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Everyday eats in central Dallas.

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I'm visiting again from the Austin board. Thanks for all the recs for a great dinner restaurant. Since my SO has moved to Dallas I find myself there a few weekends a month, and since he doesn't cook or have a kitchen properly fitted for anyone to cook, we eat out quite a bit. Usually we're just looking for a causal place with quality food. After meeting friends at different places and being disappointed, I figured I'd turn to the people who know what they're talking about when they talk about food. I've searched this board a bit and have a few ideas, but most of the posts are about special occasion or type of food. So, I want to know, when you want something good for either breakfast/brunch, lunch, or dinner, where are your stand-by, go-to places? He's living in Uptown, so recs in that area would be great. However, we are willing to travel, and expect that it will be necessary to find some of the better places. Thanks in advance!

Here are some specific types of places we'd like to find, but I welcome other suggestions:

Gourmet sandwich shop- similar to the sandwich shop in the downtown Whole Foods in Austin, with good spreads (pesto, olive spread, spiced up mayos, etc.), good cheese (goat cheese, brie, etc.), veggies (roasted veggies, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, etc.), and a wide selection of fresh bread.

Italian style pizzas- our favorite is Enoteca Vespaio in Austin, which has a button mushroom, spinach, and taleggio no-sauce pizza that is excellent . Looking for thin crust pizzas with more than just cheese and meat and uninspired veggie toppings.

Thai- I've looked on the boards and want to try Asian Mint and Toy's. Any othe recs?

Mexican- This is a hard one. SO is from El Paso and he turns his nose up at anything he thinks isn't authentic, though he's never put in words exactly what he's looking for in a Mexican place. I'm pretty easy to please as long as they have pretty good queso, chicken fajitas, and margaritas.

Coffee shop with kitchen- an order-at-the-counter type place where we can get breakfast or light lunch, a cup of coffee, and occupy a table for an hour or two to study/work.

Sushi- There are so many sushi places in Uptown that we are afraid to try one. We aren’t looking for any chic or fancy place, just a place with the basics and generous, quality cuts of fish.

In general, we like places that have fresh ingredients, good vegetable dishes (with or without meat), seafood, etc. Not huge BBQ, steak, and burger eaters.

Place's we've tried, and our reactions:

Breadwinners- we went for brunch and it was pretty good. We'll probably go back again.

Kathleen's Art Cafe (Sky Cafe?)- on Lover's near the tollway. We enjoyed the creative sandwiches and breakfast foods. We'll probably go back.

Cafe Express- really plain, uninspired. I do not want to go back.

Jake's Hamburgers- I don't eat red meat, so I got a veggie burger, and there was some seasoning I didn't like in it. SO though his burger was only so-so. Fries were OK. No reason to go back really.

Eatzi’s- Nice for grab and go type food.

Compania Pizza- Pretty good, esp since you can BYOB. Will probably go back

Coal Vines- Not as good as Compania, but not bad.

Taco Diner- We liked the seafood tacos. Will probably go back.

Frankies- OK for bar food.

Primos- only had the margaritas, which were excellent.

The Dream Cafe- pretty good, not great.

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  1. Almost everything the Loon serves is wonderful, but their burgers are - IMO - the best in Dallas.

    Buzzbrews or Cafe Brazil would probably satisfy your coffee shop search.

    Grimaldi's out of New York is about to open a spot in West Village.

    Although not even close to my favorite tex-mex, Manny's in Uptown is worth a try..if for no reason other than its location.

    1. Would second Buzz Brews for a consistent, inexpensive breakfast spot. For pizza, my fave is Olivella on Hillcrest with Campania a close second. For burgers, I would recommend Twisted Root in Deep Ellum. In the Uptown area, I think Urbano Paninoteca has pretty good sandwiches. Unfortunately, the closest thing I have found to what Austin has with the huge Whole Foods and its sandwiches is either Central Market or Eatzi's. The sandwiches at Jimmy's Food Market are also worth the trip to East Dallas.

      For decent sushi and pretty good Vietnamese, I would suggest Oiishi. Overall, Yutaka has some of the best sushi in town but it is near impossible to get a table on a weekend night. For non-conventional sushi, Sushi Zushi (on Oak Lawn) out of San Antonio isn't bad.

      As for Mexican, I am a fan of Cafe San Miguel on Henderson for Mex-mex as well as Cuquita's.

      I haven't found a Thai restaurant that has really impressed me. Overall, I think Royal Thai on Lover's is the most consistent. I really like Flavor which is a bit of a drive but has the added benefit of being BYO with no corkage.

      1. "Mexican- This is a hard one. SO is from El Paso and he turns his nose up at anything he thinks isn't authentic, though he's never put in words exactly what he's looking for in a Mexican place. I'm pretty easy to please as long as they have pretty good queso, chicken fajitas, and margaritas"

        It sounds like Mexican is important to SO (strange names they have in El Pesto, SO). If so, oil the Smith and Wesson and head down to Oak Cliff. Street after street of the Real Thing, almost entirely family run.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Worzel Gummidge

          Sounds promising. Any particular favorites?

        2. I don't know of a sandwich shop that meets all of your criteria. I agree that Central Market might fill the bill. The best sandwiches in town are at Jimmy's. They aren't "gourmet," if by that you mean spicy mayo or brie or a big bread selection, they're "gourmet" because they're delicious (and big). Try their Cuban, or prosciutto panino, or Italian beef; pick up a good bottle of Italian wine while you're there. You also might try Tio's Tortas for sandwiches - again, doesn't fit your criteria, but good sandwiches. I second the suggestion of Oishii for sushi. For Thai, try Noodle Wave. For casual breakfast/lunch, consider Garden Cafe in the Munger Place neighborhood (especially if the weather is nice enough to eat outside). For Mexican, I second Cafe San Miguel, and suggest Vera Cruz, in Oak Cliff. If SO wants Tex-Mex, there's a bunch of places on Maple, like Avila's, he might like.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dallas Alice

            Any idea if ithe Avila's in Dallas is connected to the Avila's in El Paso?

          2. Plenty of good mexican that is authentic Nuevo Leon, Cuquita's, El Ranchita, Aparicio's all of the above are the real deal from Tex Mex to central mexico.