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DC Hound in Dallas for 5 days: Tex-Mex, barbecue, and old

I'll be staying at the Hyatt Regency downtown for the first week of May. I've already got reservations at Nobu, Stephen Pyles, and Wolfgang Pucks, so I'm looking for lunches and breakfasts on the mid-to low end. I'll have a rental car, so I'm willing to drive, but I'd like to stay as close to downtown as possible. Open to any style of cooking, with an emphasis on whatever's local: Tex-Mex, Southwest cooking, and beef barbecue preferred. I'm also interested in restaurants/bars with a history; places that have been around for a very long time. Not necessarily the greatest food in the world, but places with atmosphere and character where the locals go to relax.

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Nobu Restaurant
Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court, Dallas, TX 75201

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  1. Will you have a day to get over to Ft. Worth? That's certainly the best place for BBQ in town and a fun day trip anyway. Otherwise the BBQ near downtown generally isn't considered particularly good, or representative of Texas style 'que. I don't really have any recommendations for that part of town, but I'm sure there are others that do. Just in case, I'll bait them a little.

    There's no good food downtown, don't go to El Fenix or Sonny Bryan's or any other tourist traps!

    4 Replies
    1. re: luniz

      I can definitely swing over to Ft. Worth. Any recommendations? Coopers seems to be what I'm looking for: beef cooked over oak with no sauce.

      And is chicken fried steak with white gravy still available, or has that been made illegal?

      1. re: monkeyrotica

        Cooper's uses Hickory iirc (at least the original does). To be honest it wasn't my favorite. I've heard Off the Bone is the best, from the guy that wrote this article:
        http://www.dmagazine.com/Home/D_Magaz...

        While you're over there I recommend being a tourist for a day at the Stockyards. Cheesy but fun.

        CFS is definitely easy to get. I can't help much there either since I haven't had much lately, and none particularly memorable. A lot of people swear by Babe's (a local chain). I went to the original Babe's in Roanoke and wasn't impressed by the CFS but I have heard it's good at other locations. Try to find a place where the gravy includes pan drippings rather than just flour and water. Maybe Ozona Grill or Allgood Cafe which is in Deep Ellum (just east of downtown and a part of town with some history).

        For Tex Mex or Mexican-ish, two possibilities are El Ranchito in Oak Cliff and Cafe San Miguel on Henderson, both of which are likely to be vastly superior to any chains in town.

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        Allgood Cafe
        2934 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226

        El Ranchito
        610 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

        Cafe San Miguel
        1907 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

        The Ozona Grill & Bar
        4615 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

        Off the Bone
        1734 S Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75215

        1. re: luniz

          I'd also recommend Park's CFS. Haven't been there since last fall, I should change that..

          BBQ definitely hit Off The Bone rather than Cooper's.

          The Grape has also been around for a while, right? The place has captured a neighborhood bistro type feel.

          1. re: luniz

            Ozona and Allgood CFS are both great (I've eaten each once). Park, from what I've heard, has been uneven, but when it's good definitely worth trying.

            Off The Bone was good.

            I'll be honest - I didn't have the most impressive meal at Nobu. If you want great Japanese food, take luniz's suggestion for Tei An - it's an outstanding restaurant. If you specifically want sushi, then I recommend Yutaka. Tei An also has excellent sashimi, but it's expensive and not really their focus. But my meal at Nobu Dallas was nowhere near as good as my meal at Nobu NY (10+ years ago).

            A mexican alternative: try a taqueria. It's good, and cheap, and you can try a few different things. My recommendations (although I'm not the most informed in this regard) are Taqueria El Fuego or El Atoron (esp. the huaraches). I've seen recs for El Si Hay, but my one experience there was lackluster.

            A texmex consideration: brisket tacos. I've eaten them at Mia's and thought they were pretty tasty. The rest of the stuff at Mia's is hit or miss... pretty standard texmex fare, in my opinion. Cafe San Miguel and El Ranchito are both good, but (to me) seem more mexican than texmex.

            you should also find some breakfast tacos... but I don't have any solid recommendations. Perhaps someone else will provide suggestions.

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            Allgood Cafe
            2934 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226

            El Ranchito
            610 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

            El Atoron
            2023 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

            El Fuego
            1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

            Cafe San Miguel
            1907 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

            Nobu Restaurant
            Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court, Dallas, TX 75201

      2. Two more recs: find a cajun place (search this board for recs) and maybe get some crawfish (they haven't been great this season); and consider Tei An for lunch one day, a very popular soba noodle restaurant with great ambiance and an interesting menu.

        1. Kalachandji's is an interesting change of pace for something different. Hindu, vegetarian, and fairly old (for Dallas).

          For cheap tasty Mexican head to Oak Cliff and Taqueria El Si Hay. Just a shack serving tacos. You can walk through the Bishop Arts area across the street. Or grab something at El Ranchito or Gonzalez a couple blocks further south..

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          El Ranchito
          610 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

          1 Reply
          1. re: amokscience

            Hands down best Tex-Mex close to DT is Chuy'swith sort of a Santa Fe twist. You can't go wromg. We have taken many out of towners there over the years and when they visit again they BEG to go back.

          2. Downtown TexMex Pepe and Mito's is good. Matt's No Place in Lakewood is another option you might check out for Tex Mex. El Fenix is a Dallas fixture. Not the greates food but well established. Cowboy Chow is a unique Texas-type food experience for a good lunch in Deep Ellum. I wouldn't waste the calories on BBQ in Dallas near downtown. Go to Ft.Worth for BBQ. I had Off The Bone at a party the other day and it was fantastic. I am looking for an excuse to have a party and order their ribs. For fancy Southwest food Fearings is going to be a good option. Skip Nobu and go to TeiTei on Henderson. I still don't understand why people eat at Cafe San Miguel. I have given it several tries and just don't care for it.

            Breakfast: Mattito's (same owners as Matt's No Place) has a good brunch buffet. Breadwinners on McKinney, and Dream Cafe in the Quadrangle are both good options for breakfast food.

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            Cowboy Chow
            2801 Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75226

            3 Replies
            1. re: fixer

              Sorry, I'm a bit confused... is Off the Bone one in Ft Worth? I seem to be showing a Dallas location when I look it up online? Is the Dallas location any good?

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              Off the Bone
              1734 S Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75215

              1. re: Mellicita

                The FW location is what you'll want: http://directory.dmagazine.com/best-o...

                There is a place in Dallas that shares the name but they are not related.

              2. re: fixer

                Just wanted to note (though possibly not important) that I believe Mattito's is same founder as Matt's, but has been under different ownership for some years ...

                Good CFS is challenging. I've been on a quest for the perfect one lately, and can't say I've found it yet ... never had it at Babe's, as I can never seem to not order fried chicken when I'm there.

                The Grape is definitely a good idea ...

                I really like the Texas style Benedict at the Original Pancake House in Addison (breakfast or lunch--both, really :) It's made with biscuits, sausage, and cream gravy. The fresh fruit and fresh-squeezed orange juice are both good, and it's definitely not pricey.

              3. I am warming up to the Blue Goose Cantina. I have had some pretty decent meals there lately. I have only tried the Plano location, located at Park and Preston in west Plano (nice clean upscale neighborhood) but there is also one on Lower Greenville in Dallas and I believe they have a couple of other locations around DFW.

                I do not know if you will have time to check out the area around Plano and Frisco but if you do a lot of the locals hang at the Blue Goose on the weekends, especially in good weather out on their patio including a few weekend bikers (as in Harley Davidson). Afterwards you could then head up to Frisco and maybe catch a RoughRider game if they are in town at Dr. Pepper Ball Park (really nice).

                Rob