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B'day dinner in Dallas--recs?

Coming to Dallas from DC and want to take our son (22) out to dinner for his b'day. Budget too tight to do the really high end places like Fearing's. Anyone have some recommendations for more moderate, fun places to go? (We lived in Dallas 15 years ago, so no barbecue, please. Been there, done that.)

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  1. Three questions: How adventurous are the diners (I assume 3)? What part of town do you want to be in? How far are you willing to drive if there is no limitation on part of town?

    11 Replies
    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

      Hi LewisvilleH. We are adventurous; there will be four of us: our son lives in Uptown, so that general area (or not too long a drive around there) would be great (in other words, don't want to be driving into far north Dallas).

      1. re: cdscooks

        Not trying to make it difficult but would you mind shooting up Central Expressway/US 75 say to Richardson or Garland? That would open things up a bit and the food would be less expensive as it is in Uptown (probably be able to generously feed (stuffed) 4 for $60-80). That would open you up to very authentic Chinese, Lebanese, Indian, or Vietnamese.

        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

          Oh sure, we'd be willing to venture up 75. Or even to East Dallas, where we used to live.

          1. re: cdscooks

            Okay well for Lebanese - Afrah
            http://www.afrah.com/ (website may or may not work - it is on and off
            )I have had just about everything on the menu....all of it good. I prefer the salad and dips (mezze) to the kabobs. Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, Tabouli and Fattoush are all wonderful. For a fried delight try out the fried kibbe (seasoned beef stuff in a breading). The grilled items are good but just not what I prefer. Pita is legendary in Dallas and their baklava is the best in Dallas. No one can even come close it. This is actually a mini chain 2 restaurants, one in Beirut and the other in Richardson...talk about lucky!

            Here is a few posts on the Chinese I like in the area:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/555313

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/532832 - Has all of my recs
            Pala is now closed. On that post I mislabeled that maxims and Kirin Court are in Richardson, not Garland. I tend to like Kirin Court better...dim sum is also better at Kirin Court especially on the weekends when it is really busy

            Nam Hua is a very good alternative that I actually like better. The Banh Xeo or tumeric flavored crepe filled with shrimp and bean sprouts is awesome, spicy lemongrass froglegs are good, cream cheese covered mussels, seafood hotpot (a must for 4 people), lotus root salad (as is all the salads), bo luc lac (shaken beef), the pho is popular, just about everything is awesome at Nam Hua.
            http://www.namhua.com/

            I will say though not fancy Kings Noodles (First Chinese BBQ is directly across the street) is excellent. Nothing over $6.75. A steady flow of Chinese nationals and UTD students. Appetizers consist of steamed vegetables, preserved duck egg, bean curd, boiled peanuts (my favorite), tofu and seaweed and cold cucumber (friends favorite) as well as some offal meats. Favorites are the dry noodle dishes (Za Jiang Mein) and the Pork Lo Mein. The noodle soups tend to be bland but can be dressed up at your table if you prefer that.

            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

              L'Hounder, you are awesome. Afrah sounds great. Since we're going to be in Dallas a couple of nights, is there some place in the Uptown area that you do like? (We're thinking at least one hit of Mexican since DC has absolutely zero places that offer real Tex-Mex--or any kind of Mex--food.)

              1. re: cdscooks

                Cafe San Miguel!

                1. re: sass

                  Thanx Sass! I checked their website and the menu looks great.

                2. re: cdscooks

                  Uptown - I would suggest more places along Maple - Avilas would be the best on Maple IMO.

                  http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?...
                  Avilas won best meatless enchiladas - http://www.dallasobserver.com/bestof/...

                  Escondidos just for the gluttonous one in us all on Butler. Limited hours though. Still great tex-mex and it has the hole in the wall appeal. The staff has been there forever and very friendly.

                  http://www.myspace.com/escondidoresta...
                  http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?...

                  Some people like Ojedas but IMO it is overpriced and the food is not that great compared to Avilas. Herreras is also on Maple close to Oak Lawn but has gone down hill since you probably remember it.

                  There are several taquerias that Scott at DallasFood.org has profiled some of which have closed and one burned along Maple, but here those are with some along Jefferson (**eat before you look at the picture bcause they will definitely make you hungry**):

                  http://www.dallasfood.org/modules.php...

                  Several other places are profiled along Jefferson in Oak Cliff which two are standouts to me.
                  El Ranchito is more gringoish but still great dishes and corn tortillas. I love the mollejas or grilled sweetbreads (not gamey, slimey, or sinewey Sp?)). El Ranchito might be a bit loud as there are typically a mariachi group there (they are actually very good if you are into the rancheras and corridos - Vicente Fernandez style). Be sure to ask for the extra two salsas they offer a warm chiptole, a very well balanced and not your typical chipotle heat fest and the salsa fresca or the typical fresh salsa. Skip teh mixed grilled meats with the sausage as it is not chorizo but rather salchicha (Eckrich sausage).
                  http://www.elranchito-dallas.com/

                  La Palapa Veracruzana (Veracruz style seafood) is very good espcially the Huchinango a la Veracruzana (Red Snapper Veracruz style) and the fried plantains as my wife loves them. The place might not be so busy at night but that affords you to sit and enjoy your meal. This restaurant is fairly new I would say less than a year old and we hope it survives in all that competition.
                  http://www.lapalapaveracruzana.com/

                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                    Wow, thanx! Maybe I need to extend this visit by a couple days...or weeks.

                    1. re: cdscooks

                      cdscooks,

                      I am not sure how much time you have before you travel but you could possibly get some coupons from the dfwhalfoff or order a passbook and have it mailed to you before you travel. I would also check out the other half pirce restaurant pages like:

                      http://www.restaurant.com/ - zip code close to your son would be 75219...that is the heart of Uptown

                      http://www.dfwhalfoff.mediawebconnect... - they will mail the coupons to you

                      http://www.entertainment.com/discount... - The Dallas Passbook saves a lot! I am not sure if your have the DC version or not but you possibly could be able to print out the coupons for Dallas if you do or order one for your son! I know there is a Cafe San Miguel, Cafe Madrid (Spanish tapas bar), Afrah, The Alligator Cafe (Cajun - just east of downtown), El Pollo Regio (great for charcoal grill chicken with a good helping of sides just south of Love Field on NW Hwy), Hunkys in Uptown for a burger, Natsumi for frozen Yogurt and Zaguan for Latin American Pastries...not quite as good as La Duni.

                      http://www.cafemadrid-dallas.com/
                      http://www.eatgator.com/
                      http://www.elpolloregio.net/index.html
                      http://www.hunkys.com/
                      http://www.zaguanbakery.com/
                      http://www.natsumiusa.com/

                      Big Fat Coupon - http://www.bigfatcoupon.com/Main.aspx...

                      Hopefully these should help. Especially if you are trying to keep the expenses down on this trip.

                  2. re: cdscooks

                    Escondido's will make you feel like you never left Texas for DC. Great food, a ton of it, and absolutely no fluff.

                    El Fenix is a Dallas landmark and the Downtown location has a great staff and their world famous chips and hot sauce.

                    Either would be a great spot while you are back in town.

        2. Just a curiousity. If your son lives in Uptown, does he not have some preferences of his own?

          Anyway - if you'll be here for a weekend:
          Mattito's Sunday buffet - Cedar Springs @ Routh (I think) see website for price and buffet selection @ http://www.mattitos.com/index.php

          More upscale (dinner only and pricier) is Javier's - not so much Tex-Mex as Mexican gourmet. Might be outside the price-range and not even what you're looking for, but thought I'd put it out there .... Just north of Knox @ McKinney. http://www.javiers.net/

          As with many restaurants, people seem to either love these places or NOT. You can google either of them to see add'l reviews (the good and the bad) and then come to your own conclusion.

          3 Replies
          1. re: CocoaNut

            CocoaNut: Thanks for the suggestions. You're right, I'm sure my son has some preferences--he mentioned he recently went to La Duni and some tiny burger joint where he saw Terrell Owens chowing down as well-- but he hasn't been in the city long and I wanted some suggestions to offer.

            1. re: cdscooks

              Cafe San Miguel would be toward the top of my list for this occasion. Others would be perhaps the places in the Knox/Henderson area, which is very close to Uptown. Some places I would bring my parents to are: Cafe Madrid for Tapas (always a fun meal) Taverna for moderate, good Italian or perhaps Fireside Pies. Fireside is casual but a good inexpensive meal in a fun setting..they have a great porch if the weather holds up! As far as places in Uptown, you could do Taco Diner or Mi Cocina (not my favorite but some others on here like it). Both places are fun but sometimes the crowd in West Village is 'too much'..meaning young single crowd at night...might be better as a place for your son to go with friends. I'm just saying my parents wouldn't love it there just based off the crowd. La Duni is good too but I've never had good service there. That place has been known to put a damper on the mood of our crowd.

              1. re: pizzaQTpie

                What do y'all think of Victor Tango's?