Don’t you ever run out of topics, writing about the history of Oak Cliff every month?


But we do run into some loose ends. Here are a few we’d like to share.

Pappy’s kin chimes in

An email from Sandy Dolsen Batte says, “Thank you for your article on Pappy’s Showland. Carl Aubrey Dolsen, ‘Pappy,’ was my uncle Carl. He was my father’s oldest brother, and after the war we moved to Dallas from New Orleans for a time, and my Dad helped Uncle Carl run the place. There were five Dolsen siblings, all born in Memphis, Tennessee, and they remained close all of their lives. I saw Uncle Carl less frequently, since he lived in Dallas, but remember him fondly. I am attaching a photo of Uncle Carl and my Father.” 

Ginnie’s lives

Even though Ginnie’s Bishop Grill opened in 1979 and closed in 2005, it still comes up in conversation. It was everyone’s favorite chicken-fried-steak place, and they had great pies too. This photo shows the original Ginnie’s, before they moved to the space that now houses Hunky’s on Bishop at Eighth. The second-generation owner of Ginnie’s, Rosemarie Hudson, and her husband, Gus, moved to Clifton, Texas, a town about 96 miles southwest of Dallas, where they renovated an old bank building for their residence. The kitchen is a mini replica of Ginnie’s, where Hudson entertains family and friends. If you can’t find the rare Ginnie’s Bishop Grill cookbook online, you might still be able to get one from her.

Other old restaurants

In a recent story about “hall-of-fame” enchiladas, Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook brought up the time she had mashed-potato enchiladas: “Aeons ago, I ran across some surprisingly fetching mashed-potato enchiladas at a long-gone joint in the Dallas neighborhood Oak Cliff. I liked them enough to recreate them at home afterwards …”

I had to know what she was talking about and quickly figured out it was the “Idaho enchiladas” at Rodolfo’s Café, the highly regarded hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex joint on Edgefield Avenue. The cafe was around in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but we couldn’t figure out when it closed exactly. A 1988 Texas Monthly story about weird enchiladas mentions Rodolfo’s “Idaho enchiladas” too: “An out-of-the-blue brainstorm from owner Rudy Banda, these deftly seasoned, funky mashed potato enchiladas defy all expectations. His cook thought he was nuts, but customers ate up his samples …”

Old-school restaurants still kickin’

El Ranchito is the place to bring out-of-town guests for giant frozen margaritas and parilladas.

But did you know the building is also an architectural treasure?

Red Bryan, the Oak Cliff barbecue entrepreneur who was the father of Sonny Bryan, sold burgers and barbecue sandwiches from a tin shack on West Jefferson for a few years before building the stone restaurant on Jefferson at Llewellyn in 1947.

Charles Dilbeck, the architect who designed the Belmont Hotel and many homes in Oak Cliff and Preston Hollow, also designed this building.

Red Bryan spent $50,000 on the building, and he closed it after Oak Cliff went dry, outlawing beer, wine and liquor sales, in 1957. Sonny, who was born and raised in Oak Cliff, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram years later, “When he got a bigger place, he lost personal contact. I looked back on his life and saw how happy he was with the smaller place.”

The original barbecue Bryan was Elias Bryan, who started a barbecue shack on Jefferson at Beckley in 1910. Sonny Bryan died of cancer in 1989, and the original Sonny Bryan’s restaurant still operates on Inwood Road.

This photo was taken in the 1970s, before the Sanchez family started El Ranchito.