Barbec's
Barbec's may have cheesy décor, but you gotta love a non-chain restaurant where you can eat breakfast any time of day. There's not really anything low-fat or healthy here, but what's that old saying, "Eat breakfast like a king"? Well, we figure that still applies, whether breakfast is the first or fourth meal of the day. The beer-batter biscuits are a must, but hey, scoop a mess o' eggs and ham on there too, wouldya? We still have some unclogged arteries.
Ziziki's
An original pick this is not; our readers anoint Ziziki's just about every year, and that's because it feels and tastes like upscale Greek, with attention lavished on top-notch ingredients, inventive touches, a warm atmosphere and polished service. This isn't your stereotypical Greek joint with gyros—they aren't even on the menu here—and laminated travel posters on the wall. The Preston Road location is our favorite, with its warm browns and yellows and sleek but non-stuffy décor. Lamb is the way to go here: The rack of lamb, grilled and nestled in a pool of red wine-and-oregano-accented gravy, is possibly the best in town. Super-tender, gently flavored lamb can also be found in the souvlaki and stuffed lamb loin, a special. Ziziki's has modestly upscale prices as well. So if you're looking for traditional favorites prepared the usual way, pick someplace cheaper. This is Greek cuisine for the gourmand.
Burger House
We've been to 'em all: Snuffer's (every one), Scotty P's (Plano location, legendary), Chip's, Twisted Root, Adair's, Who's Who, Balls, even Perry's, since a honest-to-goddamned steakhouse is where a real man oughta get a burger every now and again. And on any given night, any one of them's the best in town; hell of a place we live, where someone's best burger is a legit contender from any corner. But some of us old farts around here are feeling nostalgic, surrounded as we are by newcomers for whom "classic" is an imported Steak & Shake, so we're digging out a classic here, a 56-year-old institution where son and father and grandfather can bond over a $3.70 double cheeseburger, a basket of the special-seasoning fries (best in town, till death do us part) and a "real" cherry coke. The Burger House, we call it "Jack's," 'cause we've been around, has five locations now, one in Austin (no foolin'), but the Snider Plaza location is our fave. Meat just tastes better in Highland Park, most likely.
Twisted Root Burger Co.
We were sad to see that the elk sausage and fried mac 'n' cheese were off the menu on our last visit to Twisted Root, but you can still get a buffalo burger and sweet potato chips (with a dusting of cinnamon), which are tops on our list. Pretty much everything is handmade here, including the mustard and ketchup. And if you're adventurous enough to drink cinnamon banana root beer, they've got that too (they change the root beer flavor on a regular basis). And don't be offended if they call you Hugh Jass or Dr. Evil—they're just letting you know your hot-off-the-grill burger is ready.
Norma's Cafe
Norma's Café, which has been open since 1956, has everything you'd hope for in a diner: bar stools and booths upholstered in cherry red, breakfast served all day and a waitstaff that greets you like family. That's the thing at Norma's: It pretty much is family. It's the sort of place where customers come every single day, where the waitress doesn't even have to ask some of the regulars what they want. You really can't go wrong at Norma's (if you like 1950s-era diner food), but try the lemon meringue pie. It's not fancy, but chances are, it's just the way mom made it. And that's the whole idea at Norma's—it's like going home.
For years, we've longed for a decent hot dog joint to open in Dallas. Sure, some love Wild About Harry's, but we know better. We've been to New York. We've been to Chicago. In other words, we have standards, and when Big D's finally came along, it met the criteria and then some. Try this on for size—a quarter-pound kosher beef dog (or a killer veggie dog, if you're, like, a Communist or something) grilled up and served on a substantial potato bun (also grilled), topped off with basics like mustard and cheese or fresh-made toppings like Shiner chili and sauerkraut. Add some incredible hand-cut French fries and a mouth-puckering limeade and you've got a dog experience that rivals anything they've got up north. And just in case you're not sold yet, Big D's is open till 3 a.m. on the weekends, and you might even see the likes of Jerry Stackhouse chowing down if you play your cards right.
Sevan G&G Café
This hummus is not only authentic and tasty, it's gorgeous, and the family that runs the place works hard to make it that way. When they bring out takeout orders, they open the box with a flourish to reveal a perfectly shaped mound of chickpea delight. The cooks are careful to pool just the right amount of olive oil on top, sprinkle it with paprika and garnish their work with a couple sprigs of parsley. The baba ganoush and tabbouleh are just as good, as is the array of Mediterranean meat dishes. The wide dining room of blue-clothed tables is a pleasant place to spend the evening, and there's a patio that fronts on Greenville. Just remember, it's BYOB.
Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream & Soda Fountain
We'll bitch about gas at three bucks a gallon, but we've got absolutely no problem burning $30 to drive up Interstate 35 for absolutely the most delectable ice cream we've ever laid our lips upon. It's that good. Almost a decade old, Beth Marie's makes more than 60 flavors of ice cream right in the storefront location nestled on the Denton square. Flavors span classics such as peppermint and rocky road to unique tastes such as apple pie and cupcake (with little bits of real confetti cake in it). Scoops are available in ounce increments so customers can go whole hog or opt for a golf ball-sized bite to avoid extending the belt. More than 40 flavors can be blended into malts and shakes, and requisite soda jerk creations such as floats and limeades are also available if cones (waffle ones are made fresh at the counter) ain't the order.
Central Market
Somewhere deep in Whole Foods culture, Whole Foods still thinks of ice cream as a sin. Now, it's a sin Whole Foods will tolerate and forgive, but only in moderation, like Catholic sex. At Central Market there is no moderation. Central Market offers you every kind of ice cream, sorbet, gelato and other frozen excess that mankind has been able to scheme up since the beginning of ice cream, which, as we all know, was invented in Texas. More or less. Central Market's idea is definitely more. Their selection runs a gamut from better chocolate than we ever thought was possible in this life to something we didn't think was possible—ice cream that isn't good. Yeah, they've got some handmade niche varieties that somebody needs to put back in the niche, including one that tastes like it has little pellets of sod or something in it. We love the Earth too, but please, not in our ice cream! Anyway, if you want to expand your ice cream awareness, Central Market is the joint to visit.
Highland Park Cafeteria
Though no longer in Highland Park, the legendary cafeteria, founded on Knox Street in 1925, reopened this spring and has reconnected with devoted customers at its new location in Casa Linda. Face it, sometimes you need a cafeteria. Maybe grandma's visiting and the discussion about where to eat Sunday dinner took an ugly turn. Or maybe you're just in need of a little comfort food. Smothered steak, macaroni and cheese, squash casserole and other cafeteria classics like baked fish fillets can appease. Don't forget HPC's famous baked goods such as zucchini muffins and chocolate meringue pie. Walk down the line and pick up a little of this, a little of that. Jell-O! Sorry, "lime whip congeal." The line may move kind of slowly—hard for some gray-haired diners to hustle on their walkers—but that's part of the charm.

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