Saturday, January 19, 2008

FOOD CZAR REVIEW #21: THE MECCA RESTAURANT

Five times a day, every day, the faithful of Islam turn toward their Holy City of Mecca and pray. Now, The Mecca, the Dallas institution since 1938 and therefore eligible for founding status in the Dallas Better Breakfast Bureau (and lunch; don't forget lunch!) may not be quite so good as to inspire fervent prayer, but still I believe its devotees silently (or not) give thanks every day for continuing to fight the good fight to bring Dallasites quality, affordable eats as it has every day (except Sundays) for seventy years. It was in search of fond memories, not to mention the opportunity to update said memories, that my lovely wife the Rock Star and I motored down the Tollway, then westbound LBJ, then furthur south on the colorful boulevard that is Harry Hines until it finally crosses with Lombardy, one fairly early Saturday morn.

ATMOSPHERE

Guys: are you looking for a quintessentially Texas atmosphere to soak up while enjoying fabulous food? Look no further: Here it is! An ancient structure (at least by Dallas standards; Europeans would scoff at such an outlandish notion) that looks like it was a family home in an earlier incarnation, always busy downstairs dining room with lots of formica, several upstairs rooms up a winding staircase, every inch covered with memorabilia, signs featuring pithy sayings (PMS: Punish Men Severely. Now, did I ever say I reviewed only politically correct establishments? Well, did I???); in short, I think you know the kind of place I'm talking about. First Note of Caution: BE PREPARED FOR A WAIT AT PEAK TIMES!!! (We visited on Saturday, not a weekday, yet I feel fairly certain that during the noon hours it's pretty crowded; on Saturday, there were numerous hungry patrons waiting about 10:30 or so when we left.) Also, it must be noted that aisles are not generous and manuvering throughout Mecca can be a bit of an adventure. (Oh, by the way, that brings up a good point: Is this place correctly titled The Mecca or just plain Mecca? Perusing the menu brought no spiritual awakening as to this point: The joint is referred to as Mecca on the outside and The Mecca on the inside. Finally, I chose to go what it says on the somewhat elderly sign out front and have therefore rechristened it The Mecca.)

FOOD

What can I say except the unvarnished truth? The Mecca serves some of the best homecooked food available within the city limits of Dallas. The Rockstar enjoyed a classic-style breakfast: Two eggs (scrambled), bacon (slightly undercooked for her taste; as always she generously let me sample and it was wonderful), hash browns (she particularly enjoyed their crunchiness), biscuits (she enjoyed them so much that she devoured them without the wonderful cream gravy they came with); all washed down with darned good coffee (or so she informed me). For myself, I remembered (and once again desired) proof that God indeed loves Texas, as He invented one of our state staple cuisines: CFS, better known as chicken fried steak. Perfectly sized (bigger is not always better: Get your minds out of the gutter this instant!) and coated with supercrunchy batter, The Mecca's rendition of this classic is quite wonderous indeed. At her urging, I borrowed some of my wife's cream gravy and added it to the top of my dish like so much velvety parsley, and chowed down like a hound. Aforementioned CFS came with two eggs (scrambled, with side salsa), hash browns (yes, also crunchy, although not quite as much as the CFS) and those ambrosial biscuits. Needless to say, we were quite beside ourselves with fullness and bliss at brunch's end, and couldn't even think of adding one of their pies or other desserts into the mix.

SERVICE

Casey and Trent tagteamed the happy upstairs diners and ourselves quite nicely, and showered us with good, old-fashioned hospitality. It helped that just like a true Old School place, condiments (except the salsa) were located ON THE TABLE within easy reach. Second Note of Caution: Parking can be an issue, please plan accordingly. Third (and thankfully, Final) Note of Caution: All food in this historic establishment is prepared from scratch (I sincerly believe this to be the case, and of course, I forgot to ask. How remiss of me!) This means a lengthier wait than you may be accostomed to: Please reset your stomach clock accordingly as well. No website, so please call 214 352-0051, or better yet, JUST GO! And remember: Opening-up time is early (6AM), but The Mecca closes at 2:30PM (2PM Saturdays).

OVERALL

There is nothing more to be said for The Mecca, except......that there is nothing more to be said. Make your own pilgimage soon, and please remember:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!