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Visiting Plano (from NYC), recommendations please (Researched)!!

Hello, I'll be traveling to Plano for 3 days later this month. I live in NYC, so ideally, I would have liked to try all of the awesome stuff that Dallas does better but I have a time constraint so I'm looking for a BBQ place, a Mexican place and a Tex-Mex place. Based on what I've read, I've listed a few places. I was hoping to get some help narrowing these down to one in each category. Also, I would be staying at the intersection of Parker and Preston. I will have access to a car but the closer the place, the better :) Here goes,

- Smoke (Big rib, lemon pie)

- El Tizoncito
- Restaurant Gonzalez (ask for the salsa fresco)
- Taqueria El Fuego
- El Ranchito (ask for the salsa fresca, also try Paletas Frutitas)
- El Si Hay (am not sure if this is Mex or Tex-Mex)

- Casa Milagrano
- Uncle Julios


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  1. You're on the right track. However, El Fuego is no more, unfortunately.
    To your list add, Mesa on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff. Probably the best and most authentic Mexican food of Veracruze in all of Dallas!. A little more upscale but still casual. I realize it's not close to you but, worth the drive.

    And, it's, "Casa Milagro". Not, "Milagrano".

    1. I would probably steer you in a different direction. These are my suggestions and comments on the places on your list, irregardless of location.

      -Pecan Lodge if you'll be here on a weekend. Best brisket I've ever had and that includes a 48 hour old trip to Snow's in Lexington. I you can't make Pecan Lodge, I recommend Hard Eight for the experience as much as the food or Meshacks.

      In my experience, Smoke always has an exciting menu and disappointing food.

      -Cuquitas (best corn tortillas bar none)
      -Taqueria Lupita (right on Henderson which would make it a good pre or post bar dinner destination.
      -Taquerias!!! (you should go to more than one and you'll find plenty on these boards. there are good ones all over except near where you are staying)

      Restaurant Gonzalez is more Tex Mex and, in my experience, not good unless you get the enchilladas with chili con carne which is awesome.

      -Mia's or Manny's for Brisket Tacos. Absolutely destination worthy and something Dallas takes particular pride in.

      Lastly, I always take visitors who are not from the South to Babe's. Great fried chicken and an all around fun southern atmosphere that, while it is not at all representative of Dallas, is something you can't find in NYC.

      10 Replies
      1. re: demigodh

        Another great dish at Restaurant Gonzalez is their "Guisado de
        Puerco" (pork stew). Great with their incredible home made flour tortillas. It's on the far right side of the menu under house specialties.

        Better (IMHO) than Lupita's on Henderson is El Atoron. And, their tacos are only $1.10 each!

        1. re: demigodh

          Just wanted to note re corn tortillas, I do like Cuquita's ... other great ones can be had at Mesa and Mexican Inn in FW (not worth the drive from Plano, however).

          Babe's is a good idea, and there's also one in Frisco.

          If you go to Bishop Arts (where Mesa, Hattie's, and Dude, Sweet Chocolate are), you could get BBQ to go from Lockhart's.

          I like Smoke, but they apparently don't have a real pastry chef, so you can skip dessert.

          1. re: foiegras

            Where is Cuquita's? I miss the home made corn tortillas at El Fuego. Besides the food, I loved watching the girl standing behind the counter and making corn tortillas from scratch.

            1. re: twinwillow

              The only location of Cuquitas that I know of that is still open is on Spring Valley just east of Coit (south side of the road). The guiso de puerco, again my personal opinion, blows out of the water the version at Gonzalez's.

                1. re: demigodh

                  As of early this year, the josey lane cuquita's was still open and great. I still prefer Nuevo Leon across the street for what seems like a broader menu, but I might be in the minority.

                  1. re: sike101

                    I eat lunch at the Cuquitas on Josey Lane just north of Valley View about twice a week. I especially like their chile relleno (with cheese) and pollo con mole. Their complimentary corn tortillas with butter are excellent, as are their 2 salsas.

                2. re: twinwillow

                  If you remember where Bagelstein's was, Cuquita's is there now. I've also been to another location ... I don't think you can watch the tortillas being made at Cuquita's, but you can at the Mexican Inn's 8th Avenue location.

                  1. re: foiegras

                    Thanks. That "pinpoints" it for me.

              1. re: demigodh

                "-Taquerias!!! (you should go to more than one and you'll find plenty on these boards. there are good ones all over except near where you are staying)"

                Well there is Chitos in Plano. It is a small restaurant near 75 on Legacy. I really like their Mexican style tacos. Maybe not Fuel City but pretty darn good!

              2. I haven't found Q worth eating in Plano or Dallas which is not too far from Preston and Parker (I live @ Parker and Custer). I drive to North Main BBQ in Euless which is an easy 20 min drive each was on the tollroads (basically on the southwest side of DFW airport). Their AYCE Q for $15 is a bargain worth the drive. The issue however is that they're ONLY open FRI, SAT, SUN. Their brisket (ask for the top vs. flat), pork ribs and fresh cole slaw are great.

                If you're too cheap to pay the tolls or drive the distance try Randy White's BBQ in Frisco. Their AYCE Q is $18 and closer in distance to your location. Frisco is the next town north of Plano.

                I agree with Pecan Lodge and Snows but with only 3 days you'd have to devote too much time to driving (Snow's is only open Sat morning 8am until sellout which usually occurs at 9am..lol).

                If you want to do a day trip from Plano drive to the Austin hill country area Q places like Kreuz Market et al. It's about 5hrs each way from your Plano location. If you start early you can get there for lunch, do 3 of the best Q places in TX and be back in Plano by 9-10pm.

                You didn't ask for pizza (I'm an ex-NYer) but Chicago's Finest Pizza @ Spring Creek and Independence is the best Chicago style pizza in all Dallas just a short distance from your location (takeout only).

                While you're here don't forget to visit Central Market, the Texas version of Whole Foods. It's located at 320 Coit Rd on the Dallas/Plano border east of your location. If you're lazy there's a WF @ Preston and Park just down the street from you.

                You're too early but across the street from WF will be opening a Trader Joe's later this year.

                For the best homemade ice cream in Dallas go to Henry's on Independence and Parker Rd just a short distance from your location.

                In the same shopping center as Henry's is North China Restaurant specializing in northern chinese cuisine and pastrys (steamed buns). As an ex-NYer I love chinese food and North China's cooks make some great stuff (but you didn't come to TX for chinese food...lol)

                I agree with a trip to Babes. There's one in Richardson the closest to your location for much better than average fried chicken.

                1. Another Mexican food restaurant I neglected to mention was Pepe and Mito's on Elm Street down in the Deep Ellum section of town just west of downtown Dallas.
                  They advertise themselves as Mex-Tex rather than Tex-Mex.
                  The food is great. They were recently featured on "Diner's, Drive in's & Dives"

                  Also In the Deep Ellum neighborhood on Commerce street is Twisted Root Burger co. Great 1/2 lb. burgers. "Also featured on Triple D"

                  And just across the street from them is Dallas' truly best pizza. Il Cano Rosso. It's true Neapolitan style and not NY style. Their wood burning oven was imported from Naples and put together in the restaurant. Their pizzaiolo comes from Naples as well. Even the flour and tomatoes are from Naples.
                  As an ex-New Yorker, I can assure you that you will enjoy the place and it's pizza. Great salads, too! They were featured on "Triple D" as well but not aired yet.

                  Pecan Lodge is in Shed #2 at the Dallas Farmers Market downtown. They're open Thursday-Sunday only. Ask for their 'fatty" brisket. Most everything else is just, OK. But their (fatty) brisket melts in your mouth. They also offer Wagyu brisket and "burnt ends". It's worth the drive downtown for lunch just for the brisket. Again, also on "Triple D".

                  Don't let anyone turn you off Smoke. The food is delicious! Especially good is their wonderful brunch. Don't forget the, "Big Rib".

                  Also in Oak Cliff on Bishop is Hattie's. For sensational, Southern "low country" cooking in a charming contemporary restaurant.
                  Be sure to have their shrimp 'n grits! Their Caesar salad is (arguably) the best in Dallas.

                  And IMHO, Henry's ice cream is far from the best ice cream in Dallas. Mind you, it's ok. Provided you don't mind your ice cream loaded with corn syrup. A better choice for a cold treat would be, Paciugo gelato. They are a small Dallas based chain with outlets spread out in Dallas and Collin

                  Have fun and, please be sure and let us all know where you went and what you thought.

                  1. Good list. El Si Hay is a take-away taqueria, with a solid street taco, no melted cheese, so guess that'd make it more mex-mex (mex-mex v. tex-mex is not always black and white down here, more of a continuum IMO). Don't overlook the elotes guy with his cart off to the side. It's not exactly haute cuisine, but an authentic local bite nonetheless, especially after many cervezas.

                    I love Gonzalez, the cake-like flour tortillas are worth a trip alone, but if I were coming from out of town, for tex-mex I'd go to El Ranchito, it's the total experience.

                    Mesa is good for sure, but also consider Veracruz Cafe in Bishop Arts. It's not getting the buzz that Mesa is right now, but I think it's every bit as good (and cheaper).

                    Lockhart Smokehouse and Pecan Lodge are the only two BBQ places I'd drive out of the way for, locally. Don't be tempted by sonny's, dickey's, etc.

                    Smoke for sure, and the big rib is great, hope you can taste a few dishes though. The charred broccoli rabe on the hummus plate is my favorite new thing I tasted last year, silly as that may sound, really shows Chef Byres' genius. I'd go for breakfast, no kidding, the brisket hash is great. Might as well stick around Oak Cliff and eat all day, half your spots are down here! Keep an eye out, the guys from Smoke/Bolsa are opening a fried chicken beer garden joint called Chicken Scratch just down the street any day now, I'd be willing to bet it'll be great.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sike101

                      +1 for that broccoli rabe and hummus. What an amazing pairing which I had never seen before. I was upset when my friend ordered hummus but it was by far my favorite item i've ever had at Smoke.

                    2. First off nice job is narrowing your search and doing some actual board research.

                      I have a few questions for you before giving you a run down of where I would send someone from NYC.

                      1 Do you frequent the outer boroughs for any ethnic foods (i.e. Queens for Chinese, etc etc) if so which borough and what cuisine do you usually hit? This will give me a good idea of what kinds of foods/specific dishes I should be recommending.

                      2. When you are asking for Mexican food are you looking for any interior region specifically (i.e Veracruz, Colima, D.F., etc)?

                      3. What are your comfort levels with eating offal meats and out-of-the-ordinary ingredients (tripe, sweetbreads, cactus)?

                      4. When you say Tex-Mex are you looking for any dishes in particular (i.e. Fajitas, enchiladas, margaritas)?

                      I am just trying to get a feel for what you have had, what you are comfortable with and if you are really looking for any dishes in particular that we can point you in the right direction to find that perfect version.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                        Hi, thanks for your help!

                        1. I do hit Flushing (Queens) occasionally for Chinese, Romanian, Thai, Filipino (m probably missing some others) food. Not so much the other boroughs. In Manhattan, I travel to pretty much any part for good ethnic food as well.

                        2. Unfortunately, I do not know anything about regional mexican cuisine. The only mexican that I've had (rather sadly) is the regular stuff you get everywhere and my fav. so far has been the tacos and burritos in the Mission district in SF. I'm open to trying anything delicious :)

                        3. I'm absolutely fine eating anything. Out of the stuff that you mentioned, I've not tried cactus. But, my first preference is deliciousness. I do offal once in a while anyways so I'd rather not do something just because it's a little out of the ordinary.

                        4. No specific dishes that I have in mind. Actually, i don't even know what are the well know dishes in Tex-Mex cuisine. As long as it's good, I'll try it :)

                        As I had mentioned, the 2 factors that'll influence the places that I'll end up going to will be proximity to where I'll be staying (intersection of Parker and Preston) and time (which unfortunately, I'll be very short on).

                        Thanks again!

                        1. re: indiefoodie

                          A "MUST EAT" Mexican in Dallas is Mesa. A more upscale (but still casual) Mexican restaurant located in a Hispanic part of town on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff across the Trinity River from downtown. It's a short ride across the Houston Street viaduct (the oldest bridge in Dallas).
                          Stay on the right side of the bridge and follow Zang Blvd. to W. Jefferson Avenue and then a left on W. Jefferson. Mesa will be on your right at 118 W. Jefferson. They have their own parking lot a few doors down from the restaurant on the right. Or if available, a meter on the street in front of the restaurant.
                          The chef/owner Reyes family make some of the finest true Mexican food of Veracruz you'll find anywhere. My personal favorite!

                          Also on Jefferson are two excellent family style Mexican restaurants. Restaurant Gonzalez (be sure to ask for their "Salsa Fresca" with your chips. They'll serve you something more akin to Pace unless you specifically ask for the Salsa Fresca. I love their Guisado de Puerco (pork stew) listed under "specials" on their large menu.
                          Also be sure to have their wonderful house made flour tortillas. Huge, delicious portions cheaply priced!

                          The other favorite Mexican on Jefferson is the venerable old, El Ranchito. Known for their Cabrito and, strolling guitarists. This a busy festive Mexican restaurant you'll enjoy experiencing. And, the food is excellent!

                          Also spread around town are many Mexico City style taco stands serving small, hot off the grill double corn tacos loaded with your choice of all manner of meats with cilantro and onions. The "house" green sauce is your best bet for a spicy condiment. These wonderful little joints are where the Latino's eat. Perfectly safe, the staff of these places are very welcoming. Although, a little knowledge of Spanish is helpful, it shouldn't be a problem

                          If your interested in these Mexico City style "taco joints", just let us know. We all have our faves. They're also very inexpensive! Tacos in these places are priced anywhere from $1.10 to $1.35 each!

                          1. re: twinwillow

                            Thank you very much! A few follow up questions,

                            1. Out of these, if you had to pick one (esp. for someone travelling from NYC), you would pick Mesa?

                            2. Are these places close to each other? I was wondering if a 'mexican grub hop' would be feasible and advisable? Have one dish (whatever the restaurant does best) at each of the three :)

                            3. Are all of these Mexican, Tex-Mex or a hybrid?

                            4. Any dish recommendations at Mesa (since you gave some at the other places)? Also, El Ranchito seems to have 2 Cabrito dishes - Cabrito a al Parrilla and Cabrito en Salsa. Is one better than the other or are they just different?

                            5. I would love to know some stellar 'Taco Joints'. Is there something close to where I would be staying (in case you're familiar with the area)?

                            Thank you!

                            1. re: indiefoodie

                              1. Yes. I would pick Mesa. It's the best!

                              2. I wouldn't do a "grub hop" with the others as they give you too much food to begin with.

                              3. Mesa is pure Mexican. The others mentioned are more.....Mex-Tex rather than Tex-Mex.

                              4. At Mesa, I like to start with the ceviche but, all the starters are excellent.
                              For mains, I like either the duck with mole' or the braised ox tails
                              Their drinks are great too!

                              5. Not much in really authentic ethnic Mexican tacos where you're staying.

                              However, there is a great taco place that I highly recommend. El Tizoncito on Forest Lane just east of Webbs Chapel. Not really a "dive" but a very comfortable authentic Mexico City style taqueria where the pork is cut off a "trompo". Like a Middle Eastern shawarma.
                              Google, "El Tizoncito Forest Lane" for more info. They have the home base in Oak Cliff but, the Forest Lane branch is much closer to you.
                              Their website: http://www.eltizoncitous.com

                              Be sure you have the "Tacos Al Pastor Alambres con Queso"

                              Another little taco "joint" I like is Tacos La Banqueta (LP). Their tacos are $1.35 each.
                              Their Gaston Avenue location only! It's attached to a Fina gas station. Clean, cheap, and very good!
                              They offer a hot, red sauce and, a green sauce. Skip the red and go straight for the green. It's fabulous!

                              I also recommend Taco El Atoron on Henderson Avenue at Fuqua. Their tacos are $1.10 each.

                              I've barely scratched the surface but that should pretty much cover it while you're in Dallas. Have fun and, eat well!

                          2. re: indiefoodie

                            For Mexican food there is a simple rule to know and it will effect your decisions on where to go.

                            1. Are you more of a meat person or tortilla person. If meat you will want recommendations for Taquerias, for toritllas you will want to seek out Tortillerias

                            I am more of a tortilla person. I feel that even with mediocre meat a taco can be a good thing if wrapped in an awesome tortilla.

                            I would say since you are in Plano, Chitos on NWC of Legacy and Chase Oaks Blvd (just off 75/Central Expressway) will be your best bet. The corn tortillas are freshly made and would go with the Al Pastor taco if you have to have a taco. I would really go for the Asado de Puerco and with the fresh corn tortillas you can't get any better that will be close to your location.


                            For the Upscale Mexcian option I would go with Mesa. I have had just about every dish on the menu several times. I would recommend smaller items like the Surtido sampler plate, Chileatole (not sure how you like bubblegum/licorice flavors as it is made with Hoja Santa leaf), the Mole and the Estofado. Round out the meal with the Flan De Naranja. I do like the seafood items a lot but I liked them better when it was a "less stuffy" restaurant. Say hello to Raul and Jaretzy for me!

                            If you want more of the roaming mariachi and grilled items then El Ranchito is your place. I would recommend the grilled cabrito (young goat) and mollejas (sweetbreads). The salsas and corn tortillas are also very good.

                            I am not going to beat you to death about the BBQ here in Dallas. I know of three places that I would recommend but the consistency factor is hard for me to give a glowing recommendation. By consitency I mean sometimes the meat can be sublime and the same exact time the very next weekend it can be horrible and make you doubt why you drove all that way. All that said here are my recommendations.

                            Pecan Lodge
                            Lockhart Smokehouse
                            Smoke (Alternate - more of varied styles of BBQ rather than Texas


                            For Tex-Mex I usually go to Tipicos and there are two locations (one in Carrollton just off Beltlien and Josey and one off Bachman Lake close to Love Field on NW Hwy) I only get one thing the cheese enchiladas, I believe the #18. There are three reasons I only go here for my cheese enchiladas. 1. They use real cheddar cheese. 2. They use only a chile sauce, not ranchero sauce. 3. They have the best refried beans probably in Dallas (flor de mayo beans topped with an extra spoon of bacon fat and placed under the broiler).


                            I wouldn't pass up the Vietnamese or Thai options we have here in Dallas. If you want some recommendations let me know and I can point you in the right direction for those

                        2. Btw, if you do make it to El Banqueta, the taco meat of choice is, Suadero. Which I believe is beef brisket from the belly.