Planning to attend Dîner en Blanc? If you didn’t attend last year, I can imagine the whole concept is incredibly exciting and romantic … with that nagging feeling of terror. “Did they really say we have to bring in a TABLE and CHAIRS?” Yes, you bring your entire party in our your back … and leave with it, for that matter.
You MUST take yourself and a guest, a square table (28-32″ wide), chairs, and a white tablecloth. (Keep in mind that not showing or breaking the rules could get you banned the following year. Tough.)
You MAY take food, drink, tableware, table decor, flowers, a garbage bag, etc.
You CANNOT take anything that’s not white (woof) or alcohol (major womp).
Apothic Wine is this and last year’s wine sponsor, so if you were preemptive and ordered your wine beforehand for pickup at check-in … bravo you. If not, sucks to suck because it’s not a BYO event bc of the grumpy old TABC. But fear not, DEB attendees, I have some options for you.
Option #1: Don’t forget your opaque “water” bottles. (It’s important to stay hydrated, right?) 🍷👉🏼🍼
Option #2: Get your friends together before for a few drinks. Last year we noshed on charcuterie and some snacks while throwing back a few before heading to the bus pickup. Establish a solid booze situation and food base so you’ll have less to carry. (And make sure to avoid anything that would be a problem for people wearing white. Duh.)
Here are the drinks that I’ll be making at my DEB Présoireé this year:
1.5 oz Patrón Silver
1 oz Elderflower liqueur
0.5 oz Local lemon juice
0.5 oz Simple syrup
2 oz Sparkling wine (I’ll be using Moët, the official champagne of DEB!)
Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker except the sparkling wine. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute. Top off the cocktail with some sparkling wine and finish with a lemon twist while making sure to twist the lemon over the cocktail to release the oils.
Recipe and image courtesy of Patrón International
AGAINST THE GRAIN MARTINI (gluten-free martini)
3 parts Stoli® Gluten Free
Splash of Dry Vermouth
Garnish with an olive or cocktail onion
Shake or stir ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish.
LAST YEAR’S WINNING RECIPE:
THE INDIAN SUMMER
3 parts Hendricks Gin
1 part lemon juice
1 part St. Germain
Muddle grapes with other ingredients, then shake with ice until well chilled. Double strain into a chilled coupe.
There are plenty of places to grab a burger in the D/FW area with new spots opening regularly. Some just aren’t worth the effort to show up and order. The great people of Richardson are lucky, because one of their newish spots, Haystack Burger and Barley, stacks up.
We’ll start with alcohol because … me. They have a signature frozen drink, The Haymaker, that puts a whole new spin on frozen drinks–whiskey. (And y’all know I love that.) Make sure to limit yourself to one because they’re on the stronger side. Praise the frozen concoction gods. Oh, and if you were wondering, the “barley” in their name represents their beer selection, which happens to be somewhat extensive for a small QSR and features local, quality options.
Their burgers are made with high quality beef and topped with fresh ingredients. Each of their burgers is unique and has a weird twist here or there–get a little wild with the Escabeche Burger (jalapeńo escabeche, pepper Jack, applewood smoked bacon, chipotle mayo, fried onions) or go with their signature Haystack Burger (fried onions, cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, & pickles).
Now let’s talk sides … get them all. But really … the Half/Half (fresh cut Kennebek potatoes and fried onion strings) is where it’s at, and the Fried Pickles were crunchy, salty, and just real damn perfect. And definitely don’t miss the many many dipping options. I think we had six ramekins of sauce by the end of the meal and used each and every one of them.
The best part is the story behind the restaurant, which is kind of adorable–a Richardson couple wanted to open a quick-serve restaurant for their neighbors. One daughter named it, the other daughter helped decorate it. When I went in for a visit, the whole family was in for an early dinner … I mean, suhcute.
BONUS … Monday-Friday, 3-6:30pm:
$2 off draft beers and wines by the glass
Refill a growler with one of their local selections for $4 off
Stop in for a dinner before you head next door to catch a movie at Alamo Drafthouse (because these burgers are better) and make a night of it.
Hi, my name is Tiffany, and I’m a cocktail onion addict.
Whew! There, I said it. It was love at first sight – I remember that night so clearly: My friends and I were sitting in a dimly-lit corner of a New Orleans restaurant during Tales of the Cocktail and were primed to order our first round of drinks. Our local Absolut Elyx brand ambassador, Kyle Paris, was with us and suggested that I try the Gibson martini, and I’M SO GLAD I LISTENED TO HIM. (He knows things sometimes.) I love me a well-made dry martini, but when you garnish it with a crunchy, briny, house made cocktail onion? Game over. Take me away.
What I couldn’t believe was how long it took me to eat my first ever cocktail onion. In all honesty, I vaguely remember seeing the little pearls on various bar tops, but it never occurred to me that they were briny. I always thought they were raw, and I’m definitely not a fan of eating raw onions. Yuck. However, now that Kyle had set me straight, I had so many questions. Why have my bartender buddies been withholding this pickled treasure from me? Do all of my favorite bars back home have cocktail onions? If so, do they make the cocktail onions in-house? Am I the only one with whom Kyle shared this brilliance?
I needed answers.
My Dallas Gibson cocktail discovery mission had a rough start. I had the unfortunate incident of receiving a Gibson that was garnished with cocktail onions from the bottom of a very large, very old-looking jar. (The bar name will be withheld to protect the not at all innocent.) To say the least, it was an unpleasant experience – the onions lacked the freshness and crunch that I enjoyed so much with my first Gibson. I learned a paramount lesson that night: Store-bought jarred cocktail onions be gone. Say it with me: House made garnishes only!
That’s when I partnered up with Kyle to organize the first ever (as far as I know anyway) Absolut Elyx Gibson Tour. We reached out to some of our favorite bartenders around the city to see if any would be interested in coming up with their own cocktail onion recipes. As it turns out, many of them were.
Six friends on average at each boozy stop.
Who knows how many Gibsons to consume.
The Absolut Elyx Tour was officially on.
STOP #1: VICINI
Our first stop was in the ‘burbs at Vicini Frisco. Barman Brian McCullough served up some delightful Elyx cocktails with his variation of the cocktail onion – pickled spring onion bow ties. I really enjoyed Brian’s version; it had welcome, grassy notes, the familiar brininess, and a touch of whimsy. What’ s not to love?
STOP #2: BOULEVARDIER
From Frisco, the Tour braved Friday rush hour traffic all the way down to Bishop Arts District to pay Boulevardier a visit. This popular restaurant/bar is one of the few spots that already make their own cocktail onions. Ashley Williams made an excellent classic onion garnish; so excellent, in fact, that I enjoyed six of them. (Two onions per cocktail, carry the three … you do the math.)
STOP #3: THE MITCHELL
After two delightful stops, the Tour was starting to hit its stride. From Boulevardier, we Uber’d our way downtown to The Mitchellwhere they offered not one but two cocktail onions to sample that night, one in a “garden brine” and one made with hatch chilis. I’m a bit of a spice wimp so I steered clear of anything marinating in a hatch chili situation, so I opted for the garden variety. Without hesitation, I popped the onion in my mouth, anticipating a deliciously briny vegetable medley. What I got instead was a mouthful of sharp, raw onion. Oh boy, that was surprising. No kissing for me that night for sure. I downed the rest of my Gibson to alleviate the biting flavor.
STOP #4: MIDNIGHT RAMBLER
Without hesitation, the Elyx Gibson Tour soldiered on to a tried and true spot down the street, Midnight Rambler. They garnish their Gibson, The Silvertone, with a mighty fine and smoky chipotle onion, to which I was no stranger. The Elyx was flowing and skewers of golden brown onions perched on about half of the cocktails on the bar top for a solid hour. This was the 4th stop on the tour and the group was feeling gooooooood — and Susie had finally joined us. (A little tardy to the party.)
By the time we made it to the fifth and last stop of the night, most of our friends had already bid us farewell. So then there were the final four.
STOP #5: HIGH & TIGHT
We approached the bar at High & Tight, excited to see what our favorite bar-behind-a-barbershop’s man behind the stick, Austin Gurley, had in store for us, and I am so happy that we made it to the last stop. The cocktail onion was so surprisingly flavorful, with citrusy notes of grapefruit and a spicy, peppery kick. It was by far our favorite of the night!
The Elyx Gibson Tour proved a success, and what kind of cocktail onion addict would I be if I didn’t try to cover more ground? A few days after the tour, I visited Hugo Osorio at The Theodore to sample the onion batch he prepared. The onions were wonderfully balanced with crunchiness, brininess, and jalapeño spiciness … so yeah, pretty much cocktail onion heaven.
This last Gibson falls outside of the Dallas area … like, really far outside. But, due to its Absolut awesomeness, it had to be included. A few weekends ago, I went to Chicago and had the pleasure of ordering the Elyx Gibson off of Vol. 39‘s brand spanking new cocktail menu at The Kimpton Gray Hotel. As far as I was concerned, it was kismet. The cocktail onion had bursts of Chinese five-spice and red wine vinegar. It sparkled atop my glass like a garnet jewel. If you ever find yourself in downtown Chicago, don’t think twice before visiting this bar. Thank me later.
I write this in hopes of drawing out existing Gibson lovers and converting the Gibson-ly ignorant into cocktail onion enthusiasts. And then, maybe one day, this particular tipple will experience a comeback of Old Fashioned’s proportions. A girl like me can dream, right? In the meantime, if you’re curious about trying out the Gibson for yourself, give me a call. I’m always down.
SPECIAL THANKS TO ABSOLUT ELYX FOR HELPING US MAKE THIS NIGHT HAPPEN!
Vicini: 7777 Warren Parkway #104 (Frisco) Boulevardier: 408 N Bishop Avenue #108 (Bishop Arts District) The Mitchell: 1404 Main Street (Downtown) Midnight Rambler: 1530 Main Street, inside The Joule Hotel (Downtown) High & Tight: 2701 Main Street #180 (Deep Ellum) The Theodore: 8687 North Central Expressway #1804, inside NorthPark Center (North Dallas) Vol. 39: 39 S. La Salle Street, inside the Kimpton The Gray Hotel (Chicago, Illinois)
Everyone’s doing the Oktoberfest situation (yes … I know it’s still September … it’s a thing). So it makes sense that Dallas’s newest quick-serve burger join, Shake Shack, dubbed Shacktoberfest. September 23 – October 2 you can get six German-style menu items from burgers to shakes with a decidedly Shake Shack slant to them.
25oz. Shacktoberfest Bier Stein fill with Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest ($10, refill available for $7.69 … the stein is yours to keep!)
Brat Burger: topped with a flat-top griddled Usinger’s cheddar-stuffed bratwurst, crispy beer-marinated shallots and ShackSauce ($7.59)
Add another gem to Collin County’s increasingly impressive lineup of Dallas hotspots making their way north because Pakpao Thai just opened their third location in West Plano Village. Highly accessible (located at Parker and the Tollway), plenty of parking, and a great patio situation; what more could a Suburbanite such as myself ask for? Well, great food, for one thing. Luckily, Pakpao delivers.
Pakpao and celebrity chef Jet Tila welcomed guests at a grand opening with some of their favorites: their take on the swirled margarita, the “Chula-Rita“- featuring premium tequila infused with lemon grass for 10 days ($9). With a cocktail menu featuring an array of fittingly exotic ingredients (think tamarind, lychee, and Thai basil), you’re sure to find something new to try (and love). Pakpao features an assortment of Thai beers (in addition to the usual suspects), and a nice assortment of wines, which are, well … not Thai. (This isn’t a bad thing.)
We started out with an array of appetizers, including the Beef Jerky Trio–Salty Thai, Spicy BBQ, and Massaman Curry jerky–each paired with a local beer ($14). If there are two things Texans love, meat and beer and high on the list, so I don’t really see how Pakpao can go wrong with this offering. Personally, I was impressed by the Crispy Morning Glory Salad … because, speaking of things Texans love, THIS WAS BASICALLY A FRIED SALAD, Y’ALL. Crispy Thai Spinach, shrimp, shallot, yum dressing, and cucumber relish ($12) … I promise you, you are going to want this “salad” in your life.
We sampled a variety of entrees, including the Chicken Pad Thai ($12), which I heard more than one diner proclaim to be their favorite pad thai in DFW. The Drunken Noodles ($12) were also a big hit, with just the right balance of Thai basil and a savory sweet sauce. If noodles aren’t your speed, try the Short Rib with Massaman Curry, with tender braised short rib, sweet potato, tamarind, peanuts, and massaman curry sauce ($19), definitely a hearty meal worthy of sharing. I would be remiss not to mention an unassuming little side dish that was unceremoniously placed our table, the Coconut Jasmine Rice ($5). Holy crap, you guys. Get this. It was one of the most talked about dishes of the evening, with its perfect creamy texture and mildly sweet flavor; a total crowd pleaser.
Save room for dessert, because the Thai Donuts ($7) are pleasantly reminiscent of delicious beignets; except for the accompanying plum jam and condensed milk, which as it turns out are perfect for dipping.
Pakpao Thai also features a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The brunch menu is really interesting, and definitely a departure from your requisite Eggs Benedict. Pakpao offers a happy hour Monday-Friday, 4-6pm, featuring $5 Chula-Ritas, Thai beer, and house wine, in addition to select appetizers available for just $5.
Pakpao Thai – Plano pakpaothai.com
3310 Dallas Pkwy (Parker & the Toll Road)
Regular readers know that I have my bubble. That’s the reason that I have contributors that just happen to cover areas north of 635 on my behalf. I’m ashamed of myself, but it’s true.
That said, I will travel to the great, white north for select things. One of those things: Ivy Kitchen. I finally made it in for their brunch this past weekend and wasn’t surprised in the least by the quality of the food and drink.
My friends and I decided to start with some brunch drinks–as all brunches should. We went with the Michelada, the Recovery (vanilla vodka, OJ, Robust), Sangria, and a pitcher of the Vine Peach Mimosa for the table. (Because what is brunch without a pitcher of something?) All were perfectly delightful, and the Recovery was a unique choice to break free from the usual brunch options–slightly sweet, slightly boozy, all delicious.
Once sufficiently lubricated, we started perusing the menu and had a hell of a time deciding what to order. Ivy Kitchen does a lot of different things, and surprisingly enough, seems to do them all well. We all decided to order a bunch of things and simply share so we could try more, which ended up being the absolute best idea.
Our brunch choices were somewhat traditional–Cinnamon Crusted French Toast that’s made with crushed cereal and the Ivy Crab Cake Benedict. I’m not often a fan of either (I’m weird about brunch food), but enjoyed both of them a little more than my meal companions appreciated.
Round two of food led us to some more savory options (and a shot or two of Patrón), including some of their new options, the Beef Short Ribs with Mustard BBQ sauce, Smoked Bacon Jalapeños, and Chopped Asian Salad. The Smoked Bacon Jalapeños were large jalapeños hollowed out and stuffed with brisket and spicy cheese then wrapped in bacon. These were SO DAMN HOT, but really delicious. I kind of fell in love with their Chopped Asian Salad (what, I eat salads …)–it was incredibly fresh and the many ingredients just worked … even the random smoked almonds.
To cap off the meal, we went for another round of drinks and I opted for their new Mojito Infusion, because new is always better, right? The orange infused rum paired well with the peach liqueur and citrus and was perfectly offset with the fresh mint. One more, please …
A few weeks ago, Stock & Barrel Kitchen Americana in Bishop Arts District hosted its first spirited dinner with Don Julio, aptly named An Evening of Agave. I happily attended, albeit slightly worse for the wear since I had just returned from my first ever Tales of the Cocktail experience a few days prior, but hey … tequila. ‘Nuff said. The dinner was an intimate affair offering only 15 seats, at the bar and involved not only a four-course dinner paired with cocktails highlighting the Don Julio line of tequilas, but also an interactive educational experience led by none other than Senior Don Julio brand ambassador, the ever delightful and engaging Jorge Raptis.
The dinner experience opened with introductions from Stock & Barrel Chef/owner Jon Stevens and Bar Manager Jeremy Koeninger before they gave Jorge the floor to tell us more about the history behind Don Julio as well as the thoughtful process that turned agave into the tequila that was before us. He spoke about the philosophy behind Don Julio that drives the manner in which they cultivate, harvest, and cook the agave, as well as distill, bottle, and age the tequila, and why production volume should never compromise the level of product quality.
The ambiance of the event was very casual and interactive, so the guests were encouraged to ask questions and have an open dialogue about the food and cocktail courses, as well as the Don Julio tequila itself. There were tasters of different tequilas for each guest, in addition to the cocktail pairings, so needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway), our intimate group of bar guests became very fast friends.
Now of course, while the tequila was very smooth and enjoyable, Chef Jon Stevens was not about to let it overshadow the food courses. He made this clear by simply bringing out the first course: Wild Salmon Tartare with avocado cream, grapefruit segments, Yukon potato crisp, and lemon verbena. It was a bright flavor punch to my palate, tempered very well by the subtle fattiness of the salmon. The course was complemented by Jeremy’s cocktail creation dubbed Electric Love, which featured Don Julio Blanco, verbena, and Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif wine. The Blanco’s crisp, citrusy flavor paired with the tartare dish and its accouterments beautifully.
Chef Stevens’ second course (my favorite of the meal, without a doubt) was Mediterranean Octopus Carpaccio with tangerine, radish, and honey pimento. The thinly sliced octopus had hints of smoky char that I loved, but by its very nature of being carpaccio, it was an ethereal deliciousness that I kept chasing. The next thing I knew, I had devoured my second course, wishing I could have a second helping, maybe even a third. My friend Paige expressed a similar sentiment, with a wistful face when she found her plate empty as well.
The cocktail pairing for the octopus course was an Ancho Bravo, made with Don Julio Reposado, demerara syrup, and Ancho Reyes. The Reposado coupled with the demerara brought a slightly cinnamon-y warmth that lent itself well with the smoky, meaty octopus, and the Ancho Reyes provided a welcome spicy kick. It was pretty boozy, so I took my time to sip and savor it.
We bounced back pretty well though when the third course arrived: Braised Berkshire Pork Belly with creamy Brussels sprouts and preserved cherries. Chef Stevens had prepared us well by having the first two courses whet our palates, leading us to this wholly satisfying and deliciously unctuous pork belly dish. The creamy Brussels and dark berry tartness of the cherries ensured that the dish would satiate our taste buds without being too heavy.
The third course paired with The Oleroso Agave, a cocktail with Don Julio Añejo, Oleroso sherry, and Luxardo syrup served up in a coupe glass. It was a spirit-forward concoction that accentuated the savory notes of the pork belly, and the sherry played well with the preserved cherry sauce. I especially enjoyed this pairing as Añejo is typically my favorite tequila expression, with the extra time the tequila spends aging in barrels. The flavor comes out with honey and caramel notes that I just love.
Our fourth and final course was the Butterscotch Pot de Creme, served with vanilla cream, sourdough crisp, and sea salt. This dreamy and delectable dish was served with a taster of Don Julio 1942. The butterscotch pot de creme was silky and light, and the sprinkle of sea salt elevated the dessert to another level of deliciousness. The sourdough crisp offered a welcome crunchy texture to the dinner’s velvety finale, and the deeply caramel and chocolate notes of the Don Julio 1942 brought this particular Night of Agave to a definitively beautiful conclusion.
Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests after the Don Julio dinner, Stock & Barrel hopes to keep the spirited dinner series going every other month, with each one featuring a unique spirit. For more information, check out stockandbarreldallas.com or follow Chef Stevens (@stockbarreltx) and Jeremy Koeninger (@jeremykoeninger) on Instagram for any event announcements and updates.
Dallas is a great city. With more restaurants per capita than any other city in the US, it’d be impossible for me to put together a full list of my favorite spots to eat and drink (because I eat and drink a LOT), but I’ve pulled together SOME of my favorite restaurants and a couple other spots I enjoy for visitors to our fair city. I’ll add to it in the future … but it’s a good place to start!
EAT & DRINK
An Irish pub fashioned after a pub in Dublin, Trinity Hall offers a wide selection of whiskeys, food for any special diet needs, live music, and too many events to begin to list. Go for a refreshing Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Moscow Mule on a warm evening on their patio … it doesn’t get too much better than that. (If you want to try Crabbie’s for yourself, check it out at a tasting or event next week during Crabbie’s Week! They’re doing fun activations all over Dallas.) 5321 E Mockingbird Ln #250 (Mockingbird Station), trinityhall.tv
E BAR TEX MEX If you were a fan of Primo’s back in the day (like eight years ago), then this is your spot; the owners and chefs from Primo’s moved here when the new owners took over. It’s by far my favorite Tex-Mex in Dallas–though I’m not sure if it’s the food or the nostalgia. 1901 North Haskell Ave Suite #120, ebartexmex.com
This craft cocktail spot is one of my favorite places in all of Dallas. The bartenders know what they’re doing, so trust them and don’t be a dick. Visit on a week night to get the full effect or during happy hour (which is surely one of the best values in Dallas) or while it’s raining. (They offer their hh prices anytime it rains!) 2418 Allen St (Uptown), parliamentdallas.com
POKEY O’S COOKIES AND ICE CREAM Guys … you’ve got delicious cookies and Blue Bell Ice Cream and they make them into a sandwich. It doesn’t get much better than that. 3034 Mockingbird Lane, pokeyos.com (Full disclosure … my parents own this place. But try it out and tell me it’s not delicious enough to be on this list.)
SOCIETY BY JACKSON VAUGHN
This little candle and knick-knack shop is impossible to leave empty-handed. They have clever Dallas-centric cards 403 N Bishop Ave (Bishop Arts District), shopatsociety.com
This minimalist home goods and furniture store may be a chain, but they always have the coolest haute barware and even some unique goodies like bitters and syrups to try out. Don’t miss their section featuring goods from local makers or the wine candles. 5307 E Mockingbird Ln #100 (Mockingbird Station), westelm.com
Ladies can get a little hippy dippy here with a fun selection of clothing, jewelry, and accessories and fun home items. 2928 N Henderson Ave(Henderson Ave), the-gypsy-wagon.com
The goods and duds from this local shop are fresh and delightfully subversive. Because, really, “Dallas: it’s what everyone in Dallas is talking about.” 1909 Greenville Ave (Lowest Greenville), bullzerk.com
With all the drinking I do in dark bars, sometimes I need to spend time in the sunlight.
CEDAR RIDGE PRESERVE
This is about as good as “hiking” in Dallas gets without making a day of it. Enjoy plenty of trails and some decent views, just make sure to take plenty of water. 7171 Mountain Creek Pkwy (Cedar Hill), audubondallas.org/cedar-ridge-preserve
KLYDE WARREN PARK
The park perched on top of a highway offers daily, free activities, and plenty of green space. Check out the food trucks that are different every day and Savor for a cocktail. 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Suite 403 (Downtown), klydewarrenpark.org
I love outdoor activities, and outdoor events that you can take your own goodies to are even better. That’s why the concerts at the Arboretum are a can’t-miss for me. Take a picnic (complete with booze) and enjoy the themed music, or simply visit to enjoy the grounds. 8525 Garland Road (Lakewood), dallasarboretum.org
***I am a paid endorser for Halewood International Limited and received compensation, including free product, for support of Halewood International Limited and its products.***