Best Authentic Lebanese Food 2001 | Ali Baba Café | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
The help may not always be the friendliest, but why should they have to be? The food is so good they don't need to be nice. It's worth a trip to Ali Baba just if it's to find out what real hummus is supposed to look and taste like. Every other dish is authentic Lebanese with plenty of distinctive Middle Eastern spices. Servings are plentiful, but what may seem like tons of leftovers (that made your car stink like garlic while you went drinking in Lower Greenville) probably will be devoured before dawn.
With their name, you'd think the oysters had better be tasty, and they are. Oysters are shucked at the bar and served on the half-shell atop a tray of crushed ice. The oysters are fresh, which means they don't taste too fishy as they slide down your throat. The oysters come with fresh lemon, horseradish, cocktail sauce and lemon for $6.50 a dozen regularly and $3.90 a dozen all day Tuesdays. The best deal is happy hour, which is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday certain draft beers are $1 all day.
It's considered a delicacy in Vietnam where it is often accompanied by cognac. But at Steel, it's served on a narrow platter heaped with flesh and shreds of mint, a Vietnamese herb called rau om, slivers of lemon peel, fried onion and chopped peanuts. This mound effectively veils the ruddy meat. Only the folded edges of the thin, succulent prime rib eye sheets are visible, like loins covered in a grass skirt. It's delicate and flush with fragrance and alive with refreshing piquancy. Plus, it hits the spot.
Why get a boring old ham-on-rye when you can get a classy European-style panini sandwich? Downtown is much improved by this new lunch joint, which recently set up on the ground floor of the Magnolia Hotel. Its menu boasts great variety and affordability: Gourmet coffee is strong, the soups are flavorful, and Fresh Choice is one of the few places you can still get a good meal at $6 or less.

Located in a unyuppyfied section of East Dallas, Z Café has a funky, friendly divey feel that makes it a fine escape from the workplace grind. There's lots of Parthenon posters and white-and-blue flags to remind you it's Greek. The daily lunch specials, which run about $5.99, are taken off the café's menu of gyros, sandwiches, dolmas and such. The lamb gyro is only $6.95. Then there's the signature Z burger (feta cheese, grilled onions and jalapeos), which is a perfect start for that long afternoon nap at your desk. To sleep better, take the boss.
The thing that makes the potato salad so good at Nick's is the bacon. More specifically, little bits of real, explosively tasty bacon, er, bits. Not too creamy, not too dry, not too mustardy, this side dish should replace the usual french fry accompaniment to your burger. The key: It's always made fresh.

It goes by the name of alici con peperonata, and it hails from the Italian region of Campania. But it's really just a swell ensemble of silvery strips of fresh white marinated anchovy flesh casually draped over roasted red peppers forming a naughty mound of culinary hedonism ringed by a bead of greenish olive oil. These anchovies bristle with searing brininess, as if they were pickled (they were). The prickly dazzle of the fillets contrasts beautifully with the smooth, ghostly wisp of sweetness emanating from the peppers. Pass the marlin rig and a flute of Krug.

Forget the prissy wine flights most restaurants serve with the names and wine base silhouettes etched on cheesy copies. Trevi's three-unit wine flights are served in a metal "flight" rack that looks something like a candelabra and elevates your wines near eye-level so you can squint and pretend to notice the hue variations. This rack may seem a pointless gimmick to the seasoned wine aficionado, but it can be a big help to the casual diner because it helps keep the wines straight, which gets awful hard after a few swirls, sniffs and sips not followed by spits. Plus, you can share each flight with your dining companions as a whole unit rather than as a series of back-and-forth shuffles, which can lead to spillage and the premature purpling of cuticles. Yet this isn't the only piece of dining-enjoyment hardware offered at Trevi's. The lamb kabob is served on an appliance that looks like a gallows, or perhaps a gaff kit to eradicate the pesky door-to-door Jehovah's Witness menace. A metal base holds a post rising 12 inches, which branches off into a notched arm extending horizontally over the base. One notch holds a thick skewer of meat while the other is draped with shriveled scallions scorched into limpidity. The lamb is not delivered as a crowd of carved stew chunks tightly squeezed onto a skewer, as you might expect of a kabob. Instead, a trio of lamb chops dangles from this imposing ramrod; the kind that could scare you out of your chain-mail boxers if the meat didn't look so inviting.
Steel's namesake is sparingly applied throughout the restaurant. The metal almost has to be unearthed from the wood and granite decorative embellishments to be noticed. It appears on a pillar separating the bar from the dining room, which is armored in glistening sheets, and it is applied to the walls in the rest rooms. The massive front door is sculpted from steel and serves as the badge from which the restaurant's name is cast. But steel sneaks onto the table, too. Flatware is swaddled in black napkins--the kind that make it safe for red wine and soy sloppiness--bound with slotted steel hose clamps. Kind of makes you yearn for the day when "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" dethrone Martha Stewart.
Two corners of this Gallic-Plano flats hybrid hold urgently rousing, pinkish and fuzzy coiled banquettes that look like curled carrot shavings. They wrap, coddle and shield while inciting bouts of sweaty hypertension. And that's just after a round of ice water.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of