This ain't no misnomer. You've got your brown rice; you've got your organic black beans. It's a virtual one-two punch of grains and legumes, providing the protein needed without using meat. Then there's the pile of steamed veggies, fresh and crunchy, satisfying the colorful part of the food pyramid, and a cup of Dream Café's tahini miso sauce, a tangy, oily creation that adds a hint of flavor without overpowering the three basics of this square, but not unhip, meal.
Venezuelan Carlos Branger is an evil, evil man, and we love him for it. Since opening a few months ago, this Latin restaurant-bakery on Oak Lawn Avenue has become our go-to restaurant whenever we crave sweet corn tortillas filled with meat and cheese...and cheese; this is a delicacy called cachapas, incidentally, which we believe is Venezuelan for "happy heart attack yummy delight." There are also the arepas, stuffed but not sweet; we prefer the former, though, because there's something about getting that corn-cheese-etc. stuck in our teeth--the lunch that keeps on giving. Branger's cut back a bit on the free-sample smorgasbord that lined the countertops for months, which is fine; we were loaded up on fresh breads, most filled with cheese and/or caramel, well before our lunch arrived anyway, and we needed to save room for those plantain chips and sweet-bread desserts, which give us full belly and tight, but happy, pants. We haven't quite mustered up the courage to order the ham-and-cheese bread loaves--it's been weeks since we've been to the gym--or myriad other fresh-baked delicacies taunting us from the glass cases and oven racks, but we will. It's not like we're not at Zaguán once a week. Or twice. Or thrice, dang it.
It's all about payback, or so we've heard. Maybe that's why La Madeleine, wherein some of the best breads on earth are made, fills a handy yet surreptitiously placed rack with homemade slices or half-loaves several times a day. On a little shelf, the bread fairies also put out pats of butter and little bowls of fruit preserves. The preserves have earned the right to be called something other than jelly, since they appear to be real, fresh fruit that has been simmered with a bit of sugar long enough to soften up, break down and then thicken to a pleasing, goo-like consistency. This simple buffet runs by the honor system. La Mad's idea is that diners--that is, people who have actually purchased something from the menu--can help themselves to more bread to go with the meal as they need it. People we've known who always run out of money before payday can usually spring for a cup of French roast at La Madeleine; then, with only a smidgen of guilt, help themselves to six or 12 bread, butter and jelly sandwiches, on the house. It's the best free breakfast in Dallas.
Got a couple of hours to kill on a Sunday morning? (Or any other day of the week, for that matter?) Try this Chinatown wonderland off Greenville Avenue and Main Street in Richardson, where the waitstaff strolls through this gargantuan restaurant with wagons full of goodies familiar (shrimp-and-scallion dumplings, fried rice, sautéed Chinese broccoli) and mysterious (soup with "1,000-year-old eggs," we kid you not) and always delicious. Maxim's, so named for a legendary Hong Kong eatery, offers the best dim sum experience in town: Eat till you can't talk, and wash it all down with the pur tea that seems to make room in your tummy for more of the pork barbecue-stuffed buns or the steamed shrimp balls (yeah, yeah--who knew they had 'em, got it). Arrive early, before the 11 a.m. rush, and stay late or just move in; you'll be back next weekend, anyway.