Wednesday, September 27, 2023 Sep 27, 2023
90° F Dallas, TX

100 BEST The Top Taste Awards

By Nancy Nichols |

DALLAS’ REPUTATION AS A GREAT CITY FOR WINING AND DINING is growing. And 2000 SEEMED LIKE THE PERFECT YEAR TO START D Magazine’s. Top Taste Awards-our annual kudos to the year’s 100 most outstanding contributors to the Dallas dining scene. Here they are. in no particular order. Drum roll, please.


Picture it with your mouth; mile-high. New York-state-of-mind cheesecake. It’s not sticky, so it flakes off your fork but melts to cream on your tongue. The white wedge stands a fall four inches tall, a confident statement that needs only a sprig of mint for color. The plate is extravagantly frosted, as it were, in a pureed raspberry coulis. This is a dessert with as much panache as Alberto Lombardi, who, in a matter of weeks, closed Bizu, his French bistro on lower McKinney, redecorated completely, and reopened it as Lombardi s Mangia e Bevi without missing a beat of die whisk. 214-303-1002.


Bettye’s Tomatoes

“All I care about is tomatoes, ” declares Bettye Sustaire, a fourth generation farmer and the proprietor of Bettye’s Tomatoes at the Dallas Farmers Market. Good tomatoes have become scarce at the cost of shippable tomatoes. Sustaire just drives hers back and forth from her Jacksonville farm to the market, and every one is red sweet, tart, and juicy. How many does she sell? “Oh, piddle. I don’t have no idea,”she says. “What J do know is, never refrigerate ’em. “


Sammy’s BBQ

Yeah, we know (hat Sammy’s is a barbecue joint, but we go for the pie. Supermom Julie Prichard uses up to 10 thinly sliced Granny Smiths per pie to replicate her grand-ma’s recipe. 214-880-9064.

BUTCHER Brandon Andreason

Brandon Andreason’s greatgrandfather came to Dallas from Czechoslovakia in 1920 and bought Rudolph’s Market on Elm Street. Today, Andreason i mother, Justine Yaegar carries on the family business with the help of her five children. Together they provide personal service that you won’t find anywhere: Every sausage is hand-tied: every piece of meat is hand cut. They will even hang a side of beef, custom age it, and butcher to your specs. And Andreason still passes out all beef weenies on a stick (no obscure body parts) to every kid who comes in. 214-741-1874.


Sandora’s Box

Sandora Cooper grew up in Harlem just around the corner from the infamous Well’s Restaurant. Legend has it that in 1938, owner Joseph Wells, eager to please his hungry late-night clientele (including Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Brat Pack), began serving a plate of chicken and waf fies to satisfy those who couldn’t decide between a late dinner or an early breakfast. When Cooper moved to Dallas, she became homesick for her favorite comfort food. After perplexing many an IHOP with her request for a waffle and a chicken dinner, she decided to make her own. At Sandora ’s Box, the multi-talented cook and songwriter (remember the disco hit, “Push, Push in the Bush”?) is serving a faithful following that gathers to butter down waffles and dip fried chicken in syrup. Just like home. 214-824-6322.


Chef Gilbert Garza has been slinking around the kitchens of the Mansion and Toscana quietly making a name for himself. The glamour boy of the brat packMarc Cassel (Green Room), Lynn Saathoff (formerly of Star Canyon), Michael Zeve (Sevy’s), and Kent Rathbun (Abacus)-is currently wowing customers with his Mediterranean-inspired menu at Suze. Keep your eyes on him (that’s not hard); he’ll have his own place soon. 214-350-6135.



Out of a Flower

Ont of more than 3.000 entries in the 1999 National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the Orchid Vanilla ice cream from Dallas-based Out

of a Flower took first prize. You won’t see owner Michel Bernard Platz beaming-it’s just not his style. Instead, the chef-turned-entrepreneur just turns his high-powered focus to the next project: Chiqui. a line of ice creams with “taste of the South” flavors. Platz uses only the highest quality ingredients-the exotic Orchid Vanilla is made with the crushed seedpods of flowering orchids and specks of vanilla beans. His small-batch production has made the Out of a Flower line of sorbets and ice creams a gourmet stand-by. Available at Whole Foods Market, Simon David Inwood, and TJ’s Seafood. For direct orders, call 214-630-3136.


in Dallas. Rex Morgen is chocolate. For 18 years, he has blown the cocoa powder off of his competitors by selling thousands of molded chocolate bunnies, hearts, and cowboy- boots to customers looking for the perfect gift. You would expect Morgen to find destitute chocolate junkies passed out in front of Morgen Chocolate every morning, but he claims that 95 percent of his sales are not consumed by the buyer-they’re gifts. That is, except for the regulars that send their chauffeurs in to pick up a weekly box of truffles. 214-520-2462.

BEST SANDWICH Sambuca Mediterranean Cafe

We could eat brie cheese melted on an old shoe and be happy. But thankfully. Sambuca Mediterranean Cafe has saved us some dignity by serving a killer Poulet de Brie sandwich. Now we can feast in public on a focaccia roll spread with spicy whole-grain mustard and topped with grilled chicken dripping with warm brie. A side of purple cabbage slaw and a glass of wine spell afternoon naptime for sure. 214-744-0820.


We could hand Food Company awards for Best of Show and Miss Congeniality. Shelley Barsotti and Andrea Hagar, owners of this premier catering company, have been in business together for 16 years. Both are alums of the late, great Chow Catering (Daryl Richardson of Dallas World Aquarium. Wendy Krispin. former D restaurant critic Mary Malouf. and chef Helen Duran are others}. Hagar s design sense and Barsotti’s wonderful palate were the foundation of their success, but what keeps them on top is the loyalty these two inspire from their staff. Food Company is based on fun. inside and out-the perfect premise for a party-giving enterprise. 214-521-7193.


The Nest

Are they chopsticks or are they forks? Who knows? We like to call them forckchops. No matter what you call them, the days of being the only one left holding a fork are gone. Now you can pick up a chunk of chicken like a pro and stick those slithery vegetables with the pronged end. Maybe you can gel your kids to eat their vegetables. 214-827-5300.


On the southbound lanes of Harry Hines, in the shadow of the emerging sports arena, sits a limestone house with a pink neon “Stoney’s” sign. If you spot a beat-up old van parked out front, you ’11 know that Stone Stoney” Savage is open for business. Inside, the shelves are crammed with candles, incense, and eclectic lamps. But the real deal here is in the tiny back room where Stoney showcases his international collection of more than 120 wines priced under $12. 214-953-3067.



These delicate little orange beauties are almost too pretty to eat-especially when the chef at Teppo introduces you to the live miniature sawagari crabs just before he deep-fries them in peanut oil. Luckily we didn’t have time to name them before they appeared perched on their tippy toes looking more like Limoge figurines than appetizers. 214-826-8989.


Paula Lambert

When most Dallas chefs say “cheese, ” they’re not smiling for the camera. They ’re calling Paula Lambert. The proprietor of Dallas’ one-and-only cheese factory, Lambert provides most of the best restaurants with one or several varieties from her award-wining line of 30. The Mozzarella Company now produces fresh and aged cow and goat milk cheeses, all made by hand. Lambert, who started making mozzarella in 1982, now is an internationally renowned cheesemonger. 214-741-4072.

SIN ON A PLATE Guthrie’s

Ever since those chocolate-happy days at the gone-but-not-forgotten Quadrangle Grill, chef William Guthrie, now of Guthrie’s, has been padding Dallas thighs with his signature warm chocolate tarts. We don’t want to argue with she genius, but it’s not a tart, or a soufflé, or a typical cake. It’s a combination of the three-a warm, dark Belgian chocolate crust baked around a liquid molten center that gushes when prodded with a fork. Now you can pick up one (or 10) and fool your dinner guests by pretending you made dessert. Or fool them even more by eating them all yourself 214-760-7900.

DAIRY KING Wild About Harry’s

Harry Coley is the Colonel Sanders of frozen custard. His amiable, grandfatherly ways and the down-to-earth delicious-ness of his hot dogs and custard have made Dallas wild about Harry. Wild About Harry’s is a happy, too-wholesome-to-be-real kind of place that seems to have jumped straight from Pleasanville to the Park Cities and into restaurateur Phil Romano’s portfolio. Romano bought the concept and has already opened locations in Richardson and Piano. On Saturdays, the line of happy customers on Knox streams out the door as they wait for a Chicago-style dog, a cone of custard, and a chance to chat with Harry. 214-520-3113.


L?ss is more at Uncle Tai s Hunan Yuan, especially when you ’re talking about a steaming platter of plump chicken and vegetables gently tossed with their famous black bean sauce. The dreamy glaze is the perfect combination of sweet and hot, with a touch of garlic and ginger. 972-934-9998.


Several other big-name chefs in Dallas have grabbed the national spotlight, but they all owe a debt to Matt Martinez Jr. for his innovations in Texas tastes. After all, his family-opened Austin’s first Tex-Mex restaurant in 1925, Matt’s El Rancho, long before our super stars were eating solid foods. As a kid, Martinez learned how to drink with LBJ (who didn’t?) and seduced Tex-Mex virgin Julia Child with his now nationally renowned chile relleno. Who knows what he’ll do next.


Whether you’re a card-carrying PETA member or you ’re just looking for a not-too-heavy Mexican food fix. Mi Cocina serves vegetable fajitas. The sizzling platter- complete with the requisite smoke facial-is piled high with sliced carrots, thick onions, green peppers, mushrooms, squash, and spinach. Add a touch of fresh gua-camole, garlicky salsa, and sour cream (unless you ’re vegan), and you can eat in peace knowing that you saved a scrawny chicken’s life, Multiple locations.

GIVER GODS Paul, Lucien, Beat, Martin

T here are very few charity events whose success doesn’t depend on the kindness of one or all of these guys-Paul Clark of Seafood Supply Company; Lucian LaBarba of American FoodService; Beat Kotoun of Kobrand Corporation; and Martin Sinkoff of Martin Sinkoff Wines. Between the four of them, they have donated wine, food, cash, and products to support major fundraisers. So raise your glass and toast the guys who do more than give at the office.

GREAT BREASTS Brother’s Fried Chicken

And they’re real. Brother’s FriedChicken fries up plump, mealy, bone-in breasts rolled in the same batter that made Leslie s Fried Chicken on the circle in Waco famous. These are breasts we can identify with (which is more than we can say about the ones walking the aisles at a Dallas Stars game)-whole and unmarred, crispy on the outside with just the right amount of crust. Once cooked, the chicken is plopped on white bread, covered with fries, and the only frill is a few hamburger dills tossed on top. 214-370-0800.


Joanne Bondy

On the imaginary Ml. Rushmore of Dallas’ top chefs, they’re blasting a place for Joanne Bondy, chef at Ciudad. Bondy s food is fun and fresh, and Bondy herself is fearless. On an R&D journey through Mexico with Ciudad’s owner Monica Greene, Bondy ate everywhere from four-star gourmet palaces to streetside taco stands. “I lost track of her in a mercado, ” Greene recalls. “and found her sitting on the ground, taking a taco-rolling lesson from a market vendor. ” Bondy’s a quick study-check out how she used that hard-learned technique in creating her soon-to-be-famous duck flautas. 214-219-3141.


Tei Tei, the restaurant that introduced Dallas to robata (Japanese grilling), now tackles the mysterious world of cold sake by offering tasting flights. Get your boarding pass-three cruets sunk into shaved ice in a large wooden box-and start your Japanese culture adventure with a semi-dry Otokoyama made from melted snow. Once you get comfortable, move into a rich, extra-dry Harushika and hit your cruising altitude with a sip of silky smooth Ichinokura. We ’re still waiting for them to start a frequent flyer program. 214-828-2400.


Behind every great margarita is a good woman. Claire Marlin, owner of Beverage Design and Marketing, decided to go undercover and create a new image for tequila. Tired of the “lookin’ for my lost shaker of salt” mentality, she redesigned tequila lists all over town and educated bartenders to the subtle smooth taste of room temperature 100 percent aqave. After three years, she reports that folks are changing their attitudes and designer brands are flying off top shelves everywhere.


Ah! We found the perfect excuse for splurging on the buttermilk-kissed chicken-fried steak at Reata on the 35th floor of the Bank One Tower-the human body burns more calories at higer altitudes. 817 336-1009


Stereotypes betcoldo prevail: When you see a Gen X-er with a shaved head, pierced eyebrow, and a tattoo barely visible under the uniform, the words “gracious,” “accommodating,” and “knowledgeable” don’t spring to mind. But the Green Room, Dallas’ hippest gourmet destination, upsets those clichés by providing the best service in town. Curious about an obscure Bordeaux? Your waiter can tell you all about it and recommend the kitchen’s perfect match. All to the sound of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. 214-748-7666.


Hong Kong Market

Your dinner is here, live and in person-not protected by packages like shrink-wrapped supermarket food. Instead, Hong Kong Market is a food jungle where you identify and track the swimming beasts before you buy. Aisles of indecipherable packages and intriguing encounters between opinionated customers speaking Chinese and the staff-busy nabbing eels and crabs, baking fortune cookies, and bagging fresh lychees-re-create the frenetic activity of an authentic oriental market. This place isn’t for Little Bunny Foo Foo-it’s live action at the back of the store where guys are scooping the fish out of the tanks and bashing them on the head. 972-437-9888.

NUTTY GUY Killer Pecans Tom Stark used to own the Quadrangle Grill, and every Christmas he would make spicy pecans for presents. “All my buddies used to say, ’Man, these are killer pecans,’” says Stark. It wasn’t long before his fledgling restaurant literally drove him nuts. He closed the doors and bravely began selling his hobby. Killer Pecans, to pay the mortgage. Within two days, he had 25 accounts, and after his first year, his recipe for pecans tossed in soybean oil. cumin, crushed red chilies, sugar, and salt won “Best of Show” at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Fancy Food Show. Now his Christmas list is longer than ever. Available at Translations, Eatzi’s, Marty’s. and Nuvo.


You can forget all the legal and political ramifications of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The most significant outcome has been the exchange of recipes between Dallas chefs and their Mexican counterparts. The folks at Peggy Sue BBQ wasted no time coming up with the perfect peace-keeping meal-barhecued brisket quesadillas. Maybe now we can forget the Alamo. 214-987-9188.


Fogo de Chao

Quien es mas macho ? The waiters at Fogo de Chao, hands down. Dressed in traditional gau-cho-style attire worn by the cowboys of southern Brazil, we think the look is really sexy. Imagine ’60s Clint Eastwood with a touch of ’80s MC Hammer-the pants are pleated down the sides and pooch over the knee before disappearing into high black leather boots. Don’t worry about being lassoed: these dudes are armed only with giant skewers of marinated meat and caipirinas, 972-503-7300.


Sharon Meehan has come a long way from selling her secret-recipe hams from the trunk other battered VW. The founder of Ham I Am is currently shipping more than 60 tons of ham and turkey-thanks in part to Neiman Marcus and Harry and David catalogs-but now, with the click of a mouse, you, too, can be in hog’ heaven, or call 972-238-1776.


TJ ’s Seafood M arket

TJ’s Seafood Market in Preston Forest carries restaurant-grade quality fresh fish, the same that’s used at the Mansion and The Riviera. You can find unusual artisanal products-Smokin’ Good Basalt smoked salmon, for instance-along with pre-made crab or salmon cakes, Cajun gumbo, and stuffed crab. TJ’s usually stocks about 15 types of fish a day, picking from the finest golden red trout, blue mar-lin, snapper, escobar, and Copper River salmon available. But the real catches here are the #1 Mexican Browns-the most flavorful jumbo shrimp processed without Chemicals. If you call ahead, they’ll cook, shell, and de-vein the big bugs for you. The shrimp is so good, they just boil it in water-no seasoning necessary. 214-691-2369.


Chef Rino who? Chef Rino Brigliadori, the brains behind the best gnocchi in town. Although most of his Modo Mio customers butcher the pronunciation by ordering NOCK-ie or Gin-O-che, they have no trouble eating it. “I sell a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot,” he says. His secret: Idaho potatoes. Once boiled, peeled, and mashed, Brigliadori adds egg, a touch of flour, and water. He rolls the mixture into a tube, and, just I ike his grandmother and mom, he separates each dumpling with the prongs of a fork to add a little curl. His signature Modo Mio sauce-tomatoes with a hint of cream-is the biggest seller, but now his customers are asking for fresh spinach and mascarpone, meat sauce, or pesto versions. Pick your favorite topping and say NYOH-kee. 972-671-6636.

Bread-baking geniuses are bom. not created. They must know chemistry and math-most recipes can’t just be doubled, so chefs have to figure out algebraic equations that would make most grown men cry. But not Salve’s chief baker, David Brawley. Once he’s in the kitchen mixing ingredients and kneading bread, he confesses that his job is “acheap form of therapy.” If he could, Sigmund Freud would roll over in his grave after tasting Brawley’s Italian bread creations. Brawley learned most of his techniques from the crazy Italians he cooked with in New York. His rustic table breads-herb focaccia, semolina loaf, and soda biscuits flavored with olive oil-are complimentary with every meal-psychiatric help at no charge. 214-220-0070.


Anne Tenney

Anne Ten ne y loves candles. So much so that she closed her designer tabletop store on McKinney, bought some used equipment in Taos, and set up Purelight Candles in Carrollton. where she manufactures exclusive, hand-poured, hand-polished candles. Her modern designs are made with pure vegetable wax (no petroleum), and the cotton wick guarantees a long, slow burn. Available exclusively at Forty Five Ten. 214-559-4510.


The outdoor patio at Obzeet, a unique cafe and bar, is a little slice of Puerto Vallarta. Barefoot waitresses dodge pink plastic flamingoes and Koi ponds to deliver tasty sandwiches and salads and potent margaritas. 972-867-6126.


Life is all about convenience. Soon we’ll be able to pick up a bagel and coffee at the tollbooth. Until then, buy a bagel stick at Einstein Bros. Bagels, The service is friendly, the menu is quirky, and the bagel sticks are the ultimate behind-the-wheel meal. They’re bagels, all right, but they’re served in a long brown bag that catches any stray sesame seeds, asiago cheese flakes, or cinnamon sugar, making car cuisine a less crumby experience. Multiple locations.


This is no new accolade, but if you want the best dining experience in Dallas, Franco Bertalasi’s Riviera is, was, and we hope shall be, the place to go. From the minute you enter the front door to the time the valet brings the car around. The Riviera is the most consistently excellent restaurant in Dallas, combining fabulous food, graceful service, and an elegant setting-an anomaly in this show-happy, gimmick-crazy town. 214-351-0094.


Marty’s epicure department has always been stellar. Now that they’re plating food by candlelight, it tastes even better. Mynetta Cockerell is in the kitchen (another Dallas woman manning the stove to good effect) and the food at Marty Ts Wine Bar is in a class with the best French bistros in town. And of course, to the extent that great wine makes good food great, Marty’s has the advantage over any other Dallas restaurant. The wine cellar, always remarkable at retail, looks even better when you’re buying by the bottle to accompany your meal, You can cruise the bins before dinner and pick out the wine you want, at your price point. Add free corkage, and your tab is considerably less than showier lists in town. 214-526-4070.


Korea is clearly the next wave in the Asian invasion. We’ve tasted Thai, chowed down on Chinese, devoured Vietnamese, and spun out on sushi. Now kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage, is coming to center stage. Korea Town, the expanding neighborhood at the comer of Royal and Harry Hines. began in 1979 when Sung Kim opened the Korea House restaurant. Now her restaurant is the center of a thriving Korean community filled with cafes serving Korean barbecue. Korea House also serves a soothing manduguk, a tasty dumpling stew in a seasoned beef broth, but the heart of Korean food is the tabletop grill, a food-as-enter-tainment style of eating that is kid-friendly, connoisseur-worthy, and fun-hibachis are back. 972-243-0434.


Hole In The Walt

The stench of stale beer and cigarettes greet you at the front door. By the time your eyes adjust to the neon beer signs and your ears adapt to the live blues tunes, you’ve already got a cold beer in your hand. The Hole In The Wall on Harry Hines has it all-regulars perched at the bar, chain smoking and watching Maverick reruns on Nick at Night; bartenders that look like they’ve never seen the light of day; and great jalapeno cheeseburgers. There is even an outdoor beer garden-a holdover from the ’70s-with picnic tables and real grass to sit on. If you’re lucky, you’ll witness a live offering to the bra collection above the bar. 972-247-2252.


You can buy a good knife just about anywhere-from a specialty gourmet shop, a department store, off the Internet, or from some guy on the street. But when your Ginsu loses its edge or your Henckel can’t even cut mustard, it’s lime to pack your blades and follow the pros to Veiga’s. 214-821-3240.

FOODAHOLIC FIX American Institute of Wine & Food

The American Institute of Wine & Food was founded in 1981 by Richard Graff, Robert Mondavi, and Julia Child for the nonprofit purpose of promoting fine American food, which at the time was only beginning to emerge from oxymoronic status. Now there are more than 30 groups nationwide and one of the most active, vocal, and money-raising chapters is right here in Dallas. Supported by the expected industry mavens, amateur gourmets, and a healthy contingent of Dallas society, AlWF is a cultural cause and has probably done more for good food in Dallas than any other person, business, or organization. AIWF sponsors all kinds of food events from chef-taught cooking classes at the Farmers Market to $300-a-head dinners hosted by Ms. Child herself. 214-696-2493.



The Mansion

So many meetings, so little time. Power lunches are disappearing faster than you can say “three martini.’* To adapt to the current pace, The Mansion on Turtle Creek has successfully redesigned the lunch menu in the main dining room so that busy CEOs can get in and out in less than an hour-but only if they’ve finished butting heads over a business breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal, eggs Benedict. or huevos rancheros in the sunny Promenade dining room. 214-559-2100.


Any place that survives for 32 years with the front door nailed shut. no sign anywhere, the actual entrance in a back alley, and a mangy Chow as the unofficial greeter, deserves special recognition. Rose’s Hamburgers has attained four-star restaurant status, even if the menu has only two choices: hamburger or cheeseburger. (Okay, if Rose is feeling perky, she might fix you a grilled cheese sandwich or a hoi dog. But don’t push it.) For the most part. Rose Stivers shuns publicity and is content to slay in the little kitchen wedged between a griddle full of meat and a rack of Sunbeam buns. She lets her burgers do the talking. 214-891-0631.


Yes, the crusts are trimmed, but that’s all the white truffle panini at Salve has in common with its Velveeta-oozing cousin. Made with what the kitchen lovingly calls “Truffle Jack’”-a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese studded with bits of white truffle imported from a cooperative outside Florence-the panini is gently grilled, pressed to perfection and served as linger food in the bar. 214-220-0070. SMOKING SECTION

Cook works

Face it. All guys like to cook outside and compare sizes-of their grills, that is. But il takes a more dedicated backyard barbecuer to handle a real smoker. Now Cookworks offers the ultimate showstopper- The Bandera. Built in New Braunfels. the heavy-duty steel unit has 744 square inches of cooking space (that’s big) offset from the firebox, which can be filled with a variety of scented wood chips. The smoker comes with simple instructions, but braggin’ rights are not included. 972-960-2665.


Kuby’s has been on the corner of Snider Plaza and Daniel for what, 40 years? It’s still the heart of all things German in Dallas-on Saturdays, you will surely hear German spoken at the meal counter. Weekend evenings feature a full menu of Spezialitaeten Des Hanses (including the best schnitzel in town) and an oompah band. The deli still serves up some of the best worst around-made even better by a sidekick serving of hot German potato salad. “Ich bin ein Berliner” al least until dinner’s over. 214-363-2231



Sur La Table

In the last few years, cooking has become a voyeuristic activity. The Food Network has inspired a whole population of couch potato cooks who look but never taste, watch but never stir. Sur La Table, a premier cookware store, offers an interactive alternative to this passive gastronomy-the students are invited to participate hands-on in the kitchen, whether you are a heginner or semi-pro. Local star chefs (like David Holben, director of culinary opera-lions at Wynnewood Hospitality) and touring national food celebrities do the teaching. But hang on to your credit cards-after class, you’ll be tempted by more than 12,000 kitchen gadgets and accessories. 214-219-4404.

BEST PIG OUT Gennie’s Bishop Grill

c heck your cholesterol count at the door, grab a tray. and get in line. Gennie’s Bishop Grill is Texas home cookin” and the portions of chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, and baked squash are truly Texas-sized, Warning: To finish the peanut butter pie. you’ll need to wear elastic-waist pants. 214-946-1752.

TEA PARTY Renaissance Garden

F orget about Boston-the best tea party is happening at Dallas’ Renaissance Garden Cafe in Inessa Stewart Antiques. You can have proper high tea-complete with scones and clotted cream, dainty sandwiches, and individual fruit tarts-in a dining room surrounded by European and French antiques. With advance notice, your party can relax in huge leather chairs at the ultra-long dining table-or even in one of the beds set with linens and down. Sounds like our kind of pajama party. 214-366-7770.

POCKET MAN Zodiac Greek Grill

Eschewing locally available pockets, Michel Ayoub imports his pita from Chicago. He and his wife, Irene, have been specifying Grecian Delight pita bread since they discovered the brand nearly 20 years ago. Michel and Irene run the Zodiac Greek Grill, a mom-and-pop Middle Eastern cafe that has hecome a lunchtime destination for downtown shoppers and business types who get down over the marvelous hummus and pita bread. What’s so special about these pockets? Michel’s answer echoes Goldilocks: “They ’re not too thick, not too thin, but juu-ust right,” 214-653-1060.


Buy the updated version by the pound at Whole Foods-grated sharp white and yellow cheddar mixed with mayonnaise, red pepper, green onion, and jalapenos. Or indulge in the classic-a Palm Beach sandwich at the Highland Park Pharmacy. Either way, admit that pimento cheese, far from being a passé, ’50s canapé concoction, is once again a happenin’ thing. We strongly encourage you to consider the following for your next classy cocktail walk-around: Slice celery into three-inch sticks. Fill with Tex-Mex Pimento Cheese Spread. Sprinkle with paprika. Wear red lipstick and a shirtwaist dress. Multiple locations.


Cooks & Books

We’ll take Food Facts for $400, please. Answer: milk, bread, and dates. What is the monotonous diet of the nomadic Bedouins? Want to play Final Jeopardy? Head over to Cooks & Books in Preston Center, where owner Brent Booker now stocks the consummate compendium of cuisine-The Oxford Companion to Food. Full of everything you ever wanted to know but didn’t know who to ask, this handy, humorous, encyclopedia of eating even has useful tips and factoids- like how to cut the greasy taste of hippopotamus meat with wine and vinegar-that will impress all your friends. 214-365-0400.


bonny and jerry itzig were custom roasting and blending designer coffees before starbucks was a bleep on wall street’s radar. eventually they sold their successful La Creme Coffee and Tea Company, and. after waiting out a “noncompete” clause, they are back with a new line of wholesale and retail Saeco espresso machines for dummies-espresso, cappuccino, and lattes at the push of a button. AU you have to remember are the beans. Oh, and they sell those, too. 214-878-6293.


Cities Praline Co.

Robin Tenery is a one-woman praline-makin” machine. Two days a week, she slaves over an antique copper kettle, hand-mixing her secret recipes for chewy pralines. The rest of her life is spent hand-packaging, delivering, marketing, and keeping the books for her business, Park Cities Praline Co. In her spare time, she fills special orders for one of her 15 other flavors, like chocolate liqueur or cinnamon. Give the girl a break and order off her web site, 214-526-2619.


Schepps Dairy

Dean Fearing, Stephan Pyles, Marc Cassel, and Jason Gorman all share a secret-a special ingredient that makes their sauces smooth and their desserts more heavenly. Schepps Dairy, the Dallas-based dairy, delivers gold wax containers of its high-quality whipping cream to most of the high-end restaurants in town. The good news is that area grocery stores are now carrying the thick, heavy cream that whips easily into firm peaks and maintains a great flavor even when cold. Schepps’ secret? They’re not telling. Available at select Tom Thumbs and Alberston’s.


Had a few too many Fat Tires in Deep Ellum? Well, instead of stumbling into the wrong place and waking up with your date’s name tattooed on your hurt, stop by Insomnia for an espresso-based Nuclear Girl Scout-you’ll get an extra badge for driving home sober. 214-761-1556.


Liberty owner Jeffrey Yarbrough and his rockabilly wine manager Mark Cotton aren’t buying just the popular Cakebread or Jordan wines. Any distributor that comes a knockin’ has to sit down, taste the food, and then come up with wines that complement chef Annie Wong’s intoxicating mix of Asian cuisine. Of course you can order a glass of your favorite Merlot. but once the food comes, the waitstaff is instructed 10 suggest wines with each entrée and they offer bottles at several prices. The result: a perfect marriage of wine and food-Bonny Doon Rieslings rule! 2)4-887-8795.


Yuppie-yi-o-ki-ay. One night co-owner Mary O’Brien had to go to work and couldn’t find a sitter. Frustrated, she dragged hertwo kids along and let them play outside while she got down to the business of running the Dream Cafe. Il worked so well for her, she created a haven for parents in the same fix. Monday nights have evolved into a kidfest-from 6 to 8:30p.m., the huge lawn is full of clowns, magicians, face painters, and children running wild. Warning; The wine-sipping adults are the only supervisors, and most nights the kids move faster than the waiters. 214-954-0486.


Most Dallasites become tongue-tied and just point to the. menu when they order foie gras. These days, only a handful of upscale restaurants don’t offer a version of the exotic goose liver paté, so it’s time to learn how to pronounce FWAH GRAH. A little elocution goes a long way at The Mercury, where chef Chris Ward’s rendition, loosely translated, is bold in the foie (liver) and subtle in the gras (fat). A simple slice is bathed only in salt and pepper, then flash-seared and served perched on a bed of baked garlic custard. 972-960-7774.


All the restaurant world is a stage for Paul Draper. His sleek, minimalist-style interiors have graced some of the best-dressed dining rooms around-Sevy’s, Crescent Club, Voltaire, Lombardi Mare, and The Riviera all share Draper’s touch. His designs aren’t just window dressing; he treats restaurant design like a science, mixing the flow, theme, and attitude of the concept with simplified style. State and local codes never looked so good.


Stein’s Bakery has been baking cookies, cakes, and bread since 1863. But in 1967, owner Regis Stutton single-handedly revolutionized finger food by making the first miniature hamburger bun. Hostesses immediately started passing individual burgers and mini sandwiches; deviled eggs, barbecued weenies, and Swedish meatballs disappeared overnight. 972-385-9911.

STAR QUALITY STAR CANYON Every city has its defining landmarks, we have the flying red horse. Reunion Tower, the school-book depository. Recently another icon has joined the pantheon-Star Canyon, Chef Stephan Pyles’ ribeye steak covered with a thick cloud of perfect onion rings is as Dallas as the Cowboys, as tasty as Neiman Marcus, as rich as Tom Hicks. 214-520-7827.


Darryl Beeson

If you are looking for a wine to match your price point with your poulet, Voltaire sommelier Darryl Beeson will gladly guide you through Voltaire’s vast collection that has been assembled from private collectors all over the world-and boy. do some of these botties have a story to tell. Like the Domaine Romanée-Conti La Tache 1942, bottled when the Nazis occupied France. (No wonder they lost.) The label prohibits shipping to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, or the United States. You can pop the cork for a mere $9,500. 972-239-8988.


You know this cake. You love this cake. You’ve ordered it as the “Menage a Trois” at Tony’s Wine Warehouse. The Grape Escape disguises it as “Belgian Rainbow.” L’Epicurien, the wholesale patisserie-cum-charcuterie that makes this decadent concoction with frozen layers of white, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate mousses officially sells it as “Trois Rivieres,” If you call L’Epicurien, they will custom make any size you want-and they don’t even care what you call it. Special orders only: 214-747-5885.

HOT LUNCH Thai Noodle and Rice

A s the summer temperatures soar, our rule of thumb for dining is to fight fire with fire. Most days, we head over to Paul and Pam Kasemsri’s Thai Noodle and Rice for a heaping plate of spicy rice noodles tossed in a garlicky bean sauce studded with fresh jalapenos and chopped basil. The price is no sweat-$5.95. 214-827-5828,

LOVE INN Hotel St. Germain T here’s no denying the connection between food and love. And while love makes the beloved beautiful, luxury, low light,and champagne all help. In Dallas, the best place to court is the Hotel St. Germain. You don’t even have to mean it-this chandeliered, draped, and tasseled décor does all the romancing for you. The latest sparkler here is the Parisian-esque champagne bar. Wrapped in lush upholstery and dimly lit, the bar is totally dangereuse-the perfect place for a liaison if the rest of Dallas hadn’t already discovered it. Stop by for a bite of foie gras before a concert or for caviar and bubbles after the theater-or for a drink à deux before seduction. Note: Rooms upstairs are available by reservation. 214-871-2516.


Our philosophy; Good design should be for everyone. That’s why (besides the more practical henefit of no more lukewarm cups of java) we love this high-design coffeemak-er that brews directly into a sleek stainless thermos. But this good-looking gadget is just one of the cool culinary toys available at our favorite housewares boutique, Targée (aka Target). Prestigious designers like Michael Graves have been drafted to create all kinds of kitchen and tabletop ware for this leading “upscale discounter” – making cheap chic.




Wine snobs rejoice! Pogo’s, a superior source for wine gadgets, wine, and wine savvy, has new tasting toys -a line of Les Impitoyable glasses. Translated, “the Merciless” styling allows you to gargle like the pros with glasses that cut the wine no slack. Each glass is shaped to amplify the characteristics of a particular range of wine-No. 4’s dappled surface is perfect for sparkling wines. No. 1 is for young reds and spirits, No. 2 is for whites, and the all-purpose Taster super oxygenates the wine and prevents the wants-to-know-it-all novice from sloshing the wine out of the glass while swirling like a master sommelier. 214-350-8989.


Y ou only have to answer two questions at Cafe Izmir: “meat” or “vegetarian” for food and “red” or “white” for wine. For the rest of the evening you sit back and feast on a parade of hummus, tabbouleh, Russian chicken salad, grilled meats, fragrant basmati rice, and pita bread. The only question you have to ask is. “May we have the check?” 214-826-7788.


Thomas Avenue Beverage Company

Finally, a neighborhood with a real corner hangout. Every day, Thomas Avenue Beverage Company is full of real-life Norms, Cliffs, and Frasiers. To keep the regulars happy, the eclectic menu rotates every few weeks (or whenever the kitchen gets bored). It’s not a burger-and-beer joint, although they do serve both. But you can whine about your job to the bartender in style over a sautéed sea bass. 214-979-0452.


There is a whole underworld culture of Chile Heads and Mole Heads constantly looking for the latest taste to torch their tongues. Pendery’s now makes it easy for these hot heads to order online-simply go to You can also buy fresh or dried chiles and hundreds of hot sauces direct from the warehouse or their store in downtown Fort Worth. Or you can call for a catalog. But make sure your fire extinguisher is up to code. 214-741-1870 or 1-800-533-1870.


We should all be so lucky to hit a deli counter with Tina Wasserman. Not only could she tell us what in the hell we were looking at, she could teach us how to make it. For the last 20 years, she has been welcoming students into her stylish home to learn the intricacies of Jewish cooking. Once you’ve mastered gefilte fish, kasha varnishkes, and chopped liver, you’ll never have to worry about your dinner guests “eating like a bird.” 214-369-6269.


Golden rule: Never eat a steak at Chamberlain’s without a side of com. Blanched in the husk, cut from the cob, and sautéed with onion and applewood-smoked bacon, chef Richard Chamberlain finish-es off the corn with a touch of cream, thyme, and a pinch of Parmesan. Our compliments to the chef. 972-934-2467.

STREET FOOD Mexican Ice Cream Vendors

Our mouths instantly sali vate at the sound of the wagging bells atop the brightly colored push wagons filled with Mexican mango, watermelon, and cantaloupe paletas fuititas. Our favorite is the tamarind pop-tart and not too sweet. You have to know where to find them (try cruising east on Henderson), but your best bet is to find a store where they don’t speak English and say par favor. Or go straight to the factory, 214-942-1255.


Jim Severson

Jim Severson knows how to run a restaurant. He has a standing tee time at noon on Tuesdays, soccer practice on Wednesdays, and baseball on Fridays. In between dropping his kids off at various other activities, he stops by Sevy ’s to cook a few meals or change the menu. With no plans to open any other locations, Severson has his priorities in line-family and customers first, restaurant second, then work on lowering his handicap. 214-265-7389.

SEE IT. EAT IT Kimbell Art Museum

Food has inspired many an artist. But you won’t find Campbell’s tomato soup on the wall- or in the kitchen-of the newly redecorated Buffet Restaurant in the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. Instead, the gourmet soups, salads-sandwiches, and desserts created by Shelhy Schafer are as pretty and refined as the paintings. The Maillot Courtyard is the perfect backdrop for the beautiful charcoal granite tabletops and brushed metallic chairs. 817-654-1034.


Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins is a sculptor. He spends most of his days in a 20-degree freezer, shaping huge blocks of ice into frozen flower urns, icy presentation hearts, and, most famously, a life-sized replica of the Stanley Cup. In 1993, working from specially drawn blueprints, he built a 15-ton ice castle facade to flank the circular stage at the Crystal Charity Ball. They paid $10,000 for the completed work-only Dallas Water Utilities makes more money on tap water. 2I4-631-6207.


Jimmy’s Food Store

If you can’t find what you’re looking for at Jimmy’s Food Store, you’ll have to fly to Italy. Although Jimmy De Carlo has retired, his sons, Mike and Paul, keep the shelves stocked with a vast array of Italian cheeses, meats, dry goods, and pastas while Momma Maria counts the money. Half the fun of shopping at Jimmy’s is having your picture taken while kissing the huge, 220-pound Italian mortadella-the smoked, air-dried sausage from Bologna (that until recently was unavailable in the United States) that now sits in the meat counter in the back. That’s a lot of good baloney. 214-823-6180.


Cnances are you’ll have to wait for a table at Terilli’s, but if your timing is right (i.e., there are single blonde babes at the bar), bar manager Mickey Wales and his crew will start juggling cans, glasses, and limes. Their act isn’t all show-even if the crowd is five deep, Wales will have a drink in your hand faster than you can say “Tom Cruise.” 214-827-3993.

HOT TAMALES Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory

A good tamale is hard to find. But we don’t have to look any further than Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory. For more than 50 years, the Leal family has been stuffing seasoned pork, beef, and chicken packed in commeal into steamed com husks. Take home a dozen (they freeze nicely) or sit at one of the few tables and start unwrapping. 214-943-7681.

SECRET GARDEN Sticks & Stones

Close your eyes and walk the plant aisles at Sticks & Stones. Instead of roses and honeysuckle, the mouthwatering aromas of curry, lavender, and cilantro seduce you. Besides lovely antique garden tchotchkes, this nursery stocks exotic aromatic herbs-chocolate mint, Vietnamese cilantro, garlic chives, and English lavender, to name a few. Simon and Garfunkel would have written a totally different chorus to “Scarborough Fair” if they’d shopped at Sticks & Stones, “Remember me to the one who lives there., .garlic parsley, pine-scented rosemary, and coconut thyme….” 214-824-7277.


Ozona Grill

How do you spell relief? At Ozona Grill, all you have to do is point to one of the 12 vodkas on the menu and say, “Bloody Mary.” Instantly, an iced glass of vodka will appear and you’re off to the make-your-own bar. All the medicine you need-spicy house mix, V-8 juice, celery salt, Italian seasoning, Tabasco Sauce, olives, horseradish-is at your disposal. If you’re really hurting, sign a release form and add a few drops of Dave’s Insanity Sauce-guaranteed to clear your head of any remaining cobwebs or brain cells. 214-265-9105.


Don’t show up at Venus Steakhouse and Supper Club in blue jeans. The swanky spot reminiscent of a 1950s club is all business and cocktail attire. The Carey Richards Orchestra plays Friday evenings, and a late-night menu-including plenty of champagne, caviar, and cognac-make it easy to swoon to the big-band sounds from the comfort of plush couches. Time to brush up on that box step. 214-520-1177.


World Wide Foods

It’s the sexiest food show we know-the big vats of olives in the back of World Wide Foods. Barrels as high as your waist, filled with darkly viscous liquid and burnished kala-matas; sleek and slippery little Nicoises; puckered, oil-cured Moroccans; and mouth-filling green Sicilians the size of cherry tomatoes. World Wide has the hest selection of olives in town, and buying them here is a sensual experience. Scoop out a ladle full of these assorted luxuries, slick with oil and brine, and take them home to savor later. We’d tell you what it’s like to taste these full-fruited ovals, but this is a family publication. 214-824-8860.

SHAKE IT UP. BABY Cafe Pacific

Former Louisiana governor Huey P. Long never left his home state without a real New Orleans bartender to keep him supplied with an authentic Nawlins-style Ramos Gin Fizz. Luckily, we only have to move between a few ZIP codes to sip the real thing at Cafe Pacific, where for 20 years they have been serving the light, airy gin-based drink, flavored with orange flower water and frothed with egg whites. After filling a stemmed glass (we actually prefer double old-fashioned tumblers), the stainless steel hopper remains close by for easy refills-a true Mardi Gras milkshake. 214-526-1170.


Once upon a time in 1983, Pennsylvania-bom Gary Powell searched in vain for a proper pretzel in Big D. Disappointed and hungry, he took matters into his own hands and began making soft pretzels at home. Once he perfected the recipe, he boldly approached the powerful conces-sionaire at Six Flags Over Texas, who did’ n’t have much interest in pretzels because they were only selling about 3,000 a year. But in one of those Hollywood-ending moments, they decided to take a chance on the poor guy. After just two days, the park sold more than 5,000 “Texas Twists.” Today, Powell owns the market-his twisty treats are in concession stands all over the country. You’ve had one if you’ve been to the State Fair, a major sporting event, or a bowling alley.


California Pizza Kitchen

Who says pizza has to he fattening? In typical Hollywood style, California Pizza Kitchen now offers a glam-orously thin pizza crust covered with radicchio arugula, and baby red leaf lettuce tossed in vinaigrette and topped with shaved Parmesan. The Tricolore is perfect for hot summer days and frustrating summer diets. 214-750-7067.


You can ask them to hold the cilantro or the garlic-special orders never upset Blue Mesa owners Liz and Jim Baron, who happily let you order gua-camole “your way.” Chunky, smooth, hot, or mild-when the server is through, don’t forget to lick the bowl. 214-378-8686.

CASE STUDY La Cave Warehouse

We always buy bagels by the dozen, and now we have a reason to buy wine by the case. For 23 years, Anne and Francois Chandou have been personalizing wine cellars all over town, and if you show up at La Cave Warehouse, they will customize a case from their selection of 40,000 bottles. Every case is automatically discounted 10 percent, but if you catch Francois on a good day, he may knock off some more. 214-747-9463.


City Cafe To Go

Whatever you do, don’t go into City Cafe To Go hungry. You ’ll never be able to make a decision after studying the cases loaded with mouthwatering platters of roasted leg of lamb, salmon horseradish cakes, and glazed roast duck breast-all ready for effortless gourmet takeout dinners. We never leave without a container of their fresh tomato soup and we always grab a dozen Mexican wedding cookies dusted with powdered sugar to eat like potato chips on the way home. 214-351-3366.

COOL TOOL Copper Mixer

KitchenAid recently introduced the ultimate status-symbol accessory-the hand-finished copper stand mixer. Produced in limited quantities, this is one tool you won’t want to put away when your guests arrive, We know a bachelor with a newly redecorated kitchen who positioned the mixer on his counter as a piece of art. Gets the girls every time. Available at the great indoors. 214-764-1000.


You say crayfish, we say crawdads, but Kay Agnew serves the politically correct Louisiana crawfish at Margaux’s. Fried and popped in their arma-ture of cornmeal, these little guys are positively addictive. 214-740-1985.


We’re going to blow the lid off the best-kept secret in town: Every night when the clock at Eatzi’s strikes 9 p.m., most of the pre-packaged dinners, pizzas, salads, and box lunches (turned dinners) are marked down. Just look for the little red dots that indicate “2 for F on containers of vegetable lasagna. grilled chicken salad, and pepperoni pizza. Don’t bother keeping your receipt; obviously all sales are final. 214-526-1515.


Lights! Camera! Appetizer! No. he’s not Emeril (and we’re happy about that), but Kent Rathbun ’s chef’s table at Abacus is the best food show in town. Up to 12 people can sit front row center and feast on a seven-course meal paired with wine for only $85 per person. Rathbun treats you like a guest in his home-and he works so close to your table, he’s likely to sneak you a taste of his nightly specials. 214-559-3111.


At Tin Star, they keep those tacos moving fast, fast, fast. Finally Dallas has a place to eat where the “F” word is synonymous with good. Don’t let the frazzled atmosphere fool you-there really is a method to the madness. Just line up next to the guy passing out complimentary que-sadillas and place your order. By the time you’ve hit the drink machine and the salsa station, the glowing red psychedelic pager will be signaling “order up.” 214- 999-0059.

SAVE YOUR SOUL Sweet Georgia Brown

If it’s Tuesday, it must be pork chops at Sweet Georgia Brown Bar-B-Que Buffet. Get here early for down-home-style thick chicken-fried pork chops, gooey homemade macaroni and cheese, mustard greens, and squash casserole. Housed in an abandoned fast-food joint, the place isn’t much to look at, sut you’ll be reborn after a heaping plate of stewed turkey wings and dumplings. 214-375-2020.


We fell in love at first sight with Moser Bohemian lead-free crystal cordial glasses, which are handcrafted in a small village outside of Prague. These babies would make even Trinity River sludge go down like ourvoisier. Available at the Homeshop. 214-871-3620.


As general manager of Nana Grill, Paul Pinnell ’s most mportant unofficial task is “marriage man-ager.” Almost every night, he is responsible for making sure that the right diamond ring submerged in a champagne cocktail gets delivered to the correct unsuspecting fiancée-to-be. But on Sunday mornings, he lulls out all the stops and hosts the ultimate sophisticated champagne buffet brunch- the romantic room is scattered with carving, custom omelet, seafood, and dessert stations. Watch for falling rocks. 214-741-7479.