Is your favorite restaurant really your favorite restaurant, or is it just a comfortable standby? Either way, it’s time for something new. Shake up your neighborhood dining life with these suggestions for every kind of meal.
Late night bites
If you’ve ever tried to grab a late night bite in Lake Highlands, you’ve likely encountered floor-mopping staffers who (you could swear) are trying to sweep you out the door. Most seeking drinks and entertainment forgo the ’hood altogether and head south to Uptown or Greenville or northwest to Addison. But our neighborhood doesn’t necessarily shut down at 9 p.m. — you just have to know where to look.
• Sushi Yama can be unpredictable when it comes to service — some days they are on, while others you might wait at the door a while before someone notices you — but you can count on good sushi, rolls and Japanese food late into the night. On most, you can hang out until 2 a.m. 8989 Forest
• If you want to grab something to go from Sushi Yama, the folks at British Rose Pub, next door, don’t mind you bringing it in after their kitchen closes. British Rose folks usually will close the kitchen at about 9 p.m., but they keep serving past 10 p.m. on weekends and when they have a performer in house or karaoke on the calendar (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) and depending on the volume of customers, staffers tell us. Come for fish and chips or burgers (did we mention that it’s not all that British?) and stay for the extensive beer selection.
• Kereje Ethiopian Restaurant gets positive buzz for its authentic African fare and out-of-this-world décor. Lamb, beef, chicken, veggies and spongy bread dominate the menu. The place stays open until 2 a.m. Monday-Sunday and offers a full bar. 7015 Greenville
• Cuzco Latin Cuisine is a genuine diamond in the rough, with its lightly fried shellfish, fish and potato platters, and Peruvian marinated beefs. Among the first things you’ll notice upon entry, though, is an inviting bar and a disco ball. On late nights (Thursdays and Saturdays), grab a potent Pisco Sour and hit the dance floor to the tune of live salsa and merengue music from the house band, known as “214”. 9220 Skillman.
On the neighborhood’s edge
Fine food choices abound in the heart of Lake Highlands, but sometimes you might want to think outside the middle to find some on-the-fringe culinary treasures. Pho 95 and La Mei offer fast, inexpensive and authentic Vietnamese food at the shopping center near Walnut Street and Audelia, just east of Richland Community College. For more options, gigantic portions of pho (Asian soup with noodles and meat or tofu), cheap crispy eggrolls and a selection of interesting drinks from mocha frozen coffee to avocado milkshakes, check out the flamboyantly decorated Bistro B in the same center. Piled-high platters of boiled shrimp and crab legs, crawfish (in season) and oysters on the half shell are central to the just-the-basics, finger-licking fabulous Boiling Crab, the far north Lake Highlands version of Lower Greenville’s Aw Shucks.
Easy as pizza pie
• Nothing is easier and more universally crowd-pleasing than pizza. You can build your own gourmet pie at Papa Murphy’s (8550 Plano) then cook it at home.
• Atomic Pie (9660 Audelia) is run by former Campisi’s staffers who know what works. In addition to Campisi-esque pizzas, the restaurant offers saucy buffalo wings, crispy fries and hamburger sliders. Dine in, take out, or request delivery in the adorable little Atomic Pie cruiser.
• Gatti’s (9247 Skillman) has a surprisingly good selection of specialty pizza — cheap and fast — for takeout and delivery.
Flash Mart (6769 Abrams), Lake Highlands’ gaudiest gas station, has a 10-taco menu that will light your fire — nopalito, tripa and bistec, and breakfast tacos, too. At Michoacana, with two Lake Highlands-area locations (9660 Audelia, 6770 Greenville), pick up produce, meat and Mexican meal ingredients, and dine in or takeout tasty tacos and elotes (corn in a cup). For a sit-down Tex Mex meal supported by margaritas ($2.50-$4 at happy hour), Tex Mex Café (9771 Plano) is family- friendly and fast. Delivery also is available.
Face it, for most of us working stiffs, lunch must be fast and cheap. Several Lake Highlands spots fit the bill, and with good food to boot.
• Kazy’s is hands-down the best find around for sushi lovers. For a low price, order rolls, sashimi and Japanese soups in the sit-down deli area of this Asian market (it’s where some of Dallas’ most exclusive restaurants get their fish and Asian ingredients, by the way). 9256 Marksville at LBJ
• Sherlock’s is good for a fast lunch, inside or on the patio, into the afternoon hours — you can hardly go wrong with crispy fish and chips, and the mixed cocktails are $3. Not that we condone boozing it up at lunch. 9100 N. Central at Park
• Mexicali serves up dirt-cheap Tex-Mex dishes that don’t taste like it (dirt, that is). We’re talking sub-$5 enchilada platters that rival what you’ll find at a fancier, more atmospherically desirable location. Its off-the-radar status means a small lunchtime crowd and, in most cases, swift service. 1277 E. Northwest at Jupiter
• European Market and Deli’s friendly staff prepares darn-good deli sandwiches; Polish meats and cheeses; fat Pierogies; and imported chocolates, cookies and cakes. 11613 N. Central
• Though known for its sticky buns and eggs Benedict, Crossroads Diner has wide-open spaces that accommodate the business set and a killer lunch menu. 8121 Walnut Hill
• If you can’t get through the afternoon without a heaping plate of beef, Back Country Bar-B-Q is a longstanding source of tangy, saucy yumminess that seamlessly handles the lunch crowd. 6940 Greenville
• If, on the other hand, you are schmoozing a client, Bailey’s Prime Plus steakhouse, home of the $14 burger, is open in the relatively new Park Lane development. That burger, purportedly made from the most prime bovine parts and dripping in melted sharp cheese, might just be worth it. And items on the lunch menu, such as the $14 onion crusted fresh trout salad, the $15 salmon filet or the $23 filet mignon with veggies and potato, won’t exactly break the bank. 8160 Park
For Asian takeout, you can’t go wrong with these nearby options: Thai 2 Go bags up fresh, sizeable Thai and Chinese dishes. Uncle Wok’s fried wontons rule. Egg Roll Fortune has a friendly staff and fabulous low-cal options. Skillman Wok offers daily delivery specials and generous portions of contemporary Asian fare on the fly.
Use it or lose it
• Restaurants in the Royal-Skillman shopping center seem to come and go. Take the tasty and locally owned Burger Spot, which closed last summer after just a few months in business. We don’t want to lose its still-standing neighbor, Zato Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar, a small but upscale joint with contemporary Far Eastern-style fare. Friday nights can be packed, and the wait for takeout can be long, but otherwise it’s not unusual to find but one or two tables occupied during regular dinner hours. 9090 Skillman
• Eat the World closed its Audelia Road location a few years ago because of crime, the owner told the Advocate in 2010, but it reopened at Abrams and Royal. The new spot doesn’t enjoy the visibility of the old place, but it still offers good-to-go family sized casseroles and by-the-scoop Blue Bell. 8530 Abrams
• Neighborhood resident Aggie Akpo opened Aggie’s African Restaurant a little more than a year ago. The last restaurant in her spot, Boston Burger, didn’t last a year. Regulars swear by her fish and vegetable dishes and dense bread. 9205 Skillman
After the game
• Young athletes and weekend warriors alike need food following the big game, run or bike ride. Get your post-workout grub on at Varsity Grill, where the décor consists of high school pennants and sports memorabilia. Burgers, wraps, salads, wings and fries satisfy both health nuts and carefree eaters alike. If you are bringing a large group, it helps to call ahead. 9310 Skillman
• Grab a booth or two at Top Cat for fried catfish and mouth-watering hush puppies. 8131 Forest
Rise ‘n’ dine
• A swing through the White Rock Coffee (10105 Northwest) drive-through constitutes breakfast for many of us, but when we get the opportunity to sit and enjoy, try this:
• Dot’s Café is a tried-and-true greasy spoon where everybody knows your name once you’ve been a few times. 10870 Plano
• Fluffy biscuits, crispy bacon and sweet stacks of pancakes are the real thing at The Oasis. The no-nonsense cash-only diner is the north-of-Northwest Highway answer to Buzzbrews and Café Brazil (except it’s only open from 6 a.m.-2 p.m.) 5945 Greenville
• Divine Coffee Shop serves up a low throttle, sit-down-and-enjoy-your-coffee kind of breakfast and brunch. 10233 Northwest Hwy
• Dallas Donuts’ sign actually reads, “Donuts, Subs, Bagels,” but make no mistake, your basic cake doughnut here is a glazey sphere of squishy wonderful. And the sandwiches and bagels aren’t bad either. 10515 Northwest Hwy
… speaking of doughnuts
The Lake Highlands area has more doughnut shops than it has soccer moms driving SUVs. But a few stand apart from the crowd.
Lake Highlands Donut (9661 Audelia) delights doughnut lovers with a lighter, fluffier version of this deep-fried dessert disguised as breakfast.
• Get a ball of sinful wunderbar at Henk’s European Deli and Black Forest Bakery (5811 Blackwell) in the form of the Grand Marnier doughnut hole.
• Sure, it’s a chain, but Krispy Kreme (5118 Greenville) reigns king of the warm, fresh-made glazed doughnut .
• And cake balls are sort of like doughnuts, but maybe better. The cake ball queens at Cake Ball Company (10230 E. Northwest) make to-die-for balls of gooey, chocolate-y sweetness.
Tried and true
These are the places you know, but just in case you’ve forgotten about them …
Enchiladas (7050 Greenville), Primo Brothers Pizza (9310 Skillman), Tony’s (10233 Northwest), BoBo China (10630 Plano), Highlands Café (9661 Audelia), Alfonso’s Italian Restaurant (718 Buckner), Tukta Thai (9625 Plano), MoMo’s Pasta (9191 Forest) …there’s a reason we’ve loved them for so long.