From Tex Mex, California burger chains, roadhouse cuisine and the original church of bbq, my recent 4 day sojourn to Dallas was jam packed with tasty vittles.  Thanks to my Texas/Turkish family for all the great suggestions and imbibing in triple digit temps!

Tex-Mex is always the first stop on my food odyssey when I visit the big D.  This trip my niece suggested Gloria’s.  Founded by two Salvadoran Immigrants who took over a relative’s small restaurant in the Oak Cliff area, it now has morphed into 14 locations around the Dallas area.  The menu is classic tex-mex with Salvadoran specialties.  The margaritas are legendary and ceviche awesome!  Gloria’s is a well-oiled machine with excellent service and a corporate feel to the décor.  A great place to bring a large party and the prices are double-dip recession friendly.

Southern food, the ideal marriage of high and low brow is what Texas cuisine does best. Tillman’s Roadhouse in the Bishop’s Arts District is a temple of lone star grub.  This must be the food “Homesick Texan” is talking about.  The specialties of the house are Chicken Fried Steak and Venison Chili Frito Pie.  Locally sourced ingredients are used when possible and my heirloom tomato, arugula salad with blue corn grits was amazing…. The wine list is mostly new world and chosen well to complement the food.  Service was very attentive yet a bit too eager to clear our plates before everyone finished.

The décor is a combination of knotty pine, chandeliers and wooden carved taxidermy heads, recycled chic with an artist’s touch.  A back party room festooned with bare branches and stuffed pheasants backlight with a blue teal light is kitchy and festive.  The high/low theme is carried throughout the restaurant, I love this place!………..hee haw Tillman’s, I’ll be back for some frito pie!

The west coast burger chain IN-N-OUT has just arrived in Dallas and there happens to be one close to my nephew’s apartment minutes from the SMU campus.  Luckily the line was in a lull and we jumped right in to order.  IN-N-OUT is so cheap it’s hard to believe they use all natural ingredients.   A west coast privately owned chain since 1948, IN-N-OUT boasts no microwave, freezer or heat lamps.  Burgers are made to order and real ice cream opposed to soft serve is used in the shakes.  The burgers were the perfect small size with a thin patty, generous tomato, onion and lettuce with thousand island dressing. The fries were cooked at very high temperatures, very crisp and we all agreed a bit bland.  The décor harks back to early McDonalds, spare white, red and yellow with a 50’s classic speedy arrow logo.  As far as fast food burgers go Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack still gets my vote for its excellent ground beef brisket mixture, potato buns and creative soda fountain treats.  But IN-N-OUT is not re-inventing the formula, it is going for simple efficient, fresh food and I’ll definitely come back for a burger and shake……..

Last stop before catching my plane was the original Sonny Bryan’s BBQ in south Dallas.  A museum of BBQ and a step back to the days of the real “pop up” restaurant.   Almost twenty years ago we brought my newborn nephew here and ate bbq on the tree stumps outside.  The stumps are gone but the interior looks the same and my “baby” nephew is sitting next to me having a local brew and brisket sandwich as his father tells stories of how his father met him here during his lunch when he worked down the street at Mobile Oil.  In spite of the drought and the heat wave our appetites survived.  So long pardners….see you next trip!

Cheers!  Carlita