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Places for chow-ish son to take non-chowish parents? (DFW)

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I'll be in Irving this week visiting my parents, and would like to take them to dinner (Tue and/or Wed). Unfortunately for me, they're not too adventurous when it comes to food. Typically, we'll end up at places like Mercado Juarez, the old school Dunston's on Harry Hines or for special occasions, Steak and Ale. My last couple of visits involved visits to some horrible Sizzler-esque place on the north side of Airport Freeway between Story and Beltline (apologies to Sizzler) and Rudy's on Beltline at Rochelle (surprisingly good Tex-Mex). On one recent visit I took them to Perry's, where they enjoyed to the food but maybe not the scene (a little too hip and upscale for them, I think).

So, I'm looking for some places that have simple straightforward (but good) food, relatively family friendly ambiance, and courteous professional service. Cost? $15-$25/entree. Location? Anywhere in or very near the box defined by 161/Beltline, I-20, Loop12/Buckner Blvd, and LBJ (northern section). Cuisines? American/Steakhouse, Mexican/Tex-Mex, and Italian.

Thanks for any tips (and place links) you can provide this prodigal son of the Great State.

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Mercado Juarez Restaurant
1901 W Northwest Hwy, Dallas, TX 75220

Dunston's Prime Steak House
8526 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75235

Steak & Ale Restaurant
5220 Belt Line Rd, Dallas, TX

Rudy's Mexican Restaurant
3301 W Rochelle Rd, Irving, TX 75062

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  1. For Italian, try Angelo's Spaghetti House on La Vista in Lakewood. I'd recommend making a reservation because it is a small place. (Hint: the back booths are great!) Phone: (214) 823-5050 We took our in-laws there for their anniversary and they loved it! Their pasta entrees are best (LOVE their Fruitti di Mare) and they have a small but good wine list.

    1. Hohokam,

      It looks liek you are from Irving or your parents might be. I am in the same boat as far as my parents are concerned. I took my non-adventurous parents to Don Panza Argentinian Restaurant in Oak Cliff on Clarendon Street close to Westmoreland. They always seem to question my suggestions but they were up for it. I would highly recommend the pizza and empanadas. The owners were very friendly and they speak perfect English. Another recommendation is South Dallas Cafe in Fair Park on (Grand Ave and Robert B Cullum Blvd about 2 blocks south on Grand Ave). They love this place and now go without me. I believe they still might be working on the street so you might call ahead to see if they are open for business during the construction. It looks like you are in the Irving area. I am not sure if you parents might be up for it but I would also highly recommend Kasbah Grill (Rochelle and Esters). It looks bleek on the inside and their menu is somewhat short. Everything I have had at this place is awesome. I am not sure if you parents are dark meat chicken adverse or not but the chicken dishes and couscous are all very good and very different from the norm. It is not heavily spiced like Indian restaurant seemd to be. If you are on your own Pasand Indian Cuisine across from Irving Mall (Belt Line between Grande Blvd and 183) is awesome. If looking for a more modern version of a Pasand, Chaat Cafe on MacArthur (between Royal and 161/George Bush Tollway) has some awesome Tandoori Chicken Wraps.

      Kasbah Grill http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?...

      http://www.chaatcafes.com/

      http://www.pasand.net/

      http://donpanza.com/default.aspx

      If you would like a menu for South Dallas Cafe let me know

      1. Thanks for the recommendations, folks. Sadly, while all of those places sound great, I'm pretty sure even those would be too far afield for my parents (mom told me she "hates Indian food" [sigh]; dad likes Angelo's fine--but the old school gringo-ized red sauce place in Irving, not the one in Dallas [heavy sigh]). Al dente vegetables a la South Dallas Cafe? Not in my parents' house [even heavier sigh].

        As it turned out, we ended up eating in on Tue and Wed nights, but last night my mom and I had a very nice meal at La Margarita (which I mistakenly identified as Rudy's in my OP). I had their pulled pork relleno--a roasted poblano stuffed with sweet and tender pulled pork, topped with a light sprinkling of mild melting cheese (queso asadero?), and a drizzle of crema. The relleno was served in a broad bowl atop a layer of delicious refried black beans between two pools of salsa--one a slightly sweet, earthy red mole, the other a tart and grassy tomatillo coulis; a generous helping of rice was served on the side. This tribute to the Mexican flag was a visual and gustatory delight ($12). My mom had the tacos al carbon ($8.95, I believe)--three fine looking 6" flour tortillas stuffed with beef fajita meat, grilled onions, and grilled peppers. Her tacos were served atop a rectangle of banana leaf along with a healthy (or would that be unhealthy?) dollop of sour cream and a goodly scoop of delicious guacamole. Also served on the side were rice (like mine) and a cup of pinto beans in a spicy broth. She only made it through 2 tacos, her beans, and half the guac before calling for the to-go container. I washed my dinner down with a mango nectar (listed as "agua de mango", $2), and mom had iced tea ($1.50, I believe).

        Our server was generally pleasant but seemed a bit distracted most of the time. For example, when I asked if the few beverages listed on the dinner menu were the only drinks they had, he said "yes." I vaguely remembered having a margarita on my previous visit (about a year ago), but taking him at his word, I ordered my non-adult beverage. A few minutes after placing my order, I scanned the dining room and spotted cocktails and cocktail menus at other tables. Oh well. Later, when checking in on us, he would start pulling away from the table before we could even answer the inevitable "how is everything?" query. Maybe he wished he had the night off to watch the Cowboys game?

        Despite the lackluster service, I'd definitely recommend La Margarita to anyone looking for a non-taqueria, non-Tex Mex experience that packs serious culinary bang for the buck.

        Now, I'm off to Kasbah for a lunch on my own. ;-) I'll update this post or the thread with a report.

        Thanks again.

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        La Margarita
        2922 N Belt Line Rd, Irving, TX 75062

        Kasbah Cafe and Mediterranean Grocery
        2851 Esters Rd, Irving, TX

        1 Reply
        1. re: hohokam

          A note about Kasbah, as promised.

          I stopped in for a late lunch around 2:30 on Friday afternoon, and the place was very busy with dine-in customers and people picking up takeout orders they had called in. I seated myself and waited for a few minutes for someone to notice me, as I didn't see anyone who was obviously a member of the restaurant staff. Finally, a middle-aged gentleman I took to be one of the proprietors saw me and brought me a menu.

          I started off with a small pot of unsweetened mint tea ($1.99), and after reviewing the menu, decided on the beef tagine ($7.99). The tea had a much stronger black tea flavor than I expected, but I still enjoyed it. While waiting for my food, I took note of the interesting mix of clientèle: African cab drivers waiting for take-out sandwiches, Middle Eastern families coming in for early dinners, groups of young professional types having a late Friday lunch. The atmosphere here was driven mainly by the crowd and not the decor.

          When he brought my food, the gentleman who took my order said that he hoped I was hungry, and I assured him I was. The tagine was served on a large plate with a mound of perfectly cooked, delicately seasoned rice, along with a basket of pita wedges. The tagine itself was truly amazing--two fork-tender chunks of beef roast dressed with with pitted prunes and rings of onion that had rendered sweet and mild by extended braising in a heavily spiced (but not "picante") sauce that perfectly balanced the sweet and savory elements. The bread was fine, but nothing special. To be fair, the bread would have have to be outstanding to be noticed in light of the tagine.

          I've tried to explain away my reaction to the meal. Maybe this was just decent food that my hunger rendered delicious? Maybe this food would have been merely passable had I eaten it in the Bay Area instead of a converted 7-11 three blocks from my childhood home in (formerly) bland suburbia? But the more I think about the meal I had at Kasbah, the hollower these explanations seem.

          Thanks for the tip, soulslinger. I'll make a point to eat at Kasbah on my future visits home.

        2. So I recently working in Irving, right near where Bush hits Royal/114, and it's pretty close to MacArthur. Need some suggestions on lunch!

          Kasbah sounds great, but that's a little too far to drive for lunch. Unfortunately, it seems like there's nothing but chains off MacArthur and 635, so I'd really appreciate some tips on great places around this area!

          4 Replies
          1. re: air

            You might want to check out Spoon. I had some pretty good soup there (shrimp and bacon corn chowder) on my visit. My roast beef sandwich, however, was a disappointment. I would recommend calling ahead and placing an order to go, as (1) the ambience isn't the greatest and (2) the place serves the food in to-go containers even if you are eating in.

            Near where I work in California, we have a Chaat Cafe outlet, which I eat at fairly often. I've never had anything there that I didn't like, but I then tend to stick to a relatively narrow range of dishes there (boti, Seekh kebab, Desi, chicken, or paneer wrap; samosa chaat; butter chicken; lamb saag). I didn't try the north Irving location, so I can't vouch for it specifically.

            Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to explore lunch options during my visit, so I don't have any other recommendations.

            Hope this helps.

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            Spoon A Southern Soup Kitchen
            7447 N Macarthur Blvd, Irving, TX

            Chaat Cafe
            6550 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75039

            1. re: hohokam

              There's Urban Eatz for simple sandwiches, salads and soups, Ali Baba for mediterranean buffet, Chaat cafe with great naan wraps, and the ever (not sure why sometimes) popular La Madeleine all between 114 and 161 Bush Tollway on MacArthur for quick lunches

              1. re: mlschot

                Some place links for air to refer to...

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                Urban Eatz
                5910 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75039

                Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill
                5910 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75039

                La Madeleine Las Colinas
                6430 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75039

                1. re: hohokam

                  I haven't gotten a chance to look at MacArthur closer to 114 yet, so this really helps. Thanks a lot, I'll report back with how I like 'em!