Visiting from New York City
I will be in Addison between Oct 8 and Oct 11 for a company meeting. As a known foodie I have the honor of choosing our dinners. Please post any suggestions. I'm thinking along the lines of Mexican one night, Barbecue one night, and a steakhouse for the third night. If there is a local spot that doesn't fit, however, I'm open to it. We'll be approximately 10 people each night and prices in the $15 to $25 range for an entree. Thanks for any suggestions you may have.
Let's just start by saying that Addison is full of restaurants in the $15-$25 range, but somewhat lack in the categories you're asking for, particularly BBQ. Dallas is no prime spot for BBQ and Addison is far from anything really worthwhile. For something really southern and not necessarily BBQ, I would suggest a trip to Babe's Chicken Dinner House in downtown Carrollton (about 5 miles west of Addison) for excellent chicken fried steak, fried chicken, smoked chicken, mashed potatoes, pecan pie, the whole spread. Dinner is served family style where you pick the meat entree and everyone shares the sides. It's about $10-$15/person. You'll probaby enjoy the food and atmosphere here better than any chain (e.g. Sonny Bryan's) BBQ place.
If you must have BBQ, Red, Hot, & Blue (still chain) in Plano (5 miles north of Addison, W Plano Pkwy @ Preston Rd) is a slightly better choice. It hails as Memphis style BBQ so that may take the charm out of a Texas visit.
Better BBQ can be found in the mid-cities (Railhead) or in Fort Worth (Angelo's) or even south Dallas (Baby Back Shack).
In the Addison area, I think Chamberlain's is your best bet for a good, solid steak. Search these boards and I think you'll find many who agree.
I can't think of any really great Mex-Mex places in Addison. For Tex-Mex (non-fancy), I like Mena's Tex Mex (Trinity Mills @ Marsh) for brisket tacos and impeccable service. If you prefer better people-watching atmosphere, try Blue Mesa Grill (not really even Tex-Mex, it's like southwestern fusion?)
If you're willing to drive east a bit (less than 10 miles), Cuquita's at Spring Valley and Coit is excellent authentic Mexican. Mole, pozole, the whole bit.
There's also Nate's Seafood if you're wanting crawfish. Not on your list of categories but something a little un-New York.
The Mexican and BBQ won't cost you $15-25 an entree. You should actually be able to get what you need at about $10 per entree, which saves you up to $30 per person over the two meals.
Take that saved money and go to a really nice steakhouse and splurge in the $35 range on a nice Texas steak. I'd recommend Chamberlain's.
Okay, Addison is probably not our best area for food in town, but for Mexican, I would do El Fenix on Beltline for "the real deal"...These guys have been doing Mexican Food for too many years to guess... They have excellent Margaritas, chips, hot sauce, and cheese enchiladas...For something that is not "Tex Mex", but actually "Southwestern Mex", I recommend Blue Mesa...They have interesting food, tableside made guacamole, some items made with blue cornmeal, overall, a nice place with good food...BBQ is not the very best in Dallas, it's true, but I have been to New York many times, (my favorite place for food anywhere, BTW), but Dallas BBQ is much better than anything that you will find in NY, so go for it, and try to find the nearest Sonny Bryans....For steak, hmm...think your budget is not quite big enough for our steak houses, so I will second the recommendation that you skip the steak, and go to Carrollton, not far from Addison, and try Babe's for a more "Texas experience"...chicken fried steak...that is something that you just cannot get in NY, and it is killer stuff! Enjoy....
Pay heed to all these recommendations concerning Babe's. I live in Brooklyn, and there is absolutely NOTHING like Babe's in NYC - it just couldn't exist. The food is great, the atmosphere is for real - I think you and your colleagues won't be disappointed.
El Fenix might not be the best Tex-Mex in the area (it's the best I know since the Addison Primo's closed, but as I said I live in Brooklyn now, so I'll defer to more knowledgeable voices - donnaaries seems to hit the nail on the head in other categories, for instance). But it is perfectly good Tex-Mex, and a reliable Dallas institution. On Wednesday nights they have the enchilada dinner special, so be aware that the place will be crowded on Wednesdays. Stick to basics like enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas, and you'll have an enjoyable dinner, again totally unlike anything in NYC. I'd definitely stick to classic Tex-Mex over the southwest-fusion at Blue Mesa.
There isn't really business-dinner-quality BBQ that I know of in Addison. The Dickey's at Preston and Beltline serves decent brisket, and I'll certainly eat there if it's convenient, but I wouldn't recommend the place as a destination. Then again, NYC is full of great steakhouses. So if you were purely interested in trying local foods, I'd say go for Dickey's. Since you're choosing dinner locations for business colleagues, though, you should probably go with Red Hot & Blue or a steakhouse. Or Nate's; Nate's is awesome, and Texas is next to Louisianna, so it's kind of local. And if you go to RH&B or Nate's, you'll stay in that $15-$25 range.
If I were you, I'd definitely go for Babe's, El Fenix, and Nate's - all fun, authentic places with great food. Maybe you can find time for a brisket sandwich for lunch to satisfy any personal curiosity. And grab a steak when you're back in NYC.
While I like El Fenix, it's pretty basic and almost cafeteria like. It's a little weird getting your enchilada plate literally 30 sec's after ordering. Not some place I'd take out-of-towners or colleagues really.
Cantina Laredo would be my suggestion. They have the standards as well as some unique dishes. And reasonably priced. Blue Mesa is another good suggestion but, as mentioned above, it's more southwestern than Tex-Mex. A neat place none-the-less.
For BBQ you are bascially SOL in Addison, as this whole area is sorely missing good Q. Just skip it. Texas BBQ flourishes just about everywhere but D/FW and nothing of note in Addison.
If you haven't had the Brazilian steak experience in NYC, then I STRONGLY recommend either Texas de Brazil or Fogo de Chao. Both are in the heart of Addison. Some may have a favorite among the two but I find them very similar. Perfect for entertaining friends or co-workers. Check out their websites to see which one you like better. Edit: Just saw where you're talking $25 a person. These are both $40, fyi
Others I like:
Lefty's seafood. It's a New England themed hole in the wall but worth it just for the king crab leg (as big as your arm).
Lawry's the Prime Rib. A Dallas institution. This is where they have the beef bowl eating contest before the cotton bowl game. So they aren't short on portions.
Nate's. Solid cajun and seafood.
Sambuca. Swanky seafood and steak joint with live jazz.
Snuffers. Casual burger place. I really love their burgers but others find them too greasy/salty. Most will agree that their cheese fries are sinful. I think they're illegal in most of the lower 48.
Would have to respectfully disagree with the choices of Lawry's, Sambuca, and Snuffers...Have found their food overall to be a disappointment...Sambuca is a fun place because of the music and crowd, but they have never had good food...And just a note, New York has had Brazilian Steakhouse restaurants for quite some time, and they also have some excellent steak houses, Peter Luger's being one of the most famous in the US, so I think that I would skip those two things...
I would recommend Cantina Laredo for reasonably nice. If you are looking for great Mexican I would go to Nuevo Leon on Valley View & Josey. It's not a long drive from Addison but not around the corner.
Babe's is good and a uniquely Southern place.
For Mexican, I would vehemently advise against EL Fenix. I think people who like it are recommending it due to their own nostalgia because the food tastes like the Mexican food I got from the school cafeteria every Wednesday while growing up in San Antonio. If you have access to a car, eat Mexican food at Avila's (off Maple Ave) or Cafe San Miguel (just east of the Knox-Henderson area).