When a restaurant has “diner” in its name, you might think of a small, grungy joint that serves up the best sausage gravy in town. You might not picture a diner taking up two floors of what used to be a Cantina Laredo on the side of Walnut Hill Lane in Lake Highlands.
Even if the name might not seem the most fitting for Crossroads Diner, it doesn’t mean the locally owned restaurant can’t deliver a satisfying breakfast to fill you up (with both sustenance and possibly guilt) for the rest of the day.
The space of the main dining area (the entire bottom floor) is open, with the ceiling going the full two stories for most of it. With its fresh paint job, the room seems airy, making the wait that’s sure to be there on a Saturday seem less crowded.
On the right side of the menu are items for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The list of sandwiches appears adequate (though it could use a club sandwich).
“Diner Classics” listed on the bottom include a macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and chicken picatta (which is a lemon-caper standard, of course, just not for a diner).
Also under this header is the chicken-fried steak and eggs. This flavorless strip of cheap meat cannot be saved by the attempt of the crispy batter around it. The plate also came out with a small, shriveled piece of the meat on it disguised in extra cooked batter—enough for breakfast, but the wait staff wouldn’t let it pass.
Even after saying, “We’re in a hurry, we don’t want another slab of flavorless and fattening chicken-fried steak,” we got a second plate of gravy-covered chicken fried steak. The persistence wasn’t necessary, but the box to go would be.
The service is adequate in its attentiveness. Tom Fleming runs the kitchen while his wife, Karen, can be found rushing around the floor with a smile on her face most of the time. She once comped our meals only because she had to have us move tables.
The left side of the menu is filled with the expected breakfast items and a list of frittatas.
Every so often, a group at a table is brave enough to order the cinnamon sticky bun, which causes some embarrassment when it comes to the table. The embarrassment gets worse, however, when the fork can’t stop pulling the gooey bread apart fast enough.
For too many establishments, biscuits and gravy is a failed attempt before it even reaches the plate. But Crossroads holds its own, with a dense, white biscuit proving sturdy enough to hold the well-seasoned gravy. Only odd thing here is that they come with a lot. Two eggs, toast and pancakes or grits are added on to the biscuits and gravy.
What proves to be a perfectly sized and surprisingly satisfactory breakfast is any waffle in this spot. The high, light and delicate Belgian waffle — whether it’s filled and topped with blueberry, pecans or it’s plan—is soft and airy throughout. And the whipped cream, which has a bit of tartness, spread on top doesn’t hurt either.
The pancakes are fine, having a density that goes just beyond the perfect consistency that seems to be so easily achieved in other establishments. But when they’re packed with blueberries, it may be less noticeable.
Sides are all worth ordering. The sausage could use some spice but has a homemade quality to it, making it the perfect addition to a biscuit and gravy. The hash browns are consistently crispy on the outside, encasing steaming, soft shreds of potato. The classic choice is a thick slice of applewood-smoked bacon.
Even with the less-than-adequate chicken-fried steak, this “diner” is worth visiting for a couple of times just to explore the various breakfast opportunities.
Location: 8121 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 1100 in Dallas, 75231
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., 214-346-3491
Ambiance: Clean, calm and casual
Payment Information: Major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer, wine, specialty cocktails