We were lucky that many good restaurants were within walking distance of the hotel. While Gator’s does come with some baggage, overall it proved to be a decent dining experience. As soon as you walk inside you are met with a quirky alligator-themed decor. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed and people seem to be enjoying themselves. There was a smiling, laughing gentleman out front hawking drinks and specials. As we were walking in and customers were exiting, they told us all shots on the menu started at $8 and to be warned. How nice of them. Who knows what mixed drinks would be? The drink menu, which actually contained more items than the food side, bears no prices. Not wanting to take a chance after hearing such remarks, I decided to go with a “tall” Shiner’s Texas draught beer. It was good, although I am not crazy over the fact that this $8 beer was served in a plastic cup. I’m no snob, but a real glass would have been better.
As for my meal, I ordered the fried alligator after inquiring with the waitress. They are supposedly famous for it, so I figured it would not be a bad time to finally try it. Will got the jambalaya pasta, which was advertised as a Cajun pasta with shrimp, sausage, and chicken. He said it was okay, but turned out more like a spicy Alfredo sauce that lacked flavor. After a small tasting for myself, I agreed. It did not look particularly appetizing either. However, if there was something else we agreed on, it’s that my alligator was amazing. Now, this brings up the eternal question: “Does alligator taste like chicken, or does chicken taste like alligator?” I suppose we will never know, but for the record, yes, it does indeed taste like chicken. Maybe a slight bit chewier and sweeter, but still tender, juicy, and enjoyable.
If I blindfolded you and didn’t tell you what it was, any person afraid to take risks would no doubt reach the same conclusion: “This stuff is good! Tastes like chicken tenders!” I would come here again just for those gator strips. The portion size, I assume, was adequate for the $18.99 price tag. I have nothing to compare it to. Not many restaurants dare to offer such an item, at least not up north where I live. The meal came with a side of fries and a bowl of red beans and rice. The fries were some of the saltiest I have ever had.—so overwhelmingly laden with salt and seasoning that I could not finish them. As for the beans and rice, they were flavorful, and the Cajun dipping sauce for the gator was so standout that it could probably be bottled and sold on its own.
Gator’s was pretty good, but a few mistakes were enough to keep it from reaching a 4th star. The service was friendly, but not exactly knowledgeable about the menu when we asked about a couple of items. Though we were tempted to cap off our dinner with the “Killer Brownie Sundae”, we instead elected to head next door to RJ’s for dessert instead (review coming soon). My advice for you if you come here is get the fried alligator. Order the one item that makes them stand out. Aside from that, Gator’s struck me like a TGI Friday’s or an Applebee’s would. For that reason, I’m giving them 3.5 out of 5 stars. They offer something unique, but everything else is just average.
This post was originally published here. Gator’s Downtown is located at 1714 North Market Street in Dallas, Texas.