Spent 5 days in Dallas focusing on food during my trip visiting a local friend. Here's a basic rundown with in depth notes on each day to follow soon:
Went to top-end places for dinner. In order of preference, here's where we went: The Tasting Room at Lola, The Mansion at Turtle Creek, Abacus, The French Room. Lola was impressive. Not a bad course out of 15, all with wonderfully simple but pleasing presentations, and only $65. Excellent service. Nice atmosphere. No jacket required. We would have never gone to this if it wasn't for Chowhound (and Doc, who, btw, they remembered). Mansion was very good, but it didn't blow my socks off. And damned expensive. One of our entrees, the bison with pozole was a true winner, though. Abacus was decent, but a little too noisy/chic for me. The dishes were all good, but not especially interesting and a little weaker in the finer points than Mansion (eg, poor seasoning and weak flavors on sides and some meats). Still good, though. The French Room, however, was rather disappointing to me. First of all, it was really the most expensive. Then they made us wait almost a half hour after we got there. Then they rushed us through ordering. Annoying. But the thing that was really lacking, imo, was the food. It was generally boring and uninspired. And the worst items were on the tasting menus (we got both the chef's and the vegetarian menus, plus ordered off the normal menu). It's the one place of the four I would have no desire to return to. It's the one place where I would feel confident randomly selecting menu items from any of the top 5-10 restaurants here in Portland, OR, and putting them head to head (and you'd pay half the price at most here).
Much more ecelectic choices for lunch and snacks. Harder to put in order of preference, so I'll just go through them by days. Went to Taqueria Lupita and got tacos. Not that great. Salsa verde was weak and all but the carne asada was rather flavorless. The pollo was dry. Don't like the yellow corn tortillas either. Prefer the white corn style you get in Mexico or taquerias up here. Also kind of crappy chips. Then went to Cuquita's and got gorditas. Better. The sides are weak and so are the salsas, but the gorditas are pretty good, especially the puerco which has an excellent red sauce. Did Liberty Noodles. We split 3 power lunches (had them served family style). Everything was good. Especially liked the soups (the beef udon was my favorite, others preferred the curry soups). The green tea ice cream was also a stand-out. Very slow service, though. Later went into North Dallas/Richardson and toured a couple Indian places. Went to Taj Mahal Imports and ate some interesting ice creams. Chikoo (sp?) was a favorite. The quality of the ice cream sucked, but the flavors were good. Also tried some sweets. Interesting flavors again, though they could be made better. Looked around FunAsia. That place looks awesome. Went nuts the next day. Started by going to The Mozzarella Company and trying every cheese in the place, and then again, and then again. I especially liked the chevre, the fetas, the smoked mozzarella, and the queso oaxaca. Then the Farmer's Market where peaches were in season. Lots of big blackberries, ripe mangoes, and baskets of cheap peppers. A little repetitive and not a lot that you can't find at the supermarket, but still a place I would visit a lot if I lived in Dallas. Afterwards we started overeating. First chicken tenders at Bubba's. Tasty and juicy and crunchy. Very good. Then got some sausages, beef sticks, etc, and tried some bloodwurst and other cold cuts at Kuby's. That's a cool place. Then went over to Holy Smokes and split a 3 meat combo that they gave us 4 meats on -- sausage, ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket. The pulled pork was excellent. Ribs and sausage were good. Some good sides, too. Then we hit Sonny Bryan's for some ribs and onion rings. The ribs were okay and the onion rings were good. I think I've been spoiled by places my friend has taken me in Texas before for bbq, like the Salt Lick, which kicks either of these places ass, imo. I think our top bbq places here in Portland are right there or even better on some things than either of these places (in my friend's defense, he's pretty cool on Sonny Bryan's and doesn't understand the national hype it gets). The next day, my last, we did Zaguan for breakfast. Split a cachapa, which was great. A must have, I'd say. And cheap. There were several other things that looked good. Then we hit Ciudad for brunch. I wish they had more stuff off their normal menu. Had the beef mole omelette and the duck flautas. Flautas were a little burnt and not that great anyway, imo. The sauces for the beef in mole were very good. Had some pretty good desserts, too. Then we went to Cuba Libre for lunch. Had a couple tacos. The pork asado was very good. A lot of food for the price, too. Their fries are quite tasty as well. Not very authentic Cuban food, but still very good and probably one of the best values on the trip.
Well, that was it, and I'm stuffed. Thanks, Dallas and Chowhound. Good food, good trip, lighter wallet, heavier belly.
I'll put up a longer (believe it or not) in depth report under this thread when I'm finished.