This Gulf-style seafood shack is about as basic as they come—especially in this neighborhood—with a counter-service interior that's so cramped that the patio's picnic tables can look attractive on even the hottest of days. The menu isn't much more complicated than the design, offering only a few items (seafood cocktails, gumbo and, of course, raw oysters) that don't get a dunk in the deep fryer. But by keeping it simple, Aw Shucks manages to get the fried food right. Shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, catfish and various combinations are all served sizzling hot, crispy and with enough batter to give the protein a fun wrapping but not enough to bog the seafood down with grease. Lord knows there's enough oil in the Gulf as it is. Get a side of the jalapeño-studded hush puppies and coleslaw and the basket suddenly becomes a meal for two.
There is no doubt that Pappas Bros. Steakhouse leads the market in dedication to wine. With four staff members (one master, one advanced and two certified sommeliers) dedicated to its wine program, the Houston based steakhouse considers wine a priority for its customers. Pappas Bros. also has a weekly continued education program in wine for its staff members. Pappas stocks 36,000 bottles and 2,800 labels of wine with price points beginning at a comfortable $36 to an astronomical $70,000. What makes selecting wine at Pappas so incredibly easy is that you can select a price point and they will always choose an appropriate wine suitable for your occasion—often for less than what you might suggest.
Sure, it's possible: You could drive an hour and a half to a small town or distant suburb and find better barbecue. But if you're gonna drive that far you might as well keep on truckin' to Lockhart. For those seeking a barbecue lunch without needing a whole tank of gas, Mike Anderson's will be there waiting, serving up the same delicious ribs, pulled pork, hot links and sides they've been serving since 1982. The brisket can be hit or miss—no barbecue joint in the city limits can really work that Central Texas magic with the cut—but when it's on, it's really good. And when it's not, a dip in the best barbecue sauce in town will bring just about anything to life (we especially recommend the spicy jalapeño version). Just make sure to check out the online menu before you pop in—the mouth-watering smell of smoke hits hard as soon as you reach the door, and if you dawdle too long at the ordering station, the rest of the line's liable to get restless, as well they should. After all, there's eatin' to be done.
Breakfast is not a leisurely meal. Breakfast is not a social hour. Breakfast—says it right there in the name—is when you wake your arse up and put something in that rumbling tumbly of yours so that you can get your day rolling. If you want to spend four hours languishing over eggs that got cold three hours and 57 minutes ago, fine. But that's called brunch. If you want to eat some basic, tasty grub that will satisfy you and not be bothered while you read the paper, head to the Gold Rush over in Lakewood, where nobody would look twice if you walked in without pants on. The line is long on weekends. Why? Because those people are eating brunch, which is not, and we absolutely mean to keep harping on this, breakfast. Get there early, like a proper breakfaster, and order the migas and a coffee. You'll be in and out before the hangover crowd figures out whose bed they're waking up in.
For Pasand, you'll have to trek to Campbell and Coit. There are closer Indian lunch buffets and full-service dinner offerings, but if you have the time it's worth the drive. When it comes to samosas (both vegetarian and lamb) and dosa (fermented rice and lentil crepe) stuffed with savory veggies, there's just no better. The service? The service is simply amazing. And the strip-malled eatery takes that further than the dining room: One of the best things Pasand has going for it is its catering. They can throw a mess of chicken tikka masala your way no problem, but better yet, they can adjust the seasoning to accommodate your guest list. Got a wedding and the fam isn't too keen on spice? No worries. They can provide a mild masala, a plain tandoori and then amp up your favorites like kadhai paneer.
If you're in the mood for something out of the ordinary, Victor Tango's aims to please with a menu that includes roasted bone marrow (sounds disgusting but is quite good). Not feeling daring? Then we suggest the chicken and waffles, paired together as one delicious dish at Victor Tango's. The history of the unlikely pairing is murky at best, with most accounts referencing its introduction into black culture in the 1800s, but a trip to Victor Tango's is all you need to understand why the two were ever put on the same plate.
The Alligator Café doesn't serve hurricanes, New Orleans' most popular cocktail. The chef-owned Cajun restaurant only serves beer and wine, but that's a Big Easy indiscretion easily overlooked because the food is always so damn good. Chef Ivan Pugh has crafted a spot-on menu of Cajun and Creole staples with a few unfamiliar surprises. We like to start with an order of fried green tomatoes or boudin balls and end with bread pudding or sweet potato pecan pie. For the main course, we like everything from the po-boys and gumbo to the muffalettas and jambalaya, but our favorite is the Atchafalaya (two blackened catfish smothered in a rich crawfish or shrimp étouffée). Be warned: Popular items, like the pie, tend to run out by the end of the day, but that's a small price to pay when the menu's made from scratch—even Alligator Café's root beer is "homemade." The restaurant features live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and the dining area of the converted fast food joint tends to fill out faster than Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. Luckily, even if the place is packed to the gills, there's always the drive-through.
There's a time and place for fancy gourmet thin-crusts or pricey wood-fired pies with goat cheese and pine nuts. But when you just want a simple, New York-style big, floppy, chewy slice with house-made sauce and fresh high-quality toppings, Oak Cliff Pizza is the place to go. Be sure to get sausage, as the place offers nice thick slices of Jimmy's Italian sausage rather than the crumbled generic stuff so common at lesser pizza joints. Also recommended is roasted red pepper. Best of all, they offer single slices, with two costing you less than a five-spot, or a full meal deal with two slices, a soda and salad for $5.
Tracking down a memorable place to eat outside the friendly confines of Dallas proper can be tricky, but we've finally found a place worthy of a short trip at The Shops at Legacy in Plano. The hickory smoke-filled Artin's Grill is the perfect place for a business lunch or dinner with that special someone, with a dining area that features African mahogany booths, stone columns, dramatic ceilings, abstract art and a wine display that creates the illusion that the bottles are floating. The menu is packed with tasty items, but our fave is the braised beef short ribs. These tender and juicy strands of meat are braised for five hours before they're placed into a cabernet pan sauce and served with haricots verts and a delicious mushroom mac and cheese. Better yet, order the beef short rib nachos as an appetizer so everyone can get a taste.