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Dallas - Argentinian Restuarants

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Does anyone have any recommendations for Argentinian restuarants in Dallas? I live in North Oak Cliff/Kessler Park and just tried a new restuarant called Don Panza (2850 W. Clarendon Drive, Dallas, TX 75211). It is a family-owned business with authentic Argentinian pizzas, empanada's, milanesas and other dishes. The restuarant is pretty nondescript, but the food is superb. The pizza is as good as anything I've had in Dallas and the empanadas with the spicy salsa were excellent. I highly recommend it.

Does anyone know of any other places like this in Dallas?

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  1. Haven't eaten here myself, but an Argentinian friend highly recommended Rafain's. Says it's tops.
    http://www.rafain.com/

    3 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1

      From the looks of it, Rafain is a Brazilian churrascaria serving all the churrascaria mainstays (endless meat on skewers). Seems very similar to Fogo de Chao and Texas de Brazil. It looks all together different than what the OP is looking for.

      I do not know of any other restaurant that serves Italian inspired Argentinian fare in Dallas.

      1. re: Caroline1

        Rafain is not really what I had in mind, but it looks very good and I'll check it out when I get a chance, since I've been meaning to try out some of the Brazilian steak places like Texas de Brazil. The owner of Don Panza told me that there is a strong Italian influence in Argentinian food. Don Panza serves about 30 different types of pizzas and calzones. The owner said it is the only place like it he knows about in Dallas, but I wanted to check with some foodies to see if there is anything else out there I could compare it to.

        Thanks for the comments and the recommendation for Rafain.

        1. re: Shnook

          Italian and Spanish influences, but if my memory and/or observations are worth salt, there aren't a whole lot of Argentinian restaurants around. Maybe New York City. If you do much cooking, that may be the best (and most reliable) way to explore Aregentina. Good luck!

      2. Just tried this at lunchtime. A real find. great empanadas (ordered additional to take home) and pizza topped with cheese and herbs.

        1. Just a quick update. I was back again for dinner last Friday night. In addition to more empanada's and pizza, I tried the Calzone, which was excellent. I also found out that, you can bring your own beer or wine, so add it to you list of bring-your-own wine places in Dallas.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Shnook

            Checked Don Panza out for dinner tonight. While the service and decor leave much to be desired, the food was pretty tasty. The pizza's are unique -- very crisp, dense, buttery crust. I had the chimichurri/mozerella pizza which was quite good. They have a number of toppings to choose from. Also sampled a couple of empanadas which were very good. They only list 4 (2 beef and 2 chicken) on the menu but have at least 5-6 other types including spinach, tuna, ham and cheese, blue cheese and ham. In talking with one of the owners, the secret to their empanadas is that they fry them in lard. After finding this out, I felt somewhat guilty about eating them but they are really crisp without tastying oily. Overall, would go back, but may think about ordering in advance next time as it took quite a while to get our food out despite the place being almost empty.

            1. re: Bhutani

              I forgot to mention (above) that this place is BYOB, so break out thay $100 Malbec you've been wanting to try.

              FYI: We didn't have the wait that you experienced.

              1. re: Worzel Gummidge

                They have a web site now.
                http://donpanza.com/default.aspx

          2. I've been in Dallas for almost 10 years. There are no Argentinian restaurants. Thanks for the recommendation of Don Panza.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dallasbeatrice

              Dallasbeatrice,

              Along with Don Panza there is the Argentina Bakery in Irving on Beltline (same shopping center as Target) and I believe there is an Argentinian store at Beltline and Rochelle not sure if it is still there but there was one about 2 -3 years ago (across from Ruen Thai and Pizza Hut_

            2. A place on Oak Lawn Ave. called Zaguan serves pan-South American fare including some Argentinian dishes, such as empanadas. They've gotten some very good reviews, although when I ate there, the food didn't exactly blow my skirt up over my face. I had the (Venezuelan) cachapas, which I'd heard nice things about, but the corn was very very chewy...

              1. While being not to familiar with Argentinan food besides the awesome pastries and mate’ at Argentina Bakery in Irving (just around the corner from the Target on the NEC of Beltline at 183), my wife, parents and I decided to try out Don Panza from the recommendations on Chowhound.

                Last night started off just like any other time I decide to bring my parents to a place that have never heard of or tried the cuisine (a lot of skepticism). We all loaded in the Honda Pilot and made our way from Irving. Last night was not the best night to get out and about, which was evident by the lack of traffic on the roads. We headed down Interstate 30 and took the Hampton exit. We made our way past some familiar sights we took Davis down past Bishop Arts one day on a recent weekend drive around Dallas. As we proceeded down Hampton we noticed the streets getting somewhat more narrow and crowded (signaling an older part of Oak Cliff).

                Finally we spotted Clarendon and turned down (to the right) heading west. About halfway down the street the skepticism once again came out thinking we were lost (the area looks like a residential neighborhood). I told them to give it a minute and to see what was ahead. About a quarter mile from Westmoreland (later found this was closer), we found Don Panza sticking out like a shining beacon of Blue and White (almost the national colors of Argentina).

                We were curious if we had the right place because we saw no one in the parking lot. We filed in the heavily wrapped patio and found the patio to be surprisingly cozy with the sounds of Argentinan music overhead (less carnival like than the sounds of Northern Mexican tunes). We decided to scratch the patio seating for the more cozy indoor seating (about room for 20-25 people). At first we didn’t see anyone and then the owner peeked around the corner and greeted us. I believe we might have been his only dine in customers of the night. I also believe he was surprised to see some non-Spanish speaking customers. I believe most of his business is comprised of the neighborhood surrounding the place. With a greeting he was quick to inquire how we heard and ended up at his restaurant. We explained that we had heard great reviews on the pizza and empanadas. I also had told him that we had seen his restaurant mentioned several times on Chowhound and he was very appreciative and happy to see that word was getting out about his place. He smiled at me and shrugged his shoulders in a way to say that he really didn’t understand how a website could bring people from miles around to try a few authentic dishes.

                The owner (who reminded us of Sonny Bono) was very helpful in suggesting highlights of the menu. While the milanesa and Lopito (sounds like a caloric nightmare of a sandwich (ham, over easy fried eggs, Swiss cheese with lettuce, onion and tomato)) sounded very tempting we went for a simple pizza Napolitana. We also decided to try three empanadas; beef (out of spicy beef), humita, and ham & Roquefort. The owner tols us that he had been open only for 5 months and that his empanada order have skyrocketed through word of mouth. He said he easily goes through 15 dozen of spicy beef a day. Truly amazign for a place that has been open only for 5 months and spread by pure word of mouth. We waited for a good 20 minutes or so and saw the pictures of how the owner had completely remodeled the place in 4 weeks. He told us in a tableside chat between call in orders that it was an undertaking and that the place was completely trashed before. I give him a thumbs up for his remodeling job. During the wait were also entertained by the owners smallest child she was dancing for us and was keeping us entertained like 2-3 year old can.

                When our empanadas arrived they were cleverly marked with initials to specify which ones you were eating. We got a spinach, ham and cheese and beef that came with chimichurri and oregano and some other dried herbs. We left the dried herbs alone and tried out the chimichurri. We were blown away by the taste of what the owner called “an everyday sauce in my home country”. The chimichurri tasted like a lightly spiced but heavily herby version of a marinade. I could detect a slight bit of red pepper flakes, garlic, olive oil and the dried herb mixture that had been allowed to sit for several hours or even a day. The time makes a difference. I could eat the chimichurri alone. After we devoured the three empanadas we ddecided we liked the beef, ham and cheese and spinach in that order. When our pizza came out is was like a work of art and tasted that way. Every detailed was perfect cheese was perfectly metled and the right amount versus the crust. The crust was sublime with the bottom crisp but not crunchy and the top pillowy. The ingredients (tomatoes, garlic, bacon, and parsley) were fresh and at the perfect balance for each other. When you spread on the chimichurri you take your slice of pizza to another level. Don Panza makes a mean pie and I believe can hang in with the big boys in the metroplex.

                As we were paying we were telling the owner how much we loved it and we would definitely come back and recommend it to friends. He thanked us and told us that he drives from Lake Dallas everyday which is a shame considering there are plenty of places closer (even in Lewisville which would be great for me) for him to open up shop. We parted our ways and raved all the way home at the quality of the pizza and just how good it was. We also hope that the owner does not decide to open up a second location as the quality and care might falter as in other chain or second locations instances.

                I thank you all for contributing on Don Panza and making our Saturday night a memorable one. I think the owner feels the same way about Chowhound too!!

                1. I agree that Don Panza is a nice place. First of all, I found the service to be wonderful for the kind of place it was. Our server, whom I believe to be the owner, made it clear he was willing to put together whatever we'd like. Unfortunately, their sign says "burgers, pizza, wings, tacos." I would never, unless on a recommendation, go to a place advertising the service of any two of those, let alone all four, at the same time.

                  We tried three Empanadas. Corn paste, spinach, and spicy chicken. The crust was wonderful on all of them. They're fried, but weren't oily. The corn paste was very good. The filling was kind of like creamed corn, except a little thicker, possibly with some masa and cheese. I feared it would be sweet, but it was just right. The spicy chicken was finely shredded chicken in a sauce. Also good. Spinach tasted like frozen spinach. We had a pizza with half bacon and bleu cheese and half tomatoes and mozzarella. They were both very good. I've heard their pizzas described as thin crust. I wouldn't say that at, but it was quite crisp with a very tender crumb. Kind of like a thick pita with a crisp, but barely browned, bottom. My one complaint about the pizzas is that they were oily. The chimichuri was nice, but it was made with dried herbs. I don't know what is authentic, but i believe I'd enjoy it more with fresh herbs. Despite this, it was still good and made it's way onto many of my bites.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kindofabigdeal

                    kindofabigdeal, a group of us went there a couple of weeks ago. Most of us didn't like the food and I think that's why none of us posted reviews! (except David--he loved the empanadas and the blue cheese pizza). I think the group thought the cheese was overwhelming. I thought both pizzas and empanadas were bland, although I agree that the crust of empanadas was very crisp and nice, unlike other empanadas I've had.

                    1. re: kuidaore

                      I think most of us found at least some of the empanadas we liked. I liked the shrimp, the spicy beef, and corn. Pizza didn't do much for me, then again it rarely does. I think it's worth going for the empanadas, I would stop for lunch if I was in the area.

                  2. After reading the comments on this site and visiting Don Panza myself, I felt I just had to respond. If you are familiar with authentic Argentine food at all, you will be very disappointed with this restaurant. Ignoring all of the other negatives I could mention(neighborhood, decor, atmosphere, cleanliness, etc.), I will only tell you the food was neither authentic nor very good . The empanadas did have a great crust but were otherwise below average and lacked key ingredients(olives, for instance). The Lomito sandwich was made with the lowest quality of beef; inedible. The sauce used on the Pizza/Calzone was so bland I suspected it was unseasoned tomato sauce poured straight from a store-bought can. If you think Olive Garden or Carraba's serves great Italian food, you might actually be able to enjoy the offering at Don Panza. Otherwise, be forewarned.

                    I hate to leave such a negative review as the owners seemed like good people, but I have to be honest. If you are looking for authentic Argentine cuisine, you will not find anything here that even remotely resembles it.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: jspade

                      Jspade,

                      Are you from Argentina or have live there? I was curious do all Argentinian empanadas include olives or are there regional differences (similar to the BBQ sauce/smoking woods of the southern United States)? I was also curious as to the decor issue. The owner did by the way renovate the entire building from scratch on his own as evidence inside the restaurant on the wall. Also which did you have the pizza or calzone? If my memory recalls calzone is not supposed to have sauce in it. You could have it to dip in on the side as is common here but then again if you were dipping your calzone in something you could have asked for the chimichurri. I would imagine the owner also does not use Kobe/Wagyu beef for his lomito. I bet his meat is very similar to what they sell in the neighborhood at the meat markets there. Perhaps you don't like Mexican carniceria style of meats. The neighborhood is Kessler Park and not Uptown/Highland Park/Lakewood/Victory Park. It is what it is....perhaps you don't like Oak Cliff?

                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                        Hi LewisvilleHounder, thanks for the reply.

                        My wife was born in Argentina and lived there for over 30 years. I have visited many times and enjoyed restaurants in several cities. And while regional differences may exist, neither of us has ever had an empanada in Argentina without olives. On the decor issue, I'm sure the owner worked hard, as most do, in opening his restaurant. Maybe had I seen it's condition before the renovation I could appreciate it more, but cheap linoleum floors and piecemeal furnishings leave a lot to be desired. Nonetheless, as you mention, the place is what it is, and that's why I chose to focus my review on the food. I personally had the Calzone, which didn't have sauce in it, but had been covered liberally with sauce and cheese.
                        I can assure you the owner is not using Kobe/Wagyu beef for his Lomito, nor do I really expect him to. However, you must keep in mind, Argentine beef is world renowned. If one is going to promote his restaurant as Argentinian, he ought to make sure his beef is at least average. As I mentioned, it was inedible. I can visit literally hundreds of restaurants in DFW serving low quality carnecia style meats. I went to Don Panza expecting something different.
                        And I'll freely admit I don't particularly care for Oak Cliff. But transplanting this restaurant to Highland Park or anywhere else would not make it any more enjoyable. My point remains: Don Panza is an unremarkable Latin restaurant in Kessler Park catering mainly to those that reside in the community, indistinguishable from hundreds of other restaurants like it in DFW. Those who expect anything more will be disappointed, especially those who have had the pleasure of enjoying authentic Argentine restaurants.

                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                          I thought this restaurant was on Clarendon , which is not even close to Kessler Park.....anyone know where it is located ? Thanks .

                          1. re: pinotho

                            It is close to Westmoreland & Clarendon...sorry that I misspoke

                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                              not a problem LHounder...thanks for the clarification....

                              1. re: pinotho

                                [i]test[/i]

                        2. re: jspade

                          Being a native of Uruguay and married to a Porteño (born in Buenos Aires) I have to jump in and second your opinion that Don Panza's food left us dissapointed... their milanesas were aweful, their chimi churri was terrible and the empanadas were ok..
                          The best empanadas in my never too humble opinion are at Argentina Bakery off Beltline in Irving... I wish somebody would open a real "Gaucho" restaurant in Dallas. .. Blue Mercedes in Lewisville, TX

                        3. Is this place still open? I don't see the website anymore.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: snowwhiteRN

                            Argentina Bakery is still there... I wentlast Saturday for 4 pckgs of "miga" sandwiches, breakfast facturas...and 2 dozen empanadas... all were gone in 2 days ! :)

                            www.argentinabakery.com

                            3401 W Airport Fwy # 112
                            Irving, TX 75062-5931
                            (972) 252-4809

                          2. After the topic of "meat pies" arose in a thread yesterday, I thought about the empanadas at Argentina bakery for the rest of the evening. I've heard about AB for a couple of years now, so this morning, I jumped in the car and went for breakfast.

                            This is primarily a bakery with 2 display cases of beautiful pastries and sweet delicacies akin to those found in European bakeries. The difference is - these are not nearly as sweet. A good portion of them contain dulce de leche. Most all are individual portions and price in at 1.25, although there were a couple that were pennies more and a couple that were pennies less. I had the 2.00 conocito which was similar in "build" to an eclair, except it was rolled puff pastry filled with dulce de leche and dipped in dark choco on either end. Unfortunately, it was stale. Perhaps because of the higher price, they don't turn as quickly.

                            They empanadas were equally appealing to the eye. I believe there were 4 different varieties which included differing ingredients of beef, spinach, sliced (boiled) egg, jalepenos and ham/cheese. I was so happy when I realized that the display case had a warmer so the pastries did not have to be sizzle-ized in a microwave to heat them up. 1 ea. of the beef/egg/jalepno, ham/(white)cheese and a medium Columbian coffee was 4 dollars and some change. Not bad for a fully adequate breakfast; and a very good one to boot! The ham/cheese was very generous. The beef was kind of sparse but had exceptional flavor.

                            On top of one of the cases were 3 large baskets of bread rolls. As I sat there eating, a fairly steady flow of people came in and several left with bags of these rolls. I meant to get some to bring home, unfortunately, I got sidetracked with the wall of packaged grocery items and forgot, so can't speak to their exact make-up.

                            In addition to the pastry and bread items, they have a small assortment of meats - most with Spanish names, but I did see a Boar's Head salami in the bunch. A selection of different coffee blends is available, as are teas and specialty/flavored coffees.

                            This is a mom and pop shop, so if ever you're unsuccessful in finding a specialty ingredient from this region, they may be able to get it for you.

                            1. I tried out Shine's Deli on Beltline just east of Preston, and although it is technically Turkish, the first owner was a Turk who had been living in Argentina, so their cuisine is pretty mixed. I tried some of their Argentinian food and it was awesome. I'd love to hear what others think.

                              1. Our options are very limited... but the best empanadas (in my opinion) are at the Agentina Bakery in Irving