As a resident of Carrollton, I feel like we get a raw deal in the media. We're not in any of those fancy things about the neighborhoods, because there are apparently just too many regions of Plano, our sprawling neighbor. Bizarrely little is written about our thriving K-Town, our downtown is walkable, and it's a 20-minute commute if you ignore rush hour and your car's suspension can survive I-35.
We also, among the many, many chains, have some hidden gems of restaurants that you might not have visited. While the downtown has a couple of decent local chains (Twisted Root and Babe's), the sprawling northern 'burbs, where Carrollton meets Lewisville meets Plano meets Coppell, is where the real action is.
First of all, you would have to be literally insane not to enjoy Omi (2625 Old Denton Road #326) and its dazzling array of Korean barbecue, all of which you cook yourself at your little table-grill thing. They even have an all-you-can-eat meat buffet, which suggests this is a chain-style quantity over quality. That is not the case. The brisket, pork, chicken, and so forth is all marinated beautifully and brought to the table needing only the lightest little bit of heating. Oh, and it's $18.99 per person. For infinity delicious meat. One of the bargains of DFW.
Next door to Omi is the recently opened Kimchi: Stylish Korean Kitchen, which has a cold smoking unit built into the front of the restaurant, and subsequently a delicious smell that's not quite barbecue but not quite not barbecue. Or something. They serve a lot of things that, with my somewhat limited knowledge of Korean, I cannot pronounce or indeed understand, but several visits there have been winners every time, with some weird fusion on top, such as bulgogi tortillas, and my stepson's favorite, tuna-mayonnaise Korean fried rice. No, me neither. Their cold smoked pork belly, which features in many of the dishes, is freakin' delicious.
Just over the other side of many, many lanes of PGBT is Al-Markaz (1205 W Trinity Mills Rd, #112), an Indian/Pakistani grocery store with a little restaurant built into the back. You can order a curry and, while you're waiting, walk slowly through aisles piled high with whatever the hell these aisles are piled high with. My tip at Al-Markaz is the chicken tikka masala, which is just addictive, but for the more adventurous there's a brain masala too. You'll find yourself going back a lot, especially as a curry will only set you back about seven or eight bucks.
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South a few miles on the corner of Josey and Belt Line, hidden behind a DMV, is a shopping center with two worthwhile visits -- Pho Pasteur II and Casa Vieja, at 1927 E Belt Line Rd. You know what to expect from Pho Pasteur, which is some of the best pho going, but Casa Vieja is an authentic Colombian restaurant, serving deep-fried unidentifiable things, blood sausage, plantain, even Colombian champagne soda. Those looking for adventure but unsure where to start should go with the Picada, which is a plate of all the snack-sized specialties together.
Now, I must admit I've always been too scared of the Reitz-recommended Russian Banya to brave Tony's world of Russian dumplings, but I will one day, when I have a few hours and a spare bottle of vodka. Instead, I find myself visiting the well-hidden Secret Recipe (1404 W Hebron Pkwy #103) which has a menu that runs to about seventy pages of every kind of Asian dish imaginable. Skip the basic Chinese stuff, go straight for the Singaporean, Indonesian, and Malaysian cuisine, and you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend the stewed duck.
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While we're at it, Tto Tto Wa (2625 Old Denton Road), back in K-Town, has spicy Korean chicken that puts Bonchon to shame and some of the best freshly made potstickers in town, and International Cuban Dulceria (2662 N Josey Ln #228)has a Cuban sandwich to kill for, among many authentic Cuban pastries and delicious Cuban coffee. The Island Spot (2661 Midway Rd #105) on the corner of Midway and Trinity Mills also has some seriously good jerk chicken and over-strength rum punch.
See. It's not all bad.