SF to Dallas with kids & parents
Hello Dallas Chowhounds,
I will be visiting your city next month & need a restaurant rec for one night. Having perused your board, I have come up with a shortlist from which to choose. I would prefer casual to casual upscale so my family (parents from Waco & daughters 9/12) feels comfortable. I am hailing from the San Francisco Peninsula so I am used to restaurants with a relaxed/unpretentious atmosphere even if upscale. We will be staying near Coit & LBJ so would prefer not to drive more than 20 min. if that. Ideally, would love to try Hattie's or La Duni (like cuisine as well as $$ but the former is too far). Of course, I'm all ears for alternatives.
1. La Duni - doesn't take reservations, how long is a Sat. night wait? Also, how much would my twelve year old miss by not being able to eat anything fried in peanut oil? Lastly, how long will this drive be on Sat. night?
2. The Mercury Grill - menu looks good & is close to hotel
3. Babe's in Carrollton - Went to high school & college in Texas...can't say no to a good chicken fried steak. Is it worth it for my one night? Time w/ traffic?
4. Dark Horse - First Chinese BBQ (I believe parents usually go to May Dragon). Are their non shellfish & non beef items any good (allergies & one conscientious anti beef diner)? DH won't accompany me to "authentic" Chinese restos near home & he's not on this trip.
Texas de Brazil - Addison/Dallas - surprisingly popular on Opentable. Will only consider if I get 50% off coupon & is valid on Sat. night. Rafain is too far. Mi Cucina/Chuy's were initial contenders but what will I enjoy besides Margaritas that I can't get at Ninfa's in Waco (also, may be too loud for parents)? Finally, my guess is that the wait here will be long?
Just some thoughts:
La Duni on a Saturday night, you're not likely to see other children there. The drive shouldn't be more than 20 minutes from LBJ/Coit unless there's an incident on the freeway. Even if your kids don't like the food, they will like the desserts (great cakes).
First Chinese BBQ is going to be lacking in the atmosphere department (from what you're describing that you want). Also, coming from SF, unless you never eat Chinese food in SF, I don't think you'll be that impressed by First Chinese.
Babe's will actually be a quicker drive than La Duni, but obviously, completely different atmosphere. Chicken fried steak is good, but fried chicken is better.
Must second Donna's recommendation for Babe's, but be advised that parking in downtown Carrollton can be an issue. Allow plenty of time.
If you want Mexican, try Tupinamba. Wonderful food and service. Very family-oriented with just a sprinking of childless adults at night. On Inwood Road just south of LBJ between Harvest Hill and Forest---right across from Jesuit.
Very unpretentious but nice. Here's my review:
Your list is good but very diverse. From what you have listed I would reccomend Mercury. One of the best restaurants in Dallas. A little pricey and busy on a Saturday night if you're doing the kid thing. In the same area is The Woodlands, similar to Houston's. Also, Mi Cocina is a great local favorite for Tex-Mex. The Oceanaire at the Galleria is excellent, and good for a big group.The creamed corn is delicious. Very easy to get to from Coit and LBJ. If you're thinking Brazilian steakhouse try Fogo de Chao in Addison. Also pricey and busy but worth it if you're hungry.
The Woodlands looks perfect**, too bad they are not on Opentable. Will call them this weekend. I will still keep La Duni in mind since they don't require reservations anyway. I am not so worried about taking the kids since we did the same thing in L.A. over Christmas (Joe's in Venice & Lucques to name a few). As long as the restaurant is somewhat bustling, I feel comfortable in taking them.
Just noticed some Yelp reviews stating The Mercury has soft lighting & is romantic so may not fit the bill for our group (dad has poor night vision). I will also rule out First Chinese. Parking issues in downtown Carrollton??
Lastly, I don't think I saw any recs on the board for moderately priced Southwestern cuisine restaurants. Saw Fearings, but $$$$...
**more reasonably priced than Mercury I hope?
If you want Southwest try Blue mesa. It's pretty good and really easy to get to. It is priced very well.
Despite the somewhat long distance (probably 20 minutes), I would highly encourage you to check out Hattie's. Being from the Bay Area, and the fact that you mention Luques, I am worried that some of the places that you are considering just won't live up to snuff. Hattie's is an open/airy restaurant that is definately casual in feel but takes their food seriously. It is the kind of restaurant you don't find everywhere.
As far as southwestern, you may not find what you are looking for. Blue Mesa is good but by no means great. Stephen Pyles is a restaurant that you may want to consider (but it is also pretty expensive). It has a Southwestern/South American (I realize that these are 2 somewhat divergent cuisines) slant. La Duni is also worth checking out but is difficult to get into on a weekend. For interior Mexican, I would recommend Cafe San Miguel (not far from La Duni). They aren't stuffy by an means.
Anyways, good luck. Let us know what you chose and what you thought.