As the Papageorge family knows, you can't run restaurants for more than a century without becoming hospitality experts. Lefty's Lobster is one in their line of charming, casual eateries, where simple touches—ritz crackers in the stuffed snapper, for example—yield loyal regulars, including former NFL running back Emmitt Smith.
Tiki columns and decorative fins enhance the tropical atmosphere inside Soulfish Grill, where the catch of the day is always flavorful fish entrees. Salmon, mahi mahi, and ahi tuna plates compete with shrimp and fish baskets with hush puppies for the title of most filling meal. For a taste of spice, try a Louisiana gumbo with crawfish and sausage or nibble on a serving of grilled or tempura-battered fish or shrimp, which fill baja tacos and tostadas. Finish off the meal with a Southern-style slice of key lime or pecan pie.
Hints of French and Italian cuisine mingle with Texas culinary traditions at Dino’s Steak and Claw House, where chefs deconstruct classic surf and turf inside a vintage bank building. In the kitchen, they slice fresh garlic and heirloom tomatoes between trips to the grill, which sizzles with 8-ounce beef fillets and 20-ounce porterhouses. Lobster can be ordered with a crabmeat crust or a puffy jacket of ravioli and a pistachio-froth scarf. Meals unfold atop white linen tablecloths dotted with fresh floral arrangements, and chandeliers illuminate the dining room with a glow as warm and inviting as a welcome mat made of jalapeños. Work by local artists accents the entire scene, and grand-piano ticklings turn up the classiness to a glass-shattering 11. A black-marble bar adds an extra layer of luxury, which extends to a patio made for al fresco dining.
A staple in the Dallas eating scene since before the first location in Oak Cliff was cool, La Calle Doce opened in 1981, just ten minutes from downtown. Set inside a renovated former home, the original location on 12th Street is near to bursting with relaxed charm. Each cozy, wood-floored room offers up a couple of white tablecloth spots for simple dining, while sunlight pours in and homey touches – think hutches filled with china, decorative wallpaper – round out the experience. Offering some of the best Tex¬-Mex food in town, La Calle Doce pushes plates of saucy seafood and fresh ingredients, served in tacos, sopas, cocteles or as standalone plates.
Ruggeri’s Italian Kitchen’s experienced culinary crafters whip together an expansive lunch and dinner menu brimming with homemade Italian dishes. A plate of thin spaghetti ties tongues in a web of noodles and slow cooked bolognese sauce ($16) while a meal of italian sausage and peppers serenade mouths with a harmonizing trio of bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes ($18.95). The pescatore diavalo ($19.95), a savory blend of shrimp, calamari, mussels, scallops, and artichoke hearts, bobs in a pool of marinara sauce to give land-locked tongues a more authentic taste of the sea than a fricasseed ship hull. Though Ruggeri's offers an array of meat options, including chicken, veal, and beef, plantivores can sink their bicuspids into a tomato & blue cheese salad bedecked with fresh basil vinaigrette and shallots ($8).