This restaurant serves inspired saj (a thin, flaky tortilla-like bread), smooth hummus, refreshing tabbouleh, and tangy labni. Plus there's the "tent room," where you can sit on a low couch and stuff yourself with kabobs or maybe some sauted lambs brains. Think about that.

Chipotle Mexican Grill
Now that we think about it, it might not be fair to call what Chipotle Mexican Grill serves as "burritos." It just seems to diminish the restaurant's bigger-than-a-baby's-leg concoctions, full Mexican dinners wrapped in a flour tortilla. Too-big portions of rice, black beans, steak or chicken, guacamole, sour cream, and hot sauce that's actually hot--all assembled in a few seconds while you watch. We're getting hungry just thinking about it.

In Dallas, restaurant patios are usually the places where the natives go to watch Michelins kiss parking-lot abutments. You can do that at Patrizio's too, if you squint. Furnished with marble-topped tables and padded wrought-iron chairs, Patrizio's patio is more inviting than the typical cement slab. It's cordoned with an iron gate tangled with ivy. A big tree grows from the center of the space to create shade and target-practice perches for birds. It's well-equipped with heaters in the cool months, fans in hotter months, and other little details that make you feel like you're someplace else, yet enough Highland Park Village energy seeps through to keep things interesting.

Caravelle Chinese & Vietnamese
That ubiquitous brown goo that's found on most of what passes for Chinese food is not welcome at Caravelle. Vietnamese firepots, whole baked fish, and beautiful spring rolls, all freshly prepared and served by the gracious staff, are what you'll find. Great for large groups, and when the kids get bored, they can hang around the huge fish tank.

For those who like their ethnic food authentic, Tong's House is where you want to go for Chinese cuisine. Check out their delicious hi sang su jin soup, which combines pork with seafood and vegetables. The gung sow sha sweet-and-sour shrimp was also tangy and delicious. Since many of the Chinese nationals who reside in Dallas bring their friends to this restaurant, we believe that it has earned the highest seal of approval.

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Tracy++Powell
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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.

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