Go to any farm within 100 miles of Dallas on any Friday before lunch and you will witness high anxiety stirring within the pig population. That's when Perry's begins serving its massive pork chop special, where men, mostly, even those who attempt to follow the dietary laws of their religion, can't resist the hot off the grill, cured, roasted and rubbed flavor of three or so huge hunks of pork flesh and bone. Each is big enough to choke a horse (sorry for the mixed husbandry metaphor). The pig comes with whipped potatoes and applesauce and can be bought every day, but only as a special on Pork Chop Fridays for the low, low price of $10.95. If you think we exaggerate the size of these chops, do a drive-by of Perry's each Friday on McKinney at say, 1:30 p.m., and see grown men standing in a valet line, waiting for their cars, each holding the same Perry's doggie bag filled with what they could not possibly consume in a single sitting. A late afternoon snack awaits them, not to mention a nap.
Year after year we have been reluctant to give best bagel props to Einstein Bros. Bagels (though we did in 2004), not so much because they didn't bake up a good bagel, but rather because they did. See, we figured good wasn't good enough—not when we were seeking the best...of. Like lox spread on a sesame bagel, we wanted to scatter the bready plaudits around, but delis ruin our plans by going out of business: first Gilbert's then Ed's, then Roasters, now Zinsky's. But the bagel behemoth that is Einstein's continues to dominate, and truthfully few other bagel stores came to mind. Face it, their bagels are fresh, sometimes even warm, their cream cheese tasty and varied, and their staff will slice your order upon request—though getting the halves evenly sized is still a bit dicey. Nonetheless, we honor Einstein's not so much by default, but for their perseverance in good times and bad. Though one judge would only cast his vote for Einstein's if we assured him that he could voice his one objection to the chain: "Blueberry bagels are a crime against nature." There, now it's unanimous.
Choosing a margarita isn't as easy as you'd think. If we're gonna pull the trigger, rest assured it won't be for some overpriced Slurpee with a shot of tequila. Gloria's not only has the best-priced margaritas in the city at only three bucks, but at 11 ounces, they don't skimp you on size. They also pour in enough Manik tequila to give them just the right kick, and their ice-to-margarita ratio is both spot-on and consistent. Atmosphere counts too, so it helps that Gloria's has some of the best Mexican food in town. After all, why wouldn't you want to keep down all those $3 margaritas with some enchiladas verdes?
Cosmic Café has been providing a peaceful and inviting atmosphere for diners who are looking for a vegetarian meal option for more than 20 years now. They also offer complimentary yoga upstairs on various days of the week and Zen poetry readings every Monday night, among other classes and events. But let's concentrate on one specific thing, shall we? If you look under the Celestial Light Offerings section on the menu, you will see the Portobello Trance—portobello mushrooms with spinach and onions sautéed in a garlic-basil butter sauce served on nan with cream cheese and tomatoes. One bite and this entrée will have you chanting "mmm" instead of the usual "om."
With chicken-fried oysters and spicy fried lobster on the menu, it might appear as though chef Blythe Beck turned Central 214 into the State Fair, but her innovative creations have instead transformed it into one of the city's finer restaurants. Even for someone who isn't much of an oyster fan, it's worth the 14 bucks for the appetizer to try Beck's unique creation. Once the six breaded oysters are served, the feeding frenzy begins. A few extra dips in the creamy lemon mustard garlic sauce could cost you a shot at the final one if you're not alone. If only you could take a ride on the Ferris wheel as a consolation prize.
Take this honor with a small grain of salt, Lakewood Landing. See, we've never been sober when we've had the corny dogs that you serve late at night. But, when drunk? Holy crap, those things are the greatest dogs we've ever eaten. They're just so amazing—and warm, too—and, honest, we've started to no longer mind that you close your kitchen before you close your bar. We like the fact that we stroll into your dark confines, saunter up to the bar and slur out something that, realistically, probably sounds like we're saying "Wha crumbly don, peas," and, better yet, you don't even shoot us a second glance—you just go get us a hot dog on a stick dipped in corn-bread batter. And for that, you're our heroes. Even if we won't remember it tomorrow.
Pizza Lounge opened its doors late last year at the corner of Exposition Park Boulevard and Parry Avenue (across the street from the DART Rail Green Line's Fair Park Station), and the pizzeria and lounge quickly made a name for itself in the Expo Park area thanks to its made-from-scratch gourmet pizza pies, with names like the Sofa King and the Nickel Bag, and a very tweet-friendly drink special. The Po Boy Special includes a shot of tequila and a can of Schlitz for $3 and you can add a slice of pizza for $4. A perfect late-night trio, but if you're worried that one slice won't be enough, then add an order of the spot's popular "sauerkraut balls," an appy made with sausage and sauerkraut that's then breaded and fried.
Scene: Fish City Grill
Time: Any "R" month
Dad: "Son, it was a brave man who ate the first oyster."
Son, giving it right back: "It was a brave man who ate the first anything."
Dad, smiling: "True."
Waitress: "Here's your Oyster Nachos. Enjoy."
Dad digs in to an ample appetizer plate; Son, not so much. Each fried oyster is adorned with pico de gallo perched atop a tortilla chip lathered with a thin layer of chipotle tartar sauce. The result: a crunchy, fishy, tasty, briny, spicy, chewy burst of taste and texture. Fish City has been known to stand behind their appetizer; this particular waitress even tells Dad if he doesn't like the Oyster Nachos, he doesn't have to pay for them. It's a foolish man who would refuse that offer.
The food here is served "push-along" style, with diners shoving trays in front of glassed-in troughs filled with Greek and Middle Eastern goodies. On the veggie counter are traditional dolmas, kibbie rolls, falafel, tabouli, baba ghanooge (that's how they spell it), Egyptian okra and fresh salads piled with tomatoes and onions, Mediterranean-style. The cranberry-mushroom salad and the couscous are light but intriguingly seasoned. On the meat side are beef, lamb and chicken kebabs and fork-tender broiled lamb shanks in rich mushroom gravy. Dessert is—what else?—baklava dripping with honey. Just the kind of casual, wallet-pleasing ethnic joint the busy Knox-Henderson dining corridor can be proud of.