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Mar 8, 2008 02:33 PM

PHX Hound to Dallas - advice

Having a mini-reunion in Dallas this summer and wanted some feedback on a few places.

Cafe San Miguel, what is the consensus on this place? Best Mexican in Dallas? We always dine out for Mexican one night w/margarita lovers, so I'm interesting on hearing your thoughts. We've done Javiers, and will not go back; just terrible service and average food.

For a casual lunch, how is Coal Vines? My cousin who lives in the city raves about it.

Have been to S&D and have liked it in the past - is it still any good?

I will be golfing in Oakcliff - anything good in that area?

Also, anything around North Park Mall or the Galleria? I have a strange feeling I may get stuck at one of those places and probably don't want to eat there.

I know this is all over the place, so anything you can provide is appreciated. Will be staying around Lovers and the tollway, so that's the central point. Thanks so much!

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  1. I would definately try Cafe San Miguel. Another suggestion would be Lanny's in FW. I am in you camp with regards to Javier's-- never been a huge fan.

    I would pass on Coal Vines. In Phoenix, you have Pizzeria Bianco which is far and away better, I would suggest Grimaldi's but there is the same chain in Phoenix as well. If you mut have pizze, I would suggest either Fireside Pies or Olivella (though I don't think any are open for lunch).

    In Oak Cliff, there is the whole Bishop Arts district. I would highly recommend checking out Hattie's. Great brunch on the weekends. It serves upscale Southern food that you are not likely to find in Phoenix.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bhutani

      Thanks Bhutani, I hope we get to Cafe San Miguel. I've been to Abuelo's, Cantina Laredo and Javier's too many times.

      One other thing I forgot to mention - does anyone have thoughts on Shinsei? My gf really loved Casey on Top Chef, and I wondered if the restaurant itself was worth a trip.

      1. re: azhotdish

        We like Shinsei. They don't take reservations so the wait can be long if you go during a prime hour. They have a nice list of appetizers and sushi (and a very good sushi chef) and some fun drinks. There is a ginger one that is not good - it tastes sort of like air freshener. But the purple basil mojito is very good. They have a pretty decent list of wines by the glass as well. Entress are also very good to great, but skip dessert.

        The main problem with Shinsei is there are better restaurants at that price point. We mostly stick to drinks and appetizers or sushi.

        Cafe San Miguel is fabulous. Can't miss.

        S&D is still wonderful.

        For lunch, you might try Taverna in the Knox Street area. They have very good pizzas and a nice menu and a bunch of specials every day.

        As for Northpark, Bistro N at Nordstrom is good for lunch as is the Mermaid Bar downstairs in Neiman Marcus. La Duni is supposed to open in Northpark sometime this spring. If it's open, La Duni is wonderful South American with outstanding desserts. Honestly, it would make Northpark dining very attractive! Avoid Maggaino's and the Corner Bakery. Kona Cafe is awful. Luna de Noche is also in Northpark and it's pretty good, but not as good as Cafe San Miguel.

        As for the Galleria, there is a Mi Cocina near the ice rink which has pretty good Tex Mex and there used to be an Italian place on the third floor (Nicola's?) that was good.

        I'll join the throng endorsing Hattie's and also add Tillman's Roadhouse to the Oak Cliff recs. There is also the Cliff House in the Belmont Hotel. (Even if you aren't really golfing there ;>)

        Around Lover's and the Tollway there is also Cafe Istanbul which someone else recommended - really like them.

      2. re: Bhutani

        Olivella's is open for lunch (at least, I ate lunch there a few months ago, and guidelive lists their hours as 11am-11pm), and I agree with Bhutani that it's a really great pizza - probably one of my favorite in Dallas. I've had nice lunches at Coal Vines, but I've found their pizza to be hit or miss... sometimes great, sometimes not so good. But, at best, Coal Vines isn't as good as Grimaldi's (I think). Fireside is also good, but different from the others. Incidentally, Fireside just opened a location that is fairly close to you - it's on Inwood, just a few feet south of Lover's (next to Shinsei).

        I've been to Shinsei a few times. The fish is generally of good quality (although not stellar) and it's nicely decorated, but it's also pretty loud and fairly expensive... so I tend to go elsewhere for my sushi when I have a choice.

        The only place I've eaten near the Galleria is Oceanaire, where I'd recommend eating some oysters (half-price at happy hour, I believe). S&D is good - I always get oysters there too, and while I find them fresh, they're kind of non-descript. Oceanaire has a nice variety of sizes, flavors and textures that I really enjoy.

        Finally, I'll echo the recommendation of Stephen Pyles (I'd just show up for the communal table and get ceviche!) and add Nonna (fantastic rustic Italian, wood-fired oven, house-made fresh pastas and salumi. Skip the pizza there, in my opinion - it's good, but not as good as everything else :)

      3. Around North Park you have Snider plaza which is home to Doughmonkey. I've mentioned my love for this place too many times recently, but since we've traded thoughts on Au Petit Four before, i thought I'd let you know that Doughmonkey beats them on all accounts. I really loved APF's plain croissants, but the ones here are really amazing. Plus, they make many other delicious desserts. The website really speaks to the quality of ingredients they put into their products. A couple doors down you have a pretty neat place called Flavors From Afar that is a "gourmet" shop. This isn't just a fancied up place. They get some very neat stuff in. In between the two there is Food From Galilee. I haven't been there but I've heard good things on the boards from respectable opinions. Across the Plaza is Kuby's, which is a Deli and restaurant. I've never had any of the restaurant foods, but they make good sandwiches. Plus the deli has a great selection. For example, I got some wonderful bresaola there a couple weeks ago.

        Somewhat near the Galleria there is First Chinese BBQ. This would be our equivalent to Gourmet House of Hong Kong most likely.

        The Bishops arts district is a pretty good spot to hit. We have a soda shop down there. Stop by and be thankful that you have Pop. I'll share some more if you promise to bring me a plate of carne adovada from Richardson's.

        7 Replies
        1. re: kindofabigdeal

          Thanks, I was hoping you'd chime in here. You're right about APF, they still reign in the croissants dept. Does Doughmonkey offer any savory selections? Looks like a place to stop for coffee, but not for lunch, correct?

          Carne adovada - I'll bet that could travel well if I vacuumed sealed it - perhaps we could work something out. :D BTW there's a place called Tortas el Guero in town that does a carne adovada torta and it's excellent. Might be something to keep in mind.

          1. re: azhotdish

            Tortas el Guero In Dallas or PHX? I got a pastor torta at a place by that name here that wasn't special.

            Doughmonkey does no savory items that I'm aware of except a smoked ham and cheese croissant. It's available at a coffee shop nearby called drip (see below), but I don't think they keep them in the main store daily. I've been meaning to ask about that though. I'll ask if they have plans to add more savory items. It's a place to stop by for dessert. The interior doesn't lend itself well to hanging around, though there are tables. If you want to get coffee somewhere, stop by doughmonkey and get some treats then drive down the road to (very close) or (further away) and enjoy your pastries there. I don't care for either as much as Lux, but they're both good local roasters. .

            I haven't visited any of the nicer restaurants in town, but I can tell you that bhutani and gavlist are two people to trust. FWIW Kuidaore, guttural, luniz, webra, and lewisvillehound are people with tastes that go along the lines of the usual suspects in PHX. Don't do Coal Vines. With what you have to choose from in Phoenix, even besides PB, you're better off. I think our Indian options are better here. and are two good ones.

            Veracruz is pretty good. Along the lines of Barrio Cafe, but cheaper. You might want to go with something a bit more southern or Texan though.

            Give some consideration to driving to Ft. Worth for (see also if you're interested in something Mexican that you won't get in Phoenix.

            The only other thing I can think of is that you should stop by Central Market. I remember you being wooed by the idea of a salt bar. This is where it is. It's on Lover's and is good at least for a walk through.

            Let me know if you need any reconnaissance work done.

            1. re: kindofabigdeal

              Tortas el Guero in Phoenix. Keep it in mind - there is one in Sunnyslope and Chandler. The latter location just opened, and it's very good.

            2. re: azhotdish

              On today's menu doughmonkey have a caramelized leek and goat cheese quiche. I don't know if they plan on doing something like this daily. plus they redesigned their website. If you need more convincing check out what they're doing with the "flourless focus."

              1. re: kindofabigdeal

                Do you live in the neighborhood? You seem to always be there. I work not to far away. Perhaps I should go get a snack?

                1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                  I've been weaning myself off, and I know that some people are there more. I'm down to once a week I think. But no, I do not live in the area. I just think this is a great place. Since I enjoy baking at home very much, it's really nice to have a place that does such a great job, and who can give some inspiration. It's also possibly the only place in town to get a proper chocolate education. Great pastries and incredible chocolates (with samples). Two great Dallas voids, now filled. Now if just an intelligentsia quality coffee shop would land around here my life would be perfect.

                  1. re: kindofabigdeal

                    For some it is baked goods, chocolate and coffee. For others it is salumi, smoked meats, and a vast array of sustainable, organic, local and ethical fruits and meats, i.e SOLE movement. I am in the latter.

          2. Cafe San Miguel is very good. Upscale from your typical Mexican food in Dallas. I really have enjoyed it every time I've been there.

            Haven't been to Coal Vines, I'm ashamed to say. But, I've heard good things, too.

            S&D is as good as ever. In fact, it never seems to change.

            Hattie's is a good suggestion in Oak Cliff. Tillman's is also good. The Belmont is a great place to go have drink with a terrific view of Dallas.

            North Park has a few decent eateries. But, I can't really recommend any in particular.

            Haven't been to Shinsei.

            You might want to try Stephen Pyles while you're in town. It's awfully good!

            1 Reply
            1. re: margiehubbard

              Shinsei is definately respectable. I can't give it raving reviews but I have liked it the couple of times I have been. I had my suspicions about this place initially. It is run by the wives of 2 well known chefs in Dallas (Rathbun and Fearing) and I had my concerns about what they could possibly know about Japanese food. They brought in probably the best sushi chef in Dallas (we all call him Elvis) who used to be at Tei Tei on Henderson. For whatever reason, though, I have not felt compelled to go all that much (maybe it is the long waits, the prices).

            2. I would add Kavalla Mediterranean Grill to the Oak Cliff suggestions -- west of the Bishop Arts District, 1417 W. Davis. I would also add Vera Cruz, except that you're likely to get your Mexican fix at Cafe San Miguel.

              1. I think the best Mexican in Dallas is Taqueria El Fuego but if you are going with a group probably not your best bet.

                El Ranchito in Oak Cliff also has a great spread of food from cabrito to sweetbreads. Cafe San Miguel is going to be more trendy, has good food, but I am not the type to spend a lot on Mexican...just me.


                Oak Cliff also has a great little Argentinian restaurant Don Panza. The Owners are very warm and gracious and I liek their pizzas. They also have great empanadas!


                The consensus on pizza places are Coal Vines, Grimaldis, and Campangia (sp?). There are all posts on this board that argue the greatness of each. Sometimes each one has problems with soggy crusts.


                Lovers and the Tollway is just blocks from where I work. I like the Breadwinners in the Inwood Village Shopping Center. Yummy Donuts is in the area you will be staying. Also there is Cafe Istanbul a great Turkish place (if you are adventurous). Bijoux and Rise No1 also in the Inwood Village. This is a short drive from North Park. Some people like Celebration for homestyle just a few blocks down from Inwood @ Lovers....I don't b/c I make better and cheaper homestyle food


                Burger House is great for a change from the high priced food around Preston Center or North Park. There is one on Hillcrest close to SMU (would advise against lunch hour rush, no parking and packed



                I will post later on some more rec outside you areas.