My idea of a thrilling urban adventure is stumbling across an authentic ethnic restaurant smack in the middle of mainstream Dallas.

So naturally, my adrenaline started pumping when I discovered that Henk’s European Deli and Black Forest Bakery runs a homey café serving traditional German, Dutch and Hungarian dishes. The family-run restaurant is owned by Henk Winnubst, a native of Holland, who boasts 50 years of deli experience.

Hidden behind the old SportsTown building, off Northwest Highway, Henk’s has no drive-by traffic – a death sentence for most restaurants. But the packed parking lot and crowded dining room prove that when there’s good ethnic food, devotees will find you.

Although Henk’s drawing card is the cuisine, its appeal goes well beyond food. The restaurant manages to ooze charm even with a no-frills décor. Chalk it up to the convivial atmosphere you’d expect from a neighborhood hang-out in some European village.

Between Henk’s friendliness, a big crowd of regulars chatting away (many Europeans) and the live German music, a warm ambiance unfolds. Pilsner glasses, beer steins and imported beers dot the walls along with Dutch soccer club photos and memorabilia.

A recent Friday night dinner at Henk’s proved memorable. Daunted by the beer selection (which includes more than 36 imported beers), we asked our waitress for a recommendation.

She steered us to a light German beer, the perfect accompaniment to an outstanding sausage sampler appetizer ($3.25). The grilled, chunks of Coarse Bratwurst, Polish Sausage, Knockwurst and Smoked Bratwurst were delectable, especially when dipped in the accompanying sweet honey mustard. Together with the complimentary rye bread, the sausage sampler could serve two to four people.

Herring in wine ($3.25), a Dutch specialty reminiscent of pickled herring, appealed only to the adventurous seafood lovers in our group.

The entrees we sampled were all home runs. They’re accompanied by your choice of two side dishes (from a list of 11).

Wiener Schnitzel ($8.95 dinner/$6.50 lunch), lived up to the reputation of a fine German classic. The generously-sized cut of pounded pork loin was tasty and tender, coated with a spiced bread crumb crust. Warm red cabbage bore a hint of sweetness from bits of stewed apples. Spaetzel was a heaping side of plump, dumpling-like noodles that came drizzled with a rich, dark brown gravy.

Succulent and flavorful Grilled Veal Bratwurst (8.95/$4.95) made a stick-to-the ribs meal accompanied by German potato salad and sauerkraut. The soft chunks of potatoes bound by a warm bacon vinaigrette nearly melt in the mouth.

Another stellar entrée was Hungarian chicken ($8.50/$5.95), a moist, marinated butterflied chicken breast coated with hot Hungarian paprika and sautéed. Although lighter in fat, it was as hearty and satisfying as any meat entrée.

Henk’s finest entrée is Rouladen ($8.95), a regular weekend special. This spicy beef round steak is rolled and stuffed with bacon spices, onion and pickles and served with a rich brown gravy and spaetzel.

Henk’s offers a children’s menu, but you may not need it. Our picky young eaters devoured the Wiener Schnitzel, and fried potatoes have universal kid appeal.

Save room for the desserts at Henk’s; they’re baked fresh in the adjoining bakery. Black Forest Cake ($2.50) was a fitting ending to a hearty meal. The deceptively light layers of chocolate cake are filled with sweet whipped cream and topped with shaved chocolate.

Apple Strudel ($2.50) was a buttery pastry chock-filled with fresh sliced apples, baked until tender. Ask the kitchen to warm the strudel in the oven if you don’t prefer it chilled.

Breakfasts at Henk’s feature large, three-egg omelets filled with fine deli meats and cheeses; traditional American breakfast fare; and European breakfast specials.

The lunch menu offers more than 25 sandwiches, as well as the same hot-plate specials found on the dinner menu. Most selections are available as half orders.

But waiting for the restaurant’s dinners (Friday and Saturdays only) offers a distinct advantage: the live entertainment. During our meal, we enjoyed the music, singing – and humor – of a quick-witted accordion player (this one plays the first weekend each month).

He punctuated snappy German folk tune with one-liners that kept us chuckling. The children particularly enjoyed the chicken dance number. Our waitress led them in the celebrated dance (surely born out of a German beer fest) as the accordion master, wearing a rubber chicken “hat” clucked along with the music.

Now that’s family dining and entertainment – European style – right here in East Dallas.

Henk’s European Deli and Black Forest Bakery (987-9090) is located at 5811 Blackwell, north of Northwest Highway. Breakfast: Monday-Saturday, 7-11 a.m.; Lunch: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dinner: Friday and Saturday only, 6-10 p.m.