Chow, Baby: Wednesday, December 26, 2002
Good Food Intentions

It’s universal, that human drive to set goals, to strive for personal betterment, to lose 10 pounds. Of course, Chow, Baby, already perfect in every way, has no need to make New Year’s resolutions for itself. So it will make one for everybody else.

You, citizens of Tarrant County, hereby resolve to support local indie restaurants. Sole proprietors, chef-owners, and families all over the West-o-plex are busting their butts to bring you good food at reasonable prices. Just a few of Chow, Baby’s favorites: Al Cavazos’ hearty greeting and filling fajitas (get there early) at La Familia, on W. Seventh St.; Teresa Lister’s chicken in mushroom sauce at Colette’s Café on Brentwood Stair Rd.; Tommy and Nume Chantharojwong’s marvelous Thai dishes at A Little Home on Camp Bowie; Jon Bonnell’s wild game (not cheap, but worth it) at Bonnell’s in Cityview; Kirk and Maile Kampfhenkel’s fish tacos at ReRe’s Grill in Bedford; Hui Chuan Logan’s sex roll at Hui Chuan Sushi, Sake, Tapas on Camp Bowie; Emmanuel Dotch’s Alabama-style ribs at Dotch’s Barbecue in Handley; Terry Chandler’s Fredburger at Fred’s Café — well, true, Terry spends more time sitting on his butt than busting it. But he does that very well.

Perhaps Nehme Elbitar is a better example of local gung-ho-ness. This charming man moved to Fort Worth from Lebanon three years ago with a dream, a hotel/restaurant management degree, and almost no English. He worked hard (cooking at Hedary’s and Byblos and managing a pizza-and-pasta place in Euless), saved his money, and four months ago opened Café Chadra. The shabby but sparkling clean diner is nicely located for John Peter Smith workers, just across Allen Avenue at 1704 Galveston.

Named for Nehme’s hometown, Café Chadra offers “A Taste of the Mediterranean.” Chow, Baby wishes there were more tastes from the eastern edge of the sea: The Lebanese-style manakish, pizza topped with olive oil and thyme ($3.50), and shwarma (chicken or beef plates, $6.95) are fabulous. Most dishes are traditional American-Italian: fresh-baked lasagna, penne a la vodka, cannelloni, and the like (with salad and garlic knots, $5.50-$6.50). The Friday lunch buffet (11am-3pm, $5.95), already legendary among JPS staffers, offers a few menu dishes plus whatever else Nehme feels like cooking that day. Last week Chow, Baby gorged itself on an eggplant/ground beef/special sauce concoction that was out of this world — out of this country, anyway.

Café Chadra is open 11am-10pm Mon-Sat. Six days a week, Nehme, his brother-in-law, and no other help cheerfully work 14 hours a day to bring you good food at good prices. Is it any wonder that Chow, Baby makes like that Indian in the litter commercials whenever it sees a line to get into Bennigan’s?

Repeat after Chow, Baby: I, (your name), shall no longer tolerate mediocre food designed to make the highest possible profit by appealing to the lowest common taste. I hereby resolve to support my local restaurateurs by eating yummy fare at reasonable prices. I shall enjoy excellent service from people who care. I shall obey Chow, Baby’s every command. I shall send gifts to Chow, Baby. ...

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