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Needed: typical recommendations, from a slightly different angle


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Needed: typical recommendations, from a slightly different angle

AlexRast | Jul 13, 2013 05:10 PM

Hi, I'll be coming to Dallas at the beginning of August for a conference and am looking for recommendations. No doubt a lot of these will be standard since I look primarily for things that are locally/regionally typical. On the other hand I know little about the local cuisine in Dallas. Looking through the postings here provides hints, but usually based on priorities that are quite different from mine.

The main thing, from my point of view, is that quality of the food on offer is paramount, and other considerations, like price (either high or low), service, atmosphere, or location are entirely secondary or immaterial. That doesn't mean high-end fine dining every meal; it's not necessarily luxury I'm after but rather food quality - but this said by the same token I'm not avoiding high-end places either. One thing I definitely do NOT want to do is go to dismal or generic places simply in the name of expediency. (and this includes, e.g. taking breakfast at the hotel - unless it happens to be outstanding; usually hotel breakfasts are limp, uninspiring things)

In context, I'd like to distribute choices amongst a variety of different price points, to balance expenses, but I don't make cost a consideration until the recommendations are in. I'll have some meals where fast service might be useful, but others where I'll have plenty of time - so again a good cross-section of different choices would be ideal. The conference will dictate some of the timings - but again I prefer to manage that after the fact, rather than have conference location and schedules be the driver of what places I end up even considering.

It will be noted that Tex-Mex and Mexican are among my favourite cuisines, worldwide. Also it should be noted that where hot/spicy is concerned, I can take essentially any degree of heat thrown at me, so no need for timidity there, although maximum heat isn't necessarily specifically an objective. So here's what I'm looking for:

Two places appear to be obvious musts:
Mesa and Pecan Lodge, so they're on the list unless someone can provide strong reasons to dissuade me. One thing that would be useful is what the *realistic* arrival time and wait time at Pecan Lodge should be in order to have good selection of their best. Not vague "get there early" sorts of stuff - let's be real - what time do you need to turn up at (assume Thursday-Friday) and how long would you have to wait?

Definitive Tex-Mex. Casa Milagro has been recommended here - other than the people who've already recommended it, are there any other comments? Looking for somewhere as authentic as it gets.

A steakhouse. I'm going to make a position statement here, feel free to disagree but please if you do provide a concrete argument. There will always be, in cities that do steak, one place that's the best. Talk that among the top places, they're basically the same in terms of the steak, that it's everything ancillary that counts, is almost never true. There will be one place where the owner is that much more obsessive, that much better at sourcing, that much more equipped, with those more skilled chefs. They'll have the ultimate beef and cook it in the ultimate way. Where is that place, in Dallas?

A place for the ultimate hand-made corn tortillas, preferably in enchilada form.

Breakfast: I have no idea what's typical or common in Dallas. Previous posts suggest the Mecca - a lookup is somewhat promising; it looks iconic, but what's the real quality like? The post was specifically related to cinnamon rolls - can anybody tell me if these are using solid vegetable fats (white shortenings such as palm oil, coconut oil, Crisco etc.) or butter? And likewise with biscuits - what fat's being used there?

On a related theme, if there are places with great biscuits, that people can confirm *definitely* are using either lard or butter as opposed to solid vegetable fats; I'd be interested in those as well. Generally speaking restaurants and bakeries where I can have a strong assurance that solid vegetable fats aren't being used (in anything) would be very gratefully received.

And any other places for iconic or high-quality or interesting breakfasts, ideally regionally typical.

Stephan Pyles also comes up in recommendations - opinions? It looks representative of high-end fine dining but are there better places? I'd be interested in at least one place that represents the ultimate in fine dining in Dallas (again, ideally with a regional slant)

Some vegetarian places (in a Tex-Mex theme, perhaps?). Obviously as you can see I'm not at all averse to meat but I can anticipate some days where relief from a meat-fest is desirable.

Somewhere for really good bread, if possible, where this is defined (in the case of white bread) as: high ratio of crumb to crust (i.e. more crumb less crust), very thick hyper-crisp exterior crust, golden brown (rather than so heavily caramelised it looks dark-brown), dense, very uniform, very moist crumb with very fine even bubbles and chewy texture reflecting thorough glutinisation, with a slightly yeasty flavour and a strong taste of the wheat used (by this I don't mean a whole-wheat flavour; since here I'm talking of white bread), and definitely NOT sourdough. Other types (whole-wheat, rye, etc. etc. also well-received - with characteristics along similar lines). If by chance sourdough is regionally traditional and completely typical you can ignore my not-sourdough indication.

I recognise Dallas is spread out over a huge area but would prefer not to make closeness or transport logistics a consideration until I know what the recommendations are.

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