Please Feed the New Guy: Wherein You Tell Me What to Eat in Order to Feel Like a Texan

Categories: Whimsy
Little-Miss-Sunshine-fs11.jpg
The author reacts to the Chick-fil-A sauce selection.
Here's the deal: I'm new in town. I was brought in to slowly turn Richie Whitt into a love-advice columnist. It's going well so far, I think; he hasn't kneed me in the groin since late Tuesday.

I've learned over the years that the best way to get to know a city is through its food. But finding that food is a task I usually leave to my wife, since my idea of culinary variety means using multiple dipping sauces at Chick-fil-A.

But she's not in town yet. This is where you come in. Let's fatten me up, shall we?

Over the next month, until my way-better half joins me in Dallas and starts finding taco places our own Taco Guy has never heard of, I'm only eating at places you -- the dear, loyal, dashing readers of City of Ate -- recommend.

I won't likely hit them all; that would require a budget and stomach lining with which I am not blessed, regretfully. But I assure you this: I will not eat at any establishment not recommended by this esteemed panel of commenters. And I'll tell you about every experience in enough detail to make you take your lunch break at 10:30.

The goal is to speed my transformation into credible Texan. Because while I came here from Kansas City, where the streets are lined with brisket, my roots are in northern California, the proud home of all things dainty -- including, but not limited to, vegetarianism, the West Coast offense and my frame. You'll meet me eventually, but in the meantime, just picture the girl from Little Miss Sunshine with a paunch and a haircut that, despite hearty attempts to divert it, is definitely veering uncontrollably toward faux hawk.

All right, go. Feel free to suggest specific dishes and beers to go with them. The more choices I have to make, the more likely I am to screw it up.

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82 comments
nsphilips
nsphilips

There is a small but mighty contingent of die-hard foodies in this town, and you're going to be overwhelmed by suggestions, so I'll just pile on with a few that might have been missed:

Fried chicken (or chicken livers, or chicken fried steak, or just about any other southern comfort food): Mother's Daughters on Irving Blvd. Pretty sure it's only open for lunch, be prepared for a wait and servers who will tell you to get your elbows off the table.

Tamales (just tamales, not tex-mex): the lady selling them from her rolling suitcase-warmer thingie along Greeenville Ave, I always see her at Shuck N Jive. Oh, speaking of Shuck N Jive...

Catfish/Shrimp/other "Mexican-style" seafood: Big Shucks on Mockingbird. Delicious, consistent, inexpensive fried and boiled seafood goodies. The Shrimp Cocktail is a signature item, crawfish are in season now and very good there, and the daily fish special is the biggest portion of fish you'll find under $10. And the huge patio can't be beat. Their "little sister" location on Greenville, Aw Shucks, has a more limited menu and gets really, really packed at peak times, so we always drive a little further to the Mockingbird location.

Mexican breakfast (a.k.a. weekend hangover spot): sorry, can't give that secret away. I'll never be able to get back in! But there are PLENTY of options, especially in East or South Dallas, so you should have fun trying them out

Steak with side of nostalgia: the original Dunston's on Lover's Lane. It's been there for 50 years and is a total time-warp (think wooden captain's chairs and red leather booths). This is not five-star, three-fork dining. But the steaks are excellent, cooked over an open wood grill and the salad bar - it's small but has all the right stuff a native Texan would love (beets, pickled okra, free refills)

Welcome to our little town and Happy Hunting!

CrackerDaddy
CrackerDaddy

Wow! No mention of the All-Good Cafe on Main @ Walton in Deep Ellum? Arguably, the best CFS in Dallas. Another arguably best CFS in Dallas is at Ozona on Greenville. Try the Gorditas at the Harry Hines Bazaar -- mighty good. For fried chicken, stay in the hood. Try Big Daddy's on Pine @ Colonial, Rudy's on S. Lancaster or Halls on S. Buckner.

CHECK YOU OUT GUY
CHECK YOU OUT GUY

oneword //HASHKNIFE,take a little road trip to mineral wells8 miles north on 281 to peadenville.. the ribs are by far the best,the smoked chicken salad on that homemade grilled bread as well as the trail burger will absolutely spoil you from town..this place ,i wish was in dallas.. but its a destination spot now,for my family.. my dad thought the ribs were the best of tha west.. but the bread,oh my... go go go... you wont be sorry...

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

El Taquito on Grand Ave. Real Texans go for the menudo on weekends.Hamburger at the Loon. Goes well with beer, better with whiskey.

G_David
G_David

Being a denizen of E. Dallas that rarely leaves my bubble for food (but has at one time or another eaten all over the Metroplex), here's my short list:

- Mexican - Pepe's & Mito's in Deep Ellum. Awesome handmade tortillas, never ever disappoints.

- Cajun - Alligator Cafe. The fact that people actually wait for a table at Pappadeaux is mind-boggling.

- Burgers - You can throw a rock and hit my 3 faves, in order of preference. Angry Dog, Adair's, Twisted Root. Lee Harvey's and Wingfield's are farther, but totally worth the drive. And Cowboy Chow, which might be more "texan", might catch the ricochet of the aforementioned rock.

Veggie - Kalichandjis. My friends love Spiral Diner, but it made me violently ill once, so take that one under advisement.

Home Cooking - Allgood Cafe. Best chicken fried steak I've ever eaten, same with the meatloaf, and awesome breakfast. Runner-up, John's Cafe.

Asian - Bangkok City on Bryan, Vietnam (across the street from Bangkok City), Teppo and Tei Tei for sushi/Japanese. And for that Chinese take out craving at a ridiculous hour of the night, Betty's Best Around on Greenville.

Jacques Delira
Jacques Delira

Lots of choices for Mexican food. Cuquitas but the one in oak cliff is probably the best food and atmosphere. Tacos well a couple of gas stations have the best one close to the Jail off of industrial and the shell station in Garland on Miller and Saturn. The best Menudo next to my grand mother and she was the original Mama Cuca on Harry Hines. So know your menudo. Dixie house for chicken fried steak in Lakewood. Kellers and Adairs for a burger. The Greeks have some of the best barbecue in Mesquite one off of military parkway just in front of the Mesquite high schools stadium and close to the mesquite rodeo. Campisi's for pizza!! You have got to hit parts of Dallas where you wonder. What the hell am I doing here?? Good luck and have fun.

cp
cp

So many steakhouses and not one mention?? Is it because he's from Kansas City? Look, we have the Texas equivalent of Longhorn Steakhouse here and it's called Texas Land and Cattle. Skip it and go to Bob's. You'll love the big carrot.

Jst0604
Jst0604

Hate it when people say "the Cliff." It's Oak Cliff. Same number of keystrokes. Poser idiots.

Coleman
Coleman

The thing about Maple & Motor is that it's probably best to order to-go. The burgers and brisket sammiches may be awesome, but the ANCIENT crowd will make you slip into a never-ending existentialist nightmare. Something about being surrounded by the soon-to-be-dying makes eating what would normally be a delicious cheeseburger a little morbid.

Elenaran
Elenaran

For burgers, go to The Old Monk - great burger and great beer selection to boot

Les Hall
Les Hall

There's the new Lockharts on Bishop at Davies - meant to be great. Also another new BBQ joint called Luckies on Davis, didn't like. Too much of a Greenville Ave biker vibe. Dang there's yet another new BBQ in N Oak CLiff. Papa Joe's 1233 Newport. Meant to be good open thurs to sunday. They have a FB page.

Les Hall
Les Hall

So are you harkening back to places of old? Like the Highland Park Cafeteria? I'm surprised someone hasn't mentioned Campisi's Egyptian - that, to my amazement, normally gets mentioned in stuff like this.

Hey! The Observer just got nominated for a James Beard Award for Humorous Food Writing. You should search the site and read it. Brilliant. I really don't understand by why you say we don;t have a clue. A clue about good old boy food?

Les Hall
Les Hall

"People in Dallas have no clue" Where the hell are you eating?

Last time I checked we have a good number of national-award winning restaurants and chefs that are recognized around the world as best in class.

IMHO Dallas is getting foodier and foodier every week. Lucias in Bishop Arts - a great example of a small local joint turning out amazing food.

Les Hall
Les Hall

Wingfield's Breakfast and Burgers - I would share as the burgers are massive.

I second EL Ranchito and Glorias on Davis. Glorias do a meltdown margarita for $8 and one will get you seriously addled. Across from Gloria is El Si Hay, often touted as best tacos in town.

Nobody said Mecca or Barbecs or Metro - all diners, all quite good. Somehow not as good as the diners of yore but still ok.

Bigjondaniel is talking out of his perky, trendy fedora. Dallas is a fantastic city for foodies.

Jose Ralat Maldonado
Jose Ralat Maldonado

New Bossman, I'll take you to taquerias that will straighten anyone's short-and-curlies.

Autumn Reo
Autumn Reo

Best way to get a lot of different food in one place is TASTE ADDISON. It's May 20-22 at Addison Circle Park and you can eat your way down Beltline and hear some great music to boot. (Full disclosure: I do rep Taste Addison, but if I wasn't lucky enough to do that, then I'd be there in line eating, which I do after I'm working anyways!) Visit: www.facebook.com/addison.speci... for more info!

Angie
Angie

Hit any restaurant in the Oak Cliff Bishop Arts District. Try some of the other places on Davis like Lucky's Smokehouse and Nova's. Lee Harvey's in the Cedars district is a great place for a drink and some good food. Lee Harvey's is the kind of place where you may show up alone but have 15 new friends before you leave.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Oh, how could forget. The State Fair. Of course that's not until October and the wife will be in town but you both have to go and eat fried... fried anything. Everything is fried and I mean everything you can imagine.

Carl Ferrer Jr.
Carl Ferrer Jr.

For Tex-Mex. Only place to go is Gonzalez on Jefferson in the Cliff. Its also just down the street from the theater they caught Oswald at.

Also you gotta hit Smoke at the Belmont...

Brocka
Brocka

Louies pizza on Henderson; it's an institution and a requirement by anyone in the news/journalism biz.Kellers drive-in burgers on Northwest Hwy.Snuffers burgers/cheese fries on Greenville ave. (another Dallas namesake)Mama's & Daughters diner, all the fare especially pies on Royal/Northwest Hwy?BBQ: Sammys in uptown, awesome squash casserole and apple pie. Lunch only. Sonny Bryans is over-rated and really fatty bland ribs. Ignore advice to go there.Take all Tex-Mex suggestionsHigh-end: Stephen Pyles on Ross (better than Dean Ferring, imo)And Nana in the Anatole for a real Dallas experience and viewEnjoy!High-end: Stephen Pyles on Ross. Better than Dean Ferribgs cuisine, imo

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

My fave places in town I like eating, and reflect the culinary map of Dallas:

BBQ: Sonny Bryans (Original on Inwood, sit inside at old school desk or outside), Bakers Ribs (Deep Ellum) Mama Fayes (Deep Ellum, its new and it rocks)Riscky's(Ft. Worth-Azle Ave, The original store, great que in cowtown)

Tex-Mex: Pepe and Mitos (Deep Ellum-Tacos Nortenos and Enchiladas En Mole) El Fenix (Downtown-Just for the day-glow yellow cheese they put on everything) Blue Goose (Greenville Ave-New mexican style, green chilies)Coquitas (Oak Cliff, mexican home cooking, just like your abuela used to make)

Southern Fried: Babes(Cedar Hill Great Family-style fried chicken and CFS) Good Eats Grill(Oak Lawn, the CFS is great) Cowboy Chow (Deep Ellum, total original takes on so. fried faves)

Burgers: Twisted Root(Deep Ellum, Great burgers, Cold beer)Kellers: (NW Highway, Old school drive in, where the ladies call ya "hon)Jakes: (Lake Highlands, neighborhood spot with decent burgers and long necks by the single or case)

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

My arteries just called. I couldn't really understand them -- they were yelling pretty good, and they don't really articulate, being internal organs and all -- but they didn't sound happy.

Great suggestions, though. Look out for my next series, "Does Anyone Know a Good Cardiologist? I Think I'm Hav --"

foodbitch
foodbitch

Hi there! I love meeting people like you who are open to being bossed around in a foodie fashion. Allow me to weigh in.Try good-fancy and good-cheap versions of BBQ at Smoke and Off The Bone, respectively. (Side note: These are great ways to check out two different views of downtown Dallas.)Eat some southern goodness family-style at Celebration near Love Field.Sit outside and eat some fresh, seasonal fare at Bolsa or Meddlesome Moth.Lunch like a Dallas lady at Neiman Marcus' NM Cafe downtown (but bring cash).Try the Chicken and Waffles at Victor Tango.And try every burger and taco someone recommends to you. They're all damn good.

Voila! Dallas!

When you're done with all that, hit me up for more recommendations!-- @foodbitch

nsphilips
nsphilips

Sorry, forgot the requisite BBQ recommendation: Mike Anderson's BBQ on Harry Hines across from Parkland Hospital. Only open for lunch Mon-Sat, but their ribs give Baker's Ribs a run for their money. And they serve deviled eggs as a side-dish option. Nuff said.

JesseHughey
JesseHughey

Where in Oak Cliff is Cuquitas? If you mean the one on Kiest and Hampton, it closed a couple years ago and is a catfish place. If there's another location, I need to check it out.

cp
cp

Yeah or you get yelled at by the owner.

Elizabeth Bair
Elizabeth Bair

Coleman, you're so right. The last time I went to lunch there I thought I had accidentally stumbled into Luby's during the early bird hour. Since Joe's probably going to have a massive coronary if he subsists on tacos, burgers and barbecue. I will throw out Spiral Diner and Bliss Raw Cafe and Elixir Bar so the man can get some damn vegetables.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

@les - I would certainly say "no" to harking back. But just because a restaurant is popular, doesn't make it good

Les Hall
Les Hall

Forgot Clarks in Tioga for BBQ and Ranchman's Cafe in Ponder. Years ago used to be a fun drive into the country into the past kind of an evening with good BBQ and great steaks. Haven't been in years maybe they aren't so good now. Anyone know?

Jacques Delira
Jacques Delira

That is so true!! I left that off my suggestions. Good call!!

Ardy
Ardy

Oswald was shot at the old police hq on Main downtown.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

You beat me to it. Smoke is a must.

Yao Fuzi if you end up in Plano wanting Chinese.

Ed D.
Ed D.

Heck yes, the cheese fries with bacon, jalapenos, and scallions at Snuffer's may cause you to change religions. (Do have a cardiac specialist on stand-by.)

cp
cp

Hey, do you want to eat like a Texan or like a Dallasite? The State Fair hasn't opened yet, so just you may as well go ahead and put that cardiologist on speed-dial. And join a gym. We're the fattest city in the county.

the_sneeb
the_sneeb

skip Victor Tango's and try Cedars Social on Lamar.

Gus Mitchem
Gus Mitchem

I think the one in Richardson near Coit and I believe Belt Line is still open

Coleman
Coleman

OOOOOH and Kalichandjis for some hardcore vegetarian Indian food! And actually, while on the topic of vegetarian fare, the veggie burger and vegetarian pizza at Anvil pub are ridiculously good, too.

Les Hall
Les Hall

Is it that hard then to go to these local places? Guys like Tom Spicer are a Godsend to local chefs and I know a lot of them take advantage of his stuff and other produce suppliers who are local. I live in Kessler Park so I guess I am spoiled with great local joints.

25 years ago, when I moved here, I thought the food scene was terrible. You couldn't even get a good loaf of bread. Right now I think Dallas is at the peak of the foodie scene.

Agreed, some of it is BS, but if you read stuff like SideDish, City of Ate, Chow etc you will find gems.

Apologies for the fedora comment. I mistook you for a 20 something who whines you can't get decent coffee here like in (insert trendy city).

Les Hall
Les Hall

A typical Dallas Observer tome - over 4,500 words! I scanned it. I think her argument is strained at best. We have AC, we have the Internet, we probably have more people living here from outside Dallas than natives. What are we 'supposed' to eat?

Saying that the signature Dallas dish is mussels as a riposte to Memphis'BBQ or Atlanta's grits. I'm sure plenty of Atlanta's restaurants would be peeved to have their city thought of like that. I think the wacky melange that is Dallas dining IS our local chow. Anything and everything.

BTW if you want some great boudin and pig jowls and all that good stuff get ye to The Meddlesome Moth. They are having their one year anniversary this week.

Coleman
Coleman

if you're so old, you should know better than bragging about twitter and foursquare like a a girl who just got her first period.

dentonobserver
dentonobserver

Clark's Outpost is still pretty good, but it pales in comparison to anything in Lockhart. They do have awesome pies tho. Heh. He said pie.

Ardy
Ardy

ah... "caught". I read "shot". Never mind.

G_David
G_David

Coit and Spring Valley to be nitpicky, same shopping center as the old Bill's Records. Haven't been to that one - I'm still protesting the closing of the one on Henderson, which is why I refuse to try La Hacienda. Well, that and the fact that all the reviews I've read say it pretty much sucks.

Les Hall
Les Hall

He wants to "Eat in Order to Feel Like a Texan" Has Texas become so diverse that Kalichandjis qualifies? Not yet I would suggest.

Still, a good place to go if you like veggie food.

Elizabeth Bair
Elizabeth Bair

Kalichandjis for sure! The food is amazing! I haven't tried the veggie burger or pizza at Anvil, but I will based upon your recommendation. I always go in there with the intention of eating, but the drinks get the best of me.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

@les - I work really hard to go to locally owned places who work hard to use fresh ingredients, and who care about the food. However, the typical Dallas diner is more concerned about the "scene" and will over pay for absolutely disgustingly bad food if it is a "popular" place. That's why mediocre restaurants who charge out the ass will laugh all the way to the bank.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

@coleman I was bragging about how much I get out, but that flew over your head. if you did anything interesting, maybe people would be interested in where you are also?

cp
cp

I agree on Clark's. It's just not that great.

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