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Feb 3, 2010 06:58 AM

Good Eats Near the Fairmont Hotel

Hi All,

I will be in Dallas towards the end of the month for 4 days for a conference. We will be staying at the Fairmont Hotel (1717 North Akard St) and the conference will be there as well.

A number of my colleagues and I are always in search for some good eats. We are open to all types of cuisine, but coming from DC we would all appreciate something that particularly has a Texas taste to it. Walking distance would be great, although we would also be willing to take a short cab ride if need be.

Lunch and dinner spots is probably what we need. Affordable in price---nothing too expensive, cheap eats and moderately priced are all good. Also if there is a fun bar nearby, please let me know.

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  1. Any thoughts on Sonny Bryan's for BBQ or Capisi's for pizza??

    4 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      You will have to leave downtown and drive at least half an hour to get decent 'cue. Sonny Bryan's is substandard.

      Lunch: Dakota's is half a block away. The Zodiac Room is outstanding for lunch but it may be too far of a walk. If you're willing to travel that far also consider Charlie Palmer at the Joule.
      Dinner: Stephan Pyles or Samar are both very closeby, I want to say they're within less than a block away. Run a search on Samar and you'll find *plenty* of discussion and recs on what to get.

      The Fairmont has easy access (about 2 blocks) to the DART light rail, head to Deep Ellum and you can pick from: Local, Cowboy Chow, Twisted Root, and Angry Dog.

      The trolley to Uptown is also close to the hotel, and that opens up even more choices. Including two pizza places, both much better than Campisi's: Coal Vines and Campania

      Additional CH trolley/Mckinney area discussion:

      DART map, includes trolley

      1. re: air

        oo. Urbano Cafe is open for lunch some days and dinner. Very cool, and a place you will discuss for a long time to come. BYOB makes it even more interesting since you can all decide on some nice wines in a range that suits your party.

        Urbano is within a short cab ride in a funky party of Dallas. The grocery next to Urbano is an amazing Italian market, and most of us here are fans (Jimmy's Food Store). On the other side you will find an even funkier green grocer that carries some amazing mushrooms and other items.

        Salavating as I write. I have been hungry all day, thus the many posts here. Stuck waiting for clients to see me.

        1. re: DallasDude

          Thanks...I'll check out all these recommendations. We certainly will not have time to drive a 1/2 hour our town for dinner so I guess that's out of the question. Would love to get some decent BBQ but perhaps that's not in the cards.

      2. re: Elyssa

        Elyssa: I think you will be greatly disappointed by Campisi's pizza. It's not bad, just very ordinary. You can do much better, and some of those better places are near the Fairmont. Use the search engine for pizza in the Uptown area, or McKinney Ave area.
        I f you go to the Inwood Road location of Sonny's, you might get some good BBQ, but it is hit or miss since Sonny passed away. The Inwood Road location is the original location, and you should take your chances there, but not at any of the other locations.
        There are tons of places around the Fairmont, and I am sure the Hounders will log on and fill you in about them. Enjoy your trip to Dallas.

      3. The original comment has been removed
        1. Eat at the bar or community table at Stephen Pyles--a very short walk from your hotel.

          9 Replies
          1. re: bhoward

            I would love to be able to check out Stephan Pyle's restaurant. I've read many articles about his cooking. Perhaps something off of the mezze/tapas menu would be more fitting since I'm working on a budget. Probably can talk my more foodie coworker into coming with me.

            Anything in particular you would recommend? The mascarpone, fig and serrano flatbread, the Papas con Huevos Estrellados y Foie Gras, and the various ceviches all sound outstanding.

            1. re: Elyssa

              They are. But if on a budget, you might try Pyles other restaurant a few city blocks from this flagship. Samar is all small plates from various regions of the planet, and has a wide range of truly wonderful dishes. WIthout a doubt one of the happiest places to find me in this city.

              I told Pyles last week I was beginning to be a fanboy and he would get no more recommendations from me. I already slipped.

              At Pyles, as far as the mezza, I have enjoyed the hummus that features mushrooms and goat cheese. It is accompanied with wonderful babaganouj and a tzatziki style sauce and served with warm pita.

              Also, the cheese board served with dates and honeycomb (I see the honeycomb more and more these days). I love the lamb flatbread, and a clam and mussel dish.

              For Samar, the small plates are far less expensive and would seem to fit your budget more. This does not mean that you will be slighted on flavor or ingenuity. Expect to see some fine examples of molecular gastronomy.

              Hope I didn't confuse the two places.

              1. re: DallasDude

                I'll second the Samar recommendation, both for budget and variety - although I don't think you should expect much in the way of molecular gastronomy. True, the 'liquid grapes' are very nicely implemented, but that's about it right? Oh, and some pomegranate seeds frozen in liquid nitrogen... big deal. I read a rumor about some octopus prepared sous vide, but that has yet to make an appearance (unless he's pulled it out in the last week or two).

                1. re: gavlist

                  The use of foams, gelees and sous-vide would be consider MG.

                  Pyles has plans for a new menu that will feature more of this el Bulli inspired cuisine. He does have several sous-vide items on the menu currently.

                  "The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star." -- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1775-1826)

                  1. re: DallasDude

                    I'll give you foams - and there are a few foams on the menu - but you think that thickening something with gelatin qualifies as Molecular Gastronomy? Frankly, I think the whole term is stupid (all of cooking involves molecular reactions) so maybe there's no point in arguing what qualifies as MG and what does not... but gelees, both savory and sweet have been part of french cuisine for a long long time.

                    From Wikipedia: "By the Middle Ages at the latest, cooks had discovered that a thickened meat broth could be made into a jelly"

                    you're saying that Pyles' new menu will have several sous-vide preparations, correct? Because I'm pretty sure there's nothing on the current menu.

                    Even sous vide, by the way, has been around long before the term Molecular Gastronomy was coined, and I don't see anything particularly "molecular" about cooking for long times at low temperatures.

                    1. re: gavlist

                      I hope that agar agar would be used as opposed to gelatin. I had a sous-vide pork dish last week at Samar. Tender, delicious. I am trying to remember the term Pyles used in place of MG, meaning he himself didn't feel it was high example of MG. I also get the feeling that the average diner would tend to feel uncomfortable with that term.

                      But we must look at the literal term MG, and realize that it is not so much a form of cooking but rather the study of why things work the way they do. That would take us back to your statement of "all cooking involves molecular reactions".

                      Good subject matter for sure, gavlist.

                      As for Elyssa, Samar is located at 2100 Ross Avenue.

                      1. re: DallasDude

                        Interesting about the pork dish. Was it off menu? Or are you referring to the grilled pork tenderloin with vanilla,etc. I had forgotten about that one, and it might actually be prepared sous vide before grilling.

                        Re MG: I'm not sure what the relevance of the agar agar comment is... that's been used for a long long time as well. And, frankly, good chefs have always been learning how food behaves. Also the food industry... we should probably consider Cheese Whiz to be an example of Molecular Gastronomy. Suddenly sounds less glamorous, no?

                        And, semantics aside, my main point is that while Samar does feature some so-called MG dishes, I wouldn't advise someone walking in to Samar to expect a lot of it. Aside from the obvious liquid grapes, there's a foam here or there (on the Vasos or the Bean Stew), one gelee (Vasos), and maybe the sous vide pork. And these are pretty subtle touches. It's not like you'll be eating the menu, or ordering a flight of flavored airs, or be exhaling jets of steam.

                2. re: DallasDude

                  Thanks so much. If I can get equal flavor for a cheaper price that is a bonus. How far is Samar from the Fairmont area?

            2. I would also consider a few places in the One Arts Plaza complex. It's walkable from your hotel, albeit a slightly long one (by Dallas standards at least!). Especially recommend Screen Door (although there is a new chef and I have not been since the transition; also, it might exceed your price range) and Tei An (a soba noodle house and very good sushi and other Japanese specialties). Fedora is there as well but I cannot comment on it since I haven't tried it yet. Perhaps someone else can chime in?

              You have lots of good Tex-Mex options a short cab ride away as well: Mia's (on Lemmon), Avila's (on Maple), or Gloria's (more El Salvadoran as opposed to Tex-Mex; either location on Greenville Ave. or Lemmon Ave.).

              Have a good conference!

              3 Replies
              1. re: DKS1

                Keep in mind Avila's is closed right now, not sure when they'll reopen.

                1. re: air

                  Oh dear! Did not realize that... sorry! Was hoping to bring some out-of-towners there next weekend. What a shame! Thanks for the clarification, air...

                  1. re: DKS1

                    Yeah there's been a a big media storm over the family dispute lately, but they will reopen at some point. Check the news for more info.