frank. (Underground) Dinner, Dallas, 7/29/18

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art

frank. is an underground dinner party whose catch phrase is “food, to the point.”  You submit your interest in attending via their website <https://frankunderground.com&gt; and then 20 attendees were chosen by lottery ( or possibly by one of the cute dogs named Frank).  Chefs Jennie Kelley and Ben Starr met at the MasterChef competition when they were finalists and later Jennie came up with the idea of hosting private, or underground, dinner parties where all would sit around one table and enjoy a meal of the freshest and finest local ingredients they could source and recruited Ben to help her bring the idea to reality. The concept has flourished over many years and now it make take some time to have your name drawn to participate.  However, you can also watch their Facebook page where they post opening from last minute cancellations.  It was a multi course meal that included generous alcoholic beverages, amuse bouche and lots of food talk. It took about three hours.  After being accepted they will email a menu and location of the dinner which is generally close to downtown.   Continue reading

The Charles, Dallas, 6/12/18

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exterior

The Charles had just been open 5 weeks when we visited.  It is a good sized place with their own parking lot and a valet.  The room is divided by a low wall with a variety of dining table options on both sides.  Some are booth seating and the table sizes and materials (stone, metal, wood)  vary.  The ones in the middle of the room have clothes but others don’t and are reasonably close together.  One side of the room is a long bar that also has some stools but across from it are dining tables.  At the end of the room is the open portion of the kitchen.  There is music in the background but the noise in the room is from the people that packed the place while we were there.  Service is helpful, friendly and efficient.  The menu is set up with sections of dining options and most plates are made to be shared.  The food is really tasty and nicely packed with flavor.  I give this place 2 thumbs up.  Continue reading

Fachini, Dallas, 5/17/18

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exterior

Fachini is a large second floor place in an upscale shopping village. I would advise using the valet parker near the entrance as parking in the u shaped lot is a nightmare.  There didn’t seem to be a charge for this service.  As you enter you find yourself in a good sized well lit bar area with the dining room across the long hallway.  On the way in you pass by the wood fired oven and grill where the chef had the fire stoked to a red flame.  The room is finished to resemble places of times past with a tin ceiling, tile floor, lowered lighting and formally dressed male waitstaff.  White table clothes and napkins are set at each of the widely spaced large tables or booth seats.  Large photos cover one wall and part of one wall is a glassed in wine area.  The guests are a range of ages and fairly casual.  Service is efficient, friendly and helpful and there is a significant noise level to deal with.   Continue reading

Urban Vines, Dallas, 4/5 and 5/25/18

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building

Urban Vines is a large place in East Dallas.  They are open for lunch and dinner and offer snacks if you just want a place to drink some wine.  You enter through a patio with a large fireplace and plenty of outdoor seating into bar area that adjoins the dining area.  Some bench seating, regular tables and high top tables are available.  Tables are bare wood but cloth napkins are part of the set up.  The walls display art, some of which is for sale.  Different days offer specials and Thursday is half price wine by the glass. Two of the walls have large windows letting in some natural light in the daytime but in the evening the lighting is fairly low.  The menu offers sandwiches, flatbreads and a few bigger dishes.  Frankie and I visited a couple times to try some of the options.  It is a casual place with friendly and helpful servers and while the food is not outstanding it is a perfectly adequate place to meet with friends over wine and food. Continue reading

Purepecha Room in the Revolver Taco Lounge, Dallas, 3/7/18

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building

The Purepecha Room is a small room for about 14 in the back of Revolver Taco Lounge.  Opened in April 2017 it is run by Chef Regino Rojas who was a 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalist.  It is meant to resemble his mother’s kitchen and recipes he ate growing up.  Indeed, his mother, Juanita Rojas, is in the kitchen still helping as is his aunt and I understand his father was helping inside the kitchen.  This is a family operation and it feels like that as you sit in the cozy room with dishes that feel like your grandmothers and the chef cooking close enough you really feel like you’re in his dining room.  A totally different ambiance than in the noisy, casual front Taco Lounge.  They offer a tasting menu only and there is no printed menu, however you can let them know about allergies.  Service is efficient, friendly and paced on the quicker end of  the continuum.   Continue reading

The Mitchell, Dallas, 3/3/18

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exterior

The Mitchell is located in downtown Dallas.  It has the feel of a bar with tables rather than the reverse.  I had read another person’s glowing write up of this more casual French place that would be a good option to the more formal ones newly ‘opened’ and recently written up here.  Unfortunately when we got there the chef in the write up was gone and another had assumed his duties and changes had been made to the menu.  Not sure these were good changes.  The place has elegant chandeliers and a silent TV boxed in by the giant bar.  They are short on wine selections but have about any liquor you’re looking for.  Tables are small dark wood and seating is upholstered black chairs and a curving black banquette.  There are also a number of seats at the bar.  Service was friendly and efficient but I might have preferred if they’d spaced the serving of the dishes due to the size of the tables.   Continue reading

Bullion, Dallas, 1/30/18

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exterior

Bullion is a very stylish and large place on the second floor of a high-rise downtown building. The restaurant, created by Chef Bruno Davaillon, juts out as a gold rectangle protruding from the second floor, which he calls a French brasserie.  Shiny lacquered tables are outfitted with lots of banquette seating, except for the center tables, and are fairly close together. You enter on the ground level and first notice a two story art piece that looks like giant glass beads. Upstairs there is a large lounge area where you are invited to stop and have cocktails before dinner. The bar is adjacent to the dining room which provided background noise but not so much that you couldn’t easily talk at the table.   Continue reading

La Victoria, Dallas, 11/2017 and 1/30/18

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building

La Victoria is a small place that looks like it was once a drive-in burger joint.  However when you get inside it’s light and airy with a number of stools at a counter and a half dozen large bare wood tables.  Many windows let in lots of natural light, which matters as they are only open for breakfast and lunch.  Service is friendly and helpful.  For example, when I was there for lunch the waitress suggested we order the half size rather than the whole one because it’d be too much, and she was right.  Food is not your standard Tex-Mex and chips are not automatically on the table, but they are on the menu if you want some.   The spiciness of the sauce varies but they also have an un-spicy variety that is available upon request.  There is a quality to their food that I find appealing, it’s simple but honest and the owner is often in the kitchen cooking when she’s not out on a catering job. Continue reading

Hello Dumpling, Dallas, 1/24/18

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building

Hello Dumpling is in a shopping center near several other casual restaurants.  It is a moderate size place with a counter where you place your order, pay and then put a number in the stand on your table. They feature Chinese dumplings and noodles made on site.  There is a good selection of stuffings but a similarity to the tastes.  The main  difference I found was in the method of preparation.   They also offer sides that provide a vegetable or texture to your meal.  One last option is their bubble tea but I didn’t try it nor did I get the hot bites skewers that sound pretty good.  The workers are friendly and helpful and they have souvenirs for sale.  Service is quick and so it could make an ideal lunch spot if you are on a time frame. Continue reading

The French Room, Dallas, 1/12/18

entrance through hotel
entrance through hotel

The French Room, in the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, just finished being restored to its original finish and re-opened in October 2017 after being closed 14 months.  Gilded chandeliers and arches now preside over the high ceiling that used to house clouds and cherubs.  It is a nice, elegant new look but it’s formality is not matched by the shortened tablecloths draped over metal pedestal tables.   The previously red upholstered chairs are now white to go with the walls and lightened interior.  A couple of the side windows have been popped out to put in a bench seat that looks out toward the restaurant.  Carts are still used to deliver your food but the silver domes are missing and the carts are ridiculously short for anybody over 5 feet to push around.  The  partially partitioned smaller room is still there but was unoccupied the evening we were there and yet fairly brightly lit, which I found to be a distraction to those in the main dining room which has pretty low lighting.   Continue reading

The Parlor on Commerce, Dallas, 1/2/18

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exterior

The Parlor on Commerce is a good sized bar in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas with food as well as drinks.  They’ve been open 13 months and the wine list is limited but they have a good supply of beers and hard liquors.  The kitchen also turns out some pretty tasty food to go for or to snack on while drinking.  The folks at the bar, bartender and guests, are super friendly and the place does have lots of counter seats as well as a number of tables.  The finish out of the interior has lots of interesting objects around as well as art.  The owner, Seth Byars, is a Star Wars buff so watch for some articles from that theme.  Also check out the boxcar flooring that was made into the bar counter and the basketball flooring that is now the bar’s flooring.   Continue reading

Sachet, Dallas, 12/10/17

exteriorSachet is a large place opened a couple months ago by the owners of Gemma (Frankie visited in June and July of 2016), where the food is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine.  About a third of the space is for the bar and the seating around it.  An open kitchen fills one end of the restaurant and a large clear cube containing wines is a focal point in the dining room.. With lots of hard surfaces the noise level is significant but tables are placed a nice distance apart to give you some ability to talk once the place fills.  The menu starts with “meze” plates which are priced in groups of 3 or 5.  They are small plates meant to be shared by the table.  Pastas are in serving sizes like appetizers but can be turned into a main plate for an upcharge.  Service is efficient and friendly and tables are turned throughout the evening.   Continue reading

Here, Dallas, 11/4/17

neon sign
neon sign

Here is a good sized, very stylish bar and restaurant.  The small, closely set tables are in the middle of the lowly lit room.  Around the edges are cozy round booths that match the elegant large arc shaped bar.  Comfy chairs and bar seats finish out this amazing looking space that is located in a very non-descript strip shopping center.  The menu offers a range of small plates and larger ones but the beverage service is mostly liquor.  Portions run on the large side, so be prepared to split even the small plates.  A good selection of beers is available but the wine list is very small (one thing that would really improve this place). Continue reading

The Cock and Bull Neighborhood Pub, Dallas, 9/7/17

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exterior

Cock and Bull has been in the Lakewood area for many years and has gone through several owners.  It is a neighborhood bar but also serves non-bar food in the evenings and for weekend brunch.  Prices on the menu are very reasonable and they also offer a few nightly specials, two of which on the night we were there, were beef tenderloin preparations for $32 – so it could become a more moderately priced option.  They have a full bar but limited wines however on Wednesday night wines by the glass are 1/2 price and that makes them quite a deal.  Tables are set with nothing but lists of wine and cocktails and the flatware comes wrapped in 2 paper napkins.  Music plays in the background but the noise level was not bad however there were also lots of empty tables.  Service by the bartender was friendly, efficient and she was also willing to help with choosing menu items. Continue reading

FT33, Dallas, 8/18/17

Frankie posed on the sign out front
Frankie posed on the sign out front

This is the second  official Frankie visit to FT33 and the restaurant has made a few more changes to the place.  It’s still the same large dining room with 4 counter seats across from the kitchen , a good sized bar area and located in the Design District.  Now valet parking is a must if you want to park in the lot adjacent to the restaurant since several others places have opened that share the same lot.  Self parking is available if you’re willing to walk down to the next lot.  Now they not only stress locally sourced ingredients but exclusively use them.  If not fresh and in season they may be pickled or otherwise preserved and flavor is the focus of the meal.  They have an inventive cocktail menu and a well chosen wine list.  Food is offered in a daily a la carte menu but now they offer a $65 4-course menu with about 4 choices for each course.   Continue reading

Mirador, Dallas, 2/11/17

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entrance

Mirador is on the top floor of the new 4-story building housing the  ‘Forty Five Ten’ store in downtown Dallas.  They have been serving lunch since January and are starting offering dinner on Friday and Saturday the weekend before we tried it.  Josh Sutcliff is Executive Chef and Junior Borges collaborates with him as Executive Chef of the Joule Hotel(which operates the dining room).  It is a large room with two side of windows looking out over downtown.  There is a balcony on the other side of the windows if you choose to dine with a closer look at the buildings and downtown activity.  The indoor seating is with tables using banquette and chair seating options.   Continue reading

Town Hearth, Dallas, 2/2/17 & 2/10/17

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building

Town Hearth is the newest addition to the restaurants run by Nick Badovinus.  This one is more upscale but large and filled with decorations like his other places.  When you enter a small private party room is to one side and the large bar with some dining tables is right in front of you.  The chandeliers start here and carry on into the main large dining room.  They give nice light and a real glitter to the ceiling, as well as being quite striking. You also can’t help but notice a mini yellow submarine immersed in an aquarium filled with fish – it separates the bar and dining room. Don’t miss the car that sits right in front of the large open kitchen, it’s lower to the ground.   Continue reading

Lakewood Landing, An Upscale Dive, Dallas, 1/1/17

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Lakewood Landing has been around a long time – I can’t seem to find out how long – but a while to be sure. The exterior is non-descript with a newish wooden patio facing the street that was added when the smoking ban happened and an iconic sign advertising their contradictory status of  being both “upscale” and a “dive”.  Inside is a long bar separated from the tables by a wooden railing, a separate room with couch and pool table, and the dining room with a few well used booths and standing tables.   Continue reading

20 Feet, Dallas, 11/25/16

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Marc Cassel of Green Room fame started 20 Feet a few years ago and it hasn’t changed much since then. In a strip shopping center, next to a beer-burger joint, it serves a limited menu for lunch and dinner. It is a reasonably large dining room and they have added a plastic enclosed patio with additional dining. I spied A/C and heating units to make it usable year-round.  The mussels from his Green Room days are on the menu but most talk was about their fried fish so that’s what we tried.  It’s a restaurant where you line up at the counter, place your order, pay and then take a number to your table.  They bring your food out to you. There is a large supply of condiments for you to use as well a pitchers of water and tea for refills, however they were nice enough to come around and refill our glasses.   Continue reading

Montlake Cut, Dallas, 11/5/16

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Exterior

Montlake Cut is a Nick Badovinus concept restaurant specializing in Pacific Northwest foods.  It is medium sized with fairly close tables and bar seating which seemed to be for walk-in guests.  The decor is nautical with bench seating that reminds you of seating on a boat and various boating signs, etc used as decorations. There is also a large aquarium toward the back bar. Service is helpful but staff are stretched so order while you can. In their defense, the night we went they called to see if they could move up our reservation by an hour as somehow they had gotten overbooked, which may have attributed to server overload.   Continue reading

Barbec’s Restaurant, Dallas, 9/27/16

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Barbec’s has been around as long as I can remember. Located in an old Howard Johnson’s building it serves large, cheap portions of southern style food.  The service is efficient but sometimes you’ll have to ask for something rather than a waitress noticing and asking. They seem to be best known for their beer biscuits which are better at breakfast than at lunch, when they’ve been out of the oven for awhile. They offer a large menu and well priced specials for breakfast and lunch, but it is a cash only business. With the lunch specials there is a huge choice of sides to go with your entree, of which you’ll see a preponderance of chicken fried steak. Continue reading

John’s Cafe, 9/16 & 10/8/16, Dallas,

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Exterior

John’s Cafe dates back to the early 1970’s when it was further north on Greenville. Various lease and sign issues forced them to move slightly northeast for a couple years but then they found a new location on lower Greenville.  It is the same breakfast and lunch place with slightly more seating.  There is a lunch special everyday but John Spyropoulos seems to be mostly popular for his breakfast special, $6.99 for your choice of 2 eggs, choice of bacon, ham or sausage and hash browns and toast or biscuits.  He makes a number of tasty omelets, the Gyro being a favorite. Continue reading

Dugg Burger, Dallas, 9/16/16

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exterior

Dugg Burger is in the Casa Linda shopping center offering a limited menu with a basic concept – the top portion of the burger bun is hollowed out to make room for the many toppings.  All of the toppings are included in the price and you pick which you want while your burger is being made to order.  Toppings start with your choice of cheese (American, cheddar or pepper jack) and then include mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, sautéed onions, fried onions, pineapple, peppers and various sauces.  The topping offerings vary so your only choices are if you want an extra patty on the burger, fries, beverage. Continue reading

House of Gyros, 7/5 & 10/14/16, Mesquite

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Building

House of Gyros is a small family run operation in an eastern suburb of Dallas.  They are attempting to open a second location so sometimes the Greek husband, who is the chef, is not there. He has trained some new folks but when he is there the magic is in the food. His wife, who is actually Italian, runs the front of the operation and she is as wonderfully friendly her husband.  They do lots of take out orders and can get a good crowd at lunch. The plates are generous and every time I’ve been there they bring out complimentary loukoumades, or Greek honey puffs, for dessert.  It’s an unhandy location but worth the drive if you have a craving for Gyros. Continue reading

The Heights, Dallas, 5/16/16 – 9/3/16

Exterior
Exterior

The Heights in Lakewood has been open about a year and serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.  I’ve been for lunch several times and have enjoyed the food and friendly service;  during two visits at dinner both had great service  but the food was terrific once  and flawed the other. I believe the good meal is more indicative of their product but can’t omit it in all honesty. The restaurant offers a full bar but a very limited  wine list.   Continue reading

Sprezza, Dallas, 8/22/16

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Building

Sprezza is a large place that has been open since the end of April. It got lots of hype due to chef Julian Barsotti being the man behind the food, as he has been responsible for well regarded Nonna.  However if this is how he imagines the food of Rome to taste, he needs to visit there again. Overall it left a non-impression, as the flavors were mild in everything except the nice spicy pepper to sprinkle on your pizza. Portions are small and meant for sharing which makes it nice to have lots of bites of different things. Continue reading

The Grape, Dallas, 8/6/16

Exterior
Exterior

The Grape has been in business since 1972 with the current owners Brian and Courtney Luscher taking over in 2007. Brian is the chef and Courtney is the manager and sommelier. The business has grown enough that couple is not always in house but Chef Sarah Snow runs the kitchen directed by Brian’s culinary vision. It has a medium sized main room, a smaller added on room in the back, a good sized bar and a plastic enclosed porch for street side dining. The menu has a selection of standards that are always available, some in half portions as well as monthly specials.  Many of the standards are very nice but I like the seasonly adjusted new options that are available. Continue reading

Mis Cazuelas, Dallas, 6/28/16 & 8/2/16

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building

Mis Cazuelas is a really small place of about 5 tables and a counter. There is another larger version further down the street but this cozy location is way better food even though it offers a more limited menu (not everything on the large menu is available at this smaller, original location). Their lunch food is fine but it’s the breakfast (served anytime) that’s my favorite there. It is a cash only place and little English is spoken, but you can get by with pointing at the menu. The kitchen is behind the bar seats and the constant patting that is the background sound is the lady making fresh corn and flour tortillas, as well as the thicker ones for gorditas. It feels a  lot like eating in your grandmother’s kitchen. Continue reading

El Taquito, Dallas, 6/29/16 & 7/25/16

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building

El Taquito is located in a run down strip shopping center in East Dallas. It is old style Tex-Mex and is cash only.  They have a nice crispy chip and a good heat to their hot sauce, which is green rather than the usual red.  It is a taste that really grows on you and is good on most of the food. While they offer a large menu throughout the day, my favorite is to go for their lunch specials that are only &6.50, including iced tea.  It’s a great deal for a good flavor punch at a very reasonable price. Continue reading

Gonzalez Restaurant, Dallas, 6/15/16, 7/15/16 & 7/29/16

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entrance

Gonzalez has 2 locations, this is from the one on Jefferson in Oak Cliff. It is a good sized place but not big enough to avoid lines on prime times. They also do a healthy take out business.  It is made up of 2 rooms with a small waiting area in the entry room. There are TVs going of past or current sporting events but the sound is down so the Mexican music can be heard. It is a lively buzz. It’s one of my favorite spots in Dallas and we go often. Continue reading