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One week in Dallas

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  • jblee Apr 19, 2011 03:31 PM
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Hello Dallas Hounds,
Visiting Dallas early May for work and leisure with my BH from LA, CA. Did some homework and narrowed down the list of must trys a bit. Would really appreciate any comments and suggestions.
Fearing's and/or Pyles for the taste of Dallas(?). Lucia and Nonna for Italian. We love Italian.
Local and Bijoux for backup. Baby Back Shack, Lockhart, Pecan Lodge, Smoke or Sonny Briant's for BBQ. Would like to try a couple of them mostly for quick lunch. Nate's Seafood or S&D Oyster for Cajun/creole. I'm not sure about Cajun. I love me some seafood gumbo and craw fish etouffee and oyster poboy.
I know I am missing some that I should not miss.
Thanks in advance.
Jason

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  1. S&D is not Cajun or Creole. Their decor is fashioned after a NOLA oyster bar and they do have an oyster po-boy on their menu as well as a pretty good, rich, dark roux seafood gumbo. You will find Tabasco, Worcestershire, horseradish and file on the table, however, there is no ettouffée, or jambalaya, roast beef po-boy with debri, grillades, boudin or andouille. So if you're expectations are for Cajun, even Creole, this won't be it. http://sdoyster.com/dnn/

    That said, S&D has been my go to for excellent fried shrimp, both fried and raw oysters, as well as snapper and flounder (broiled or fried) nearly since their opening in 1976. They have thrived all those year. Unfortunately, thank you BP oil spill, I was there only a couple of months ago and it just wasn't good. The oysters were about the size of a quarter with not much flavor and the shrimp suffered the same. I asked our waiter who their current distributor was and was told one out of Houston. (The distributor prior to that had been one from Houma, LA and prior to that, one from Biloxi, MS pre-Katrina).

    The "small oyster" problem is one that spans across the Gulf to Pensacola, Fl that I know of personally from a recent road trip. A little questioning let me know that the oyster beds were completely destroyed and it will take a while for them to build back. My point is, before ordering oysters anywhere in this region, you might ask 1) are they gulf oysters and 2) what is the size.

    Hate to rain or your parade, but would hate more for you to try something that should be wonderful only to find it less than what it should be.

    1. I agree with CocaNut regarding S&D. I think you will probably like it as it's a "Dallas institution". You should try Pappadeaux (Oak Lawn location, only) for delicious, fresh Texas gulf oysters and a NOLA style menu.
      Unless they're selling the banded Pasteurized oysters, go for it! But, be sure to ask first.
      Nate's Seafood is one of the most Cajun joints in Dallas and they may have boudin as well as the other Cajun fare you mentioned. Louisiana Crawfish for sure!
      Stay away from Sonny Bryan's BBQ and instead, head to Oak Cliff to Lockhart Smokehouse for authentic Central Texas BBQ.
      I love Smoke. Especially for brunch. Although their BBQ menu has been upscaled a bit with BBQ not as prominent as it once was. However, I'm crazy about their beautiful, smoked "Big Rib". ($24.00)

      7 Replies
      1. re: twinwillow

        Thank you CocoaNut and twinwillow. I'll be careful when ordering oysters.
        I will try Pappadeaux. It's also closer to downtown where we'll be staying.
        Lockhart for brisket and Kreuz sausage and Smoke for Big Rib. With Lucia I have four places to try so far.

        1. re: jblee

          At Lockhart Smokehouse, be sure to ask for "moist" brisket.
          it's from the fattier point section
          Be sure to let us know how you (pardon the pun) fared.

        2. re: twinwillow

          How does Big Easy fare with Pappadeaux. Is it worth 20 mile drive? It's not that far but I have no idea about Dallas traffic. I'm sure it would be much better compared to Los Angeles though.

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          Big Easy
          1915 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75075

          1. re: jblee

            I love Big Easy and go there very often. However, I live in Plano. In my opinion, it is not a destination restaurant. Pappadeaux is more upscale and has a far greater variety.

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            Big Easy
            1915 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75075

            1. re: Plano Rose

              Quality of food comes before than ambiance to me. If the food is great I don't mind a dump as long as I don't have to worry about safety issue.

              1. re: jblee

                I certainly didn't mean to imply that Big Easy is a dump. We go there about every other week. It's a counter order and pickup place with good sandwiches and french fries. If you go, be sure to get some pralines.

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                Big Easy
                1915 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75075

            2. re: jblee

              I'd honestly recommend Pappadeaux over Big Easy. Big Easy has a good roast beef po boy and Pappadeaux's gumbo was weirdly lacking in roux last time I tried it, but they have things like raw oysters (though it's getting late in the season) and their crawfish etoufee is probably better, and Pappadeaux has more on the menu. Big Easy is ok but it's not going to blow you away.

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              Big Easy
              1915 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75075

          2. Honestly, I don't think that Dallas does Italian very well, or should I say, in comparison with other
            parts of the country...That said, I'm wondering why you would not want to try our Tex-Mex, which is something that you really cannot get in LA...California Mexican is different from what we offer here..It's certainly not "fancy" in any way, but pretty tasty...I recommend Rafa's or one of the Mi Concina's..(I hesitate to mention any Tex-Mex, as it has always been a bone of contention on the chowboard...) I do recommend S & D, but the chow poster is correct about the size of oysters these days...BBQ is a bit "iffy" in these parts...Too bad you're not around Austin for that particular cuisine...I am certainly not as picky about BBQ as most are, and still find myself happy at Dicky's..(sorry to anyone offended!) Have not been to Fearings but have enjoyed Pyles and there are certainly other places here of note...We do steaks quite well here IMO as well
            as a lot of fun and tasty restaurants on Henderson...Enjoy your time here in Dallas!

            5 Replies
            1. re: jinet12

              True about Dallas not doing Italian very well. That is, most of Dallas. We have two of the finest Italian restaurants in the USA sitting right under our noses. Nonna and Lucia! If you can snag a res for Lucia while you're here, do it! If not, hit Nonna.
              If they are busy, sit at the bar. Same goes for Lucia. Which BTW, is AMAZING!

              1. re: twinwillow

                Thanks to you and other DFW hounds, my wife and I had a great dinner at Nonna Monday.
                We shared Grilled heart of romaine with roasted pancetta, avocado and shaved parmigiano, Ravioli of Maine lobster, White Pizza of cherrystone clams, sweet onion and fresh herbs.
                Everything was very good. We loved the pizza as it has been praised on the board. The star of the night though was the lobster ravioli. Good ingredient, masterfully cooked, just wonderful.
                Nonna will do very well in west los angeles competing with Cal-Italians like Mozza and Angelini. Can't wait for Lucia tomorrow. I'll report back.

              2. re: jinet12

                Thank you. I'll look into Tex-Mex. How about good old steaks? Just read top 20 Steak Houses article. The question is either Pappas, Nick & Sam's or Al Biernat's? Which one has best dry aged meat and loosest dress code? We are from Los Angeles. Jeans and dress shirts, that's how we dress most of the time.

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                Nick & Sam's
                3008 Maple Avenue, Dallas, TX 75201

                Al Biernats
                4217 Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX 75219

                1. re: jblee

                  You'll be OK casually dressed in any of the above three great steak houses.
                  IMHO, Pappas Bros. has the best "steakhouse ambiance". However, I think Nick and Sam's is the most "polished".
                  And Al Biernat's will be the most "welcoming" and casual.
                  All three serve first class food.

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                  Al Biernats
                  4217 Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX 75219

                  1. re: twinwillow

                    The first meal we had in Dallas was steaks at Al Biernat's. We are by no means big meat eaters. But hey, we are in Dallas, Texas.
                    We started with Caesar, which was a bit salty. My wife had the best filet she has ever had. It was good but I enjoyed my Organic Grass Fed “Cowboy Cut“ Ribeye more, which our server recommended. The sides of baked potato with everything and fat, fresh asparagus were also very good. We finished the huge meal with Chocolate Fondue Cake / Cappuccino Gelato which we could not finish because we were so full. The place was packed with happy customers in Saturday night when we left fully contended.

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                    Al Biernats
                    4217 Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX 75219

              3. Since you'll be here a week, you should take a day for a 30 minute drive west to Ft Worth. Mainstream points of interest with eating options are:

                Sundance Square (also see "fun stuff" tab at top of page): http://www.sundancesquare.com/dining/...

                FW Stockyards (see "Attractions" and "Entertainment" tab): http://www.fortworthstockyards.org/In...
                would recommend Lonesome Dove for dinner and Love Shack for an excellent burger
                Avoid the BBQ as they're overpriced, bad food, tourist traps

                1. Thanks to all of you Dallas Hounds, my wife and I had a great week of feasting in Dallas
                  .
                  Day one: We had a very pleasant steak dinner at Al Biernat's as I posted in one of my interim reports.

                  Day Two: Had a late brunch at Pappadeux. We shared Andouille Sausage & Seafood gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee, Oyster Po Boys. All of them were Very Good. Especially for $9, the gumbo was a steal . For dinner we decided on Tei An. We shared Zaru Soba, Sansai Soba, Sushi 7pcs and a glass of Otokoyama. It was pretty good but expensive for what we got.

                  Day Three: We had our first BBQ in Texas for lunch. It was a takeout from Lockhart. We shared Brisket w/ more fat, Kreuz Original, Kreuz Jalapeno Cheese, BBQ Baked Beans, Lockhart Smokehouse Slaw. It was good but not great. I realized we are on the side of sauced BBQ camp. Sausages were very interesting though.
                  Wonderful dinner at Nonna more than made up for our disappointment in BBQ. Lobster ravioli and white pizza with clams were divine.

                  Day Four: For lunch we had some Dim sum from Hong Kong Royal. Shrimp w spinach and Pan fried shrimp and chives were standouts.
                  For dinner we drove to Plano to try Jasmine. We really enjoyed Grilled Prawns, Green Curry with beef and Pad Kee Mao with Seafood. Everything was so good as many Hounds suggested.

                  Day Five: For lunch we had great ribs, very good cornish hen, meh sausage, very good buttered corn and baked beans from Babyback Shack. Now we're talking BBQ.
                  Dinner at Lucia was one of the highlights of this trip. We started with the best Salumi misti we ever had. We also shared very good Oyster Crudo and Asparagus app. My wife had the perfectly cooked Black Cod for the main. I had the Ngocchi and amazing Squid Ink Risotto. We were seated at 9:00, which was only opening available when I made a reservation back in April. So when we were served our main courses, the kitchen was closing. If we had more time and bigger stomach, we definitely would have ordered more. We had to wrap our memorable meal with Pana cotta, which was amazing also. Jennifer, who picked a great bottle for us, was a gracious host.

                  Day Six: I drove to Meshack BBQ in Garalnd to pick up lunch. After an hour long round trip and $20, we could not finish our order of pretty good Ribs, Links and chopped beef with sides of baked beans and potato salad. There is too much of a good thing after all.
                  Our last dinner of the trip was at Bambu in Richardson. Going in, I had doubts in fellow Hounds' recs. The place looks like a some random Asian fusion place with zero authenticity. They even had cheesecake in dessert case. How looks can be deceiving. Bambu Asian Cuisine rocks. From "Esan" sausage to Pad Kee Mao and a bit overcooked Sea Bass with Green Curry, everything was surprisingly good with bursting flavors. Thank you Chowhounds!
                  The owners were so nice to explain to us every dish in detail. By the way, their "Esan" sausage was not "Sai Oua' . I was told sai oua has rice in it. Not as great as sai oua at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas or Renu Nakorn in Norwalk, CA, Bambu's esan sausage was great with beer. We finished our meal with a very good Thai Iced Tea.

                  Day Seven: Our last meal before leaving Dallas was supposed to be a Prosciutto Panino that we picked up from Jimmy's on our way to the airport. After checking in our bags and security check we found a cozy spot for our Prosciutto Panino. Upon opening the paper wrap, we were looking at some strange looking sandwich with some olives. Instantly I recalled a Food channel episode about Muffuletta. We've never had one before but it resembled the one I saw on TV. With some kind of a divine intervention (or just a mixed up order), we had our first Muffuletta at DFW airport. And it was good.

                  Thank you again Dallas hounds for all of your kind suggestions. We hope that we have another opportunity to enjoy wonderful food and hospitality of Dallas in a near future.

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                  Al Biernats
                  4217 Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX 75219

                  Bambu
                  1930 N Coit Rd #100, Richardson, TX 75080