For more than two decades years, Al Markaz has been an institution in the Dallas-area Indian and Pakistani communities. Some of the original employees are still here, and the lunch combo is still an outrageously good deal. That long history, and those low prices, are still a big part of the restaurant’s appeal, but there are plenty of good dishes coming out of the kitchen, including lentil stews and probably the best butter chicken within a dozen miles. It’s especially fun to visit in the evening during Ramadan and watch dozens of families arrive simultaneously to order mountainous, fast-breaking meals.
Top pick: The lunch combo includes a piece of naan and appetizer portions of three different main courses. You choose the mains; we recommend the nihari and dal palak (spinach and lentils).
The downside: Al Markaz’s pastry items, like samosas, are good when they’re fresh. The problem is, they’re very rarely served fresh. There are better places to grab biryani, as well.
Fun fact: The attached grocery store is excellent, with a wide range of South Asian foods, teas, sodas and English biscuits.