Nine Hidden (Literally) Bars and Restaurants in Dallas
During Hidden Gems Week, Observer’s food and drink writers celebrate a plethora of different, delicious restaurants and bars in the Dallas area, places not often (or never) mentioned by major food media outlets, trendsetters, bloggers or chefs will. We take you out of the ordinary to help you discover something new.
An Indian supermarket. A garden center. A pedestrian bridge. The back of a bazaar. Lots and lots of gas stations.
There are many hidden gem restaurants in Dallas, and some of them take the word “hidden” literally. We are talking about places without a sign in front of the door, unmarked restaurants in other buildings and restaurants that are only visited by connoisseurs.
Here are nine restaurants that are literally hidden in or behind other businesses on Metro Dallas.
Rajwadis Samosa Sandwich
Rajwadi Vegetarian Indian Fast Food
9400 N. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 114, Irving. 972-444-0033. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
In an Indian supermarket at Valley Ranch is Rajwadi, a small counter and seating area that specializes in chaat: vegetarian Indian street snacks. Try a samosa sandwich, a mashed samosa served in a burger bun, or a vegetarian burger made with a pie made of sweet potatoes, roasted peanuts, pomegranate seeds, and curry spices. Our favorite snack might be Sabudana Vada, fried mashed potatoes, tapioca pearls, and coriander. A filling meal at Rajwadi shouldn’t cost more than $ 5.
The North Haven Gardens café serves vegetarian BLT made from locally grown tomatoes with a sweet glass of flowery tea.
The Cafe in North Haven Gardens
North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northaven Road. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you’ve ever gone to North Haven Gardens to buy succulents, a bag of heirloom tomato seeds, and a new pair of gardening gloves, you’ve likely seen the red sign that says “CAFE” outside. If you haven’t been to this mega-kindergarten, you may not even know that there is a restaurant here. But the cafe in North Haven Gardens serves a garden-friendly menu of salads, vegetables, cheese, and sandwiches, like a BLT made from beautifully ripe, locally grown tomatoes. It’s a relaxing break before deciding exactly which rose bush you want.
Egg-potato-taco, chorizo-taco and barbacoa-taco: three of the great offers from El Tacaso in a mobile station on Harry Hines.
10025 Harry Hines Blvd. Always open.
Some of the best gas station tacos in Dallas are on the corner of Harry Hines and Northwest Highway, and El Tacaso, tucked away in the mobile station on the corner, serves up some elite-level tacos. You come out of a room the size of a walk-in closet where the taqueras (almost always women) are making breakfast tacos and a selection of specialties for $ 1.50 each. The breakfast tacos are good, but we were blown away by the barbacoa, as tasty and overwhelming as in town.
Covington and Victoria Doan own stupid good coffee.
Stupid good coffee
1910 Pacific Ave., Suite 2060. Open Monday through Thursday 7 am to 5 pm and Friday 7 am to 4 pm.
How to find stupid good coffee: Walk down Elm Street between St. Paul and Harwood and look. This cafe is hidden in the skybridge, a treat for pedestrians working their way from one skyscraper to the next. Stupid Good offers roasts from Oak Cliff, an off-menu latte named after the Rolling Stones, and sometimes tacos from Taco Deli. What more could a skybridge need?
Nollowa is a Korean bar serving snacks like fried squid.
Nollowa bar and grill
Nollowa Bar and Grill, 2560 Royal Lane, No. 102. Open every day from 6pm to 2am.
This is kind of an old school pub where the game is always on, fried food is always available, every beer is bottled, and every customer seems to be looking for their next late night companion. Occasionally, Dallas Code compliance also seems to have forgotten about Nollowa Bar and Grill. On two Observer visits, customers sat at the bar and smoked cigarettes. Only one thing sets Nollowa apart: it’s Korean in the old Korean town of Dallas, which means the unhealthy snacks in the bar include things like fried squid, chicken feet, and seafood ramen. It’s an experience like no other in Dallas.
La Fonda de Don Chuy serves shredded meat and slices with cheese tacos.
La Fonda de Don Chuy
1120 S. Westmoreland Road. Open Monday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Everyone can find good tacos at a gas station. But can you find good tacos at your local supermarket? At Supermercado Monterrey on Westmoreland Road, the answer is usually yes. La Fonda de Don Chuy, tucked away in the front left corner of the shop, specializes in guisados, or tacos, made with steamed meat, sometimes on the bone. The quality can be a bit irregular, depending on what is freshly prepared. However, if you look carefully at the meat on offer you should be able to find something that looks nice, like the pork in salsa verde or the carne deshebrada (pulled beef).
Iraqi kebabs are skewered and can be ordered from the World Food Warehouse.
World food warehouse
13434 Floyd Circle. Open Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The kebab counter closes 15 to 20 minutes earlier.
This grocery store in an industrial warehouse sells everything from 18-inch wide naan to large watermelon seeds. But there is also a sandwich counter that serves kebabs and doner kebabs. Cooked on mighty skewers, the Iraqi kebabs are grilled to order on open coals and then stuffed into a $ 3.49 pita sandwich, coated with rice, or, if you’re feeling carnivorous, simply served on a skewer. The sandwich is a great portable meal because the mix of spices in the meat adds some heady flavors in addition to the firm taste.
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Clockwise from top left: Chicken Tostada, Cuban Cake, Leg Toast, Sliced Tongue Tacos, Al Pastor Tacos, Choriquesos, Baking Tacos, and Fajita Tacos
The green taqueria sauce
Four locations in Dallas and Plano
Some of the best tacos in Dallas can be found at La Salsa Verde, a small chain with two locations in gas station convenience stores and one behind a check cashing office. (The fourth and newest location is not hidden at all, but proudly located on the Northwest Highway.) What to order? Pretty much everything: tacos de cabeza, tacos de moronga (blood sausage), quesadillas, tacos with steamed pork skins. The cachete taco (beef cheek) is probably the best food for $ 1.29 in Dallas.
Fonda My Tlapehuala is at the end of this hallway in Plaza Del Sol and around the corner on the left. This picture also shows the emptiness in our hearts when we couldn’t eat in Fonda My Tlapehuala.
Fonda my tlapehuala
8282 Spring Valley Rd. # 250. hours mysterious
OK, we admit defeat: Fonda My Tlapehuala is so well hidden that we couldn’t eat there. There was supposed to be a Hidden Gems Week feature about the antojitos on that market stall, but the kitchen closed more than an hour early on three Observer visits attempted. If you try to leave, Fonda My Tlapehuala is in the back hall of the Plaza Del Sol Bazaar to the right of a hair salon. There are daily specials such as Thursday Pozole, as well as a menu with stews from pork in salsa verde to huilotes (wild pigeon). And if you manage to dine here, will you let us know how it is?
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Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer’s food critic since spring 2016. He also writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for Observer and MusicWeb International.