The lowest form of lazy dining is Domino's delivery. We're not going that low. But it's summer. It's hot. Who feels like cooking? Summoning the strength to do something even as simple as microwaving a frozen dinner seems beyond our skills right now. And forget fine dining; for that, you'd have to change out of your shorts, and that is not happening. We're talking basic meals you might make yourself, if you weren't so lethargic. No judging. It's hot.
Here's our lazy summer edition of Where to Eat:
Back Country BBQ
Back Country has been doing standard barbecue — brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken, and even a chicken-fried steak — on Greenville Avenue since 1988. A cafeteria-style steam table and an unpretentious atmosphere make for a low-pressure dining experience. Probably no one will notice if you didn't get around to combing your hair. And there is nothing complicated or foodie about sides such as baked potato, fried okra, or cole slaw, which they chop nice and fine.
East Hampton Sandwich Co.
Dallas chain specializes in sandwiches, which are surely on anyone's short list of dishes that seem easy to assemble. All you need are slices of bread and something to put in between. But does that truly acknowledge the artistry involved in making a sandwich? Ask yourself this: Do you have on hand the chilled lobster meat (both knuckle and claw, if you're doing it right) they have at East Hampton? Do you have a light aioli and a butter-toasted roll? Thought so.
Amiable bar near Baylor has a laid-back atmosphere, pleasant staff, and a jukebox. It also has a kitchen that does pizza, brunch, and basics such as hummus, one of the world's most ubiquitous dishes these days. But Elbow Room has a hummus flavored with jalapeño and basil that's different from the rest. The basil gives it a freshness, and the jalapeño gives it zip. It's a little harsh up front, but then it hooks you in. It comes with pita bread that's toasted and cut into chips that are just the right size. They also have beer.
Mama's Daughter's Diner
This small chain, which recently opened a new branch in Forney, is one in a shrinking pool of home-cooking restaurants that specializes in the kind of food people make at home. Or should we say, used to make at home. It's rare to find home cooks whipping up dishes like meat loaf and baked chicken. Mama's also does breakfast all day and uncomplicated sides like mashed potatoes or corn. It's not hard to boil a potato, mash it, and add some salt and pepper. But why bother when Mama's has already done it for you?
Ming Place China Bistro
Ming is one of the few Chinese restaurants close to downtown instead of buried in the suburbs. Friendly service with a personal touch makes you feel at home, and there's a homey quality to the Americanized Chinese, as well, with specialties such as orange chicken and garlic eggplant. Chinese is Dallas' original healthy fast food, and Ming's chefs have a deft touch, particularly with the vegetables, which they do not overcook.
Pasta is one of the easiest things to make, especially if you do it the dumb way, i.e., boil package of pasta and toss on bottle of sauce. But Patrizio's is a smart alternative when you want a little more than that. Even on seemingly simple dishes such as angel hair with artichokes, there's a polish you couldn't duplicate. And unless your place is done up like a Martin Scorsese film set, you're not going to be able to surpass Patrizio's slinky atmosphere. With its low prices, it's almost as cheap as eating at home.
Stocks & Bondy
You could open a can of soup. That is always an option. Or you could go to Stocks & Bondy at the Dallas Farmers Market, a unique concept that sells stocks; bone broths; and meats that are ready to roll, such as pulled pork and shredded chicken. Half to-go spot, half gourmet grocery, they also have broths, a hot trend right now, along with fine cheeses, wines, and other essential building-block ingredients for a great meal.
Tacos are a solid no-brainer when you can't even think about where or what to eat. They're cheap, easy, and accessible. There are taquerias wherever you look. But Taco Grande on Lombardy Lane has some extra incentives. With every taco, you get a grilled jalapeño, as well as a little boiled potato drizzled with chile sauce. There are breakfast tacos and a beef fajita taco with onion, pepper, cilantro, and green chile sauce. There's also an adjacent car wash, and they offer notary and tax preparation service too.
It is said that great ramen relies on great stock, made by simmering many pounds of bones for hours and hours. There is also the kind of ramen where you boil the water, add the flavor packet, toss in the noodles, and let it sit for 30 seconds. No need to sink to that depth, not when you have places like Ten Ramen, the authentic shop at Sylvan Thirty from restaurateur Teiichi Sakurai. This week's special: sweet and spicy shrimp ramen with jalapeños, onion, and a poached egg.
Tom + Chee
Of all the sandwiches in the world, the grilled cheese has to be the easiest. How hard is it to put cheese between two slices of bread and toast the outside? And yet now we have entire restaurants devoted to this concoction. Ohio-based Tom + Chee, at Richardson's CityLine complex, has bread, cheese, and ingredients options if you want to design your own. That sounds like too much work. Go with one of their pre-set choices, such as the combo with mushrooms, onion, and Swiss cheese on pumpernickel rye.