From the moment you pull up, it’s not hard to tell that Don Juan’s Romantic Mexican Food opened in 1966. A certain brand of flashy midcentury Americana lights up every inch of the stucco building, declared a Grand Prairie Significant Landmark by the city's historical commission. Hand-painted signs—one shaped like a gargantuan sombrero—advertise “luncheons” and “dinners.” The menu hasn’t changed much, either: for more than 45 years, the cooks have been making chili, hot sauce, guacamole, and many other ingredients from scratch using the same recipes the founder perfected when the restaurant first opened. Tacos, burritos, and tamales join Tex-Mex favorites such as enchiladas, chili con queso, and taco salad in a deep-fried shell. For dining on the go or on the lam, the restaurant sports a drive-thru (one of the first in town) in addition to a robin’s-egg-blue counter with matching swivel stools.
If they listen closely, visitors to Jimmy's Catfish might hear a sizzling sound shortly after placing an order. That’s the sweet-sounding symphony that catfish create as they crackle in oil until they’re golden-brown. Cooks also grill tilapia to order, stuff fried oysters and shrimp into poboys, and simmer pots of rich clam chowder and spicy Creole gumbo. Sides such as fried green tomatoes and mozzarella sticks add variety to meals, and wedges of pie or cheesecake sweeten palates.
Longtime Dallas residents can still remember when Mama opened her diner in 1958, bustling about the kitchen with her daughters scampering by her side, whipping up her signature hearty country specialties and desserts. More than 50 years later, Mama continues to watch over the kitchen with the help of her daughters, granddaughters, and a loyal kitchen staff. Drawing from Mama's timeless recipes, chefs fry up chicken, steaks, and catfish for the menu of daily specials, while biscuits, peach cobblers, and cinnamon rolls rise in the oven. Servers bear hefty platters out to the cushy booths of the dining room, where Mama's timeless wisdom is written across the walls, including such gems as "Eat your peas and get dessert" and "Don't stare"—invaluable advice for any diner should Medusa enter the restaurant.