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DFW visitor-advice for fellow CH?

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I am coming to Dallas Fort Worth for a conference that promises some free time. I am keen on Tex Mex for at least one meal and some really good BBQ.

Beyond that I would just like some suggestions on something that is uniquely Dallas-Fort Worth. (I am a little wary of doing my own picking since I read the thread here today on the recently renovated seafood restaurant that was touted one of best in Texas and turned out to be a dud). My budget for dinner would be $50-75 (with wine) per person.

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  1. skip the tex mex for mex mex. imo. good bbq is tough, you can get ribs for lunch at (the original) sonny bryans or baker's ribs. for dinner if you're in dallas and want good mexican food (not "good" tex mex, which is like saying "oh thats great kraft macaroni and cheese" imo) you could try cafe san miguel or a handful of other places that i haven't really been to so i can't make a great suggestion.

    also it makes a difference whether you're staying in Dallas, or Ft. Worth, so let us know.

    1. Yes, where are you staying, and I disagree about the Mex-Mex and would strongly suggest Tex Mex, as there are many places that are absolutely delicious, and unless you live in Austin or San Antonio, you are seriously in for a treat....

      6 Replies
      1. re: jinet12

        Thanks, Luniz, yes: real Mexican would be marvelous, too. I live in Toronto and we had a (singular) very good Mexican restaurant here once, at which I ate once, before it closed-to say my experience is limited would be true, but I thought asking for 'real' Mex versus Tex Mex in Texas might seem pushy and I do LOVE Tex Mex.

        Jinet: I am staying at a place called Marriot Solano (Westlake which I suspect is a suburb near the airport), but will have access to a car. I am also going to make a sacred non-food pilgimage to a place called SAS Factory Shoe Store (9665 N. Central Parkway) if there is anything out that way of foodie interest?

        1. re: LJS

          Yes Westlake is a suburb near the airport that is somewhat closer to the Fort Worth side of DFW. If you're in Westlake, then a trip to Babe's Chicken Dinner House in Roanoke is a must (only 5 miles away from Westlake). Down home Texas cooking like fried chicken, chicken fried steak, etc. The fried chicken is insanely good and the atmosphere is Texas without being too hokey.

          Since you're on the Fort Worth side, I would also recommend dinner at Lanny's Alta Cocina. Lanny Lancarte is the great grandson of legendary Joe T. Garcia (of Joe T. Garcia's Tex Mex) and does high end Mexican cuisine like no other. Sample dinner menu: http://www.lannyskitchen.com/dinning.php

          If you really want Tex Mex instead of Mex-Mex, I say why not go to the original Joe T. Garcia's in Fort Worth for the full experience?

          1. re: donnaaries

            I was just about to mention Babe's. Definitely if you are staying in Westlake, it's a very short drive.

            Some will disagree, but I love La Hacienda Ranch for good fajitas and margaritas. It's my favorite Tex-Mex place in the area, and we live nearby. Also Esparza's in downtown Grapevine is good and the downtown area is fun and different.

            I've never understood the Joe T. Garcia's love. It's just straight-up Tex Mex. I don't hate it but I can name a few dozen better places without even thinking very hard.

          2. re: LJS

            well westlake is way the heck out there. but if you have a car for a day, thats really part of the dallas mentality, to drive all around everywhere, so that wouldn't be so bad.

            asking for "real" mexican food isn't asking for too much in dallas imo. there's a real high end mexican place in fort worth called lanny's alta cocina. there's also plenty of places that make their tortillas by hand, which is what i prefer over tex mex. i believe el ranchito (on jefferson) makes their tortillas, as does el camaron (on maple). i would also expect cafe san miguel (on henderson) does. there's also avila's (which i'd say is more tex-mex) and cuquita's, which i haven't been to.

            also if you're driving around all day i'd stop at doughmonkey in snider plaza for a treat and a coffee and then maybe drive around and look at all the fancy houses and stuff. also your shoe place isn't that far from white rock coffee, which imo has really great beans for sale but the brewed coffee can be boring.

            1. re: LJS

              LJS,

              First not to be nit picky and disrespectful, if you are looking for shoes in the Dallas market I would think DSW (all the women love that place) out in Southlake which is right next to Westlake - Solana (1435 E Southlake Blvd, Southlake, TX 76092 - Southlake Blvd @ Texas SH 114) should fit your bill unless you like the SAS brand. Your address would not pull up if you have a GPS in your rental the address is 9665 N Central Expwy, Suite #110, Dallas, TX 75231....or if looking on a street map Central Expressway (US 75) @ Walnut Hill Lane.

              https://www.dswshoes.com/home.jsp

              It looks like you will be quite a distance away from Dallas...I would suggest hitting up Fort Worth for your Tex-Mex or Mex-Mex cravings....as they seem to do a better job over there in Tarrant County. I would go with Donna's and everyone elses recs on this go around for Lanny's Kitchen, Joe T. Garcias is decent if you want just a few choices done really well, Babe's is good for Fried Chicken or Chicken Fried Steak....only two items on the menu in Roanoke...but come with sides and bring a friend to help finish all the food, BBQ is hit or miss in this market...I will research on Tarrant County BBQ tonight and get back to ya, if you don't have a brazilian churracaria (as the Dallas market is flooded with them) Boi Na Braza should fill your carnivorous side for a couple of months, if you get out to Downtown Ft Worth and the arts district I would suggest Nonna Tatta on Magnolia....I think the fare is pretty close to Italy.

              http://www.babeschicken.com/
              http://www.joets.com/
              http://www.boinabraza.com/
              http://www.laharanch.com/ from another rec above
              http://www.yelp.com/biz/nonna-tatta-f...

              1. re: LJS

                Near SAS - Abacus (New American, Dinner only), La Duni (Latin, brunch is good, so are desserts and drinks), Taverna (Italian).

                Although unless you're specifically looking to go to North Park Mall, there are 2 SAS Factory Outlets closer to Westlake. The Central Pkwy location is 25 miles from Westlake. There's one in Hurst 10 miles from Westlake - 1493 W Pipeline Rd. I don't know restaurants around there.

            2. On the Tex-Mex V Mexican question:

              Either Tex-Mex or Mexican are good choices, just do your homework. Lots of "authentic Mexican" places are just Tex-Mex and lots of Tex-Mex is bad.

              1. If you are coming to Dallas for the shoes. You might want to check out Northpark Mall (off Central) and DSW shoes up the street in Preston Center. There is a lot of good food close to that area, too.

                1. Thank you all: very useful info. I am printing off this thread to bring with me. BTW, the shoe thing is a love affair with SAS: the fit, the comfort, the way they market and the dedication to the handmade touches. The style is just fine for me-yes, I do still own a pair of indigo blue suede high heels and some sandals made entirely of sequins, but when I actually need to WALK somewhere, on go my SAS!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LJS

                    For your Mex-Mex fix, you might want to try El Ranchito.

                    It's delicious.

                  2. Westlake is not far from North Main BBQ, which when it's on, is one of the better in the area. It's only open on Fridays and Saturdays.....and it's best if you go there at dinner time, not an off time, the bbq is fresher. http://www.northmainbbq.com/ You're also close to Hard 8 BBQ, but I went there last week for the first time, and it was bad. Don't go.

                    1. First of all Central Pkwy is a small residential street close to SMU.....Central Expressway/US-75 is a major Dallas thoroughfare. Our CH friend is from Toronto and would hope she does not lead us astray when she recommends Toronto directions/restaurants. If you get lost don't hesitate to ask here in Texas!

                      EE's rec of El Ranchito is a great Mex-Mex place but would be about an hour drive from your hotel location.

                      North Main BBQ is good but if out and about in Tarrant county (i.e. downtown FW) there are other options. It stated Mom's BBQ on 1509 Evans St in FW as the best (morethanlikely in a rough part but great BBQ is usually not in a fancy place!) They are listed in the FW Weekly in the link below.

                      http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?a...

                      FW does not have as much restaurant/CH coverage as Dallas for some odd reason. I find that the atmosphere in downtown FW is much more laid back and friendly than in the downtown Dallas or Uptown. The FW Weekly "Best of 2007" should give you plenty of options to explore around Tarrant County. FW is not good for chinese!....Arlington is best for your Vietnamese and Chinese fixes. Thai is kind of spotty in Tarrant county but the FW Weekly should give you a few if you get tired of tex-mex and BBQ.

                      Also don't hesitate to post again while you are here on your finds, duds, and more recs from us!

                      1. Joe T's can be hit or miss. The last few times I've been there it had been great. At dinner you have few choices...original dinner or fajitas.

                        Lunch may be a better choice....

                        The original dinner is served family style if more then one orders

                        You get 2 nachos, two cheese enchildas, two tacos, rice, beans and guacamole.

                        I love their nachos a full round tortilla with melted longhorn cheese and chopped picked jalapenos. Their beans are just yummy. I'm sure full of lard.....but tasty

                        the tacos are not my favorite but the last few times they have been great.

                        The enchilads again are not my most fav but they are good...or can be

                        I took my sister in law over Christmas....her first Tex-Mex experience....she loved it. I told her not to wear her coat inside because you smell like mexian food after you eat there...Not really a bad thing but if you are visiting from out of town....you may want to keep your coat fresh

                        The margarita's at Joe T's are good. On a nice day, sitting outside, eating and drinking with friends and family can be a sublime at Joe T's

                        I would not eat there solo for my first time....Joe T's can be like a favorite pair of jeans..sort of comfort food.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hungryindallas

                          We just got back from a day in Ft. Worth and we ate at Joe T Garcia's and it was really wonderful. The margaritas were good and not too sweet and the food was all yummy. Joe T's gets a lot of flack from CH, but it's good basic Tex Mex. The guacamole was very fresh and good and the original Tex Mex dinner is very tasty, The tacos are shredded beef rather than the more common ground beef and they were excellent tonight. The cheese enchiladas had a nice tomato-chile pepper sauce instead of beef chili "gravy" and onions. The service was great and the patio is gorgeous.

                          It's not gourmet, but it's very good and we plan to go back more often. I'm sure part of it was the carry-over from a delightful day, but I really appeciate a good, simple meal that is well-prepared. Joe T's probably varies, but an early dinner out in the sun near the fountain - boy, it was nice.

                        2. Thank you all! I am printing this off as I plan my trip...I particularly enjoed the tips for the 'best' margarita...here I must beg to differ with you as I KNOW it cannot be purchased from a restaurant or bar as I make it myself.(LOL)

                          My recipe is famous among my family and friends and I am a source of amusement as I insist on traveling with my extra fine grater/plane and a special glass jar for the 24-hour maceration of the lime and lemon zest required.

                          I think I will forgo it all this one time so I can do a taste test on a true Texan Maragarita!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: LJS

                            So, where have you posted this famous margarita recipe...?

                            1. re: bhoward

                              One more reply if you haven't left yet...Angelo's BBQ in Fort Worth is by far the best in my estimation, you can smell the smoke down the street :) I have to take it with me when I go visit my dad in Detroit. the website is www.angelosbbq.com, delicious, now I want some!!!!

                              1. re: kristi47

                                Ha! I skimmed every post to see if Angelo's was listed and you threw it in last!

                                For some "real" Texas atmosphere, definitely go to Angelo's. I've only been once so I can't comment on the food, but if you're from Toronto, I can only assume you're gonna leave with a smile. The decor is unforgettable.

                              2. re: bhoward

                                Just because you are all so kind, here it is, adapted from one published in Cooks Illustrated in July 2000

                                The Perfect Margarita
                                Makes about 1 quart, serving 4 to 6 (or two who really want to get to know one another better!)

                                4 teaspoons grated lime zest (this is where the plane comes in/I got mine from Lee Valley Tools-don't know if you have that in the US?)
                                1/2 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 medium limes or 6 key limes
                                4 teaspoons grated lemon zest-(don't stint and use that plane/a grater just mushes them!)
                                1/2 cup lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons, thin-skinned if you can get them)
                                1/4 cup superfine/castor sugar-not icing sugar like my dumb SIL
                                pinch table salt
                                2 cups crushed ice
                                1 cup 100 percent agave tequila , preferably Reposado
                                1 cup Triple Sec (use real TS, not the knock-offs)

                                1. Combine lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, sugar and salt in a large glass jar with cover: allow to macerate in refrigerator for at least 5 hours but 24 hours is best .

                                2. (Optional: 'Rim' your glasses with a mixture of salt and sugar, if you like-I think this works much better than one or the other). Divide approx. 1 cup crushed ice between your glasses.

                                3. Strain juice mixture into pitcher. Add tequila, Triple Sec and remaining crushed ice; stir or shake until thoroughly combined and chilled. Strain into ice-filled glasses; serve immediately.

                            2. I live in Westlake and am from Boston. It's has been really tough for me to find food that is distinctively Texan. Babes is #1, though. BYOB. Don't miss it. 10 minutes from Solana.

                              If you are down in the University area of Fort Worth (check out the Japanese garden) try the new Pappas burger place. I really like it. Pappadeaux is excellent, too. These are regional chain places but the food is very high quality. Like Legal Seafoods in Boston - you want to trash it for being a chain but the food, atmosphere and service are just too good.

                              I would like to hear more but I can differentiate between the better Tex Mex places. Many of them are pretty good, but nothing stands out. I have found nothing special so we just head back to Mi Cocina or Taco Diner.