Cheap Bastard

Review: Top's Cafe

Flat screen TV count: 1

Friendly behind-the-counter lady: 1

So, I was at the Dallas Central Library, totally engrossed in Jewel's A Night Without Armor (an oldie, but a goodie) when I smelled the smell of fried wonderfulness for less than 10 bucks. It was grease without that nasty whiff of Polo. Just good, old-fashioned vat o' yummy. I followed the heavenly aroma across the street and found its origin: the neon sign outside the restaurant said Top's Café, and my insides said, "Yes, please."

Before you walk in, you can read the menu they've posted in the window. Or you can read the chalkboard that has the special of the day on it. The menu offers cheeseburgers, yellow curry and everything fried in between.

I got a hot tip that the fried cod and hush puppies at this place were fandamntastic, so I ordered the two-cod, two-shrimp combo (that comes with coleslaw, hush puppies and fries) and I got a drink and still only spent like five bucks and change. You can pay with cash or plastic, which is nice, but there is a $4 minimum for plastic transactions. That wouldn't be a problem at most places, but at Top's, there are so many things under $4 that you probably have to pay a little attention to keep your order over that minimum.

As I waited at a table for my food to arrive, I spent a few more minutes drooling over the menu. After reading the descriptions of the curries they offer, I immediately decided that I'm gonna have to come back to this place to test out the Thai food. For weeks, I've been looking all over Dallas for a Thai restaurant that's tasty for less than 10 bucks, and I've been coming up short. So, right now let's be clear about this visit: It's part one of two.

OK, so here's the skinny on the fatty food: The cod wasn't overdone, the shrimp was delicious, the fries were fries, the coleslaw was gross (but I hate coleslaw so that probably means it's really good to someone who thinks cabbage plus wetness is tasty), and the hush puppies—oh my God. The hush puppies were tube-shaped. They were hush sticks. Hush logs. Hush dogs, even. They were so much easier to dip in ketchup than the regular hush balls are. I'm so glad Top's invented them. Pulitzer should invent an award for that. Delish.

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Alice Laussade writes about food, kids, music, and anything else she finds to be completely ridiculous. She created and hosts the Dallas event, Meat Fight, which is a barbecue competition and fundraiser that benefits the National MS Society. Last year, the event raised $100,000 for people living with MS, and 750 people could be seen shoving sausage links into their faces. And one time, she won a James Beard Award for Humor in Writing. That was pretty cool.
Contact: Alice Laussade