Camp Our Way

I sit on my couch  covered in aloe vera on my sunburnt bits and hydrocortisone cream on my mosquito bitten bits, the faint whir of my dryer working on the second of three loads of bonfire-scented laundry waiting for Uber Eats to arrive with a juicy bacon cheeseburger reflecting on the incredible weekend I just experienced with Camp Our Way.  The idea of returning to summer camp as an adult made me equally excited and trepidatious–outdoor activities, s’mores, new friends, bonfires, and other fun, but with booze and a touch of freedom.  Yes, it’d be a blast … but would 15 years of aging since my last camp experience prove to be a damper on the camp highs that I previously experienced?  I was a great camper back in the day–I had the towels with my name embroidered, wrote the ‘rents postcards, played the part of “Susie Camper”, and always seemed to find a camp romance.  Well … it turns out that not much has changed.

Camp Our Way held its first public adult summer camp this past weekend just outside of Austin.  Tiffany, one of my contributors, and I headed down south (in a tricked out, lifted Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro … a beauty of a tank if I’ve ever seen one), taking our time and making an experiencing of the 35 road trip–Czech Stop, Pokey O’s Waco, Coffee Bean, the whole nine.

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Campers are invited to drive on their own (and surrender their keys upon arrival) or hop on the camp bus from their originating city.  Since we were traveling from Dallas and not San Antonio or Austin, we got to camp a bit late; and let’s just say that the party bus must have been an actual party.  We arrived and were already behind, but we did our best to catch up.

COW is working finding just the right camp to host–enough freedom to let the adults do their thing, but enough structure to make the camp experience fully immersive.  You could say that they’re doing a damn good impression of Goldilocks right now.

The venue for this past session was Camp Young Judea, a Jewish (children’s) camp complete with a kosher cafeteria and brightly colored Semitic murals adorning the cabins and set on a quiet river.  (Oh, and the cafeteria is kosher so we had to observe certain rules; only kosher items were allowed in the cafeteria, so we quickly learned that Lone Star Beer is kosher.  Boom.  And hence the bacon cheeseburger upon my return to Dallas.)  We found the lodging itself to be perfect–the cabins were clean, bug-free, and allowed for enough privacy for everyone to be comfortable.  We unpacked, made our beds, and then headed to the party.  The awkward “hey, where are you from, why are you here?” conversation started slowly and was egged on with drinks poured by the badass head counselor, Justin.

Each day campers were invited to take advantage of various activities–a high ropes course, zip lines, a giant swing, archery, etc.  The beauty of this concept, though, is the freedom to do them only if you want to.  Don’t want to break a sweat playing dodgeball?  Sweat it out at the pool while working on your tan.  Too lazy to do yoga?  Do corpse pose in a hammock for a couple hours.  Just don’t feel like being an adult?  Head to the river and slide down the giant water chute.  Just want to hang out?  Stop by the treehouse with a beer or three. (Each camp will offer different activities, and the Dallas camp promises a lake, complete with a blob!)

So yeah … activities are fun, but doing them with a beer in-hand kind of makes them more fun.  The entire weekend we had access to adult beverages.  One of the “activities” was the chance to do a wine tasting with Flat Creek Estate, learn how to make Justin’s killer margaritas, and enjoy some hand-dipped root beer floats with Not Your Father’s (boozy) Root Beer.

Like I said … I’m knackered from all the fun (my memory foam bed was truly worth every penny I paid for it when I starfished on it last night), but it was a pretty fantastic weekend and I’m already missing the fun, people, and activities … and having a bit of trouble adulting.

That said … COW will be hosting other camps throughout the summer, including one for Dallas residents on Lake Trinity.  I’ll be there–either as a counselor (if they’ll have me) or a camper–so come party with me at camp!

SAVE 10% ON THE DALLAS CAMP WITH CODE SUSIEDRINKS


CAMP OUR WAY

campourway.com
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Tropical Smoothie Cafe

I am a Native Floridian (though this year will mark my 10th living in Texas … at what point does one become a Naturalized citizen?), and I am nothing short of delighted to discover that one of my favorite Florida lunch spots finally made its way to Dallas. In fact, Tropical Smoothie Cafe now has three locations in the Metroplex; one in Dallas, one in Frisco, and one Fort Worth along with new locations coming soon to Plano and Lewisville.

The name “Tropical Smoothie Cafe” might lead one to believe that this spot specializes in smoothies- and well, you’d be right about that. But, In addition to more than 25 smoothie creations- with an assortment of 16 supplements and add-ons you can choose to add to your sippable masterpiece- Tropical Smoothie also features a pretty awesome food menu. Tropical Smoothie’s Dallas location gave us a sneak peek to check out some new menu additions- and I was relieved to find many of my old favorites remain on the menu, as well. Whew.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has always offered a great variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Their ingredients are chef-inspired and far from mundane; for instance, wrap options include a Thai Chicken variety, with wontons, carrots, sesame seeds cilantro, scallions, and Thai peanut dressing, and a Jamaican Jerk Chicken variety, prepared with southwestern rice, corn, black, beans, asparagus, read onions, mozzarella cheese, and of course, a zesty Jamaican Jerk sauce (each $6.99). Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s best selling sandwich is the Rustic Turkey & Apple Club, which consists of turkey, cheddar, gorgonzola, bacon, dijon honey mustard, and house-made kale and apple slaw piled high on a thinly sliced seedlicious bread ($6.99). 

New menu offerings include a lineup of Tacos with creative varieties that include Korean BBQ Steak (steak, house-made cucumber & kale slaw, sweet and spicy Asian BBQ sauce) and Smoked Jalapeño Chicken (grilled chicken, bacon, cabbage, tomatoes, red onions, smoked jalapeño spread; 2 for $5.49 or 3 for $7.99). Also new to the menu are a lineup of toasted flatbreads with offerings like the Tzatziki Steak (steak, red onions, sliced tomatoes, romaine, cucumbers, tzatziki sauce) and the Chicken Pesto (grilled chicken, tomatoes, parmesan, mozzarella, pesto; $4.49). 

Yes, the food menu at Tropical Smoothie Cafe is greatness, but, I can’t possibly go on without saying a bit more about the smoothies they’re serving up. TSC’s smoothie lineup includes a variety of classics (the Jetty Punch– strawberry & banana, and the Sunrise Sunset– strawberries, pineapple, mango, & OJ are two guest favorites), “Superfood” options (ingredients like açai juice, goji berries, pomegranate, kale and ginger), and “supercharged” options featuring added boosts of functional ingredients like protein, fat burner, or energizer. (Smoothies range from $4.49 to $5.49all smoothies are 24 oz.) TSC sweetens their creations with Turbinado (a raw sugar) unless otherwise noted, and sugar substitutes are available on request.

Tropical Smoothies Cafe4

My favorite part about Tropical Smoothie Cafe is the variety of supplements and add-ins you can toss into your smoothie creation for a small up-charge. Feel like you’re coming down with a cold? No problem; Add a shot of Vitamin C immune to your smoothie. Not enough time to sit down and eat a real lunch? Toss in a shot of whey protein, and suddenly you have a well-balanced, sippable lunch.  Most importantly, I asked owner Robert Causey what he would recommend to nurse me back to health after a long night of, well, Drinking Dallas. He recommended an antioxidant rich Superfoods Smoothie like the Acai Berry Boost (acai, pomegranate, banana, blueberries, strawberries), with a shot of naturally energizing Vitamin B-12, for good measure. I will definitely be trying out his recommendation…probably sooner, than later!

Tropical Smoothie Cafe features a “Happy Hour” of their very own, with half-price smoothies from 6:00 AM-9:00 AM and 6:00 PM-8:00 PM.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Dallas
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4560 W. Mockingbird Ln., Suite 118, Dallas
(214) 351-7037

A great big thanks to Robert Causey and Tropical Smoothie Cafe for having me out. I’m so glad to see a little slice of Florida here in Texas! 

Brunch at The Eberhard

If you are a twenty (or thirty)-something living in Dallas right now, you’ve heard of The Eberhard. (If you haven’t … it’s one of the more recently opened unst unst scene places on Knox/Henderson.) I guess they finally figured out that being the cool new kid on the block is fleeting, so it seems they’re stepping up their food game–starting with brunch.  (Because, Dallas.)

65-Foot Bar

The space itself is unique and versatile with two giant areas of living room-style seating and plenty of room, both inside and outside on their wraparound porch. The DJ booth, located up a spiral staircase, keeps the party going all night, and they offer a Mezzanine overlooking the rest of the space for private events … or “VIPs”. Oh … and the sixty-five-foot bar eliminates the wait time (relatively).

The Eberhard Mimosa

For their brunch, they have, of course, your go-to standard Mimosa. (#ProTip: If you go in before the end of May, they’re only $2!) They also have three signature sangrias to choose from along with signature brunch cocktails. Their Coco Colada (coconut vodka, Coco Real, and pineapple juice) is sweet and fresh. My personal favorite was the Eber’s King Julep (bourbon, honey ginger syrup, peach bitters and mint ), because … ’tis the season.

 

 

The cocktails are amazing, but they aren’t to be undercut by the brunch food menu. Their chef provides some brunch staples taken to the next level. The Eggs Benedicto and Buttermilk Biscuits & Gravy don’t just look amazing. The French Quarter Chicken & Waffles paired perfectly with my Eber’s King Julep.  They have an off-menu item that is a Breakfast BLT. Who doesn’t love banana nut bread? The Eberhard has taken a great American breakfast food and reinvented it. The Banana Nut French Toast served with Bourbon Brown Sugar Syrup and a fruit parfait.

 

While we all can begrudgingly agree that The Eberhard will continue to be a go-to place on weekend nights … it has now become what will be the new “it” place for brunch on Saturday and Sundays. Get in there before the end of May and take advantage of their $2 mimosas! You won’t be disappointed.


The Eberhard
www.theeberhard.com
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2107 N. Henderson Ave.

Cold Hammer Stills Moonshine

Cold Hammer Stills moonshine is Texas to the core … with a bit of a sweet side.

All of the CHS moonshine flavors are all takes on popular candy bars. Of the three flavors I tasted, none had the harsh burn of a typical moonshine and they were all surprisingly sweet and tasted exactly like their name. I can honestly say that I am not a moonshine drinker at all, but CHS might have converted me. Here is the good/bad part: it can get you in trouble … and can do so quickly. I wouldn’t believe that something that smooth and sweet could be 70 proof!

Since it doesn’t have that typical, harsh moonshine kick, no mixer is needed, just pour over some ice. I could also see it as a great addition to a specialty cocktail. CHS Moonshine just might be the perfect addition to our tailgate drinks for 11am kickoffs. (I mean … it would definitely pair well with breakfast pastries.)

I got to sample the three flavors that will be in their first release–Almond Enjoy, Chocolate Cappuccino, and Peanut Butter. It was difficult to pick my favorite flavor–but I think I would have to pick Almond Enjoy. (I tend to lean towards anything vanilla and that is the main flavor I get from it.) Any of you coffee lovers out there (not me) need to taste the Chocolate Cappuccino. You first get a chocolate taste, the coffee flavors follow.

It hasn’t made it down the production line and to liquor stores just yet and the official release date hasn’t been set, but they’re hoping it will be available in June or July. (Stupid TABC and licensing laws.) The company is also hoping to release food and cigars once they begin selling the moonshine. Right now, they are playing with different recipes that work for each flavor of moonshine. (I got to taste cake balls made with Almond Enjoy. Talk about a guilty pleasure–I could have gone back for seconds… and thirds … and fourths!)

As Cold Hammer Stills say, “This ain’t your typical shine, grab you a bottle and let it take you for the ride.”


COLD HAMMER STILLS MOONSHINE
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Nickel & Rye

I lived in the heart of Uptown for 2-1/2 years … a mere 5 minute walk from Nickel and Rye and only went a couple times.  Like  a rookie, I allowed those times to be weekends in the wee hours, a time which happens to be the great equalizer of all Uptown establishments (read: drunk people acting ridiculously).  I was recently asked to stop in for dinner and did so begrudgingly.  Holy shit … was I wrong to have thought like that.  Nickel & Rye shattered my previous misconceptions of this gem.

First things first: they have a large and diverse selection of traditional and rare whiskies.  (Yessssss.)  In fact, they’re so proud of their whiskey options that they even offer their “V. Rye P. Club” that rewards you for trying whiskey.  Just try a certain number of whiskeys and you’ll be treated to parties–not kidding.  Look for Pappy van Winkle, local options, and some with a little Nickel & Rye twist, all for pretty decent prices.

Beyond that, they don’t settle for the run of the mill cocktails.  They infuse liquors, make bitters, and generally do things pretty damn well.  And their cocktail list has a little something for everyone.

Nickel & Rye’s Maple Bacon Manhattan is one of their signature cocktails and has been for quite a while, no double because of their delicious bacon-Infused bourbon with maple syrup and the slightest hint of Averna Amaro.  Their second most popular cocktail, the Sparkling Cucumber (New Am Vodka, elderflower, cucumber, lemon, and champagne) is light, flavorful, and is a perfect cocktail to enjoy on their fan-fucking-tastic patio.

Beyond their two best sellers, they have a couple lot of other winners.  The Summertime Sadness (Exotico Blanco, mint, roasted jalapeño, cilantro, and lime) was a surprise with a lot of complexity thanks to the oddly, but well-paired flavors.  The basic Old Fashioned is even a winner–gotta love the old standards.  If you’re bold, let the talented barmen behind the large, concrete bar go crazy.   Tell them what you like and what you don’t and watch them work.   One of their newest creations from one of these adventures in bartending  even uses Blue Curacao (that apparently is making a resurgence … yikes) and a smoked wood plan to give it an oddly smoky sweet flavor.

The cocktails aren’t the only thing that Nickel & Rye is doing right.  Their food, all made in-house, is damn delicious.  (And their parent company, Kirby’s Steakhouse, would see to that.)  They took basic food items and made them either VERY well or just a tinge haute.  Site: their Lobster Quesadilla.  Eat this now.  Also not to be missed is their charcuterie board and their Brussels sprouts.  (If you’re a reader, you know that it really doesn’t take much from Brussels sprouts to impress me … but these were so good I almost ordered a second dish.  What!?  They’re vegetables.)

Of the McKinney Avenue spots, this is one place that you should hit for a happy hour that is sure to surprise.  Make sure to log some time on their patio before it gets too hot.  Because it will … and all the chilly cocktails in the world won’t be able to make being outside bearable.


NICKEL & RYE

nickelandrye.com
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2523 McKinney Ave
(214) 389-2120

Matchbox – Preston Hollow Village

It’s officially patio weather, y’all.

We all know how much Dallasites love drinking their booze on patios on a beautiful day, and 2016 is shaping up to be a good year for dining and drinking al fresco. (Hold the rain and hail, please.) And wouldn’t you know it … there’s a new spot for just that; Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit opened up its first Texas location in Preston Hollow, just in time for all of us to eat, drink, and get a nice base tan, all at the same time on its roomy outdoor seating area.

When I arrived, I had my eyes on the prize–the cocktails (obviously). I ordered the Southern Charmer (bourbon, peach nectar, and black pepper-ginger syrup), which is shaken and poured over ice then garnished with a lemon slice. (And so continues my lemon obsession. 🍋) From what I could tell (and taste), there are also a few dashes of Angostura bitters on top, but it’s not listed on the menu. Try it out and let me know if I’m off the mark. Ahhh … it was the perfect patio cocktail–refreshing, boozy, with the sweetness of the peach nectar balanced out by the bite of the pepper and ginger.  I could/did drink many of these bad boys–charming or not.

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Southern Charmer (note: not Tiffany’s hand.)

NOTE FROM SUSIE: Make sure to peruse their entire cocktail menu along with their wine list.  Matchbox has private label wine that isn’t half bad! Their Jalapeño Cucumber Margarita packs a bit of spice to keep things interesting and their Patio Pounder Lemonade made with house infused watermelon vodka is everything summer is made of.

Of course, if I’m going to commit to drinking all of Matchbox’s cocktails, I needed some food to do so. (It’s a marathon, not a sprint, guys; remember that.) Fortunately for me, there was no shortage of delicious appetizers from which to choose. Given my penchant for a well-stocked charcuterie board, that’s where I daintily voraciously started my culinary adventure.

Heaping mounds of prosciutto, wedges of creamy brie, quince cubes, overflowing plates of gherkin pickles, grain mustard, and briny olives … oh my. The portions were more than satisfying, and it’s not typical to find the sweet quince offering on the boards I’ve seen in Dallas thus far, so that was a tasty addition to the usual charcuterie spread. I overdid it on the prosciutto and cheese (as one does), so the rest of the appetizers are nibbled, but nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed.

Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie Board

 

The spread consisted of standard (albeit, high-quality and well-executed) crowd-pleasers. The Mini Meatballs are a combination of angus beef, veal, and pork, and were wonderfully tender and are served in pepperoni sauce and topped with pecorino romano cheese. I (somehow) managed to keep my intake of these to just two. (I should get a ribbon for that.)

If you look REALLY closely, you’ll see 3.6.9 Mini Burgers peeking out from a mountain of crispy fried onions. The trick is to extract a mini burger from the plate, grab a small mound of crispy onions, add it to the burger, and have at it. Let me just say, these are definitely mini burgers and not sliders. The buns aren’t made of sweet rolls; they’re toasted brioche, and the patties are substantial and individually cooked to a perfect medium.

As soon as they brought out the Spicy Tuna Tartare Tacos, I knew these were a best-seller. Their fresh, cool tuna’s delicate texture  juxtaposed with the crispiness of the fried wonton taco shell … it’s a classic for a reason. And don’t skimp on the Sriracha mayo.

And who doesn’t like a good chicken strip? These bad boys, dubbed Ted’s Tenders,  were huge! Did I eat one all by myself? Yes! (Shut up. I have NO regrets.) It was the way I like my chicken strips: not overly breaded and still juicy and flavorful on the inside. I don’t know who Ted is … but I like him.

My overall take away from my Matchbox experience?  It’s a fun spot with a cool vibe, and the food and drinks aim to please both the masses and those of us (ahem) with a bit more of a refined palate.  If I worked nearby, that’s where you’d find me after 4PM most weekdays. I wouldn’t be alone; Matchbox is already hoppin’ with the business happy hour crowd. The patio was teeming with business people in suits, all eating, drinking, and being merry when I arrived, and they were still going strong when I left. Cheers to them! They know how to marathon it, too.
Matchbox American Kitchen + Spirit
matchboxrestaurants.com
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7859 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 140
Dallas, TX 75230
(844)712-2369

Mon-Thurs: 11AM-last seating 10:30PM
Fri: 11AM-last seating 11:30PM
Sat: 10AM-last seating 11:30PM
Sun: 10AM-last seating 10:30PM
Sat-Sun Brunch: 10AM-3PM
Mon-Fri Happy Hour: 3PM-6PM

Sauza’s #MyKindofCinco

I like to entertain … like … a lot.  The worst part, though, is being forced to be tied to the bar so you can make everyone drinks or to keep it tidy when the one messy friend inevitably spills all the things.  (Dammit, Linda.)  Say “adios” to playing babysitter to the bar and batch out a cocktail (or three) for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

For Cinco de Mayo, the easiest thing to batch out is, of course, margaritas.  And (hold on to your sombrero), the US imported 12.3 million cases (yes, M-M-M-M-M-million) of tequila in 2014 … and Texas is apparently one of the top 10 tequila consuming states in the US.  So yeah, a drink with tequila is a slam dunk.

This Cinco de Mayo, I’ll be visiting family in Pennsylvania to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday.  Luckily, on her last visit to Dallas, my mom and I introduced her to margaritas … and she loved them.  Needless to say, once I land in the Keystone State, I’ll be swinging by a liquor store to pick up the makings of this remixed margarita just for her.

So, why Sauza?  It’s made with 100% blue agave in Jalisco, Mexico the same way it has been made since 1873.  The agave is put into production within 48 hours which gives the tequila a crisp flavor.

Perfect Pear Margarita (serves 8)
2 cups Sauza® Signature Blue Silver Tequila
1/2 cup lemon Juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
1 cup pear syrup
Rosemary sprigs

Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled pitcher. Serve in margarita glasses garnished with a rosemary sprig and lime wheel.  (Ignore the color … because it’s delicious!)

 

PEAR SYRUP
1 cup pear purée
1⁄4 cup Sugar in the Raw
1⁄2 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves fully.  Reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  (The syrup will thicken-up slightly.)  Strain and store in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to two weeks.

I was given the chance to participate in this campaign and was sent items from Sauza to promote.

Cinco de Mayo 2016

Cinco de Mayo Cocktail Recipes


CANTINA LAREDO
Special: Verde Infusion ‘Rita ($11.50)
Events/Perks: PARTIES AT SELECT LOCATIONS (see below)
Hours: April 27 – May 5
Location: all locations

Addison – The party on the patio includes an outdoor food and beverage bar with entertainment by DJ P from 6-10 p.m.
Frisco – DJ Sonido Mart will play from 6-10 p.m. and the party will be both inside and on the patio. There will be giveaways and prizes all evening.
Grapevine – DJ Dos Aces will spin tunes and giveaway prizes from 5-9 p.m.
Lewisville – Hit the dancefloor when The Enablers Band starts at 7 p.m. Between songs there will be giveaways and prizes.

LA VENTANA
Events/Perks: parties at all 3 locations (see below)
Hours: May 5, all day

Downtown Dallas – live music from Tamborazo de Arranque (7-9pm), photo ops with a luchador
Addison – live music from Tomborazo de Arranque (7-9pm)
Dallas Farmers Market – $2 frozen or rocks signature margaritas

MEXICAN SUGAR
Special: $5 Classic and Frozen margaritas
Events/Perks: live band on the patio starting at 5pm
Hours: May 5, all day
Location: Plano – The Shops at Legacy

MI DIA FROM SCRATCH
Special: $5 Mi Dia Frozen Over, $5 Mi Dia Rita Rocks, and a discounted Margarita of the Month
Hours: Thursday, May 5, 11am-10pm | Reservations Strongly Recommended: (972) 403-7474
Location: Plano only

NICK & SAM’S GRILL
Special: Cinco de Mayo themed feast that includes: stuffed jalapeños, shrimp diablo, lobster queso flameado, roasted qual, posole, skirt steak, tostada, lobster rice, flan, churros, and other dessert items paired with “top-shelf tequila and Mezcal cocktails”
Price: $55/person
Hours: May 5, 6pm (reservation required: 214.379.1111)
Location: Dallas – Park Cities

CAFE HERRERA – OMNI
Special: $10 Maximo Margaritas, $2 street tacos, small bites available starting at 7pm
Events/Perks: live mariachi music
Hours: May 5, all day
Location: Dallas – Downtown

ON THE BORDER
Special: House Margaritas 14oz Cinco Cup – Frozen/Rocks $4
14oz Cinco Cup Dos XX Lager/Ambar & Corona Light Drafts $3
Variety of Cinco Shots for $2/$3/$4
Dos XX Ambar/Lager bottles & Corona/Corona Light bottles $3
Location: all locations

PAUL MARTIN’S AMERICAN GRILL
Special: Shrimp Campechana ($9) and Mesquite Grilled Poblano Chile Relleno ($13)
Hours: May 4 & 5
Location: Dallas – Cedar Springs

PUBLIC SCHOOL 214
Special: “recess” (aka happy hour) will be available until 11pm, $10 Cinco de Mayo Nachos
Hours: until 11pm
Location: Dallas – Uptown/West Village

SNUFFER’S
Special: $3 frozen or rocks house margaritas
Dates: May 5-8
Location: all loctions

TEN 50 BBQ
Special: $1 off Dos Equis pints
Events/Perks: all guests will receivea complimentary Dos Equis collector’s pint glass with purchase of Dos Equis beer (while supplies last)
Hours: 4-9pm
Location: Richardson

susie knows all things boozy in dallas …