This small casual upscale chain from Iowa with clean, fresh food is a big culinary mutt of influences including Mexican, Italian, Asian, and New American. It's all generated from a two-story kitchen consuming roughly half of the restaurant's 17,500 square feet, and it prepares everything from scratch including breads and pasta. Service is efficient and briskly gracious. It isn't the best food on the face of the metroplex, but the dishes are all priced in 99-cent fractions, so the menu has that Ben Franklin dime store feel to it.
Kostas Cafe
This Greek caf is unpretentiously cozy and distinctively romantic with a roster of authentic Greek cuisine that's fresh, flavorful, and paraded past the nostrils via a host of sampler plates. This food is more comprehensible than...well, Greek.
Believe it or not, that's BLT as in bacon, lettuce, and tomato. The creamy dip (based on mayonnaise and sour cream) is smoky with bacon and piquant with sun-dried tomato. Grab a few packages of toasted bagel bits, and you've got an hors d'oeuvre that puts the old onion dip out to pasture.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to do with the assortment of organs tucked into the cavity of fresh chickens. Do you make a hen gut tapenade for your pet ferret, or do you freeze them to use as accessories on this year's Halloween costume? No. You do what Charolais Steakhouse does and craft chicken liver mousse. Three spokes of grainy glandular pure spread out over the plate. It's smooth and decadent--pretty good for a chicken giblet. Nearby, a crisp simple dressing laps a sheaf of supple greens and clean rings of red onion. How old do you have to be before you don't have to eat liver and onions?

With a name like Best Thai, you better be great. And this place is: The fried corn patties are superb (never rubbery, never oily). The chicken dumplings are delicious (as is its accompanying sauce), and the shrimp pad Thai is spicy but never overwhelmingly so. We've never been disappointed by a single dish, the price is right, and despite the cramped and sterile ambience (this place is sandwiched in a fancy strip mall, between a beauty salon and a post office--it's no Royal Thai), we'll eat here before any other Thai restaurant in town (and there are some excellent ones, especially Chow Thai in Addison). We'll even call ahead, leave the house, and pick up an order for some in-home dining--to hell with the lack of delivery service. When we want to Thai one on, leave the driving to us. Give them 15 minutes, and they'll give you Thailand to go.

Marble Slab Creamery
This fine restaurant, well known to City Hall workers and other downtown denizens, strives to recreate diners of old with its early 20th-century menu and ethos. The daily lunch "blue plate specials" range from pork loin (Wednesday) to lamb patty with mint jelly, but Guthrie's also has salads, pasta, and burgers. The desserts are delectable, especially the pecan pie that perches temptingly atop the deli counter. But regulars are also well aware of the house's beer-battered fish and chips specialty. We hear they also have a good dinner menu, and if we ever venture downtown at night (that is, if the city planners finally deliver on their promise to give us cause to venture downtown at night), then we'll be sure to check it out.
Given as we are to indiscriminate corporate-bashing, it would have been a great joy to announce that the Smoothie King has not earned its crown. Alas, the good regent does sit best, if not cheapest. Smoothies, for the uninitiated, are tasty ice-based treats for those who crave sweetness but are scared of what ice cream will do to the ass. Anyone with a blender, an ice machine, and time to stop by the produce section of the grocery store could make them at home, but curiously, few people do. Enter the Smoothie King, which despite annoying names given to the drinks, serves up smoothies thick and delicious. For the exercise-conscious, protein shakes are available, and they're pretty tasty too. Warning: A medium size cup is enough to slake the thirst of a healthy pony.
The Landmark Restaurant
This little dish is a magnum opus in a bowl. Three little pork-stuffed pillows soak in a puddle of brisk citrus-sherry soy broth. The dumplings are plump and tender with well-seasoned specks of pork meat. They're covered with a delicious relish of leek, sesame seeds, and orange zest. This is a tight, well-orchestrated little dish. With little pillows so plush, it almost makes you wish you were a sleepy lab rat.

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
The clubby, old school dcor, the sophisticated tunes from the piano player, and the, um, of-a-certain-age crowd, demand that you order something other than "another cold one" or a Run, Jump, Skip, and Go Nekkid. Generous pours of first-rate bourbon in elegantly muscular glasses with the perfect amount of vermouth and one cherry, mmm...it just doesn't get much more tasteful than that. But don't try tying the cherry stem with your tongue and still expect to get laid.

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