A few times a year, we ship the kids to the baby sitter, dress up like the hip kids (plus 30 pounds) and go out for a grown-up meal. Good food, good wine, good times. Our favorite place in which to do this, as it has been for about a decade, is The Green Room. Hip enough to be fun, serious enough for sophisticated tastes, head chef Marc Cassel's restaurant continues to impress every time out. When we arrive, we always ask for the "Feed Me, Wine Me"--four courses chosen by the chef and four glasses of wine picked to match each course. The result is mesmerizing and instructive: wonderful dishes perfectly prepared, matched with always-interesting vino choices. The best part: We usually end up loaded, take a cab home and make out like teenagers. Sure beats counseling.

The Observer's Mark Stuertz suggests you "feed your culinary soul" at Watel's, a French restaurant that is one of Dallas' top eateries. But we suggest you experience your fine food with some aural ambience. Chef-owner René Peeters (one of the nicest guys who'll ever confit your duck) offers $29, four-course jazz dinners every other Monday or so. (Check www.watels.com for updates.) With your music you get a soup of the day, salad, one of eight entrées (such as crabmeat lasagna, spinach ravioli with chardonnay and walnuts or petit filet mignon grilled with herbed jus) and a choice of dessert. Music to our ears.

Lord, how we try to keep healthy--hard to stay that way when the last time you saw the inside of a gym was in sixth-grade P.E. But, hey, Central Market's expansive produce section--some 4,312 varieties of radishes alone, at last count--was gonna help us stay trim. For months we cruised the asparagus like horny frat boys at a sorority mixer; we guzzled the green-veggie mystery swirl, ate only fresh chicken and the still-twitching seafood, bought nuts in bulk and fat-free milk by the gallon. And, man, were we ever getting fit, lean enough to fit into our senior-prom tux, still a lovely hue of blue. Awesome. Then they had to go and open a Krispy Kreme right next door, and eff it if our jeans didn't suddenly look one size too small for Kate Moss. What were we supposed to do? Ignore the red sign, taunting and daring us with its promise of fresh, hot doughnuts right off the assembly line? No. No. No. Our car full of healthy goodness, we inevitably steered just inches and gained feet on our waistline, and we couldn't help it; we're junkies in need of the hot, sugary fix. But every now and then we do the guilt-free thing and get the doughnuts before they're doused in sugar; surely, that's the diet version, innit?

On a recent Saturday, we stopped by our regular bagel provider for a dozen of the everythings--garlic with poppy and sesame and the wondrous addition of sunflower seeds--and were told there won't be a batch ready for 10 minutes. So we waited patiently, like Job or his second cousin, and were greeted by a bagful of the hottest, softest, moistest round of bread we've ever put between two (scorched at this point) lips. We devoured half our dozen before walking out the door--this is to bagels what Krispy Kreme is to the hot doughnut, the closest thing to nirvana since Dave Grohl was just a drummer. So beg Herschel, the owner, for fresh ones when you walk through the door. Wait if you must--skip school, ditch work, put off writing Best of Dallas entries, whatever you must to get those bagels before they cool a single degree. Cream cheese is for wussies.

OK, granted, we don't know anywhere else you can actually get a cachapa in Dallas, but even if we did, we would still think this is the best one in town. This South American bakery is one of our favorite lunchtime hangover spots, and that's primarily because of said dish. The cachapa, the big corn pancake with cheese and your choice (or not) of meat filling, is the perfect big, heavy, sumptuous meal you crave after a night out. Add that to some of the outstanding teas and coffees brewed here, and you have a lunch worth scarfing.

A friend suggested this as his favorite spot for butter to put on bread, and so on a day we were feeling particularly decadent, we gave it a shot. ("I'll have just butter and toast, please. And my friend will have four fried chickens--and a Coke.") We agreed. Not for the reason he said--"Because it tastes good, and I like to put it in my mouth"--as that could apply to a dozen categories of food, drink and lascivious miscellany. No, we appreciated it because it's herbed and spicy. We do this to our butter at home, but why do so few restaurants do so? A few flecks of green, a bit of piquant flavor and then butter becomes not just a condiment but a meal.

We make the trip over to Mai's at least once a week for the clay pot, a devilishly hot (in every sense of the word) mixture of rice, Asian vegetables, rice noodles and, in our case, tofu. (It works just as well with chicken and shrimp.) We'll accept no arguments when stating that it is, without a doubt, the best thing we've ever eaten, Vietnamese or otherwise. Seriously, don't test us on this one. The only strong competition comes from the other items on the menu; may we suggest the supple spring rolls, or perhaps a bowl of spicy chicken soup? Whatever you get, remember to wash it down with a tall glass of the finest iced Vietnamese coffee in town, which deserves its own award. Mai's doesn't look like much, inside or out, but the kitchen is the only place that counts.
You can get something to take the edge off a hangover anywhere. A meat-and-potatoes plate of, well, meat and potatoes? Nothing special. There are plenty of places that'll hook you up. In a pinch, there are also half a dozen 7-Elevens on your way home. But if you're sober enough to want real food, something you can (and want to) remember eating the next morning, look no further than Cuba Libre. Chef Nick Badovinus mixes ingredients like a good DJ, giving well-worn ideas (say, tacos) a brand-new taste. Bonus: Thanks to the beautiful-people spillover from nearby Sense, you still have an outside shot at hooking up before you head home.
Sometimes, one dish done perfectly is enough to bring you back to a restaurant time and again. Such is the case with Jade Garden's orange chicken. While the restaurant itself is a dingy little place with ancient seating, cracked mirrors and limited parking, the chicken (extra crispy, with cashews, please) is almost painfully good. Covered in a sweet and salty sauce with pieces of orange peel, this dish is a delight not to be undertaken lightly: Please be sure to watch for drool and try not to burn yourself as you partake of this succulent poultry fare.

First, let's put a few things on the table. This is not New York. Bagels here are not New York bagels. They are like us: They are not kneaded; they are whipped. Bagels here are machine-made and have lots of air in them. They're soft. That doesn't mean they have to taste like doughnuts, but they can. You have to be careful. So for the best compromise between bagel reality and what we wish bagel reality could be, it's the Central Market salt bagel. This bagel offers generous size--a mittful. It's got a skin with a good amount of resistance, a body with some heft and big chunks of salt on the surface. If we can't have character, we'll make do with saltiness.

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