For nearly two decades, Arlington diners have been savoring Mexican cuisine prepared by the Zavala family. At La Isla, the Zavalas serve up traditional favorites such as richly flavorful seafood soup, Mexican-style steak, and shrimp cocktail. They also specialize in Tex-Mex dishes such as the Tejas burger and nacho fries topped with pico de gallo and chile con queso. Their drink list includes Mexican sodas, Micheladas, and American and Mexican beers, and their dessert menu features house-made flan sweet enough to make the best revenge taste bitter.
At Chop House Steak & Seafood, head chef Kenny Mills relies on the skills he's learned throughout his eclectic career, which included a stint operating the healthy, organic Natura Cafe in Uptown Dallas, as well as stops at steakhouses in Denver, Fort Worth, and DC. The menu reflects the chef's extensive experience with simple, yet elegant dishes, such as slow-smoked prime rib, Cajun rib eyes, mesquite-grilled salmon over lemon couscous, and tuna tartare tostadas.
Owned by New Orleans expats forced out by hurricane Katrina, Pierre's Mardi Gras Café, featured on Fox 4, rekindles the Cajun spirit from within its kitchen, kicking out authentic New Orleans fare. Friends, romantic partners, or auditioning potato-sack teammates become temporarily obstructed from each other's view by the 12-inch Half & Half po' boy, a classic french-bread sandwich with somersaulting bites of fish, shrimp, and oysters accented by lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Philly steak po' boys sizzle and crunch in their edible envelopes, and surf 'n' turf po' boys squash appetites with steak- and shrimp-inspired stomps of the foot. Pairs take a break from open-jawed po' boy bites and ladle a spoonful of authentic jambalaya into their mouths, an alchemical elixir composed of two different sausages and shrimp in tomato sauce, or trade off spoonfuls of crawfish étouffée as they argue about whose taste buds would be more likely to guest star on reality TV. Cups of shrimp creole and crawfish étouffée boast flavors that slow-dance atop tongues in simmering revelry. Pierre's Mardi Gras Café will be open on Sunday, September 4, as well as on Labor Day.
At Bamboo Pho & Springroll, fragrant steam rises from large bowls of pho noodle soup filled with beef, chicken, or seafood. These bowls have earned notice from the Star-Telegram's DFW.com website, which named the restaurant’s pho one of the Five Hottest Dishes in DFW for couples to share. In another review, DFW.com professed to be "in love" with the pho’s "warm, complex flavors."
In addition to Vietnamese dishes such as pho and spring rolls, the restaurant dishes out Asian fusion cuisine such as lo mein, Korean barbecue ribs, pad thai, and steamed jasmine rice.
Though the cuisine leans toward the traditional, the decor is sleek and modern. Beneath high ceilings, a curved bar with glossy stone tiles lines up refreshing cocktails. The nearby hostess stand lights up with a chandelier whose beads resemble a fuzzy dandelion just before its seeds are whisked away by a breeze. All surfaces, from the bar to the tables are topped in granite, adding to the modern feel while providing protection from diners who like to cut their meat with hacksaws.
The aroma of catfish filets frying in the kitchen wafts through Catfish Sam's and unites with the scents of hand-breaded-shrimp appetizers and charbroiled rib-eye steaks. Each table comes dressed with complimentary sides, including no-fat pinto beans, coleslaw, housemade yeast rolls, hush puppies, and green-tomato relish.
Chefs toss mounds of dough in the air to form even disks and sprinkle on ingredients such as meatballs and jalapeños before sliding the fledgling pizza into a stone oven. When not building their signature pies, the chefs at Birraporetti's Arlington ladle pesto sauce onto jumbo cheese ravioli and bury grilled jumbo shrimp in tangles of fettuccini noodles. Hearty house specialties include grilled pork chops, served with a pillow of mashed potatoes for a postmeal nap in the dining room or underneath the brick arches on the outdoor patio. As a live jazz musician plays guitar during Sunday brunches, the chefs cover long tables with made-to-order omelets and waffles, breakfast tacos, and pork chops.