Dallas Imagine King Tut’s tomb, but with tikis. After nearly twenty years in mothballs, the Dallas edition of the glamour bar of the Rat Pack era—Trader Vic’s—has been brought back to life. Miracle of miracles, the South Seas paraphernalia that filled the space did not turn to dust in the interim. Even more amazing, the place is hip again. Boom-shaka- boom.
The menu is a hoot to read, what with its pupus, rangoons, cho-chos, bongo bongos, and poke. And overall, executive chef Mickie Crockett’s food is much better than you might expect. A first visit found highly acceptable crab cakes (not too bready, filled with jumbo lump crabmeat). They took well to a dousing in sweet red-pepper vinaigrette (a warning: lots of things are sweet at Trader Vic’s). Among the entrées, the rack of lamb disappointed mightily (though flavorful, it was almost raw and hadn’t been properly trimmed of its tough membrane). Fortunately, that flub was balanced by a splendidly cooked macadamia nut–crusted Alaskan halibut with lemon butter sauce. Conclusion: Don’t take things too seriously and you’ll have a groovy time. Bar. Hotel Palomar, 5330 E. Mockingbird Ln (214-823-0600). Dinner Sun–Thur 5–10, Fri & Sat 5–11. $$$ +
Arlington You know how some menus sound good enough to eat? No, seriously, some are more enticing than others, and the one at chef-owner Brian Olenjack’s new place is hall-of-fame-worthy. Want examples? How about flash-fried antelope ribs? Or tequila-and-brown-sugar-glazed shrimp? Or ancho pulled pork on cumin-scented potato chips? Besides acing Composition 101, this new venture from the former chef at Reata and the Chisholm Club (both in Fort Worth) has nailed the “Texas classy” vibe. An initial trip to check it out found rich cream of jalapeño soup, plump ravioli stuffed with shredded chicken and lavished with cilantro-garlic butter, and baked chicken with broccolini. But it’s a good thing the menu doesn’t hew slavishly to the Texas theme, because then you’d miss out on the crème brûlée trio (vanilla, cinnamon, and chocolate), and you wouldn’t want to do that. Bar. Lincoln Square, 770 Road to Six Flags East (817-226-2600). Open Mon–Thur 11–10, Fri & Sat 11–11, Sun 11–9. $$ +