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Dallas for work-yum!

Hi all,
I'm coming to Dallas for the 2nd time for work. We will be staying at the W hotel this time around for less than a week. We'll have some long days so places near the hotel are welcome but if its worth the drive, we'll do it too!
I'd love any recs for a dinners for me and my coworkers. We are all in the 28-35 range and are coming from NYC. We love delicious food!
Any recs for Tex Mex, hole in the wall places as well as places we are paying with a corporate card and don't mind the cost as much! I think the main point is some place with yummy food and a good atmosphere. Places we won't find in NYC would be welcome as well.
What do you think??
Thanks so much!

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  1. Of course, dinner at Craft in the W can't be beat. But while downtown, y'all must try Stephen Pyles and even better, his second (superb) restaurant, Samar. http://www.samarrestaurant.com
    A short drive across the Trinity will take you to the Bishops Arts district in Oak Cliff. Containing arguably, the best collection of restaurants in Dallas.
    Bolsa
    Hattie's
    Smoke
    Lucia
    Tillmans
    Gloria's
    Nova
    Gonzalez
    Every one a winner in their own right.
    And, if the timing is right and they open while you're here:
    Lockart Smoke House. http://www.lockhartsmokehouse.com

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    Bolsa
    614 W Davis St, Dallas, TX

    1. Well, I know you have access to good Japanese food in NY, but Kenichi (also in Victory Plaza, where the W is located) has excellent sushi and one of the best sake programs in the country. As with any sushi restaurant - if you want the good stuff, sit at the sushi counter, make the chef aware that you're an adventurous eater (if you are) and ask what he recommends. For the best experience try to sit with Yuki, the exec. sushi chef and go during the weekend when Hung, the sake sommelier is working - if you're interested you'll learn a lot about sake, and he can recommend some great selections and pairings. The wait staff is pretty knowledgeable about sake too, so if you can't make it on a weekend they'll still take good care of you.

      Tei An, in One Arts Plaza is also an outstanding Japanese restaurant. Their specialty is soba noodles - hand made, in house, every day - and quite reasonably priced. If you want to drop some cash, go with the omekase option - I've not yet done it, but I've seen reports and it looks amazing.

      I agree with some of twinwillow's suggestions... Craft is excellent but costly. Pyles and Samar are great suggestions as well. Lucia is not yet opened, but it's almost guaranteed to be good - the chef/owner used to work at my favorite restaurant in Dallas (Lola) before it closed. Smoke would be an interesting place to eat... although their BBQ is weak in my opinion (although I'm not sure you have a better BBQ option, given your schedule). Bolsa probably has a good cocktail program now but the food has never done anything for me... it's not bad, just not compelling. Personally, I would say that it's not worth the drive.

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      Bolsa
      614 W Davis St, Dallas, TX

      12 Replies
      1. re: gavlist

        Amazing recs! Thank you two. I had read about Samar in esquire mag and couldn't remember the name. And sushi is always a good idea too. Any thoughts on mi cocina or some place called lee harveys? I've never been, just read about em.... Thanks again!

        1. re: hakusai

          IMHO, Forget about Mi Cocina. But, Lee Harvey's could be good fun.
          And, do go to Samar! You won't regret it.

          -----
          Lee Harvey's
          1807 Gould St, Dallas, TX 75215

          1. re: hakusai

            I love Lee Harvey's... mostly for the atmosphere, but the food is decent too. Yeah... you should rank Mi Cocina pretty low on your list.

            -----
            Lee Harvey's
            1807 Gould St, Dallas, TX 75215

            1. re: hakusai

              I'll go ahead and probably be the lone supporter of Mi Cocina. If you're coming from NY and staying at the W, Mi Cocina would be a great choice, hit the one in West Village (irony recognized). IMO the distain for Mi Cocina on this board mostly has to do with the scene itself (the young and beautiful crowd), the cost of drinks and the fact that there is more than one location (presumably a cardinal sin for foodies).

              If you want to eat Mexican with the Dallas moneyed, try Javier's, a local institution. The food at both places is as good as any, you won’t be disappointed

              If you’re really looking for hole-in-the-wall tex-mex, I'd suggest Avilia's, Herrera's or Mia's in Dallas proper. In Oak Cliff (just a few miles across the river), I’d suggest Gonzales and El Ranchito. These are largely working-class family establishments serving quality tex-mex. It’s what most Dallasites eat when they eat tex-mex. Minimal atmosphere (El Ranchito does usually have a mariachi band though), but very good food, just not a cheap as it used to be.

              I'd also second Smoke. It’s a unique place you’re not likely to find elsewhere. Across the street is Jack’s Back Yard for cocktails and live music. Lee Harvey’s is a laid back hipster-type joint where you can bring your dog, and have a PBR, for what its worth. Better when the weather is good.

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              El Ranchito
              610 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

              Lee Harvey's
              1807 Gould St, Dallas, TX 75215

              1. re: sike101

                I actually have no problem with chains, as long as the food is good. And I don't have anything in particular against the clientele. I was even thinking of adding to my post that Mi Cocina doesn't have bad food... I just don't find it very compelling. It's pretty uninspiring TexMex - decent, but with nothing in particular to recommend it. For that style of food, I'd be much happier at Avila's (which isn't really that much of a hole in the wall) or Escondido (which is) or Mia's or maybe Gonzales (I didn't have a great first experience there).

                Lee Harvey's definitely requires good weather - even if it's a bit chilly (they have a couple of free-standing fire pits outside). They also have Shiner and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Negro Modelo... so you don't have to settle for PRB (meaning, PBR I assume).

                If you go to Smoke and want after-dinner drinks... I'm not familiar with Jack's Back Yard, but the Bar Belmont in the adjacent hotel has a nice patio view of downtown Dallas.

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                Lee Harvey's
                1807 Gould St, Dallas, TX 75215

                1. re: gavlist

                  I did say 'mostly'. And I really think that's true about Mi Cocina. I'm not sure I ever find tex-mex compelling or inspiring though, unless I'm compelled to rid myself of a hangover with a plate of enchiladas or bowl of posole. I usually don't take it to be haute cuisine. Mostly I find it comforting, just my opinion.

                  Mexican food on the other hand, I do often find inspiring. Vera Cruz Cafe or Cafe San Miguel deliver on that front.

                  Yes, PBR. However it’s spelled, it’s still a lot of the ironic PBR-drinking crowd that hangs out down there. Nothing wrong with that, it's a cool place and I drink with that crowd quite often. Just think out-of-towners ought to get the real feel for these spots. That's why I check this site when I travel.

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

                2. re: sike101

                  I don't agree with your statements about Mi Cocina especially considering majority of the people here (or so I would hope) put the food ahead of all the points you mentioned. The food is lackluster considering the price of admission. Running a quick search either here or Dallas Food will show that there are many other restaurants that serve higher quality food than Mi Cocina at much better price points all over town. If atmosphere is important, then fine, throw Mi Cocina ahead of everyone else.

                  To me, sending someone, especially an out of towner, to Mi Cocina for Tex-Mex is like sending someone to Sonny Bryan's for BBQ. They may be big names but neither will give you a memorable dining experience.

                  1. re: air

                    Nothing gets people fired up like Mi Cocina around here.

                    With the exception of maybe Herrera’s, the prices for food at Mi Cocina are almost exactly the same as the rest of the places in Dallas proper that get high marks here. There is nothing on the menu over $20, and that’s a ribeye. Most entrées are in the $9-13 range. A typical Mexican combination dinner costs about the same there as it does at Mia’s, or Avilia’s, or Gonzales, or El Ranchito, or O’jeda’s. Seriously, look it up. It’s the drinks that are so expensive, no argument there.

                    I’ve taken plenty of well traveled, out-of-towners there and it’s always been enjoyed, without exception. I just never hear any specific complaints about the food on this board, just that it’s overrated, which it may be, I’m not saying it’s the best in town, but among the better places and has a good atmosphere, which was requested by the OP.

                    1. re: sike101

                      I've heard that the tortillas aren't particularly good. But I'm not sure you and the OP mean the same thing by "good atmosphere". You seem to be inferring that nicer settings and more expensive surroundings are "good atmosphere" where I get the feeling the OP wants something that's fun and lively which to me sounds more like El Ranchito. You say the prices are the same but based on a quick online comparison the lunch specials at El Ranchito seem to be a couple bucks cheaper at least.

                      I haven't been to Mi Cocina myself as everybody that I know who really enjoys food and eating has told me that there's nothing particularly exceptional about it, that it's been "gringo-ized" and gentrified and that there's nothing better there than what you'd get at say Ranchito, maybe Chito's in Plano, Nuevo Leon in Farmer's Branch, or maybe Gonzalez (which I also haven't been to).

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                      El Ranchito Restaurant
                      502 N Scott Ave, Keller, TX 76248

                      Chitos Restaurant
                      301 Legacy Dr, Plano, TX 75023

                      1. re: luniz

                        This is what I mean. I’ve been reading and enjoying your posts and recommendations for several years here and I’d guess you’ve eaten at as many places in this town as anyone. But you haven’t eaten at Mi Cocina because you heard the tortillas weren’t particularly good? Come on now.

                        I wish the North Texas contribution to the culinary world was cured pork or great pinot or sturgeon roe, but its not. It’s largely this gringo-ized version of old Mexican food. Not a terrible thing really, it is a cuisine all its own. Its what a lot of us were born and raised on.

                        I think the D articles in the past few years about Tex-Mex in Dallas have been great, it’s a fascinating history with great characters. All these families connected through the Tex-mex restaurant biz… Mi Cocina is part of that, and did a lot to shape the current incarnation of Tex-mex. And you’re not on weekend wait for over a decade with bad food. I don’t see anything wrong suggesting it to visitors.

                        1. re: sike101

                          I'm not a big Tex Mex (gringo-ized) guy. Don't really like processed cheese, prepared sauce, etc. I've only eaten at a lot of the popular Tex Mex places once or twice as it's not "comfort food" for me and I enjoy the more authentic, unusual preparations a lot more. Bad tortillas and uninteresting food seems like more than enough reason to avoid a place, when I know for a fact that there are places that are cheaper, have good, fresh tortillas, and food that's enjoyable. The "atmosphere" of places like Mi Cocina doesn't hold any appeal to me whatsoever, the only draw whatsoever is that it's so often recommended and discussed that I want to go to be able to form my own opinions. Also I try to eat pretty healthy most of the time, so if I'm going to spend my one big splurge meal a week on one experience, it's going to be something that comes recommended from trusted sources, not something that's just popular "with the masses".

                          So I don't try to discourage anybody from eating at Mi Cocina or anywhere like it, but I can't make any specific recommendation for it. Somewhere like Nuevo Leon otoh I've been to at least a couple times and can say I think it's very good and worth a visit for an out of towner, even though it's not particular fancy in terms of "atmosphere".

                  2. re: sike101

                    God, now that I live in NYC, I dream of Mi Cocina. I've yet to find anything nearly as good here in the city... If you want less swanky Mexican, Mia's and Herrera's (already mentioned here) are my two favorites. El Fenix is gross. For your fun margarita night, you might like Chuy's, on Henderson.

                    I love Neighborhood Services (both the Tavern on Henderson and the original outpost on Lovers). Highly recommended for both drinks and food.

                    I am also a fan of both Bolsa and Smoke. I strongly recommend the latter, as it is more uniquely Texan.

                    Also, when I was visiting for Thanksgiving, I had a great meal at Lonesome Dove in Ft. Worth. If you venture over that way, it is absolutely worth the trip.

                    (P.S. From what I know of Jack's Back Yard, it's mostly a lesbian bar. Not saying that's a bad thing, just likely not what the OP's after.)

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                    Neighborhood Services
                    5027 W Lovers Ln, Dallas, TX

                    Bolsa
                    614 W Davis St, Dallas, TX

                    Chuy's
                    3408 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75074

                    El Fenix Restaurants
                    6391 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116

              2. For Tex Mex, the original El Fenix is about a block or two away and is walking distance from the W. I like the cheese enchilada's there. I like some of the other places mentioned such as Avila's, El Ranchito, and Herrera's. The salsa at Avila's was too hot for me though, and I am used to eating salsa. Pepe and Mito's in Deep Ellum is good Tex-Mex. Eagles member Don Henley likes to eat there. Monica's in Deep Ellum is good, although it is a little more upscale and different than a typical Tex Mex place. People on this board like to bad mouth Dallas BBQ because it is not as good as hill country BBQ about four hours away, but Bakers Ribs in Deep Ellum is decent. Deep Ellum is not a very far drive from the W and has some decent food options. In the West End which is close to the W, Y.O. Ranch offers some Texas wild game type food you may or may not get in New York. There is a branch of the Palm in the West End also. Most of the other places in the West End are touristy type places. If you really want to get local, there is a huge convenience store called Fuel City on Industrial not too far from the W that has great cheap tacos 24 hours a day.

                Bigray in Ok

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bigrayok

                  This discussion has been amazing! I love hearing everyones thoughts. We went to Pyles last night for our "fancy" aka expensive meal of the trip. We loved it! We started off with ceviche, a sampling of 6, which was beyond enough for everyone to get a taste. We all liked tthe shrimp best! Then off to the main courses which were all yum. Drinks were inventive and strong.
                  Of course, not a cheap meal but excited to have had the experience, thanks corporate card! Tonight I think we are going for something low key and then our last night we will have a fun Tex Mex margarita night. Thanks for all the recs. We are back in January so they are certainly welcome!

                  1. re: hakusai

                    Had an awesome meal/night at Bolsa. We went on Tuesday when wine is half price! The staff was amazing and we chatted and drank with the owners for a bit. Cant wait to go back.
                    I want to check out Smoke for sure next time.
                    Chuys on our last night. A fun atmosphere for our last night in Dallas.
                    Cant wait to come back again!

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                    Bolsa
                    614 W Davis St, Dallas, TX

                    Chuy's
                    3408 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75074