...and Bottom Five Neighborhood Dives
Now it's my turn! Here are my Top 5 Neighborhood Pics (in no particular order) and Bottom 5 Neighborhood Pans. I determined my “neighborhood” to be Oak Lawn, Uptown and Knox St., and I used the same criteria set forth by FP: these are casual, drop-in spots – not fine dining. Enjoy!
p.s. I know I'm going to poke a few eyeballs with my pans, but feel free to leave me a comment and let me know how wrong I am!
C&S's Top 5 Neighborhood Favorites
Tio's Tortas (4015 Lemmon Avenue) These monsters are big on taste and, well, big-ness. Everyone I've introduced to Tio's has promptly developed their own jones. $5 to anyone who tries Nardo's Nightmare and gives their own review in 'Comments'. www.tiostortas.com
Mia's (4322 Lemmon Avenue) Mia's is straight-forward excellent Tex-Mex. No frills, no faux-kitch on the walls, no Facebook-aged waiters sporting pieces of flare. It's a family operation and I'd guess they use family recipes – they sure do taste like it. www.miastexmex.com
La Duni (Two Locations, both in my neighborhood: 4264 Oak Lawn Ave & 4620 McKinney Ave) Up until a few months ago, I would say, “I've heard that place is really good...” when La Duni would come up in conversation. Then, I ate there. I'm now a convert; the greatness of La Duni inspires evangelical devotion to spreading the word about their incredible Latin cuisine and pastries that will cause you to swear off that stale Starbucks case for good. The reward for a lifetime of preaching this gospel? When I die, I'll be baked into a Quatro Leches from La Duni. www.laduni.com
Green Papaya Vietnamese Bistro (3211 Oak Lawn Avenue, suite B) Great vietnamese food. The spring rolls and pho are some of the best I've ever tasted. FP loves the Canh Chu (Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup). There is little atmosphere to speak of, but I did see Don Henley picking up some take-out on a Sunday night. www.greenpapayarestaurants.com
Toy's Cafe (4422 Lemmon Avenue) All right, it's a dive and it sits in a questionable shopping center alongside a couple of shady businesses (see photo left; no, I can't vouch for "Donuts" or "Jessica Hair Salon"). Don't go there with someone you want to impress. Do go there if you want to sample their amazing corn cakes.
*Didn't add to list 'cause you should darn well
already know about them: Buli, Breadwinner's & Eatzi's
Sassy's Bottom 5 – Totally Overrated!
Primo's: What the ef is up with this glorified OTB? You wouldn't go there for the food, and you wouldn't go for the great service. You certainly wouldn't go if you actually wanted to sit on the patio. So why go at all? I have no clue...maybe you just picked up a new ironic screen-printed “vintage” t-shirt at Urban Outfitters and you just can't wait to show it off?
Hook, Line and Sinker: Used to be good, not so good anymore. What changed? I'm not sure, but it doesn't seem to be changing back anytime soon.
The Bronx: People love The Bronx, and I've had some nice meals here. More often than not, however, the food is lukewarm and bears little resemblance to menu descriptions. Dining rooms are often empty and eerily silent as well. The only redeeming quality is that the service is always excellent.
Cafe Brazil, Cedar Springs location: I'm disappointed in this outpost of Dallas' favorite indie coffee shop every time I decide to give it another try. Tables are cramped, food isn't good, coffee is weak (and I mean see-through!), and there are strange odors in several corners of the restaurant.
Chuy's: Once again, this is a favorite of many and I expect flack for panning it (feel free to comment), but I have to be honest. Not only has service been sub-par and “cold” wine and beer served lukewarm on my past few visits, but there were also some stomach-turning food faux-pas on display. Sticky, foamy white film floating atop bowl of salsa, anyone?