Now that September is here and we have returned to our routines, our thoughts turn to our favorite "neighborhood eats" — restaurants that are beloved by the locals and in some way serve to represent their neighborhoods.
They don't have to be the best foodie experience — although sometimes they are, because that's just how the neighborhood rolls. They can be a hidden find, a Sunday brunch destination, or the go-to spot when you just don't feel like cooking.
In some way, all of these restaurants say something about the neighborhood they're in.
We've included neighborhoods from all around Dallas, from Carrollton to South Dallas, covering the widest swath to find the candidates that fit best. And over the next few weeks, we'll continue our exploration by focusing in on Dallas' neighborhoods, to spotlight those that offer the newest, up-and-coming scenes.
For now, here's our list of 10 neighborhood restaurant favorites.
Urban Crust in old downtown Plano. The excellent Jorg's Cafe Vienna has been there longer. Kelly's Eastside draws with its post-hangover Sunday brunch. But Urban Crust is the one that gave 15th Street its nudge from a row of dusty antique shops towards groovy entertainment district. Excellent pizzas and interesting wines by the glass are worth the wait.
Marcus Cafe in Richardson. Located in the II Creeks center, a strip center that's buried in a highly residential area, Marcus Cafe is treasured by locals as a "best kept secret" kind of place. Owner Thierry Senioris took the reins two years ago. His heritage is French, but he's built a following for dependable Italian and American meat-and-potato dishes prepared with panache.
Omi Korean Grill & Bar in Carrollton. Omi is one of dozens of restaurants in the Korean mega-center at Denton Road and George Bush Turnpike — but it's the only one serving all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue for $19. Endless ribs, beef, chicken, pork and tongue, plus tofu soup and eggs, make up for the clipped service. Because people just want to stuff their face with meat.
Empa Mundo in Irving. No matter where it were located, Empa Mundo would be a neighborhood favorite. Never mind that it's a small spot with only a few tables and a nothing-fancy atmosphere; who wouldn't love a place they could walk to that's dedicated to empanadas? Options are savory, filled with ground beef, chicken with olives and raisins, or spinach ricotta; and sweet, filled with guava and cheese.
Sweet Georgia Brown in South Central Dallas. SGB does a combination of soul food and barbecue — be it fried catfish or a bountiful three-meat plate with brisket, ribs and sausage; choice of two sides; and corn muffins. "Collard greens to die for," says anyone who ever eats here. Located in Fruitdale, a farming community that was annexed by the city in 1964.
Dixie House in Lakewood. This home-cooking restaurant clings to life as one of the last of a chain, a proud stalwart in the center of a neighborhood where pride is its very lifeblood. The Lakewood landscape is slowly changing, making it all the more a treat to get a plate of pot roast with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn muffins and soft wheat rolls, same as it always was.
Shojimoto in Arlington. Every day, Shojimoto sells its excellent ice cream and the shaved-ice treat known as halo halo. But on Friday and Saturday, out comes the authentic, better-than-mom Filipino food. It's a different lineup every week: hearty casseroles with meats and vegetables, plus white rice on the side. In an area rife with multiple cuisines, Shojimoto is a beacon.
Highland Park Cafeteria in Casa Linda. HP Cafeteria comes with a nearly century-old history that included a move from the actual Highland Park to Casa Linda, where it was welcomed as one of its own. That ardency is something to mull as you decide between Waldorf salad, baked tilapia, broccoli casserole, mac and cheese, and pies — beautiful pies.
Tolbert's in Grapevine. Home to the famous "Bowl of Red" chili, Tolbert's has been a Dallas institution for nearly 30 years. But it took the quaint atmosphere of historic Grapevine to make Tolbert's finally settle down. Get the Frito pie topped with the signature chili, spicy and dark red.
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. Luxury hotel in funky Oak Lawn is an internationally known destination, not just some puny spot on a best-neighborhood-restaurants list. But the grand dame has unpinned her hair, with wine chats and a patio with a fun, casual vibe. Chef Bruno Davaillon now offers a vegetarian tasting menu with crisp fried okra, salad with watermelon radish, and browned gnocchi with baby vegetables. People walk on the once-imposing lawn.