Catalina Room is like a California Applebee's

Our lunch mate opted for baby back ribs. Plated in an inspiring tower, the meaty portions were stunning to behold, less stunning to sample. Sure, they were fork-tender, but their abundant brown bath was nothing short of irritating--atrociously sticky, too sweet and incredibly bland. Such a shame, as once past the thick skin of sauce, the rib itself was absolutely brilliant in flavor. Though a strong sunscreen is a must for sunbathing, when in comes to meat (as evidenced before with the "NY strip"), fresh and bare is often best. (And maybe they're tacky, but in this case, Wet Naps were sorely needed.) The slaw made another unfortunate appearance along with a cellulitic clod of garlic mashed potatoes. After tasting each of her items, my lunch buddy looked up with inquisitive anguish and asked, "Are we at Applebee's?" It was then that I realized: As much as the Catalina Room wants to serve cuisine, its diners are just getting food.

Now, it's obvious Dallas is no island, but a well-varnished boat hull over the bar shouldn't be the only thing tying the Catalina Room to its inspiration. "Fresh," "clean" and "simple"--like an understated one-piece--should be what comes to mind after dining at a restaurant that touts the gastronomy of the Golden State, not "heavy," "gigantic" and "home-cooking." We don't need any more of that here in Texas.

I'm baffled by the intent of this Lemmon Avenue establishment versus its product and its vibe. And it's not the Jelly Bellys in the bowl at the hostess stand, the distracting TVs or that Chargers fan. Hell, 10 bucks says she might have been the closest thing to California in the place.

The state of things: Catalina Room is less Golden and more Lone Star.
Tom Jenkins
The state of things: Catalina Room is less Golden and more Lone Star.

Location Info


The Catalina Room

4218 Lemmon Ave.
Dallas, TX 75219

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn


Catalina Room Soup of the day $5 Tomato and mozzarella salad $8 House salad $7 Rainbow trout (special) $18 New York strip $22 Cheeseburger $8 Baby back ribs $18 Side of coleslaw $2 Side of seasonal vegetables $3
Closed Location

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