EatZi's Market & Bakery
Brandon LaJoie
The bakery part of EatZi's may not get the recognition that the market's other fresh-cooked offerings do, but no one offers better fresh-baked breads and other baked goods than at this cook-owned deli. Once you've tried any one of these fresh breads you will understand why there is never an open parking spot at EatZi's.
Jimmy's Food Store
Nick Rallo
Whenever we take jaded locals to Jimmy's, which is across the street from Mai's and Hall's Hobby Shop (two more local landmarks), they're always shocked at the treats and treasures this place holds. They take it for granted that it's one more quickie convenience store, one more neighborhood stop-and-rob on an urban corner; they've driven by it a hundred times and never given it a second glance. It's their loss, and our job to correct their mistaken impressions: This place, owned and operated by fourth-generation Sicilians, is a veritable gastric paradise, a repository of exotica. One aisle overflows with olive oils from the homeland; another is drenched with fine Italian wines available at the nicest price. From capers to crackers, from coffee (Café Bustelo, that dark Miami nectar, is our favorite) to cheeses (including bufala mozzarella, the Tom Hicks of cheese), Jimmy's is your one-stop shopping for a day of nibbling or a night of culinary get-down. The nerve center of Jimmy's is its meat market, located at the back and packed to the brine with some of the finest olives, cheeses and meats in town (the prosciutto is primo). And it's back there they concoct the Cuban sandwich, a spicy mélange of pickles and pork, ham and Swiss cheese, mustard and butter (and, likely, so much more; one bite makes our taste buds do the masticatin' mambo). Call ahead--it takes a good 15 minutes to prepare this delicacy--but stop by and pick up one. Or five. At $4.99, it's a real bargain--the lunch that keeps on giving, if you know what we mean.

If you have thrown concern for cholesterol to the wind, this place is a one-stop pig-out. The ribs are the specialty of the house, but just in case you're in the mood for honest-to-goodness soul food, there are collard greens, cabbage and red beans. You'll get friendly service, huge portions at the right price, and there's always gospel music playing in the background. You'll think you've died and gone to hog heaven.
Piggie Pies
So what makes a good pizza? Some say it's fresh toppings, others the crust. Piggie Pies has both. The crust is neither thin nor thick, but cooked perfectly in between. And there's no skimping on the toppings, which are cut large (no canned veggies here) and piled so high atop a gooey wad of mozzarella that one's shirt is in danger of permanent stains with every crust-bending bite. Piggie Pies also delivers. Never mind that thermo-wrapped approach some other pizza companies use, Piggie Pies' delivery is hot and always on time.
The Old Monk
Few gastronomical adventures really excite us anymore. We love good food, but it seems as though we're too jaded--or just too fat--to believe that there is really any end-all, be-all dish. "Oh, the sea bass, yes, it was tremendous, but surely someone in town does it better, no?" Not so with this dish. No one in town does fried calamari better. No one on this earth does calamari better. It simply cannot be prepared in any more perfect a fashion than it is at Old Monk. The delicate ovals of splendiferous squid are feather-dusted in an impossibly light, perfect batter and then deep-fried. The quick-flash result is the most orgasmic experience of which any cephalopod has ever taken part. We figure, anyway.

Porta Di Roma
Forget those stampeding brass bulls near City Hall: Pizza joints are the best thing downtown has going for it. Porta di Roma is the newest addition, located in a renovated storefront across from the Bank One building. We're a fan of any pizza by the slice, but this one is exceptional: wide, melting triangles of heavenly goo supported by a strong, thin, slightly crispy crust. Perfection. As a bonus--like we need one--Porta di Roma offers huge, fresh plates of pasta, cheap. We're hot on the "spaghetti olio" dish, a mound of pasta flavored with olive oil, garlic, chili pepper and a dash of Parmesan. Even comes with hot bread. Lunchtime price: $4.25.
La Calle Doce
Where is Jimmy Buffett when you need him? Face it, Dallas is Margaritaville. So how do you choose between the perennial favorite ritas at Blue Goose and Uncle Julio's or the stylistically compelling artistry of, say, a Blue Mesa or Taco Dinner? We look for authenticity, and that is why La Calle Doce gets our vote. It's just the right amount of frozen--not overly icy or fluid. It's white, velvety, not too salty and plenty boozy. And it goes down smooth--that is, until that biting aftertaste grabs you by the throat and compels you to grab a chip and salsa--fast. Then it's back to the rita, a return trip to the chips, rita, chips, rita--all mixing and matching in a Mexican dance that can last until you're sated or plastered--whichever comes first.
If the ladies talking in thick accents aren't enough to convince you that this place is the real thing in German meat-eating cuisine, just take a look at the extensive menu. It includes things like Schinkenwurst, Kalbsleber and Grobe. We have no idea what any of those things are, but we can salivate over kielbasa, sweet and hot Italian sausages, veal and fresh-baked ham that tastes the way grandma from Slovenia used to make it. There is also the standard selection of pork chops, T-bones and whole chickens sold at prices that compete with Albertson's. This old-fashioned market may be small, but it also carries a selection of hard-to-find items, such as basil pesto mustard and a vast array of French, Italian and Spanish olive oils. For dessert, don't pass up the chance to buy the original Haribo gummi bears and Ritter Sport chocolate bars.
The cuisine here is from Northern India, so the flavors are a little subtler than some other establishments. At lunchtime, the buffet is priced right ($5.95), and the food is cooked fresh. The raita (yogurt salad), the nan (puffed bread), the tandoori chicken, the vegetable paneer dishes and the gulab jamun for dessert all make a meal you'll find hard to resist every week. Splurge sometimes and get a cup of the spiced tea, and your bill will still only come to about $8 per person.
Peggy Sue BBQ
Much ado is made of barbecue in Dallas, and it's true that a lot of places roll out a tasty rib platter, but none comes close to the culinary sensations being served up at Peggy Sue BBQ. The spareribs, rubbed in spine-shivering spices and cooked to tender perfection, are a good choice. However, the showstopper is the baby backs, which are cooked in an oh-my-God-this-is-so-sweet-I-have-it-on-my-ears-and-I-don't-care sauce made of maple and brown sugar. Combined with the salty taste of the meat, which falls from the bone, these ribs are as good as it gets.

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