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dallas ft worth: feed me for 5 days please

  • m

hi all. veteran pan-texas vacationer here, but being a big city, which i am trying to escape, i generally avoid the big d. not this time! while my spouse is stuck in irving in work meetings, i'll be footloose and fancy free for chow adventures and i need your assistance.

i lean toward hole in the walls and prefer local specialties, but am wide open. i searched and picked up a few recs, please do comment/add to them:

Mariano's on Skillman & Abrams (home of the first frozen margarita, and very easily the best steak fajitas you will ever eat) -- sounds like a pilgrimage must

Mia's on Lemmon -- the brisket tacos here also sound like a must

Avila's on Maple Avenue?

whats got good house-made corn tortillas? -- Cuquitas?

Fried Green Tomatoes at Hatties?

help w/ viet & banh mi? i cant decide. something near irving maybe? doesnt have to be. Nam Hua?

margaritas? -- glorias? waterside/outdoor seating would be a plus. help!

local/craft beer bars? no idea so thx.

ft worth -- reata brunch sounds good. tex-mex or other?

on the high end, doubt we'll go, but if so is fearings still worth a splurge? something else?

must visit chow-centric neighborhoods/strips?

for convenience, anything worthwhile in irving itself?

i'll have a car most of the time, but anything around a dart station?

and one more semi-off chow question, i cant remember, but downtown is there a building w/ a lounge/observation area up top or any other places you can rec where i can get some good panorama photos?

we'll be there middle of july, so thx again in advance for any and all your help!

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  1. You didn't ask about pizza or subs but I think you should give this place a try. I am from Cleveland OH area and this reminds me of places you can in abundance find back east. This probably close to where you will be.

    NYPD (New York Pizza and Deli)

    304 S Industrial Blvd, Euless, TX 76040

    1. For the observation deck question...I don't recall any and in mid July you have to pray that it is after a rain. The smog combined with the 100+ heat would make for some awful pictures. Most restaurants aren't going to be centered on DART stations....the rail is fairly new and it is just now really catching on. Development trends toward that kind of construction have not hit yet.

      In Irving there are several finds:
      Temptations at Beltline and Walnut Hill (SEC) - they have great Neplaese style dishes namely the Chicken Sekuwa and the Momo. They also have some great Indian dishes also.

      Taj Chaat House at MacArthur and Rochelle (NEC) - Vegetarian only but great dosas! I particularly like the Mysore Masala Dosa. The Pani Puri seems a big hit without the scare of local contaminated water such as in India. The chaat menu is pretty extensive. Whatever you do don't get the terrible "naan" it is like a dry thick tortilla. If you aren't familiar with the names of some of the dishes I look them up and do a bit of researching before I go.

      Garland/Dallas Vietnamese
      The Vietnamese in Irving is decent but I would hold off for a trip to Arlington or Garland. There is more diversity and larger menus in both Arlington and Garland. For Banh Mi I would still recommend La Me as the best....some like chewier bread or the grilled meats. I personally like a crusty bread with pate. Nobody does it better than La Me. For most other dishes I would highly recommend Nam Hua. Seafood Hotpot, Banh Xeo, Lotus Root Salad, Crab Rangoon (trust me), Baked Mussels, and Lemongrass Frog Legs have all been extremely good. Banh Cuon is better served by Banh Cuon Thang Long (just down from Nam Hua inside Saigon Mall) or the more expensive version at Zanders House in Plano (jindomommy's favorite version).

      La Me just remodled so the website is down - they are at the Audelia at Walnut in Dallas on the SWC, tucked away in the corner behind Hong Kong Supermarket and Bistro B.




      Dallas - Mex-Mex on Jefferson
      For Mexican I would say La Palapa Veracruzana on Jefferson (and I don't need a hands down smart remark-just try it). Enmoladas, enfrijoladas, Huchinango ala Veracruzana, Camarones ala Diabla, etc etc. I haven't had a bad dish there. It centers on Veracruz style seafood. El Ranchito would be another must stop for the grilled items....more so than Marianos. Scott from DallasFood.org didn't cover El Ranchito yet but hopefully this will change your mind on going to Tex-Mex. Cue that beautiful Mexican food coverage:







      Another to throw in after gorging yourself on Mexican why not go for more. Paletas Frutitas should be serving most of the fruit bars (paletas) and ice creams (helados) by then. Right now it is gearing up and we still have corn ice cream (helado de elote). I happen to really like the mangonada (if you like chile on your fruits then this one is great) with a dash of Valentina hot sauce on top.


      Plano/Richardson Chinese
      Now I know there are some venerable places in NYC for Chinese. I am not sure what styles you are into but we have about 5 represented here; Sichuan, Shanghainese, Shangdong, Cantonese and Taiwanese. I tend to like spicy food so Sichuan is going to be my natural choice. None of the restaurants have a website.

      Sichuan - Little Sichuan on Legacy and Chase Oaks SEC in Plano. I have had a good majority of the dishes. The whiteboard "off menu" items usually consist of fresh veggies picked from the restaurants two gardens daily. They also have some chef's specialties. I have yet to have one I didn't like. Jean Gao is the lead waitress and usually can accommodate you in your likes dislikes. Some naysayers will say the chili oil is gross but you don't have to eat it all and the white board items have little to no chili oil. Tea Smoked Duck is excellent but you are going to need a few more than two people. The green crystal tofu is a great dish , ma po tofu, beef with konjac, Sichuan water boiled fish, cold cucumbers in a Sichuan dressing, Sichuan pickles, dan dan noodles with minced pork are all very good.

      Cantonese - Kirin Court at Polk and US Hwy 75 (Central Expwy) in Richardson. If you are here on a weekend then definitely go early say 10:30 or 11 am to Kirin Court for the dim sum madness. It is not going to be as good as Hong Kong but it is the best in Dallas. The place can hold probably close to 500 and fills up quickly on dim sum days. The other dishes are the best in the Cantonese style. It would take forever calling them off.

      Cantonese - Kings Noodles - Richardson just down Polk from Kirin Court (Polk and Greenville SEC). Try out the Za Jiang Noodles and the cold cucumbers or the boiled peanuts. The noodles with the two sides might tip the scale at say $10 but you won't be hungry! My wife and I share the noodles and two sides and we are pleasantly filled.

      Some others can chime in about Yao Fuzi. It is the Shanghainese place. I think it is a bit pricey. You can however get a coupon by ordering a Entertainment Passbook.

      Thai - Jasmine Thai - Plano on Spring Creek at Custer SEC it is off in the corner. This place has the most authentic Thai food Dallas has to offer. The owner is Muslim so there is no pork. Yes it can get spicy but I like it. None of the items are on the regular menu....they have a Thai menu but to save thai in finding a translator here are the dishes. The crispy water spinach with a dressing was a hit when I took some friends (make sure you ask for the dressing sometimes they forget it). Yum Nuea Salad or the Tom Yum salads are great. If you bring your wife you can split the grilled jumbo prawns...they are jumbo! The turmeric coconut shoot soup is a fermented fishy soup with catfish (not all that offensive).....very authentic flavors but very good (owners favorite). The Tom Kha soup on the Thai menu is different than the soup on the regular menu...I think more seafood. The Thai Herbal Chicken is an interesting dish off the regular menu. Also if you want the hottest dish in the metroplex ask for the Jungle Curry Thai Hot.


      1 Reply
      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        I think what he's talking about is the Reunion Tower's observation deck, and it's currently going through some renovations, which should be done by July. Otherwise, go up to 560 and grab some drinks at the bar. They do have a business casual dress code.

        OP, if you venture out to Arlington, you should stop by Potager. The owner strives to ensure every ingredient stays as local as possible.

        As far as chow-centric neighborhoods, the highest concentration of good restaurants IMO would be either in Oak Cliff or Richardson (specifically around Belt Line or Arapaho, just east of 75). Plenty of excellent choices in both these areas.

        Craft beer: my personal hangout is the Fillmore, but you'd probably much rather have a place with lots of options so I suggest either the Saucer or Gingerman.
        Flying Saucer in Addison or Fort Worth: hands down best tap selection in town. Monday night is their $2.75 pint night.
        Ginger Man in Uptown or Fort Worth: also good selection. I don't really like going here mostly because it can be difficult to find parking.

        There's also the Rahr brewery tour on saturday mornings if you want to pencil that into your schedule.

        My favorite Texas breweries are Live Oak and St. Arnold's. I strongly recommend having a pint of Live Oak Hefeweizen while you're in town, you'll be hard pressed to find that stuff outside of Texas and I honestly think it's better than most German wheat beers. And if you go to the G-man, they will usually have a St. Arnold's cask conditioned draft.

      2. Two simple words: OAK CLIFF! It's a hotbed of undiscovered, "hole in the wall" food joints. One of the best? "La Palapa Veracruzana" on Jefferson Avenue. But, there are so many more. Try checking other posts on Chowhound regarding Oak Cliff. Another very good forum source for Oak Cliff and Dallas restaurants would be, www.dallasfood.org

        1. Speaking of Chinese, don't forget, "First Chinese BBQ" on Polk Street at Greenville Avenue. IMHO, the best "hole in the wall" Cantonese Chinese around.

          1 Reply
          1. re: twinwillow

            So I forgot a few.....geez I had to let someone else type a few!

            I guess I could add in South Dallas Cafe, Wingfields, Elaines, Potager, Afrah, Umeko, Taste of the Islands, To Dam Gol, Inca's Cafe, Afgahn Grill, Jimmy's, Escondido, Aligator Cafe, Big Easy, Antones and Seabreeze.

            On the Afghan Grill and Inca's Cafe since I have gone there in the past 2 weeks. The sea bass ceviche at Inca's Cafe is darn near perfect. Afghan Grill two dishes Aush (soup) and the Kadu Buranee (stewed pumpkin) is all you need.

            Those are some hole in the walls or really great places!

          2. there's not really chow-centric strips because of the spread out nature of dallas. the closest are probably jefferson down in oak cliff (ie la palapa veracruzana, lito's, and el ranchito) and walnut and jupiter in garland (vietnamese). if you'll be here on the weekend you could check out dallas farmer's market saturday morning. i guess it's also open during the week, never been able to see it then. in ft worth try to find some bbq, also you may want to check out rahr's brewery, it's the only craft brew around (that i know of anyway). for viet, either nam hua or zander's for entrees, la me for banh mi, bun bo hue, bun cha hanoi, and pho bang for pho. hattie's is somewhat of an institution look for a good chicken fried steak too, maybe at cowboy chow in deep ellum. also try to hit up some cajun, crawfish season will probably be past by that point but there should still be some good eats. i've always found pappadeux to be ok, although my favorite is the big easy in plano. imo dodie's sucks.

            for a little more spendy, stephen pyles and fearing's should be pretty good examples of southwestern food with a bit of texas style too. york st. is another great place for southwestern food, in a little more sedate setting. the chef there has been nominated for the southwest james beard award like 6 years in a row. and drinks at 560 might be a good way to get a panoramic view of the city, although i haven't been up there.

            1. I would definitely stop by Love Shack in Fort Worth. Its Tim Love's take on a burger and beer joint and he does it incredibly well. The burgers are fantastic and the beer is cold. There is no indoor seating so in the middle of July, might be a litlte hot, but they do have fans and misters. Sit upstairs and look out over the Stockyards...great people watching!

              1. Eno's in bishop arts has a great selection of craft beers on tap. They also have pretty good pizzas and delicious salads, so I'd recommend a visit. I'm not sure what's on tap now, but where ever you go (in addition to air's excellent suggestions) keep an eye out for Franconia beers - their brewery is in McKinney (I've never been, so I don't know if it's worth a visit). All are good, but I've had (and enjoyed) the Wheat most frequently.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gavlist

                  Although Franconia's brewery tour isn't as impressive as Rahr's or St. Arnold's, they're still a very young brewery and fortunately, have gotten lots of support from local bars/pubs. The product that this brewery puts out is much better than the stuff they had at Two Rows.

                  When I had visited the brewery, my group had to set up an appointment with the brewmaster, Dennis. I've heard that they now have regular tours on saturdays at 11 AM with $5 entry. I think OP had mentioned already being in Fort Worth, so a trip to Rahr could easily be added in... unless you really feel like trekking to Mckinney :)

                2. If you get to Ft. Worth and the temps aren't absolutely scorching, a visit to the stockyards for walk around and grabbing a delicious burger at Love Shack (get an order of french fries), should be a don't miss.

                  On the south side of downtown FW, there are a number of eateries on Magnolia, my favorite being Nonna Tata for exceptional Italian where many of the pastas are handmade. Only problem is that the hours are limited to lunch and dinner, Tue - Fri. and they are closed between 3:30 and 5 - cash or check only, BYOB. And get there early as there will likely be a line - you asked for hole in the wall.... this is it. A tiny free-standing building with only 5 or 6 tables with a few more outside. But the food is definitely worth the inconveniences.

                  If you do happen to make it to Rahr Brewery in FW, also on Magnolia is Paris Coffee Shop. I would recommend stopping in there for a hearty breakfast prior to indulging in the brews. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&s...

                  Also in FW, I've heard good things about Paco and Johns. A newish Mexican food place that is think is only open for lunch. I have to say though, I haven't been, but it's at 8th Ave and Rosedale.

                  1. I thought I posted, but don't see it below...

                    Burgers- you want hole in the wall...Wingfield's. My favorite burger, but there's no sitting area and it's kind of in what some may call a "sketchy" area. If you are in FW, Love Shack and Kinkaid's are supposed to be pretty good.

                    Mexican- Cuquita's moved and they are now on Kiest and Hampton. For great corn tortillas, I'd go to El Ranchito as they have better overall dishes. Jefferson is loaded with cool stuff, including the theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested. Lots of grocery stores where you can walk in and buy really interesting snacks like sweetbreads. Although not close to Jefferson, Mia's brisket tacos are great. People love them.

                    Middle Eastern- Richardson has a little ME area. One of my favorite restaurants is a Lebanese place called Afrah. Amazing chicken tawook and hole in the wall baklava. Kirin Court (Chinese) is close by.

                    Random- my dad loves two places at Snider Plaza by SMU. Bubba's Fried Chicken and Kuby's Sausage House (open for lunch and dinners on Fri., Sat).

                    And as Hounder pointed out, I love Zander's buon cuon. I used to like La Me, but have not been since the new owners took over the restaurant.

                    And while I have had much better frozen custard than Harry's, it's a fun scene to watch sticky neighborhood kids eat the stuff. Harry's has been around forever and it's just a happy place to be. I know...corny.

                    Nana has an AMAZING view of Dallas. You can go to the bar where they play jazz music that you can dance to or you can have dinner in the dining room. The scallops are amazing, but if you are willing to splurge, I love the tasting menu. In the past, the service has been horrid, but the food is great.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jindomommy

                      I really enjoy Cafe Izmir on Greenville Avenue. Its small, quaint and delicious. it is family operated, and often you will see the mother in the kitchen happily cranking the best hummus in town. The best way to order, IMHO, is to order a veggie and a meat ridden mezzo plate. This will have everything you could possibly want. the wine selection is nice and there are some nice Spanish wines I have enjoyed there (also partial to the Coppola Claret, but I have been to the vineyard). The bar is tiny, well the whole place is tiny. Very cozy and great for people watching.

                      Friday is Date Night and they have dinner for two and a bottle of wine for 50 bucks. There are other special nights, so consult the web site below. You will enjoy!


                      1. re: DallasDude

                        Cafe Izmir rocks - they have the best hummus in the city!

                    2. It's absolutely, mind boggling at the amount of bona fide "hole in the wall" food joints we enjoy in Dallas and Oak Cliff.
                      The myriad of ethnic cultures that have moved to Dallas over the last 10 years have produced a, rich rainbow of delicious foods for our enjoyment.
                      I'm proud to live here and I encourage everyone to seek out these ethnic jewels and support them all you can. As often as you can.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: twinwillow

                        I am with you on that one twinwillow. The diversity does make me proud but no taco trucks like Houston, no BBQ joints worthwhile and not enough local farmer support like Austin. I could always wish for more but then again we are much better along than say Lubbock. We do need to support La Palapa more b/c I heard a rumor they might be closing by the end of the summer if not sooner.

                        As far as Jindomommy's rec of Kuby's I highly recommend just getting some brats or weiners to go, the landjaeger is good too. The sides that round out most plates are pretty pathetic (much better at Jorg's in Plano-Austrian). The weiners are a good buy and most of the brats would be good if you could get them on your way out frozen. I never have cared for Bubba's since it is basically Babe's.

                      2. jindomommy recommended Bubba's fried chicken across from SMU. I second that and will add - Owned by "parent" restaurant Babe's Chicken Dinner House, you should definintely make plans for a meal at any one of their restaurnats (though I'm partial to Roanoke) for a truly superb display and flavor of southern comfort foods - fried chicken at its best, mashed potatoes (though instant -boo-hiss) and gravy, creamed (off the cob) corn and depending on the location chosen, perhaps an couple of other sides, roll/biscuit choices and dessert. The salad with a sweet vinegarette is quite unique as well. BYOB if you're so inclined.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CocoaNut

                          I think Roanoke is still by far the best Babe's location. Southern Living named Bubba's or Babe's one of the top fried chicken places in the country. I can eat those yeast rolls for days and a huge plate of food is around $6. I don't think the Kuby's sides are spectacular, but it's a cool place to sit and have dinner. For the money, I think the osso bucco is pretty good. The sausages are really tasty. The polka player is neat and I love the neighborhood feel of the place. I like restaurants where generations of families keep going back to eat because it has become tradition.

                        2. wow thx for all this wonderful help and inspiration. the websites and everything are ringing all my chow bells. i am way more fired up now for the visit and will be sure to report back.

                          one more thing i didn't pick up yet were margarita suggestions? is dallas even as big on these as se texas is? i thought it important as i do realize its gonna be hellish hot. heh. any good ones? in deep ellum maybe? i'd rather avoid the suggestions i saw on this top ten list that that i already know well and that can also be found outside of dallas (ie., matts, chuys):


                          anyways -- thx again for all your chow help and tips & please do feel free to keep it coming!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mrnyc

                            many, probably the vast majority of place which serve margarita's in dallas, use a premade mix or a bunch of sugar/syrup. this is not a margarita. there are a few places that make them the way they're supposed to be: reposada tequila, cointreau/triple sec, and lime juice. Monica's Aca y Alla has one on the menu (Frankie's). i'm not really sure where else to get them, unless you're willing to head out to Agave Azul in Carrolton. as for frozen, it doesn't really matter, they're all the same syrupy dreck regardless where you go.

                            1. re: mrnyc

                              I'm allergic to alcohol, but am told that the Gloria's mix is perfection. The Oak Cliff Dweller Magazine ran an article last year about the best margaritas in our neighborhood. Gloria's came in first (food is just okay) and Beckley Brewhouse came in (I think) second. I would just go to Gloria's have some free bean dip and chips and drink some margaritas. Weekdays, they run a happy hour special on the margaritas. My husband also likes Monica's. I believe Tuesday is half price off most entree items and Wednesday is half price margaritas. If you go there, the Mexican lasagna is a steal at half price.