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[DFW] Best Mom and Pop/Hole in The Wall Ethnic Places [DFW]

I know about most of the frequently talked about places in the Metroplex. What are your favorites that no one talks about?

Some recent ones that I have spotted but not yet tried are:

Ibex - http://ibexcuisine.com/index.html - Dallas

Ethio Grocery – SWC Beltline @ Jupiter – not sure if anything is even here - Garland

Star Bukri’s Catering – Ethiopian Food to Go or Star Food Mart – NEC Buckingham @ Jupiter - Garland

Taqueria El Sabroso – Walnut - Garland

Woo Mee Ok BBQ House - SWC Walnut @ Plano Rd - Garland

Kemi’s Kitchen – http://www.kemiskitchen.com/ - Grand Prairie

The Island Spot - http://www.theislandspot.com/ - Carrollton

Coco Pando – Honduran on Community Dr close to Bachman Lake

Tineo – http://pasteleriaperuanatineo.com/?p=44 - Richardson

Renato’s New York Style Deli at Trinity Mills and Marsh (formerly Eastern European Deli) - Carrollton

El Tesoro Del Inca – Beltline and Conflans - http://www.eltesorodelinca.com/ - Irving

Villa Mediterranean Grill - http://www.villagrill.net/ have tried this one and they have an awesome Lamb Shwarma and specialize in Persian food. - Carrollton

El Sabroso
3426 W Kingsley Rd, Garland, TX 75041

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  1. I'd like to add, Cafe Izmir and deli for home made Persian style Middle Eastern food.

    El Fuego on Plano Road at Campbell for outstanding Mexican food.

    European Market and Deli across from Medical City. Probably the only genuine family owned and run Polish deli in Dallas. The stuffed duck salami is to die for. Home made pierogi and stuffed cabbage rolls as well.



    Cafe Izmir
    3707 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

    El Fuego
    1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

    2 Replies
    1. re: twinwillow

      I have been two or three time in the past year to Cafe Izmir each time they have greatly underwhelmed me each time....also the price of the dishes reflects their rent on Greenville. IMHO I think they could close the club next door double the size of the restaurant and focus on their food.

      Cafe Izmir
      3707 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        'Hounder, I'm talking about Izmir Deli and Market's tiny hole in the wall at 3711 Greenville Ave. Not their larger Cafe Izmir restaurant a block north. I should have clarified that.
        The food is very good and, much cheaper at the deli.
        I guarantee the lamb gyro with tzaziki and their falafel will not "underwhelm" you

    2. For a "hole in the wall", I visited Clark's in Tioga, TX on Saturday. I think the website is http://www.clarksoutpost.com
      I had the chicken sandwich and it was moist and tender. I had ordered the turkey and they messed up up on the order. I guess this place has been a hangout for horsemen since it opened back in 1974.

      We were on the way to Tulsa for a horse show and this was a detour since Clark's also has a gigantic coconut cream pie. I just ate my chicken sandwich & slaw and didn't taste the pie, but it looked great!

      10 Replies
      1. re: Barbara76137

        Barbara, your post brings back lots of memories. I first started going to Clark's Outpost in Tioga in 1978. That was just a few years after the late, great, Warren Clark quit his executive position at American Airlines to live his dream and open the Outpost. The pies were really the star attraction. His BBQ was "OK". Nothing like Central Texas BBQ. But, It was the casual Sunday drive in the country and visiting with Warren that really drew us there. Ok, the ribs were pretty good, too!
        I've heard the BBQ is quite good there nowadays.

        1. re: twinwillow

          The pictures on the walls were really fun since I know so many of the people, including the friend I was with. He had sent me a picture of the coconut cream pie there right after we met and that was how I knew he was a "closet foodie" :)

          I saw lamb fries on the menu. Have you ever tried them there?

          1. re: Barbara76137

            Never had the lambs fries but I think a drive to the country is due. Although, it's not really a "country drive" these days. Do you remember seeing the large painted mural on the side wall in the back room? I remember when the guy painted it. For food, I think.
            If you want have lunch with me there one Sunday, you know how to get in touch with me.

            1. re: twinwillow

              Didn't see the back room. Funny you should mention the "country drive" because on Monday as we were driving back on 82 we both mentioned 'gee, this bridge/overpass wasn't here back in March, was it?' I can't remember the N/S road, but it used to be an intersection.

              1. re: twinwillow

                I know this is over a month old, but just saw your response today. Email me and now that the weather seems to be a little less than "incinerator" I'd enjoy a road trip!

                    1. re: Barbara76137

                      Just say when, Barbara. We can drive out there in my 41 mpg hybrid.

          2. re: Barbara76137

            Stopped going to Clark's when they did away with the smoked trout. I used to go once a month just to pick up trout.

            1. re: irodguy

              I remember the trout and that was the only reason I would go.

          3. I have to add Blue Ginger Garden to your list. It's consistently good. Hai and his wife are the nicest folks you ever wanted to meet. http://www.bluegingergarden.com

            The island spot can be hit and miss by the way. Their service at lunch borders on intolerable.

            I never heard of Renato's is it really a New York style joint I have never heard about?

            4 Replies
            1. re: irodguy

              Renato's is not NY Style. Is is a Romanian guy who literally set up shop right next to a Subway. He won't get any bites from the general population if he says Romanian Deli. They do have the typical sandwhiches but I would go after the sub and the ones with fresh mozzarella on them.

              Sorry forgot the link in the orginal post


              Facebook page too:

              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                Update: You will want to wait for Saturday as the owner makes a few Romanian dishes on Saturdays....grilled sausages and a few soups and stews he said. Extremely nice guy and sandwiches were decent but much better than Subway next door.

              2. re: irodguy

                I second Blue Ginger Garden. I think the food is excellent (and authentic) and the owners are super friendly. I really hope they're around for a long time to come.

              3. We ate at Taj Mahal on 75 and Meadow tonight (NWC) - it was pretty delicious. Even the British guy at the table next to us was impressed. I'd forgotten how good it is. I'm not an Indian food expert, but I am a foodie and know good, fresh, high-quality food when I taste it. Go for the naan and onion kulcha. Tikka massala is best I've ever had, and the chicken kandhai was really tasty - my new favorite! The staff is friendly, the service was great. I think I'll be dreaming of onion kulchas tonight :-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: Feedyerbird

                  We went back to Taj Mahal recently for the last time. While originally very good its gone downhill over the years. The last visit the tea was undrinkable and the entrees boring to bad.
                  It was sad that a place the used to love reach this point.

                  1. re: Feedyerbird

                    I've been to Taj Mahal many times and it has at best pedestrian Indian food but I do enjoy their AYCE Sunday night buffet.

                  2. Tony's cafe - NW corner of spring creek & alma in Plano. Great breakfast, especially unique breakfast tacos and baklava.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kylewilliam


                      The breakfast tacos look typical but the omelettes look like he has some interesting twists. I will have to give the baklava a go though!

                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                        Actually their cinnamon rolls rock! They have quite a few Greek combos that are also good. The best thing is she who is picky can eat breakfast and I can have a falafel or gyro and of course a cinnamon roll.

                    2. Ibex is one of the better Ethiopian places we have here for sure.

                      Woo Mee Oak has gone way downhill and I don't know anyone who still likes them.

                      Villa and Renato's are both high on the to-eat list.

                      To add:

                      Udipi Cafe, franchise of the one in Houston. Vegetarian South Indian. 35 Richardson Heights village Richardson Texas, 75080

                      BBQ Tonite in Carrollton is another good one, especially considering it's Ramadan. Really good idea to check this out once sun sets to be there for iftar/dinner. SE corner of Bush/Old Denton Rd.

                      Woo Mee Oak
                      10560 Walnut St, Dallas, TX 75243

                      Udipi Cafe
                      35 Richardson Heights Shopping Ct, Richardson, TX 75080

                      1. A true hole in the wall, I've always enjoyed the pierogi at the Euro-Deli & Market just down from Chipotle at the S/W corner of Forest and Central.
                        Run by a Polish family, all the cold cuts come from Chicago. The stuffed duck salami is my personal favorite. This place is a tiny deli with half the space a market and the other half devoted to the restaurant.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: twinwillow

                          Definitely recommend BBQ Tonite for awesome Pakistani grub. I think they even have brain masala on the regular menu. I have only eaten the buffet there on weekend morning but man it rawks!! Paya, haleem, biryani, naans, korma, etc. During Ramadan the weekend buffets may not be that great since they know that folks will not come to eat during the day, so go at night after sunset. After Ramadan, the weekend buffets should be back up to snuff.

                          1. re: caliking


                            So how would you stack BBQ Tonite vs Al Markaz? I went to the buffet at night on a Friday for Ramadan. I found that most of the dishes lacked the depth of flavor that Al Markaz has everyday. I did happen to like the nihari at BBQ Tonite.

                        2. Carmen's on 4717 Singleton Blvd- nice weekday lunch special a few days ago- skewer of seasoned shrimp plus a chicken breast with a pleasant ancho sauce. Seemed quite busy. Mexican.

                          1. As of today, 10/26/2012 half the places mentioned here are gone! Not, First Chinese BBQ however.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: twinwillow

                              Clark's Outpost in Tioga is still there, I drove past it today since I was doing "recon" since I'll be moving to Pilot Point. But that's another post.

                            2. Samwon Garden on FW's south end. Very, very nice owners. You will leave stuffed to the gills!

                              1. After re-visiting this thread, I think Nonna Tata in Ft. Worth should be included. Wonderful home made Italian food served in a genuine "hole in the wall". Almost, literally!

                                And while I'm at it, I think Potager in Arlington should also be included.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: twinwillow

                                  Taiwanese noodle place opened a few months ago.

                                  Different broth compared to King's Noodles. Pretty authentic with some good cold dishes and the staple Taiwanese pork chop over rice dish. Like all hole in the wall ethnic restaurants, one of their downfall is being too authentic to survive in a not so diversified Dallas area. I am not sure how long they will last, so go try soon.

                                  1. re: vr666m

                                    There's plenty of Asian food up that way. It might work. But, I think more so with Taiwanese Chinese than Caucasians.

                                    1. re: vr666m

                                      There is also Plano Chinese BBQ across the street from this location also serving Taiwanese dishes.

                                      Noodle House at Park and Coit is also a good option if you are in search of Zha Jiang Mein. The dumplings are also freshly made at Noodle House if that is of importance to anyone (picture in link below).

                                      1. re: vr666m

                                        Thank you for this rec. I thought the spicy beef noodles was the best version I've had in Dallas. Much preferred over King's Noodles for me. Plenty of Chinese traffic when I was there for lunch.

                                        1. re: vr666m

                                          Went to Taipei Station tonight and loved the beef noodle soup. But the star was the Gwa Bao, which is only served on weekends. Braised pork belly in a steamed bun with garlic, pickled veggies and fresh cilantro. Crazy good stuff. I will be back. Owner (I believe) said he is coming out with other versions of steamed buns soon.

                                          1. re: Jon G

                                            I've been searching for Gua Bao in Dallas for three years!! Did it have crushed peanut as well?

                                            1. re: demigodh

                                              Pretty sure it did, now that you mention it. I'd be curious to hear your take on it since you know the dish. Blew this first timer away.

                                              1. re: demigodh

                                                Tried them out last night. Yes it's got crushed peanut. I'd recommend calling in and just ordering the baos to go because it took nearly two hours to get any food. They were also sold out of the fried porkchop over rice and the fried taro. Factoring that in with the bad service (which I normally would care less about), this was a pretty terrible experience all together considering the gua bao was the only positive point.

                                                Definitely not worth dealing with all that just for gua bao and I don't plan to come back unless I do take out.

                                                1. re: air

                                                  Even if they do a nice pork chop which I did not get to try either.....they really should only be selling one item, Gua Bao....it was the best thing. For the size I thought they were a bit pricey at $5.99.

                                                  I wouldn't waste any time going out of your way for the place though. If you are in Plano call ahead and give them a good 30-40 minutes to make your order. They fulfill every ticket to its entirety before moving to the next, regardless if you order gua bao only or if you have 13 apps and 15 entrees. Just hope you don't get behind the ticket that orders alot of food or you might not get what you ordered as they have run out.

                                        2. Old thread, but my wife and checked out Tineo and really liked. Enjoyed the ceviche and the the arroz chaufa (basically fried rice). Best chaufa we have had in North Texas. It's BYOB, and people get together and watch World Cup Qualifiers, if you are into that sort of thing. We look forward to exploring the rest of the menu.

                                          1. Update:

                                            Closed - Renato’s New York Style Deli at Trinity Mills and Marsh (formerly Eastern European Deli) - Carrollton

                                            Terrible - The Island Spot - http://www.theislandspot.com/ - Carrollton. I had food there recently and everything I had was terrible. The Jerk was cold, the rice and peas were bland(no flavor at all), the cabbage might have been the best thing I did have. You are better off buying a jar of Walkers Wood marinade at a local store and grilling the Jerk yourself.

                                            Villa - I have had just about everything on the menu and it is all good. I would not recommend the gormeh sabzi as it did not have alot goin on flavor wise. I would highly recoomend the shwarma, kabobs and the falafel. All of those dishes seem to be above average for local Persian/Meditt places. They also have a spattering of Italian dishes which they execute really well. Service can be a bit slow but I would rather have slow service and fresh food than the opposite.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                              Aw man! I wanted to check out The Island Spot on Monday and I'm glad I didn't. I was going to try the ox tails and a friend was going to get the jerk chicken. We decided on Al Markaz instead though, I love their karahi chicken!

                                              Do you think they were having an "off day" that day?

                                              1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                Nope have been about 3 times in the last month all of them terrible and at different times of day (once for lunch and twice for dinner). The service was painfully slow even at lunch when everyone in the place had a worried look on their face if they would make it within their hour lunch allotment.

                                                Al Markaz is a solid choice get the spicy chicken khat-a-kat, haleem, and special frontier chicken (with bones). Ask for extra naan (you know you will eat it), ginger and jalapenos as the acoutrements for your dishes. Always ask them for the dish they have on special that day it is the freshest. Last time I went the Bhuna Ghost was awesome. The only problem is we, my wife and I, have a hard time with the amount of ghee.

                                                1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                                  That's disappointing (but good to know) to hear that about the island spot.

                                                  Yeah my Paki friend first showed me Al Markaz and fell in love ever since. Just like getting food his mom brings him. I agree, they do use a lot of ghee, but thats the way good paki food is my friend said. I always get some napkins and get blot some off the top.

                                                  Thanks again for the tips and recommendations.

                                            2. Empamundo's in Irving, run by a very kind Argentinian couple. Delicious, fried-to-order empanadas.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: shilpanic

                                                A huge second for Empa Mundo and their delightful owners. Especially when he plays the guitar and sings for us.


                                                1. re: twinwillow

                                                  Also try La Nina Portena for Argentine empanadas made to order. Most people go for the donuts.


                                                  For Colombian bakery items and more substantial meals, try El Portal. I can't remember the name, but the cheese bread is out of sight. On weekends soups of the day are very good and traditional. Morcilla on the menu, if you are into blood.


                                                  1. re: Jon G

                                                    Cheese bread = Almojabanas and yes those are excellent as is the milhojas, the caramel pastry.

                                                    Nina Portena is a bit pricey on their empanadas but they sure deliver on flavor.

                                                    Also Argentine Bakery in Irving (Beltline and 183 - Target anchored center) has Argentinian inspired pastries and empanadas.

                                                    I just wish the owners of Don Panza/La Carreta would open a empanada shop up again. Thei pizza wasn't half bad either.