The Best Neighborhood Restaurants

They’re a nearby respite for parents who want to share a bottle of wine while their rug rats run rampant or a quiet, candlelit spot for adults to sip Chianti without the kids. Dining at a great neighborhood restaurant is uncomplicated, and for that we celebrate them.

HIGHLANDS CAFE in Lake Highlands

Restaurants are the heart and soul of any neighborhood. They’re just around the corner when there’s no food in the fridge. To most, dining at a great neighborhood restaurant is uncomplicated, and the waiters know your name.

Lake Highlands is one of the many neighborhoods we covered for this story. This family-friendly community was frustrated by the absence of a chef-driven, nonchain restaurant, so several locals took matters into their own hands. First-time restaurateurs Tommy Steele, Anita Siegers, and Kathy Stewart banded together to open Highlands Cafe (see p. 59). To them we say bravo for their community spirit. And thanks to all the other moms and pops who lovingly prepare delicious food for their neighbors.

NORTH

ADDISON

Avanti Euro Bistro. At this Sex and the City-style spot, hip young professionals line the dark bar every evening, and chic diners nosh on Mediterranean delicacies. 5001 Addison Circle. 972-386-7800.

Benedict’s. Many styles of eggs Benedict are the stars of breakfast or brunch. The atmosphere’s lacking, but reasonable prices make you feel as rich as the hollandaise. 4800 Belt Line Rd. 972-490-0500.

Cafe Gecko. Go for the booze and the queso, but stay for the lively atmosphere and the great chicken sour cream enchiladas. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Ste 118. 972-458-9884.

Ferrari’s. Francesco Secchi and his wife Jane are hands-on owners, and son Stefano mans the stove. The open kitchen turns out delicious Sardinian specialties. 14831 Midway Rd. 972-980-9898.

Lefty’s. Shimmy up to the bar for a cold draw and crawfish tostadas. This family-friendly place also serves down-home chowder and bacon-wrapped shrimp. 4021 Belt Line Rd. 972-774-9518.

SEXY BITE: Blackened South African tilapia with jumbo shrimp sizzles like the hot jazz at Soho in Addison.

 << Soho Food & Jazz. The name tells you what they do, but the experience is much sexier: high-tech lighting, cool jazz, and a sophisticated Asian and Italian fusion menu. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 102B. 972-490-8686.

Vernon’s Grill. The antidote for chichi dining, this longtime hangout for Green Bay fans has above-average bar food, including a tasty patty melt. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 142. 972-661-3707.

ALLEN 

Hibachi Rock. This hipster version of Benihana has a rock soundtrack and Elvis posters on the wall. Steak and scallops are delish, as are the sushi rolls. 1223 W. McDermott Dr. 972-747-0227.

Mexi Go. When Mexi Go opened six years ago, there wasn’t much else around. Now, surrounded by competitors, the restaurant has traded its fast-food format for full service. 533 W. McDermott Dr. 972-359-0607.

Samui Thai. Samui has a fondness for won ton wrappers, both in the “bags of gold” appetizer and in the banana spring roll dessert. 906 W. McDermott Dr. 972-747-7452.

CARROLLTON/FARMERS BRANCH

Cafe on the Square. If you don’t wave to a stranger, you may not get served at this homey spot in the historic downtown district. 1104 Elm St. 972-245-1829.

Cafe Toscana. Chef Peter Raneri runs this charming BYOB Italian restaurant serving home-style favorites like veal piccata and cheesy lasagna. 3052 Old Denton Rd. 972-820-9580.

Chicago Rick’s. Owner Rick Kerner is from—you guessed it—Chicago. His tiny joint tosses a medium-thin crust pizza with names like Capone (pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms) and the Chicagoan (ground beef and black olives). 3628 Frankford Rd. 972-820-9689.

FAR NORTH DALLAS

Cathy’s Wok. Good Chinese takeout is hard to find, but the queen of Dallas Chinese cuisine, Cathy Liu, still cooks (and delivers) some of the most inspired dishes in Dallas. 4520 Frankford Rd. 972-818-7667.

Mirabelle. Chef/owner Joseph Maher changes the menu on a whim according to what’s fresh and seasonal—the perfect recipe for a restaurant designed to bring fine food to finer neighbors. 17610 Midway Rd., Ste. 140. 972-733-0202.

Sweet Basil. Easy is as easy does in this family-friendly spot that emphasizes seafood with an Italian twist. 17610 Midway Rd. 972-733-1500.

FRISCO

Abbey Grill. The big claim to fame is that the building used to be a Baptist church. Look for pews in the foyer and “heavenly” puns on the menu. Praise the Lord, no sins are committed against the Angus steaks or the prime rib. 7185 Main St., Ste. 100. 972-335-3812.

Luigi’s. The Nicci family sold their old place, Leonardo’s, to concentrate on Luigi’s; they all work here in one capacity or another. Pizza is New York-style. (What else?) 4944 Preston Rd. 972-712-5850.

Randy’s Steakhouse. Affable Randy Burks left the kitchen at Del Frisco’s 11 years ago, clairvoyantly migrating to Frisco, where he serves buttery good Prime hand-cut steaks in a stunning Victorian house built in 1869. His mom and pop help out—sweet! 7026 Main St. 972-335-3066.

Scotty P’s Hamburgers. Scotty Pontikes’ burgers are good, yes. But many of his loyal customers go for his smoked hot dogs, sliced long and served on a hamburger bun. The Scotty P’s phenomenon has spread to Allen, McKinney, and Plano. 4710 Preston Rd., Ste. 300. 972-712-6556.

Tres Méridas. This Latin fusion restaurant crosses boundaries, from Mexican tacos and tamales to Caribbean tilapia, Venezuelan arepas (corn cakes), and Spanish paella. And don’t forget tapas. 2809 Preston Rd., Ste. 1200. 972-334-0937.

PLANO EAST

Aparicio’s Restaurante Mexicano & Tequila Bar. Built next door to the old Plano Tortilla Factory, Aparicio’s picks up where the cafe left off, with puffy chiles rellenos and Mexican guisado stew. 1001 18th St. 972-423-6980.

EUROPEAN SWEET: The old-world tastes of Austria are alive and well at Jörg’s Cafe Vienna in East Plano.

Jörg’s Cafe Vienna >> Tucked between antique shops in East Plano’s charming old downtown, Jörg’s serves made-from-scratch Austrian dishes, including sausage samplers and sauerkraut flecked with bacon and caraway seeds. Enjoy the convivial biergarten in the back. 1037 E. 15th St. 972-509-5966.

Kelly’s Eastside. One of the bright lights in the ongoing revival of East Plano’s downtown, Kelly’s has a Western theme. An on-site smoker turns out great ribs, and the Sunday breakfast is big—very big. 1422 Avenue K. 972-424-9200.

Paesano’s. What looks like a typical Italian place has fab food, from the dense complimentary bread to the pert minestrone to the melting veal osso buco, thanks to Arthur Pira of Popolos. 508 14th St. 972-578-2727.

Poor Richard’s Cafe. Dinner here is a little dreary, but the lines form every Sunday morn for over-the-top egg dishes, such as the taco omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, and cheddar. Biscuits and wheat rolls are divine. 2442 Avenue K. 972-423-1524.

PLANO WEST

Bavarian Grill. It’s a kitschy, old-school German place, with the stein collection, waitresses in dirndls, and a mega-list of German beers. The wurst sampler runs the gamut from mild to spicy. 221 W. Parker Rd. 972-881-0705.

Covino’s Pizza and Pasta. Raves for Joe’s Special pizza and Michele’s white chocolate cheesecake never flag, despite the bare-bones setting, slow service, and endless wait for a table on weekends. 3265 Independence Pkwy. 972-519-0345.

Greek Isles Grille and Taverna. The pioneering Greek restaurant from Gus Kostas does the classics right: stuffed grape leaves, decadent moussaka, and spanakopita that’s all spinach and no grease. How about that baklava ice cream? 3309 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 370. 972-423-7778.

Nakamoto Japanese Cuisine. You might need a bloodhound to find Nakamoto, hidden behind the Burlington Coat Factory. But the search pays off because this is—and has been for nearly 20 years—one of the top sushi spots in town. 3309 N. Central Expwy. 972-881-0328.

Picasso’s Italian Ristorante. Italian still rules here, but ebullient owner Max Dinga can’t resist dabbling in continental, e.g., beef tenderloin and rack of lamb. And look out: stellar cakes made with chestnut flour might just take over completely. 3948 Legacy Dr. 972-618-4143.

Sitar. Husband-and-wife team Mohammad and Ruqaiya Hussain opened this handsome Indian place in 2001, with shining results. Tandoori shrimp is a neat twist, and the naan is tops, whether plain or stuffed with onions, minced meat, or cottage cheese. 8612 Preston Rd. 214-618-0050.

Zorba’s. This friendly, informal mom-and-pop Greek joint serves earthy, homey food with a kick, such as the Grecian chicken with potatoes. Gyros are ultra-tender and deeply savory. Be prepared to wait on weekends. 1501 Preston Rd. 972-250-0002.

RICHARDSON

Dos Charros. The first outlet of this family-run Mexican mini-chain packs ’em in at lunch. It does a bit more seafood—such as shrimp and crabmeat enchiladas and grilled snapper—than other places. 108 University Village Center. 972-783-7671.

Masami. Half Japanese, half Thai, Masami is all good, whether serving pristine sushi or delectable pad Thai. The modern, elegant room and sweet service are as pleasing as the food. Richardson Heights Village, 501 W. Belt Line Rd., Ste. 116. 972-783-6800.

Maxim’s. Good Cantonese is enhanced by Vietnamese-style soups and coffee. The draw is dim sum, offered daily (not just weekends). Roast pork buns are luscious. 310 Terrace Dr. 972-231-6371.

Thai Soon. Lower Greenville pines away still for Thai Soon, which flew north to the hippie-est spot it could find (by Whole Foods). The eggplant green curry and wee lotus cups remain irresistible. 101 S. Coit Rd., Ste. 401. 972-234-6111.

SOUTH

DEEP ELLUM/DOWNTOWN

AllGood Cafe. Let out the waistline of your pants and go for it. Now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this hip spot serves the ultimate hangover helpers, including huevos rancheros with salsa and meatloaf slathered in tomato sauce. 2934 Main St. 214-742-5362.

Angry Dog. We’ve never so much as witnessed an argument in this brick-walled temple to the hot dog and hamburger. The chili dog and the hot wings are worth a drive from Plano. 2726 Commerce St. 214-741-4406.

Daddy Jack’s Wood Grill. Always one of our favorite brunch stops (bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys), Daddy Jack’s also rocks our seafood sensibilities in the evening with “Lobster Insanity” nights, when 1-pounders go for rock-bottom prices. 2723 Elm St. 214-653-3949.

Izmir Mediterranean Tapas. Tapas and Turkish coffee served in a dramatic setting make you feel like you are anywhere but downtown Dallas. Locals love the takeout policy: 25 percent off delivery orders when it rains. That’s what we call neighborhood friendly. 1520 Elm St. 214-653-8880.

Monica’s Aca y Alla. The heart and soul of Deep Ellum is in the dining room of this immensely popular Mexican spot. Owner Monica Greene keeps her neighbors (and commuters) happy with Sunday-morning breakfasts, half-price dinners on Tuesdays, 50-cent margaritas on Wednesdays, and, of course, steamy salsa dancing on Sunday. 2914 Main St. 214-748-7140.

Omega’s Tex-Mex Cafe. It’s 3 on Saturday morning and the bars are closed, but Omega’s is hopping with partygoers who aren’t ready to head home. Lunches are crowded for a better reason: great Tex-Mex. 212 N. Crowdus St. 214-744-6842.

Pepe’s & Mito’s. Are you always searching for good tamales? Head here for the real deal, plus serious Mexican food, like guiso stew and pollo almojo de ajo. 2911 Elm St. 214-741-1901.

Porta di Roma. No, this isn’t a post-funeral spot; all those people dressed in black are Neiman’s employees who love this no-frills Italian joint with a great view: watching downtown develop into a real neighborhood. 1623 Main St. 214-752-0855.

St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin. Owner Pete Zotos is just a regular guy, like most of his customers, and the food and atmosphere are user-friendly. We love the pasta “à la Diablo” for the accompanying chocolate milk that soothes the sting of the jalapeño-spiked sauce. 2730 Commerce St. 214-698-1511.
Vern’s Place. You haven’t carbo-loaded until you’ve stood in line here and feasted on anything that comes smothered, fried, and divine. It’s a real trip. 3600 Main St. 214-823-0435.

OAK CLIFF

Chan Thai. There’s no reason to leave the neighborhood for great Thai food. This small, swanky spot features fragrant curry specialties and delicious noodle dishes. 312 W. Seventh St. 214-948-9956.

MARIACHI TIME: When Gabriel Moreno and Saul Mendosa strike up the band, a party breaks out at El Ranchito.

 << El Ranchito. Laura Sanchez’s place is always crowded with large parties surrounding a hibachi grilling spicy goat. New menu items include bistec con carne and flan, but the festive atmosphere hasn’t changed; strolling mariachis are $15 a song. 610 W. Jefferson Ave. 214-946-4238.

Gennie’s Bishop Grill. If you haven’t spent a lunch hour here, then you haven’t lunched Dallas-style. The queen of home cooking serves classic, crispy chicken-fried steak with pinto beans, greens, and baked acorn squash to generations of loyal lunch eaters. 321 N. Bishop Ave. 214-946-1752.

Gloria’s. There are several locations, but this is the only spot we frequent for authentic Salvadorian pupusas. Half-price happy hours—3 to 7 p.m. weekdays and all day Monday—don’t dampen our enthusiasm. 600 W. Davis St. 214-948-3672.

Hattie’s. Its reputation has spread north of the Trinity. Stellar seasonal specialties include pecan-crusted catfish and belly-warming tomato soup with a bite-size grilled cheese. 418 N. Bishop Ave. 214-942-7400.

La Calle Doce. We’re a sucker for a restaurant in a house, and this south-side institution is a charming destination with homey service. Seafood specialties reign; the recent addition of California-style dishes (think mahi mahi tacos) has made an old favorite even better. 415 W. 12th St. 214-941-4304.

Las Ranitas. This is the perfect place to hunker down over a plate of Tex-Mex while you watch your favorite sporting event. Don’t be surprised if everyone here knows each other. It’s a great place to hang. 4611 Columbia Ave. 214-887-1444.

Tillman’s Corner. The neighborhood has grown up around this casual New American eatery that opened in 1992. It’s still a favorite spot for baby back ribs in an eclectic diner-style atmosphere. 324 W. Seventh St. 214-942-0988.

Veracruz Cafe. The hippest dining spot in the burgeoning Bishop Arts District specializes in dishes inspired by chef Lilia Mata’s hometown of Veracruz, Mexico, like the tasty chicken enchiladas smothered in a creamy pipan (pumpkin seed) sauce. 408 N. Bishop Ave., Ste. 107. 214-948-4746.
 
SOUTH DALLAS

Elaine’s Kitchen. Downtowners hit Elaine’s for flavorful Jamaican grub, including jerk chicken, curried goat, and flaky patties filled with spicy beef, chicken, or vegetables. 1912 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 214-565-1008.

Faye’s Kitchen. Talk about the personal touch: Faye Dove makes catfish, baked chicken, oxtail, and fried pies, then dishes them out from a steam table. There are six tables, if that many, and canned sodas. 221. S. Corinth St. 214-946-9465.

Lee Harvey’s. This super-hip bar and artists’ hangout serves light dinners Monday through Friday. Paninis, with portobello mushrooms, pesto, and scamorza, are fit for a gourmand. 1807 Gould St. 214-428-1555.

South Dallas Cafe. Get all your Southern faves here: fried chicken, pork chops with gravy, chicken and dumplings, and turkey wings, baked to an impossible softness. The best side is collard greens with bits of smoked turkey. 3126 Grand Ave. 214-428-8856.

South Side Grill. The classic diner across from Gilley’s, Poor David’s Pub, and the South Side lofts rounds out the growing scene on Lamar, serving above-average chargrilled burgers, BLTs, and milkshakes made with Blue Bell. 1326 S. Lamar St. 214-426-0882.

Sweet Georgia Brown. It’s a funky, old building, but who cares when you’ve got your fill of pan-fried chicken and smothered pork chops? Great house-made desserts include cobbler and sweet potato pie. 2840 E. Ledbetter Ave. 214-375-2020.

EAST 

CASA LINDA

Barbec’s. You’ll find everything from burgers, sandwiches, and chicken-fried steak on the menu, but people come here for the beer biscuits. You don’t have to order breakfast to get ’em. 8949 Garland Rd. 214-321-5597.

Cafe Lago. Gabriela Pataro runs this eatery at the Reserve at White Rock. Regulars love the assortment of soups (tomato chipotle, posole), salads, sandwiches (tuna salad, Cuban pork) with house-made chips. Specials are a sure bet. 9219 Garland Rd., Ste. 1102. 214-320-0726.

Casa Linda Cafeteria. Fans of the late Highland Park Cafeteria find their favorite recipes here, from squash casserole to chicken and dumplings. Chocolate cake is perfection. 1200 N. Buckner Blvd. 214-324-5000.

Frankie’s Li’l Europe. Native Slovenian Frank Kovacic serves up comfort food Eastern European-style, such as sarma (cabbage rolls), cevapcici (grilled sausages filled with ground beef and pork), and all varieties of schnitzel. 362 Casa Linda Plaza. 214-320-0426.

GARLAND/ROWLETT

Arc-en-Ciel. Although most of the crowds show up for weekend and lunch dim sum, regulars love the serious Chinese and Vietnamese food ranging from classic orange beef to steamed clams in a fiery jalapeño broth. 3555 W. Walnut St. 972-272-2188.

Amigo’s Tex-Mex Cafe. It’s a classic mom-and-pop Mexican joint stuck in a forgettable strip mall. But behind the doors is an earnest restaurant with a stable of well-prepared Tex-Mex favorites. We love the chiles rellenos and the BYOTequila option: you bring the booze, and they provide the frozen margarita base. 1546 Rowlett Rd. 972-574-3663.

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. The fried-chicken frenzy created by this family-style diner began at Bubba’s, a University Park icon. Platters of chicken, chicken-fried steak, pot roast, and fried catfish swirl across tables while bowls of unlimited fresh veggies are passed. 1456 Belt Line Rd. 972-496-1041.

Ernesto’s. Either Ernesto or his wife greets you at the door and—imagine this—shakes your hand when you leave. Meanwhile, you can nibble on chunky guacamole and huge portions of tender beef braised in tomato sauce with fresh cilantro. 1202 Northwest Hwy. 972-681-8112.

Fritzi’s Euro Grill. Specializing in German and European dishes, owner Klaus Fritz has more than his fair share of regulars flocking for Hungarian goulash, “kick-ass schnitzel,” and a delicious Black Forest cake served in one of the friendliest spots around. 3390 Lakeview Pkwy. 972-412-3555.

Kyoto Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar. Lake Ray Hubbard provides the perfect background for this always crowded sushi/hibachi-style restaurant that also serves Kobe beef. 9900 Lakeview Pkwy. 972-463-0288.

Sammy Walker’s BBQ. Sure, you can get the usual brisket, ribs, turkey, and ham, but the German-style sausage is the story here—unless you count Sammy, who was an Olympic weightlifter. 6201 Dalrock Rd. 972-463-6595.

LOWER GREENVILLE/M STREETS

Ali Baba. Super hot Cafe Izmir down the street may attract the scene, but we love Ali Baba for its no-nonsense atmosphere and delicious Middle Eastern fare. You won’t find better tabbouleh or falafel. 1905 Greenville Ave. 214-823-8235.

Cafe Nostra. This is the real deal for New York pizza, and the place stays open late for night owls carousing Greenville. Sandwiches, like meatball, are king-size, and pasta’s a real steal at lunch. 2023 Greenville Ave. 214-821-2100.

John’s Cafe. Regulars come from all walks of life—musicians, truck drivers, college kids with hangovers—and gorge on legendary pancakes at John Spyropoulos’ funky haunt. 2724 Greenville Ave. 214-827-4610.

Kirby’s. For more than 50 years, Kirby’s has remained one of Dallas’ favorite steakhouses. Prime rib (how retro, of course) is a big deal here, but we know folks who can’t get enough of the cedar-planked salmon. 3525 Greenville Ave. 214-821-2122.

Nero’s. Tried-and-true favorites of this 20-year-old standby include pink garlic bread and linguine fra diavolo piled high with shrimp, sea scallops, and mushrooms in a spicy marinara, served in a twinkling red dining room. 2104 Greenville Ave. 214-826-6376.

Pietro’s. You don’t just feel like you’re at the home of your favorite Italian neighbors—you are. (Pietro and Grace Eustachio have an apartment upstairs.) Enjoy Eustachio’s family recipes in cozy surroundings. 5722 Richmond Ave. 214-824-9403.

LAKE HIGHLANDS

Alfonso’s. Here you’ll find basic Italian favorites cooked the old-fashioned way—heavy on the butter and garlic and just the way we like them! 718 N. Buckner Blvd. 214-327-7777.

Highlands Cafe. This sunny, quaint spot features great sandwiches, soups, and salads at low prices. Don’t miss gourmet nachos with feta and artichoke hearts—yum! Bonus for the kids: they get crayons and mini Etch-a-Sketches to keep them sedate while you dine. 9661 Audelia Rd. 214-349-2233.

Jakks Hamburgers. Bring a toothpick to get the poppy seeds out of your teeth after devouring a hickory burger with cheese. We love the tater tots, cold beer, and the fact that several Mansion employees hang out here frequently. 10226 Garland Rd. 214-319-6060.

ST Cafe. It’s a hangout for the “Lake Highland Mafia” and draws a good lunch and dinner crowd. Go “lite” with a chicken Caesar or blow your diet on something gooey. You’ll run into the same crowd at the Y later in the day. 9090 Skillman St. 214-503-6007.

LAKEWOOD

Angelo’s Italian Grill. Nearby residents come here for buttery garlic rolls as big as your fist, served with a side of marinara, the perfect primer for Italian standards, such as fettuccini Alfredo and Italian sausage and peppers. 6341 La Vista Dr. 214-823-5566.

Dixie House. Families who require high chairs frequent this home-cooking joint for dependable pot roast, chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and tasty yeast rolls. 6400 Gaston Ave. 214-826-2412.

Goldrush Cafe. There’s nothing fancy about this strip-mall diner. The menu—cutely shaped like a record—features the usual: everything from eggs and waffles to chicken-fried steak and ribeyes. We love the John Wayne: a flour tortilla topped with two eggs any style, hash browns, and hot sauce, served with a side of bacon or sausage. 1913 Skillman St. 214-823-6923.

La Dolce Vita. The fashionistas have long since moved on, leaving La Dolce Vita to the neighbors, who sup on stuffed chicken and surprisingly flavorful spaghetti and meatballs. 1924 Abrams Rd. 214-821-2608.

Legal Grounds. Once a coffeehouse that also dished out legal advice, Legal Grounds now has a menu that includes manhole-size granola pancakes and scrumptious egg dishes. At night, the space becomes Savory, when the kitchen turns out specialties like juicy pork loin and pan-seared halibut. 2015 Abrams Rd. 214-824-5800.

Matt’s Rancho Martinez. The loyal clientele have long frequented Matt’s for a fix of Bob Armstrong dip and chiles rellenos. We can’t say we blame them. 6332 La Vista Dr. 214-823-5517.

Scalini’s Pizza and Pasta. In an area dominated by Italian restaurants, this one’s known—in Lakewood and beyond—for its ultra-thin and scrumptious pizza. 2021 Abrams Rd. 214-821-8088.

OLD EAST DALLAS

OH BROTHER:The fried chicken at Brother’s Fried Chicken in Old East Dallas has become a local hot spot.

Brother’s Fried Chicken >> Business is mostly drive-thru and takeout, but all varieties of fried goodness can be enjoyed at the narrow counter. Enjoy them as often as possible. Cardiac trouble? Baylor is just a chicken thigh’s toss away. 4839 Gaston Ave. 214-370-0800.

Cuquita’s. Bring cash for the authentic Mexican fare, which includes posole (pork and hominy soup), menudo (weekends only), and a half-dozen versions of huevos rancheros (served all day). The restaurant stays open from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m., meaning you can get caldo de res just about any time. 2326 N. Henderson Ave. 214-823-1859.

Kalachandji’s. The arches in the dining room make you feel like you’re in church because, frankly, you are (a Hare Krishna temple, anyway). The all-you-can-eat buffet is filled with a mind-blowing assortment of hot and cold, dairy and nondairy, and sweet and savory vegetarian (and often Indian) delights. 5430 Gurley Ave. 214-821-1048.

Mai’s Vietnamese Restaurant. Those in the know forgo charm in favor of authentic Vietnamese fare with a low price tag. Clay pots, noodle and rice dishes, and extensive vegetarian choices give fancier restaurants a run for their money. 4312 Bryan St. 214-826-9887.

WEST

COLLEYVILLE

Amore Pizza & Pasta. At this popular BYOB spot, classic Italian dishes like chicken Parmesan and thin-crust pizza battle it out for star status. The baked ziti is our pick. 1009 Cheek Sparger Rd., Ste. 110. 817-656-9424.

Pacific House. It took awhile for good Chinese food to hit this part of town, but Pacific House turns out stellar versions of all the usual suspects, plus some Thai-influenced dishes. 4714 Colleyville Blvd. 817-503-7888.

COPPELL

Anamia’s. Tex-Mex gets turned up a notch, with extra-meaty tamales, exceptionally tender sour cream chicken, and piquant onions in the cheese enchiladas. Service can lag, and Friday nights are a zoo. 106 N. Denton Tap Rd. 972-304-0321.

Coppell Deli. This popular hole-in-the-wall serves burgers, BLTs, and patty melts, plus a dynamo breakfast starring the sausage biscuit filled with bacon, fried egg, and cheese. 449 W. Bethel Rd. 972-462-0101.

Gloria’s Pizza. Formerly known as Salerno’s, Gloria’s still has great thin-crust pizza, its rectangular shape evocative of Campisi’s, and pasta served family-style. Wine is BYO, and there’s no corkage fee. Now that’s neighborly. 1086 E. Sandy Lake Rd. 972-462-1713.

Ole’s Tex-Mex. Standard Tex-Mex is well-made here. You’ll find lots of chicken dishes, but special care is given to the vegetables. Spinach enchiladas, for example, use fresh spinach, not frozen. 600 E. Sandy Lake Rd. 972-393-7510.

Pan Acean. Pan Acean. Nouveau Asian fusion—from the Howard Wang family, who launched Empress of China—scores with foodies and locals alike. Decisions, decisions: Thai and Korean noodles, stir-fries, or elegant Mandarin seafood bisque? 777 S. MacArthur Blvd. 972-745-7788.

 

Siena Pasta & Pizza. Thin-crust pizzas and wallet-friendly pastas make this a neighborhood fave. Topped with goodies such as artichoke hearts, the pizzas come in all sizes, down to an individual pie for $4.95. 780 S. MacArthur Blvd., Ste. 100. 972-462-0499.

FLOWER MOUND

Bari’s Pizza & Pasta. A veritable pioneer in these parts, the Bardhi family has been in Flower Mound since 1987, serving all of your favorite Italian dishes with friendly service. 3472 Long Prairie Rd. 972-539-7091.

La Sierra. Loads of families flock to this Tex-Mex spot for chicken and cheese enchiladas, yummy flan, and a well-priced Sunday brunch. 2221 Cross Timbers Rd. 214-513-8718.

Salerno’s Italian Restaurant. Cousins Mike and Morris Salerno have been serving way-above-average Italian cuisine (hint: grandma’s recipes), pizza, and a knockout tiramisu since 1985. 3407 Long Prairie Rd.
972-539-9534.

Sofio’s Italian Grill. The name implies Italian, but the menu offers European-style dishes along with classic Italian specialties in a cozy atmosphere. There are fewer than 20 tables, so plan ahead. 1900 Long Prairie Rd., Ste. 108. 972-691-3474.

GRAPEVINE

Into the Glass Wine Bar and Texas Cafe. When the Southlake bar relocated to Grapevine, it was quickly embraced by local wine lovers. The move brings a greater emphasis on food, with Texas-inspired dishes such as sweet potato pancakes with duck confit. 322 S. Main St. 817-442-1969.

Main Street Bread Baking Company. It started out as a bakery, then added sandwiches and, more recently, table service and Mediterranean entrées. The owners are French, which explains the gorgeous pastries and desserts. 316 Main St. 817-424-4333.

Osami. A lunchtime buffet on Thursdays and Fridays gives locals their weekly sushi fix. Beyond sushi, there’s a hibachi grill, teriyaki, and noodle hot pots. 2100 W. Northwest Hwy., Ste. 221. 817-251-1860.

IRVING/LAS COLINAS

Brazil Brasileiro. BB does all the Brazilian staples: feijoada (the national dish with black beans), meat pastels, cheese bread, and fried banana. Get these and more on the buffet, weekdays at lunch and weekend nights. 2315 W. Airport Fwy. 972-255-3714.

I Fratelli. Campisi cousins have been making thin-crust pizza for the western burbs for 17 years. Try the Staff Special, with grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes. This location is command central for an empire with seven satellite sites in Grapevine and Irving. 7750 N. MacArthur Blvd. 972-501-9700.

Ichijo Japanese Cuisine. Flawless sushi and more than 40 appetizers highlight the menu at this Mid-Cities haunt. Also donburi: bowls of sticky rice topped with pork, chicken, onions, and cabbage. Service is gracious. 3045 N. Belt Line Rd. 972-255-0116.

Pad Thai. The setting at this Thai restaurant is nothing fancy, but the lunch buffet wows, not only for its breadth and value but also for its quality. A dinner must-have: whole red snapper in chile. 3311 W. Walnut Hill Ln. 972-252-1718.

Pasand. The buffet’s been spruced up; on weekends, the selection goes on forever. On the menu, tandoori shrimp and lamb are neat twists. The kitchen also does South Indian dishes, including dosas. 2600 N. Belt Line Rd. 972-594-0693.

Via Real. Tenderloin soft tacos, a wine list, interior accents of brick and adobe, and $11 margaritas all contribute to the upscale, Santa Fe vibe. 4020 MacArthur Blvd., Ste. 100. 972-650-9001.

LEWISVILLE/HIGHLAND VILLAGE

Easy Street Family Cafe. How much more neighborhood can you get than this small cafe with home-style cooking (including a breakfast buffet)? Keep your eyes peeled for Aunt Bee. 190 W. Main St. 972-420-8737.

The Grotto. At this classy old staple the Salerno family, Highland Village’s restaurant royalty, serves Italian, steaks, and marvelous desserts. How do you know it’s a la-dee-da place? It has a fountain. 2300 Highland Village Rd.
972-318-0515.

Ham ’n’ Eggs. While you feast on flapjacks like Frisbees, you might spot a carbo-loading Dallas Cowboy. Don’t linger too long or the Pancake Nazi will give you the boot to make room for other breakfast-hungry brethren.
297 W. Round Grove Rd. 972-315-1155.

Parma Pizza & Pasta. It’s not just your regular pizza and pasta joint. VJ and Ralph Muittin have taken their New York recipes and developed a regular following who flocks for generous portions of thin-crust pizza by the slice or pie and pasta dishes like chicken in white wine sauce spiked with jalapeños. 291 E. Round Grove Rd. 214-488-4447.

NORTHWEST DALLAS

Bugatti Ristorante. Zee Bugatti may be the friendliest owner in town, and he’s always on-site overseeing a devoted staff who knows most of the customers by name. 3802 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-350-2470.                                                                                 

Thai-riffic. Looking for terrific pad Thai and a Philly cheese steak sandwich on the same menu? Look no further. It’s funky, to say the least. 3068 Forest Ln. 972-241-2412.


Two Guys from Italy.
Our two favorite guys from Italy tell us that this campy garlic-driven Italian joint is their fave. We don’t argue with Italians when it comes to food. 11637 Webb Chapel Rd. 972-247-6814.

SOUTHLAKE

Armend’s. Here you’ll find thin-crust pizzas, hearty pastas, chatty young servers, affordable prices, and a BYOB policy. Sounds like the recipe for success. 2315 E. Southlake Blvd. 817-251-0270.

Cowtown Sushi. Bad name, good sushi. Noodles and tempura are worthy, too. The sleek room has a waterfall wall at the entrance. 2225. W. Southlake Blvd. 817-310-0089.

Jack Shaw’s. Owner Shaw was once a bartender at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, but he has a barbecue background, too. Thus, along with steak, pasta, and crab cakes, he serves some mean ribs and smoked sausage. 2140 E. Southlake Blvd. 817-310-3663.

Thai Chili. The shopping center spot—a chip off the block of Thai Chili in Irving—serves pristine food. Garlic chicken with rice and romaine lettuce is the top seller. Southlake Town Square, 215 Grand Ave. 817-251-6674.

BLUFFVIEW/ PRESTON HOLLOW

Ball’s Hamburgers. Saturday mornings are packed with kids in uniforms and moms and dads arguing over play calls while they chow down on thick burgers and hand-cut fries. 4343 W. Northwest Hwy., Ste. 300. 214-352-2525; 3404 Rankin St. 214-373-1717.

Cafe Expresso. Every neighborhood should have a restaurant owner like Dieter Paul, who knows his customers so well that he calls them to tell them when their favorite seasonal specialties (soft-shell crab) are available in his kitchen. 6135 Luther Ln. 214-361-6984.

Cafe Italia. Owner Scott Jones and chef-partner Tom Slatt visited Spain, Italy, and Italy, Texas, to tweak their Tex-Italian menu, which now includes King Ranch pasta and poblano polenta cheese fries. A new outpost just opened in Plano. 4615 W. Lovers Ln. 214-357-4200.

Cafe Istanbul. Stellar Middle Eastern delights, including belly dancers, make this exotic stop popular with the NPR crowd, who feasts on hummus, baba ghanoush, and tasty spiced meats in a groovy atmosphere. 5450 W. Lovers Ln. 214-902-0919.

Flying Fish. Land here for seafood, including fresh oysters, barbecued shrimp, and catfish in a campy (Billy Basses line the walls) atmosphere. Noteworthy: the best hushpuppies in Dallas. 6126 Luther Ln. 214-696-3474.

Iris. Susie Priorie and chef Russell Hodges have created a real neighborhood jewel with friendly service and great art—on the plate and the walls. 5405 W. Lovers Ln. 214-352-2727.

Popolos. Great jazz, delicious Mediterranean-inspired food, and a grown-up bar scene has made this a chic local hangout for 11 years. 707 Preston Royal Shopping Center. 214-692-5497.

Rafa’s. Life does not revolve around sopaipillas alone. But if it did, we would live here. 5617 W Lovers Ln. 214-357-2080.

Sevy’s Grill. Jim Severson, the quintessential hands-on chef/owner, greets loyal guests, most of whom have brass name tags on their favorite tables. Steak, fish, and pasta are fine, but citrus pie steals the show. 8201 Preston Rd. 214-265-7389.

Suze. Chefs Jeffery Hobbs and Gilbert Garza continue to stun the neighborhood with an innovative menu and a genuinely friendly atmosphere. 4345 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-350-6135.

Tramontana. Chef/owner James Neel is always evolving and revolving, his cuisine. The menu combined with the dark cozy atmosphere, makes this a popular spot. 8220 Westchester Dr.
214-368-4188.

KNOX-HENDERSON

Adelmo’s Ristorante. Proprietors Adelmo and Eliza Banchetti were on Knox Street before Knox-Henderson was cool. Cozy and quaint, his romantic bistro serves Mediterranean specialties with a spectacular wine list. 4537 Cole Ave. 214-559-0325.

Fireside Pies. Henderson Avenue hunks Nick Badovinus and Tristan Simon are the brains behind this chic pizza palace, where the famous and not-so famous feast on grown-up pies with gourmet toppings, designer salads, and perfect cheesecake. 2820 N. Henderson Ave. 214-370-3916.

Hector’s on Henderson. Restaurant veteran Hector Garcia reigns at this unpretentious fine-dining bistro. Everything chef Todd Erickson creates is magic in your mouth. 2929 N. Henderson Ave.
214-821-0432.

Hola. Nearby Cafe Madrid draws crowds from all around, but locals prefer the quiet authenticity of Hola’s small, dark space, where they dine on a parade of small dishes, such as marinated pork loin and corn and cod croquettes. 4831 McKinney Ave.
214-522-0505.

La Duni. The original still attracts plenty of Park Cities patrons who crave these Latin American delights, from the mojitos to unforgettable chicken enchiladas to world-famous cuatro leches cake. We could survive solely on the chips and salsa. 4620 McKinney Ave. 214-520-7300.

The Old Monk. Those outside the ’hood may know Feargal McKinney’s place as a watering hole, but those within walking distance pop in regularly for crispy fish and chips, divine steamed mussels, and frites to go with their imported beers. 2847 N. Henderson Ave.
214-821-1880.

Taverna Pizzeria and Risotteria. Alberto Lombardi knows his neighborhoods, as evidenced by the throngs of yuppies and Parkies who throw carb-counting to the wind for hand-tossed gourmet pizza and an assortment of risottos and pasta. 3210 Armstrong Ave. 214-520-9933.

OAK LAWN

Avila’s. Join the Avila family, led by congenial, hip Ricky Avila; dine on their family recipes. Chiles rellenos are baked, not fried. The mole has infinite depth. Salsa is hot, hot, hot. 4714 Maple Ave. 214-520-2700.

Bob’s Steak & Chop House. The steakhouse of choice for Dallas businessmen boasts cameos by athletes and visiting celebs. Baby bro‚ at the Shops at Legacy in Plano, has the same macho personality. 4300 Lemmon Ave. 214-528-9446.

The Bronx. This sweet spot coming up on its 30th birthday melds cozy with urbane. The menu sticks to the basics: pastas, steaks, and deftly made desserts. Sunday brunch is an institution. 3835 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-521-5821.

Ciudad. Sophisticated Mexican food, as in Mexico City, from restaurateur Monica Greene and chef Joanne Bondy, is made with upscale ingredients, such as pumpkin seeds and goat cheese. Desserts are neat, and a friendly, open space sets the stage for a wonderfully inclusive spirit. 3888 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-3141.

Lucky’s. The funky home-cooking joint is a cousin to the Good Eats chain. It’s very big on breakfast, and they’ll leave you alone with your hangover. 3531 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-522-3500.

Parigi. It’s not the foodie temple it once was, and service can be vexing, but Parigi is still an above-average modern little bistro. Not to worry: they’ve kept the chocolate glob. 3311 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 102. 214-521-0295.

Sal’s. There’s way more competition these days, pizza-wise, but people still cherish New Yorky Sal’s, despite (or maybe because of) the dicey neighborhood and stains on the ceiling. Now there’s a Sal’s in uppity Plano’s Shops at Legacy. 2525 Wycliff Ave. 214-522-1828.

Toy’s Cafe. The faithful were thrown a bone when Toy’s finally doubled its tight space. But old habits die hard, and takeout still reigns at this longtime spot serving superior corn patties and seafood Thai. 4422 Lemmon Ave. 214-528-7233.

PARK CITIES

Al Biernat’s. You may not know Al Biernat, but if you’ve eaten in his restaurant, he knows you. Al presides over upscale steaks, fresh seafood, and mind-bending desserts served in a sexy setting. 4217 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-2201.

Bubba’s Cooks Country. Everything’s fried, and everything’s fine. Forget the Colonel; the fried chicken, veggies, and rolls here rule. 6617 Hillcrest Ave. 214-373-6527.

Cafe Pacific. For nearly 25 years, this tony seafood-centric spot has had a list of regulars that politicians would pay for. 24 Highland Park Village. 214-526-1170.

Javier’s. No doubt you’ll wait. No doubt you’ll know someone in line. This longtime favorite Mexico City-style menu has a gourmet seafood slant. 4912 Cole Ave. 214-521-4211.

Kuby’s. Take out or eat in. Whatever you choose, you can’t lose. The legendary German deli with a cozy dining room has always served the best wurst in town. 6601 Snider Plaza. 214-363-2231.

Mi Cocina. Okay, we know that Mico Rodriguez’s famous Tex-Mex chain started in Preston Forest, but this contemporary multistoried “store” is the favorite watering hole and nacho-eatin’ post for those in 75205. 77 Highland Park Village. 214-521-6426.

Patrizio. This destination for drinking and dining is always mobbed, usually with society types and celebrities. It’s always a yummy good time. 25 Highland Park Village. 214-522-7878.

Peggy Sue BBQ. One of our favorite things is the veggies. Oh, and the smoky ribs, brisket quesadillas, Texas torpedoes, sausage, and onion rings. 6600 Snider Plaza. 214-987-9188.

UPTOWN

Breadwinner’s Cafe & Bakery. Every neighborhood should be so lucky. This popular restaurant has it all—great breakfasts and lunches, intimate dinners, and scrumptious cakes. And bread. And pie. Oh my. 3301 McKinney Ave. 214-754-4940.

Dream Cafe. The crowd, especially on weekends, speaks volumes about this kid- and cholesterol-friendly restaurant. Adults enjoy conversation while the little ones run in the yard. The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh St. 214-954-0486.

M Grill & Tap. Meals here are like upscale TV dinners for sports fans. The user-friendly beer list has small, medium, and large choices. 2520 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-220-1130.

TABC. Residents of the State-Thomas neighborhood descend on this place nightly, whether to mix and mingle on the expansive wood-decked patio or indulge in the not-at-all-bar-food bar food. 2901 Thomas Ave.
214-979-0452.

Urbano Paninoteca. This cozy spot has evolved from a sandwich shop into a worthwhile restaurant. The courtyard is romantic; the food is well-prepared and well-priced. 2418 Fairmount St. 214-969-6911.

Photos: Doug Davis

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