chapparal Club, Adam’s Mark Hotel, 400 N. Olive St., 214-922-8000. $$$.

chops were from Colorado-they came globally served with psychedelically purple Peruvian potatoes, and the bones had been scraped white so that-technically- you could eat them with your fingers, dipping them into a rosemary balsamic syrup. We couldn’t pass up the bone-in filet because we don’t see it anymore; most people don’t know tenderloin ever had a bone-But the bone gives this cut flavor, and the truffled mashed potatoes and cubed root vegetables sautéed together made a plate that satisfied all senses.

A lower of chocolate stuffed with white chocolate cheesecake took second place to The Perfect Dessert: a satiny sphere of white chocolate split and filled with fresh blueberries and raspberries sliding around in a pool of crème Anglaise. In an era of post-modern, over-wrought architectural desserts, this is the Guggenheim Bilbao, the culmination, the destination dessert.

There are no references to the old Chapparal Club in the new Chapparal Club, but if this is the way they’re going, we’ll go with them. Sink into the leather seats in the bar and listen to David Williams playing a jazzy version of “Cheek to Cheek”-some pleasures never age. Chapparal Club, Adam’s Mark Hotel, 400 N. Olive St., 214-922-8000. $$$.

BARBECUE

Peggy Sue 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. $.



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 the standard by which all other Dallas barbecue is judged. For the classic barbecue experience, return to the original Inwood Road joint, sit on the hood of your car, and gnaw on tender smoked ribs, chopped beef, and giant onion rings. 2202 Inwood Rd., 214-357-7120; multiple locations. $.



BAKERY/SANDWICHES

Corner Bakery. Dallas has a number of excellent bakeries now, but the Comer Bakery holds its own. Country loaves are crusty, and the sweet stuff is all excellent. And the Bakery has a cafe side, serving pizza, tomato-sauced pasta, and sandwiches. 13350 N. Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 2443, 972-934-7001 ; multiple locations. $.



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 focaccia, and Caesar salads. 4203 Lindberg Dr.. Addison, 972-934-8730. $.



BREW PUBS

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 wienerschnitzel; roasted pork tenderloin fares better. 3011 Routh St., 214-922-8835.$$.



BURGERS

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, all-beef hot dog split and served open-faced, covered with grilled onions, chili, and cheese-is truly fantastic and a bargain at $4.50. For serious beer drinkers, there are 120 beers to choose from. 2726 Commerce St., 214-741-4406.$.



Chip’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers. Perhaps Dallas’ best rendition of the ail-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 onion rings, rich pig sandwich, and hot dogs are just lagniappe. 4501 Cole Ave., 214-526-1092; 4530 Lovers Ln., 214-691-2447. $.



The Prince of Hamburgers. The crispy-edged, toasty bun, the slim but beefy-tasting, just-cooked patty, and the simple but fresh garnitures combine to make die quintessential American sandwich. Prince sticks to the classic accompaniments: thick shakes, incredibly frosty root beer, fries, and fabulous onion rings, all brought to you by a real live person. 5200 LemmonAve..214-526-9081.$.



Snuffer’s. The 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, covered in gloriously greasy cheese), because you can’t last long if you eat this way often. 3526 Greenville Ave., 214-826-6850; 149]0 Midway Rd., Addison. 972-991-8811.$.

CAJUN/CREOLE

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.$.



Margaux’s. Cafe Margaux owner Kay Agnew has reopened yet again, in a smaller space wearing a suitably shorter name and with a menu that includes lunch on 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. $$.



CHINESE

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,$-$$.



Hay Dragon. An inscrutable strip center location belies one of the city’s best Chinese restaurants. Stay away from the neon sweet and sour stuff, and you’ll be happy. 4848 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-392-9998, $$.



New Big Wong. Large lunches are served here in fast-food 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.. 2)4-821-4198,$.



Szechwan Pavilion. One of the top Chinese restaurants in a city with far too few to choose from. Service here is smooth, and the usual Szechuan specialties are good. Pot stickers rilled with juicy pork and a whole crispy fish are worth waiting for. 8409 Preston Rd., 214-368-4303. $$.



Uncle Chow. The menu might be small, but 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. $.

Uncle Tai’s Hunan Yuan. Not much has changed here over the last 15 years. Bow-tie clad waiters still formally dish out classic hot Hunan specialties tableside. Past favorites still shine, including the Crispy Beef with broccoli sizzling in spicy orange sauce and Uncle Tai’s Chicken flamed with jalapenos lightly coated with black bean sauce served on a bed of slightly wilted watercress. In the Galleria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy. at LBJ, 972-934-9998. $$.



COFFEEHOUS

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. $.



Cosmic Cup. The counterculture’s barely made a dent in the Dallas psyche, a fact that makes Cosmic Cup almost a tourist attraction here. In other cities, there are whole neighborhoods lined with places like this. Most of the food is India-inspired, which makes vegetarian an easy philosophy-samosas, dal, curry. Good, and good for the soul. 2912 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-521-6157.$.



DELI

Deli News. This plainly authentic deli has continued to demonstrate that 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. 4805 Frankford, 972-733-3354. $-$$.



Gilbert’s. All you Yankees pining for the comforts of the Carnegie Deli, stop whining. The Gilbert family enters their 11th year of dishing oui potato knishes, stuffed derma, and kasha vamishkas 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.$.



EASTERN EUROPEAN

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. $$.



ECLECTIC

D BEST Bistro A. Peripatetic chef Avner Samuel’s latest venture is his best yet, and better yet, Bistro A looks like it’s going to be around awhile. It’s made sleepy Snider Plaza a destination, drawing well-heeled diners in for stylish fare that’s beautifully presented. Dishes with Middle Eastern influences are especially good, but the chef does equally well with simple steak fries, and casserole-roasted chicken could be the best bird in town. 6815 Snider Plaza, 214-373-9911. $$-$$$.



Bread Winners. Three different menus a day are all imaginative. But the buttermilk pan-fried chicken breast with mashed potatoes and cream gravy is die real winner-lightly battered and fried fork-tender chicken over leek mashed potatoes and cream gravy so good it makes the bland bread better. 3301 McKinney Ave., 214-754-4940.$-$$.



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 appropriate for the Dream Cafe’s menu, though there are those who insist that “dream” refers to the often seemingly somnolent service. The 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. $$.



Firehouse. Maybe chef Bruno Mello-the inspiration behind Firehouse-has stretched himself too thin with side ventures, or maybe he’s just tired. Whatever the case, the food here has slipped a bit. The Sicilian Firehouse chicken is a fire-eaters dream when it’s not drowning in habanero sauce. Great appetizers include a whole roasted onion rilled with spicy garlic and eggplant dip. 1928 Greenville Ave., 214-826-2468. $$-$$$.



D BEST The Grape. The secret is that 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 ’n’ roll. The contrast between them is cool. At $36, me fixed-price, four-course, “Feed Me” menu is the best deal in town. 2715 Elm St., 214-748-ROOM. $$.



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. $$.



Simply Fondue. You choose one kind of cheese for your first stick-and-dip course, and the waiter does a cooking show for you tableside, mixing white wine, cheese, and a little mustard in the fondue pot. For the main course you can choose to cook in hot oil or hot broth; for dessert it’s dark or milk chocolate. It seems like an awful lot of work for a meal you’re paying someone else to cook. And not so simple. 2108 Greenville Ave., 214-827-8878. $$$.



St Pete’s Dancing Marlin. 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.$.

D BEST 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 if under-financed. The food goes back to the basics of Italian and Spanish cuisine, served tapas-style. The take on traditional osso buco, based on a rich, gamy lamb shank instead of weal, is food you lust after. 3611 Parry Ave.. 214-821-2224. Dinner only. $$.



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



FRENCH/CONTINENTAL

Addison Cafe. It’s called “Le French Bistro,” but in reality, Addison Cafe is a restaurant serving classically prepared French and New American dishes, which has kept them in business for 14 years, Tournedos of beef are cooked medium-rare and served in a textbook bordelaise sauce, A thick slab of fennel-crusted sea bass sea-soned with kalamata olives is poached to perfection. And dark chocolate mousse is worth every hip-hugging calorie. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 108 at Montfort Dr., Addison. 972-991-8824. $$.



D BEST Barclays. Don’t come to Barclays expecting to find a lint of bitters and bangers and mash. This is upper-crust English fare with a European wist. 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. $$-$$$.



Clair De Lune. Tucked behind some trees in the corner of a small strip of shops in Preston Royal, this cozy French country restaurant delights with delicious food and impeccable service. A classic house-made pork paté is served with diced onion, French cornichons. and mustard. Poitrine de canard, a splendidly moist duck breast, is served with a delicate port vine sauce. 5934 Royal Ln. at Preston Road. 214-987-2028.$$.



French Room. This is the prettiest dining room in Dallas. The rococo-style, cherub-flown ceil-ing, 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.$$$.



D BEST 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. but 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.$$-$$$.



Lavendou. Despite the fact that our waiter didn’t know’ the difference between smooth and coarse paté, someone in the kitchen cooks with a French accent. Delicious French specialties come garnished a la Francaise within an inch of their life: For instance, a tender tilapia came tucked into a tutu-like frill of purple kale, decorated with two swishes and a swirl of orange red-pepper sauce. 19009 Preston Rd., 972-248-1911.$$-$$$.



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. $$$.



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. $$.



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 eso-terica 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. 2719 McKinney Ave., 214-720-0323. $$.

GOURMET TO GO

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 filled with prepared meals (veal meatloaf, 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., Plano, 972-818-1177.$-$$.



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



Izmir Deli. Dallas’ new fascination with Middle Eastern food means there have been long lines at Cafe Izmir since it opened. You can avoid those crowds now by ordering in from the Izmir to go. just down Greenville from the original cafe. Gyros, tenderloin, mozzarella, grilled vegetable, and chicken sandwiches, pita, hummus, couscous, and eggplant dip are all available for pick-up or phone-in orders. And this is the place to go if you need rosewa-ter at 9 p.m. 3607 Greenville Ave.. 214-824-8484.$-$$.

Marty’s Cafe TuGogh Marty’s latest version of its wine bar has changed everything but the name. And the food-there was never a problem with thai. At night, when [he blond, tight-filled Cafe TuGogh features full (able service, it’s on its way to becoming one of the best lin le bistros in town. 3316 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-326-4070. S-$$.



GREEK

Kostas Cafe. The food is simply Greek and simply good. Appetizer do’s: saganaki and dolmas (musts, really). Entree don’t: souvlaki (tough and chewy). 4914 Greenville Ave.. 214-987-3225. $$.



D BEST Ziziki’s. You can hardly get a prime-time table at this contemporary Greek cafe, and they don’t take reservations, except for large parties. But the herbed lamb souvlaki, folded in thick warm pita and sauced with tart yogurt, is worth a wait. Ziziki’s menu has featured the same idiosyncratic version of Mediterranean food since it opened-it’s a good thing when some things don’t change. 4514 Travis St., Ste. 122, 214-521-2233.$$.



HOME COOKING

DC’s Cafe. You’ve been in powder rooms bigger than this super-clean little place, but you’ve had home cooking this fine 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 we’ve never seen the room empty ol’ patrons. K224 Park Ln., 214-363-4348. $.



Mecca. The place is sunny, cheerfully decorated with flowers in Spam and Manwich cans. The pro waitresses keep the coffee cups filled and call the customers “hon.” Ridiculously large plates of banana pancakes, thick-cut bacon, eggs over easy, great big biscuits, and reassuring hash browns, served at an appropriate morning pace, add up to an eye-blinkingly low tab. Good morning. 10422 Harry Hines, 214-352-0051.$.



INDIAN

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 seems to be a time not to try very hard. 2508 Maple Ave., 214-871-1333.$-$$.

India Palace. Delicate spices imbue truly fine Indian cuisine. And, similar to a fine perfume, too much is an assault on the senses, loo 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. $-$$.



ITALIAN

Angelo’s Italian Grill. When you think of classic Italian favorites, what triggers your Pavlovian response? Lasagna? Spaghetti? Scampi? Chicken parmesan? Pizza? This homey place has it all. Each meal comes with a Caesar salad and out-of-the-oven garlic rolls. The wine list is extensive, even by the glass. 6341 La Vista Dr., 214-823-5566.$.



Arcodoro. The bar’s always loud and crowded, and if you wan! to pick up pizza instead of peo-pie, you’ll he an anomaly here. It’s too bad because the food is quite good. The salads are nicely dressed, the pizzas are thin with big bubbling brown crusts, and the special, a pork chop with sage, is good, too. The only problem is. the prices seem steep for bar food. And that’s what Arcodoro feels like. 2520 Cedar Springs, 214-871-1924. $$-$$$.



Cafe Cipriani. This is one of the best Italian restaurants in town. Owner Salvino Zannetti doesn’t compromise on his ingredients; he orders his cheese from a deli in New York-as close to Italy as you can gel in Dallas. And the lasagna is the real standout-layers of homemade noodles, with just enough ground veal to give the dish substance without making il too heavy. 220 Las Colinas Blvd., Irving. 972-869-0713. $$.



Campisi’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 has for decades. Cash or check only. 5610 E. Mockingbird Ln., 214-827-0355. $.



lam’s. The menu is priced per portion and per “la familia,” And it’s thoroughly Italian in that a “la familia” platter is plenty for a family, including parents, several children, and grandparents. Vitello Pugliese, for example, is thickly breaded slices of veal, smothered in tomato sauce allegedly enriched with goat cheese and loaded with purple kalamata olives. 250 Spanish Village, 972-866-0888. $$.



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 tall windows is i 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 hip-per-than-hip rooms are rilled 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 waiters expertly deboning the tender Dover sole for savvy diners. Our only complaint: The noise level can gel pretty high. 14854 Montfort Dr.. 972-934-8424. $$.

D BEST Modo Mio. Here is a labor of love restaurant that has overcome the obstacle of doing business in an ugly strip mall by serving some of the best Italian food in town. Chef/owner Rino Brigliadori turns oui deliciously plump gnocchi lightly coated in tomato sauce, and his .simple seafood specials are always perfectly prepared. 18352 Dallas Pkwy?Ste. U2,972-671-MODO.$$.



Ruggeri’s. It could be that success at its newer Addison spinoff has cost the Uptown original ils 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 not 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 that 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. $$.



JAPANESE

Chaya. Cold beer and warm, salted edamame- so much better than pretzels-will make you happy to start. Sushi is consistently good, even the beginner sushi rolls: Rich salmon skin centers contrast nicely with the very sticky rice. For non-sushi lovers, the skewers from the robata-yaki (grill) are good, especially the chicken chunks of moist thigh meat and cubes of succulent swordfish. 101 Preston Royal Shopping Center, 214-361 -0220. $$.



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 Rd., Plano. 972-881-0328. $$.



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



Sushi at The Stoneleigh. Sedate for a sushi spot, with more of the civilized pace of the old hotel than the faster rhythms of a typical sushi bar. Still, the fish is fine. We especially like the special Stoneleigh sushi. 2917 Maple Ave., 214-871-7111. $$-$$$.



Tel Tel. We still haven’t tasted the kobe beef (which comes from cattle fed with beer and massaged with sake), but Tei Tei is a destination restaurant anyway. The “kinki fish” is a whole fish (snapper), slashed to the bone so the flesh lifts out easily with chopsticks. To eat the soft-shell crab, abandon the Eastern eating utensils and resort to the god-given: fingers. 2906 N. Henderson Ave.. 214-828-2400. $$-$$$.



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



LATIN AMERICAN

Caribbean Grill. The owner, Roland Frederick, delivers jumbo shrimp marinated in coconut milk, lightly fried and rolled in coconut shreds- one of the best appetizers we’ve had all year. Jerk chicken is moist inside, with a thin crusty coating of spices, and the dipping sauce is a killer honey-mustard concoction spiced with hot relish (chow) from Trinidad. The only disappointment is the crab in the paella-the rice is perfectly cooked with the chicken, sausage, and shrimp, but the crab tends to be fishy. Stay busy with Roland’s large selection of bottled hot sauces, and soothe your burning tongues with his homemade key lime pie. 3068 Forest Ln., 972-241-9113.$-$$.



Gloria’s. Everyone’s favorite Oak Cliff restaurant has opened yet another branch, this time on already overloaded Greenville. There’s the inevitable streetside al fresco scene with mar-garitas and nachos on every table, but the glory of Gloria’s was, is now, and ever shall be its Salvadoran menu, available at every location. Don’t miss the pupusas (cheese-stuffed com tortillas) or the banana leaf tamales. 3715 Greenville Ave., 214-874-0088; multiple locations. $-$$.



MEDITERRANEAN

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 will hold your attention long after the main ingredients of the dishes had been devoured. 4537 Cole Ave., 214-559-0325. $$.



The Bistro. The list of small plates at this tapas bistro has been pared down to 14 from 30 selections, but they’re all exciting, and the wine list is one of the most extensive and inexpensive in town. That means the Bistro caters to you-you can drop in for a few small plates and a bottle of wine or settle in for a full-course meal at a reasonable price. 5405 W. Lovers Ln. at Inwood Rd., 214-352-1997. $-$$.



Mediterraneo. The Quadrangle location will probably be the prototype for future Mediterraneos. It’s a pretty restaurant, stylishly minimalist but surprisingly warm and welcoming, and the food-a balance 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 Rd., Ste. 120, 972-447-0066. $$-$$$.



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.$$$.



MEXICAN

Avila’s. The create-your-own enchiladas are always a good idea, and the chili relleno reminds us why we like this family-owned place. Stuffed with cheese and topped with a delicious ranchera sauce, the peppers are left unbreaded so the pungent flavor of the pepper is what you notice, not fried batter. 4714 Maple Ave., 214-520-2700. $.



Casa Navarro. This lintecafeinafonner7-Eleven specializes in the same unpretentious, cheesy fare we used to love before Tex-Mex became chic. The beer is bring-your-own, and on Wednesdays the enchilada plate is S3.75 all day long. Sopapillas, once the darling dessert at every Tex-Mex joint, are still handmade, light, and greaseless, such a surprisingly elegant finish to the meal that we wished we’d brought our demi-tasse, too. 11742-A Marsh Lane at Forest, 972-357-0141.$.



Chuy’s. Dallas’ most frenzied dining scene, if you can call this “dining.” The frenetically zany decor induces an attentional deficit and the food is competent Tex-Mex, but the herds of elbow-bending college students can be daunting if you’re over 30 or are indisposed to dine in a den. Din. Whatever. 4544 McKinney Ave.. 214-559-2489, $.



El Norte. ’lite 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. S. Margaritas.



Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano. Javier’s hook is Mexico City Mexican food, and the atmosphere isn’t Tex-Mex kitschy but sophisticated. Salsa is nicely wanned, and margaritas are the real thing. Filete Cantinflas looks like a fried puck, but inside the stiff crust is a cheese-stuffed filet mignon with a brick-colored chile sauce-loo rich to eat, too good not to try. 4912ColeAve.,214-52]-4211.$$.



La Cille Doce. Far from slicker Belt Line and Greenville Avenue eateries, this old house is home to some seriously good Mexican-style seafood. Sil on the porch and dine on a spicy gazpacho-like octopus cocktail served in huge goblets or shrimp, stuffed with crabmeat, covered with chili con queso and tasting much better than it sounds. 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. al Montfort Dr., 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 every 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, $-$$.



D BEST 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. Best lunch deals in town. 2914 Main St.. 214-748-7140.$$.

Nuevo Leon. Excellent Mex-Mex food in a comfortable old Greenville Avenue location draws a mixed crowd bin 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’s. It’s easy to imagine ending evenings at Omega’s. But fortunately Omega’s 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 wanned salsa and tostados. There’s nothing particularly original about the menu, hot 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. $. Margaritas.



Piano Tortilla Factory. If you live in Piano, then this little place should be on the top of your list for a quick bite, takeout, 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, 972-123-6980. $.



Rodolfo’s. Start with the home-fried chips, huge half-tortilla rounds served with 3 full-bodied salsa. Then try the Big Tex-Mex dinner or the Number 0 (yes, they start numbering ai 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.$.



Sol’s. The low-key goal here seems to be to offer pretty good Mexican food in a pretty comfortable place to folks who live pretty close. Sol’s has found a niche where old-fashioned combi-nation plates-oozing enchiladas, rich chili gravy, deep fried flautas, and lush guacamole- are all that’s required. Nachos come with a pile of sliced jalapenos, margaritas have plenty of tequila, and the set is tuned to Mexican TV, Really, what more do you want on a Sunday evening? 6434 Mockingbird Ln., 214 821-7911. $-$$.



Taco Diner. The name sounds slightly retro. But the tacos at the Diner are real Mexican soft tacos. not drive-through, crunchy, greasy Tex-Mex mutations. The com tortillas are the star here; no matter what you wrap them around, the result is good-chicken with cojita cheese, grilled pork, and meaty mushrooms are all complemented by the fragrant masa tortillas. 4011 Villanova, 214-696-4944. $. Margaritas.



MIDDLE EASTERN

Ararat This is Middle Eastern ambience all the way, but we love Ararat because the food is some of the most exotic in town. Main courses are complicated, generous plates, filled with big chunks of lamb in a fiery dark tomato sauce with orange-red bulghur pilaf and a Persian rice pilaf threaded with vermicelli. Skewered shrimp is served on a bed of a complex pomegranate sauce deepened with dates and quartered figs. Simple tastes can settle for roast lamb in a rosemary sauce. 2934 Main St., 214-744-1555.$$.



Basha. Basha was one of the first in the wave of Middle Eastern restaurants that have opened in Dallas in the last few years. And it remains one of the best of a good lot. The menu is less predictable than many of Dallas’ Lebanese restaurants, offering dishes outside the usual selection of hummus, baba ghanoush, rice, and grilled everything. Breast of chicken breaded in crushed pistachios is an excellent idea-so is fragrant lamb shank, cooked till it is stew on the bone. OK, hummus is good. too. 2217 Greenville Ave.. 214-824-7794. $$.



Cafe Istanbul. The tiny kitchen overachieves on most of its Turkish dishes, especially if you like it spicy. The dining room gets cozy at night, 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. $-$$.

D BEST Cafe Izmir. This remains one of the best little restaurants in Dallas. The space is small, the service is friendly, and the choices are simple-all you have to say is “meat” or “veg,” and the food starts coming. The mezes platter-hummus, baba ghanoush, and Russian chicken salad, all designed to spread on warm pita bread-is a regular. Wash it down with a bottle of the Boutari and you’ll be happy. 3711 Greenville Ave., 214-826-7788. $$$.



MOROCCAN

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 $26.95 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.$$.



NEW AMERICAN

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. $$$.



Anzu. The Nakamotos spent a considerable amount of money to alter Anzu’s entrance so its feng shui would he perfectly balanced. Maybe it helps the consistently balanced flavors in the bento boxes. Lunch at this 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. 4620 McKinney Ave., 214-526-7398. $$.



City Cafe. This California-inspired, mostly family-run cafe opened over a dozen years ago but remains in the top tier of Dallas restaurants. The charming but dim dining room is furnished with cottage antiques, and the food is classic, with a wake-up flash of invention. Fresh tomato basil soup is famous. The service is confident and careful, and the American wine list is one of the best in town. 5757 W. Lovers Ln., 214-351-2233. $$.



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. $$-$$$.

D BEST 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 pu! them in your mouth. You have to [rust 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. Though we still think the place is too chic fora neighborhood restaurant, the food has improved since the opening months. The swordfish. perfectly marked from the grill, is balanced by a warm artichoke salad and a corn relish. The grilled shrimp with avocado and a “gazpacho” sauce is equally lovely to look at, though you won’t look at it for long. 1418 Preston Forest Sq., 972-960-7774. $$.



Nana Grill. The new menu broadens Nana’s focus from Southwestern to Regional American. Service is supremely suave and caring, the accoutrements define luxe, and the ambience is as comfortably refined as always in this upscale establishment. In the Wyndham Anatole Hotel Tower, 2201 Slemmons Frwy.. 214-761-7479.$$$.



Parigi, Menus still change weekly, and the food is prepared to order, by hand. Service can lie a little flaky, but the food-specials and perennials-is excellent. The famous beef tenderloin with mustard sauce and ’smashed7 potatoes is as good as ever, the beef rare and unusually flavorful, the potatoes buttery and just lumpy. It’s been on the menu since Parigi opened. A long time. 3311 Oak Lawn. 214-521-0295.$$.



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.$$.



York Street. As Dallas restaurants get bigger and bigger, this little chef-owned cafe seems smaller and smaller. And its value rises as the qualities we love about it become rarer and rarer. The choices of elegant food-pheasant paté with pears, frogs’ legs, roast duck, and quail, are a wonderful relief from beef and chicken. If s easy for dinner to spin into hours of conversation just because the atmosphere is so conducive to it. 6047 Lewis St.. 214-826-0968. $$-$$$.

SEAFOOD

D BEST AquaKnox. Stephan Pyles’ swanky seafood spot has com-manded 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 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 din-ner 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 snap- per are superbly prepared and presented by an experienced staff. 24 Highland Park Village. 214-526-1170.$$-$$$.



Daddy Jack’s. With pricey lobsters the rage all over town. Chaplin brings the delicacy back to realistic prices. Mark your calendars: Weekdays, a one-pounder is only $10.95;weekends, they arc still a bargain {they come with baked potato and corn). Sunday and Mondays it’s all you can eat for $34.95. 5940 Royal Ln., 214-378-6767. $$.



Daddy Jack’s Wood Drill. 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 Si.. 214-653-3949. $$.



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



D BEST Lombardi Mare. The stylishly polished interior is a real mind-blower, and so is the food. Feast on five types of farm-fresh oysters, steamed mussels. and lobster. A polenta enisled salmon served with red cabbage was a perfect meal. If we had to choose one place to entertain an out-of-towner. Lombardi Mare would be our choice. 5100 Bell Line Rd., Addison, 972-503-1233. $$.



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; a side of honey-sour sauce added a potent bite, Grilled shrimp nachos, with shrimp, black beans, while cheese, and salsa, are light and chewy. Picardys’ kid-friendly atmosphere is a plus. 6800 Snider Plaza, 214-373-4099, $-$.$.

S&D Oyster Company. S & D can do anything with shrimp, and they have been doing it for longer than we care to remember (or admit we do). The fried shrimp is so delicately breaded you can still see the pink-skinned flesh through the crust. Then it’s butterflied, lightly fried, and served with a dollop of tartar sauce-heavy on the pickle. And no meal here would be complete without a slice of the famous key lime pie. 2701 McKinney Ave.. 214-880-0111. $$.



Truluck’s Steak & Stone Crab. Stone crabs are a new delicacy in Dallas, and they’re sweet and rich. They’re also easy to eat; the kitchen cracks them for you so all you have to do is break in and fish for the meat. You can eat other stuff with your crab (mediocre salad, onion rings, cole slaw, creamed spinach) but all you’ll remember is 1 he claws and cake- four layers of dark chocolate cake covered with a whipped milk-chocolate icing. 5001 Bell Line Rd., Addison, 972-503-3079; 2401 McKinney Ave,, 214-220-2401. $$-$$$.



SOUTHWESTERN

Blue Mesa. Blue Mesa lias become a dining mainstay, faithful to its Southwest mission and consistently good. Adobe pie. the signature dish, is a treat, the bowl-shaped mound of cornmeal enclosing a slew-like filling of seasoned chicken. Guacamole, barely seasoned and creamy, is some of the best in town. Our only quibble is the Blue Mesa margarita: We want to be warned when we’re going to be served a blue drink-so we can order something else. Village on the Parkway. Tollway at Belt Line Rd., 972-934-0165. $-$$.



Flying Burro. The Burro’s brand of Mexican food isn’t purely New Mexican-there’s more meal and cheese richness on this menu than most New Mexicans (except those from California) can afford to relish. Enchiladas are slacked and come topped 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. $&-$$$.



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, 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. Though this is frontier fare, the kitchen can have a light touch. Delicately grilled, semi-boneless quail is delicious, and the special two-inch, 12-ounce pork chop is as moist and tender as a file! mignon. However, the buck stops short with an undercooked top sirloin. And the bar scene rocks with Jerry Jeff Walker lunes and ci gar-smoking buckaroos- the perfect place to lake your Yankee guests. 702 Ross Ave., 214-744-3287. $-$$.



SPANISH

Cafe Madrid. Dallas’ first tapas bar remains its best, and everybody knows it. Even midweek. : this little two-room restaurant has customers : waiting at the bar for one of the mismatched tables in the storefront space. For those who insist, there is a prix-fixe, three-course dinner menu, but Cafe Madrid is a great place to linger over a succession of small dishes-an assortment of olives, oxtail stew, the potato omelet called a tortilla, braised lamb slices. 4501 Travis St., 214-528-1731.$$.



STEAKHOUSES

Biernat’s. The dinner menu’s specialty section features prime rib. rack of lamb, and jumbo lob- sters. The entrées reveal the imagination of a chef who has more on his mind than meat. The sea bass is moist, but the two mainstays-steak and lobster- are a problem. As for the lunch menu, the steak sandwich comes off well, and so do the slices of grilled and balsamic-dressed portobel-lo mushroom and tomato fanned around a hum- mock of baked goat cheese. 4217 Oak Lawn Ave.. 214-219-2201.$$$.



Capital Grille. The menu has a funny. East Coast fuddy-duddiness: It features a “wedge” salad, a quarter head of iceberg with blue cheese and bacon. Perfectly cooked lamb chops come with mint jelly. And there’s a Delmonico steak on the menu-a porterhouse-style cut you don’t often see labeled that way anymore. It’s a perfectly marbled piece of beefcake, rich and buttery. Sides-from asparagus at $6.75 to the affordable $4 potato-are extra, of course, and have plenty to share. 500 Crescent Court, Ste. 135,214-303-0500. $$$.



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. $$-$$$.



Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. Filets are virtually perfect, the cuts of meat as thick as ; couch cushions, and the wine list is varied. Even the vegetables are great. Nol for the faint of pocketbook, but it’s worth serious consideration when you’re in the mood to blow it out red-meat style. 5251 Spring Valley Rd., 972-490-9000. $$-$$$.

Kirby’s Steakhouse. One recent dinner had six happy Yankee carnivores whistling Dixie, but more recently we were served a puck-like filet silting alone on a parsley-less plate. And we didn’t understand what made the mashed potatoes “famous”-we tasted nothing more than potatoes whipped with lots of pepper. On the other hand, service was attentive, the prime rib was pure retro-quality, and the onion rings might be the best in Dallas. 3525 Greenville Ave., 214-821-2122: 3408 Preston Rd., Piano, 972-867-2122.$$.



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.$$$.



The Palm. The four-pound lobster (at $20 a pound!) is sweet and tender, but the 24-ounce New York strip tends to be overcooked. The Palm staffers are all veterans, and so are most of the customers, but don’t be intimidated by the chummy atmosphere. This is a club anyone with $80 to spare for a lobster can join. 701 Ross Ave.. 214-698-0470. $$-$$$.



Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. This is the best beef we’ve eaten in Dallas lately. The porterhouse, regally alone and ungarnished, arrives at the pet feet degree of doneness and is still actually hot. Mushrooms- crimini and shiitake, in a port reduction-and onion rings, thick-cut and thinly breaded, are both preferable to another potato. And we appreciate the diminutive (just three-and-a-half pounds’) Maine lobster, perfectly steamed and cracked, and only $64. Even dessert, which frequently seems like an insult in a steakhouse, is spectacular. 10477 Lombardy Ln., 214-366-2000. $$$.



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. But 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 Taherzadeh, 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. $$$.



Three Forks. The special pepper sirloin is mealy and chewy, and the peppercorn sauce is dull. And the trout swims in a weak brown sauce accompanied by a few lonely roasted pecans. But we do love the salad, a mix of mesclun, red oak leaf lettuce, and sliced green apple, topped with roasted pecans and crumbly Maytag blue cheese, all lightly dressed in a sweet vinaigrette. 17776 Dallas Pkwy.. 972-267-1776. $$$.



THAI



Chow Thai. A strip shopping center doesn’t seem i 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 Dr.. Addison, 972-960-2999. $$.



D BEST Liberty. Annie Wong, the mother of Thai food in Dallas, still owns three all-Thai restaurants, but Liberty is where her imagination is freed. Romantically and softly lit. with beaded candleshades on each table and bamboo birdcages animated with twinkling Christmas lights, the brightly lit kitchen makes Liberty into real dinner theater, and Wong is the star. What makes her food different is what makes any chef’s food special: imagination. 5631 Alta Ave., 214-887-8795. $$.



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 arc wrapped in tenderizing banana leases. Curries are fragrant and benefit from their presentation under a little domed top. In Old Town. 5500 Greenville Ave., 214-691-3555.$-$$.



VIETNAMESE

Mai’s. Mai’s is one of those places that has lots of loyal customers. The menu is slocked 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 terrifie 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. $-$$.

VietNam. A little bit of Southeast Asia transplanted to East Dallas, VietNam has very little Western influence to make the cultural transition easier. This is Vietnamese food designed for the Vietnamese community. But some things are universal-the appeal of hot soup, for instance. And VietNam’s hot pot. a comforting, steaming caldron of soup, noodles, and vegetables, is enough to share. 4302 Bryan St., 214-821-4542.$-$$.



TARRANT COUNTY

D BEST Angela’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-and are properly enjoyed with a couple of Shiners. 2533 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth. 817-332-0357.$.



Angeluna. The patio swarms with an artsy Chanel-and-Chardonnay crowd before and after events at the Bass Performance Hall across the street. The “one-world-on-a-plate” menu features designer pizzas, pastas, and spinach and mushroom salads corralled by delicate potato rings. Who cares if it’s more about style than substance? After all. the parent company is in Aspen. 215 E. 4th St.. Fort Worth. 817-334-0080.$$.



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. Baton St., Fort Worth, 817-922-9244. $$.



Skie Mesa. See listing in Dallas Southwestern. University Park Village, 1600 S. University, Fort Worth. 817-332-6372. $-$$.



Cacharel. This easily tops Arlington’s dining scene, such as it is, with its French country-decor and New French cuisine. The fixed-price menu ($34.50) is a great deal. A la carle menu also available. 2221 E Lamar Blvd.. Ste. 910, Arlington, metro 817-640-9981. $$$.



Cattlemen’s Steak House. Port 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, hut the atmosphere is genuine cowboy. 2458 N. Main St., Fort Worth. 817-624-3945. $$-$$$.



Daddio’s Downtown Nearly Jazz Gate. The menu gives a Texas lone 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.. Fort Worth. ?17-926-7000.$.



8.0. See listing in Dallas Eclectic. U1 E. 3rd, Fort Worth. 817-336-0880. $-$$.



D BEST Grape Escape. The gimmick here is education-Grape Escape is trying to do the same thing for wine that brew pubs did for beer. So you order ’”nights” of the grape of your choice, and the waiter brings a four-glass tasting of say, chardonnay, from Sonoma. Napa, Australia, and New Zealand. Compare and contrast. The food is designed around the wine, so you can change direction mid-meal-start with white wine and suggested matches, finish with red wine and cheese. The selection of small plates-merguez sausages, pate, salads, stuffed potatoes, pizzettes-adds up to a full meal that’s lots of fun. 500 Commerce St., Fort Worth, 817-336-9463. $$.



Joe T. Garcia’s 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. S$.



D BEST Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Dishes. The quintessential Fort Worth restaurant 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. $$.



Kincaid’s. The actual truth is that a Kincaid’s hamburger is too big to gel your mouth around and too good not to try. Lunching business types stand hip to hip with blue-collared brethren at long counters or share benches at tables to inhale half-pound panics of choice chuck that are ground, hand-shaped, and grilled daily. 4901 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-732-2881. $.



Piccolo Hondo. 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, $-$$.



Reata. Reata’s upscale “cowboy cuisine” includes a chicken-fried steak the size of a boot and steaks with Mexican side dishes. A special of blackened salmon is covered with a roasted com, red pepper, and cilantro relish with small cubes of queso fresco. But the Vaquera Sampler, a huge platter of Mexican selections (shredded chicken chili rellenos, cacciota cheese enchiladas, a beef tamale. barbecue shrimp enchiladas and rice and beans) is an undistinguishable mess. The view is nice, but the food doesn’t always match up. 500 Throckmorton St.. Fort Worth. 817-336-1009. $$-$$$.



Reflections. Surely among the most gracefully romantic dining sellings 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 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.$$$.



Sundance Doll & 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 more walls and fewer tables, but plenty of daily specials supplement a range of regular entrées thai would make a coastal restaurant proud. 1540 S. University Dr., Ste. 120, Fort Worth. 817-877-3474. $$.

Taste of Greece



Tucked away in a tiny space on Main, its walls inexplicably decorated with a mural of snow-capped mountains, Zodiac’s taste of Greece is a welcome lunch alternative to downtown’s underground grease joints. Lebanese owner Michel Ayoub is at the register, and his Greek wife Is in the kitchen-and the team turns out great Greek chicken from the cafeteria-style line. The pita is excellent, and the sampler is best of all-a one-of-each (cheese pie, spinach pie, pastitsio, grape leaves, roast chicken, gyros, ziziki, pita, Greek salad, and moussaka) plate for $7.99.

Zodiac Greek Grill, 1404 Main St., 214-653-1060.

Groceries To Go



This new store at the corner of Mockingbird and Central is trying to harvest a little of Whole Foods’ business, and they’ve got ours. The first Dallas store In the national chain, Wild Oats is part natural foods grocery store and part natural prepared foods, and it’s open grocery store hours (daily, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.) Besides organic produce, tofu, and all the whole grains you can eat, you can also order sandwiches, pasta, freshly made sushi, and pizza by the slice.

Wild Oats, 3060 Mockingbird in., 214-361-7122.

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