Contrary to popular belief, life exists outside the Dallas Bubble – west of The Tollway, north of 635 and east of 75. Sure, things get a bit stale when you leave The Bubble, but I did a few years back and have come to find that life isn’t all too bad out here. (And we don’t have to run in to the likes of Most Eligible Dallas.)
A few years back I settled in Arlington, known for a myriad of empty strip malls, Jerry World, a miserably hot baseball stadium for 3/4 of the season and Six (NASCAR Rebel) Flags. At first Arlington was seemingly void of anything good to eat — a few staples from the past and more fast food restaurants than we know what to do with. But in the last 18 months Arlington has grown on me. Restaurants are flocking to Arlington to be near The Death Star, the likes of Fuzzy’s, Twisted Root, Best Enchilada Ever, Flying Fish, Babe’s Chicken and Mellow Mushroom have or will be shortly setting up shop. But aside from the big names, a subculture of good, family owned local joints are setting up shop or emerging as solid food establishments in the booming Arlington (and DFW) food scene. Bud Kennedy, the iconic food reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, even took notice of a few in Pantego, the city within the city of Arlington.
Just in Pantego alone you have the iconic David’s BBQ, the best BBQ you’ll ever eat in a strip mall. Next door is Blue Danube European Restaurant, literally in the same shopping center. A few doors down Park Row back in Arlington, Chop House Burgers has made a name for itself in the busy Dallas-Fort Worth burger scene, despite a broken air conditioner, hit-or-miss service and far too few tables.
And then if ethnic is your thing, you’re in luck in Arlington. Prince Lebanese and Jamaica Gates both made Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and are solid in their own right, hoopla aside. Ba Le Deli makes a mean Vietnamese Sandwich for less than a few tacos at Taco Bell (though, they might source their meat from the same vendor for all I know). And tucked away in decaying East Arlington is Dino’s Subs, a staple for 30+ years and still going strong.
Though I am still paying for Jerry’s eye soar, it is nice to know that slowly but surely, Arlington is seeing a resurgence. We’re still covered in empty strip malls, but hopefully restaurateurs will catch on that we do appreciate good food and will follow the lead of others. Only time will tell.
This post was contributed by Colin Burns. Colin is a husband, father, foodie and amateur blogger. At DadInChucks.com he blogs about technology, food, marketing and cars, all under the guise of being a Gen Y Dad.