There may be an American Idol wannabe belting out country karaoke tunes rather than a steel drum band, but Weekends is the closest thing to a Margaritaville state of mind within 20 miles of downtown Dallas. Pick a balmy evening to sit out on their floating patio, stare out over Ray Hubbard Reservoir and imagine tossing your cell phone into the waves like in one of those Corona commercials. Feels good, doesn't it? This '60s and '70s-themed restaurant and bar offers live music, karaoke, plastic flamingos and enormous piles of nachos. If you can't make it down to Key West, Weekends always has a little booze in the blender, and soon it will know the rest.
Greasy spoons are so last year; eggs and sausage are surprisingly delectable sans griddle plaque. We were once content with morning dishes of once-frozen, deep-fried items covered in a shroud of gravy, but now we've tasted the flavor of true, fresh food just after sunrise, and there's no going back. The first incident came with Buzzbrews' "Hare Krishna" eggs. The egg whites burst with avocado (not a bruise in sight), bright feta cheese and griddle-cooked tomatoes. The next occasion called for something a bit sweeter, and griddle toast was the surefire way to go. The tooty-fruity option covered in fresh fruit and berries is sweet and dizzying, but breakfast fanatics will appreciate the pit grill variety, paired with eggs over easy, bacon or veggie sausage. Buzzbrews rounds out their hearty meals with stellar joe and a lovely selection of hot teas. The diner, which features the art of local painter Frank Campagna, also offers non-breakfast dishes, but we're so in love with the a.m. showcase, after more than two dozen visits, we still haven't made it to any other part of the menu.
No one ever said that an afternoon snack had to be light, or even healthy, for that matter. For instance, say it's a Saturday following a rather eventful Friday night. You awoke a bit later than usual and have made it through those first couple of errands. Now you're looking for something more substantial, something downright artery-clogging. "Elote con todo, por favor." Say those magic words to Ericetta, the chipper woman who tends the umbrella-covered cart (from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days) just outside the entrance to Fiesta. She'll load up a cup with corn, Parmesan cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and lime (be sure to get the lime) and hand it off to you to add desired amounts of chile sauce and lemon pepper. Sound absurd? Mix it on up and dive into a fattening heaven that'll have you down for a recuperative nap in no timebut not before you grab a refreshing agua fresca from the inside caf counter. An afternoon snack--OK, fine, an afternoon meal, for less than a fiver.
Show us an Indian buffet and, based on past experiences, we'll clutch our Pepto and run screaming. Cheap, unclean buffets had convinced us that Dallas was without digestible masala. Then we met Roti Grill--no buffet in sight and satisfying dishes that after several trips have caused no intestinal distress. And for those who want to try something different every trip, the spotless, modern Indian diner offers quick, tasty and painless vindaloo, masala, korma, jalfarezi and other sauces in its "two step" menu option, which allows customers to choose a sauce and pair it with vegetables, lamb, chicken or paneer (homemade cheese, similar in consistency to tofu). The meals are served with basmati rice in regular and Texas sizes; the Texas size option adds on naan or roti bread. Ask the friendly counter service staff to help you decide or try the blind finger-point method--there's no bad combination.
After a long day in the cubicle fields, there's something heavenly about happy hour. Everyone de-ages by approximately 6.37 years, microchips are removed, spreadsheets are forgotten and actual human communication can commence. Only thing is, by 6 p.m., lunch is a distant memory. The belly needs some insulation before a deluge of lagers and other libations. The Ginger Man's Beer Companion is the perfect choice--a smattering of items that tickles the taste buds but doesn't ruin dinner. A variety of cheeses (yay, Muenster!), Genoa salami, olives, pickles, fruit and sliced baguette compose a hearty snack and prep evening revelers for any Stellas, Murphys or Paulis they might meet along the way.

Best Power Lunch If You Don't Have an Expense Account

Chan Thai

Located in a snug corner of Oak Cliff's Bishop Art's District, Chan Thai could easily pass itself off as a hip, trendy restaurant offering smart Asian cuisine. All they'd have to do is double their prices, halve their portions and dim the lights, and it would become the restaurant of choice for food snobs who mistake the frustrating accoutrements of fine dining for a pleasurable eating experience. Lucky for us, however, Chan Thai likes being both unpretentious and incredibly delicious, offering the best pad Thai, curry chicken and spring rolls you're likely to find in a quick in-and-out lunch place. Even though just about all lunches are priced under $10, the stylish, brightly colored Chan Thai is no dive, which likely accounts for the presence of such Republican luminaries as County Judge Margaret Keliher and district attorney candidate Toby Shook.

Best Place to Eat After Running/ Cycling White Rock Lake

Legal Grounds

Although a tad overpriced and almost always overcrowded, Legal Grounds is still an apt reward for a morning spent running and cycling around White Rock Lake. Located in the heart of Lakewood, Legal Grounds has long been a hotspot for athletic types, as witnessed by the veritable army of trim patrons clad in running/cycling shorts and tank tops. And while this is not always a good thing--gentlemen, if you have more hair on your shoulder than your head, scrap the muscle shirt--it does give the place a cozy, fun vibe on a Saturday morning. More important, the French toast, topped with a layer of fresh fruit, is appropriately decadent, not too dry or too buttery. The same could be said of Legal Grounds' fresh muffins, which are the best in town. Finally, the strong, flavorful coffee will wash away the sticky taste of the post-run Gatorade and keep you going if you're contemplating a second loop around the lake.
If we were on death row we'd request Scalini's chocolate cappuccino pie as a last meal because it's so unbelievably delicious. In fact, it's so awesome that if given the chance between having a wild night with Scarlett Johansson and having a slice of this pie, we'd choose, oh come on, obviously Scarlett Johansson. But we'd still take her to Scalini's, order her the chocolate cappuccino pie for dessert. Gotta get lucky after that.
Appropriately located in the upscale Knox-Henderson neighborhood, La Duni does everything so well that singling it out for a drink seems akin to praising Jessica Alba for her ankles. So, dear God, don't just go to La Duni to order a mojito and then head across the street for a generic meal at Chuy's. Stay a while and enjoy any of La Duni's kick-ass Cuban and Mexican dishes, particularly the quesadillas de pescado, which include handmade corn tortillas stocked with sauted fresh fish and Latin cheese. And if you start it off with a mojito, fueled with just the right dosage of Bacardi Silver rum and ably mixed with sugar, mint and the juiciest of limes, you will start thinking of La Duni as your own personal Xanadu.
In September 2005, we gave the relatively new Manny's Uptown a so-so review. The menu, created by former Mia's chef Javier Hernandez, engendered lofty expectations for our critic, and he came away disappointed by the inconsistent dishes and the spotty service. Perhaps it took a few months to work out the kinks, but Manny's is on top of its game these days, offering an extensive array of Tex-Mex dishes that unlike others in its culinary genre don't swim in a murky sea of cheese and sour cream. Still, at Manny's, the food, while delicious, may not be the highlight of your experience. The fenced-in outdoor patio, haphazardly decorated and oddly lit, makes for a veritable dining playpen practically begging you to come with all your friends and stay all night. On any given Saturday, the place is jam-packed with a random assortment of patrons, from your typical blond-and-beautiful Uptown party set to the middle-aged couples looking to enjoy a rare night of frivolity.

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