Short Orders: Daddy Jack's
1916 Greenville Ave.
If you could travel back in time to, say, New England, Baltimore, or even the bayous of Louisiana in the 1950s, you'd expect to find dozens of places like this. The now venerable seafood shanty on lower Greenville has it all: doo-wop bopping from the, um, stereo; one of those 40-cup industrial percolators; a sense of it being cobbled, crammed and tucked into place. Oh, and lobster.
Lots of lobster.
With the arrival first of Oceanaire and then Dallas Fish Market, it's just about impossible to award Daddy Jack's the best seafood in Dallas. Not anymore. Someone asked me the other day, however, about the top 'bang for your buck' restaurants. Consider the tiny shack a contender in that category.
When they run a special like paella, for instance, it involves four large shrimp, enough mussels to make up an appetizer portion, a half dozen clams, as well as a claw, leg and tail of a small lobster--for $25.95. Sure, the wealth of ingredients that goes into paella means the prized meat must struggle to show its rich, sweet nature. At least it's there.
Potato pancakes mixed with lobster start with a nice, buttery spud full of tangible pieces--not just of shellfish meat, but potato. The combination is both homey and rich. Simple, too...although once again, the meat blends almost too far into the background.
OK, so we're talking about a $7.95 appetizer with as much lobster as most high end establishments place in bisque. Daddy Jack's specialize in whole Maine lobster, as well as rock lobster tails...and other seafood dishes.
Far from being disappointed with background lobster, you'll probably end up with a soft spot for the place (if you don't have one, already). Daddy Jack's has become a mainstay. Service is generally quaint and small towny, they cover tables in 'charming' red checker patterns and nail all kinds of accolades on the wall. It is one rustic looking place.
It's good, too--satisfying what they try to achieve.
And it always has been. Like S & Do Oyster on McKinney, the joint is what it is. Yeah, the presence of quality upscale seafood joints toppled Daddy Jack's from its 'best' perch some time ago. But the little lower Greenville spot isn't set up to compete with such places.
No matter. It's still a destination for good lobster, still a destination for less expensive home style seafood, still a cool shack ripe with atmosphere, still a place to go.
In all that, it may be one of a kind.