Traditional recipes

Queen Sheeba: A Royal Serving of Baba Ghanoush

Queen Sheeba: A Royal Serving of Baba Ghanoush

Zio and I were hungry. The gate was still down.

Plan B was a few blocks away, just down the hill from City College. A place I noticed while looking for parking when bringing my son to piano lessons at the Harlem School of the Arts. Queen Sheeba seemed like an odd choice for the neighborhood, but maybe not. It was advertised as Middle Eastern; halal, of course, and the specific country, Yemen.

There was a Hispanic couple at one of the tables in the ornately decorated restaurant along with a few children running around…obviously related to the owners.

The couple was talking loud, commenting favorably on the food and trying to engage the host/waiter/owner and then us into their conversation.

“Are those your grandkids?” the man at the table, gesturing to the children, asked the owner, who’s English was either truly limited or just pretending that it was so he had an out when it came to talking to his clientele.

He nodded that they were.

“How old are you?” the man at the table asked.

“Fifteen,” he replied with practically a straight face; the curve of a mischievous grin barely apparent.
“Okay, you don’t have to tell me. But you look great,” the man said. “Me, I’m 52.”

I took a closer look at him from our table. He didn’t look so great for 52, but I kept my mouth shut.
The female half of the couple saw me peeking. “Try the rice, it’s really good,” she said to Zio and I.
“Yeah, everything is good here,” her companion said in a booming voice so the owner would hear. “The lamb. The chicken. We’re coming back again. Enjoy your meal.” And then the two of them waddled out.

Zio and I started with the restaurant’s baba ghanoush, which, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with pimento-stuffed olives, ranked in the upper echelon in the unofficial baba ganoush ratings. The pita bread it came with was warm and was the perfect texture for scooping baba ganoush.

Though Zio was tempted by the picture of the spaghetti displayed on the restaurant’s window; spaghetti—Yemeni-style would be adventurous to say the least, he couldn’t get himself to order it. Zio tends to be a wee bit predictable at times and if there is fish on the menu, that’s where he invariably goes. At Queen Sheeba, he stuck to his pattern and tried the lightly stewed tilapia while I was intrigued by the “Yemen Dish” called Saltah.

A salad came out first. It looked undressed and there was a greenish sauce that came with it. Zio sprinkled it on the salad and so did I. As we took our first bite of the chopped iceberg lettuce, we winced; the sauce was no dressing but a spicy condiment for our meals. Even though it brought tears to our eyes, we were undeterred and ate all of the crispy hot sauce drenched salad.

Next we were brought bowls of muddy brown soup; a beef broth that was rich and thickened somewhat with mashed lentils…I think. I asked our waiter what type of soup it was. The answer was undecipherable. Whatever the soup was called, it was—and I’ll make an exception here and use the word I try to avoid when describing anything I eat—delicious.

Our entrees followed; Zio’s fish smothered in a onion, tomato, and pepper sauce accompanied by the highly praised rice.

The satah arrived in a bowl; a comforting stew of vegetables with bits of ground lamb. Though there were a few distinct middle eastern spices in the stew, it reminded me of was a dish my grandmother used to make for me she called “cucuzza longa;” stewed pieces of a long squash that my grandfather grew in his garden, peeled, chopped and served in a tomato-based broth with ground beef. Who knew Yemen had anything in common with Calabria?

Zio was having trouble finishing off his fish, but I made quick work of the satah, catching any remains of the stew with what was left of the pita bread.

The owner/waiter, whose name, we learned was Ali, smiled in pleasure when he saw how well we ate. He brought us Yemen tea, fragrant with cloves as a digestif which I drank along with a fresh, very moist slice of baklava (spelled on Queen Sheeba’s menu as baklawa).

Since I live in Harlem, though not within walking distance of Queen Sheeba; I asked if they delivered to where I live. I told him my address but he shook his head. “You don’t?” I asked, disappointed.
Ali went to the counter near the restaurant’s entrance, found a pen and business card and returned to us. He had me write my address and phone number on the card.

“We’ll deliver to you,” he said.

I looked at Zio. “See, you’re special,” he said to me.

“Yeah, how about that,” I said, making sure to slip a take out menu into my coat pocket before we both left.

Brian Silverman chronicles cheap eats, congee, cachapas, cow foot, cow brains, bizarre foods, baccala, bad verse, fazool, fish stomach, happy hours, hot peppers, hot pots, pupusas, pastas, rum punch and rotis, among many other things on his site Fried Neck Bones...and Some Home Fries. Twitter: [email protected]_neckbones.


The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Oh my gosh, this was such a great meal. I had something similar at a restaurant a while ago when Dave and I stopped for lunch in Syracuse’s university area. I got the vegetarian combination plate, which included hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, pita, and I think tabbouleh. I was trying to recreate that fantastic meal at home. I forgot to make tabbouleh this time, which was fine because this was plenty of cooking as it was.

I took the easy way out and made all Cooks Illustrated recipes. The hummus is their recently published Restaurant-Style Hummus recipe, which has gotten some great reviews. I thought it was really good, although I don’t know if it was that much better than any other hummus I’ve made. But – then I made it again a few weeks later with beans I cooked myself and Oh.My.God, that was so good. I had no idea it would make that much of a difference.

Other than that lunch in Syracuse, this is the only baba ghanoush I’ve ever had. You’re supposed to grill the eggplant until it’s completely soft and smoky, but grilling isn’t an option for me, so I had to use the oven. I still thought it was really good. It reminds me a lighter, more vegetal hummus.

The falafel was my favorite part of the meal. Shocking, I know, that Dave and I both liked the deep-fried food the best. Also, this was my first experience with dried chickpeas, and I loved them. The same funky shape as canned chickpeas but absolutely hard as rocks.

There’s some overlap between these three items – tahini or chickpeas showed up in everything – but they still have very distinct personalities. Tabbouleh would have been a nice light contrast, so I’ll have to remember that next time. And I can’t wait until next time!

(I’ll talk about the pita in my next post.)

Baba Ghanoush, Oven Method (from Cooks Illustrated July 2001)

CI note: When buying eggplant, select those with shiny, taut, and unbruised skins and an even shape (eggplant with a bulbous shape won’t cook evenly). We prefer to serve baba ghanoush only lightly chilled. If yours is cold, let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving. Baba ghanoush does not keep well, so plan to make it the day you want to serve it. Pita bread, black olives, tomato wedges, and cucumber slices are nice accompaniments.

Bridget note: Cooks Illustrated has grilling methods for this recipe as well, but I don’t have a grill, so the oven it was.

2 pounds eggplant (about 2 large globe, 5 medium Italian, or 12 medium Japanese), each poked uniformly over surface with fork to prevent bursting
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic , minced
2 tablespoons tahini paste
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil, set eggplants on baking sheet and roast, turning every 15 minutes, until eggplants are uniformly soft when pressed with tongs, about 60 minutes for large globe eggplants, 50 minutes for Italian eggplants, and 40 minutes for Japanese eggplants. Cool eggplants on baking sheet 5 minutes.

2. Set small colander over bowl or in sink. Trim top and bottom off each eggplant. Slit eggplants lengthwise and use spoon to scoop hot pulp from skins and place pulp in colander (you should have about 2 cups packed pulp) discard skins. Let pulp drain 3 minutes.

3. Transfer pulp to workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Add lemon juice, garlic, tahini, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper process until mixture has coarse, choppy texture, about eight 1-second pulses. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper transfer to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap flush with surface of dip, and refrigerate 45 to 60 minutes. To serve, use spoon to make trough in center of dip and spoon olive oil into it sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Chickpea Fritters-Falafel (from Cooks Illustrated’s The Best International Recipe)

The chickpeas in this recipe must be soaked overnight you can not substitute canned beans or quick-soaked chickpeas because their texture will result in soggy falafel. A wire spider comes in handy here when cooking the falafel. Serve the falafel in lavash or pita bread with lettuce, pickled vegetables, and chopped tomatoes or cucumbers, or as an hors d’oeuvres with tahini sauce as a dip.

6 ounces dried chickpeas (1 cup), rinsed, picked over, and soaked overnight in water to cover by an inch
5 scallions, chopped coarse
½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
3 medium garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon), minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1.Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Drain the chickpeas, discarding the soaking liquid. Process all of the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. Form the mixture into 1 tablespoon-sized disks, about ½ inch thick and 1 inch wide, and arrange on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (The falafel can be refrigerated at this point for up to 2 hours.)

3. Heat the oil in a 5-quart large Dutch over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. (Use an instant-read thermometer that registers high temperatures or clip a candy/deep-fat thermometer onto the side of the pan.) Fry half of the falafel, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain 375 degrees, until deep brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon or wire spider and keep warm in the oven. Return the oil to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining falafel. Serve immediately with the sauce.

I’m out of town right now, eating truffles and drinking wine. I’ll be back next week to catch up on comments and other blogs!


Baba Ganoush

Baba ganoush (baba ghanoush) is a middle eastern aubergine dip made from roasted aubergine, sesame seed paste and olive oil. Traditionally the aubergine is cooked on open fire so it gets a smoky flavour, which I can tell from my own experience definitely makes the difference. However, oven works just fine and you can save the open fire adventures for the next bbq season - serving baba ganoush along with grilled veggies or meat is an equally good idea.

You can either make a vegan or vegetarian version, depending whether or not you stir in some greek yogurt. I like it both ways. Yogurt adds a smooth milky flavour, but without it the taste of aubergine and tahini is more clear so you can choose what tastes best for a certain occasion. I like to use light tahini (which is made of hulled sesame) because of it’s subtle flavour.

You can find quality tahini in specialty food stores like “Eastanbul”, where I stop by not only to shop for ingredients, but have a cup of Turkish tea with their homemade pistachio-anise baklava. It’s quite rare to find a place like this in Lithuania.

Steps of making baba ganoush:

Roast the aubergine in the oven

Scoop out the cooked flesh from the aubergine, mix it with tahini + olive oil + salt and blend until smooth.


Baba ghanoush, falafel, hummus

Oh my gosh, this was such a great meal. I had something similar at a restaurant a while ago when Dave and I stopped for lunch in Syracuse’s university area. I got the vegetarian combination plate, which included hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, pita, and I think tabbouleh. I was trying to recreate that fantastic meal at home. I forgot to make tabbouleh this time, which was fine because this was plenty of cooking as it was.

I took the easy way out and made all Cooks Illustrated recipes. The hummus is their recently published Restaurant-Style Hummus recipe, which has gotten some great reviews. I thought it was really good, although I don’t know if it was that much better than any other hummus I’ve made. But – then I made it again a few weeks later with beans I cooked myself and Oh.My.God, that was so good. I had no idea it would make that much of a difference.

Other than that lunch in Syracuse, this is the only baba ghanoush I’ve ever had. You’re supposed to grill the eggplant until it’s completely soft and smoky, but grilling isn’t an option for me, so I had to use the oven. I still thought it was really good. It reminds me a lighter, more vegetal hummus.

The falafel was my favorite part of the meal. Shocking, I know, that Dave and I both liked the deep-fried food the best. Also, this was my first experience with dried chickpeas, and I loved them. The same funky shape as canned chickpeas but absolutely hard as rocks.

There’s some overlap between these three items – tahini or chickpeas showed up in everything – but they still have very distinct personalities. Tabbouleh would have been a nice light contrast, so I’ll have to remember that next time. And I can’t wait until next time!

(I’ll talk about the pita in my next post.)

Baba Ghanoush, Oven Method (from Cooks Illustrated July 2001)

CI note: When buying eggplant, select those with shiny, taut, and unbruised skins and an even shape (eggplant with a bulbous shape won’t cook evenly). We prefer to serve baba ghanoush only lightly chilled. If yours is cold, let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving. Baba ghanoush does not keep well, so plan to make it the day you want to serve it. Pita bread, black olives, tomato wedges, and cucumber slices are nice accompaniments.

Bridget note: Cooks Illustrated has grilling methods for this recipe as well, but I don’t have a grill, so the oven it was.

2 pounds eggplant (about 2 large globe, 5 medium Italian, or 12 medium Japanese), each poked uniformly over surface with fork to prevent bursting
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic , minced
2 tablespoons tahini paste
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil, set eggplants on baking sheet and roast, turning every 15 minutes, until eggplants are uniformly soft when pressed with tongs, about 60 minutes for large globe eggplants, 50 minutes for Italian eggplants, and 40 minutes for Japanese eggplants. Cool eggplants on baking sheet 5 minutes.

2. Set small colander over bowl or in sink. Trim top and bottom off each eggplant. Slit eggplants lengthwise and use spoon to scoop hot pulp from skins and place pulp in colander (you should have about 2 cups packed pulp) discard skins. Let pulp drain 3 minutes.

3. Transfer pulp to workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Add lemon juice, garlic, tahini, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper process until mixture has coarse, choppy texture, about eight 1-second pulses. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper transfer to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap flush with surface of dip, and refrigerate 45 to 60 minutes. To serve, use spoon to make trough in center of dip and spoon olive oil into it sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Chickpea Fritters-Falafel (from Cooks Illustrated’s The Best International Recipe)

The chickpeas in this recipe must be soaked overnight you can not substitute canned beans or quick-soaked chickpeas because their texture will result in soggy falafel. A wire spider comes in handy here when cooking the falafel. Serve the falafel in lavash or pita bread with lettuce, pickled vegetables, and chopped tomatoes or cucumbers, or as an hors d’oeuvres with tahini sauce as a dip.

6 ounces dried chickpeas (1 cup), rinsed, picked over, and soaked overnight in water to cover by an inch
5 scallions, chopped coarse
½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
3 medium garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon), minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1.Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Drain the chickpeas, discarding the soaking liquid. Process all of the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. Form the mixture into 1 tablespoon-sized disks, about ½ inch thick and 1 inch wide, and arrange on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (The falafel can be refrigerated at this point for up to 2 hours.)

3. Heat the oil in a 5-quart large Dutch over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. (Use an instant-read thermometer that registers high temperatures or clip a candy/deep-fat thermometer onto the side of the pan.) Fry half of the falafel, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain 375 degrees, until deep brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon or wire spider and keep warm in the oven. Return the oil to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining falafel. Serve immediately with the sauce.

I’m out of town right now, eating truffles and drinking wine. I’ll be back next week to catch up on comments and other blogs!


Possible Recipe Variations:

Everyone seems to have strong personal preferences when it comes to the flavor and texture of their baba ganoush, so please feel free to tinker around with the recipe and adjust the ingredients to taste! You might also consider…

  • Grill the eggplant: For even more delicious smoky flavor, feel free to grill instead of roast the eggplant. Full instructions are included in the recipe notes below.
  • Make it smoother: If you would like a smooth instead of chunky baba ganoush, feel free to pop it in the food processor or blender and puree briefly until smooth.
  • Make it smokier: If you don’t have a grill and would like to add some extra smoky flavor to the baba ganoush, you are welcome to use smoked salt (instead of fine sea salt), add in a pinch of smoked paprika, or add in a tiny drizzle of liquid smoke. All three options are delicious!
  • Make it a bit spicy: Feel free to also stir some cayenne into the dip if you would like to add some heat.
  • Add fresh mint: I also love adding in some chopped fresh mint to this recipe, in addition to the chopped parsley, which adds a delicious bit of extra freshness.
  • Add toasted pine nuts: This dip is also absolutely delicious with some toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top.

Keskiviikko 4. helmikuuta 2009

What Did I Eat Today?

Sometimes it's hard to find a tasty meal during a working day. Working in the centre of Helsinki means that you have multiple of choices but not necessarily very healthy. Again, tasty for me is more important than healthy and combining those two means usually compromising both. Recently, I have decided to go for a soup when looking for a tasty lunch. Luckily, I have one excellent place for that: restaurant Grotesk. Today, as yesterday, I ate wonderful, gingery carrot soup. I have no idea of the recipe but here are a couple that I found. They all sound very tempting.

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon

1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/4 pounds medium carrots, peeled, chopped (about 3 cups)

2 tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

3 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt broth

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons sour cream 1 small carrot, peeled, grated

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion sauté 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic sauté 2 minutes. Add chopped carrots, tomatoes and lemon peel sauté 1 minute. Add 3 cups stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.

Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to pot. Mix in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more stock, if desired. Ladle into bowls. Top each with sour cream and grated carrot.

Gingered Carrot Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup minced onion

1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger

3 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth

4 cups sliced peeled carrots (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup half and half

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup matchstick-size strips peeled carrot (for garnish optional)

1 tablespoon matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger (for garnish optional)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1/4 cup minced ginger and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and 4 cups sliced carrots. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, puree mixture in blender or processor. Return soup to saucepan. Mix in orange juice, then half and half. Cook over low heat 5 minutes. Mix in ground cinnamon. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

(Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing, thinning with more stock if necessary.) Ladle soup into bowls. Top soup with carrot and ginger strips, if desired, and serve.

Szechwan Carrot Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

a 3/4-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced thin

1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

3 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1 cup milk

Garnish: 1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large heavy saucepan cook onion, celery, and garlic in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add carrots, gingerroot, red pepper flakes, and broth and simmer, covered, until carrots are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Stir in remaining ingredients and in a blender purée mixture in batches (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to pan and heat over low heat until hot, being careful not to let boil.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Healthy Food Demonstration at The Farmer's Market


2 comments:

Have you ever SLOWED Down to think about what you are eating?

Take Baba Ghanoush: Judging by its definition- A spread or dip containing roasted eggplant puree, Tahini, lemon, and additional spices. After watching our demo and reading the recipe your probably are thinking yeah this is a neat thing to make, I will have to try making some.

But for now…Take Baba Ghanoush SLOW:
Where did Baba Ghanoush originate. How did it travel all the way form its birth in the Middle East to a food demo in Hawaii? Now what about its main ingredient the eggplant? Did you know these eggplants were grown with no chemicals on the Moloa’a Organic Farm on the island of Kauai, hand picked by Marta and Ned Whitlock. What about the Tahini, what is it? You might know it is sesame paste. Although we are using the Middle Eastern version, Tahini was first used by the Chinese to make a very popular Szechuan dish Dan Dan Noodles. Tahini then traveled across miles in boats, which were then guided by stars. Who was the farmer that harvested and ground the sesame seeds for this Tahini? What makes a lemon a Meyer Lemon? Were there Meyer Lemons in Greece or is this just our Hawaiian style. Would it taste any different if plain yellow lemon were used as is called for in the recipe? Cumin ground and packaged – from were? Parsley freshly picked and grown in the soil literally a few hundred feet from where you are standing, who planted and tends this garden?

And that’s just the dip. What about the lavosh the Baba Ghanoush is being served on? Did you know it was hand made fresh here in Hawaii, ready to be eaten with this Baba Ghanoush. Where did lavosh originate? Who brought the original lavosh to Hawaii?

With all that to think about, your thoughts might include the students that were here taking care and time to produce such a dish.

The truth is, we, as Americans have fallen victim to cheap, bland and unwholesome food. It’s very convenient to grab food and go, but next time try to take a moment and enjoy all of the care, time, and history that went into making the food you are consuming before you go back to your busy life.

Baba Ghanoush
Recipe courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen
When buying eggplant, select those with shiny, taut, and unbruised skins and an even shape (eggplant with a bulbous shape won’t cook evenly). We prefer to serve baba ghanoush only lightly chilled. If yours is cold, let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving. Baba ghanoush does not keep well, so plan to make it the day you want to serve it. Pita bread, black olives, tomato wedges, and cucumber slices are nice accompaniments.
Makes 2 cups
2 pounds eggplant (about 2 large globe, 5 medium Italian, or 6-8 large Japanese), each poked uniformly over surface with fork to prevent bursting
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic , minced
2
1 tablespoons tahini paste
teaspoon cumin

Table salt and ground black pepper
Paprika for granish
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Turn all burners on gas grill to high, close lid, and heat grill until hot, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Set eggplants on grill rack. Grill until skins darken and wrinkle on all sides and eggplants are uniformly soft when pressed with tongs, about 25 minutes for large globe eggplants, 20 minutes for Italian eggplants, and 15 minutes for Japanese eggplants, turning every 5 minutes and reversing direction of eggplants on grill with each turn. Transfer eggplants to rimmed baking sheet and cool 5 minutes. You can also roast the eggplant on a cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 400°.
3. Set a small colander over bowl or in the sink. Trim the top and bottom off each eggplant. Slit eggplants lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop hot pulp from skins and place pulp in colander (you should have about 2 cups packed pulp) discard skins. Let pulp drain 3 minutes.
4. Transfer pulp into the bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Add lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, garlic, tahini, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper process until mixture has coarse, choppy texture, about eight 1-second pulses. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper transfer to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap flush with surface of dip, and refrigerate 45 to 60 minutes. To serve, use spoon to make trough in center of dip and spoon olive oil into it sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Remember you have the ability to choose to lose the preservatives and processing. EAT Fresh • EAT Local


St. Nicholas Orthodox Christian Church in Jackson, TN

1 Tbsp) 3/4 - 1 tsp dried dill (or sub 2-3 tsp fresh) 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 Tbsp) Water or unsweetened almond milk to thin optional: Sea salt to taste

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil. Rinse and scrub potatoes and cut in half length wise. This will speed cooking time. Otherwise leave whole and bake longer (approximately double the time (45 min - 1 hour). Toss rinsed and drained chickpeas with olive oil and spices and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Rub the sweet potatoes with a bit of olive oil and place face down on the same baking sheet.

While the sweet potatoes and chickpeas are roasting, prepare your sauce by adding all ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisking to combine, only adding enough water or almond milk to thin so it’s pourable. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more garlic for more zing, salt for savoriness, lemon juice for freshness, and dill for a more intense herb flavor. Also prepare the parsley-tomato topping by tossing tomato and parsley with lemon juice and setting aside to marinate.

Once sweet potatoes are fork tender and the chickpeas are golden brown - roughly 25 minutes - remove from oven. For serving, flip potatoes flesh-side up and smash down the insides a little bit. Then top with chickpeas, sauce and parsley-tomato garnish. Serve immediately.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
from Mother Nektaria
Ingredients: Olive Oil, for tossing 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch long slices, then 1/4-wide inch strips, using a crinkle cut knife 1 TBSP House Seasoning (recipe follows) 1/2 teaspoon paprika
[House Seasoning: 1 cup salt 1/4 cup black pepper 1/4 cup garlic powder. Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.]

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with House Seasoning and paprika. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Baba Ghanoush
from Betty Crocker
Ingredients: 5 small eggplant (or 1 large) 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup tahini 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 4 tsps dried) 3 garlic cloves minced (or 3 tsps minced) 1/4 cup lemon juice salt to taste
Directions: Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place it cut side down on a pan. Roast it at 500 for 25 minutes or until soft. If you’re already grilling other food, you can roast the eggplant on your grill until blackened and soft for more flavor. Meanwhile, mix together the other ingredients, and set them aside. Let the eggplant cool, then scoop the flesh out of the skins. Mash or puree the eggplant. I use a 4-cup food processor for purees. It is an inexpensive little gadget, without too many attachments, so its quick and easy to use and clean. You can also mash the eggplant with a fork. Stir the eggplant into the other ingredients, and salt to taste. Serve with pita bread for dipping. OR Try adding 1-2 tsps of cumin, chili powder, or ginger for some variety. You can serve on pita sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, olives and red onion. Store Baba Ghanoush in the refrigerator for up to a week. Garnish with olive oil and fresh parsley.

Glazed Butternut Squash with Leeks and Almonds
from Laura Wilson
Ingredients: 1 Butternut Squash (or 2 acorn squash) 1/4 cup water 2 leeks (or 1 leek and 1 onion) 1/2 cup walnuts or almonds 1/3 cup maple syrup 1/3 cup melted margarine 1/4 tsp of cinnamon 1/4 tsp salt
Directions: Cut the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut a long shallow trough in the squash to hold the filling. (You won’t need to cut a trough if you’re using acorn squash. They make nice little bowls.) Save the pieces of squash that you cut out. Put the squash face down in pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes with 1/4-1/2 cup water. Meanwhile, chop the squash into small pieces. Cut the tops and bottom off the leeks, and chop. (Save the leek tops for soups!) Then, mix the squash and leeks with walnuts or almonds, maple syrup, melted butter, and cinnamon and salt. After 45 minutes, take the squash out of the oven and turn it over. Salt the inside and fill the trough with the filling. Bake for another 20 minutes, and it’s all done! The flesh of the squash should be tender all the way through, and the skins will look a little wrinkly. Serve it hot! If you have leftovers, scoop the squash out of the skins with the topping and store in a glass dish to reheat later.

“Taco” Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
from OCF
Ingredients: 2 medium sweet potatoes 1 cup cooked black beans 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp chili powder ¼ cup chopped green onion 1 tsp lime juice chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, hot sauce, salsa, or any other desired toppings
Directions: Wash potatoes and pierce with a fork. Wrap in a damp paper towel, and cook in microwave for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Let cool slightly, cut each potato in half and scoop out flesh, leaving enough to keep skin intact. Set aside. Combine sweet potato, black beans, cumin, chili powder, and lime juice. Heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer sweet potato mixture into sweet potato skins. Top with desired toppings and serve.

back to menu

1/4 cup) 8 large cloves garlic, minced/grated (1/4 cup) Sea salt and black pepper to taste 3-4 Tbsp flour for thickening 2.5 cups unsweetened Almond milk (sub up to 1 cup with veggie stock, if preferred)
Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and toss tomatoes in a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Place cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish. Then set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When done, drain, cover and set aside.
In the meantime, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and the garlic and shallot. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and stir frequently, cooking for 3-4 minutes until softened and fragrant. Stir in 3-4 Tbsp flour (or other thickener of choice) and mix with a whisk. Once combined, slowly whisk in the almond milk a little at a time so clumps don’t form. Add another healthy pinch of salt and black pepper, bring to a simmer and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes to thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a creamy sauce, transfer sauce to a blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Place back in pan and reduce heat to a low simmer until desired thickness is reached. Once the sauce is to your desired thickness, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Then add pasta and roasted tomatoes and stir. Serve immediately and garnish with extra black pepper, fresh basil and/or vegan parmesan cheese.


Italian Pasta Salad
from OCF
Ingredients: 1 box bow tie pasta 1 cup thinly sliced red, yellow, or orange bell peppers ½ cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained 4 TBSP fresh basil leaves, sliced (or 4 tsps dried) ⅓ cup Italian salad dressing ½ lemon, squeezed (or 1 TBSP juice)
Directions: Cook pasta as instructed. Drain and rinse with cool water. Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate.


Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

Ingredients

  • 1-2 globe eggplants (totaling 2 pounds or 900 g)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons roasted tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (more or less depending on how garlicky you want your baba ghanouj to be), finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Juice of one lemon (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke the eggplants in several places with the tines of a fork. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon).

Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast until very tender, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Alternate Grilling Instructions: Preheat grill. Poke the eggplants in a few places with a fork, then rub the eggplants with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Grill over high heat, turning as each side blackens. Put the charred eggplants in a paper bag, close the bag and let the eggplants steam in their skins for 15-20 minutes.

Combine the eggplant, minced garlic, remaining olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), tahini, cumin, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the salt, and a pinch of cayenne.

Mash well. You want the mixture to be somewhat smooth but still retaining some of the eggplant's texture.

Allow the baba ganoush to cool to room temperature, then season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and cayenne.

If you want, swirl a little olive oil on the top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve with pita bread, crackers, toast, sliced baguette, celery, or cucumber slices.


Food & Drink

ROYAL SPICE THAI BISTRO The Asian invasion that attacked Dallas for several years has launched a major offensive north of LBJ. Following the paths paved by the acceptance of sushi. “Fusion Cuisine” has now crossed the meat-and-potato plains and is headed toward Lewisville and Flower Mound. But honey, don’t hide the kids-there arc worse places for them to hang out than the local sushi bar.

Many of the nouveau Asian concepts-“Global Fusion,” “One World Cuisine,” and now, at Royal Spice Thai Bistro, “New World Thai”-are the brave blending of Japanese. Thai, Chinese, and Korean flavors, ail dressed in New American presentations. The shared platter concept is slipping away as more and more Asian menus combine meats and vegetables on the same plate and list the creation under the term “entrée.”

Addison (semi) Circle is the site of the latest (and greatest) display of Oriental cross-dressing. The interior is Melrose Place trendy Thai: Deep purple, bright gold, bright blue, and cherry red walls collide with traditional Asian art lit dramatically to create a neon feng shui sensibility. The only truly authentic That touch we found was on TV at the bar where a rousing soccer match played by jockeyed elephants was in full swing.

And so was the kitchen. We could have stopped after the starters-sweet corn fritters and spring rolls crunchy with cabbage were both fried but greaseless and dipped cleanly in and out of the accompanying chili-cucumber sauce. The aroma of curry preceded our gentle Asian server by a few seconds. By the time she set down the shallow bowl filled with moist sliced chicken fanned around a scoop of rice resting in a rich green coconut curry sauce and topped with sautéed green and red peppers and purple Japanese eggplant, we were panting like Pavlovian dogs. Every bite began with a subtly sweet flavor and finished with a flash of fire.

On our second visit, our waiter was from the “Hi, I’m Larry, I’ll be your server” school of service, and once he enthusiastically recited the specials and eventually poured the Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling (only $18). he mor-phed into an unobtrusive and efficient waiter. When we were crushed to find the kitchen out of Long ago, La Cave’s simple meals and wines by the glass jump-started a string of wannabes. Today, Marty’s and Paris Bistrot remain true to the tradition.

Across 1-30, Fort Worth has struggled to keep up. Michel Baudouin’s brilliant bistro/ wine bar The Grape Escape has survived, despite the hokey name and the fact that Baudouin sold out to take over the reins at The Balcony. In between, his critically acclaimed Encore sadly came and went faster than you could smoke a Gauloise.

But there is hope on the horizon. Bernard Tronche, the highly acclaimed chef/owner of St. Emilion, recently debuted Sapristi. Oddly, the veteran Frenchman chose the Italian word for surprise as a moniker and a Mediterranean cuisine for his menu. Perhaps that’s why we found so many inconsistencies.

Sapristi is certainly charming-warm faux-finished walls create an intimate space and the laminated paper tablecloths painted with bright olive branches scream Mediterranean Sea. (One night we witnessed two other tables trying to buy one.) Refreshingly, the music is low. making conversation easy-not a popular concept these days.

The wine list is solid, and each selection is accompanied with intelligent commentary. We were delighted to find Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge, usually priced in the $50 to $60 range, alive and well at $30. If you want to buy a bottle to take home, knock off half the price and it’s yours. (Do not try this at Voltaire). If you want to bring your own special bottle, the staff will gladly pop the cork for a reasonable $ 14.95 corkage fee.

So far so good. We started with Les moules vertes, a hard decision when faced with the other five preparations of mussels, the specialty of the house. Perfectly parted shells revealing plump orange meat protruded from a delicious pesto broth seasoned with black olives and vermouth. Unfortunately, we had trouble getting anyone to bring us bread to sop up the remaining liquid and the accompanying rosemary-dusted Belgian fries were a poor substitute.

From the tapas list, the artichoke hearts with sweet pepper sauce sounded divine, but each bite was soggy-we can only suppose that they forgot to rinse the brine off before frying. After a long wait, a flash of brilliance arrived in the form of Chicken Cordon Bleu “De Luxe.” The basic dish was well executed with prosciutto and brie, but it was crucified by an overly tart lemon sauce (hollandaise perhaps?) with chunks ol’ curdled egg in the bottom of the sauce cup.

After getting up and glancing in the Long ago, La Cave’s simple meals and wines by the glass jump-started a string of wannabes. Today, Marty’s and Paris Bistrot remain true to the tradition.

Across 1-30, Fort Worth has struggled to keep up. Michel Baudouin’s brilliant bistro/ wine bar The Grape Escape has survived, despite the hokey name and the fact that Baudouin sold out to take over the reins at The Balcony. In between, his critically acclaimed Encore sadly came and went faster than you could smoke a Gauloise.

But there is hope on the horizon. Bernard Tronche, the highly acclaimed chef/owner of St. Emilion, recently debuted Sapristi. Oddly, the veteran Frenchman chose the Italian word for surprise as a moniker and a Mediterranean cuisine for his menu. Perhaps that’s why we found so many inconsistencies.

Sapristi is certainly charming-warm faux-finished walls create an intimate space and the laminated paper tablecloths painted with bright olive branches scream Mediterranean Sea. (One night we witnessed two other tables trying to buy one.) Refreshingly, the music is low. making conversation easy-not a popular concept these days.

The wine list is solid, and each selection is accompanied with intelligent commentary. We were delighted to find Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge, usually priced in the $50 to $60 range, alive and well at $30. If you want to buy a bottle to take home, knock off half the price and it’s yours. (Do not try this at Voltaire). If you want to bring your own special bottle, the staff will gladly pop the cork for a reasonable $ 14.95 corkage fee.

So far so good. We started with Les moules vertes, a hard decision when faced with the other five preparations of mussels, the specialty of the house. Perfectly parted shells revealing plump orange meat protruded from a delicious pesto broth seasoned with black olives and vermouth. Unfortunately, we had trouble getting anyone to bring us bread to sop up the remaining liquid and the accompanying rosemary-dusted Belgian fries were a poor substitute.

From the tapas list, the artichoke hearts with sweet pepper sauce sounded divine, but each bite was soggy-we can only suppose that they forgot to rinse the brine off before frying. After a long wait, a flash of brilliance arrived in the form of Chicken Cordon Bleu “De Luxe.” The basic dish was well executed with prosciutto and brie, but it was crucified by an overly tart lemon sauce (hollandaise perhaps?) with chunks ol’ curdled egg in the bottom of the sauce cup.

After getting up and glancing in the kitchen, we don’t know how they get any food out at all because the space is barely large enough for two people. So we weren’t surprised when our waitress admitted that the desserts were made elsewhere. If that’s the case, then they should be the ones sending them back. Instead we were subjected to a chocolate mousse laden with gelatin and a tiramisu without a hint of espresso. When we complained, she assured us changes were being made.

Hopefully chef Tronche will surprise us with more changes and rebound from his shaky start. 2418 Forest Park Blvd., Ft. Worth, 817-924-7231. $.

Abacus. Kent Rathbun’s kitchen is a stage dinner is a show. Lobster shooters are served sake-style-six cups contain a chunk of lobster tossed back with a shot of coconut milk, red curry, and sake. Entrées of pan-seared walleyed pike with scallion whipped potatoes and pork loin with pumpkin risotto are inspired meat and mash variations. 4511 McKinney Ave. Dinner only. 214-559-3111. $$.

Citizen. Tuna tartare served on the base of an upside-down martini glass and sake served in wooden boxes may be as tricky as the décor, but somehow it all works. A stunningly simple slab of black cod is served solo on a banana leaf, a blond miso anchoring the ethereal fish. And Kobe beef, grilled and sliced, is the ultimate extravagance at around $15 an ounce. 3858 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-522-7253. $$.

D BEST Liberty. Annie Wong, the mother of Thai food in Dallas, still owns three all-Thai restaurants, but Liberty is where her imagination is freed. Romantically and softly lit, with beaded candleshades on each table and bamboo birdcages animated with twinkling Christmas lights, the brightly lit kitchen makes Liberty into real dinner theater, and Wong is the star. What makes her food different is what makes any chef’s food special: imagination. 5631 Alta Ave. 214-887-8795. $.

D REVISITS Celebrity Cafe $ Bakery. Celebrity Cafe & Bakery is family owned and operated, and, like most families, every member has his or her own style. Each of the five locations may share the same name, but the hours of operation and menu vary according to the neighborhood (or the owners). Preston Royal is the only store daring enough to stay open for dinner, which makes sense since the surrounding area is full of families. Highland Park serves on Sundays. The Uptown location locks the doors at 4 p.m., making it difficult to stop by and pick up one of their main dish entrées for dinner. But most people in that area are heading out for cocktails, not casseroles. But whatever the method, the lunch business at Celebrity in Uptown is madness. Recently we arrived at 1:15 p.m. to find they were sold out of most of the luncheon specials and many of the sandwich choices. As we stood in line, we were serenaded by a symphony of cell phones. Thankfully, they still had the makings for our favorite- the Santa Barbara-two pieces of marble rye with slabs of sliced turkey breast topped with avocado, bacon, lettuce, and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese. The house recipe for egg salad includes a healthy dollop of mustard, giving the normally bland concoction a kick strong enough to stand up to any type of bread. Each sandwich comes with homemade potato chips and a mini-muffin. Entree salads such as Cobb, Caesar, and the chicken salad plate are generous, fresh, and served in oversized bowls. The bakery case is crammed with cookies, cakes (don’t pass over the Coca-Cola Fudge), sweet breads, and pies. But hang on to your wallet if you take the kids in for the elaborately iced cookies-one decorated like Pokémon set us back $2.75. 2418 Fairmount St. @ McKinney Ave.. 214-922-9866. Multiple locations. $.

Highland Park Pharmacy. We can only describe the Pharmacy atmosphere as reassuring. Some people love the Palm Beach sandwich (pimento cheese to you) or the tuna salad with cherry cokes. For us. the grilled cheese is the winner- American slices melted to glue, the bread buttery and crisp. Chips are extra sodas and milkshakes are priceless. Lunch only. 3229 Knox St. 214-521-2126. $.

Wild About Harry’s. Harry’s serves real Chicago dogs, topped with onions, mustard, peppers. and the authentic neon-green relish-he also serves them smothered with Texas chili, sauerkraut, and pretty much everything else. You have to have custard after a Harry’s dog-it’s smoother than crème brulée, and every day there’s a different selection of flavors. This is the kind of place that gives you hope for American culture. 3113 Knox St. 214-520. 3113. Multiple locations. $.

Baker’s Ribs. Nothing fancy about this place. Load up your trays with piles of sliced beef. pork, turkey, chicken, cayenne-seasoned St. Louis-cut ribs, and the usual side dishes for a barbeque place-potato salad, cole slaw, and beans. We still prefer the Commerce Street location. 2724 Commerce St. 214-748-5433. Multiple locations, $.

D BEST Peggy Sue Barbecue. Though Sonny Bryan’s still wins in the beef sandwich category-the definitive dish when you’re talking Texas barbeque-Peggy Sue’s beats Sonny’s by a rib in meats, side dishes, and sauces. And the smoked chicken quesadillas alone are worth a trip. A new favorite is brisket fajitas-soft flour tortillas filled with grilled barbequed brisket, onions, and green peppers. 6600 Snider Plaza. 214-987-9188.$.

Sammy’s Barbecue. Barbeque for the banking crowd at bankers” hours. Everyday at lunch. Sammy’s is full of white-collar types, ties thrown over their shoulders, chowing on great red-stripe brisket, ribs, and homemade Mom-style pie. No, really-Sammy’s is a family-run enterprise, and all the Pritchards pitch in. 2126 Leonard St. 214-880-9064. $.

Sonny Bryan’s. For 40 years. Sonny Bryan’s meaty ribs, moist brisket, and classic barbeque sauce have been the standard by which all other Dallas barbeque is judged. For the classic barbeque experience, return to the original Inwood Road joint, sit on the hood of your car, and gnaw on tender smoked ribs, chopped beef, and giant onion rings. 2202 Inwood Rd. 214-357-7120. Multiple locations. $.

Angry Dog. The menu is standard bar cuisine, including some great burgers, nachos, and sandwiches, but it extends to include some inspiring options. The Angry Dog-a grilled, all-beef hot dog split and served open-faced, covered with grilled onions, chili, and cheese-is truly fantastic and a bargain at S4.50. For serious beer drinkers, there are 120 beers to choose from. 2726 Commerce St. 214-741-4406. $.

Chip’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers. Perhaps Dallas’ best rendition of the all-American hamburger is served at Chip’s. Both locations have an atmosphere as wholesome as a Beach Boys song, and the food is fast and fresh, too. The skinny onion rings, rich pig sandwich, and hot dogs are just lagniappe. 4501 Cole Ave. 214-526-1092 4530 Lovers Ln. 214-691-2447. $.

The Prince of Hamburgers . The crispy-edged, toasty bun, the slim but beefy-tasting, just-cooked patty, and the simple but fresh garnitures combine to make the quintessential American sandwich. Prince sticks to the classic accompaniments: thick shakes, incredibly frosty root beer, fries, and fabulous onion rings, all brought to you by a real live person. 5200 Lemmon Ave. 214-526-9081. $.

Snuffer’s. The burgers and frosty brew are a sensor>’ way-back machine for those who thought that college was the prime of their life. They probably were, if you continue to eat things like Snuffer’s cheese fries (a basket of deep-fried strips, covered in gloriously greasy cheese) because you can’t last long if you eat this way often. 3526 Greenville Ave. 214-826-6850: 14910 Midway Rd.. Addison. 972-991-8811.$. Y

Texas Hamburgers. This Texas kitsch joint is tilled with staffed armadillos, Texas flags, cowboy memorabilia, good ol’ boys, and Armani-clad Design Center sophisticates. Besides great half- and third-pound burgers accompanied by fresh fixings, this place serves some great meatloaf with a tasty tomato sauce laden with celery, onions, and peppers. 1606 Market Center Blvd. 214-747-2222. $.

Arc-En-Ciel. The kitchen employs separate cooks for the Chinese and Vietnamese fare, but everyone really goes there to eat Vietnamese. We ordered our last meal in a leisurely way, a few dishes at a time. Pristine Imperial rolls shrimp pounded and molded on sugarcane grilled pork to roll in rice paper with rice noodles, cilantro. mint, lettuce, and sprouts-each dish delightful, fresh, excellent. 3555 W. Walnut St.. Garland. 972-272-2188. $-$.

D BEST Jenny Ho’s Szechwan Pavilion. After 20 years of trying, Jenny Ho’s is serving some of the best Chinese in town. We never eat here (or takeout) without a plate of twice-cooked pork-paper thin squares of pork Mir fried in black bean sauce with thick cuts of carrots and crisp vegetables. If you are lucky enough to live nearby, they’ll deliver. 8411 Preston Rd. 214-368-4303. $-$.

New Big Wong. Large lunches are served here in fast-food time, but a leisurely dinner rewards experimentation. The menu is large and largely authentic, serving a wide variety of wiggly sea creatures. The setting is plain and the service friendly. 2121 S. Greenville Ave. 214-821-4198. $-$.

Royal China. Royal China serves the same neighborhood clientele that has been faithfully eating here since Buck Kao and his family opened the place in 1947. Appetizers are still in peak performance, including a wonderful hot and sour soup and perfectly steamed pan-fried pork dumplings. But the General’s Chicken tends to look and taste like chicken McNuggets in a sweet orange sauce. 201 Preston Royal Village. 214-361-1771. $-$.

Uncle Tal’s. The kitchen never fusses when asked to prepare old-time favorites no longer on the menu. Seafood lovers will swoon over Sa-Chai jumbo shrimp with baby corn in a spicy tea-infused sauce. And the Hunan Chicken is lightly stir-fried in the best black bean sauce in Dallas. Service can be flaky or efficient. In the Gaileria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy. @ LBJ Fwy., 972-934-9998. $$.

Dell News. This plainly authentic deli has continued to demonstrate [hat you don’t have to be from New York to know the Real Thing when you taste it. Hot cabbage borscht, potato pancakes, and rye-wrapped pastrami are all wonderful. 4805 Frankford Rd. 972-733-3354. Multiple locations. $-$.

Gilbert’s. All you Yankees pining for the comforts of the Carnegie Deli, stop whining. The Gilbert family has been dishing out potato knishes. stuffed derma, and kasha varnishkas as good as any in the Big Apple for more than a decade. They also have a decent plate of spaghetti and meatballs for the shiksa in your group. 11661 Preston Rd. 214-373-3333. $.

Athénée Cafe. Dallas’ only Rumanian restaurant-are you surprised? Stuffed mountain cabbage is a fabulous signature dish-meatball-sized beef rolls oven-roasted in delicate cabbage leaves with a red wine sauce, just like Grandma in Transylvania used to make. Other highlights: Rumanian sausage and veal chop. The wine list is adequate. 5365 Spring Valley Rd.,Ste. 150. 972-239-8060. $.

Bistro A. Peripatetic chef Avner Samuel’s latest venture is his best yet, and better yet, Bistro A looks like it’s going to be around awhile. Dishes with Middle Eastern influences are especially good, but the chef does equally well with simple steak fries, and casserole-roasted chicken could be the best bird in town. Beware of spotty service. 6815 Snider Plaza. 214-373-99I1.$-$$.

Bread Winners. Three different menus a day are all imaginative. But the buttermilk pan-fried chicken breast with mashed potatoes and cream gravy is the real winner-lightly battered and fried fork-tender chicken over leek mashed potatoes and cream gravy so good it makes the bland bread belter. 3301 McKinney Ave. 214-754-4940. $-$.

Firehouse. We’ve had no problems with new chef Bill Lewis” version of “International Hot and Spicy Cuisine.”Trendy tamarind-soy Marinated pork chops are served with a tongue-soothing mango salsa. Surprisingly, our favorite dish isn’t spicy at all-the warm chocolate devil’s food cake surrounded by Milwaukee Joe’s vanilla ice cream comes garnished with a chunk of homemade pistachio brittle. Dinner only. 1928 Greenville Ave. 214-826-2468. $.

Genghis Grill. You gel a stainless steel bowl from the stack and choose your ingredients from a cafeteria line on ice: bins of meat and vegetables, along with your choice of oils and seasonings. Then you give your bowl to the grillmas-ter. who tosses it on a giant round griddle. cooks it quick, then serves it back to you in die bowl. And Genghis Grill provides basic recipes for people who don’t know die difference between tamarind and teriyaki. 1915 Greenville Ave. 214-841-9990:4201 [email protected] Midway Rd., Addison. 972-503-5995. $-$.

The Grape. Whether you’re hoping for a marriage proposal or looking to get lucky, the chances of a “yes” are practically assured in |diis dark and romantic dining room. The seductive food doesn’t hurl either-the mushroom soup still thrills and grilled halibut is served with a dreamy creamed nee. As always, die wine is divine. 2808 Greenville Ave., 214-828-1981.$.

The Green Boom. Undoubtedly the grooviest chef and dining room in town. Marc Cassel’s “Collision Cuisine” menu includes a knockout prime strip steak served with lemon-horseradish potatoes and a delicate coconut-steamed rainbow trout. Don’t be fooled by the young staff they know the menu and wine list and service is hip and polished. 2715 Elm St. 214-748-7666. $-$$.

Simply Fondue. The appeal of Simply Fondue is lost on US-if you’re not going to stay home and cook, why would you go oui and cook? Still, the place is always booked. The professional and friendly staff makes the process manageable. Bread and cheese are staples of the age-just like chips and queso. but you can’t spear a tostada. And the meal is as good as melted cheese, sautéed meat, and melted chocolate can be. 2108 Greenville Ave. 214-827-8878. $-$$.

St. Pete’s Dancing Martin. The martin doesn’t mean seafood it’s just a clue that the owner likes to fish. The only seafood here is the simply designed to go with your beer. Beware the Diablo Tempestuous, pasta doused in fiery jalapeno-tomato sauce. It’s so hoi it comes with a chaser of chocolate milk. 2730 Commerce St. 214-698-1511. $-$.

Soho. The imaginative one-world-on-a-plate concept isn’t as complicated as it sounds. The mahi-mahi with a light ginger and lemongrass crust, grilled to lender, bedded on nutty red wehani rice, and encircled with a soy-lemon sauce is die dish that would lure us back to pseudo-Soho. An armagnac poached pear with toasted walnut and rice mascarpone cheese is simple elegance done well. 5290 Belt Line Rd., Addison. 972-490-8686. $.

Thomas Avenue Beverage Company. TABC isn’t a beer and burger pub, although they do serve both. Chef Kerry Kelly has elevated the menu to the level other fine restaurants in town by rotating creative versions of Southwestern, Cuban, and Italian with any other cuisine thai fits his mood. The tikka chicken is a great rendition of the Indian classic. 2901 Thomas Ave. 214-979-0452. $.

Addison Cafe. It’s called “Le French Bistro.” hut in reality, Addison Cafe is a restaurant serving classically prepared French and New American dishes, which has kept them in business for 15 years. Tournedos of beef are cooked medium-rare and served in a textbook bordelaise sauce. And dark chocolate mousse is worth every hip-hugging calorie. 5290 Belt Line Rd,@ Montfort Dr.. Ste. 108, Addison. 972-991-8824. $-$$.

Chez Gerard. Which is more to be celebrated, French thrift or French style? Skin-thin petals of veal liver, sautéed with onions and grapes in port wine sauce, become the gourmand’s liver and onions-or is it the peasant’s foie gras? Whatever. 4444 McKinney Ave. 214-522-6865.$-$$.

Clair De Lune. Tucked behind some trees in the corner of a small strip of shops in Preston Royal, this cozy French country restaurant delights with delicious food and impeccable service. A classic house-made pork paté is served with diced onion, French cornichons, and mustard. Poitrine de canard, a splendidly moist duck breast, is served with a delicate port wine sauce. 5934 Royal Ln. @ Preston Rd. 214-987-2028.$-$$.

French Room. This is the prettiest dining room in Dallas. The rococo-style, cherub-flown ceiling, Versailles-length drapes, and candlelight make it the kind of place that doesn’t mesh with the modern world. It’s only natural to expect perfect food that matches the fairy-tale room. Sweetbread schnitzel is perfect, placed on a bed of asparagus ragout. Lamb ribeye is precisely matched with rosemary goat cheese polenta and tomato confit with basil, combining every- Mediterranean high note in a single dish. Dinner only. Hotel Adolphus, 1321 Commerce St. 214-742-8200. $$.

Jennivine. The charming old house is as popular a pop-the-question romantic spot as ever. Wood floors, quaint bar candles, flowers, and fine food are the setting for a nice selection of wines by the glass. The tilapia is a perfectly tender filet on a layer of lemony orzo with red cabbage and a tablespoon of sweet potatoes. And the chocolate mousse here is classic-bittersweet, firm, and topped with fresh whipped cream. 3605 McKinney Ave. 214-528-6010. $.

D BEST L’Ancestral. Let L Ancestral remind you of traditional delights: The civilized dining room is softly lit, tables are draped in starchy white, and the menu is stubbornly, traditionally French. Begin your meal with a bowl of onion soup, about as recherché as you can get, but some ideas need no improvement. The onion tart is just as subtly good. Lamb is cooked perfectly medium rare, and steak au poivre comes with the best, yes, French fries in town. 4514 Travis St. 214-528-1081.$-$$.

Old Warsaw. Hanging on to a reputation as one of Dallas’ oldest elite restaurants is tough, but La Vielle Varsovie is valiant. It takes effort to find much fault with the food–from appetizers to dessert, the meal is an anachronistic treat. Servers, however, are only acceptably pleasant. 2610 Maple Ave. 214-528-0032. $$.

Paris Bistrot Paris Bistrot spills out onto McKinney like a sidewalk cafe in Paris. We’re infatuated with the classic duck confit, coarse paté campagne, delicately julienned and turned vegetables, and lamb shank with rich creamy risotto. Chocolate mousse is the real thing, 2533 McKinney Ave. 214-720-0225.$.

D BEST The Riviera. Chef Tom Fleming’s roasted rack of lamb swaddled in cracked black pepper and sautéed maple leaf duck breast served with a sour cherry baked apple compote are just two reasons The Riviera is at the top of every five-star dining list. Any night is reason enough to celebrate with a warm apple streusel and a scoop of Calvados ice cream paired with a glass of Moet & Chandon brut Rose. Dinner only. 7709 Inwood Rd. 214-35l-0094.$$.

St Martin’s. Rich paneling, soft-lit paintings, and touches of muted gold update the famous romantic setting: live music shapes the proper evening mood and the food delivers sophisticated fulfillment. The by-the-glass wine selection is broad, and service strikes the correct balance between attention and discretion. 3020 Greenville Ave. 214-826-0940. $-$$.

Voltaire. All the elements of fine dining have been taken to surreal extremes. The wine list is 15,000 strong. A small menu offers sophisticated seafood, poultry, and meat selections, including a lovely lobster harissa with garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and a warm Thai-scented sauce. 5150 Keller Springs Rd. cDallas North Tollway. 972-239-8988. $$.

Wé/Oui. American food with a French accent in a high-energy (read: loud) dining room. Below the din, the paté is authentic and (he desserts are charming, but in between, the canard a l’orange and the wine list are only average. 100 Crescent Court, 214-220-3990. $

D REVISITS Kuby’s. Although good. solid German fare is on the endangered food list in Dallas, it will never be totally extinct as long as Kuby’s is around. And they’ve been in Snider Plaza since 1961, serving the best wurst in town. Entering the dining room, we were immediately transported to an authentic German food hall. Dark woods, family crest banners, and snow-capped beer steins flank the room. Waitresses festooned in colorful hand-sewn dresses with breast-cradling necklines weave about delivering house specialties like schnitzel plates and brats on a bun to families at the large community dining tables and booths along the walls. The atmosphere really cranks up on the weekends, when the live band strikes up the accordion music. The menu offers a choice of schnitzel (cutlet)-veal, chicken, or pork-to be breaded and fried and served with perfect potato pancakes served with applesauce and sour cream. But we never leave without sharing the sausage sampler plate where thin, tiny coins of sautéed sausage cover a bed of slightly sour sauerkraut. Kuby’s also has a bakery and a German convenience store where you can find an authentic streusel cake mix. at least 50 different kinds of jam, and killer pimento cheese from the deli case. Those who have an addiction to crumb cake (and who doesn’t?) will find satisfaction in moist cakes available in a variety of flavors. And if you’re really lucky, there will be a slice of Black Forest cake left in the dessert case. Dinner served on Friday and Saturday only. 6601 Snider Plaza, 214-363-2231.$-$.

Rhinehouse. The atmosphere is bare-bones German, but the food is worth a drive to McKinney. Silky spaetzle, ja. Crispy schnitzel. ach ja. Homemade marinated herring, ach gott, ja! They have imported beers on tap, including a double bock, and a deli case crammed with traditional German sausages. 1330 N. McDonald St.. McKinney. 972-562-0124. $.

City Cafe To Go. Does anybody cook from scratch anymore? According to the servers at City Cafe To Go, most people don’t even know how to use a regular oven to reheat the precooked food they buy there. They all want microwave instructions. But for those of you who can handle it. most of the dishes (for instance, a thickly sliced rare leg of lamb with charred, sun-dried tomatoes) are tasty and reheat beautifully. 5757 Lovers Ln. 214-351-3366. $-$.

City Harvest We can always count on the infamous King Ranch Casserole-a comforting blend of chicken, cheese and chilies-to take the edge off of a hard day at the office. You can dine in or take out from a list of other old favorites including Frito pie and Mom’s meat-loaf. 939 N. Edgefield Ave. 214-943-2650. $.

Eatzi’s. Eatzi’s definitely lives up to its circus hype. Hear the strains of opera and waltz through the crowds collecting the already cooked makings of a gourmet dinner-down to the imported beer, fresh bread, and flowers. Or choose salads or sandwiches made to order. Checkout lines are infamously long. 3403 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-526-1515.$.

Izmir Deli. Dallas’ new fascination with Middle Eastern food means there have been long lines at Cafe Izmir since it opened. You can avoid those crowds by ordering in from the Izmir Deli, just down Greenville from the original cafe. Gyros, tenderloin, mozzarella, grilled vegetables, and chicken sandwiches, pita, hummus, couscous, and eggplant dip are all available for pick-up or phone-in orders. And this is the place to go if you need rosewater at 9 p.m. 3607 Greenville Ave. 214-824-8484. $-$.

Marty’s Cafe TuGogh. Marty’s latest version of its wine bar has changed everything but the name. And the food-there was never a problem with that. At night, when the blond, light-filled Cafe TuGogh features full table service, it’s on its way to becoming one of the best little bistros in town. 3316 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-526-4070. $-$.

Kostas Cafe. If you can’t get to Greece anytime soon, sample the saganaki at Kostas. The fried kasseri cheese soaked in brandy comes to the table flaming and is ceremoniously doused with fresh lemon juice and a loud “Opa!” All the classics-spanakoptta. moussaka, and sou-vlaki-are authentically prepared, and the family atmosphere makes eating oft’ your neighbor’s plate seem like a warm gesture. 4914 Greenville Ave. 214-987-3225. $.

Z Cafe. Pizza topped with gyro meat, feta. tomatoes, and olives and the potato bails are a legacy of the former Little Gus. Breakfast omelettes take on the flavor of the neighborhood when they’re filled with chorizo, chili, and cheddar. The quintessential greasy spoon burger is a masterpiece lopped with feta, ?rilled onions, and jalapenos. Breakfast and lunch only. 1924 Henderson Ave. 214-821-0991.$.

D BEST Ziziki’s. You can hardly get a prime-time table at this contemporary Greek cafe, and they don’t take reservations, except for large parties. But the herbed lamb souvlaki. folded in thick warm pita and sauced with tart yogurt, is worth a wait. Ziziki’s menu has featured the same idiosyncratic version of Mediterranean food since it opened- it’s a good thing some things don’t change. 4514 Travis St., Ste. 122.214-521-2233 15707 Coit Rd? Ste. A. 972-991-4433 $.

Barbec’s. Barbec’s regulars love the tabloid newsprint menu, the hearty. what-canget-you-Hon? waitresses, the awesome anytime breakfasts. The food ranges from pretty good to good, but it’s all cheap. And they’ve always got those legendary beer biscuits, sweet and high and truly loved by all. Great meringues. 8949 Garland Rd. 214-321-5597.$.

Celebration. Bring your appetite to this longtime mecca for Dallas home-cooking purists. Entrées run the gamut from broiled fresh fish to pot roast to fried chicken, all accompanied by an endless supply of vegetables. Don’t worry if your entree seems small-you can reorder as often as you wish. 4503 W. Lovers Ln. 214-351-5681.$-$.

Mecca. The place is sunny, cheerfully decorated with flowers in Spam and Manwich cans. The pro waitresses keep the coffee cups filled and call the customers “hon.” Ridiculously large plates of banana pancakes, thick-cut bacon, eggs over easy, great big biscuits, and reassuring hash browns, served at an appropriate morning pace, add up to an eye-blinkingly low tab. Good morning. 10422 Harry Hines Blvd. 214-352-0051.$.

Nataie’s. It’s the ultimate neighborhood spot: The portions are large the prices are small. The meatloaf is a popular choice: For $7.95 you get an 8-by-3-inch slab of finely ground meat with a light tomato sauce on top. mixed crisp steamed vegetables, and a hunk of mashed potatoes. But the secret to Natalie’s success is the cinnamon rolls. We always order extra to take home for the next morning. 5944 Royal Ln. 214-739-0362.$.

Alfonso’s. If you don’t live in East Dallas, it’s time to load the kids in the car and lake a round trip for dinner. Basic Italian favorites are cooked the old-fashioned way-heavy on the garlic and butter. Chicken Francese and the hot homemade garlic (and we mean garlic) rolls are alone worth the trip. Lake Highland Village, 718 N. Buckner Blvd. @ Northcliff Dr. 214-327-7777.$.

Avanti. Avanti has maintained the feel of a small, intimate neighborhood cafe in spite of every obstacle. The fried calamari with tomato and basil sauce is greaseless. and the crunchy batter is light and tasty. We’re slightly disappointed with the grilled veal medallions, but the Italian sausage seasoned with lots of fennel and sautéed with onions and bell peppers on top of angel hair pasta covered in a light mari-nara is gutsier. 2720 McKinney Ave. 214-871-4955.$.

Cafe Cipriani. This is one of the best Italian restaurants in town. Owner Salvino Zannetti doesn’t compromise on his ingredients: he orders his cheese from a deli in New York-as close to Italy as you can get in Dallas. And the lasagna is the real standout-layers of home-made noodles, with just enough ground veal to give the dish substance without making il too heavy. 220 Las Colinas Blvd., Irving. 972-869-0713. $.

land’s. The menu is priced per portion and per “la familia.” And it’s thoroughly Italian in that a “la familia” platter is plenty for a family, including parents, several children, and grandparents. Vitello Pugliese, for example, is thickly breaded slices of veal, smothered in tomato sauce allegedly enriched with goat cheese and loaded with purple kalamata olives. 250 Spanish Village. 972-866-0888. $.

D BEST Mi Piaci. Housemade is a term Mi Piaci doesn’t take lightly- the kitchen makes its own pastas and cures its own meats. Every other ingredient is either imported or hand-picked. A bowl of the Tuscan classic ribollita could be enough for a meal. But don’t neglect the spicy penne arrab-biata, the three thin scallops of veal perched on a pile of portobello mushrooms, or the asparagus and cheese tortellini with a fragile Marsala sauce. 14854 Montfort Dr. 972-934-8424. $-$$.

D BEST Modo Mio. Chef owner Rino Brigliadori’s small traditional rustic Italian menu is consistently dependable, starting with the asparagus, eggplant, and goat cheese antipasto and finishing with the softly sweetened sorbets. In between we have always been happy ordering gnocchi Modo Mio. but special sea bass in tomato broth is an offering we will never refuse. Dinner only. 18352 Dallas Pkwy. 972-671-6636. $.

Nero’s. Chef Luigi Lama has been serving pink garlic bread and Caesar salad for 15 years, but we prefer his Linguinie Fra Diavlo-a steaming plate of sea scallops, gulf shrimp, and mushrooms in a spicy marinara sauce. Of course, the regular pasta dishes are above average, and his homemade white chocolate ice cream has customers driving long distances just for dessert. Dinner only. 2104 Greenville Ave. 214-826-6376.$.

Patrizio. Move over, Campisi’s. Patrizio’s signature crab claws just took first place in the crab claws competition. Soft and delicate, they slip off the exoskeleton and melt in your mouth like, well, butter. Oh, yes-you should eat dinner, too: There’s the chicken and mushroom lasagna (good, but rich) and the baked ziti (we had leftovers for breakfast). The prices aren’t what you’d expect with Escada and Calvin Klein just a kiss away. Highland Park Village, Mockingbird Ln. @ Preston Rd. 214-522-7878 1900 Preston Rd., Ste. 343, Piano. 972-964-2200. $.

Pavarotti’s. Pavarotti’s is one of the few places in North Dallas where parents can escape for a quick, semi-romantic meal. The baked lasagna is a delightful casserole layered with noodles, meat, and cheese that somehow remains light. The linguine Pavarotti loaded with shrimp and chicken sautéed in a garlic white wine sauce is all the reason we need to return. 6757 Arapaho Rd.. 972-991-2828. $.

Rodolpho’s. American 1950s-style Italian food is the order of the day-hefty lasagna and only average chicken parmigiana. We’ve never had the nerve to try anything from the “pasta with berries” section of the menu we just stick to the angel hair pasta with spinach balls, The dumplings of ricotta and spinach scented with nutmeg make a wonderful light meal. 5956 Royal Ln. @ Preston Rd. 214-368-5039. $.

Salve. Like sister restaurant Mi Piaci, home style Tuscan is the backbone of Salve. Casual all-day dining in the bar features pizza, cal-zones, and panini. In the evenings, the extensive menu in the elegant dining room is the perfect opportunity for a sophisticated Italian feast. Brodetta Adriatica, a pile of clams, mussels, shrimp,and lobster is as fresh as a Mediterranean breeze perfumed with saffron. 2120 McKinney Ave. 214-220-0070. $-$$

Terilli’s. A Lower Greenville fixture. Terilli’s packs in a semi-sophisticated crowd for such-as-it-is jazz and an eclectic menu featuring the signature item with the silly name: “Italcho’s” (crisp chips of pizza dough topped with moz-zarella and a choice of toppings). Food ranges from pretty good to so-so, but devotees find that Terilli’s is more than the sum of its parts. 2815 Greenville Ave. 214-827-3993. $.

Vittos. The menu attempts several ambitious dishes-including some veal preparations- but most people stick to the pasta and pizza. We like the “different” pizzas: one topped with spinach, goat cheese, and red peppers: the other with garlic, spinach, bacon, and pep-peroni. 316 W. 7th St. 214-946-1212. $-$.

D REVISITS DeepSushi. Deep Sushi is so Deep Ellum about their sushi. Traditional Japanese etiquette takes i back seat to a more laid back, hip style of service and ambience. On our last visit, we seated ourselves at the last two seats at the sushi bar and learned quickly why they were the last two-we had a perfect view of the chefs workspace through glass refrigerator doors. Unfortunately this position gave us a clue as to why most of our fish was room temperature: The sushi prep trays rested on ice cubes instead of the usual crushed ice that hugs the bowl to keep the fish fresh and cold. Even though we noticed a stack of towels rolled up on the steamer, no one was ever offered one. We’ve always found the sushi here average, so our average experience came as no surprise. The edamame was excellent and was topped with just the right amount of shaved salt. Although engaging, the daikon was missing from the agedashi tofu and the spice promised in the spicy octopus and seaweed salad was also MIA. Cajun and spider rolls appeared so quickly after we’d ordered them we assume they were prepared ahead of time. Ditto for the gummy rice and soft nori (seaweed wrapper). Not only was the sushi fish room temperature, the temperature of each dish seemed off: What should have been crisp was not. what should have been cold was warm, and what should have been warm was cold. There is no cold sake menu, and wo hud trouble understanding the recited (not a good idea) list of selections, so we asked for something dry between $10-$15, Our waiter did a belter job than the kitchen-we got a hair-bottle of dry sake at the right price. And it was cold. 2624 Elm St., 214-651-1177. $-$$.

Fishbowl. Tin- small but ambitious menu reflects the 1960s Pan-Asian concept: Trader Vic’s-style cocktails, sushi, sake, and noodles, all served mp&s-siyh sue small plaie ai a lime. A meal is a series and may include a lies! seller like peanut chicken satay as well as Stephan Pyles* innovative version of mu shu pork tacos served with thai basil slaw. Dinner only. 3214 Knox St, 214-521-2695.

D BEST Nakamoto. Service tends to range Irani sublime to abrupt at this stylish, roomy Piano institution, but cuisine (tempura. sushi, and sashimi) remains uniformly excellent. 3309 N. Central Expwy. @ Parker Rd? Piano. 972-881-0328, $.

Royal Tokyo. It’s a hibachi steak room, it’s a sushi bar (Dallas” first), and it’s a show-palace, You can leave your shoes at the door and eat in one of (heir Tamati Rooms or sit around grill tables where Japanese chefs perform slice and dice like Samurai warriors. It’s a great way to gel kids 10 eat their vegetables. 7525 Greenville Ave. 214-368-3304, $.

Tei Tei. We still haven’t tasted the kobe beef (which comes from cattle fed with beer and massaged with sake), but Tei Tei is a destination restaurant anyway. The “kinki fish” is a whole fish (snapper) slashed to me bone, so the flesh lifts out easily with chopsticks. To eat the soli-shell crab, abandon the Eastern eating utensils and resort to the God-given: lingers. Dinner only. 2906 N. Henderson Ave. 214-828-2400-$-$$.

Teppo. Impeccable sushi and sashimi geared toward the advanced sushi addict. Live scallops, clams, and the Limoge-like savagari (tiny deep-fried crabs) satisfy a soulful need for great art and great food. For a courageous finish, try the quail egg shooters-a sake glass filled with fish roe. chives, lime, two quail eggs, and house-made ponzu sauce, Dinner only, 2906 N. Henderson Ave., 214-828-2400. $-$$

Yamaguchi. Far from being wrapped up in the traditional trappings ol’ sushi showmanship, Yamaguchi focuses 011 flavor and takes it seriously Service is precise and caring, and entrees reflect a balance of tortuously tine flavor, fresh ingredients, unci design on the plate. 7713 Inwood Rd. @ Lovers I .m. 2 14-350-8660.$$.

Caribbean Grill. Jumbo shrimp marinated in coconut milk, lightly fried and rolled in coconut shreds is one of the best appetizers we’ve had all year. Jerk chicken is moist inside, with a thin crusty coating of spices, and the dipping sauce is a killer honey-mustard concoction spiced with hot relish (chow) from Trinidad. Stay busy with their large selection of bottled hot sauces and soothe your burning tongues with homemade Key lime pie. 3068 Forest Ln. 972-241-9113. $-$.

Gloria’s. Gloria’s was serving pupusas and other exotic Salvadorian and Mexican dishes before the hot Latin craze was cool. Discover the unique tastes with Gloria’s Super Sampler, starring a tamale stuffed with chicken wrapped and steamed in a fresh banana leaf. The chocolate flan coated in caramel should be on every menu in town. 3715 Greenville Ave. 214-874-0088. Multiple locations, $-$.

Samba Room. It’s impossible not to feel transported to an exotic Havana night-huge palm trees windows covered by wooden-slat shutters warm browns, ochre, and cobalt blue set the mellow, sexy tone for the whole room. Arepas-beef marinated in sherry, cooked with onion and peppers, then shredded into a mound and surrounded by triangles of grid-died sweet corn cakes topped with a slight drizzle of sour cream-are superb. A silver martini shaker filled with long, thin strips of Yuca Frita-fried yuca seasoned with lime and garlic-makes French fries obsolete. Dinner only. 4514 Travis St, 214-522-4137. $.

Texas de Brazil. No need for menus here-it’s one price tits all. Skewer-swagging waiters slice varied cuts of slow-roasted (and extremely flavorful) filet, picanha, rack of lamb, top sirloin, and pork loin from their swords right onto your plate. The salad bar features 30 hefty items besides salad, including tabbouleh and marinated mushrooms, and the required feijoa- da (the national dish of Brazil). 15101 Addison Rd. 972-385-1000 2727 Cedar Springs Rd. 214-720-1414.$$.

Avanti Euro Bistro. The menu at this sexy spot circles the Mediterranean Sea. featuring French, Moroccan, and Middle Eastern delights. We marveled at a truly traditional veal Francaise delicately swirled with a cognac demi-glace and a Chicken Marrakesh bursting with a saffron lime flavor. Skip the crème brulée and go straight for the fresh pear poached in vintage port stuffed with a dollop of buttery mascarpone. 5001 Addison Circle, Addison, 972-386-7800. $.

II Sole. Chef Tim Penn focuses on Mediterranean food, sometimes to brilliant effect. Long fingers offender pan-fried cala-mari dip easily into a spicy red chile sauce. Wonderful warm putanesca pasta crowded with kalamata olives, capers, tomatoes, and garlic pops with flavor. Nice by-the-glass wine selection. 4515 Travis St., Ste. 201. 214-559-3888. $-$$.

Popolos. Popolos has reopened and most of the original staff and popular menu items are back. One visit we sat at the bar and nibbled thin-crusted pizza layered with tomato, kalamata olives, capers, and garlic. Another night we feasted on the always dependable (and enough for two) chicken piccata. For those without elastic-waist pants, the fat-free angel food cake bruschetta is a guilt-free ending. 707 Preston Royal Shopping Center. 214-692-5497. $.

D BEST Suze. The attitude is casual, sophisticated, and neighborhood friendly. The food is a funky blend of Mediterranean fare that rotates continually and includes Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in coconut milk, cilantro, and chipotle broth that should not be missed. Former Toscana wiz Gilbert Garza has proved he is a chef to be reckoned with-his double cut pork chops rubbed with red curry and topped with dried cherry sauce is a gastronomic work of art. Dinner only. 4345 W. Northwest Hwy. @ Midway Rd. 214-350-6135. $.

Tony’s Wine Warehouse. This place is basically a wine warehouse with some tables crammed in the back and a kitchen turning out above-average Mediterranean fare. Veal medallions gently sautéed with port wine, roasted garlic, and shiitake mushrooms paired nicely with a Nuit Saint Georges we picked from a bin on the floor. The wine prices are retail there is no corkage fee. 2904 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-520-9463.$.

Anamia’s. The basics-cheese enchiladas, cheese tacos. guacamole. and beef tacos-are all above average, the surprise being the usually boring beef taco full of chili powder-spiced beef. Shrimp comes wafting the scent of lime, covered with nuggets of sautéed garlic, on a bed of sautéed celery, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, and jalapenos. For two bucks, you can get an order of sopaipillas-a platter of three gold puffs sent from heaven with a little honey. 106 N. Denton Tap Rd.. Ste. 240, Coppell. 972-304-0321.$. Margaritas.

D BEST Avila’s. At Avila’s you can find all the flavors of Mexican food without the lard. Chili relleno isn’t battered and deep-fried: it’s gently roasted and stuffed with cheese or meat and covered in a light ranchera sauce. Enchiladas can be customized from a mix-and-match ingredients menu and is a must for vegetarians looking for a Tex-Mex fix. 4714 Maple Ave. 214-520-2700.$.

Casa Rosa. There’s almost always a table available at die pink-tinted Casa Rosa, but only because the place is so big. The appeal of the food would certainly pack a smaller place. Casa Rosa does well with standards-except the chimichanga-but the real finds here are the more unusual dishes such as the goat cheese chile relleno and the mushroom enchiladas. 165 Inwood Village. 214-350-5227, $-$.

D BEST Ciudad. Monica Greene, the genius behind Monica’s Aca y Alla, ups her own ante by delivering dishes based on true Mexico City-style cuisine. Tender barbequed pork wrapped in fresh com tortillas mix easily with a tropical fruit salsa, and an 8-ounce beef tenderloin topped with melted asadero cheese is surrounded with a spicy red tomato sauce with a side of epazote- scented black beans. Por favor, save room for elegant desserts. 3888 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 135.214-219-3141.$-$$.

Cuquita’s. You won’t find a list of Tex-Mex combination plates or even a margarita here, but you will find authentic specialties like beef tongue simmering in a pepper-studded tomato sauce and tender fillets of pork sautéed with onions and spices. Everything goes down easy with a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade or a Bohemia. 2326 N. Henderson Ave. 214-823-1859. $. Beer only.

Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano. Javier’s hook is Mexico City Mexican food, and the atmosphere isn’t Tex-Mex kitschy but sophisticated. Salsa is nicely warmed, and margaritas are the real thing. Filete Cantinflas may look like a fried puck, but inside the stiff crust is a cheese-stuffed filet mignon with a brick-colored chile sauce-it’s too rich to eat and loo good not to try. 4912 Cole Ave. 214-521-4211. $.

la Calle Doce. The new Lakewood digs has the same menu and quality as the popular Oak Cliff location. Undoubtedly the best Mexican seafood in town, the fresh cold seafood cocktails-octopus, ceviche, and oysters-are full of spicy tomato sauce with chunks of celery and green peppers. The grilled whole catfish served with rice and vegetables shouldn’t be missed. 1925 Skillman St. 214-824-9900 415 W. 12th St. 214-941-4304. $.

Luna De Noche. The secret is out in Garland. Luna de Noche is playing in the Mexican food big leagues with .stellar versions of cheese enchiladas, guacamole, and nachos. Thankfully the margaritas are more sour than sweet, and the Polio Pepian is a juicy chicken breast simmering in delicious chicken broth, ancho chile, and pecan sauce. The fruit flautas are the best dessert find around. 761)2 Jupiter Rd. @ Lookout Dr., Garland. 972-414-3616. $-$. Margaritas.

Mattito’s. The Baja shrimp staffed with Monterey Jack cheese and fresh jalapenos then wrapped in bacon is a change of pace from our favorite Matt Martinez recipe: chiles rellenos stuffed with cheese and topped with ranchero sauce, sour cream, raisins, and pecans. The gorditos we tried were dry and tasteless, but save room for chocolate caramel nachos-this is a destination dessert. 3011 Routh St. 214-922-8835 5290 Belt Line Rd. @ Montfort Dr., Addison. 972-503-8100. $-$.

D BEST Matt’s Rancho Martinez. The place is filled with the faithful at every meal because the flautas arc the best in

Dallas, the chile relleno is food for the gods, and even a combination plate satisfies, if you don’t mind processed cheese. 6332 La Vista

Mi Cocina. The food is dependably good at all locations. If there’s a line, cool your heels with great margaritas. The menu features upscale dishes in addition to basic tacos and enchiladas-tacos habanas are stuffed with chicken and covered with ground chile and cilantro Latin stir-fry fajitas provide a great option for vegetarians. 11661 Preston Rd. 214-265-7704. Multiple locations. $-$.

D BEST Monica’s Aca y Alla. Monica. Greene commues to serve the best food bargains in town. Most lunches are less than $5, and the choices are not your normal Tex-Mex combinations. We’ve gorged on green enchiladas, mushroom quesadillas. and spinach-jalapeno fettuccine with chicken, roasted corn, cilantro, and black beans in a cream shallot béchamel sauce. Tuesday food is half-price and Wednesday’s freshly squeezed lime margaritas are only 50 cents. 2914 Main St, 214-748-7140.

Nuevo Leon. Nuevo Leon has the uncanny knack of blending perfectly with a neighborhood while serving the same menu at every location. Somehow, the carnitas al pastor are hearty, country fare in Farmers Branch (the original location), fiesta party fare on Greenville Avenue, and mod-Mex in the latest location on Oak Lawn Avenue. Service is slick, and the food is excellent-fat enchiladas, avocado-like cold cream, thick tortillas. So far. this is a winning formula. 3211 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-522-3331. Multiple locations, $-$.

Omega’s. It’s easy to imagine ending evenings at Omega’s. But fortunately. Omega’s is also a great place to lunch, and it’s even a comfortable place to eat alone. This friendly little cafe on a Deep Ellum side street serves a complimentary cup of chile con queso with the warmed salsa and tostados. There’s nothing particularly original about the menu, but the basic cheese-oozing enchilada plate is pure comfort food. 212 N. Crowdus St. 214-744-6842. $.

Rafa’s. We love the seasoned red snapper topped with crabmeat, wrapped in foil, and cooked in its natural juices. The full-on Tex-Mex regulars of hefty beef enchiladas and sour cream chicken enchiladas never fail. And we never leave without sinfully submerging a sopaipilla dusted with powdered sugar into a warm ramekin of honey. Closed Monday. 5917 W. Lovers Ln. 214-357-2080, $-$.

Sol’s. The goal here seems to be to offer pretty good Mexican food in a pretty comfortable place to folks who live pretty close. Sol’s has found a niche where old-fashioned combination plates-oozing enchiladas, rich chili gravy, deep-fried flautas. and lush gua-camole-are all that’s required. 6434 Mockingbird Ln. 214-821-7911.$-$.

Taco Diner. The name sounds slightly retro. But the tacos at the Diner are real Mexican soft tacos, not drive-through, crunchy, greasy Tex-Mex mutations. The corn tortillas are the star here no matter what you wrap them around, the result is good-chicken with cojita cheese, grilled pork, and meaty mushrooms are all complemented by the fragrant masa tortillas. Service is hit-or-miss. 4011 Villanova Dr. 214-696-4944. $. Margaritas.

All Baba. Order hummus and you get a bowl swirled with the garlicky puree, pooled with yellow olive oil, dusted with parsley, and adorned with slick olives. Thai and a stack of hot pita could do you, but the grilled chicken is irresistible, and the tabbouleh, mostly chopped parsley with bits of bulghur and tomato, is a perfect counterpoint to the unctuous chickpea mash. 1905 Greenville Ave. 214-823-8235.$-$.

Basha. Basha was one of the first in the wave of Middle Eastern restaurants that have opened in Dallas in the last few years. And it remains one of the best of a good lot. The menu is less predictable than many of Dallas’ Lebanese restaurants, offering dishes outside the usual selection of hummus, baba ghanoush. nee, and grilled everything. Breast of chicken breaded in crushed pistachios is an excellent idea-so is fragrant lamb shank, cooked till it is stew on the bone. Okay, hummus is good, too. 2217 Greenville Ave. 214-824-7794. $.

Cafe Istanbul. The tiny kitchen overachieves on most of its Turkish dishes, especially if you like it spicy. The dining room gets cozy at night, but those who tolerate early evening daylight are rewarded with a happy hour. Solid service tops off a superb all-around experience, 5450 W. Lovers Ln., Ste. 222. 214-902-0919.$-$.

D BEST Cafe Izmir This remains one of the best little restaurants in Dallas. The space is small, the service is friendly, and the choices are simple-all you have to say is “meat” or “veg” and the food starts coming. The mezes platter-hummus, baba ghanoush. and Russian chicken salad, all designed to spread on warm pita bread-is a regular. Wash it down with a bottle of the Boutari, and you’ll be happy. Dinner only. 3711 Greenville Ave. 214-826-7788. $.

Queen of Sheba. Excellent Ethiopian specialties served in real style. Go straight to the Queen’s Dinner-a feast that includes almost everything on the menu presented beautifully on a silver platter. The banquet, a bargain at $30 per person, also includes a special hand-washing ceremony-once with an aperitif, again after sopping up the juice from the pureed lentils. 3527 McKinney Ave. @ Lemmon Ave., 214-521-0491. $.

Antares, The Hyatt Regency’s sky-high, revolving restaurant appears to be finding its wings at last. Huge sea scallops were sparked with chile-peanut dressing grilled beefsteak tomatoes and shiitake mushroom caps wore dollops of melted queso fresco in a roasted shallot vinaigrette. Reunion Tower. 300 Reunion Blvd. 214-651-1234. $-$$.

Beau Nash. The beautiful dining room is aging gracefully, and the light-spark led. romantic conservatory at night remains one of the delights of Dallas dining. The Cobb salad and smoked chicken corn chowder still win Best of Kind, and desserts are a dream-try the rich pillow of mocha mousse sandwiched between two dark chocolate cake slices. 400 Crescent Court. 214-871-3240. $-$$.

Chaparral Club. The audio-rubbed chicken (with bones!) can be a little salty, but the creamy goat-cheese stuffing guarantees moist meat. The bone in filet, along with truffled mashed potatoes and cubed root vegetables sautéed together, make a plate that satisfies all senses. Don’t miss The Perfect Dessert: a satiny sphere of white chocolate split and tilled with fresh blueberries and raspberries sliding around in a poo! of crème Anglaise. Dinner only. Adam’s Mark Hotel, 400 N. Olive St. 214-777-6539, $-$$.

Guthrie’s. Luckily Guthrie’s sits next to our parking lot downtown. That makes it easy to dash over for a quick luncheon comfort-food fix of roasted chicken and mashed potatoes. Chef William Guthrie gets creative at night and turns out brilliant versions of pork schnitzel with sautéed mushroom and a killer version of fish and chips. 400 S. Ervay St. 214-760-7900. $-$.

D BEST Laurels. Rising star executive chef and general manager Danielle Custer brings her cutting-edge cuisine to Westin Park Central’s 20th floor. Incomprehensible dishes like pear soup with plum wine crème fraiche don’t make sense until you put them in your mouth. You have to trust Custer: She thinks with her palate, and the results are brilliant. Dinner only. Westin Park Central. 12720 Merit Dr. 972-385-3000. $-$$.

Maquire’s. The menu reads like a syllabus for a global cooking class, and each entrée tastes like the final exam. Uninspired versions of maple ginger salmon, peppercorn steak, and herb-marinated chicken anchor the selections. However, the house salad is a memorable blend ol’ greens, roasted pecans, and blue cheese tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette, and the Molten Lava Cake spills hot. gooey chocolate at the touch of a fork. 17552 Dallas Pkwy. @ Trinity Mills Rd. 972-818-OGm $.

The Mansion on Turtle Creek. This isn’t dinner it’s a dining experience. A dramatic, country club-like, members-only dining experience. The Grande Dame of Dallas dining continues to live up to ils legend-the atmosphere is inimitably posh, and the food is predictably innovative. The price? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. 214-526-2121.$$.

The Mercury. Chef Chris Ward has taken control of the kitchen and is doing a bang-up job. A normally pedestrian potato soup was delivered thick and hot. and the arugula pesto drizzled on top provided (he perfect kick of flavor. Two savory pork chops resting easily beside a creamy rosemary risotto was easy on the eye and palate. 1418 Preston Forest Sq. 972-960-7774. $.

Rooster. The room is as easily gracious as a family dining room. And the staff offers naturally Southern-style hospitality. The traditional Senate bean soup is authentic-substantial and scented with smoky ham-and the breadbasket is filled with corn muffins and bacon biscuits. The catfish, thick and white as cake, is crusted with molasses and pecans, then sauced with brown butter. 3521 Oak Grove Ave. 214-521-1234.$.

Sevy’s. The thorough American Prairie-style interior perfectly complements chef-owner Jim Severson’s beany American cuisine. The plates here present classic ideas with imaginative updates. The menu is varied, but beef is a reliable choice-the tenderloin is slightly hickory smoked. The marinated mushroom appetizer is the best portobello in town. 8201 Presto? Rd. 214-265-7389. $.

Tramontane. Chef James Neel has successfully stretched his culinary skills. He and his wife, Lisa, have created a delightful New American menu with Italian and French accents. Osso buco fans, bring your own marrow forks- after devouring the veal braised in red wine. we brazenly blew the marrow out of the bones ourselves. A Key lime trifle was so tart it puckered our mouth, but the silky bananas foster cream pie soothed our souls. 8220-B Westchester Dr.. Preston Center. 214-368-4188.$.

York Street. As Dallas restaurants get bigger and bigger, this little chef-owned cafe seems smaller and smaller. And its value rises as the qualities we love about it become rarer and rarer. The choices of elegant food-pheasant paté with pears, frogs1 legs, roast duck, and quail-are a wonderful relief from beef and chicken. It’s easy for dinner to spin into hours of conversation because the atmosphere is so conducive to it. 6047 Lewis St. 214-826-0968.

AquaKnox. Since the lounge was turned into Fishbowl, the sexy blue chenille dining room of AquaKnox feels like half a restaurant. The décor isn’t the only boat that’s been rocked here. We’ve had a good meal-brilliantly seared beef tenderloin with chipotle mashed potatoes-and we’ve had a bad meal-salty red snapper with gooey corn pudding. But overall Stephan Pyles seems to have steadied the course with the addition of new executive chef Ethan Powell. Dinner only. 3214 Knox St, 214-219-2782, $$.

Cafe Pacific. Cafe Pacific continues to delight as one of Dallas’ most reliable luncheon and dinner restaurants, as well as the place to witness the social structure of Dallas’ power people in action. Menu favorites like calamari, clam chowder. Caesar salad, salmon, and red snapper are superbly prepared and presented by an experienced staff. 24 Highland Park Village. 214-526-1170.$-$$.

Fish. After a long float in troubled waters, Fish has plugged up the holes in the sinking standard of their food. The laurel-scented Chilean sea bass with roasted sweet peppers and leeks has been tweaked and now includes jumbo shrimp and ginger rice. Delicious grilled, pepper-crusted sea scallops served on hot creamy risotto-flavored with lemon, red peppers, and sweet basil is a comfort and a delight. 302 S. Houston St. 214-747-3474.$$.

Lombard Mare. Few seafood kitchens in town offer as many varieties of fresh oysters. Recently we were served a disappointing plate of polenta-crusted salmon, but the pasta covered with lobster, shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, and asparagus restored our faith in Alberto Lombardi’s touch. Perfect setting and food to impress out-of-towners. Village on the Parkway, Montfort Dr. @ Belt Line Rd. 972-503-1233.$$.

Mainstream. While the other locations have drifted downstream, the Preston Forest neighborhood still lines up for casual seafood at reasonable prices. We can’t bring ourselves to eat seafood stew out of a bread bowl, and the jumbo fried shrimp dinner is no better than average. Dinner only. 11661 Preston Rd, Ste. 153.214-739-3474. $-$. Margaritas.

Newport’s. Enjoy an imaginative seafood menu that we classify loosely as New England seafood with Asian and Cajun influences. Grilled tilapia is served with a side of sautéed apples, cilantro, and toasted pecans. And the tuna is a three-inch pan-scared hunk served in a bowl of rice and covered with sautéed porto-bellos and roasted peppers-almost wonderful, except for the lake of teriyaki sauce drowning the rice. 703 McKinney Ave. 214-954-0220. $-$$.

Nicholini’s. Don’t be fooled by the neon lights outside, because once you’re seated in the sexy dining room, the dining experience is elegant. We love the herb-crusted orange roughy sauced sparingly with citrus paprika glaze. Attentive service and consistent food have the tables packed with neighborhood diners who all seem to know each other. 17370 Preston Rd. 972-735-9868. $.

Rockfish. Rock fish is cozy and uncontrived even the cute stuff and the out-of-place ambience feels comfortable. You can get an oversized platter filled with more than a pound of fresh crab, about 30 medium boiled shrimp, two ears of com. several new potatoes, and a foot of sausage for S22.99. Our main problem with Rockfish is that it’s a neighborhood restaurant, but it’s not in our neighborhood. 7639 Campbell Rd. @ Coit. 972-267-8979 4701 W. Park Blvd., Piano. 972-599-2190. $-$.

D BEST S&D Oyster Company. S&D can do anything with shrimp, and they have been doing it for longer than we care to remember (or admit we do). The fried shrimp is so delicately breaded you can still see the pink-skinned flesh through the crust. Then it’s butter-flied. lightly fried, and served with a dollop of tartar sauce-heavy on the pickle. And no meal here would be complete without a slice of the famous Key lime pie. 2701 McKinney Ave. 214-880-0111.$.

Truluck’s Steak & Stone Crab. Yes. Truluck’s has a large array of seafood and steak specialties, but the main reason to eat here is the crab claws. They serve four varieties-medium, large, jumbo, and colossal. Recently we conducted a taste test, ordering four different plates of pre-cracked claws. After much fork-fighting, we decided we loved the sweet fresh meat tucked inside all of them. At Truluck’s. size doesn’t matter. 5001 Belt Line Rd., Addison, 972-503-3079 2401 McKinney Ave., 214-220-2401. $-$$.

Blue Mesa. Blue Mesa has wisely stuck with its original concept of Southwestern fare: The tableside guacamole is truly a marvel, with avocados as smooth as congealed cream. Adobe pie, the signature dish, is as good as ever, as is the warm salsa and yam and tortilla chips. 7700 W. Northwest Hwy. 214-378-8686 5100 Belt Line Rd. 972-934-0165.$.

No Place. Tender elk sirloin and boneless rabbit are sided with sautéed portobello mushrooms and onions. Better-than-beef chicken-fried venison comes with Man’s famous smoked mashed potatoes. The food is why Matt Martinez Jr. is a legend-in his own neighborhood, anyway. 6325 La Vista Dr. 214-823-9077.$-$$.

D BEST Star Canyon. Chef-owner Stephan Pyles has created a Dallas destination with his innovative “New Texas Cuisine.” An appetizer of fried green tomatoes stacked high with layers of Dallas-made moz-zarella is a rare case of tall food tasting as good as if looks. And the bone-in cowboy rib-eye on a bed of pinto beans, covered with a mound of shoestring onion rings dusted with red chile, should be listed in Fodor’s under Dallas’ top attractions. 3102 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-520-7827. $-S$.

D BEST Cafe Madrid. Dallas’ first tapas bar remains its best, and everybody knows it. Even midweek, this little two-room restaurant has customers waiting at the bar for one of the mismatched tables in the storefront space. For those who insist, there is a prix-fixe, three-course dinner menu, but Cafe Madrid is a great place to linger over a succession of small dishes-an assortment of olives, oxtail stew, the potato omelette called a tortilla, and braised lamb slices. Dinner only. 4501 Travis St. 214-528-1731. $.

Seville at the Stoneleigh. The menu is more than tapas at this upscale Spanish dining room that resembles chichi spots in Spain. Five varieties of paella headline the show and a tenderly braised rabbit comes served hunter-style in rich brown gravy that accents the mild-flavored meat. An extensive list of tapas makes it easy to make a meal with a combination of small plates. 2927 Maple Ave. 214-871-7111. $$.

D BEST Bob’s Steak and Chop House. We usually forego filets, preferring a more flavorful cut, but the three-inch nine-ounce is beautifully marbled and cooked perfectly pink and tender. It’s impossible not to love the “smashed” potatoes-they’re wickedly mashed with about a stick of butter in each serving. And the slight sweet glaze on Bob’s signature whole carrots side dish is a nice contrast to the beef. The atmosphere here is as comfortable as your grandmother’s dining room, but the restaurant is crowded with the Ross Perot and Jerry Jones set. Dinner only. 4300 Lemmon Ave.’214-528-9446. $-$$.

Capital Grille. Normally we wouldn’t touch a high-dollar surf-and-turf chain restaurant with a 10-foot expense account, but here we make an exception. An 18-ounce Delmonico strip almost two inches thick was served hot on the outside with a cool pink center. But the surf stole our hearts-lobster filled with lightly breaded chunks of lobster, rock crab, and shrimp was a tasty bargain at $65. 500 Crescent Ct. 214-303-0500. $$.

D BEST Chamberlain’s. Richard Chamberlain makes fine dining simple and elegant. You won’t find any singing cowboys or 20-page wine lists. Prime rib. a beautiful hand-cut aged beef, is perfectly seasoned with coarse salt and chunks of fresh cracked black pepper. We could pass on the meat here and still be happy with bowls of green beans and mushrooms sautéed in garlic and buttered corn freshly shucked from the cob. Dinner only. 5330 Belt_Line Rd., Addison. 972-934-2467.$-$$.

Charolais. Clair and John Rubede (Clair de Lune) have opened a new steak joint with a French twist-the menu only offers France’s favorite Charolais beef. But the seafood entrees rule. Redfish stuffed with shrimp and crab is delicately sauced with lemon butter and the broiled chicken isn’t just a token dish- c’est magnifique. 5950 Royal Ln. @ Preston Rd. 214-692-0900. $$

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. No complaints about the meats (and at these prices there shouldn’t be)-you could cut the porterhouse with a fork. But the onion rings are our favorite dish, Each three-inch ring has the perfect ratio of breading to onion, but somehow the fry doesn’t separate from the onion-you get batter with every bite. The lobster tail isn’t worth the price. But this is one place where you get what you pay for. Dinner only. 5251 Spring Valley Rd. 972-490-9000. $$.

Nick & Sam’s. Nick & Sam’s is a steakhouse first, but it’s trying-and succeeding-to be more. For instance, there’s a raw bar at the far end of the building, and the lobby bar area is a wine cellar with more than 300 wines. We ate the traditional steakhouse meal-a wedge salad with creamy lumps of Maytag blue cheese, surf-and-turf (snowy sweet lobster tail and soft filet), and a prime aged “cowboy steak” with sides. The most successful twist on the traditional steakhouse is the setting itself. This is not a faux men’s clut)-no brass. etched glass, or hunting paintings. 3008 Maple Ave. 214-871-7444. $-$$.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse. The knockout punch is a 24-ounce. bone-in ribeye coated with lots of fresh ground pepper, perfectly cooked to medium rare. Smoked pork chops are grilled and served with a side of sweet, smoked apples. The side dishes are only average the horseradish mashed potatoes could have used a little more horseradish, and the donut-sized onion rings are heavily beer-breaded and greasy. Prices are less than you’d expect. Dinner only^ 17795 N. Dallas Pkwy. 972-267-9393. $.

III Forks. The special pepper sirloin is mealy and chewy, and the peppercorn sauce is dull. The trout swims in a weak brown sauce accompanied by a few lonely roasted pecans. But we do love the salad, a mix of mesclun, red oak leaf lettuce, and sliced green apple, topped with roasted pecans and crumbly Maytag blue cheese, all lightly dressed in a sweet vinaigrette. Dinner only. 17776 Dallas Pkwy, 972-267-1776.$-$$.

Chow Thai. A snip shopping center doesn’t seem a likely spot for a Thai food epiphany, but you’ll have one here. Excellent Thai classics like vegetables in a fiery green curry and Pad Thai taste clean and light. A dessert of fresh mango atop sticky rice is a spectacular ending. 5290 Belt Line Rd. @ Montfort Dr.. Addison. 972-960-2999.$.

Chow Thai Pacific Rim, A visual and gastronomic delight. Sample fresh shrimp and mango summer rolls and tapioca balls stuffed with sweet radishes in the dim sum bar before moving into the main dining room where tea-smoked pork chops and a spicy beef salad await. Homemade ice cream is impossible to pass up alongside the sugar-fried banana roll, 3309 Dallas Pkwy. @ Parker Rd.. Piano. 972-608-1883. $.

Mango. This is the second restaurant from the folks who brought Chow Thai to Dallas. Playful proportions and offbeat hues color Mango California-cool. House special Mee Sea Go is an ocean broth full of scallops, shrimp, and cala-mari. Pad Thai is appropriately sweet and crunchy with peanuts. 4701 W. Park Blvd., Piano. 972-599-0289. $-$.

Royal Thai. Furnished with ornate Thai antiques and traditional ans. Royal Thai is a pleasantly upscale change from the starkly serviceable interiors of so many Thai restaurants. Chicken packets are wrapped in tenderizing banana leaves. Curries are fragrant and benefit from their presentation under a little domed top. 5500 Greenville Ave. 214-691-3555,$-$.

Green Papaya If you’re going to learn anything about pronouncing Vietnamese, learn to say pho correctly. The traditional Vietnamese bowl of broth comes thick with rice noodles and your choice of beef, chicken, or meatballs. Most of die other traditional country dishes are good, but someone in the kitchen needs to adjust some of the uninspired seasonings. 3211 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-521-4811.$.

Mai’s. Mai’s is one of those places that has lots of loyal customers. The menu is stocked with authentic Vietnamese specialties, including many noodle and rice entrées and the classic hot pots: exotic meats, vegetables, and spices cooked and served in clay pots. Be sure and try the legendary Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk. 4812 Bryan St. 214-826-9887.$.

Mai’s Oriental Cuisine. The Vietnamese menu is the one to go for. Proprietor Mai Pham opened the first Vietnamese restaurant in Dallas, and her food is still terrific at her little restaurant in Snider Plaza. The hot pots are especially good-“hot chic” is the regulars” favorite. 6912 Snider Plaza. 214-361-8220. $-$.

Vietnam. A little bit of Southeast Asia transplanted to East Dallas, VietNam has very little Western influence to make the cultural transition easier. This is Vietnamese food designed for the Vietnamese community. Bui some things are universal-the appeal ol’ hot soup, for instance. And VietNam’s hot pot. a comforting, steaming cauldron ol’ soup, noodles. and vegetables, is enough to share, 4302 Bryan St. 214-821-4542. $-$.

Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy. Usually we stick to hole-in-the-wall joints, avoiding slick contrived cantina-esque restaurants like the tap water in Mexico. But Abuelo’s gives us a few reasons to cross the line. We loved the house specialties of grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with Monterey Jack and the medallions of chicken stuffed with chorizo. But the Tex-Mex offerings covered with pounds of cheese send us straight to the nearest bring-your-own-six-pack spot. 824 Airport Fwy., Hurst, 817-514-9355. $.

Angelo’s. The big. wood-paneled dance hall of a room is lined with a self-service buffet line. cold-drink coolers, and chip racks on a linoleum floor. You grab a round tray and a frosted stein of Bud and eat from styrofoam plaies under antler heads mounted on the walls. The chicken, served “while ii lasts.” goes fast-it’s juicy and smoked off the bone. All the usual sides-beans, cole slaw-stand up to the ribs, but we wish they’d put more punch in their thin, vinegar-based sauce. 2533 White Settlement Rd.. Fort Worth. 817-332-0357. $.

Angeluna. The patio swarms with an artsy Chanel-and-Chardonnay crowd before and after events at (he Bass Performance Hall across the street. The “one-world-on-a-plate” menu features designer pizzas, pastas, and spinach and mushroom salads corralled by delicate potato rings. Who cares if it’s more about style than substance? After all. the parent company is in Aspen. 215 E. 4th St., Fort Worth. 817-334-0080. $.

Benito’s. Like an old familiar friend. Benito’s appearance may lie spruced up from time to lime, but some things never change-like the food The queso flameado. with or without chorizo, is flamed tableside and served with fresh pica de gallo and hot flour or corn tortillas. Order il first, and then spend some time with the menu-everything on it is worth trying. 1450 W. Magnolia Ave., Fori Worth. 817-332-8633.$.

Bistro Louise. This gem of a bistro offers take-out now, but the staff seems curiously challenged by the idea. The famed smoked duck and stuffed lamb loin travel well, hut even delicate reheating of an appetizer of Brie roasted in pastry petals fails to restore it. Savored in the sunny bistro. the cuisine works Meditenanean magic. Enjoy it there as often as possible. 2900 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth. 817-922-9244. $,

Cacharel. This easily tops Arlington’s dining scene, such as it is. with its French country decor and New French cuisine. The fixed-price menu ($34.50) is a great deal. A la carte menu also available. 2221 E. Lamar Blvd.. Ste. 910. Arlington. 817-640-9981.$$.

Cattlemen’s Steak House. Fort Worth ate cattle before cattle was cool, and Cattlemen’s is still the quintessential stockyard steakhouse. There’s not much but beef accompanied by rolls, potatoes, and iceberg lettuce salad, but the atmosphere is genuine cowboy. 2458 N. Main St.. Fort Worth. 817-624-3945. $-$$.

D BEST Grape Escape. The gimmick here is education -Grupe Escape is trying to do the same thing for wine that brew pubs did for beer. So you order “flights” of the grape ol’ your choice, and the waiter brings a four-glass tasting of say, Chardonnay, from Sonoma. Napa. Australia, and New Zealand. Compare and contrast. The food is designed around the wine, so you can change direction m id-meal-start with while wine and suggested matches, finish with red wine and cheese. The selection of small plates-merguez sausages, paté, salads. stuffed potatoes, pizzettes-adds up to a full meal that’s lots of fun. Dinner only. 500 Commerce St.. Fort Worth. 817-336-9463.$.

D BEST Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Dishes. The quintessential Fort Worth restaurant. Its location near the Stockyards can handle the crowds for whom the restaurant’s status hovers somewhere between “institution” and “nirvana.” Wail for a spot outside by the pool, and order the enchiladas. Joe doesn’t do credit cards or reservations, either. 2201 N. Commerce St.. Fort Worth. 817-626-4356. $.

Kincaid’s. It’s organized chaos at lunch, but there isn’t a frown in the lime-green room. The burgers are worth the drive from Dallas, and so are the sides: fried okra, deviled eggs, and pimiento cheese-stuffed jalapenos. If you can manage, have homemade banana pudding for dessert. It’s been a while since we left a restaurant this satisfied for only $5. 4901 Camp Bowie Blvd.. Fort Worth. 817-732-2881. $.

D BEST Pegasus. Fort Worth has good restaurant news-this newly opened eclectic spot with strong Middle Eastern touches is a winner. The mezze menu features hummus softly spiked with garlic, handmade dolmas stuffed with lamb and rice, and moist falafels served with an inspired fresh mango and mint coulis. A chocolate cappuccino tart smothered in Godiva chocolate sauce is nearly an overdose for chocoholics. 2443 Forest Park Blvd.. Fort Worth, 817-922-0808. $.

D BEST Randall’s Gourmet Cheesecake Company. It’s a wonderfully romantic, candle-lit French cafe serving delightful classic specialties. Beef tenderloin medallions served with rosemary-roasted shallots come with crunchy haricots verts and garlic mashed potatoes. But the pièce de résistance is a savory cheesecake, made of parmesan and feta cheese baked with basil pesto, asparagus, mushrooms, and kalamata olives. 907 Houston St.. Fort Worth. 817-336-2253. $.

City Cafe owner Mardi Schma broke a golden rule when she decided to fix a kitchen that wasn’t broken. This upscale New American restaurant has been a popular neighborhood haunt of Parkies and know-it-all foodies for nearly 14 years. Recently we stopped in to make sure that new chef Jason Gorman (AquaKnox and The Grape) hadn’t messed with some of our favorite dishes. Thankfully, the signature fresh tomato soup is still the best bowl In town. And we can rely on Gorman for a fix of crab cakes mixed with shrimp and crawfish served with a red and a tarter sauce. As usual, the menu changes every three weeks- the perfect lure to go back and get hooked on a new creation. We tried a moist chicken breast rubbed with garlic and served with whipped potatoes scented with goat cheese. Simple and sublime, A nutty flavored take Victoria Perch was perfectly moist after being slowly braised with heirloom tomatoes in pistou -a vision (and taste) of beauty. And take the wine list, please! Sections humorously labeled “ABC” (anything but Chardonnay) and “Everybody must get Rhoned” make choosing a wine here what it should be everywhere-fun and affordable.

Think you’re paying too much to eat in a Dallas restaurant? Well you can kiss your local restaurateur: The cost of a meal in Dallas is well below the national average. Here’s how we stack up to the rest of the world:


Watch the video: How to Make Baba Ghanoush. Lebanese Eggplant Dip (January 2022).