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Birthday Dinner Suggestions

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So one day a year I get to pick for my birthday in July. I need help trying to narrow down my choices between any Stephen Pyles restaurant, Oak, Smoke, Mesa, etc. Something along those lines. No steak houses, been there done that. Would like to get dressed up, but not too dressy. Want to feel comfortable and not out of place. Family of 5 with college age children. All foodies. We normally go to family owned, hole in the wall type places with great food. Open to any type of food except sushi. Would like to keep the price around $75 per person. We live in the Lewisville area restaurant wasteland so any location around Dallas is okay.

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  1. I would highly recommend Lucia first provided they can take you. You'll have to check with them as to availability and their possible vacation closing time which I believe is in July.
    They have one table for six which could work in your favor.
    http://luciadallas.com/

    I also love Nonna on Lomo Alto in Dallas' Highland Park.
    A bit more traditional and not quite as inventive as Lucia but still my personal favorite in Dallas for fabulous Italian food in the Tuscan style. Very, very popular so early reservations are highly recommended.
    http://www.nonnadallas.com/

    And of course, Mesa should also be considered.

    Stephen Pyles' Samar would be great fun too if they are open. They're supposedly closing for a while this summer for redecorating.
    http://www.samarrestaurant.com/

    Regardless, have a Happy Birthday!

    2 Replies
    1. re: twinwillow

      I love both Lucia and Nonna. Lucia is the better of the two, but to paraphrase Yogi Bera, "Nobody eats there anymore because the line is too long!" But either would be a great choice. Lucia is a bit more rustic, has an emphasis on house cured meats, and has the smallerm but more adventurous wine list.

      Mesa is very good, but not in the same league as the first two.

      I have been disappointed at Hattie's the last two visits. The noise level borders on unbearable and the food seems to be a bit on the decline. Fair at best at my ast visit.

      Neighborhood Services on Lover's Lane is basic, but very well done. Wine list is a bit of a weakness unless you are a big fan of American wines, but even then, the producers aren't that interesting. Lst looks lie it was put together by a distributor, by and large.

      Noise at Boulevardier makes dinner conversation all but impossible, at least for me.

      I also had a good experience at Spoon. Quite an interesting menu. You might check out their web site if cutting edge seafood appeals to you.

      1. re: Mike C. Miller

        I was able to have a conversation with my mid-size party at Boulevardier, but I wouldn't call it quiet :) I enjoyed Spoon, but was a bit disappointed in my selections. I tasted a few other dishes that were stellar, and the amuse bouche, etc. (3 little freebies, 2 of which were quite memorable) was fantastic. None of what I got was quite that good. I was somewhat annoyed at not being able to get any type of personal recommendation from our server. I gathered she was under strict instructions not to give any. All I could get was which items were popular (apparently the people aren't always right), and what the strategy behind different menu items was. Ugh ... There's a great table in an alcove, but I believe you need 6 people to get it.

    2. Smoke and Mesa are great choices. Boulevardier and Bolsa might be options. Dude, Sweet Chocolate is right across the intersection from Boulevardier (and OK, right next door to Lucia). I'm thinking about Oak for my own birthday, haven't been yet. Oh, Bijoux and Rise are good too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foiegras

        I second all the above and I would also add Hatties to the mix.
        http://hatties.com/

      2. I would strongly recommend FT33. It's casual and I think college aged kids would like it. Last time we went we really enjoyed their house made charcuterie board.

        I'd also throw in Belly & Trumpet and Lark in the Park. Both have a hip atmosphere, but good food and not so loud you can't hold a conversation.

        If it matters, all of these places offer excellent cocktails.

        1. Lucia is a tough table, yet let me suggest, put your name on the standby list. My wife's birthday is tomorrow night, and tonight at 6pm....Lo and Behold the phone rings......Lucia. 2 tables opened up. One at 6:30, one at 8pm.

          I took the 8pm. :-)

          Nonna is fabulous too.

          Been to Mesa once. Slow night I suppose, don't get the buzz.

          Pyles is awesome. Samar is a personal fave, but for me not a special occasion place. Shoot, I walk there for lunch at least 2X a month.

          1. FT33, Driftwood, Lucia, Mi Dia From Scratch, TJ's or Mesa would be my choices....all well within the prices.

            A bit on the lower end would be Bambu (Issan Thai), Senmiya (Chinese/Taiwanese), Little Sichuan or Royal Sichuan.

            I would say nix Oak unless they can execute the dish they had at the D Mag 100 Best Restaurants party, plus Jason Maddy has left. Smoke I feel is overpriced for what it is an it really isn't all that great. I do like some of their sides but their BBQ is not up to par for those prices.

            I feel that FT33 and Driftwood probably excite me the most out of all the restaurants in Dallas. I do like Lucia but most of the time I am not in the mood for pasta.

            I have yet to get to Belly & Trumpet or Lark on the Park...on my to do list.

            I live in the same wasteland and find myself in the same boat!

            1. Thanks for all the great suggestions. After looking at all the menus, I feel Hatties or FT33 is probably for us. Leaning towards Hatties. Didn't know before I posted, but bringing along son's girlfriend, who doesn't like seafood and is gluten free so no Italian either. Double whammy. I'll give my review after we go. Specifically to Hounder, off topic, what's your favorite Tex-Mex in Lewisville, we always travel to Los Amigos in Grapevine. Hoping to find something closer.

              2 Replies
              1. re: vidorian

                I will start a separate topic for you!

                1. re: vidorian

                  If you go to Hattie's, I'd be interested to hear you comment on the noise level. I know that I'm a bit more picky about that than a few people, but the last two times I was there, the noise just seemed unbearable to me. Very loud!

                  I wonder if I'm just getting to the point that I don't want to patronize a lively, noisy restaurant; or whether Hattie's is just louder than your average lively place.

                2. My college aged son LOVES going to FT33; it's a flavor adventure and very memorable. Even though the menu is small, you will find something for everyone....including the g/f girlfriend.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pepper131

                    Their buckwheat (gluten-free) noodles are incredible!

                    I hadn't realized Oak's chef had left ... has anyone been since that development?

                  2. I made reservations at FT33 but I am constantly second guessing my choice. Anyone have any opinions on Hibiscus or Roy's in Plano. I'm thinking FT33 won't have enough choices for everyone. Also have 3 with big appetites. Reviews for FT33 I've read say small portion sizes. We don't go splurge often and I want to get it right. Help.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: vidorian

                      I went to Hibiscus a few weeks ago and it was very enjoyable. The portions will be bigger than FT33, but the dishes are less innovative. Ask for Jenera (sp?) as your waitress if you go. She was one of the best servers we've had in a long time.

                    2. Well we ended up going to Hibiscus for my birthday dinner. Food was pretty good. I'd give it 3.75 out of 5. Lamb rib appetizer was really good. Sweet and meaty. I had the halibut for my entrée. Didn't like the atmosphere so much. Noisy, dark and they sat us right in front of the open kitchen by the cash registers and coffee pot even after I told them this was a special occasion. Our only option to move was up to the bar area. They did put a candle on my chocolate cake. Thanks for all the suggestions. Going to try and reserve Lucia for my anniversary in October. If not FT33.

                      1. If you like seafood, Lefty's on Beltline in Addison is just wonderful. I have such a hard time choosing between their menu and specials. All great.