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Dallas - help me to narrow choices

I'm from Toronto Canada. It's a great city with a restaurant scene that reflects it's diversity (asian, greek, italian, indian, caribbean, persian...). Although, it is weak or non-existant in the following.

Let me know what you think of these choices:

1) Soul food: Sweet Georgia Brown, Vern's Place, DC's Cafe

2) Southern (not sure how/if to differentiate from soul food): Bubba's Cooks Country, Dixie House, The Mecca

3) BBQ: Sonny Bryan's (Inwood Rd)

4) Southwestern: Blue Mesa Grill, Stephan Pyles

5) Tex-mex: Herrera's, Mariano's Hacienda, Matt's Rancho Martinez, Mia's, Taco Diner

6) Mex-mex: Ciudad, Javier's Gourmet, La Calle Doce, Monica's Aca y Alla, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz, Via Real

7) Cajun: Dodie's, Pappadeaux

8) Steakhouse: Bob's, Chamberlain's, Del Frisco's, Nick and Sam's, Pal, Pappas Bros, YO Ranch

I don't plant to eat at all of these places! Just looking for the best in each category.

Thanks so much for the help.

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  1. Hands down Sweet Georgia Brown for soul food. Been to Vern's and to my tastes and I didn't care for it all. Sweet Georgia Brown's sides from the collared greens, to the awesome mac and cheese win all the time. For Southern, I would either go to Babe's or Bubba's. Same owner but slightly different in each way. Both very good! Get their fried chicken or ckicken fried steak. BBQ- skip Sonny Bryans! Might be rated high in Dallas by the food magazines but it is one of the worst BBQ places I've eaten at. A better choice would be Big Al's or Holy Smokes. Or if you have times and want to make a 3 hour trip to Lockhart and visit Blacks, Kreuz, or Smittys that would be even a much better better choice. Stephan Pyles is highly rated, can't comment on it but from everything I've heard on this board it's worth it. Blue Mesa on the lower end of Southwestern is good too and much less expensive. Steakhouse, any of the first 4 are great though if push comes to shove I'd probably pick Bob's or Chamberlains. Just my 2 (american!) cents! Enjoy!

    1. note: there is no "Pal" steakhouse. that was a typo. :)

      1. I'm a Herrera's devotee, so that would be my choice for TexMex. They were just awarded Best Chips by D Magazine.

        And if Sonny Bryan's Original is the worst BBQ someone has experienced, then I don't think they've experienced enough BBQ to have any credibility. While SB's may not be the equal of the Central Texas legends, the original is worth at least one visit by anyone who considers themselves a 'hound. The sauce is the standard by which all others are judged, and you can't go wrong with a chopped brisket sandwich and an order of o-rings, both generously doused.

        As for your Cajuny selection...Pappadeaux is decent for computer food and strong drinks. Don't know Dodie's, but you might want to check out Big Easy in Plano. The recent Morning News review made it sound like it was well worth the drive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: GroovinGourmet

          Instead of disparaging one person comments how about respecting them? Actually I've eaten BBQ all over the DFW area from Angelo's in Fort Worth,Macs, Mike Andersons, chain places like Red Hot and Blue, Hardemans and other various places in south Dallas and of course Sonny Bryans. The list goes on trust me! Yes, you are correct that there are worse places than Sonny Bryans but having eaten at the Inwood location on many occasions being right down from the hospital the brisket is always dry, lacks smoke and with that the lovely characteristics of a smoke ring. The sauce is ok in my opinion but I do respect your opinion that you like it and that's fine. Perhaps SB way back when was an excellent place such as the Lockhart legends but I think those days of good BBQ are long gone. Good BBQ in my opinion shouldn't require sauce. Now to be fair, being from Chicago SB would rank pretty high up there but there are much better options for our canadian chowhound to visit and indulge. For atmosphere SB wins hands down but the food ain't that great. If anyone has lost any credibility it should be SB for not putting out a quality product as it used to. Course I can't really say what it tasted like 20 years ago but perhaps someone else can enlighten us. Anyways, from one chowhound to another happy eating! This site is great because it informs the consumer and our tummys what is out there. And yes, Pappadeaux is decent! :)

          1. re: dl72

            Amen! Sonny Bryan's is a mere shadow of its former self and their food is no better than several other Dallas bbq places. I'm all for earthy atmosphere when it comes to bbq houses but the place on Inwood is a dump.

        2. 1. Sweet Georgia Brown.
          2. Babe's (3 locations - Carrollton & Garland locations have more menu choices.
          3. Sonny Bryan's only if you must for lunch at the original. It's not that great anymore but probably not the worst you'll ever have. There's just so much better to be had in Texas.
          4. Stephen Pyles or Abacus - both high end. Forget Blue Mesa.
          5. Mia's or Avila's.
          6. Any of those choices are good although I like Javier's and Nuevo Leon.
          7. I haven't eated at Dodie's but not a big fan of Pappadeaux.
          8. Pappas Bros, Bob's, Del Frisco's & Chamberlain's all good.

          1. so which places will you be eating at? are you planning a trip to dallas soon?

            1. How about...
              Peggy Sue's for BBQ near SMU,
              Raffa's for Tex Mex on Lovers lane, and
              Ali Baba for middle eastern on Greenville rd.
              Three of my favorites!!

              1. If you head for Peggy Sue, be wary of the brisket. Even when ordered "not too lean" it can come out bone dry, and not even their sassy sauce will save it. The sausage and sides are excellent there.

                1. Javier's is definately a winner for Mexican, at least over Cuidad.

                  Stay away from Peggy Sue's BBQ.

                  As far as the steaks go, I do like me some Nick & Sam's or Chamberlian's, as well as Bob's. Incidentally, is Bob's open after last week's fire?


                  1. Thanks for the input so far guys. Keep it comin'.

                    Another Q: Does anyone know if the Farmer's Market is open on Christmas day? I've been trying to reach them by phone and no one's been picking up. Thanks.

                    1. I don't think the farmer's market is open. So do we get part of your freelance fee for all this research?

                      1. Babe's--definitely worth a visit if you've never been--I've only had the fried chicken. Warning: this will not be a healthy meal
                        Pappadeaux--You can make up for it here with the fabulous seafood salad. Don't miss the blackened oyster fondue. This may be a chain but it's a good chain. Of course their fried stuff is good too, but you're still in recovery from Babe's
                        Sonny Bryan's--I agree with everyone who's said pass--I find it flavorless, the very last thing BBQ should be, and the fried onions didn't impress me either
                        Blue Mesa--I'd skip it
                        Matt's Rancho Martinez--a tentative yes, not as good as I remembered last time I was there
                        Taco Diner--not what I refer to as "a cultural experience," but I like the brisket tacos, and a friend loves the fish tacos
                        Nuevo Leon--yes, try the avocado soup
                        Via Real--yes if you like fish, their specialty

                        You should also check out Iris, a great little neighborhood restaurant with lovely food ...

                        If you make it over to Fort Worth, I like the Poly Grill for soul food, and for Mexican, the Mexican Inn (I go to the one on 8th & recommend you go to an old location based on what I've heard) or La Familia.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foiegras

                          I have always enjoyed my meals at Iris - I don't know why it keeps slipping my mind since it is relatively close to me.

                          1. re: queenie

                            You know I forgot about it too, but remembered Suze and Sevy's, which are just as good.


                        2. Sonny Bryans has to be the most overrated restaurant in DFW. I would go to Spring Creek bbq over Sonny's any day. As far as tex-mex goes...you keft my favorite off...Luna de Noche.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: adkim

                            Oh yes, I'd forgotten about LDN. They have excellent table salsa (as does Javier's).


                          2. For BBQ, try Sonny's, just north of downtown. It's heaven!

                            For Tex-Mex, definitely go for Mia's or its recent off-shoot, Manny's (also on Lemmon). Go early or late for lunch, or plan to brave a loong wait list.

                            For upscale Mex-Mex, I prefer Ciudad over Javier's (I've just never really gotten into the joint). Or for a really good, down-home, authentic taqueria, try either the Taqueria Arandas or La Paloma chains (there are several of both throughout town.) I used to love Nuevo Leon, but the quality has slipped in recent years.

                            My favorite steakhouse is Pappa's. The steaks are consistently outstanding.

                            1. For steaks the safest choice is Bob's...A great alternate however is the Fort Worth Del Frisco's..That is a real treat. Texas Texans chewing cattle wearing hats...Eating at the Dallas location and driving 40 mintues to the FW location it is 180 degrees different.Used to live in Lewisville suburb and every trip relatives made included a day in Ft Worth and a trip to Del's..Also there was a Mexican site in Ft Worth that was pretty good Maria's is it? Across the street from the Worthington Hotel...

                              1. The info I have on Nuevo Leon is 2012 Greenville Ave, 214/887-8148.

                                I called the phone # and it was out of service.

                                Is there another location? I googled "Nuevo Leon" and there are others listed, but I was wondering if those are one-in-the same as the one at 2012 Greenville. Regardless, I'm looking for the one that some are recommending here.

                                mucho gracias

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: LikeTheWolf

                                  Sadly, Nuevo Leon did not survive a fire last summer. (apparent grease fire). Both it and The Historia Arcadia Theater were recently leveled and high dollar condos will probably go in it's place. Not sure about the Nuevo Leon location on Oak Lawn. But it sure was good.

                                2. I believe the original was on the North Side of Dallas and it spread out. The location on Greenville ave actually burnt to the ground earlier this year. I believe the location on Josey in Farmers Branch is still around.

                                  1. Southern/soul/comfort food: Consider Mama's Daughters- they have the best cornbread ever!

                                    BBQ: I like going to Sonny Bryan's on Inwood more for the character (somehow that adds to the taste), but I guess I would usually choose Spring Creek BBQ- and be sure to save room for some bluebell vanilla ice cream! Also, I recently had randy white's hall of fame bbq which was catered, and the meat was really good, does anyone have any thoughts on the actual restaurant?

                                    I must speak out for Dodie's on lower Greenville, it has great cajun food. Even though they are out of season right now, I think Dodie's has the most consistent boiled crawfish in Dallas (try finding those in toronto).

                                    Monica's aca y alla is just a fun place to go. The food is awesome, drinks are strong, and on the weekends, there is usually live music.

                                    And I agree with people on Bob's, it is always consistent, but my current favorite restaurant for steak in Dallas is Perry's.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: missmaggie

                                      randy white's restaurant is hit and miss, but overall i consider the place worth a visit. i actually think randy white's cornbread is one of the best in dallas...way better than mama's daughters.

                                      1. re: adkim

                                        Randy Whites on Midway in Addison is closed.

                                    2. AS to BBQ, the fact is that Dallas is not a great, or even very good BBQ town. That being said, I think you should go to Sonny Bryan's on Inwood. First, it has the atmosphere of a true Texas BBQ joint. Second, and I can speak here with some authority as I ate there within the last month, it is not that bad and frankly, I can't think of any that are much better.

                                      And by the way, if you take dl72's suggestions, don't just go to Lockheart. Go to Taylor and eat at Texas' best BBQ joint -- Louie Mueller's. Real BBQ and a real Texas BBQ joint.

                                      1. Trust Laurie. Mia's (and its recent offshot Manny's) are hands-down the best Tex-Mex in Dallas. For a prettier restaurant, choose Manny's and order the brisket tacos. Mia's is funkier and livelier.
                                        Also, if you don't mind strip mall ambience, Dodie's on lower Greenville is excellent. Very casual.
                                        And, Nuevo Leon on Greenville burned down, but there's one on Oak Lawn.

                                        1. The Nuevo Leon on Oak Lawn is no longer in business.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Webra1

                                            Nuevo Leon in Farmers Branch..located in a strip mall on the corner of Josey & Valley View

                                          2. 1)Sweet Georgia
                                            2) Dixe House
                                            3) Sonny's is overrated... I love Ricks BBQ, located in Carrollton on Old Denton Rd. hands down best peach cobble you will ever eat in your life.
                                            4) Blue Mesa.. okay I am a sucker for the blue corn chips
                                            5) Herrera's.. we have been eating there since 1982
                                            6)Nueva Leon - good food great price
                                            7) Doddies....the location downtown is better than the one in Carrollton
                                            8)Bob's ..no comparison

                                            1. If you have been to Babe's it wipes Dixie House off the map. Blue Mesa is good but not really what I would call "Mexican" there are many "real" Mexican restaurants on Josey between 635 north to 190.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: irodguy

                                                Blue Mesa is SouthWestern. I dont think they even try to serve Mexican food.

                                                1. re: irodguy

                                                  Herrera's (tex-mex) is on Josey, between Keller Springs & Beltline on the West side of Josey (just at the railroad tracks), or Los Lupes at Josey & 190 or Trinity Mills which ever you like to call it.
                                                  Los Lupes is more tradition mexican and the prices are MUCH better. Have you tried La Piasa located at Sandy Lake & 35... man oh man.. best kept secret around, try the green sauce.

                                                2. to me herrera's is the best for tex mex

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: textex

                                                    You know, after many posts on here stating the same, we tried it and were most unimpressed.


                                                  2. Try these:
                                                    1) Soul food: South Dallas Cafe, but I love Miz Vern's, too

                                                    2) Southern: Mama's Daughters on Harry Hines, Norma's in Oak Cliff

                                                    3) BBQ: Hard Eight in Stephenville

                                                    4) Southwestern: that isn't Stephan Pyles anymore at all - try Reata in Fort Worth

                                                    5) Tex-mex: Matt's in Lakewood - his grandpa opened the first tex-mex restaurant in Austin

                                                    6) Mex-mex: Cafe San Miguel, but Veracruz is sure good

                                                    7) Cajun: there's a place opened in Deep Ellum by some Katrina evacuees that everyone loves, can't think of the name - somebody know it?

                                                    8) Steakhouse: Perry's is fantastic

                                                    Check em out.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: HalleyP

                                                      Cajun place in Deep Ellum is called Crustaceans (hope it's still open because the quality was great as was the service).

                                                    2. For BBQ I would try Anderson's on Harry Hines, my favorite place.


                                                      1. My favorite new Mexican find in Dallas is the Vera Cruz on 67 South heading towards Cedar Hill. Yes, it is outside the metroplex. For shame...., but worth the drive. The atmosphere is excellent, the food is ultra fresh and they have some incredible Mayan style dishes along with an assortment of more recognizable Mexican fare. The chorizo and pickled veggie queso is incredible, as is their unique take on chile rellano. Decent mole chicken and something called pipian chicken, delicious pork dishes (try the adobo de puerco) and even some decent desserts.

                                                        In the land of Tex-Mex and Mex-Mex fare, this joint is one of my favorites.

                                                        1. I agree with "Rafa's" as being best for mexican..( best sour cream chicken enchiladas!)
                                                          Dixie House or Celebrations for down home cooking
                                                          Jaspers for upscale " down home cooking"
                                                          Stephen Pyles for Upscale Southwestern and Blue Mesa for huge southwestern brunch
                                                          III Forks for steak
                                                          Ciudads for upscale Mex-Mex food (GREAT margaritas)
                                                          La Duni for the BEST cakes in Dallas, and their food is good as well
                                                          Ali Baba or Cafe Izmir for Middle Eastern
                                                          BBQ? Probably the original Sonny Bryans for chopped beef sandwich..though Holy Smokes for sides...
                                                          Last but not least....The Grape, for a romantic little place with good food...