In part one of our interview, we talked with Common Table chef Mike Smith about running a successful restaurant. Now, in part two of of three, we discuss the Dallas restaurant scene and some of his favorite off-duty places. Tune back in tomorrow for part three.
What are your three favorite restaurants in Dallas? Well, this has changed a little bit since I've had a kid, so right now: 1. Fernando's 2. Neighborhood Services 3. One2One
Where do you go for burgers? The Dairy-ette on Ferguson. It's a little dive that's been there forever and they still make their own root beer. They're awesome! (Editor's note: We feel even better about this year's Best of Dallas burger award.)
What's your favorite bar? The Billiard Den (actually in Richardson). It has 18 custom pool tables, schooners of PBR and ping-pong tables. How could you go wrong?
Are there any off the beaten-path places you frequent? There's an incredible Lebanese place called The Peace Pipe Hookah Lounge next to the Billiard Den. We always meet there before we go play pool. It's the real deal.
Where do you do your grocery shopping? Central Market because it's got everything and a great craft beer selection. I also like Kazy's Gourmet off 635 near Greenville Avenue. It's an Asian specialty market that also has a little kitchen and makes some of the best sushi and noodle dishes anywhere in Dallas.
How would you describe the Dallas restaurant goer? Dallas has very diverse palates that runs the whole spectrum, from meat-and-potato people to extreme foodie.
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If you could steal one dish from another restaurant, what would it be? The sea bass at Tei Tei. My lobster avocado got number two dish in DFW a couple of years ago and their sea bass beat me. And they earned it.
What do you think the Dallas food scene needs more of? Independent chef-run restaurants. There are too many cookie-cutter places. They're everywhere.
What do you like about the local food scene? A lot of Dallas you have to go out and seek. There are so many good places that aren't promoted all the time, but you have to go out and find them.
Your first job in a kitchen was at The Green Room back in the mid-'90s. How has the Dallas food scene changed in that time? It's night and day since then and I think the Green Room helped a lot. If you go around and look at a lot of the really good restaurants and look at the people who are running them, chefs or sous chefs, a lot of them can be tied back to the Green Room one way or another. When Chris Pyun came from a really good restaurant in New York it really created the beginning of the chef movement in Dallas.