It took four years and $1.8 billion to complete the longest light-rail construction project in U.S. history -- says DART -- but a little more than one month since DART's Green Line opened, it's been for all intents and purposes a success. While the full line was officially opened on December 6, a portion was operable in September 2009, with a December 4, 2010, preview celebration including free food and free rides for the complete line. The free food is long gone, but what other edible fare is there along DART's crown jewel -- one that reduced service along the Red Line? As the image above indicates, there are 15 new dining destinations. Well, City of Ate counts the eclectic ways.
North Carrollton/Frankford Isla Mia Latin Cuisine: Since Mi Tierra in Arlington closed on Dec. 31, this is the only Puerto Rican-Cuban restaurant in the area. This is where you get your roast pork on.
La Hacienda Ranch: One of frozen margarita machine-inventor Mariano Martinez's Tex-Mex palaces is 15 minutes walking distance from the station. The downside is that part of the walk is along the South Stemmons Freeway access road.
Trinity Mills Royal Sweets: While the name conjures thoughts of a bakery -- and it certainly is one -- this spot sells Indian food, like dosas.
Downtown Carrollton Babe's Chicken Dinner House: Located in the city's historic downtown, customers fill all their fried chicken and Southern grub needs here.
Amici Signature Italian: Since 1991, chef Bartolino Cocuzza has served up Italian cuisine through a French lens with specialties like grilled elk. Cooking classes are also available.
Farmers Branch Railroad China Restaurant: This appropriately named Chinese fast-food joint is small and offers full-service with a divey feel, but is ideal for commuters rushing to or from the train station
Dr Pepper StarCenter-Farmers Branch: This branch of the Dallas Stars-owned ice-skating and entertainment complex offers a grill and bar alongside NHL regulation rinks and conference spaces.
Royal Lane Mama's Daughter's Diner: For more than 50 years, this local chain has been offering patrons from-scratch Southern fare. Among their specialties are chicken-fried steak and highly praised pies.
Chosun Korean BBQ: One of what seems like a gazillion Korean restaurants nearby, Chosun has knockout tender pork ribs sharing table space with other traditional Korean dishes.
Walnut Hill/Denton Taco Grande: Straight-up traditional tacos for Green Line riders uninterested in the crunchy Tex-Mex variety.
Mecca Restaurant: This blue-plate special eatery has been feeding Dallas residents since 1938 with platters of grilled pork chops and a ham steak with a pineapple ring.
Bachman Club Schmitz: This old-school burger hut serves all comers, from old timers to coeds in search of cheap patties and sudsy swill.
Stratos: Nick and Dawn Rizos' gigantic Greek restaurant offers all the Hellenic classics with a side of belly dancing and salsa dancing in a sea of Mexican eateries.
Burbank Luna's Tortillas: After five generations, this Dallas institution produces 1,500 tortillas an hour. The Luna family also provides some of the city's premiere dining establishments, like Fearing's and Stephan Pyles, with their tortillas.
Dunston's Prime Steakhouse: Another Dallas institution adjacent to Luna's is this old-fashioned steakhouse recently renovated with an elegant sheen after almost 50 years.
Inwood/Love Field Dallul Restaurant: This Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant offers a menu of the countries' traditional foods to a mixed crowd that includes immigrants and fans of the cuisines. What might be the best thing about Dallul is that you eat with your hands.
Southwestern Medical District/Parkland Goghee to Go BBQ: Terry and Janice Park's Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant is set to open this week in the former Burguesa Burger spot. It will be the second Korean taco joint in the Dallas area.
Thai 2 Go: The cool avocado green and black color scheme here is a counterpoint to the kickin' dishes, like the basil fried rice and soft shell crab curry. It proximity to hospitals must make it a popular lunch and take-out spot.
Market Center Original Market Diner: This tried-and-true diner (owner Jimmy Vergos is of Greek heritage) is best know for its breakfast menu, homemade potato chips and pies. As Vergos puts it, "Pie fixes everything." Victory Victory Tavern: Victory Park might be considered a cultural and entertainment wasteland, but this New American restaurant with upscale design and mid-range prices aims to change that. It helps that it's within earshot of the American Airlines Center.
Craft Dallas: The Big D outpost of celebuchef Tom Colicchio's fine-dining restaurant group recently experienced a shakeup in the kitchen. Long-time chef Jeff Harris left to start his own venture. However, a hiccup isn't expected with the announcement that Dallas native Tim Bevins will be taking over.
West End Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse: With brick arches, ironwork and candlelit tables, the main dining room is about as steakhouse as steakhouse gets. Some of the menu selections come from the restaurant's 48,000-acre Hill Country ranch.
RJ Mexican Cuisine: The West End is packed with tourist-trapping restaurants; this isn't one of them. Executive chef Ronald Von Hatten's menu here focuses on regional Mexican food, including gordita and queso fundido appetizers, with a little Tex-Mex thrown in to appease the natives.
Akard SushiYa: Local office workers congregate at the U-shaped sushi bar to enjoy a quiet meal prepared by the elderly sushi chef. Among the specialty rolls is the Tender Roll (tuna and crab meat wrapped in soy paper, then topped with salmon and masago). Bento boxes and entrees, such as tonkatsu, are also available.
Renaissance Tower: The office building's subterranean food court includes the moderately sized Renaissance Cafeteria, quick-service chains like Taco Bell and local favorites like Kuai Asian Fusion and Burguesa Burger.
St. Paul Original Italian Café: Greasy and thin-crust New York-style pizza slices and Italian-American entrees abound at this popular downtown restaurant about five feet from the train station's platform.
Stephan Pyles: This restaurant owned by the eponymous Dallas chef-deity who helped popularize contemporary Southwestern cuisine is kind of a big deal -- if you haven't already heard.
Pearl St. Draft Media Sports Lounge: This contemporary 4,000-square-foot plush temple to athletics boasts 21 high-definition televisions, videogame consoles, karaoke lounges, a small-plates menu and a dozen beers on draft. It's also loud.
650 North: In the new Dallas Marriott City Center hotel is a casual restaurant serving gussied up surf and turf, like Caribbean crab-coated tilapia main with a béchamel sauce and beef tenderloin with Burgundy-glazed onions with a la carte options. Deep Ellum Zini's Pizzeria: Three Lee Harvey Oswald posters with the words "Patriot," "Patsy" and "Pacify" loom over customers at this pizza shop in slowly resurrecting Deep Ellum. The 100 Pounder, with 100 pepperoni slices and one pound of mozzarella, is a big seller.
Anvil Pub: This self-proclaimed green restaurant has a green, greaseless kitchen, a beer selection that makes the geekiest of craft-beer geeks take notice and a menu filled with spins on classic pub grub in an environment reminiscent of an English public house.
Baylor University Medical Center All Good Café: Grandfatherly owner Mike Snider's Deep Ellum standby is decorated in a hodgepodge sort of way (check out the flock of origami birds hanging from the ceiling) and a popular brunch spot (the pancakes are worth the wait) with food that's been largely locally sourced. Live music takes over on the weekends.
It's a Grind: One the way to the train station, neighborhood residents can often be seen darting in out and of this café. The odd thing about It's a Grind is that it's a chain in an area filled with privately owned sleek and modern treasures, like Monica's Aca y Alla.
Fair Park pizzaLounge: Fair Park isn't just where fair-goers exit DART trains for the fried-food bonanza at the state fair. Neighborhood restaurants and bars, like this one, actually exist year-round here. pizzaLounge aspires to be a hip pie shop with gourmet pies in vegan and meat-lovers varieties, "Foodie Appetizers" like the cheese boards and specialty cocktails. The tin ceiling and dim lighting help.
The Meridian Room: In the Fair Park district there are more than hobos. There are bohos too, like those who frequent this classy-ish restaurant/bar with a diverse menu that includes traditional brunch options and not quite traditional pub grub, like a jalapeño soup, a tuna burger and a Guinness steak sandwich, along with a full bar. MLK Jr. Two Podners Bar-B-Que & Seafood: James Runnels and Fred Conwright, the "podners," have quite the little 'cue and soul empire in Dallas. From black-eyed peas, smoked meats of all kind and down-home daily specials, this Fair Park-area location is an alternative to the gut-busters at the fair.
Hatcher Brother Mans Bar BQ: While the ordinary smoked meat options are available, what sets apart Brother Man's is, to paraphrase BBQ blogger Daniel Vaughn, the opportunity to dine with images of black leaders like Obama, MLK and Janet Jackson's Super Bowl bare breast.
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Lawnview Pee Wee Katfish: This family-owned and operated establishment does one thing and does it proudly. That's right, catfish.
Lake June Taqueria La Union: It's not much, and the area isn't exactly for the genteel, but a taco shop doesn't have to be fancy to be welcoming. Step inside to see for yourself.
Divino's Pizza: Pleasant Grove residents come here (and get delivery too!) for the expected pie-shop options, from pizza and calzones to stromboli and noodle-and-sauce platters. It can be a welcome alternative to the many Latin American dining options.
Buckner Old Homestead Gourmet: While this business doesn't have a store-front commercial location, it is a neighborhood mom-and-pop operation selling packaged cooking mixes (Italian Meatloaf, Ranchero Chile, Tropical Chicken Salad), flavored peanut butters, among them jalapeño, of course, and amaretto, as well as prepared desserts, like parfait with fresh fruit.