A white neon marquee burns an alligator into the night air, pointing the way toward Frilly's Seafood Bayou Kitchen in Denton. For more than a decade, this dim brick eatery has been an outlet for Cajun culture and cooking, which the kitchen describes as a swamp version of Creole cuisine notable for its creamy, full-flavored sauces. The alligator on the sign is not a red herring, as you can order it fried from the menu along with frog's legs and pickles, two other fried delicacies served in papered plastic baskets with Cajun mayo or bourbon sauce.
Gulf Coast seafood is the main event and is proudly on display in the crawfish trio and the house special, blackened catfish st. charles, which is topped with crawfish and crabmeat in an herb butter sauce. Po boys arrive on a hoagie roll rather than french bread, and entrees of fresh grouper or chicken and andouille jambalaya are spooned over dirty rice and can be washed down with gallon pitchers of iced tea. Aware that Cajun meals are social happenings, the catering staff can whip up a seasonal crawfish boil if your event falls within several weeks of the creature's Mardi Gras celebration. Live local acts, including Joe Tucker, create a multisensory immersion for diners.
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.
It’s hard to determine what’s more impressive about Artin’s Grill—the food or the atmosphere. Casually refined, the interior is warm and cozy, with modern artwork hanging on mocha-hued walls and plenty of rich mahogany and glass textures scattered throughout. The unmistakable aroma of wood-grilled steak typically floods the softly lit space, encouraging diners to order a USDA prime fillet, or perhaps a Texas rib eye—both staples of the grill’s dinner menu. And while the classic steakhouse route is hardly regrettable, the chef’s take on comfort food—he adds an Asian twist—is a sure winner. Braised beef short ribs paired with mushroom mac 'n' cheese. Sesame-crusted ahi tuna seared and served over wasabi mashed potatoes. These and other items capture both comfort and elegance in one fell swoop. The Scottish salmon easily won over Mark Stuertz of Dallas Observer, who deemed it “moist and scorched into perfect poise, the smoke acting as a negligee to arouse engagement with the salmon.” And because comfort food is nothing without dessert, the kitchen sates sweet cravings with decadent coconut sesame-bread pudding, drizzled in Malibu rum sauce.
When guests at Steve Field’s order the roasted prime rib, they wait tensely to hear the server’s response. That’s because there’s only a limited amount available each day—the slow-roasted meat is hand-carved to order, and when it's gone, hopeful diners are out of luck. That’s not the case with the prime steaks, however, a constant supply of which is on hand to complete a 28-day aging process before being plated with loaded baked potatoes. Carnivorous patrons can also cut their teeth on lemon chicken or Australian double lamb chops, both free-range. The menu is balanced by a selection of seafood, which includes cold-water Australian lobster tail as well as fresh Maine lobsters. Other seafood dishes have similarly diverse origins, from Alaskan king crab to Atlantic salmon to pecan-crusted trout from Idaho. Over in the Lobster Lounge, guests and misguided crustaceans can sip one of nearly 150 wines as they listen to nightly performances from live pianists.
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.
Larry Walker knows seafood. The co-owner of The Oasis at Joe Pool Lake has sought game fish in more than 20 countries across the world and some of his greatest catches even adorn the eatery’s walls, including a massive black marlin that he snagged near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. These maritime touches fit right in at a restaurant that floats atop the surface of Joe Pool Lake and serves a menu of pan-regional seafood dishes.
In addition to making shrimp gumbo and New England–style clam chowder, the chefs also create Tex-Mex fish tacos and beer-battered fish and chips. The selection even includes a handful of Southern staples from the land, such as barbecued brisket sandwiches and chicken-fried steak.
With the waters of Joe Pool Lake lying just beyond its walls, The Oasis at Joe Pool Lake features an outdoor patio area overlooking the surrounding shoreline. The eatery keeps diners engaged by hosting live entertainment in the form of bands and DJs, which get crowds up and dancing beneath the festively colored lights strung above the outdoor tables.