DFW Roundup (Mar-Jul 2012)

As promised yesterday, here's our feature on the rest of DFW outside of NE Tarrant. I spent much more time on the other side of the Great Divide (DFW airport) than usual in recent months. At telecom-company-everyone-has-heard-of, we have an office in Richardson that required my presence for a couple of weeks. Mainly to conduct training sessions and onboard new employees. I also had a rare opportunity to spend two different Saturday's with none other than Mr. Music, who lives up in the Corinth area. Like yesterday, we'll start with the most recent and work backwards. These are all places we have never written about in The RJG prior. Most are new to me. Month listed is last time visited.

RG Burgers & Grill. Denton (June). Any place that has a condiment sauce that includes Ghost chiles (naga bhut jolokia), sign me up! Though, as Mr. Music says "they never put enough on it". We're talking about the Ka-Ching burger, and I couldn't imagine ordering anything else. RG's are big fat juicy flavorful hamburgers. Lots of flat screens with sports to keep you entertained while there. I don't get to Denton much, but when I do, this would have to be considered a must stop. It appears to be highly rated at Urbanspoon, so they earned their stripes. Excellent place.

Al Markaz. Carrollton
(June). As stated probably a few times before, the RJG used to be a resident of Carrollton (1991-1993) as did Mr. Music, so when we get together we have a tendency to wander down to the "old neighborhood".  Except that we eat at places that never existed back then! Al Markaz is a combination grocery market and restaurant. It's counter service, but food is served at your table. The menu is meat heavy, and the dishes tend to be more Pakistani than Indian, though there's plenty of vegetarian dishes as well. Mr. Music informs us that the owners are from Nepal, so there's probably some influence in the cooking there as well. Ever since getting sick on Indian food back in 2000, the RJG tends to shy away from places like this. But slowly - very slowly apparently - my taste buds are beginning to appreciate what I once enjoyed throughout the late 1990s. And Al Markaz was very good. Mr. Music is a pretty adventurous eater, so in addition to minced beef and curried chicken,we also had goat biryani.  All were very good, and makes me want to try the other dishes on hand.

Mariano's. Arlington
(June). Mariano's has become our go-to place before Texas Rangers games. It's location is perfect just east of the Ballpark. And on this occasion I went over with my old Dallas neighborhood childhood buddy The Prowler. There are better Mexican restaurants in DFW, but Mariano's is no slouch and hold their own quite well against stiff competition. Their specialties are more geared toward Mexican interior cooking rather than Tex-Mex. They have the latter, but mainly to satisfy those who only want tacos y enchiladas. So I stick to what they do best: Elaborately prepared chicken, shrimp, steak, etc... They have good chips and salsa, and they have a hotter one if you ask (though it's not terribly spicy - unfortunately). According to the "museum" at the front of the restaurant, Mariano's invented the frozen margarita machine. Hey, you gotta give props for that!

Banana Leaf. Far North Dallas (May). Review moved here.

Palermo's. Argyle (April). A beautiful country drive up US 377 and over FM 407 is where the RJG's Mom took the wife and I out for our anniversary. Palermo's is a very nice Italian place with food similar to most "neighborhood" Italian restaurants in the DFW area (likely owned by the Balkan community that dominates Italian food in this region). Nothing exceptional, but they do have solid interpretations of tried and true entrees. Great setting in a nice shopping center in rural southern Denton county, just east of Argyle technically in the town of Bartonville.

Birrieria Aguinaga. Dallas
(April). One of Mr. Music's favorite places to eat is this out of the way place in the Hispanic area off of NW Hwy near Bachman Lake - not too far from where I grew up. Goat stew is more or less what a Birrieria specializes in. They also feature other staples of a Mexican taqueria. This place is pretty hardcore, but a must for fanatics of authentic Mexican street cooking. Mr. Music is very much that fanatic, and rates this place near the top. I always laugh when I see this part of Dallas labeled as "Preston Hollow" in Urbanspoon. Yep, right next to ole George W and Laura Bush! This area is a hardcore barrio. Someone needs to create a Bachman Lake neighborhood. Maybe I'll do it if I can figure it out.... (and I did try, so we'll see how it comes out).

Campisi's. Richardson (April). Review moved here

Texas Restaurant (aka Son of Texas). Richardson (April). Since So Cal Gal was in town for training, it was a good opportunity for her to meet one of our vendors that she'll be working with, and who treated us to a night at Texas Restaurant. It's an upscale eatery with focus on drinks, steaks and other local cuisines. Like an upscale Love and War in Texas. We all had a good time and yukked it up with the owner, a stately older gentleman. We all played cards at the table, which is one of their gimmicks. It was a harmless evening, and I couldn't imagine others not enjoying this place as all 5 of us enjoyed it immensely.The reviews on Urbanspoon tell a different story. Holy Cow - this place has some serious enemies. You can read the vitriol here. I wouldn't hesitate to go back though if invited.

Del's Charcoal Burgers. Richardson
(March). As introduced in the Casa Milagro thread, the Salt Lake City man was here for some cross training with The Garland Troublemaker and myself. I didn't really comment on his take on Casa Milagro. I was probably too teary eyed to notice. But without a doubt his favorite place was Del's. He loves old school 1950's styled burger houses (they seem to be popular in SLC), and this place was perfect. Homemade burgers on a grill that probably has flavors burnt in for decades, along with good fries and root beer in a frosty mug. All in an authentic setting in downtown Richardson. Really fantastic and compares favorably with NE Tarrant's own Clown Burger in Haltom City. It's a cramped spot, and is very popular, so you may want to get there early (or late) during the lunch hour. We lucked out and got the last table... SLC man still talks about this place on conference calls. We'll need to get him back out here!

Corky's Wood Fired Pizza. Arlington
(March). Corky's was a legendary pizza place from Hartford, Connecticut who eventually relocated to Arlington. Why to this sad shopping center in SW Arlington, who the heck knows? With a backstory like that, it would seem they could open near The Ballpark or Jerry's World and do a land office business. Well anyway, being a lover of East Coast pizza in general, and knowing and having experience that there's a difference between New England and New York styles, I was quite anxious to trying Corky's. So the Mrs. and I headed over one Saturday afternoon for... decent pizza. That's about all I can say. I didn't see God, my mouth didn't burst with exciting flavors. My local pizza guy here in NE Tarrant does better. Does that make it bad? No, of course not. It's very good in fact and I'm by no means a "hater" (I'm not one of those people in general). But I'm not driving all the way down there for something that is somewhat normal tasting IMO. The crust on these pizzas is crucial, and ours just didn't seem that special. Maybe it was just a bad day - the problem with only going once to a place. If you live in the area, consider yourself lucky. But otherwise, I'm missing what the big deal is. I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

Milano's. Ft. Worth (Seventh Avenue / Cultural District area)
(March). The weekend prior to Corky's, Mrs. RJG and I had to be in Ft. Worth for some sort of errand. Heck if I remember what it was. On the way there, we passed by Milano's and asked a local if it was good. A huge thumbs up was given and off we went. It was a rainy afternoon, and the place was cozy as could be. It didn't take long to realize the flavors were of the Balkan owned variety (see Palermo's and Gentri's above). As with all these places, the service is great and the food is very good. It's sort of variations on the same theme. I'm not going to complain about any of these places - and they're almost all very good. But I do long for something a bit different in the "neighborhood Italian" category. Like my all time favorite Pietro's. Or Prego's in Dallas. Are there any over in Tarrant County? We've been to a couple of unique restaurants like Mancuso's (White Settlement) and Oliva's (Keller/far north Ft. Worth) and it would appear Margie's is unique (but we haven't been). Any others? Not upscale "Northern Italian" places or "modern Tuscan", but more old school southern Italian is what I'm talking about. It's making me appreciate Macaroni Grill more and more...


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