Dallas. Desi Heaven! It has so much to offer and suits our lifestyle in every possible way. There are large desi communities elsewhere as well, but when you throw in everything that Dallas offers on top of it, it just makes the ultimate living combination!
Dallas has a large and growing selection of great desi restaurants, offering a wide variety of cuisines. The grocery stores are unmatched in terms of size, cleanliness, selection of products and number. Very good Islamic schools with hifz programs, again, their number growing day by day. Bayyinah Institute, founded by Nouman Ali Khan and Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, providing and promoting Arabic studies, and linguistic and literary analysis of the Quran, is based in Dallas.
Now you throw in the ‘Dallas’ touch. It is a very new city, and it is an affluent city. Everything is big (Texas size), shiny and clean. It has experienced tremendous growth, but unlike other cities, it is prepared for it. Everything has been planned to suit the needs of a growing population. The roads, highways, the sheer number of lanes. Shopping is tremendous, and it is not concentrated in any one place. It is spread out everywhere, so that every area has a totally fulfilling shopping experience. This includes desi shopping, so no matter where you are, you can find something near you. It is extremely family friendly, with tons of really great parks, water parks, plus travelling shows like Ringling, Cirque du Soleil and Disney on Ice make regular yearly appearances. Not to mention the Fort Worth Zoo, which is one of the top five zoos in the US. And best of all- a low cost of living!!!
So, if you’re ever in this gem of a city, which restaurant would I recommend for you to visit first? Very hard to answer. But, because for me, nothing tops Pakistani cuisine, I will have to go with, the one and only, BBQ Tonite!!!
2540 Old Denton Rd.
Carrollton, TX 75011
Owned and operated by Pakistanis, B.B.Q is best known for its weekend brunch buffet, serving traditional Pakistani food. It is not to be missed! It is open from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, and we would be standing there at 10:55! It is a good idea to arrive early, because it does tend to get quite crowded. But crowded or not, it is worth a visit.
It is quite reasonably priced and kids under age 5 eat free. Ages 5-7 eat at half price. The staff is very courteous, although they seem a little short when dealing with the weekend rush. If it is crowded, all the servers get really busy, and chances are you’ll just be stacking all the dirty plates in one corner of your table.
They have a few flat screen TV’s hooked up playing either football, or Indian/Pakistani shows (not my favorite feature). But when it gets crowded, you can’t hear anything over the din, so you completely forget they’re there. The interior is decent and clean, even though there’s not much in terms of ‘decor.’
They have such a wide selection of delicious food. The buffet bar has upwards of 12 dishes, on top of that there is chaat, soup, fruit, salads, chatnis, desserts and of course, tea.
The buffet includes the best tasting halwa poori that I have had in the US! The halwa is perfectly cooked, it is bright orange and very soft, the way it should be for halwa poori. The cholay taste good too, albeit they are not as tender or form one cohesive mix with the gravy as they are in Pakistan. Still, they taste good. The aloos are cooked perfectly. They also have omlette. There is at least one vegetarian dish, like palak, mixed vegetables or aloo gobi. Gobi in general in the US completely lacks the flavor that I was used to in Pakistan. I like it to be tender, but still retain its shape and not be complete mush, and flavorful. And that is exactly how they make it. Each flower is tender, but can stand on its own!
They have tandoori chicken, pretty much a staple of desi restaurants, usually a chicken gravy as well, mutton korma, white rice, biryani or pulao, nihari, haleem and… wait for it… paey!!! The paey are good, although they are a little on the mild side.
The food is quintessentially Pakistani in flavor. It isn’t overly spicy like a lot of desi restaurants, and utterly delectable. No overwhelming masalas. It almost has a home cooked quality to it. It actually gives you some real flavor as opposed to just tongue-burning chili sensation!
I’m not into nihari, but my husband always had it, it was quite good. I don’t eat haleem anywhere because nothing compares to my mom’s haleem (the recipe for which I will share soon) but the point is that these are all ‘special’ dishes, and they are all there every weekend.
Moving on to the chaat. They have cholay, or chana chaat, and dahi barey. The dahi barey are made with mash daal, which shows some expertise on their part. My mom makes the best dahi barey so I know what they should taste like. They should be well puffed up, light, soft and fluffy. In a unique touch, the imli chatni is very sweet, giving the dahi barey an overall sweet taste, (you have the option of a spicy sauce as well). I like to mix both the chaats together and just love the sweetness and thoroughly enjoy it.
Literally, there is something for everyone. You will also see a smattering of non desi Americans eating there.
They also own a party hall next door. If you want to make a reservation for the buffet, they will set your tables up there, or you can book the entire hall for an event. It is a little on the shabby side though, but people hold events there for the food, no doubt, and it is quite popular and booked almost every weekend.
But that’s not all! They also own Fresco Sweets Snacks and Juices next door. We normally never buy mithai in America, because we just haven’t developed a taste for Indian mithai and most mithai shops are owned by Indians. We actually ask people coming from Pakistan to bring mithai for us- we are that spoiled in our taste! But Fresco’s mithai is very Pakistani. Their selection, though limited, is at least a taste of home.
Their pateesa, khoya and barfi are amazing. The pateesa is very fresh and flaky. The barfi is smooth and creamy, (I hate the grainy, sugary taste of most barfis here). Their sohan halwa was again, very fresh, flavorful and soft. Sadly, the gulab jamans are a bit lacking- they are not the sweet, fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth gems that one wants; they are a bit on the firm side.
They also sell fast food and drinks like juices and smoothies.
All in all, a fantastic eating experience.