The best neighborhood restaurants are the places you return to again and again. The diner you head to on a Tuesday evening when you don’t want to cook, or the bar down the block where you walk on a Friday night to have a beer and a burger with friends. They are the breakfast places where the waitresses know your name and bring you coffee with extra cream, along with the gooiest cinnamon roll in town, without having to ask. They may not be the fanciest or the trendiest, but they represent where we come from and make us feel at home. Which makes us happy. And that keeps us coming back.
North Oak Cliff
Dallas’ answer to Williamsburg has bungalows and Bishop Arts, cheap groceries and cheaper tacos.
For Sunday brunch, the place to be is Jonathon’s Oak Cliff. Take advantage of the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar before you dig in to the fried chicken and waffle. If you’re looking for a breakfast bargain, head to El Jordan Café on North Bishop Avenue for some classic Tex-Mex migas or a fluffy, no-fuss stack of pancakes. On Wednesdays, the daily specials at Norma’s include a tender baked chicken that comes with your choice of sides, gravy (white or brown), and cornbread or rolls (always get the rolls). Nova is where neighbors walk after work, settling outside on the patio or inside at the bar to decompress with a cocktail or draft beer and a warm platter of hummus and pita. Stay for a wood-fired pizza or the Certified Angus Beef bone-in rib-eye. You can’t miss the stuccoed, Spanish-style El Ranchito, which has been prominently located across from the Fiesta Mart on Jefferson Boulevard since the 1980s. Between the roving mariachis, in-house tortilleria, and tableside parrillas (grills) of baby goat, short ribs, and shrimp, this is the perfect family celebration spot.
The wealthiest suburbs of Dallas aren’t really suburbs at all. They’re small towns where kids still safely roam the leafy streets.
Be prepared to leave smelling like a tenderloin. It’s part of the charm of dining at this iconic Dallas steakhouse, a souvenir of sorts. You won’t even mind that your clothes smell like they’ve been cooking on an open flame for hours, because when a gentle breeze catches your silk blouse and wafts the smoky aroma into your nostrils, it will evoke memories of medium-rare filet mignons and bread baskets that come with complimentary ramekins of honey cinnamon butter.
Dunston’s on Lovers Lane has been searing tender cuts of beef on its open-pit mesquite grill since it opened in 1969. As you step inside the restaurant, you’ll notice that not much has changed. Make your way past neighborhood regulars, crammed into oxblood vinyl booths, and snake around the salad bar to the back room. It’s the place to be if you can get a reservation. Wood paneling, adorned in kitsch and family memorabilia, surrounds dark booths and clunky wooden tables. With an intimate bar, it offers a haven for dirty martinis and bacon-wrapped tenderloins.
Service here is friendly, not unlike the kind you’ll find at a family-style diner located off a remote highway. And if you come often enough, the waitresses will remember your name. Once a stomping ground for Dallas bigwigs, the back room is now home to a mix of Park Cities thirtysomethings and folks who have been frequenting the steakhouse since Apollo 11 landed on the moon. 5423 W. Lovers Ln. 214-352-8320. —Catherine Downes
Park Cities Standards
This neighborhood has something for the entire family. Bring the kiddies to Rafa’s Cafe Mexicano where they can draw with crayons on the paper tablecloths, or, for a more intimate experience, snag a table by the back bar. Burger House is a lively SMU hang—the milkshakes and seasoned fries fuel nights of studying and tailgating. Craving a taste of Italy? Indulge in meatballs and Sunday gravy at Carbone’s, while Francophiles will find what they’re looking for at neighborhood staples City Café and Le Bilboquet. Businessmen looking to unwind can light up a cigar at Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano. And those who crave a taste of Germany can take a seat at Kuby’s sausage house; the best place for wurst.
Gritty, resurgent, reverberating with history. The entertainment district is on its third (or fourth) comeback.
St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin
If you haven’t had the pleasure of shooting the breeze with easygoing owner Pete Zotos, then make a date. Plan to come on a Monday or Tuesday night, when Zotos covers the shifts so his staff can take a break. His is the longest-running independent spot in Deep Ellum (open since 1994) for a reason. “This place is like a comfortable old couch,” he says. “It’s not about selling you an expensive drink—it’s about the waitresses remembering you don’t like mayonnaise.”
The marinated and grilled Dancing Tuna steak gets top billing, but the thick, juicy burgers and pasta dishes are both worthy options. The most unusual pasta, Diablo Tempestuous, has been on the menu for 22 years. Its intense red sauce, ablaze with habanero peppers, comes with a cold glass of chocolate milk to put out the fire. It’s not for everyone, but it remains on the menu to satisfy regulars who crave it.
The restaurant’s interior is like the menu: comfortable, with a few twists and a focus on the clientele. The huge mounted marlins are not props brought in to reinforce the name; Zotos is an avid fisherman and takes deep-sea fishing seriously. The hardwood floors and walls filled with knickknacks and paintings create a cozy space that draws doctors, lawyers, actors, book clubs, sports fans, and dog owners. “We even get a lot of guys who come in to have a burger and a beer while their wives are in labor at Baylor,” Zotos says. “That says a lot about our customers.” 2730 Commerce St. 214-698-1511. —Nancy Nichols
Deep Ellum Standards
Deep Ellum still has its bones. It’s filled up with more people than it’s seen in decades, but the architecture remains the same—the activity is what’s new. Even with the influx of new bars and restaurants and event spaces, neighborhood staples remain: local musicians, the bedrock of the neighborhood, still gather for chicken fried steak in the evenings and breakfast tacos in the morning at AllGood Café. Things get fancier at chef Tracy Miller’s Local, a high-end hideaway with herb-spiked lamb loin and seared scallops. You can also slum it up with the terrific bar food at Angry Dog, known for their shredded cheddar bathed burgers and plump hot dogs.
The erstwhile heart of Dallas’ party is now home to strollers and tiny dogs.
It’s a good rule of thumb on Lower Greenville to trust the mainstays, the places that have managed to stay open without the hype that accompanied many of this entertainment district’s newcomers. Stick to the Libertine Bar, with its frequent five-course beer dinners. Order lobster on red checkered table cloths at the decades-old Daddy Jack’s. Grab a no-frills burger straight off the flat-top at Melio’s Brothers Char Bar. For something lighter, drive a few blocks north and consider a bento box at Tampopo.
Most of the sidewalks still roll up at night, but thanks to Tim Headington the urban core is starting to feel like a real city.
One Tuesday night, a man walked in with his family of five. “Hi, Mr. Lee!” he said to the owner. “My family doesn’t really like sushi, but I love it, of course. What do you recommend?” Two men with loose neckties nursed beers at the bar and munched on sashimi. A few millennials from nearby apartments wandered in soon after. They were all linked by quality sushi, offered at a fair price. 1306 Elm St. 214-744-9600.
If you’re looking for a restaurant between the Farmers Market and the city’s center, The Green Door Public House is a good choice. Grab an oversized sandwich and a cocktail in a building that dates back to the 1800s. If you’re already on Main Street, consider dropping into Porta di Roma beneath the Wilson Building, where you’ll find affordable red sauce Italian cuisine. Further south, the best bar burger in town is at Lee Harvey’s, whose owner claims to have first popularized the bar patio in Dallas. If you don’t want to dine at a dive bar, Off the Bone BBQ is right around the corner, serving up consistent brisket and ribs and loaded baked potatoes for the past seven years.
Oak Lawn & Uptown
This is a “no kids” zone for empty-nesters, gay folks, and twentysomething ad reps united by their love of brunch.
Zaguan Latin Cafe
This cheerful Latin spot first gave us sweet corn cachapas and griddled Venezuelan cheese bites, and it has become the Latin go-to. A case holds soft breads filled with dulce de leche, flaky turnovers with guava and cream cheese, and stuffed white-corn arepas. In the corner, someone is learning Spanish. Two girlfriends boisterously catch up over coffee at the next table. 2604 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-8393.
Rubbery burnt-orange tablecloths drape over tabletops, yellow and pea-green pillars descend from drop ceilings, and neon beer signs illuminate the tiny bar in a red and blue glow. It won’t win any interior design awards. But the good food and strong margaritas make up for it. Order the Mario’s Sampler for a taste of El Salvador, or keep it simple with Tex-Mex staples. 5404 Lemmon Ave. 214-599-9744.
A charming white house with a red door, nestled among condos in Uptown’s State Thomas neighborhood, is home to some of the best tapas in the city. Happy hour, Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7 pm, is the ideal time to kick back with a $3 tapas menu and a $4 glass of sangria. The fried calamari are perfectly crispy, and the potatoes with chorizo are decadent. 2207 Allen St. 214-720-0324.
Oak Lawn & Uptown Standards
Fried oysters, hush puppies, and remoulade are no-brainers at S&D Oyster Company, with its brick-faced, red-and-white-checked tablecloth charm. It’s anchored McKinney Ave. for years, and regulars will let you in on a secret: shrimp loaf sandwich and homemade lemon pie. If you’re looking for something earlier in the day, Lucky Café’s corner spot is a perfect place to perch on a sunny morning. The diner’s groovy, retro vibes are a welcome throw-back and the all-day breakfast as appealing as ever. (Pass the roasted banana cognac pancakes with organic maple syrup; it’s a diner for the Uptown crowd.) Down the street, Cosmic Café is a riot of colors. Follow your Hatha yoga session upstairs with a mango lassi on the shaded veranda or continue the veggie karmic zeitgeist with Rumi’s Falalel or a Buddha’s Delight.
The other side of the river doesn’t get the love it deserves, but there’s a reason locals call it “Sunny South Dallas.”
This is Southern fried chicken at its simple best. Legs and thighs and breasts bathe in buttermilk batter before being dunked in oil, then get spiked with a secret seasoning salt when done. So beloved is Rudy’s in South Dallas that its owner, Rudy Edwards, worked a deal with the city that netted the restaurant half a million dollars to expand its drive-thru. Find another restaurant that can say that. 3115 S. Lancaster Rd. 214-375-9234.
There is usually an extra piece (or two) of fried catfish in the baskets you order from the walk-up counter. But that’s as friendly as they get here: the service is gruff and the dress code is conservative (“Don’t Come In If Your Under Clothes Are Showing,” says a sign in the window). One taste of the signature tartar sauce, though, makes any complaints disappear. 710 Ann Arbor Ave. 214-375-3736.
Sweet Georgia Brown
You might not give this ramshackle old building a second glance if you’re just passing through. But everyone in South Dallas knows about the smothered pork chops, Polish sausage, fried chicken, collard greens, and broccoli-rice casserole here. Add complimentary baskets of cornbread, and it feels almost like Sunday supper at Grandma’s. A vanilla soft serve machine makes it even better. 2840 E. Ledbetter Dr. 214-375-2020.
This sprawling neighborhood in Northeast Dallas is like the affordable, Republican version of Lakewood.
This intimate and casual restaurant serves modern, over-the-top tacos. You’ll find neighborhood regulars seated at the bar sipping seasonal watermelon margaritas or taking bundles of food to go. 9661 Audelia Rd., Ste. 112. 972-685-5280.
JG’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers
Walking into this quaint restaurant is like stepping back in time. Have a seat and take in the retro kitsch on the walls. Hand-dipped milkshakes are a must. 12101 Greenville Ave. 972-644-8628.
Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
Friends and family gather around injera—a spongy flatbread—topped with kurt, beef tibs, misto, and more. The ritual of eating with your hands keeps pretension at bay. 9191 Forest Ln. 972-792-8442.
North Dallas & Preston Hollow
Though Preston Hollow will take this grouping as an insult, this is where you live if you can’t afford the Park Cities.
Last April, chef Larry Williams and his wife received a call from one of their closest friends, Jeffrey Armand. Armand had just closed Nosh Bistro and Bar and reopened it as Sallio Bistro Bar. But he was struggling. “My mom and dad rushed to help him,” their son Matthew says. “That’s what families do.” Sadly, Armand died suddenly in late June. But instead of bailing out of the deal, the Williams family put their heads down and went to work. Sallio is not just surviving—it’s thriving. On a recent Saturday night, there was a line out the door. Many customers, not surprisingly, come for the seafood, such as a simply prepared whole branzino scented with lemon butter and rosemary, or a delightful walnut-crusted pan-seared trout. Williams was the force behind the original Rex’s Seafood Market on Lovers Lane, helping transform it from a market into a viable restaurant. In 2013, he opened AmberJax Fish Market Grille in Trinity Groves with his wife, Karen, and their five children. Despite the location on the backside of the complex, loyal customers found the family restaurant and returned again and again. But Williams’ former North Dallas regulars had hoped he’d find a second location closer to home. And now here it is. Armand would be proud of the progress Williams and his family has made. The small, darkly lit bar is regularly packed two deep. And everybody seems to know each other. “We pull together as a family to bring our customers what they want,” Matthew says. “It may not be the best business strategy, but we listen to our customers and respond.” Judging by the crowds, they seem to be doing just fine. 11910 Preston Rd., Ste. 209. 972-701-0277. —Nancy Nichols
North Dallas & Preston Hollow Standards
The secret is out on Mangiamo Italian Restaurant, home of great family-style Italian food with heavenly garlic rolls. It’s BYOB and packed by 7 p.m. most nights. If noodles are what you crave, Royal China’s noodle ladies hand-pull fresh ones in the dining room. Eat them in soup or try a spicy noodle dish. All diners at Fernando’s must start with a potent, top shelf margarita and end with a fist-sized chilies relleno. If you prefer a fancy piece of fish, chef Chris Ward at The Mercury prepares some of the best in town. And Gilbert Garza does a fine job of preparing a well-seasoned pork chop and other eclectic dishes at his cozy restaurant Suze. The bar at Princi|Italia is always full of regulars who patiently wait for a table. Spaghetti Bolognese is some of the finest in town.
If you want to live in more liberal East Dallas and you have money, you come here to the west side of White Rock Lake.
This unassuming little hideaway is ready for wherever your appetite takes you. Find a stool at the sprawling wooden bar and order a frothy cappuccino made with Full City Rooster beans. Or take a seat at one of the four-tops and indulge in plates heaping with comfort food prepared by executive chef Karin Porter. The namesake burger, loaded with jalapeño pimento cheese and whiskey-grilled yellow onions, is a must. 2015 Abrams Pkwy. 214-824-5800.
Dining in this neighborhood is casual and comfy. Cozy up to regulars and slurp the best darn garlic noodles in Dallas at intimate Vietnamese restaurant, Mot Hai Ba. Take the entire family to ultra-charming Scalini’s Pizza & Pasta for thin-crust pie. Order the John Wayne at relaxed breakfast spot Gold Rush Café. And if you had a late night out, then slip into the dark environs of Cock & Bull Neighborhood Pub and recover over a plate of veal meatloaf.
It was once its own city, and parts of it, especially around White Rock Lake, still feel that way.
Don’t be fooled by the burglar bars that line the entirety of the building. Mai’s is a gem, a perfect weeknight out for clay pots nearly bubbling over with a thick sauce and fresh vegetables. Crusty French bread hugs the standard banh mi fillings. The rich pho broth gets simmered for hours and ends bright enough for the lemongrass to come through. There isn’t a better place to bring a bottle of wine and relax after a long day at work. 4812 Bryan St., Ste. 100. 214-826-9887.
Suwanna Chinarak and Wuttichai Ruengmateekhun opened their restaurant in 1996. Plastic plants and portraits of Thai leaders abound. BYOB and order it spicy only if you really mean it, because they don’t mess around here. 9625 Plano Rd., Ste. 500. 214-342-0121.
Urbano feels alive. Neither of its two rooms are big enough to hold more than 10 tables, and the sizzle from the kitchen hovers above the roar of conversation. Insider tip: bring over a bottle of wine from neighboring Jimmy’s Food Store to pair with the decadent veal Bolognese over pappardelle, a dish good enough to compete with restaurants twice the price. 1410 N. Fitzhugh Ave. 214-823-8550.
East Dallas Classics
Hungry after biking around White Rock Lake? There are several ways to sate your appetite in East Dallas. Most of which come with very little fuss. 20 Feet Seafood Joint is quirky and casual and known for its seafood and ramen, and if you’re thirsty you can step next door for a beer at Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House. Not enough food for your ferocious appetite? Stop for a beer biscuit at Barbec’s. And then get your pre-lake workout started the next day with a classic breakfast at Dallas Diner. Just make sure to avoid the non-ergonomic counter stools.
This once neglected century-old neighborhood north of I-30 is rapidly changing thanks to a new highway exit and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
If you ask the woman working at the window of this walk-up burger stand how long it’s been open, she’ll shrug. Murky as the history may be, we’ve heard tales of folks sinking their teeth into piping-hot french fries at this Popeye-themed restaurant from as far back as the 1950s. Perch under the mustard-yellow awning with lifelong Wimpy’s fanatics as you wait for your thin-patty double cheeseburger. 1802 Singleton Blvd. 214-749-0277.
West Dallas Standards
Locals remember it as Jack’s Backyard, but Tim Byres took things up a notch when he replaced the former bar with Chicken Scratch and The Foundry, a family-friendly restaurant and beer garden. Place your order for a tray of chicken fingers at the counter, get a drink at The Foundry, and snag a picnic table in the shade. Or pick up a whole roast bird and spicy quinoa salad to take home for dinner. The much-loved Herrera’s is thriving in its spacious new home on Sylvan Avenue. The parking is easier than it was on Maple, and the sour cream enchiladas are as good as ever. Odom’s Bar-B-Que recently made it on our Best Barbecue list, but locals have been stopping in for the fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs for years. Get the large banana pudding to go. Tacos Mariachi is the relatively new kid on the Sylvan block, but the colorful restaurant with its hidden patio fits right in. Owner Jesus Carmona will happily pour you a margarita as he walks you through the seafood-heavy taco menu.
Even after years of explosive growth, the suburb has retained its small-town roots.
If you’re not lucky enough to live here, make it a day trip. This city to the north knows food, from the Saturday Farmers Market at Chestnut Square to Steak 101 classes at the Local Yocal butcher shop. Stop at San Miguel Grill for Tex-Mex, Jim’s Pizza for a slice of pie, or Sicily’s Pizza Pasta Restaurant for Italian comfort food. The Pantry Restaurant is where little old ladies go for lunch, while Bakers Drive In is where high schoolers go for hamburgers and sweet tea. At Harvest, you’ll find farm-to-table at its best. At Spoons Cafe, you’ll find the strawberry cake of naughty dreams. Bill Smith’s Café has been around since 1956, cooking up chicken fried steak and home-style classics for three generations.
Far North Dallas
The strip malls north of LBJ are the stove heating up the city’s melting pot.
Canary by Gorji
Chef-owner Mansour Gorji is one of the most charming hosts in Dallas, and his food is equally enticing. The Mediterranean dishes range from a traditional mezze platter filled with tzatziki, tabbouleh, and hummus to aturki Texas grass-fed rib-eye garnished with pomegranate seeds, served with a side of gnocchi in a creamy Gorgonzola sauce. 5100 Belt Line Rd., Ste. 402. 972-503-7080.
Pera Turkish Kitchen
You can’t help but smile when you enter this lively restaurant with its bright red walls and brilliant blue tablecloths. After being welcomed by the aroma of freshly baked pita bread, you’ll be approached by a waiter who will happily open the wine you brought and offer to bring your usual order of kasarli kofte. Nod yes. 17479 Preston Rd. 972-267-4444.
Far North Dallas Standards
Far North Dallas has its pick of classics—enough to make neighbors jealous. Crossroads Diner serves flaky croissants and sticky-buns big as a catcher’s mitt. Coffee House Café offers beignets, Benedicts, and a craft coffee situation worth a special detour. If a shade-grown, fair-trade latte doesn’t do the trick, maybe a concoction with espresso vodka or Frangelico will. Deli News remains a bonified deli in a city with few. You can tuck into garlicky escargot at Cadot Restaurant, and the sole Meuniere and feather-light soufflés will never go out of style at Lavendou. Wednesday through Saturday are jazz nights at The Kitchen Café, where you can wind down with a glass of wine, a saxophone solo for your Chardonnay. If it’s cozy Italian you want, Roman Cucina has you covered, while Maguire’s Restaurant is sleek and chic, with goat cheese-stuffed artichoke hearts and tenderloin crostini.
The former pastureland is now rivaled only by Arlington as North Texas’ sports capital. But it still retains traces of its countryside roots.
The family business behind Depot Cafe has been operating in the same spot for 50 years. Originally a supermarket, then a convenience store with a deli, it was made over into its current incarnation by Debbie and Dennis Francis in 1999. Stop in for hand-breaded catfish, fried okra, and burgers, and don’t you dare miss the chocolate pie. 6733 Main St. 972-377-0707.
Platia Greek Kouzina
On a sunny afternoon, you’ll find tables crowded with lamb and beef gyros shaved from the spit and tucked into pita. Order extra tzatziki and make room for the dolmas. Owner George Manos treats everyone like family. Where else can you bring your own ouzo and leave with a jar of Greek honey? 2995 Preston Rd., Ste. 1590. 972-334-0031.
Frisco has Stan’s Main Street, a dive-y burger bar with live music, but it is also home to one of the best Indian restaurants in the area. Chennai Café features dishes from South India that feature proteins such as shark and goat. The menu is huge and the BYOB policy is easy on your pocketbook. If wine is the center of your world, then Eight | 11 Place is your go-to spot. The little blue Victorian House with fire pits in the backyard creates a comfortable vibe to sample some great wines-by-the-glass. When the weather is nice, regulars fill the outdoor space at 5th Street Patio Café. Breakfast and brunch with Captain Crunch French toast and pancakes the size of plates are becoming a Frisco tradition.
Fighting to retain its own identity amid a landscape of office parks and restaurant chains.
Stepping into Lefty’s is like walking into a small museum of Dallas restaurant history. The collection of pictures on the wall is curated by owner Chris Papageorge, who grew up in the restaurant business. His father owned the Golden Nugget on Harry Hines from the late ’50s to the early ’70s. Young Chris worked in the restaurant, standing on racks so he could reach the dishwasher. He hung out with all of the great restaurateurs of the time, and today he is more than happy to share stories.
He left Dallas and spent 20 years in the music business in New York. He and his wife, Pilar, returned to open Lefty’s in 1995. “I wanted to mimic the little seafood places I found all over New England,” he says. He took over a Persian restaurant and called his friends, who helped him gut the place and remodel. It grew by word of mouth and became a port in the storm for transplants from Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. The menu has expanded, and it now includes chicken Parmesan, pasta dishes, and steaks alongside lobster bisque, New England clam chowder, and fresh lobsters. But despite the changes, some things have stayed the same. Papageorge says his kitchen guys have been with him since the beginning, as have 80 percent of his waitstaff and a number of his customers. 4021 Belt Line Rd. 972-774-9518. —Nancy Nichols
Addison, once filled with chain restaurants, is now a vibrant neighborhood filled with independent owners. The family-owned Nate’s Seafood & Steakhouse is ground zero for delicious Gulf seafood, steaks, crawfish and live blues music. Great home cooking, friendly staff, and a fun retro 50’s atmosphere are the drawl at The Diner of Dallas while Ferrari’s is the top spot for families who love to sit near the red piano and eat Italian food from the Secchi family’s traditional recipes.
Coppell & Flower Mound
Quiet communities built on family, schools, and truck-commercial values.
You come here for every occasion: the wedding anniversary, the 10th birthday, the girls cross-country team win. The mood is festive at this family-owned restaurant named after wife and daughter. Ingredients are fresh, and brisket tacos, enchiladas, and tender beef fajitas fill plates. You can measure the evening’s happiness quotient by the tickets piled up for the tableside guacamole. 106 N. Denton Tap Rd., Ste. 240. 972-304-0321.
Coppell & Flower Mound Standards
Regulars linger for brunch on the patio over griddle cakes and grapefruit margaritas at J. Macklin’s in Coppell. When you’re feeling like slipping away to a hidden gem, nibble sushi and soak in the calm at Mua Sushi, a tucked-away spot with a cozy sushi bar and a mission to make the outside world disappear for a moment. You can gather with friends over cheffy share-plates, flatbreads, and bougie burgers at The Table in Flower Mound, or elbow up to the bar for the elevated pub grub at Verfs Grill and Tavern, with its exposed brick walls and rustic wood. The list of sips is long, and you can keep tabs on the rotating selection of 51 beers on tap. PRIME is doing farm-to-table, with a local cheeseboard and all-Texas beef from a quartet of fabulous spots. At Urbano Enchilada | Taco Bar, they’ll slap tacos and pickled onions on your butcher-paper-lined tray, barbecue style. Don’t miss the whole-ear corn done elotes-style.
Farmers Branch & Carrollton
A wealth of diversity lurks under the fading Norman Rockwell canvas seen by passers-by.
Farmers Branch & Carrollton Standards
Tuck into a booth and a heaping plate of hashbrowns, bacon, and eggs at Pete’s Café, a breakfast-and-lunch mainstay for more than 40 years. The home cooking comes with corn muffins and floppy green beans and the cheery rooster theme extends to the Pete’s Café mug you can take home, announcing your loyalties. The mural of sumo-wrestling and tennis-playing spuds at Bo’s Spuds and Burgers is 100 percent retro kitsch. They’ll load a baked potato with everything from bacon bits to beef stroganoff. The grill beckons at Gui-Rock Korean BBQ, where you go for a Korean fix. They’ve got you covered for proteins, and the meal is rounded out by their bright array of banchan in small plates. Go to Al Markaz for fragrant biryani and stop by the market afterwards for fresh roti, a bundle of coriander, or the foil-wrapped Indian sweets called pan. They’re the only place in town with a full-time pan-man, wrapping the sweet to order (get it with extra masala and brace for the rose-petal intensity). Cuban Dulceria is where you go for coffee and a Cuban sandwich. Family photos line the walls, and the Vasquez sisters who own the quaint spot make you feel like family.
Garland & Richardson
The railroad built these adjacent cities, and the electrical and telecom industries made them boom.
Sure the grub here is spread out and requires a drive. But the miles you spend hopping to and from restaurants are worth it. Sink your teeth into thin-patty burgers on puffy challah buns at Shady’s Burgers and Brewhaha. Head to Chinatown, where you can dig your chopsticks into pillow-y, house-made soup dumplings at Jeng Chi and heaping bowls of ramen at Maru Ramen. Craving boiled-in the-bag Cajun-style seafood? The Boiling Crab has you covered. Just be prepared for a line out the door. And if you can’t dine until midnight, Bistro B, a lively affordable Vietnamese eatery, is open late.
The king of the northern suburbs never stops growing. It only changes directions.
On a sleepy Wednesday evening, the overly bright dining room of the Bavarian Grill is full. An accordion player sings “Edelweiss,” waiters play “Happy Birthday” with Alpine cowbells, and three toy trains make endless circles around the ceiling. Liter steins of golden beer and a long speisekarte of hearty (if not exactly standout) German classics complete the scene. It’s reliable, neighborly cheer blanketed in Bavarian kitsch. 221 W. Parker Rd. 972-881-0705.
Order either a peach or watermelon margarita and nosh on fajita nachos or straight-up enchiladas at Casa Mama. The interior is a hokey in a good way. The same goes for Fish Shack, a haven for those who love fried catfish or grilled seafood served in a casual room. Debi’s Café Bistro features home cooking with freshly picked vegetables. Try the Texas Pecan and Grapes Chicken Salad and a slice of the housemade Key lime pie. If you like to discover hidden treasures, try Yama Izakaya & Sushi where you’ll find authentic Izakaya-style Japanese food tucked into a shopping center at the intersection of McDermett and Preston Rd. Cuban food is the heart of The Latin Pig. Naturally they make a killer Cuban sandwich, but the goat stew and ropa vieja shouldn’t be overlooked. If a Guinness and a stellar order of fish and chips is what the gang wants for dinner, The Fillmore Pub is the place to go. You’ll find a nice list of whiskeys and craft beers as well. Whether you want hot noodles on a cold day or cold noodles on a hot day, the lengthy menu at Bull Daddy Noodle Bistro is full of enticing choices. We discovered Taipei Station Café after we’d spied a long line out of the restaurant on a Saturday afternoon. There’s a reason why the tiny spot is usually full. The beef noodle soup is a bowl of love.