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Dallas area cheapest best restaurant

Hi Everyone,

This weekend my husband and I were planning on celebrating his birthday (the big "4-0") and our wedding anniversary (the big "2") by going out for a special dinner. Usually we spare no expense on these occasions, ordering the fancy and expensive champagne, etc. I wanted this one to be extra special be cause of it being his 40th.

Well anyway...we were clubbed very badly by the IRS this year. It was quite unexpected so now we are looking for a cheap but romantic place to have our dinner. It can be cheesy decor, cheap wine, whatever...as long as the food is great and the spirit of the place is inviting.

We are not from Dallas and have only lived here 2 years, so our restaurant repertoire is quite limited. Could someone help me find the perfect place for 2 poverty-stricken Planoites to celebrate?

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    1. re: luniz

      Second that. It's BYOB too so you can bring your own cheap wine.

    2. My parents love Jorg's Austrian/German restaurant in Old Town Plano. I think the prices are quite moderate.

      I ABSOLUTELY LOVE First Chinese BBQ. Cheap and D-Lish, but I wouldn't call the decor very inviting.

      For something completely different (at least for me) that isn't too expensive, you could try Korea House. I've been once recently and it was a lot of fun and moderately priced.

      This is on a bit of a different note, but if money is tight, why not cook up something nice at home? Send him off for an afternoon and make something nice. No markup on wine, buy some nice chocolates, candles, rose petals, whatever. Just a thought!

      6 Replies
      1. re: Epicurious Esquire

        Believe me, he'd probably rather go out! For one thing, we don't really have a dining room or even a kitchen table. We eat on the run a lot. Going out to eat is a recreational activity for us.

        How about something Italian, or mediterranean? I am not crazy about asian food. German sounds like it would be exremely hearty for a romantic meal. It doesn't have to be dirt cheap or in Plano, either. Thanks so much!

        1. re: Imladris

          What price range are you looking at for the two of you plus drinks?

          1. re: Epicurious Esquire

            I dunno, would it be possible to keep it around $100?

            1. re: Imladris

              Ok. So not quite Poverty Level Dining!

              Here's your spot. The Grape on Greenville Avenue, which has long been considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Dallas. For $100, you could get on $10 app, one $30 bottle of wine, two $20 entrees and one $10 dessert. Add tax and tip and you're at what, $115??

              1. re: Epicurious Esquire

                Haha, ok I guess you're right, but I guess I meant "cheap" for a special event dining experience, not overall cheap. We could always hit the Chipotle! I like the sound of the Grape. I will add that one to my short list. Have you actually eaten there? I looked at the menu online and it doesn't seem like a very large selection of entrees.

                1. re: Imladris

                  We eat at The Grape about every month or so and love it. No, it does not have a huge menu, but there are usually around 10 entrees (including specials) and at least half of those can be ordered as a "small plate" for under $20. And the small plates are not small. Last month, I had the pork chop and it was $16. It was one large bone-in pork chop (a portion I would normally use to serve two at home), a large wedge of au gratin potatoes that were just luscious and apple-pecan slaw. We had the lamb tartines to start ($8) and split the creme brulee for dessert ($8). We also each had one glass of wine and the bill with tip was around $80 or so. They have a good selection of bottles under $40. They also have a full bar.

                  It's very much styled like a bistro, with red-checked tablecloths, etc. I've loved The Grape for a long time.

      2. Has anyone been to Capriccio? It's in Flower Mound, so would be a little bit of a drive, but it looks nice on the website and was given a good review by GuideLive.


        2 Replies
        1. re: Imladris

          I have been since I am within walking distance and although it is nice and the food is good (not great) and a bit on the high side. I would suggest Salernos in Flower Mound or The Grotto in Highland Village. Both are better than Capriccio IMHO. These are suggestions if you live in Flower Mound/Lewisville area. I always have liked The Greenhouse Restaurant in Denton just north of the square. It is not the best gourmet dinner but better than a chain and it won't set you back much ($30-$50 for the both).




          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            I haven't tried Salerno's, but i agree with LewisvilleHounder that The Grotto and The Greenhouse are both better choices than Capriccio. Capriccio's food was good, but definitely not "wow." And the service was really, really slow.

        2. If you like Cajun/Creole food, "The Big Easy" in Plano has wonderful food. Everything on the menu is great. The decor is not "romantic", but New Orleans themed and they are usually playing some great jazz or blues music. It is a wonderful, fun, location with tasty Basin Street Chicken, Crawfish Etouffee, and Shrimp Bienville. Trust me, when my hubby and I want to eat cheap with two salads, appetizer, and two entrees ( All of this together is under $30), we head to this place :)


          5 Replies
          1. re: shannydiva

            Cheap, best, and romantic thats asking alot. Nut it up and go to the Grape, Not that expensive but a special little spot and romantic. Or grab a 12 pack and a couple of Keller burgers and head over to White Rock.
            Whatever you do don't stay in Plano or the burbs, go to Big D and have a high ol time. If I took my wife to Jasmine or Big Easy and tried to pass it off as "romantic" you can bet I wouldn't be gettin lucky that night if you know what I mean.

            1. re: fishfry

              Its pretty crowded but there are some good restaurants on lower Greenville. Lots of the places are filled with 20-30-somethings chugging beer, but there was a great little Italian restaurant with cozy dim boothes on the right headed south...can't remember the name!

                1. re: gahrahstah

                  Had a recent horrible experience at Terrilli's on Greenville. The service was a bit slow but, the food was horrible. Overcooked and underseasoned pasta dishes. Just seemed to be very boring and almost like assembly line preparations. Maybe I was expecting too much. I would choose the Grape any time over Terrelli's. I feel bad for even putting the the Grape in the same category.

                  1. re: sl1

                    Terilli's is absolutely horrible. I ate lunch there about a year ago and my pasta was so bad I couldn't finish it. And if you knew me, you would realize how bad that pasta must have been. I have no clue why people go there.

                    I eat at The Grape several times a month. I also go to happy hour there at least twice a month. It is one of the better happy hours around. Great cheese plates, great wine specials, great patio, great service, etc.

            2. Our super, super cheap date night out for Italian is Two Guys From Italy on Webb Chapel (just south of LBJ). Our bill is always under $40 with apps and wine ($5 wine by the glass)! (Maybe even dessert but i don't remember). It is good basic 'red sauce' Italian. The decor is 'cheesy' but fun as if in a NY restaurant out on Long Island or something. We are talking fake grapevines with grapes with latice work hanging from the ceiling. If you like red sauce pasta dishes, you'll like it. We always over tip there because we feel like we are getting a steal. And portions are enough to take home.
              This link has the address and some others reviews. Not sure they have a website.

              13 Replies
              1. re: pizzaQTpie

                Try Bistro News it's very nice and I have had several great meals there. The Lamb is outstanding. Another great little romantic place is in old town Carrollton it is call Ameci's you can byob and the chef is fantastic.It is Italian but very uoscale for affordable prices.

                1. re: pizzaQTpie

                  Two Guys is were I took my wife on our first date....cheesy and wanted to see if she would bite at the notion of being cheap. The portions are huge you could probably share a plate at dinner or take it home for leftovers. I would highly recommend the minestrone soup, it might not be like the minestrone in Rome, but it is a real tasty hearty veggie soup. Several of the waiters have been there for over 20 years.

                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                    That's awesome. I guess she liked the place (and the company!) : )

                  2. re: pizzaQTpie

                    Ugh, Two Guys was not a good experience for us. For that area, try Frankie's on Marsh/Forest (it's BYOB) or, even better, Cafe Italia on Lovers is AWESOME! Great food and cozy atmosphere. It's near Celebration Station, so west of the Tollway. Also, the 'new' Campisi's on Lovers has taken it a notch up from their old Lovers location. It's not BYOB anymore, but it's still good. But our absolute favorite right now is Cafe Italia.

                    1. re: TXIronman

                      I was reluctant to say anything bad about Two Guys because a number of posters liked it but even for a low end red sauce Italian resto, the food sucks. Very bland and gloppy.

                      Campisi's on Lovers is not bad and serves pretty standard fare.

                      1. re: TXIronman


                        What happened at Two Guys? It's been a while since we've been there.

                        1. re: pizzaQTpie

                          Well for one look at the location. How hard do you have to try when you're located in a restaurant wasteland in Slag Town. I know, I used to live in that nabe.

                          1. re: Scagnetti

                            Well for one the restaurant was there before the "nabe" went south and not to sure what area Slag Town is, that is a new one for me. Also in the same "nabe" was Carribean Pan one of the best carribean places in the metroplex until they got booted out of their space by the developer. There are plenty of positives in the "nabe" but you just have to look harder to find them. Yes Two Guys is no delicacy and it is no Momo's or Mi Piaci, but then again you don't pay $20 per plate either. I would like to know what is your definition of "low end red sauce Italian retos" that you might be going to. I can for surely say they are better than Pizza Hut's new pastas and better than Angelos in Irving.

                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                              Slag Town is common vernacular for a rundown, dumpy area.

                              >>There are plenty of positives in the nabe but you just have to look harder to find them<<
                              Can you give me your top 5 "positives" in the nabe bounded by LBJ, Marsh, Royal, and Harry Hines?

                              Examples of "low end red sauce Italian restos" are Brothers Pizza, Macaroni Grill, Penne Pomodoro, and Picasso's Pizza and Grill.

                              Any good Italian neigborhood resto defines itself on the quality and taste of its Marinara sauce. Now maybe your tastes run with the typical American tomato sauce which contains a lot of puree and paste and is so thick, you can trowell it on pasta. If that is the case, I would then understand why you would enjoy Two Guys.

                              1. re: Scagnetti

                                El Fenix is in the same area (not my choice but most on here like it), Casa Navarro, Cindy's NY Deli, Dunston's, Korea House, Thai-riffic.

                                And I actually like the minestrone soup at Two Guys and the giardiniera tray with carrots. That is usually what I get.

                                I know what you are talking about gloppy but most restaurants don't use the fresh produce and a light hand on seasoning like they do in Italy. The typical average American restaurant goer does not have the passion about food like most do in Italy and it is intoxicating when you are there. True it is not the calibre of some in the metroplex but for those on a budget they might find the food good not excellent and very affordable at Two Guys. The place has been around for years and has a pretty loyal following. If I were on a tight budget after paying taxes I would choose Two Guys as a place for budget sake.

                                $100 for a meal is not on a budget for me and my wife that would be a splurge. $25 for both is on a budget! I tend to stick more to that range b/c with a student teacher making no money, paying a mortgage, bills and the economy the way it is that is all we have. I always give up ambience for the food b/c I am focused on the quality of the food not so much the atmosphere. This might influence my posts a bit but, oh well!

                                1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                  You should try First Chinese BBQ and King Noodle. I love them both.

                                  1. re: Epicurious Esquire

                                    I have....love King Noodle but prefer the First Chinese in Carrollton of all the locations. Better service and ordering off the menu

                            2. re: Scagnetti

                              I know the area is not the best but come on...Campisi's? Talk about a gloppy salty pre-frozen mess. The last time i went there, i had a chicken dish that was rubbery. I am sure the new space is nice since it is in the old Iris space but you can't polish a turd.

                      2. I would suggest Amore in Snider Plaza.

                        1. Go to the Grape. It's within your budget -- and if you want to save a little, they always have small-portion entrees at a reduced price.

                          1. The Grape is romantic but I haven't been since the ownership changed last year.

                            How about Taverna (Italian) near Knox/Henderson? Great food, shareable portions, fun area. You could definitely get out of there for ~$80.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: texasgirl

                              Although i am a huge fan of Taverna, i am not sure you can get wine and get out of there for $80.

                              1. re: texasgirl

                                Taverna is not "romantic". It's loud and bustling, or at least it has been when I've been there.

                                If you haven't been to The Grape since Brian Luscher took over, you should go. I think Chef Luscher has brought a little "youthful exuberance" and really revitalized the place while still retaining its cozy, romantic ambiance.

                                I think it is, without a doubt, the best Neighborhood Bistro in Dallas and is the best choice for what the thread starter is looking for.

                                Just my .02.

                              2. Thank you all SO much for so many great recommendations. I don't know how I will find the time to check all these out. So far, it seems that the Grape is really the favorite around here. Sounds like that might be where end up. Cheers!

                                1. Texas De Brazil in Oaklawn. It's $35/pp not including drinks, tax and tip. It is so romantic. The salad bar is amazing - white asparagus, prosciutto, cheeses. The meat brought to you on skewers by handsome latin men - very carnal. The service is great. Also, you can go onto their website and put in your anniversary and they will give you a buy one get one free.

                                  1. I am going to make a strong suggestion for Canary Cafe in Addsion. The prices are very reasonable and the chef/owner executes his dishes perfectly. He has a lot of pride in his work and will treat you like family.


                                    1. You can have an excellent meal at the Greek Isles in Plano, and get out of there with wine for about 70 dollars for two.

                                      1. The Grape is a very traditional / quaint / red checkered tablecloth type of place. Lovely if that's what you're looking for.

                                        If you want something with more festive and modern, I just had a great celebration dinner at Tillman's Roadhouse (in the Bishop Arts District). We had 2 drinks each, split a salad (plenty for two), 2 entrees, and a huge decadent dessert and got out of there for around $100 before tip.

                                        The table side s'mores were a trip... 3 flavors of artisan house-made marshmallows, house-made chocolate (the best part!), and house-made cinnamon grahams. You roast your marshmallows over a fire in a little cast iron pot.

                                        This is the kind of panache that can make for a memorable evening... and that isn't always present in more traditional places such as The Grape. And while Tillman's doesn't fit the thread topic of "cheapest best" it does fall within your stated price range.

                                        Congratulations on your anniversary -- have a great time!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: interference

                                          I just thought of something... Tillman's is loud and lively on the weekends. So if you are looking for quiet and romantic, it might not fit the bill.

                                          1. re: interference

                                            Tillman's is a great suggestion - very fun place with great food!

                                        2. Patrizio's is my go to for cheap good Italian food. Setting is good, although I don't know if I'd call it romantic.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: planojim

                                            Not to knock planojim, but I would not recommend Patrizio's for a special occasion. Since the ownership change, the service and food have declined. I'm not trying to start a debate about Patrizio's here, but I wouldn't spend my anniversary or birthday there.

                                            1. re: interference

                                              sorry, did not know about the ownership change.....I need to get out more. when did this happen?

                                              1. re: planojim

                                                I didn't know about this either, but it explains why my last two or three trips have been decidedly subpar. I've only been to the Plano location. Last time I was there with my aunts and my cousins (5 people, not a huge group). We've often headed to Patrizio over the years for our "girls night out." Service was very very slow. We got a hair in our dip, and it took about 20 minutes for the manager to come over, take it away, and comp it. We weren't offered a replacement anything. It will probably be the last time I ever eat at Patrizio, which is a shame. I really loved that goat cheese salad appetizer they have.

                                                I found this link on the web.


                                                1. re: Chile Pepper

                                                  Good article. Yes, the sale of Patrizio's is very sad. We jokingly call it McPatrizio's now.

                                                  I think the current owners thought they could just buy an institution and ride its reputation. Doesn't work that way.

                                                  Mr. Knox never tried to squeeze too much profit out of Patrizio's. Hence the reasonable prices and a continuing commitment to quality. But he managed to strike a balance that turned out to be amazingly profitable nevertheless. http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/arch...

                                                  But then the veteran McDonald's franchisee comes into the picture and decides to run the place "by the numbers." The cost cutting and carelessness were obvious and disappointing.

                                          2. Momo's in Addison (fresh house made pastas, romantic atmosphere and great desserts too)
                                            Terrelli's Frisco-never had a bad experience at this location, atmosphere is worlds apart from the Greenville Ave. Location
                                            Positinos-Just wrote a review about this below. A gem of a find
                                            Adelmo's-very quaint romantic bistro, great food
                                            La Duni
                                            The Keg Steakhouse

                                            2 Replies
                                              1. re: foodie06

                                                Mi Piaci is your place. Romantic, affordable. Don't forget, skip the app and get one of their amazing desserts.