Mellow Mushroom and Grease Monky Burger Arrive on Arlington's Resurging Dining Scene

See, you have to understand. This has been a long time coming. Sure, Arlington has some fine entertainment venues, but the restaurants surrounding said venues are like the high fructose corn syrup of eateries -- okay in small quantities, but generally just cheap junk.

Think back: When was the last time you heard someone say, "Hey, let's go to Arlington tonight for dinner."

But slowly -- ever ... so ... slowly -- the middle child of the Metroplex is seeing some unique and fun concessions settle into the old part of the city. Obviously the sports stadiums have aided in this growth, but record enrollment at UTA is also a big factor.

Granted, there have always been a few mom-and-pop institutions scattered about, including Airways Burgers, Catfish Sam's and countless other Mexican joints. There's also a line of chains that hug I-20 further south, but that area is an annoying drive from Six Flags, the Ballpark or Cowboys Stadium.

Lately, though, the original town center of Arlington -- one mile southwest of Cowboy's stadium -- is being remade. Run-down buildings have been renovated and a few new ones have been built. Already established along Abrams Street are Babe's Chicken, Fuzzy's Taco Shop and The Flying Fish. A bit further west down the street, across from the UTA campus, a couple of ex-Marines opened Old School Pizza and Suds. The English-themed pub J.R. Bentley's has been around for years, but they've remolded a cool little outdoor area. Famous mostly for their Saint Patrick's Day party, J. Giligan's is right there in the middle of it all.

Two more restaurants are opening Labor Day weekend, including Mellow Mushroom at 200 N. Center Street. Originally out of Atlanta, Mellow is known for its extensive beer collection and stone-baked pizzas. But it also has hoagies, salads, a lava lamp chandelier and mood rings. The official opening is scheduled for Monday, September 5.

The Grease Monkey Burger Shop and Social Club at 200 N. Mesquite was a collaboration of a group of Arlington friends, and it's just a few paces down from Mellow. In addition to burgers, they have a large patio bar that will host live music, starting with The Panhandlers and Turnpike Troubadours on Friday.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.