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Dallas Observer's 10 most overrated Dallas restaurants

air Jun 15, 2009 09:01 AM

What are your thoughts?

Mi Cocina is dead on target, they deserve it. Nothing but sub par food for above average cost. And the point they make about Twisted Root is valid. I like their burgers, sure, but they're not good enough to warrant national TV coverage.

I used to enjoy their food blog because of the craft beer coverage, but they lost a lot of credibility after I saw their rave review on Sonny Bryan's. I was totally astonished and think their sad excuse for 'cue should have earned them a spot, but that isn't gonna happen, not after publishing such a review.

  1. t
    Texzilla Jul 5, 2009 10:16 PM

    I hate Mi Cocina. I work in an office of folks enamored with it, and unfotunately I am forced to eat too many business lunches there. In many ways I find restaurants like this far more insidious than a blatant corporate chain like On the Border. I can eat real Tex Mex three times a day, grew up on the real stuff and then spent too many years out of state away from it.
    My problem with Mi Cocina starts with the haughty service, and is not helped by the placement of the dainty little silver bowl of chips, which needs to be filled constantly. the $22 tacos, the lack of descriptions that force you to be in the know, and the always everpresent awful service, like they're a cool place to be. Sorry, it's Mexican food; I can get a Patio dinner in the freezer section. Recently I made the dubious choice to try their huevos, since I was tired of everything else. I sent the thing back three times because they couldn;t make an over-easy fried egg. First was hard cooked for days, the second was practically raw (white still a bit clear), the third was over nearly hard, so I shut upo and just didn;lt eat it. Never an apology from a amanager. F them.
    Dont get me started on the Taco Diner... all the same bad attitude, manufactured coolness, and mediocre overpriced food...just consolodated into a smaller package. F them too.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Texzilla
      DallasDude Jul 5, 2009 10:25 PM

      It's all the MCrowd. I do the corporate lunches with clients and such as well, and I know we will end up at a chain of some sort almost all the time (unless it is my choice). So the best way to deal with these places is to find that one item, and even try to make a dish up using what ingredients you know they have.

      And, btw, love an enchilada with the fried egg on top. But you are right, needs to be medium and oozy.

      1. re: DallasDude
        twinwillow Jul 5, 2009 10:37 PM

        I have yet to eat at an "M Group" restaurant worthy of a return visit.

        1. re: twinwillow
          pinotho Jul 6, 2009 11:28 AM

          totally agree wih you Twin.......

          1. re: pinotho
            J.R. Jul 6, 2009 02:05 PM

            My 2cents. Hate MiCocina. Don't mind Diner. I only go to the Preston Center location, but I like the Mas Elegantes Nachos, chips and 2 salsas, griddled suizas. Fish taco's are ok for Dallas. The come with the requisite cilantro, onion, and grilled Japs. Did I say I hate MiConcina?

            1. re: J.R.
              air Jul 7, 2009 09:21 AM

              Interesting, didn't know there was more than one Taco Diner. I always drive past the one in Las Colinas but never gave it a second glance. Ownership by the M Group makes sense especially why it looked way too nice for .. a "taco diner".

      2. re: Texzilla
        Scagnetti Jul 7, 2009 09:28 AM

        Love me some Mi Cocina bashing!

        My ex dragged me there so many times there was nothing left on the menu that I hadn't tried at least three times.

        1. re: Scagnetti
          J.R. Jul 7, 2009 01:21 PM

          Unfortunately, I've got to go there tonight with a group. I loathe the place. Particularly the HP Village location where I'm going. I personafies everthing I don't like about the place.

      3. DallasDude Jun 23, 2009 02:15 PM

        To be perfectly honest I feel discussing overrated restaurants is anti-manifesto.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DallasDude
          pinotho Jun 23, 2009 03:14 PM

          sorry to be dense, what does "anti-manifesto" mean? Thanks.

        2. d
          dfwdean Jun 20, 2009 06:50 AM

          Not sure I can stop at ten....
          Wild About Harry's
          Sonny Bryan's
          Mi Cocina
          Old Warsaw
          Original Pancake House
          Uncle Julio's
          All chaine sandwich places
          Fireside Pies

          OK, I'll stop, getting depressed... .

          23 Replies
          1. re: dfwdean
            air Jun 20, 2009 07:31 AM

            Oh man, I forgot about iFratelli, that's a good one. I had banished it from my mind as any thought of their awful pizzas makes me shudder.

            1. re: dfwdean
              lawofmurphy Jun 20, 2009 10:41 AM

              I'm wondering what you find overrated about Eatzi's. I'm not saying I disagree completely...I haven't really been impressed with their prepared section. But I think they have the best sandwiches in town....the best bread I've had in Dallas...

              Again...is it something in particular you find overrated or just everything?

              1. re: lawofmurphy
                DallasDude Jun 20, 2009 02:05 PM

                I like to think I have good taste, but I really like Herrera's. Grew up on it, so maybe its sentimental taste buds. Same true with Javiers. My family has gone there since the inception. Also adore Eatzis, great sandwich bar. And I

                I also love Old Warsaw. So maybe its my ilk keeping these places open. You don't like chain sandwiches? What about Great Outdoors?

                I could so do without Mi Concina and Sonny Bryans.

                1. re: lawofmurphy
                  dfwdean Jun 27, 2009 04:27 PM

                  Sandwiches are good: but that is a very small part of this vast food destination.

                  1. re: dfwdean
                    lawofmurphy Jun 28, 2009 01:48 PM

                    Yes...sandwiches and salads are very good. The bread is the best I've had in the city.

                    My question was what made them overrated to you? Is it something specific?

                2. re: dfwdean
                  twinwillow Jun 20, 2009 08:48 PM

                  Ok, I'll agree with all on this list EXCEPT, The Original House Of Pancakes. Their pancakes, egg dishes, pork sausage links, coffee and servers, are all first rate. And, the place is, spotlessly clean!

                  1. re: dfwdean
                    joanna.mcmaster Jun 22, 2009 10:03 AM

                    I have to completely disagree with Javier's! Their fillet is something I would consider for my last meal, along with their margarita. I have been going to Old Warsaw since a little girl, I am almost personally hurt by that one. I have never had a bad experience at herrera's, either. The Original Pancake House has never failed to cure a hangover, wonderful food. Just my humble opinion.

                    1. re: joanna.mcmaster
                      luniz Jun 22, 2009 12:57 PM

                      imo Poor Richard's in Plano beats the ever living tar out of the Original Pancake House.

                      1. re: luniz
                        twinwillow Jun 22, 2009 01:15 PM

                        Ya, but there isn't a "Poor Richard's" in my neighborhood. Besides, I LIKE, OHOP!

                        1. re: twinwillow
                          joanna.mcmaster Jun 22, 2009 01:21 PM

                          Me too, twin : )

                          1. re: joanna.mcmaster
                            DallasDude Jun 22, 2009 03:09 PM

                            Ahh culinary allies, a tasty prospect! We also must remember that Javier was grandfathered with this no smoking ban. They are allowing all old cigar bars to remain in operation, and Javier has a fine example of such in the back of his labyrinth.

                            I think we need to hold dear what is personally wonderful about our city, and sometimes we need to respect the Les Grognards, for they are the ones that brought us.

                            And I think the Observer is over rated.

                            1. re: DallasDude
                              joanna.mcmaster Jun 22, 2009 03:21 PM

                              The overly large list above sounded like the rantings of a disgruntled Dallas-hater. Many of them mentioned are bad, and i would agree with a handful of them. But, for a lifelong Dallas girl, you mentioned some of the culinary institutions that founded the food scene here, places that are very near and dear to the hearts of true Dallas-ites. Rant over...feell much better now LOL

                              1. re: joanna.mcmaster
                                uninvited guest Jun 23, 2009 08:31 AM

                                What about Steel.... most overatted, over-priced crap.
                                Also, not bad, but some people rave about this cardboard like pizza....Campizis. Really?

                                1. re: uninvited guest
                                  DallasDude Jun 23, 2009 10:53 AM

                                  Campisi's? Delightful and obviously you have never tried this delightful rendition of the pizza if you are calling it cardboard. That would be Louie's, I cannot call it a cracker crust, more like a sea biscuit or hard tack. And served extra side of curmudgeon.

                                  However, Campisi's is a moist crust unlike almost every pizza in town.

                                  1. re: DallasDude
                                    joanna.mcmaster Jun 23, 2009 11:04 AM

                                    Not to mention the history of the place, you can't really ditch on Campisi's. I will say, however, that the little spin-off places in the burbs are not as consistent as the Egyptian Lounge. Love the Randy White Ravioli, a big thing for me is the marinara sauce at an Italian restaurant, much like pizza crust. Bad crust or sauce, i wont be back. Campisi's has always shined brightly in both aspects, and has done so for generations. Don't dog on Dallas history. It's like Javier's and Old Warsaw, I feel like you are insulting family members. LOL, you might as well tell a true Dallasite their babies are ugly.

                                    1. re: joanna.mcmaster
                                      sike101 Jun 23, 2009 02:38 PM

                                      I couldn't agree more. It may not suite one's taste (primarily a subjective measure), but it is an institution and when you grew up on it, it tastes pretty good. I've never thought Grey's Papaya or In-and-Out burgers were all that special, but people love them. Besides, there isn't another pizza like it in town, that I know of.

                                      BTW: most over-rated in this city: York Street

                                      1. re: joanna.mcmaster
                                        J.R. Jun 24, 2009 08:02 AM

                                        I hear you, but I'm a Dallas (city) lifer and I gotta say, I can't stand Javs. I think it is the most over-hyped joint in town. I do not like the service (they are always rushing to turn tables). If I'm going to spend $100 for Mex, I don't want to be rushed. Now, I do understand the good ole day syndrome as I have it with another of the list members, (Primos). Love that place, but would never, ever, step foot on the "new porch" where it looks as cheezy as the queso.

                                        1. re: J.R.
                                          DallasDude Jun 24, 2009 08:08 AM

                                          Javiers never rushes, and it is not TexMex. What did you order when you were there? Are we talking about the same place? I must admit, the one and only time I had a problem there I said something to Javier on the spot and he comped the meal, 100 dollars worth of drinks we had before hand and all.

                                          1. re: DallasDude
                                            J.R. Jun 24, 2009 08:23 AM

                                            If you notice I didn't say Tex-Mex, I said Mex.. I know they say it is Cuidad Mexico cuisine, but some would differ with that assertion. I've probably been 30 or 40 times over the years and I think I've had the entire menu with the Pepper steak being the best. The rest IMO, is just ok. We always feel rushed. Margs aren't that good and way to pricey. i've spent alot of time on business in Mexico and eaten my way through it and I just don't find Jav's terrible authentic either. Where are the salsas? I don't mean instead of the butter and Tomatillos on the table. I mean with the food. I just dont' get it.

                                            1. re: DallasDude
                                              joanna.mcmaster Jun 24, 2009 08:24 AM

                                              I have found Javier to always be accommodating as well. We go there very regularly. We recently went there for a birthday with a party of 25, we could not have been treated better.

                                              1. re: joanna.mcmaster
                                                twinwillow Jun 28, 2009 08:58 AM

                                                Javier's, is an excellent, well run restaurant with terrific food! But, don't just take my word for it. Ask the thousands of people who've enjoyed there're dining experience during the many, many years they've been open. Anytime I've been to Javier's, even in the middle of the week, the place is, packed! Javier is probably one of the very best restaurateur's in this city. And, he is there every night to make sure every patron is well cared for.

                                      2. re: uninvited guest
                                        dfwdean Jun 27, 2009 04:28 PM

                                        I forgot about Steel, that's all LOL

                                      3. re: joanna.mcmaster
                                        dfwdean Jun 27, 2009 04:25 PM

                                        Not a Dallas Hater at all, my list of good places is very long and I will share if a thread is ever started. If you grew up eating at these places, you like it for reasons other than the food. That's OK, for you and those like you. I have those types of places in my heart too, but I actually know better than to force them on anyone outside my immediate family LOL

                          2. twinwillow Jun 16, 2009 04:33 PM

                            My biggest complaint about Twisted Root is, they OVERCOOK their burgers. Rendering them, DRY & Tasteless!
                            Ask for medium rare and you get, well done! No more T.R. for me. And, I was one of their biggest boosters when they first opened. Jason, are you reading this? Get back to your (pun intended) roots!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: twinwillow
                              CocoaNut Jun 17, 2009 05:30 AM

                              Yes! That was my thought. I ordered the Buffalo burger med-rare ( I usually order burgers med ). When it arrived, there was no pink to be seen and it was near crumbly. I thought it may be attributed to the lean nature of buffalo, but maybe not? My other complaint was that there was such a miniscule amount of tasteless blue-cheese, it was a waste to order it. But that ketchup is wonderment in a squeeze bottle!

                              1. re: twinwillow
                                Scagnetti Jun 17, 2009 07:19 AM

                                Do you think it might have to do with health regulations associated with Improperly cooked ground beef?

                                I don't like eating hockey pucks either.

                                1. re: Scagnetti
                                  J.R. Jun 17, 2009 07:24 AM

                                  When I saw TR on DDD, I noticed that they said they put bread crumbs in their burger mix. I've got to think that has something to do with dryness. They said it was for moisture, but I don't know how that could be.

                              2. c
                                CocoaNut Jun 16, 2009 12:28 PM

                                Breadwinner's was excellent, at its inception on McKinney some 2/3 decades ago. But as all good things go, expansion, followed by degradation of quality is inevitable.

                                Matt's is another decades long-standing icon. I never did get the appeal of the food or the accolades bestowed upon the Bob Armstrong dip. I love the Lakewood area though
                                - and Curiosities.

                                I went to TR for the first time a few months ago. The chipotle ketchup was outstanding. As to the rest of the establishments - some I've been to and some not, but I do agree with the "common denominator" theory. They're playing to the masses and will die away as the masses migrate to newer and greener pastures.

                                1. LewisvilleHounder Jun 15, 2009 09:27 PM

                                  Sure a lot of Uptown/Knox-Henderson places on that list. Lets be generous and say 80% on the list in those neighborhoods, quite amazing!

                                  No wonder I don't enjoy that scene. I could definitely add a few more but don't want to get into it. I will keep "outside" the loop and to the ethnic foods.

                                  I wonder if Faries will take some slack on that report. So far it doesn't look like that is the case. I commend him for the report but even after all of the harsh criticism from just about all of the critics lately nothing seems to be happening.

                                  1. Scagnetti Jun 15, 2009 03:15 PM

                                    1. Mi Cocina
                                    2. Primo's
                                    3. Any of Alberto Lombardi's Restaurants
                                    4. Café Pacific
                                    5. Breadwinners
                                    6. Fireside Pies
                                    7. Matt's Rancho Martinez
                                    8. Mercury
                                    9. Twisted Root
                                    10. Nick & Sam’s Grill

                                    Couldn't agree more about Mi Cocina.
                                    Primo's has never been known for its food.
                                    Breadwinners is overpriced.
                                    I disagree with Fireside Pies, I like it.
                                    Matt's. Sorry, never got why this place was so popular.
                                    Twisted Root is good but it's not slipped into the overrated category. Yet.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: Scagnetti
                                      michaela0416 Jun 15, 2009 03:34 PM

                                      Thanks, Scagnetti.

                                      1. re: Scagnetti
                                        twinwillow Jun 15, 2009 09:41 PM

                                        I agree with all on this list and on this page. However, reference: #3 above. I like Taverna. It's, Alberto's best restaurant in Dallas. You can keep all the others.

                                        1. re: twinwillow
                                          irodguy Jun 17, 2009 01:36 PM

                                          I agree 100% on Taverna. It's one of the closer to real Italian restaurants in town.

                                        2. re: Scagnetti
                                          simply_victoria Jun 16, 2009 08:15 AM

                                          Couldn't agree more with this list.

                                          Mi Cocina. I go for work happy hours and eat the guacamole, but I never choose it when given a choice.

                                          AND, I know others love it, but I went to Twisted Root once for a burger and have yet to go back. It was only ok.

                                          1. re: Scagnetti
                                            jindomommy Jun 16, 2009 10:13 AM

                                            Here's the thing about the above listed places. And this is just my own opinion...they are what I call the "greatest common denominator" formula restaurants. The food is pretty dumbed down for the general public. Not as bad as Cheesecake Factory, but with the same concept. They are places you can take a random group of people and everyone will be able to find something that is not completely offensive. So for me, they serve a purpose. I can't tell you how many times I've taken friends to my favs like Afrah, La Me, El Ranchito, Cheetinaad Palace, etc. and they just don't get it. Like Chinese...they don't want to try something new. They want chicken fried rice. It's frustrating, so a Mi Cocina fits the bill for dinner with those kinds of friends. And while these places are pretty generic, you know what you are getting. I'm willing to bet 90% of the population would be happy with these restaurants. I'm totally fine going there with friends, but I don't crave these restaurants (except Breadwinners...I like breakfast because I am a carb/sugar lover). So, unless someone says, "I want authentic Mexican," I don't know that I would send them over to Jefferson as opposed to Mi Cocina. Most of my friends would want Mi Cocina.

                                            BTW- I would have put Steel on the list. Also, isn't Cafe Pacific one of D Magazine "Best" for seafood? Ouch....

                                            1. re: jindomommy
                                              Scagnetti Jun 16, 2009 10:53 AM

                                              But 90% of ALL restaurants fit in the "greatest common denominator" category because no matter what you think, financial survivor is still the driving force of any restaurant. Unless you're an Afrah, La Me, etc., a restaurant needs to have broad appeal or they will most likely struggle.

                                              To me overrated means the experience didn't justify the buzz. It's one of the reasons why I don't go to movies that've been over hyped.

                                              1. re: jindomommy
                                                luniz Jun 16, 2009 11:58 AM

                                                that's the point of the list. Those are places indiscriminate people love. They are the ones overrating.

                                                You need cooler friends. ;)

                                                1. re: jindomommy
                                                  DallasDude Jun 16, 2009 12:53 PM

                                                  @ jindomommy: I have known D magazine to be a shill for the highest bidder for quite some time. Not sure anyone takes the rag serious, besides the ones that pay to be seen in it. This certainly would apply to everything from restaurants to attorneys. Good call...

                                                  1. re: DallasDude
                                                    jindomommy Jun 16, 2009 02:50 PM

                                                    See...I interpreted it to mean places that are overrated by the likes of D Magazine. Most of those places are literally listed on the D Best list.

                                                    "Cooler friends"...LOL.

                                              2. michaela0416 Jun 15, 2009 02:56 PM

                                                I still can't access the list. I know it says they fixed it, but it still ain't workin for me! Can someone post the list or a link that works? Muchas gracias!

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: michaela0416
                                                  luniz Jun 15, 2009 03:03 PM

                                                  try clearing your cache.

                                                  1. re: luniz
                                                    michaela0416 Jun 15, 2009 03:31 PM

                                                    Thanks. Turns out I just couldn't see the links for the tab nos. above the photos. Not sure why the font color was so faint!

                                                    1. re: michaela0416
                                                      iluvtennis Jun 15, 2009 04:59 PM

                                                      I did the same thing. I saw that someone posted it had been fixed, and i was not seeing any difference! Then i realized the tabs were barely visible.

                                                      1. re: iluvtennis
                                                        michaela0416 Jun 16, 2009 07:31 AM

                                                        Glad I wasn't the only one!

                                                2. j
                                                  J.R. Jun 15, 2009 01:25 PM

                                                  Here is my take:
                                                  Mi Cocina - The nailed it. Went to HP Village last week cuz I had to and it is not good.
                                                  Cafe Pacific - Went there a couple weeks ago and it was not good. I tend to agree with this on, but I must say I do like that atmosphere
                                                  Matts- Never was the same when he left Ferguson.'s-
                                                  Fireside Pies - meh
                                                  Primo - Disagree. It may be good ole day syndrome (sitting on the patio way before the expansion), but I like the margs, spinach enchiladas, Suiza, chips and salsa.
                                                  Don't have much of an opinon on the rest.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: J.R.
                                                    wompa164 Jun 27, 2009 11:39 PM

                                                    I'll second Fireside Pies. I went there with a friend when they first opened and I was just NOT impressed AT ALL.

                                                  2. d
                                                    demigodh Jun 15, 2009 11:11 AM

                                                    Mi Cocina would have been #1 on my list as well.

                                                    1. l
                                                      luniz Jun 15, 2009 11:00 AM

                                                      you have to keep in mind who was raving about Sonny Bryan's. It's not BBQ aficionados, but rather everyday Joe's who are perfectly happy with average grocery store buns and meat doused in sauce.

                                                      I thought Snuffer's belonged on the list. The cheese fries are pathetic and the burgers are mediocre. I haven't actually been to most of those places, I don't know that I think Mercury is overrated.

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