The Green Room
The Green Room, a small and very loud dining room tucked behind a Deep Ellum saloon, offers a variety of excellent fare, including the very best crème brûle in Dallas. The perfectly balanced, deep smooth pudding beneath a crackly caramelized surface can make you oblivious to any amount of hilarity and mayhem around you.

Parigi Restaurant
Late Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Westbrook Pegler once said that a martini was the meanest, no-damn-goodest mess of rancor ever concocted. More fights and more people get their glasses broken and arrested and divorced on account of martinis than for any other reason. So head on down to Parigi and recoil at one of life's great splashes of rancor. Parigi's martinis are smooth, balanced, and shivering cold with a barely perceptible layer of slush lurking just below the surface. Just make sure you have a good optician, a good lawyer, and enough money to post bond before the shaking starts.

If you're going to eat ice cream, then damn the health concerns: Head to Marble Slab, which never disappoints. Pimply teenagers scoop the thick, rich ice cream onto a marble countertop, where the customer has a choice of ingredients to have mixed in. The hands-on process is slow but worth it. Lines of enthusiasts can stretch out onto the hot sidewalk--teenagers, stoners, and elderly couples brought together by their love of ice cream. Once you get there, try the coconut-banana flavor. This combination, fairly common in Mexico, is impossible to find anywhere else except this Southwestern chain. What makes it so special is the way the fruit flavors lighten the heavy texture of the high-butterfat ice cream. In other words, it's just the right amount of a good thing.

Ah, New Orleans--capital for all things salacious, sodden, and spicy. For a slice of that easy-livin' place, go to the Crescent City Caf in Deep Ellum, where the food is Cajun and the risk of heartburn is high. The food is the gastronomical culprit, not only because it's spicy but because it's so damn good that it's hard to eat it slowly. The key to a divine muffaletta is in the bread and in the spices, both of which are perfect at Crescent City. Take advantage of the specials offering a quarter or half a sandwich with a side of crawfish etouffe, gumbo, or soup. Take a bite and project yourself to the bayou, where the cheap drinks flow easy, the catfish leap out of the muddy river in a spastic dance, and the police can be paid to ignore virtually any heinous crime.
Four large, shimmering silver spoons are fanned over a reddish square plate. The spoon bowls hold fried oysters with daikon and a dab of wasabi cream topped with a sprinkling of tobikko caviar. They are cleverly presented, tightly packed bombs of explosive flavor. Pray that you're born with one of these in your mouth in your next incarnation.

Best frozen concoction that's not a margarita

Cuba Libre's Island Mojo

Cuba Libre
This will get your mojo working in no time flat. A luscious, not-too-sweet concoction of pineapple, coconut, and four kinds of Baccardi rums that makes you yearn for a beach and a turn at getting your groove back.

It seems the height of cruelty to pull the liver out of a duck, leaving the bird with nothing to filter its Scotch, but it sure tastes good once it's out. Voltaire's sauted Hudson Valley foie gras is a mean organ. It's scored with repeating diamond patterns across its surface, folded, and settled atop a cushion of light mashed potatoes. Around the plate is a large fan of green apple slices messed with currants bathed in a clean, mandarin emulsion. Unlike most ornithological livers found in Dallas, this one is firm with a rich, nutty flavor that unfolds in the mouth.

Best place to buy a vegan birthday cake

Cosmic Café,

Cosmic Café
Catherine Downes
The adjective "vegan" usually evokes visions of plates full of gray, squishy substances or tasteless products designed to resemble meat, not a big hunk of chocolate cake or a large, gooey brownie. But at Cosmic Caf, the yummy Indian-style meals can conclude with desserts sans dairy products. The cakes, which don't scrimp on the frosting, may also be bought whole and taken home to celebrate the birthday of your favorite herbivore. They go great with Cosmic's mango, coconut, and banana ice creams. Sorry, those are for non-vegans only.

India Palace Restaurant & Bar
Short of hopping a plane to India, you won't get a better gulab jamun--cake-like fried milk balls in scented syrup--than at India Palace Restaurant. They make it to the proper consistency and temperature to prevent the mushiness that often mars this Eastern standard. A refreshing dessert after a heavy meal.
The Purple Cow
Maybe this '50s soda fountain-diner-burger joint with a purple train chugging along the ceiling with a preening purple cow in a freight car is a little much for those of us who act 6 but aren't. Yet this place is clean and bright, the food is good, and kids love it. Plus, they'll spike your milkshake with hooch, so you'll love it too. Just be careful not to confuse your shake with the one the kids are slurping, or you'll never get them to come down off the train tracks.

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