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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. www.doughmonkey.com. 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 http://www.dripcoffeeco.com (very close) or http://www.wrcoffee.com (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. http://www.pasand.net/ and http://www.bukharagrille.com/ 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 http://www.lannyskitchen.com. (see also http://www.dallasfood.org/modules.php...) 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.

                1. Any thoughts on Cafe R+D? I've been told the burgers are better than Burger House, although since it's in the Houston's line, that may be comparing apples to oranges (I do love the western burger at Houston's).

                  Thoughts on Hibiscus?

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: azhotdish

                    Good question....Cafe R+D just opened about 2-3 months ago. So I haven't had a chance to get over there eventhough I work about a block away. I am sure the burgers will be better (I would hope for the price), but if you like the cheap greasy burger that is consistent, then Burger House is great.

                    Reviews on Hibiscus are mixed. What exactly are you looking for a steak place, if so this is one of the better ones? I will let some others chime in about this one!

                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                      I was not aware that Hibiscus was a steakhouse until I just saw their website - definitely can skip that, those are a dime-a-dozen in PHX (Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak recently opened, adding to the mix).

                      If you do get to R+D in the next couple months, please share your thoughts. Thanks!

                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                        Just had Burger House this weekend. Hit the spot. Love their fries too. Good cheap meal. I'd skip Cafe R+D. Overpriced American food. There are lots of good suggestions on this post.

                      2. re: azhotdish

                        Here's a good burger thread. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/90893. For a burger a la burger house I've found keller's to be much better. Wingfield's is a great burger and nearly converted me to the well-done camp.

                        1. re: kindofabigdeal

                          Also a good burger thread....kindof's a traitor....j/k

                          AZ let us know what style hamburger (thin vs thick, juicy vs well done) you want and we can point you in the right direction!

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/497383 this post should have all the burger joints in town with corresponding websites

                          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                            I just ate lunch at my fav local burger (Delux) today, and their formula is simple: good quality beef (med rare), un-fooled around with, with quality toppings. Size doesn't matter, as long as it tastes good!

                            1. re: azhotdish

                              If you are after quality ingredients and toppings, I would suggest twisted root burger co. in Deep Ellum.


                              1. re: Bhutani

                                Looks awesome. I've only made one trek to Deep Ellum to the now-defunct Green Room, but it looks like it might be worth another trip.

                                1. re: azhotdish

                                  That restaurant and Local are 2 definite reasons to pay a visit to Deep Ellum:


                              2. re: azhotdish

                                Definitely check out twisted root for something along the lines of Delux, except think more Seattle grunge than Scottsdale glitter.

                        2. If you're playing at Steven's Park, try Hunky's hamburger's or the Vera Cruz Cafe if your up for some non-typical and excellent Mexican food, in Bishop Arts. El Ranchito is pretty good too, larger and louder than the previous two places.
                          I'd second Coal Vines as well.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: sike101

                            We'll actually be playing golf all weekend @ Canyon Creek CC which is actually in Richardson. For some reason, I thought we'd be in Oak Cliff. Anything decent around there?

                            1. re: azhotdish

                              You'll be closer to El Fuego. You can get the all you can eat on Saturdays until they close around 3, if you're finished by then. Maybe you're golfing in Richardson and staying in Oak Cliff? Plenty of Indian, Chinese, and Arabic choices in Richardson....whether better than what's available in Phoenix, I don't know. If I was you, I'd find a Cajun place to try.

                              1. re: azhotdish

                                Well Richardson is in a better Foodie territory than Oak Cliff...not any disrespect to Oak Cliffdians (Oak Cliffites?), anyway. El Fuego is a great choice and we can give you a good run down after this next weekend as we shall quiz the owner about her best dishes. On to our next round of recs....do you want us to throw in Plano too....after this thread you will have all the "gems" in Dallas and Collin Counties. On to the run down of Indian, Chinese and Arabic choices in Richardson!!

                                1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                  Sure LH, throw in Plano. Last time I was out there, we ate at some sub-par pizza joint in Plano in a corner strip mall - I do NOT want to do that again! Thanks for all the help, it will certainly be reciprocated if you ever make a trek to our desert city.

                                  luniz - you have a rec for cajun? It's pretty slim-pickins' out here for good crawfish and po-boys.

                                  1. re: azhotdish

                                    Luniz will rec Big Easy in Plano for Cajun. It is good. Remember crawfish season will be ending May-June post below asked the seasonality question.



                                    We are all friends here so I know his "go to" places. I think you ate at Covinos or Campisis for that sub-par pizza. I know we don't have a Pizza Bianco....but we have some that suffice us pizza amateurs.

                                    Plano is a great palce for some Chinese. Yao Fuzi is our newest Chinese restaurant in Plano and is Shanghainese style. The is also the most expensive. Mr Shabu Shabu (I think this is actually Japanese) is great for shabu shabu. Sichuanese Cuisene is great for spicy chinese not so good for atmosphere (some people think it is greasy....I have never gotten anything that wasn't supposed to be floated with chili oil, i.e. Sichuan Boiled Fish). Little Sichuan is most people's choice, Luniz can chime in here. First Chinese BBQ is probably better in Richardson that the Plano location....just our recent reviews put the Carrollton ahead of all of them. New San Dor is a Cantonese place a few doors down from Little Sichuan. Richardson has Kirin Court for Cantonese which is probably our most consistent and nicest Chinese restaurant besides Yao Fuzi. The dim sum on the weekend mornings is pretty much the all around favorite.


                                    Not sure of the Vietnamese scene in Phoenix but Garland has the largest population in Dallas county. I would suggest La Me on the Dallas/Richardson/Garland border...get a bahn mi and bun cha ha noi...those are memorable! Some people like Zander's House in Plano but I think it is a bit overpriced and not as good as La Me....others can chime in here


                                    Some to get you started.

                                    I like Jorg's Cafe Vienna in Downtown Plano for Austrian food....hard to find anywhere but I think he does a great job of his schnitzels.


                                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                      While Pizzeria Bianco may be my personal favorite, I certainly don't need a replica - I've eaten @ Louie's on Henderson and enjoyed it, although the two aren't in the same league IMO.

                                      Several years back, we had breakfast at some strange diner, and I think someone mentioned it was owned by someone of a "mixed gender". I do remember seeing cut-off jean shorts (I wish I was kidding here), so I never thought to question them. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? Any good breakfast spots in town not to be missed?

                                      We're really compiling quite the list here...

                                      EDIT: the place was Lucky's, on Oak Lawn. Now I'll probably never forget...

                                      1. re: azhotdish

                                        What part of town was this? Uptown/Cedar Springs/Oak Lawn or Central @ Knox/Henderson. Monica's Aca Y Alla is ownded by a transgendered owner in Deep Ellum. I think that Orignal Market Diner has something strange going on there....the owner looks to be transgendered...it is on Market @ Harry Hines.


                                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                          LewisvilleHounder - I don't remember that article from D from a few years back. Good find. Now that is going down memory lane! When i first moved to Dallas Anzu and Sfuzzi were THE places to be.

                                        2. re: azhotdish

                                          For a diner breakfast, go to John's Cafe on Greenville!

                                    2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                      Ouch. I might take exception to that assessment of Oak Cliff, my house less than 3 miles from Fearing's/Craft/Nobu/SP.

                                2. Thanks to all who chimed in on this post a few months ago - we're heading out there in about two weeks - so far the ones I definitely want to hit are:

                                  1) Cafe San Miguel
                                  2) Twisted Root Burger Co.
                                  3) Shinsei

                                  Anyone else have any last-minute must-do's (although probably no fine-dining spots)? I will be sure to report back.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: azhotdish


                                    Are you going to Shinsei for sushi or to meet Casey Thompson? The sushi is good from what I have heard but I have also heard it is a bit on the pricey side. For sushi I would recommend going to Masami in Richardson. It would be memorable and it won't set you back near as much.

                                    If you are going for the glam and to meet Casey Thompson then forget all the above.

                                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                      Admittedly, the trip to Shinsei is probably more geared toward chatting with Casey than it is about quality sushi. If we are in Richardson, I will keep Masami in mind; in fact, I will be printing this and taking it with me so I can review what's been said. Thanks LH.

                                      1. re: azhotdish

                                        I tend to approach Shinsei as a "restaurant" rather than as a sushi bar. The distinction (for me) is that at a sushi bar, I prefer to enjoy the flavor a pristine slice of hamachi (or whatever) with minimal distractions - a little shoyu, some wasabi, some rice. While the fish quality is good at Shinsei, it's never been top quality in this regard - and I've eaten there several times.

                                        On the other hand, there are some delicious composed dishes (some of which involve raw fish) with lots of sauces, flavors and pretty good combinations of ingredients. I really like their fried rice, which is a sort of quasi-risotto/fried rice/bibimbap. Last week I had a really tasty sauteed beef dish (weekly special) with a lime juice marinade and onions - fantastic. The surf-and-turf tatake is also good. They have some tiradito-like sashimi plates that taste good too.

                                        Again - the straight-up sushi is fine at Shinsei. I still order it, and enjoy it, but I'm never blown away.