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Jan 21, 2008 08:48 AM

ONE day in Dallas - have car - need itinerary complete w/ local fav eats!

Hi! Thanks for looking. I am flying into Dallas this Saturday and will be arriving for lunchtime and will pick up a car at the airport. Can you please suggest a fun itinerary/must do's for dallas? I also need meal suggestions. Love to eat where locals eat - someplace a tourist would not know about. Maybe some regional cuisine or ANYTHING just as long as the food is GOOD! I have a great palette and am a real foodie so pick a place that someone coming into Dallas for the first time cannot miss! I like swank but I also like comfortable. As long as the place has AMBIANCE. That is all that matters. Web links to these places would be appreciated. Please also comment on sights or things I need to do or see!
Thank you all VERY much and have a blessed day!

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  1. well dallasites eat at the same places tourists do...brunch at la duni, bbq from the original sonny bryans, tacos to go from fuel city. for fancy places with emphasis on local ingredients, consider lola, bijoux, or york st, if you can get reservations.

    11 Replies
    1. re: luniz

      Good point. Thanks so much! Which ONE? York St, Hibiscus, Lola, Bijoux, or Stephen Pyles? Also, it will be saturday afternoon, are there any cool walking/shopping areas/markets? How about espresso? NOT starbucks. I'm talking Rancilio Silvia espresso type! REAL espresso.

      1. re: enfant_gatée

        espresso is not big here. the best coffee in town is white rock coffee out by white rock lake. i drive all the way to dallas from plano every other weekend to pick up a pound. when it's warm it would be nice to get coffee and chill by the lake but it's probably gonna be too cold for that. you don't really walk around dallas, you drive. so get lunch somewhere, drive out to white rock, drive back over to highland park and money watch, then go back and eat downtown. i've never eaten at any of those 4 places but they're all very highly respected. lola has the best wine list, york st has the most regional approach to food, and stephen pyles has the biggest "southwestern" focus (although it's almost a south american focus rather than southwestern). hibiscus probably has the best people watching, but i've never been, so i can't say for sure.

        1. re: enfant_gatée

          luniz is correct - there's no great espresso in Dallas. If you must drink some, I'd say to go for either White Rock Coffee or Urban Dog cafe... but if you can survive without it until you get home to your Silvia, then you'd probably be better off waiting. White Rock does have some fantastic brewed coffee, though - you might want to give that a try.

          I like luniz's list, and don't have much to add - just some comments: I ate at York St once, and while I wanted it to be fantastic, I found it only mediocre. I've heard so much great stuff about York St that I'm looking forward to trying it again... but I can't personally recommend it.

          Lola on the other hand, has almost always (4/5 visits) been fantastic - and I mean for the food, not just for the wine. If you have the time, try to get a reservation at the Tasting Room at Lola.

          I've been to Pyles once and loved the ceviche sampler. The rest was good, but not memorable. I will go back again just to get that ceviche, though.

          Fuel City tacos are great - but best eaten after several drinks, late at night (in my opinion).

          1. re: gavlist

            Thanks you BOTH! SO, probably better if I hold off on the coffee. So it looks like I've narrowed it down to Lola or York St. Which is better for nightlife? Is it possible to stay in the neighborhood and find a place afterwards for a drink? Recommendations for a cool, loungey-type bar? OH, I also need a recommendation for LUNCH. What about La Duni? Or elsewhere? SO, what if I get sooo full from lunch that I need to eat only a SMALL meal. Would the ceviche at Pyles suffice? It seems to be a can't miss. Thoughts? Thanks again! I'm writing from DC, so if you ever are here, I definitely have suggestions.

            1. re: enfant_gatée

              I consulted my lovely wife the Rock Star and her answer was instant: Northpark. Yes it's a mall, but it's a quintessentially Dallas place, complete with Nieman Marcus. (They played a HUGE part in the developement of Dallas.) Next, there is plenty of great dining there, including Luna de Noche (Great Tex-Mex) and Kona Grill (very good sushi). Best reason: it's right in the middle of everything, hard by Central Expressway, near the crossroads of old and new Dallas. Website is Two more dining suggestions: Upscale: Amici Signature in Carrollton, Great Italian/French; and Downscale: Babes Chicken Dinner House for the epitome of old-school Texas down-home cooking and experience. Check out my reviews of the latter two at my Food Czar blog,

            2. re: gavlist

              I would second gavlist's views on York St. I spent quite a bit there and only found it mediocre. I have never tried Lola but I would go there as I have heard many good thing about it! York St has a few neighborhood type bars in the neighborhood but that immediate neighborhood is limited (it is close to Greenville Ave though, which has quite a few bars and a loungey type scene (I would recommend Suede for the loungey type bar on Greenville)). If you are open to Soul Food for lunch I would suggest South Dallas Cafe, inexpensive, not crowded (definitely no tourists), lots of choices with generous helpings, and very memorable food!


              If you are looking for something a bit more trendy then I would suggest La Duni.


              A German Place that has a good lunch is Kuby's close to Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Snider Plaza is a good choice might call ahead to see if they have Saturday lunch. Might have some tourist there, but more locals. Great brauts and meats. Take home a few!


              If you like local places La Popular Tamale House would be good to get a half dozen or so for lunch, cruise on over to Jimmy's Food Store pick up lunch for the next day (wine, italian cheese, and salami (might want to get some meatballs and italian sausage to take back though)), get some organic fruit, veggies, salad greens, or mushrooms at FM 1410 two doors away from Jimmy's (Tom Spicer is a great guy to talk about organics and farming with), and then round off the trip with a stop at Mozzarella Company (if going on Saturday Mozza Co closes at 1, I would sample some cheese there and take home some smoked scamorza and hoja santa), if you have a sweet tooth a stop at Rush Pastisserie would be a good stop (if you are close to Mozzarella Company).


              Lakewood (i.e. where Jimmy's and La Popular reside) has White Rock Lake (depending on weather ) is a good place to go for a picnic or to the Dallas Arboretum on the way down to the lake I would suggest taking Swiss Avenue. The houses are some of the original "large" houses built at the turn fo the century. I have included a link to the Swiss Avenue Historic District website


              Fair Park - (where South Dallas Cafe resides (somewhat rough in places)) has the Muesuem of Nature & Science, Hall of State, Discovery Gardens, and the Dallas Aquarium. This area is where our state fair is held. I like it mostly for the Discovery Gardens and Hall of State. The buildings and gardens would make great photos!


              If you are into art the Dallas Arts District has three museums within walking distance, Dallas Museum of Art (supposedly you have to pay for the regular exhibit but I never have, I just walk in and no one stops me), Nasher Sculpture Center, and Trammel Crow Collection of Asian Art (Free). The Dallas World Aquarium is also in downtown don't ask why we have two aquariums, none of us really know. I would skip the Dallas Zoo b/c the Ft. Worth one is much better!





              Victory Park is our newest attraction located just off the steps of the American Airlines Center (AAC) where the Dallas Mavs and Stars play. Might find some interesting boutiques around there and nice new buildings. If you are around at 10 pm you could be on the news since our lcoal station often takes crowd shots on the 10 pm broadcast (if that appeals to you



              If you are a shopaholic (I am not but these are where most go) I would suggest North Park Center, Neiman Marcus (downtown, just to see all the interesting items), Mockingbird Station/Snider Plaza





              Hope all of this helps. Might give us some hints as to what cuisine you are looking at trying for lunch and what area you are staying. Dallas is more spread out than DC so close for us is within a 30-45 min drive!

              BTW foodczar's recs are awesome also they are a bit north of Dallas. Gas prices here currently are in the $2.75 - $3.15 range depends on the part of town you are in. So if you don't mind spending some extra cash to get places we can recommend some better restaurants in the burbs (just need some cuisines you are itnerested in).

              1. re: soulslinger

                Hi all! This looks very helpful! I will be staying at the Wyndham near the DFW airport so somewhere not too far from there but I will be renting a car so no worries. In terms of cuisine, I like the looks of La Duni and wanted to go since it seems to be such a local fav. Does anyone have anything against going to this place on a Saturday for lunch/brunch? I like the idea of Babe's but not sure if I want to eat fried chicken. But are there other places that are quintessential TEXAS? South Dallas Cafe looks interesting but not sure. I tried looking up some reviews but didn't get much feedback off this board. Ok. So here is a new concept. Sorry about this. It's just that with only one day, I want to make the BEST decisions. What about VIETNAMESE for lunch? I happen to be vietnamese and would love to know where the vietnamese locals hang out for pho and other AUTHENTIC vietnamese food. Is there a sort of Chinatown or something? I mean, if any of you have any asian friends, where do they take you? As regards the neighborhood for walking and stuff, how about Bishop Arts District? I LOVE flea-market shopping and quirky, colorful neighborhoods. ALSO, no one has given me a suggestion for AFTER-dinner drinks in a lounge-type place! Thanks! It is FREEZING here in DC and I hope it'll be warmer in Dallas this Saturday!

                1. re: enfant_gatée

                  I think La Duni is a good choice for you. Do it, it may be a bit crowded though so I'd try to get there a bit before noon. Bishop is a decent little area for walking around, they've got a coffee place there but I don't know how the espresso is. I forget the one lady's name but there's definitely a little flea-market/antique-y kind of shop there. There's also the Cosmo Rouge lounge but I don't know that it's a particularly interesting group of people there on a Saturday night. There's also a Martini place I think.

                  Vietnamese is not that big here, you can search the Texas forum for pho or try either Vietnam in east Dallas or Bistro B which is halfway out to Garland already. There is a big Korean area a bit northwest of downtown around the intersection of 635 & 35, on Royal lane.

                  1. re: enfant_gatée

                    For Vietnamese, a few recommendations:

                    In Garland (the closest the Dallas area has to a Little Saigon):
                    Quan Kien Giang for a upscale dinner in a very nice atmosphere. They have some of the best Vietnamese salads I have ever eaten. If you go, ask for the three dish combo of spicy beef salad, shrimp and pork salad, and squid salad. I wouldn't get their Pho, but the hotpots are fantastic. Go with a few people if you can, or expect to have lots of leftovers. You can view the menu here:

                    For a simple Pho meal or Banh Mi, La Me is excellent. Good variety of desserts as well. Cute coffee shop atmosphere.

                    Bistro B is great if you're looking for lots of variety and cheap eats. The pho is not the best in town, but the menu makes up for it with their Nha Trang spring rolls (#1 and #2 on the menu).

                    If you're in Dallas, Oishii is great lunch spot for Pho.

                    For an evening club, you should probably check out the Ghostbar in the W hotel.

                    I'd have to disagree with Luna de Noche for Tex-mex. Overpriced and standard. For Tex-Mex, you would do better at Avila's or Cafe San Miguel.

                    I'd also skip any Italian. I'm sure you'll find better in your hometown.

                    I spend all my money and energy on food, so I couldn't tell you where to shop. Might be another board for that. ;-)

                    1. re: Webra1

                      I agree with Webra on the Tex-Mex issue. Avila's and Cafe San Miguel are great. And...I really love the pastor tacos at Fuel City. Perfect after a night out.

                      For high end dining, I like Stephan Pyles. The ceviche and the poblano asiago soup are excellent.

                    2. re: enfant_gatée

                      For authentic Vietnamese, I love Saigon Kitchen in Garland.

                      First Chinese BBQ is also quite good, it is Chinese/Vietnamese cuisine.

                      You may find this site of interest to you as well;

                      I know you have dinner plans already, but I do love Zander's House in Plano. (Dinner is better than lunch.) It is upscale Vietnamese (from Hue region) and it is unlike anything we have here in Dallas. The staff is Vietnamese (all family members) and you will find a lot of Vietnamese diners as well. They can recommend items that are not on the menu and they are always spot on. I have never been disappointed.

                      You can't go wrong with La Duni -- I went there this past Sunday and had the brunch chile relleno. Wow. They also have a new Peruvian restaurant, Alo, that has had glowing reviews.

                      Check out Bill Addison's year in review:
                      The slideshow pics are making me hungry!

            3. Cosmos is a loungy type place close to York St (you could walk there). The Tipperary Inn is also within walking distance.



              14 Replies
              1. re: Jayzee

                Ok. So I think I will have dinner either at Lola or Stephen Pyles. In the case of either, are there places nearby that I can walk to after dinner? Cosmos seems more my speed but maybe some place that is not overly crowded on a saturday night. Another place with couches/sofas and fireplaces?

                1. re: enfant_gatée

                  Garland and Arlington is where most of the Vietnamese in the Metroplex reside (Arlington being a bit closer to your hotel). I second the rcommendation of La Me', it is a bit of a haul from your hotel though. I love the Bun Cha Ha Noi at La Me' and some say it is the best in the Metroplex there. If you are looking for something in Irving close to the Airport I would recommend Pho Republic. I had the Bun Bo Hue and spring rolls and they were quite good. Also across from the parking lot is Himalayan Aroma, the metroplex's only Napali Restaurant (I don't believe anyone has tried it yet). I haven't been there but I got the menu when I went to Pho Republic. Let me know if you would like either menu. Irving has quite a bit of ethnic cuisines, predominately Indian, Vietnamese and Mexican (taquerias). Our oriental friends go to Richardson mostly (there is a small Chinatown). There is a heavy Korean influence to the Royal/I35 area if you are looking for more Korean. The First Chinese BBQ is probably our best asian restaurant in DFW that everyone can agree on. There are several FCBBQ locations with the one in Carrollton being the closest to your hotel (ask for Lisa, if she is there). There are also several good Pho places by the Carrollton FCBBQ. The pockets of asian communities are spread out and tend to be one nationality rather than grouped into one area.




                  By the way, the weather is supposed to warm up slightly into the 60's by this weekend.

                  1. re: soulslinger

                    I would be interested in seeing the Napali Restaurant menu with address and phone number if possible. Thanks in advance.

                    1. re: BellaDonna


                      Let me know how to contact you and would be happy to foward it on. Their menu is on the link above though^^ himalayan aroma link. Below is the address:

                      Himalayan Aroma
                      3631 N. Beltline Road
                      Irving,TX, 75062
                      Tel: 972-953-0322

                      1. re: soulslinger

                        Thanks you guys! Hey, how about the DALLAS FARMERS MARKET? Is that a good way to spend some time in between lunch and dinner? Is it open year round and is there a lot to look at/buy?
                        Thanks for ALL your responses!

                        1. re: enfant_gatée


                          The Dallas Farmers market might be worth it but it won't take long to go through all the stalls (approx. 20 mins to walk both sheds on both sides). There are very few local vendors but yes the DFM is open year round. It is open air so it will be a bit cold. The local vendors are usually in Shed 2, Shed 1 being mostly large producers from the Rio Grande Valley or Mexico. Usually this time of year the Texas Navel Orange are in season (they are worth a try...sweetest orange). The shed with all the furniture has a great spice vendor Kurry King. The vendor freshly grinds his spices!! If you get there about 9 or 10 am you get better selection and you will always get free samples no matter what time of day. Make sure you bring small bills and always walk both sheds before you buy anything. Some of the vendors on one side like to charge more than the other. Another tip, is if you are buying something like tomatoes ask for the seconds most have just a slight blemish but are usually large, more ripe and cheaper than the ones more predominately displayed. If you are just buying for one person and don't need 10 oranges but say 3-4 ask them to make you a mixed basket of fruit or veggies and always haggle on prices. I am sure that there are much better farmers markets around but Texas just doesn't have very many (Dallas has the largest in Texas to date). Here is what is in season per the DFM website.

                          Texas Rio Grande Valley oranges and pink grapefruits will brighten even the darkest winter days.
                          Strawberries, apples, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and broccoli provide important vitamins.


                          If you are looking for more produce might try FM 1410 on Bryan @ Fitzhugh or just try out Central Market (warning a foodie could get lost in CM).


                          1. re: soulslinger

                            Thanks Soulslinger! I might just pick up some oranges and grapefruits but is it worth the trip? 20 minutes is NOT a lot of time. I heard they also sold other knick-knacks - furniture stuff? Kinda like a flea market? If not, are there any flea markets around town? So Central Market sounds neat but is it more of a retail Supermarket?

                            1. re: enfant_gatée

                              Yes the shed that has the furniture has knick-knacks and lots of furniture....flea marketesque. I don't believe there is any flea market around the downtown area....unless Dallas Market Hall has something going on (I checked only the Bridal Show). Next weekend is the weekend for flea market in Canton, TX about 1 1/2 hour east (our largest in the state and always the first weekend of every month). They have just about anything you could want in Canton from rusted scrap metal to llamas and emus.


                              If you are in the neighborhood of Downtown Dallas (say at the Farmers Market) and heading to La Duni for lunch you will pass by West Village (US 75/Central Expressway and Lemmon Ave) has lots of boutique shops. They really aren't flea markets but it is retail shopping! Deep Ellum has a few boutique shops but is usually desserted on the weekends during the day. It is not your loungey kinda place at night either, more ecclectic.



                              Central Market is a retail supermarket. It is a rival to Whole Foods in our market. I believe there are 2 or 3 Whole Foods in the DC area. Most of us like CM better because it is tied to H-E-B which is a supermarket chain from San Antonio that we all hope would beat out Wal-Mart in Texas....likely not going to happen. CM strives to have the best of everything kinda like Whole Foods but the CM's are usually larger in size.

                              1. re: soulslinger

                                Ok guys. So, my experience in Dallas was really nice. Most of all, the people were really nice and I just loved the feel of the city! It WAS a bit wierd to go from DC to such a BIG place with very few retail areas made for pedestrian walking. Although it was a Saturday, I saw very few people OUTSIDE except when I was INSIDE a place. So, we ended up going to La Duni for brunch. I really love the warm ambiance in there and the food was VERY good. I got the chile rellenos and also the lomo sandwich. I LOVED their popovers! HOWEVER, I have to say I was disappointed in the quatros leches cake. It was almost PURE CONDENSED milk! It was waaaaay toooo sweet. But the service and detail was attentive so that made up for it. Overall, a GOOD experience. I would recommend it! After lunch, we made our way over to the Dallas Farmers Market. I found it to be charming and a quick trip. I would have liked it to have been more grand but I can imagine it buzzing during the warmer months. I DID try some oranges, grapefruits and pineapples which were very sweet. After that, we drove over to the Uptown area - lots of lovely little art galleries. We stopped in Mooyah? burger for a pit stop and a strawberry shake (tooooo sweet) and got recommendations to a nice walking area two miles down McKinney near a Borders bookstore. It was very nice. After, we went back to the hotel for some rest and then went out to Lola's for dinner. That morning, we went by Lola's and could not imagine how it teemed with people that evening. It was definitely the place to be! We sat among two different couples who were celebrating something - one guy at the direct opposite table from us actually proposed to his gfriend while we were there and another couple was celebrating their 3rd anniversary! Anyway, we both got the 4 courses. I have to say, while the wait service was really attentive and the wine excellent, the food was good but overwhelmed by SALT - TOO SALTY!!!! EVERY dish basically was just a tad too salty but the concepts were good. I think the best points went to wine and dessert! We were not overly disappointed because the price was fair and it was a good overall experience but the food itself, really sorry to say, was just too salty! Nonetheless, we had a WONDERFUL experience in Dallas and would definitely come back to try other places. Thanks to you all for all your advice! Love, peace, and happiness!

                                1. re: enfant_gatée

                                  Our pleasure, my friend. Y'all come back now, hear????

                                  1. re: enfant_gatée

                                    np, glad to help a real chowhound. thanks for your report.

                                    1. re: enfant_gatée

                                      Thanks for the harsh criticism...sometimes we need it! I would suggest coming back for a few days in the spring or early fall. Those are our best times of year when it isn't blazing hot and we usually have more excitement (i.e. festivals and sports going on). If we head to DC now we know who to turn to!

                                      1. re: soulslinger

                                        Thank YOU! Tell you what Soulslinger, when you make it here, I will personally take you to my fav places!
                                        I will definitely be back! I really DID love the feel there and wouldn't mind living there if that opportunity arose!

                    2. re: Jayzee

                      Dude - Wine Therapist is right across the street from York St. Great bar to buy a bottle and hang out.