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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,

BBQ:
- Smoke (Big rib, lemon pie)

Mex:
- 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)

Tex-Mex
- Casa Milagrano
- Uncle Julios

Thanks!

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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.
    http://www.mesadallas.com

    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.

      BBQ:
      -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.

      Mex:
      -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.

      Tex-Mex
      -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!
        http://www.elatorondallas.com

        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.
                  http://www.hatties.com

                  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
                  Counties.

                  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.