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Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese?

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stiutiounik Oct 20, 2013 12:42 PM

Hey everyone,

I've been adventuring with food for a couple of years now, and I only just found this site. First off, thanks for all the tips (looking for a good Korean place brought me here).

To give back, I'm giving out all of my finds that I enjoy visiting:

1. Si Tapas (north of downtown Dallas): You order many small dishes and share with your table; big wine selection and other bar items. It's the most expensive place on my list, but well worth it.

2. Jorg's Cafe Vienna (downtown Plano): I am a fan of the red cabbage, and the schnitzel (all 3 of the sauces that come with it are great!). There is a decent beer selection, and the sausage dishes are good as well.

3. La Spiga (Southside of Addison Airport): This place has the best Italian sandwich I've ever tasted. I mainly go there for this, and for their bread.

4. Pho Tay Do (Richardson): If you like Pho, but want to try something slightly different, get the Bun Bo Hue.

5. Sichuanese Cuisine (Plano - Parker / Coit): I have been coming here for the last month or so for lunch about once a week. The hot chicken, szechuan beef, and the szechuan beef/fish soups are all good dishes. It's not much for ambiance, but I like the food.

6. Agave Azul (downtown Carrollton): This is a good Mexican restaurant that actually has some seafood on the menu (think south Mexico), and the tortillas are yummy.

7. Little Gus Cafe (north Plano): This place works for me because of how close it is to my home. It's good for a quick breakfast. The food comes out fast, even when they're busy. There are some interesting spins on the menu (think Gyro meat instead of bacon with your breakfast).

I've written down some suggestions from reading through a few threads (Palayok, Hong Kong Royal, Lucky City, Bambu, The Slow Bone), and I am glad to join you all.

Edit: Forgot to mention The Holy Grail. It's a bar, but has great food. I've tried many things on the menu, and none of it has disappointed. It's located in north Plano. -Cheers

  1. twinwillow Oct 20, 2013 03:40 PM

    Welcome aboard. All your suggestions work for me.

    1. s
      stiutiounik Oct 20, 2013 05:02 PM

      A few more came to mind:

      8. Snug on the Square (downtown McKinney): I went there a couple of times with friends on Sundays. Good coffee, omelets, oats, egg sandwiches.

      9. Emporium Pies (Bishop Arts): I am an avid pie-guy, and this place makes the best pie I've had. They also do decent pour-over coffee.

      10. Oddfellows (Bishop Arts): This is probably the best coffee I've had in Dallas. They have an extensive menu, but I have yet to try breakfast there. Nice atmosphere.

      8 Replies
      1. re: stiutiounik
        foiegras Oct 20, 2013 06:50 PM

        Where is Snug on the Square exactly? I've never seen it ...

        If you like BBQ, be sure to get all strategic & check out Pecan Lodge, aka the best in Dallas.

        1. re: foiegras
          stiutiounik Oct 20, 2013 07:19 PM


          That has the address for Snug. It's facing a street to the east. small setup with seating both indoors and outdoors.

          I've seen Pecan Lodge mentioned before. Isn't there a long wait?

          1. re: stiutiounik
            foiegras Oct 21, 2013 06:14 AM

            Thanks. There certainly is a long wait ... that's why you have to be strategic. I'd recommend getting there at 10:30 or so before it opens. It's worth the wait (and they have the framed Post-it note to prove it).

            1. re: foiegras
              twinwillow Oct 21, 2013 06:59 AM

              I would also consider the Slow Bone for BBQ just as good as Pecan Lodge without the very long wait.

              1. re: twinwillow
                foiegras Oct 21, 2013 04:55 PM

                Totally did not have that experience when I tried it ...

                As I have mentioned, brisket at Pecan Lodge was a 12 on a 10-point scale. Molten and the best I've ever had.

                Was at Slow Bone at noon on the weekend. My brisket (which was not the cut I requested, apparently he didn't feel it was worth breaking out a new brisket for me) was on the cold side, not refrigerator cold but by no means hot, mac & cheese not hot enough, etc. The brisket was pretty good for Dallas, decent but nothing to write home about. What I had was not in the same race as Pecan Lodge.

                The pie crust was excellent, cornbread good, cornbread pudding very good, etc. I thought their strength was in the baked goods.

                1. re: foiegras
                  twinwillow Oct 21, 2013 05:25 PM

                  Believe me, I'm crazy about Pecan Lodge's brisket. Agreed, It's fantastic! But I've had brisket at Slow Bone many times that I thought was the equal to PL.

                  And, I am not shy about asking the cutter to take another one out if I don't like the looks of the brisket he's cutting when I get to place my order. He will always oblige.

                  1. re: twinwillow
                    foiegras Oct 22, 2013 11:03 AM

                    I'm glad you're having better luck than I am :) My view is that when I ask for a particular cut, and that cut is not available from the current brisket, I should not have to instruct the cutter to take out a new brisket. I will simply go to another establishment where I am treated like a paying customer. I have many, many options. I suspect that my gender may have been a factor. As I say ... so many restaurants, so little time.

                    PS I think it's instructive for restaurants to realize they shouldn't underestimate their guests. It is *their* business, not mine, to ensure that I have a good experience and am served the best food they offer, not the worst.

        2. re: stiutiounik
          foodie06 Oct 21, 2013 06:28 AM

          Emporium Pies is opening a McKinney location soon. We can't wait. I've never heard of Snug on the Square. We are also fans of Jorg's. Thanks for the other recs. Sounds like some good ones.

          We just discovered Zenna Thai in Plano off Central. They have happy hour pricing from 4-7 p.m. They do small plates and we were able to get a ton of food relatively inexpensively. Everything we had was very good and very fresh. We didn't try the sushi but it looked really good. I was skeptical when I saw on the menu there was 1.00 sushi. The place was packed.

        3. k
          KrumTx Oct 21, 2013 07:48 PM

          Great list. Thank you for taking the time to write it out.

          I stumbled upon Little Gus Cafe a few months ago and thought their breakfast was great - inexpensive but well-done basics. It was a Saturday morning and the place was a controlled madhouse. I also like Agave Azul.

          I'd never heard of Emporium Pies but will definitely try it when it opens in McKinney. Thanks for the recommendations.

          1. LewisvilleHounder Oct 22, 2013 08:03 AM

            Re Sichuanese: Go to the one on Spring Creek and 75. It is newer and cleaner. It is also the location at which the original owner works, he used to work at the Coit location. If you scour around under my name (LewisvilleHounder/soulslinger) I have had a good number of dishes from their menu.

            Some other restaurants if you like that particular cuisine are:

            Little Sichuan on Legacy close to Asia World Supermarket. This is the sister restaurant to Mala Sichuan Bistro in Houston. They still use the chili oil but not as much. What they do have is very fresh white board specials. Ask for them and tell them to not leave anything out or make it less spicy.

            Sichuan King - this is the newest of all of them and just down from Royal Sichuan in the Richardson Chinatown on Greenville Ave between Arapaho and Belt Line/Main. Ask for the Spicy Noodle Soup as this is acutally knife cut noodles (which to my knowledge is the only restaurant in the metroplex serving them). These noodles aren't anything spectacular to the normal person but the fact that the are handmade might make a difference to some like me. Paired with the spicy beef broth and this dish is pretty sublime. You can also opt for the Sichuan style dry hot pot which is dry sauteed rather than boiled, you also get your choice of a mixture of proteins or all seafood. I also liked the sweet potato noodles for a change of pace but if you ar a master of the chopsticks you might want to ask for a fork. The noodles are very slick! I will have to ponder on some other dishes I have had to recommend some more for this place. It is only about 2 months old so I am still working my way through the menu.

            Royal Sichuan - great starter plate - I would highly suggest the greens with edammame, sliced marinated pig ears (very thinly sliced), and marinated chicken hearts (the marinade takes out any gameyness). I think Royal Sichuan has the best Dan Dan Noodles, would like to hear if someone has any other recommendations. I will break the dish down in a later post as to why I think they have the best. If you have a bunch of friends I would recommend the water boiled fish on the special menu at the back. It is quite an undertaking and is literally drowned in the dried chilies. I just have one qualm about the dish as it seems a bit lopsided in the amount of sesame oil....there is just an off flavor and it is not any of the fish or veggies, could just be me. Again you will have to pull up previous recommendations. I steer clear of any Americanized dish and I am usually pretty good....have had some exceptions though like Kung Pao Shrimp....that was memorable.

            Since you are obviously in Plano there are some other hidden gems. I frequent Plano because my in laws live there and it is where most of the restaruants my wife and I go to happen to be.

            Check out the following:

            Senmiya - if you know where Sichuanese is this is directly across Coit from the Dunkin Donuts. Ask for Henry as he is an accommodating chef/owner. If he is not there then insist on the Taiwanese specialties and even the Chinese menu. Dishes like Minced Pork with Dried Bean Curd and Preserved Vegetables (sounds terrible but very good), Lions Head Meatballs (aka Braised Meat Balls….Henry will be impressed if you call them Lions Head though), Sizzling Steak over Noodles with Pepper Sauce, Three Cup Chicken, and Braised Pork Belly with Bamboo Shoots

            Noodle House – just around the corner from Senmiya and across from Sichuanese. This place is tucked away but they offer great noodles, dumplings and buns. Ask for the picture menu and order from that or chat them up and ask for dish recommendations. I like the beef noodle soup, the boiled and pan fried dumplings, and Zha Jiang Mein (might not be on the menu). There are some items I have yet to try so if you venture out please let us know

            Sea Breeze – go only for the Smoked Salmon Club or the Fish and Chips. Anything else I hold for TJ’s Seafood market down on Oak Lawn.

            Fishmongers – My go to place for fried catfish. I also like their shrimp tortilla soup, gumbo and their sautéed or grilled seafood items or specials.

            12 Replies
            1. re: LewisvilleHounder
              LewisvilleHounder Oct 22, 2013 08:36 AM

              Post about Royal Sichuan:

              Little bit about Little Sichuan:

              A good post about some favorites of us all (old but many are still on the list

              1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                twinwillow Oct 22, 2013 08:44 AM

                LH, I want to try Sichuan King. Is their menu in English? When I googled the restaurant I had to have Google Translate the page from Chinese to English. Their food looks amazing!

                1. re: twinwillow
                  LewisvilleHounder Oct 22, 2013 09:14 AM

                  yes it is in English

                  The specials board is in Chinese though and they are accommodating if you have questions.

                  One of the owners was the original owner from North China in Plano.

                2. re: LewisvilleHounder
                  stiutiounik Oct 22, 2013 11:43 AM

                  Thanks for all of that information LH!

                  Here's an update:

                  I took my first visit to a restaurant on the list I compiled: Lucky City Chinese BBQ.

                  The service was quick and polite; nothing to complain about here. We ordered the eggplant and pork, the shrimp/water chestnut/peanut dish, and the duck and wonton soup.

                  Of all three dishes, I enjoyed the eggplant the most. I was somewhat unimpressed with the soup; Maybe I'm just not the biggest fan of duck. The shrimp dish that my girlfriend ordered was good, but nothing amazing. Overall I still like the Sichuanese Cuisine restaurant that I posted about originally in this thread.

                  Did we maybe order items that weren't the best on their menu? The waiter suggested the boiled fish soup, but we had already had that at Sichuanese Cuisine, and had wanted to try something new.

                  1. re: stiutiounik
                    LewisvilleHounder Oct 22, 2013 12:54 PM

                    The boiled fish soup at Lucky City will not be the same as the boiled fish at Sichuanese. It is Cantonese vs Sichuan cooking styles.

                    And for the life on me I can't place where Lucky City is. I know it is at Independence and Parker, which is where North China is.

                    I would suggest North China for a better meal and I will gather up some notes from the menu I have at home to give you specific dish recommendations.

                    If you are used to the spice and agressive flavors of the Sichuan style of cooking then Cantonese will rarely impress you, especially with the options we have available in Dallas.

                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                      stiutiounik Oct 22, 2013 01:07 PM

                      Hmm, that may be the case. I enjoy spicy food, and Lucky City seemed more of something that my grandmother would like (she's a Russian lady who can't stand spicy food).

                      I would much appreciate the notes that you have on North China.

                      Do you all normally keep notes somewhere about the restaurant and dishes that you try?

                      1. re: stiutiounik
                        demigodh Oct 22, 2013 03:32 PM

                        Lucky City is on the other side of Independence from North China. I'm a huge fan and in fact had lunch there today. The wonton soup at Lucky City rivals what I had in Hong Kong. I also recommend the Cantonese standards like roast pork, duck, flat noodles etc.... But, for me, the wonton soup is the reason to go.

                        At North China there's an appetizer that's called something along the lines of chopped vegetables with jelly. It's a cold noodle dish and is fantastic. I've also had some great hot pots there.

                        Sichuan King recently expanded their menu and now cover the range of sichuan food. In addition to the soups, I've had the lamb with cumin and ma po tofu. Neither lived up to the quality of the soup. They also have an appetizer called Tiger Skin which is strips of jalapenos cooked with oil, garlic, ma la, and maybe ginger. It is fantastic. Very spicy but if that's okay it's a great dish. It's kinda like blistered shishito peppers you see everywhere but spicy and different (read: not overplayed).

                        1. re: demigodh
                          twinwillow Oct 22, 2013 05:11 PM

                          Demigodh, how does the won-ton soup at Lucky City compare to the won-ton soup at
                          First Chinese BBQ?

                          I live in Uptown so going that far north would be a stretch for me. But, if the WT soup is really that first rate, I'd venture a drive north for it.

                          1. re: twinwillow
                            demigodh Oct 23, 2013 07:07 AM

                            @TW, The wonton soups are leagues apart. However, it depends on how much you care. To me, the pho at Pho Bang is worlds better than that at Vietnam restaurant. However, I think most people would consider it a marginal improvement and not worth an additional 20 minute drive. This is kinda the same deal. The depth of flavor in the broth at Lucky City is on point.

                            @amokscience, It's possible you don't care for Cantonese style cooking. Do you like First Chinese BBQ or Sun Lok Kee or 1st Emperor or any of those "chinese bbq" places?

                            1. re: demigodh
                              twinwillow Oct 23, 2013 07:36 AM

                              I'll have to try Lucky City when it's convenient for me. I love Cantonese food. I grew up eating it in NYC because it was essentially, the only Chinese food available back then. But eventually, after being exposed to Taiwanese & Sichuan cooking, I found myself just as fond of those Chinese cooking styles as well.

                              And, I certainly agree with your comparison of the Pho at Vietnam Restaurant vs. Pho Bang.

                              1. re: demigodh
                                amokscience Oct 23, 2013 11:44 AM

                                I don't turn down Cantonese style cuisine, and I particularly enjoy Chinese BBQ meats, but I'd normally rather have something like North China or a Sichuan place.

                                I'd probably visit First Chinese as my main Cantonese choice. Also had a couple good meals at 369 Chinese BBQ, I like their spicy condiment. When it was still there I liked Joy Luck BBQ since they had a better selection of meats than most places.

                      2. re: stiutiounik
                        amokscience Oct 23, 2013 06:18 AM

                        I've tried Lucky City three times and have decided it's not my thing.

                        I'm steadily working my way through the North China menu. After several dozen I still haven't found a bad item on the menu. Lots of unique dishes I don't usually see at any Chinese restaurant and I've stayed away completely from the Americanized items.

                        Pictures of the menu here:

                        Sichuan King is better than Sichuanese imo. I've tried quite a bit of Sichuanese's offerings and although the menu is smaller at Sichuan King I really like the food there better.

                    2. nocomicsans Oct 23, 2013 11:02 AM

                      Welcome! You'll love the community. Thanks for bringing goodies with you :)

                      I can't believe there's a Viennese restaurant in the area! I so infrequently get up to Plano, but I'll make the trek just for that! The closest I've come to a true schnitzel is The Porch on Henderson.

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