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May 6, 2013 03:37 PM

One night to remember...

Hey guys. Moving from Asheviile to Austin will be staying in Dallas one night driving through. Please give me your top recommendations. I love innovative food with a great relaxed atmosphere. No suites or ties. Just excellent food for me and my brother to enjoy.

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  1. LOL! Not to worry. The only suits and ties you'll see in Dallas are those being worn by visiting businessmen at hi-end steakhouses.

    For a "night to remember" one night only dinner, I would recommend FT33. They get big time rave reviews!
    One other place I'd recommend would be family owned and run, Mesa in Oak Cliff for the upscale coastal food of Veracruz, Mexico.


    4 Replies
    1. re: twinwillow

      Mesa is a great idea. The duck mole & tortillas you can't miss--and the ceviche.

      When you get to Austin, go on around to Barley Swine & Sway and eat something for me. They are the kind of places that make me feel a bullet train between here & Austin is essential to my wellbeing.

      1. re: foiegras

        Mmm, Mesa's duck mole'. To die for!

      2. re: twinwillow

        Mesa is a good choice. Also Austin is low on high quality Italian fare (never been impressed with Vespaio), so you might hit Lucia or Nonna.

      3. Tei-An (a favorite of mine) and Oak or Spoon (where I haven't yet been) may be other options to consider.

        The reason I mention Barley Swine is that it beats FT33 at that particular game. And I think you will love love love the atmosphere at both the Austin restaurants I mentioned.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foiegras

          I visited both FT33 and Barley Swine in March. At FT33 I had one truly memorable course (my appetizer, often a strong course), and it was quite, quite good. Excellent buckwheat noodles, chicken livers, cippollini onions, and buttered breadcrumbs. Desserts were weak (I tried at least two). My entree was unbalanced (pork and more pork), best part of it was the bed of rice 'congee,' similar to risotto & very flavorful.

          I was advised on the Austin board that I could not miss Barley Swine, and that it was a much stronger restaurant, 'never a bad course.' This turned out to be true. Every course was stunningly wonderful and original. I would love love love to have it here. But I can't deny that the restaurant's culture is unmistakably Austin.

        2. After dining in both Austin and Dallas for several years now I will say that these would be my recommendations especially coming from Asheville (hated Table and loved Plant).

          I would say it would be wise to hit Mesa, Spoon, Driftwood, Lucia or FT33. If you want to keep even more low key go for TJ's.

          The high end Mexican options in Austin can be hit or miss and they really don't sepcializes in one specific region of Mexico. Mesa is almost predominantly in the Veracruz style, seafood soups, rices and grilled seafood. They also get some influence from Puebla that is why you see the moles which are from the west part of the state of Veracruz.

          FT33 there are some down in Austin like it but not really any who get it right start to finish. Haven't been to Barley Swine's brick and mortor palce since they moved out of their trailer. I also have yet to go to Foreign & Domestic also.

          I was dissapointed with Perla in Austin so much that I refuse to go back. I would rather go to Uchiko or Uchi. That said I think Dallas does a much nicer job of high end seafood, Driftwood and Spoon will be your options there.

          I am not entirely sure but I believe Jon from TJ's supplies most of the chefs with their exotic catches. So as you would imagine TJ's Seafood Market is going to have high quailty without the need for reservations per se.

          You will notice that a big hole in the Austin dining scene is any Asian cuisine. Dallas has you covered on those but you will either find yourself coming to Dallas or Houston for those. Let us know if you want several options

          Not sure when the move is but you coudl try to get a reservation at Lucia. Problem is that most of us have reservations there that prevent you from going. It is a tiny place that has seasonal Italian dishes, well done house cured meats, fresh baked bread, extensive wine list, and awesome desserts.

          7 Replies
          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            A big second to all of L/Hounders recs.

            In Austin, I highly recommend T & S Seafood for Sunday dim sum. However, go early because the line starts forming about 11:00AM.


              1. re: oliviafoodie

                The Moth has a good beer selection, and occasionally the dishes served at beer dinners are quite good - but over all their food is pretty disappointing. Even the good stuff is pretty variable.

                I've had numerous great experiences at FT33, though. I think their dishes are quite creative, fairly delicious and they are constantly improving. The bar is outstanding. The main shortcoming has been the desserts, but they've recently put two excellent pastry chefs in place and I anticipate that desserts will soon be on par with the rest of the menu.

                  1. re: gavlist

                    That's good to know about the pastry chefs ... do you know when they started?

                    Agree about the Meddlesome Moth ... having a bit of trouble remembering what I had. All that immediately comes to mind are the burnt zucchini chips ...

                    1. re: foiegras

                      I do like the fried hominy at the Moth. Kind of a cool and tasty snack... nice texture, salty, slightly spicy, a squeeze of lime... but the real reason to go is for the beer. I've also found their burgers to be outstanding... but only about half the time.

                      At FT33, one of the pastry chefs (Sabrina) has been there from the beginning, but she's been given more responsibility/leeway once Josh left. She's pretty young (I don't know how much experience she has), but enthusiastic and I think she's done a couple of really nice things there - she designed a peanut butter/chocolate dessert that I quite liked. More recently (like in the past few weeks) they hired Maggie Huff, who was at Pyles, then at the Pyramid and from what I've seen she's extremely competent - I haven't had the opportunity to see her creativity in action so much... but we happened to sit at adjacent tables at FT33 one night (before she signed on), and she had a bunch of ideas about where to take the desserts. I'd be shocked if the desserts aren't really good... that is, once they implement the changes. Last time I looked at the dessert menu, it had not yet changed.

              2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                Made reservations at ft33 thank you. Great post. Next time you're in Asheville go to Admiral. You will not be disappointed. Get reservations.