Why would a Houston-based grocery store chain have good sushi? For that matter, why would 7-Eleven announce it has entered the bait business or expect to compete in freshness? We don't know the answers, but check out Tom Thumb's selection. For about five bucks, you can acquire a sweet little package of the sticky rice and seaweed concoctions. In summer months, with an abundance of caution, we stick to the California veggie offerings, because we're never quite sure about any fish that has traveled any distance in the Dallas heat in allegedly refrigerated trucks.

Suze Restaurant
OK, so this little restaurant is tucked into a strip mall. But it's outfitted to resemble a sophisticated country caf, with lacy curtains that delicately refract light in a cozily assembled dining room that's tight but comfortable. It's casual but sharp, with a sweet caviar-in-the-rough feel. Plus, the kitchen is directed by chef and owner Gilbert Garza, whose grasp of Tuscan cuisine adds a lyrical thread.

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
What could be better than sipping your Shiner Bock with a piping hot bowl of this delicious concoction? Served in a large bread bowl with a convenient lid for dipping, this is perfect for chilly winter evenings on the couches in the beer garden. If you feel like being social, ask for a chess set or checkers. We promise they won't laugh at you.
This restaurant gets the nod because of great food at even better prices. Owner Mark Serrao's second restaurant (the first being the flagship store Vitto's in Oak Cliff) has been open only nine months, but it's already made a big splash with Oak Lawn-area patrons. The mood is cheery when you enter, with a friendly and competent staff. (The background disco music made us feel like we were in high school again.) We really loved the spinach-and-cheese tortellini; the various styles of pizzas were similarly gooey and loaded with sauce. The chocolate cake was creamy, smooth, and sinful. The wine list comes highly recommended. What's really amazing is that a meal at this place won't break the bank in comparison with establishments of similar quality and atmosphere in town. Head for this little jewel and discover why so many Oak Lawn dwellers start off their nights here.
The Old Monk
Most beer gulpers don't have a palate that ventures much beyond leftovers found between the couch cushions. But Trappist monks have always enjoyed good food to go along with their beer brewing--or so we've been told. That's why the Old Monk, a pub rife with Trappist monk imagery, has a range of good nibbles such as delicious mussels steamed in beer spiked with garlic and herbs, cheese boards, and fried calamari sleeved in a light, airy batter. What we want to know is, do monks pray before the same altar the rest of us do when the brew gets out of hand?
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 Of Dallas®

Best Of