First Chinese B-B-Q

Established in 1982, a mainstay of the northern corridor Chinese commercial district, First Chinese B-B-Q is the place to go for traditional Chinese cuisine. Don't miss the flat noodles that arrive at the table with enormous slices of tender beef or the wonderful wonton. But the real reason to visit the First Chinese BBQ is the meat, the meat, the meat. And the sauce. The pork is maybe the best of the lot, with the perfect combination of chew and give. The sauce that drips off is so sweet it could be an ice cream topping. First Chinese also offers a full list of seafood dinners including Hong Kong style crab, lobster yee-mein noodles and spicy seafood combination. One little wrinkle, though: Don't forget to bring cash. They don't take plastic.

Urbano Cafe

Though the neighborhood is still marginal—bars on windows—the restaurant is anything but. This nine-table, reservation-necessary, hot-house-in-summer Italian restaurant offers little in the traditional Little Italy sense. Rather, you can get intricately sauced and locally seasoned gourmet dishes such as the signature spaghetti Bolognese and delicate appetizers such as prosciutto-wrapped fig bruschetta with Texas honeycomb. Lunch is still a deal—the tasty paninis and matchstick fries, a nostalgic residue of Urbano's first incarnation on McKinney Avenue. It doesn't hurt matters that Jimmy's Food Store, a popular purveyor of imported Italian meats and treats, is right next store. The Urbano owner's in-your-face affability creates an intimacy for some, a hardship for those waiting for the tables to be turned. No matter, when your turn comes, it's worth the wait, but make sure to bring your own booze, because that's just the kind of place Urbano is.

Behold, a pouch of tiny mushroom magic (not that kind of magic).
Beth Rankin
Behold, a pouch of tiny mushroom magic (not that kind of magic).

Normally, a big part of why we're out to eat in the first place is that we want someone else to do the work, but Tei Tei's beef on the rock is a do-it-yourself experience that can't be beat. Tei Tei provides six strips of Washu beef—a crossbreed of Black Angus and native Japanese Wagyu—and a ginger soy marinade. You're charged with cooking them over hot rocks to your own specifications, but you'll be glad you're in control because with beef this thin and flavorful, you want to get it just right to maximize the velvety goodness. Need something to munch on while doing all the work? Order some sushi—perhaps the city's best—and thank us later.

Snuffer's
Snuffer's
Einstein Bros Bagels
Einstein Bros. Bagels
Paciugo Gelato
Paciugo
Gloria's
Gloria's and Mi Cocina
Blue Mesa Grill
Blue Mesa Grill

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