Chow, Baby: Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Fresh Hell and Good Eats

Star India (703 W. Park Row Dr., Arlington) fits all of Chow, Baby’s requirements for great ethnic hideaways: no décor to speak of, at least a few native diners, a courtly proprietor, and tv tuned to an appropriate-language station so Chow, Baby can improve its international vocabulary. Also it’s reasonably priced, a big plus since once again Chow, Baby had blown most of its monthly expense account on the first meal of the month. (Mmm, Truluck’s crabcakes.) The buffet ($6.95-$9.95 depending on day and time) is a bargain, with hearty dishes like tandoori chicken, lamb kofta, spiced lentils, vegetable curry, and all kinds of chutneys. But Chow, Baby couldn’t resist the yummy, off-buffet tandoori shrimp makhni ($11.95), large shrimp simmered in a deliciously herbed tomato-cream sauce. Of course one needs bread for sopping; paneer kulcha ($2.99) did the job with a stuffing bonus of raisins and homemade cheese. Dhanyavád for a great meal, even if Chow, Baby did spend more than it intended.

The thing is, eating is not Chow, Baby’s only recurring expense. There’s a whole infrastructure that must be supported, like new (larger) elastic-waist pants every few months, and regular check-ups with Dr. Sugar Police, and aluminum foil for wrapping up leftovers, and a state-of-the-art computer system for 24-hour receiving and mapping of reader tips. With the bank balance getting low, this was a bad time for the computer modem to go out. Silver lining: On the way to Fry’s repair department, Chow, Baby spotted Jimmy John’s Gourmet Subs (3751 Matlock Rd., Arlington). Yeah, it’s a national franchise — 500 locations, mostly in college towns — but it’s fun, fast, and delicious. The whimsical signs scattered around are actually funny: “We Go the Extra Two Inches” refers to JJ’s standard 8” subs, and there’s a note from Jimmy himself: “OK, my subs aren’t really gourmet, but they’re better than most.” And that’s true. Chow, Baby’s “Hunter’s Club” ($5.25) on thick seven-grain bread was a full quarter-pound of medium-rare roast beef topped with provolone, fresh tomato, and ribs-removed romaine. Very tasty, and budget-friendly. Yes, Chow, Baby loves the Jimmy.

Boy, when it rains, it floods: Next, the Chowbabymobile, essential to cruising for eateries, celebrated turning 300,000 miles by loudly demanding a new transmission. Chow, Baby’s new auto-salvage-yard pal, James at All-Import (that’s right, Chow, Baby drives un-American: 300,000 miles, nyah), not only dug up a shiny, new-by-comparison tranny but also recommended the neighborhood taco truck. This turned out to be a great cheap-eating tip, as Moreno’s Taqueria (about the 5600 block of Elliot Reeder Road, Haltom City) offers both lunch and a show. The tacos ($1.25) are great, fresh-grilled tortillas stuffed with onions, cilantro, Mexican cheese, and choice of tender, juicy meats. The show, enjoyed from a shaded bench with a view of half a dozen auto-salvage yards, is the procession of cars driving (limping) by, some jacked up, some dropped; some tarted up, some just trying to live another week. Not that Chow, Baby and its newish transmission ($ complete bank-account wipeout) are mocking anybody.

So for the rest of April it’s tacos, sandwiches, burgers, buffets, and sponging off the beloved. Readers with tips for the first four, or even the last, are encouraged to send them in. But don’t expect a thank-you note; Chow, Baby can’t splurge on stamps this month.

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