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What's a can't-miss in the DFW-Irving area?

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I will be in the DFW-Irving area next week on business and will have Mon-Thur nights available. I will have a car but have never been in the area. I probably don't want to spend more than 20 minutes driving to dinner.

What can't/shouldn't I miss? I am omnivorous and not budget-sensitive. A $5 chili dog on a paper plate is as acceptable as a $100 white-tablecloth sit-down, but what I don't want is something I can just as easily find in the suburbs of Cleveland or Philadelphia. Steaks, barbecue are obvious, but if there's some secret pocket of Albanian grilled meat places or something equally obscure, let me know. Thanks.

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    1. For the animal eating side of you, look at Boi Na Braza in Grapevine - not Albanian grilled meats, but Brazilian spit grilled, all you can eat beef, pork, lamb and poultry. Superb salad bar. http://www.boinabraza.com/Home/tabid/...

      For the lighter side of eating and definitely NOT fine dining - El Taco H for 1.25 tacos with a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa. My favorites are the carnitas and Al Pastor. They don't serve alcohol (not even beer), but if you're so inclined, they may let you order something from their sister restaurant, Baja Grill, next door.
      http://www.eltacoh.com/

      Both of these are Grapevine locations 2-3 exits west of D/FW airport off of 114. That area of 114 is under massive construction, so you may not want to deal with it. If not, you could also access Boi Na Braza via 183 to northbound 121.

      In N Irving, west bound service road of 114 west of MacArthur, there's Sweet Tomato's. Fabulous salad bar (miniscule little containers of meats, so stay "vegetable") with about 8 soups a day, pastas, breads and little dessert bar. Chain, but good.

      I'm sure there will be other recs to pop in.

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      Boi Na Braza
      4025 William D Tate Ave, Grapevine, TX 76051

      1. This would be my list in no specific order.

        Royal Sweets is tops in my book off MacArthur and Valley Ranch Pkwy. It is all vegetarian Indian cuisine. They now have I believe 3 thali (sampler platter of sorts). The dosas are huge and definitely big enough for two. The Hot Kachori Chaat is a samosa (I believe) smothered in curried garbanzos (Choley). Another dish is just fried naan with curried garbanzo beans (Choley Batura). The dosa are split do the middle for me...I like curried potatoes my wife hates them so I like the Mysore Masala Dosa and she likes the Paneer Dosa with onions (Indian name slips my mind at the moment). They also have the metroplex's largest array of sweets. The snacks (nimco) are my favorite thogh...black pepper (mari) plantain chips. They also have a lunch buffet too.

        http://www.royalsweets.net/index.asp

        When I used to live in Irving Thai Chili was the best Thai place in town....I am not sure if it is still there but it is/was in a very nice and peaceful part of Las Colinas along the canal

        http://www.yelp.com/biz/thai-chili-ir...

        If I were in the mood for Thai I would make the special trip over to the Irving Mall area for Bangkok Orchid. Yes it is that good and it is worth the drive. I drive all the way from Lewisville (north of Dallas) to eat there. Their version of Pad Cha is the best of only two versions that I have ever seen. All the dishes though are great but order more off the Authentic Thai menu to make the meal more memorable. Ask a bunch of questions to make substitutions to a dish if you would like. The staff is very friendly.

        http://www.bangkokorchidtx.com/aboutu...

        I have heard murmurs about the Chicago deep dish pizza place but have never been

        http://www.c0hicagosgourmetpizza.com/

        For a chain I really like Sweet Tomato if you like a good salad bar. They usually have at least 1 or 2 good soups also. Plus just about every week they have a bogo coupon if you sign up. It is off 635 and MacArthur
        http://www.souplantation.com/

        When I was a kid my mom loved the salsa at Mercado Jaurez. The fajitas weren't bad either.
        http://www.mercadojuarez.com/home1.nxg

        If you are feeling really adventurous there is Namoo over off Royal Lane for Korean.
        http://www.yelp.com/biz/namoo-dallas

        I have never like Ali Baba's that much but it is popular for Lebanese/Medit.
        http://www.alibabacafe.com/

        Over by Irving Mall there is a great Mexican place that put a modern spin on some dishes in La Margarita. I really enjoyed the duck carnita tacos and the al pastor sopes.

        http://www.la-margarita.com/

        I prefer Jericho over off 183 and Esters for my Palestinian fix. The falafel really is that good. Also with a bit of a warning, such as a car ride from Las Colinas he could whip up a dish of foul maddames. The pita is not that great but the hummus is made fresh from dried garbanzos not canned..

        http://www.jerichocuisine.com/

        If you like couscous and mint tea then Kasbah Grill off Esters and Rochelle is by far the best on both. The waiter is not bad to talk to (usually the place is pretty quiet after dark). either especially if you have questions about Islam (one of the largest mosques in Dallas is next door), Morrocan food, etc. I also really like the bastillas if you can get one.

        http://www.yelp.com/biz/kasbah-grill-...

        Two big cuisine in Irving are Indian and Mexican. Taquerias and all kinds of Indian restaurants dot the city. Enjoy your time

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        La Margarita
        2922 N Belt Line Rd, Irving, TX 75062

        Royal Sweets
        219 W Airport Fwy, Irving, TX

        Thai Chili
        397 Las Colinas Blvd E, Irving, TX 75039

        Masala
        7447 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75063

        Ali Baba Cafe
        1901 Abrams Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75214

        2 Replies
        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

          A very impressive set of recommendations. I thank you and the others who chimed in with real recs. Must be my prejudices, but I wouldn't have thought you'd find vegetarian Indian or Moroccan food in the area. Anyway, I'll be sure to report back. Thanks again.

          1. re: Gin n Tonic

            Mr. Max in Irving is worth a stop and my single visit there made it clear why their clientele includes pro Japanese baseball players and salarymen who are vistiing for business. Their focus is on homecooked Japanese comfort food (both washoku and yoshoku) and they have some izakaya fare as well. The place really feels like you've left Irving completely and stepped into a typical place you'd find in Japan. Very impressed with the way they do Japanese curry. I know I want to go back for some other interesting items (beef tongue, various octopus dishes, the pumpkin croquette mentioned by marksan). In case it's an issue, be prepared to walk out smelling like cigarettes.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/727647

            Some more to add for Indian:
            Aahar for an Indian lunch buffet in the area (includes non vegetarian items). Macarthur and 635.
            Spice and Rice Indian Tiffin is a couple doors down from Royal Sweets. Killer value for lunch and they are pretty serious about spicing those dishes. Their naan is amongst the best I've had in the metroplex and they always make it fresh during the lunch rush.

            I wouldn't recommend that Chicago deep dish place for the pizzas, though I do like them for a quick Chicago dog.

            Coppell has an awesome Italian restaurant, Maurizio's. They specialize in wood-fired Neapolitan style pizzas. I first heard of them through an endorsement from Jay Jerrier, local pizza expert and owner of Il Cane Rosso.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691433 (Cavalli mentioned in this thread is also worth a look
            )http://www.facebook.com/pages/Coppell...

            LH did mention Namoo which is one of the best places to eat in Koreatown, and you could also consider the west side of Carrollton which is under 20 minutes away. There's some good places to eat along Belt Line and 35E. Run some searches and you'll find plenty of positive feedback for the fried chicken at Babe's and the margaritas at Agave Azul. You could also head to Super H-Mart (near where 35 hits Bush Turnpike/190), which is a massive Korean-centric grocery store with an excellent food court and some wonderful restaurants in the same complex (Todamgol, Omi Korean BBQ Buffet).

        2. My daughter works in Las Colinas and frequents Cafe Cipriani. She says it is one of her favorite spots in that area.
          http://www.cafecipriani.com/

          Yeah I know you can probably get better Italian in Cleveland or Philly than anything around here, but thought I would throw this out in case you wanted to check it out while in that part of town.

          Rob

          -----
          Cafe Cipriani
          220 Las Colinas Blvd E Ste 264, Irving, TX 75039

          1. Hard Eight BBQ or Bartley's in Grapevine aren't too far away. Hard Eight is Central Texas style but can be disappointing in its execution. Bartleby's is pretty highly rated by some.