Is your favorite restaurant really your favorite restaurant, or is it just a comfortable standby? Either way, it’s time for something new. Shake up your neighborhood dining life with these suggestions for every kind of meal.
Whether it’s grabbing a latte or digging in for pancakes and bacon, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. These are a few of our favorite breakfasts in the neighborhood.
• Junius Heights resident Ernest Belmore started Buzzbrews because it’s the restaurant where he wanted to eat. “I wanted to create a place where people can go 24-7 and get good, healthy food in a full-service setting and an atmosphere that’s rejuvenating and artsy,” he says. A third Buzzbrews location is expected to open in Deep Ellum in July. 4154 N. Central Expressway at Fitzhugh, 214.826.7100.
• Gold Rush Café is one of Lakewood’s gems. With Dirty Dan’s long gone and Metro Diner closing earlier this year, it’s one of the few authentic greasy spoons around, and we cherish it. You don’t have to order the enchiladas and eggs, but we don’t see why you wouldn’t. 1913 Skillman at La Vista, 214.823.6923.
Pearl Cup is a trendy place to drink coffee while hunched over a laptop. The coffee is serious. They serve three kinds of espresso, including one from Austin-based Cuvee Coffee Roaster. And there are treats from East Dallas-based Wackym’s Kitchen and Oak Cliff’s Kessler Cookie Co. It’s a good place to get some work done, have an informal business meeting or just hang out with friends. 1900 N. Henderson at McMillan, 214.824.9500.
With all the great restaurants on North Henderson, Greenville Avenue and other hot spots in our neighborhood and adjacent ones, it can be easy to overlook Bryan. Bryan Street is home to classics and newcomers alike. Don’t miss it.
Jimmy’s Food Store is one of those classics. The DiCarlo family opened Jimmy’s as a neighborhood grocery in 1966. Now the shop sells Italian imports, Texas and imported wines, hard-to-find specialty groceries, handmade pasta and all manner of sausage and charcuterie. But you haven’t lived in our neighborhood until you’ve had a sandwich from Jimmy’s. The prosciutto panino with fresh mozzarella, tomato, olive oil and basil is $6.99 and enough for two people. And the even more massive muffuletta makes New Orleans seem amateur. Jimmy’s even has stuff for vegetarians, including the $5.99 caprese panino with tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. 4901 Bryan at Fitzhugh, 214.823.6180.
Urbano Café is right behind Jimmy’s, in the same building, and it’s the new kid on the block. Owners Kristen and Mitch Kauffman opened their first restaurant, Urbano Paninoteca, in Uptown nine years ago. And its reincarnation, Urbano Café, opened in 2009. Urbano is a tiny restaurant, and it can be hard to get a table for lunch or dinner. But the pumpkin ravioli and pulled-pork risotto are worth the wait. 1410 Fitzhugh at Bryan, 214.823.8550.
The menu at Mai’s (top photo) hasn’t changed since it opened in 1982. The mostly Vietnamese menu includes huge spring rolls, noodle bowls and the clay pot, which comes with shrimp, chicken and vegetables on rice, topped with coconut curry sauce. It’s a neighborhood institution. 4812 Bryan at Fitzhugh, 214.826.9887.
The Dallasite is no place to bring you parents, unless they’re into dive bars, cheap beer and karaoke. The Dallasite features such delicacies as Frito pie, chili cheese fries and jalapeño poppers. 4822 Bryan at Fitzhugh, 214.826.2570.
Bryan Street Tavern is a terrific live music venue with lots of distractions in the bar area — TVs aplenty, pool tables, foosball, darts. Plus, there’s a beer garden out back with picnic tables and washers pits. Oh, and the thin-crust pizza is pretty good, too. 4315 Bryan at Peak, 214. 821.4447.
Bangkok City This Thai noodle house is widely considered the best in Dallas. 4301 Bryan at Peak, 214.824.6200.
Vietnam Restaurant This hole-in-the-wall is great for dine-in or take-out pho. 4302 Bryan at Peak, 214.821.4542.
We Dallasites love our patios. In a city where eating out is a great pastime, eating outside is fantastically sexy. And in our neighborhood, there is no shortage of outdoor-eating.
North Henderson is the king of al fresco dining. Restaurants that don’t have patios add them, such as Hacienda on Henderson and Café San Miguel (1907 Henderson at Monarch). Even in the wintertime, we like to sip a beer on the patio at Vickery Park (2810 Henderson at Milam) or nosh on chicken liver mousse at The Porch (2912 Henderson at Willis).
Mextopia is one of the newest restaurants on Greenville, and it’s already a favorite. Restaurateur Ricardo Avila opened the place last year, serving his famous brisket tacos and other upscale Mexican food. We like “$2 Tecate & tacos Tuesday”, partly because we can’t resist alliterative marketing campaigns and partly because it’s cool to kick back on Mextopia’s patio and watch Greenville go by. 2104 Greenville at Prospect, 214.824.9400.
The Garden Café is a terrific place to take out-of-town guests for breakfast or lunch. There’s no other place like it in Dallas, and it was way ahead of its time. Garden Café employees maintain a huge garden, and they use veggies and herbs from the garden in cooking every day. A few tables on the backyard patio give customers a close-up look at what’s sprouting. 5310 Junius at Henderson, 214.887.8330.
Kalachandji’s is the vegetarian, buffet-style restaurant owned and operated by the Hare Krishna temple of the same name. Sometimes, the food is great. It’s always fresh, and there’s always salad, soup, bread, rice and dal. Sometimes, the food is just OK. But the atmosphere is always lovely. The patio with its gurgling fountain and greenery puts a little bit of Zen into your lunch plans. 5430 Gurley at Graham, 214.821.1048.
Fancy tacos are fine. But for a taco purist, a proper taco is made with two corn tortillas, some kind of slow-cooked meat, lime juice, cilantro, onions and salsa. No avocado, no cheese and, heaven forbid, no ranch dressing. Here are a few neighborhood joints for the pure of taco heart.
Taquería Pedritos No. 1 has great atmosphere. It is easy to imagine some scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie going down here. There are the maroon, swivel-seat barstools, the bull’s head taxidermy, the bullfighter art. It is rich. But the food is richer. And it’s cheap. A plate of three tacos, rice and beans, served with bean soup, costs under $6. Pedritos serves typical taco meats — beef, pork and chicken. As well as some of the best lengua (that’s beef tongue) in town. For the really adventurous, try the pork snout or whole roasted goat head. 4910 Capitol at Fitzhugh, 214.826.2940.
North Henderson is pretty much entirely gentrified now, but it’s nice that a place like Taqueria Lupita still makes it there. They’re open late, and they serve good tacos for not a lot of money. That’s all we really ask at 2 a.m. 2107 N. Henderson at Fuqua, 214.827.1850.
La Michoacana is a prolific Mexican grocer and meat market. And they have some of the best tacos and salsas around. As with any taquería, speaking Spanish helps. But for the uninitiated, pay for your tacos at the register and hand your receipt to the taco man. The barbacoa is excellent. 2420 Fitzhugh at Capitol and 4611 Columbia at Carroll.
Fuzzy’s is a locally owned franchise, and one Dallas taco blogger recently called the chain “the new Starbucks” because it’s growing so fast. You won’t find anything like Fuzzy’s on the streets of Mexico City. But Lakewood residents love them just the same. Tacos come with tomatoes, cilantro, cheese and feta-garlic sauce. Filling choices include grilled or tempura shrimp or fish, shredded pork and chicken, served on flour tortillas or tucked into crispy shells. They also have a wide selection of Mexican beer on draft, and cheap bowl-o-margaritas. 6465 E. Mockingbird at Hillside, 214.370.8226.
Rusty Taco could get the award for worst restaurant name. But it’s named after owner Rusty Fenton, and on the day Rusty Taco opened last year, they ran out of food in a few hours. It’s that popular. Rusty offers a simple menu of nine tacos for $2 each, plus chips, salsa, queso and guacamole. And it’s all done in a cool, converted former gas station. 4802 Greenville at University, 214.613.0508.
Taco Joint doesn’t really have posh tacos. It’s just that they’re much more Tex than Mex. Taco Joint offers ground beef tacos on flour tortillas with yellow cheese and salsa that is delicious, if mild. Just like mom used to make. The best meal at this Austin-centric place is breakfast — migas, fajita and egg tacos, and the “great gordo”, a giant breakfast burrito with bacon, eggs, potatoes and cheese. 911 N. Peak, 214.826.8226.
Good 2 Go Taco was making gourmet tacos before it was cool, and they were featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. Good 2 Go moved from the Green Spot into cool new digs on Peavy last year, and they’re still serving some of the best fancy tacos in town. 1146 Peavy at Garland, 214. 519.9110.
If you’ve ever tried to grab a late night bite in East Dallas, you’ve likely encountered floor-mopping staffers who (you could swear) are trying to sweep you out the door. Most seeking drinks and entertainment forgo the ’hood altogether and head over to Uptown or up to Addison. But our neighborhood doesn’t necessarily shut down at 9 p.m. — you just have to know where to look.
Victor Tango’s serves food until midnight. And we’re not talking stale bar snacks and hamburgers. Small plates like roasted marrowbones with onion confit or lobster tostadas are available alongside entrees such as Berkshire pork jowl with celery root puree or chicken and waffles. In other words, it’s pretty fancy for late-night dining. 3001 N. Henderson at Miller, 214.252.8595.
Hacienda on Henderson can be a fun place to hang out on the patio and watch the young partiers go by. Hacienda serves a late night menu, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., which includes the Elvis taco. That’s peanut butter and sautéed banana on an apple cinnamon tortilla drizzled with orange honey. There’s also normal stuff like brisket tacos and quesadillas. 2326 N. Henderson at Capitol, 214.515.9990.
Café Brazil is a Dallas institution. The Central Expressway location is always open. And the Greenville location is open all night on Fridays and Saturdays. 2900 Greenville at Goodwin and 6420 N. Central Expessway at Fondren.
Hall of fame
There are a few restaurants in the neighborhood we hope never, ever go away. The food is so good, the atmosphere so real, the people so nice, we need them forever. These are the restaurants so close to our hearts.
Louie’s is so popular, so crowded every night, they don’t feel the need to advertise. Put away that Visa debit card. It’s cash or American Express only, pal. Louie’s, it could be argued, is the only place that serves Dallas-style pizza. Which is to say, New York-style pizza made with Dallas water. At least, they do it best. Part of the draw here is the atmosphere. It’s like walking into a neighborhood tavern in some East Coast city. Even though the owners are Cubs fans, it’s a good place to watch the Rangers game over a can of Bud and a pepperoni pie. 1839 Henderson at Monarch, 214.826.0505.
Alligator Café claims to have the best Cajun food in Dallas. We have to agree. Even if you don’t like Cajun food, give this place a whirl. All their food is made from scratch with fresh ingredients, and it shows. From the alligator & crawfish gumbo to the boudin balls, everything on the menu is good. Plus, they have live music and a drive-through window. 4416 Live Oak at Carroll, 214.821.6900.
Lakewood Landing is not known for its food, although they serve some pretty high-quality pub grub. This “Upscale Dive” is known for its 1970s décor, grunge-band jukebox and friendly staff. It’s basically the best dive bar in the world. Just ask them. 5818 Live Oak at La Vista, 214.823.2410.
Terilli’s is expected to reopen this month after a fire gutted the place last year. Its absence left a hole in the neighborhood dining and nightlife scene. We can’t wait to revisit the oven-roasted garlic appetizer and chicken Terilli on the restaurant’s new roof deck. 2815 Greenville at Goodwin, 214.827.3993.
Elote con todo
Elotes is a Mexican street food, and in our neighborhood, it is sold from carts outside Mexican grocery stores. Even if the only Spanish phrase you ever learn is “un elote, por favor”, we urge you to try it at least once. The handy graphic below explains the makings of an elote. Usually, eloteros (yes, there is a Spanish word for a person who sells corn) scoop the hot, pre-cut corn kernels into the cup and layer the ingredients on top. Sometimes they cut the corn off the cob to order and mix the ingredients in a bin before it goes in the cup. Whether you like yours with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of lemon pepper or “sin chile”, an elotero will hook you up with a tasty snack.
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