Tillman's Roadhouse, Shinsei, Mi Cocina (DFW)
Thanks to all who provided recommendations on my original thread:
As I suspected, not everything went according to plan and some of the places I had on my list will have to wait, but we did have some good meals during our short trip to Dallas.
A double-barreled gun serving as a door handle provides entry to this eclectically-decorated restaurant in the Bishop Arts District. Chandeliers and wood-carved animal heads on the walls? I wouldn’t have dreamed it up, but it’s a well-designed space and everyone enjoyed the room and most of the food.
The menu matched the décor, offering some familiarity with some regional and unique twists. Three out of six ordered the very strong blood-orange margarita ($9), which packed quite a punch. Truffled popcorn and warm peanuts were placed on the table, which we all enjoyed; even my extremely picky sister and truffle-disliking girlfriend liked the popcorn. We ordered the trio of fries ($9, parmesan black pepper kennebec fries, chile dusted purple peruvian fries and smoked salt scented sweet potato fries with housemade catsup and horseradish pickle mayo) for the table. Who needs a trio when you serve sweet potato fries with smoked salt? Of all the SPFs I’ve eaten, these surpass all others – they were simply perfect.
For mains, I couldn’t resist the chicken fried hangar steak ($21, with garlic whippers, bacon braised green beans and charred poblano gravy). It was lightly breaded, cooked to specs (medium-rare, as suggested by the server) and was tasty, but didn’t wow (two others at the table felt the same way). Perhaps a flat-iron would be a better choice? The gravy was good but I think it needed to be thicker and served with a larger serving. The potatoes had a nice garlic kick and the beans were awesome but very heavy on the salt (and I have a high-tolerance). My mother ordered the grilled garlic chicken ($17, with watermelon carpaccio, tomato, basil and roasted corn relish) which she enjoyed; she’s a light eater and finished most of it which says something. My girlfriend ordered the chipotle bbq ribs ($21, on white cheddar mac-n-cheese) and I’m glad she did – smoky, super tender which a really good kick of chipotle, these were really good ribs; the rich mac and cheese helped cut the spice and richness of the ribs. I wasn’t even that hungry when I ate her leftovers the next day and I devoured them.
Tax and tip with two Blue Moons and a few blood orange margaritas ($9, strong!) came to around $210 which I thought was a good value. Service was relaxed, friendly and efficient, about all you can ask for. We all enjoyed Tillman’s Roadhouse, and my cousin who lives in town thanked me for suggesting it. Sweet potato fries won’t ship very well, will they?
We had reservations for eight at Shinsei on Friday night at an upstairs table just off the bar. The place was packed, so I’m glad we were able to secure last-minute reservations. Three at our table at been here before, and said they usually stick with sushi; I had already decided against this because I already had my mind set about ordered a cooked entrée. They were offering a special of whole yellowtail cooked tempura style served with three sauces (spicy mayo, something hoisin-based and a third I don’t remember). They had removed most of the meat which helped with passing it around and serving; it was nice and crisp, moist and simply delicious. Again, picky sister enjoyed this dish, a real shocker for me. Our waitress urged the brave to pick at the head because there was still more meat, which I very happily did.
Sister also ordered calamari tempura ($15, orange soy glaze) which was okay, but too sweet.
As everyone filled out the sushi card, I ordered the traditional black miso cod ($29, garlic toasted bok choy and corn sake soup) and also added an order of kona kampachi sashimi ($13). I’m not entirely sure what the full sushi order consisted of, but I know there was a spider roll ($8), shrimp tempura roll ($8), tempura spicy tuna roll ($12), multiple spicy tuna rolls ($8/ea), multiple California rolls ($8/ea), tuna roll ($7) and yellowtail nigiri ($7).
After a reasonable wait, some of the sushi arrived with my entrée and several sides. I loved my cod and it won raves around the table; there was a nice ginger-based sauce on the side which was really good. The corn sake soup was a new taste for me and I liked that it was slightly sweet. Boy choy is not really my thing but it was ok. Everyone seemed to enjoy the sushi; I had a couple pieces of the spider roll and the tempura tuna roll and thought it was ok but nothing special – I’d imagine there are better places in town for sushi. The kona kampachi was good – I’d never had this fish which is why I ordered it.
The table was drinking blood orange margaritas ($9) which were really strong. Our waitress was awesome – running around all night, replaced a side because of a screw-up and took care of us. Bill came to around $450 including tip with alcohol which I thought was fair for the number of people. Unfortunately, Mrs. Fearing told us that Casey left for San Francisco earlier in the morning, and we did not meet her, but we still enjoyed our dinner.
No one was in the mood to make the drive to Café San Miguel on Saturday night after a long night at Social House after Shinsei. Instead three of us ended up at Mi Cocina on Preston, which was much closer. We ordered tacos al carbon ($17.95, ribeye) and tacos “de brisket” ($11.95). My tacos al carbon had a nice flavor and the beef was tender and nicely grilled. I thought the presentation was a little odd – the meat wrapped in the flour tortillas (fold down) with condiments on the side (not very user-friendly). The rice was pretty bland but the bean soup was really smoky from the bacon, although it was a little fatty. Girlfriend enjoyed her tacos, but I thought both the meat and pico were bland. The chips on the table were corn (I prefer flour) and were hot, but not my favorite; to their credit, the salsa had a good kick. Tax and tip came to around $65 with two beers. The place was quite large, but rather sparse for 8pm on a Saturday. It seemed like a local joint, but I didn’t feel part of the neighborhood; and paperwork required for a beer? Good thing we had a resident - that seemed really odd.
We had a casual lunch at Café Express upon arriving which had a cool condiment bar in the middle. Probably not the kind of place I’d frequent that often (had a bit of a Paradise Bakery feel to me) but the food all seemed fresh and well-prepared. I’m disappointed with missed Twisted Root, but I’m sure I long-surpassed my caloric intake after a Sprinkle’s cupcake. Thanks again for the rec’s.
Tillman's Corner Restaurant
324 w Seventh Street, Dallas, TX 75208
7713 Inwood Rd., Dallas, TX 75209
11661 Preston Rd # 138, Dallas, TX
Cafe Express: Lover's Lane
5600 W Lovers Ln Ste 109, Dallas, TX 75209
You're so right about that trio of fries at Tillman's. We ordered a couple of other appetizers and one of the chefs brought fries to us because I know his wife. We were all shocked at how good the fries were.
The dry/wet actually goes by precinct and not county in Dallas. Which is why two blocks south of my neighborhood is wet and two blocks north is dry - both in Dallas county. Then there are other counties that are wet and dry for the entire county - Texas alcohol laws are really strange (as a native I remember Blue Laws).
Essentially, the "paperwork" is a loophole in the law that allows members of a "private club" to drink. So, the restaurants in the dry precincts all offer a free club membership to anyone who wants one. (There is a company called Unicard that does it for them so you only need one membership and it's tied to your driver's license number.) You'll find the Unicard in pockets all over Dallas - it's not just Mi Cocina.
We were at Mi Cocina the other day and this happened to a guy from out of state and boy, was he hopping mad. Insisted on seeing a manager etc. and she was having trouble explaining it so I explained to the guy that it had nothing to do with him at all - it was just strange drinking laws. He felt alot better after that :>