Whenever a customer orders a side of hush puppies, Seafood Cafe manager Asad Jawad likes to joke with them a bit. "Ma'am, there is a little problem," he'll say. "When I got these puppies, they were little, and now they are grown dogs." Whether or not this elicits a chuckle, it only takes a glance at the eatery's portion sizes to see what Asad means. At Seafood Cafe, helpings of Cajun-style seafood are as generous as the staff is friendly.
That should be no surprise, since Seafood Cafe is built on a foundation of friendship. Asad and his friends John Herpin and Misael Cortez, also known as The Three Amigos, started the restaurant after they met working at another eatery five years ago. Bringing together traditional recipes from Louisiana with their restaurant-industry experience, they mix up each recipe with their own twist. The cuisine blends classic Cajun dishes such as blackened catfish and gumbo with Mexican-inflected meals including tilapia tacos. The trio only cooks up food they feel passionate about, and will even distribute free samples to convert people to the menu's more unique flavors. They also plan to encourage big appetites with a wall of fame that will honor those patrons who have made the most of the menu's all-you-can-eat catfish option. And on the weekends, jazz and reggae bands play, filling the dining room with jaunty melodies to match spicy Cajun scents.
A reception desk lined in shimmery green tiles welcomes diners to the earth-toned dining room of MJ China Bistro, where ambitious stalks of bamboo stretch upwards around the perimeter of the seating area. Reflecting the contemporary decor of the room, the kitchen crafts a menu of traditional Chinese-American cuisine with a modern spin. Diners can wrap spoonfuls of mu shu pork in pancakes made by hand. Tea and sugar coat the browning skin of duck as it slowly smokes, its five-spice marinade growing more complex in flavor. The Chin Yuan pork chop, a classic Taiwanese street food, soaks in a secret blend of spices before being fried until just crispy on the outside but still tender on the inside, just like the best customer-service operators.
The restaurant also houses a sushi bar, where chefs whip up the TNT Roll, a combination of crawfish, tuna, and salmon drizzled in a chipotle mayo spicier than that time Charo put wasabi and Sriracha sauce in her tea.
Joe Chow immigrated to America from his native Taiwan in 1979. He set down roots in Addison, where he eventually made a name for himself as the city's mayor and the owner of May Dragon. In the kitchen, his veteran chef Mr. Phung concocts more than 130 dishes using all-natural ingredients, only small amounts of oil, and no MSG. The menu's resulting bounty of Peking-style slow-roasted pork, five-flavor shrimp, and crispy duck inspires loyal regulars and a cavalcade of celebrities, including culinary star Martin Yan and martial-arts expert Chuck Norris, to frequently stop in for an authentic meal.
When not at work meeting with constituents or willing laws into existence, Joe proudly oversees his establishment as an embodiment of the American dream, inspiring patrons to follow their own desires, ensnare them, and keep them as pets. He warmly greets visitors with friendly hellos and attentive service and encourages his staff to treat guests with the same infectious hospitality. The restaurant itself exudes a warm, welcoming atmosphere, with Chinese artwork lining the walls and luxurious amenities—such as a separate banquet room with massage chairs and karaoke machines—populating the refined, architect-designed space.
In 1912, George Kamburis set sail from Patmos, Greece. Once in America, he made his way to Montgomery, Alabama, and began peddling ice cream from a cart. He eventually saved enough money to buy a fruit stand and then a café—the Coffee Pot. Sadly, that eatery burned down, but with the help of his brother, George soon opened a new restaurant, the Normandy Café. Today, George’s grandchildren have recreated his vision, this time giving the restaurant a contemporary name and contemporary cuisine: Satellite Bistro & Bar.
Although the bistro’s menu pays homage to the Kamburis family's Greek roots with Mediterranean dishes such as steak gyros and flaming saganaki cheese, its chefs draw inspiration from around the globe. Entrees of oven-roasted chicken, seared diver scallops, and bone-in french-cut pork chops are glazed in sauces ranging from an orchid beurre blanc to a cognac cream sauce. Latin influences show in fish tacos and enchiladas, and Asian traditions yield thai stir-fry and jumbo shrimp paired with mango and wontons. During weekend brunches, innovative creations such as ice-cream-battered french toast and panko-breaded salmon croquettes grace the table.
These modernized dishes are surrounded by equally modern decor dreamt up by Michael Hsu. Photomurals featuring an astronaut and a cityscape surround diners who perch on azure seats amid cherry-red countertops and stone pillars. On summery days, guests lounge on stuffed couches on the patio and pretend the sun is more than just a giant light bulb screwed into the sky. When the weekend comes round, musicians tickle the ivories on a baby grand in the lounge, evoking Ray Charles and Harry Connick Jr. As they listen, audiences sip wines from California and Argentina or martinis and specialty cocktails.
Circle S Catfish Grill is a labor of love for the Shipp family, with elder son Adam managing the day-to-day affairs, wife Kelli and parents Randy and Patti taking time from their retirement or teaching careers to pitch in, and younger brother Nick employing his training under Wolfgang Puck to design many of the recipes on the menu. Like a fancy state dinner with coloring-book placemats, the restaurant fuses a family-friendly ambience with elegant dishes, such as Angus beef sirloin, grilled salmon, or Nick's specialty bread pudding topped with crème aunglace. Collected artifacts of Americana, buzzing neon, and a huge flat-screen TV adorn the walls, surrounding vinyl and chrome furnishings that evoke the image of a mid-20th-century Route 66 diner. Freshly cut fries sidle up to plates of fried catfish or grilled chicken, and housemade salsas, tartar sauces, and cocktail sauces pair up with tilapia, chips, and succulent fried shrimp.
Elegant white plates serve as the canvases for Pacifica Seafood & Bar’s decadent undersea feasts, holding artfully presented helpings of everything from tuna Shanghai to shrimp quesadillas. Diners enjoy fish tacos, 12-ounce skirt steaks, and roasted chicken amid expansive windows overlooking a picturesque mountainous view. Though it sounds swanky, the restaurant pulses with relaxed vibes, with colorful writing and drawings scribbled across the white walls and bartenders pouring drinks directly into patron's mouths. Bottles of Indio beer fuel game-watching sessions around one of six high-definition televisions, or cool off games of full-contact charades played on the outdoor patio.