Best Place for Vegetarians to Take Carnivores 2006 | Clay Pit | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Best Place for Vegetarians to Take Carnivores

Clay Pit

There's no reason for meat-eaters and vegetarians to come to blows over who gets to choose the restaurant this time. Granted, vegetarians most often get the raw end of the deal, forced to eat a limp afterthought of a salad whenever their pals want to hit the steak house. And our heart goes out to flesh-eaters who are forced to eat a delicious meal of tofu or noodles at a veggie place...sorta. But at Clay Pit, no one has to compromise; vegetarians can choose from tandoori vegetables, vegetable naan pizza and all manner of curries and more, while meatatarians can have beef, chicken, lamb and seafood cooked up in myriad ways. Worried it'll be too spicy? Just tell your server you want it mild and your dish will be so smooth even your grandma with an ulcer could eat it.
Sometimes you just gotta have it. You've been thinking about it all day, and the longing's just growing stronger. When your sugar jones kicks in, pray that you're near Voila Bakery. They have tempting sandwiches and soups for those normal days, but when your sweet tooth really needs satisfaction, it's straight to the dessert case. From an all-American apple tart to a deliciously creamy mini cheesecake or the scrumptious chocolate mousse cake, you will be stuffing your face with empty calories in no time. Hauling the kids around when the DTs (dessert tremens) hit? The brats'll love the spaghetti ice cream--vanilla ice cream extruded into thin noodle shapes, topped with "tomato sauce" (raspberry sauce) and "Parmesan" (crumbled white chocolate).
Often, the thought of having to wait for your food at a sit-down restaurant is downright depressing. When you've spent 45 minutes debating where to go, another half-hour rounding up the kids/friends/family and 20 minutes driving to and parking at your destination, you're simply ready to eat. NOW. You want the instant gratification of a snack that's plunked down even before the drink order. Just chips and salsa would cut it, but at Gloria's they go that extra step--a second dip. In addition to the tangy, chunky salsa, Gloria's pre-prandial offering includes a blended black bean dip, just the amount of protein you need to settle you in for the main course. And, best of all, it's free.
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.

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