Fishbowl+offers+a+private+room+for+those+who+wish+to+chew+the+fat+on+cell+phones.
Tracy++Powell
Fishbowl+offers+a+private+room+for+those+who+wish+to+chew+the+fat+on+cell+phones.
The thing you want to do most when nibbling late into the night is look. And here, there is a much look at, from the stylish nocturnal nuzzlers linking and languishing in lust at the bar, to the big red doors at the entrance, to the row of TV monitors rolling Japanese movies. (OK, maybe we don't want to read subtitles past midnight when our brains are marinating in stuff served with little umbrellas.) Fishbowl is a good place to gaze into the wee hours. Plus, this retro Asian lounge has great munchies such as sushi, mu shu pork tacos, and Szechwan shrimp stir-fry. Wash it all down with drinks called blazing Bangkok punch and chocolate Monchichi monkey, so even if you're sober, you won't sound that way ordering a nightcap.

It's big, smoky, voluptuous, and colorful--too pretty to be a cowboy. It's filled with typical stuff like egg and lettuce, but it also has roasted peppers, charred tomatoes, and bright, clean, creamy avocado. The whole thing is smoked and spiked with bacon, smoked chicken, and jalapeño jack cheese before it's stiffened with some tortilla strips. It's an articulate confluence of flavors and tastefulness, despite a color scheme worthy of a punk golfer.

Saturday morning at John's Caf is a longtime tradition to nearly everyone in Dallas with basic motor functions. But it still deserves recognition from our panel of expert imbibers, who eschew Mueslix (doesn't mix well with a Crown and Coke aftertaste) for large helpings of eggs and sausage. The menu-board here bluntly advertises "omelets with meat" (why not just call it "animal carcass" and be done?), but what you really want is the breakfast special (a biscuit, sausage or bacon, eggs, and grits) or pancakes. It's the kind of place where hangover victims can amicably share space with sober families and older couples while poking over the morning paper.

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.

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