All posts by Peyton Meersman

Peyton is a home grown southern girl with a West Coast heart and an East Coast vocabulary. When she’s not at work or graduate school, you can find her on a patio indulging in (read: stuffing her face with) bloody Mary’s and breakfast tacos. Instagram: @peytonmeersman

The State Fair of Texas

Howdy, folks! The State Fair of Texas is in full swing and I got the low down on what you should eat, including some classic fan favorites and some fried bites that are new to the scene this year. 

While the meteorologists are telling us a cold front is giving us a respite from the heat, the temps are still pretty high, so I definitely suggest starting at what the Fair calls a “soft space”—an area where people can sit and relax in the shade, maybe with some water-mister action going on. Try the Magnolia Beer Garden, located just southeast of Big Tex himself. Here you can delight in a Deep Fried Cuban Roll or a a full Cuban sandwich, which is packed with loads of juicy meat. My favorite from this spot is the Cowboy Corn Crunch (fried balls of corn casserole stuffed with bacon and cream cheese). Don’t forget to dip it all into the mojo sauce for an extra kick. And with what should you wash it all down, you ask? The Best Maid Sour Pickle Beer by one of our friendly Fort Worth breweries Martin House Brewing. 

Moving from one cool location to the next, the food court is a stop you never want to miss at TSFOT. Here you can find countless stands with food of all varieties conveniently placed under the same roof with some really strong AC. From the “It’s All Greek to Me” stand with some of the best salad and gyros in Dallas to the classic Cinnamon Roll stand that will top your roll with extra icing … if you ask very politely. But there’s one stand that has been around for so long, you might not even think to consider spending your coupons there. Under a red awning that reads Ruth’s Tamale House, you’ll find some of the best tamales in Dallas as well as some delicious Thanksgiving Stuffing Egg Rolls that will blow your mind. But that’s not what we’re here for this year—2019 is a special year for Ruth because she won the Fair’s food competition for Best Tasting in the Savory category with her Stuffed Fried Taco Cone. If Ruth’s sweet smile doesn’t warm your heart, her prize winning taco cone surely will! 

New to the scene this year is Smokey John’s Stuffed Turkey Leg. The turkey leg is topped with dirty rice, Cajun cream sauce, grilled shrimp, and loads of parmesan … be sure to bring your appetite for this one! A food stand that is new to me (for some odd reason) but has actually been there since 2013 is Chef Cassy’s stand, which features her famous Fried Collard Greens. These delicious pieces of culinary artwork come with or without ham and have just the right amount of seasoning to keep you wanting more. I will be making a stop at her stand every year from now on just for those! 

Last but certainly not least is the timeless classic Fletcher’s Corny Dogs that has been a mainstay of the Fair since 1942. Everyone knows how good their original corn dog is, but they have some other options that not everyone might be aware of. These include the Bird Dog (a turkey-filled corn dog), the Cheesy Dog (a (you guessed it!) cheese-filled corn dog), a Veggie Dog and a Jalapeño Dog. So no matter what your corn dog preferences are, Fletcher’s is sure to have one for you. Just know that they firmly believe the only true condiment for a corn dog is mustard. 

No matter what you eat at TSFOT, it’s bound to be deliciously fried and leave you looking forward to next year’s creative creations. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes so you can walk it all off and make some room for one last bite before it closes for the year on October 20th.

Susie’s note: If you’re after “cheap beer”, seek out Icehouse on the Midway, the home of the cheapest beer since 2014!

THE STATE FAIR OF TEXAS
bigtex.com
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2019 season: September 27 - October 20

#statefairoftx #bigtex

Mi Cocina HP Village Is Back

Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village is back and officially open after a quick beauty refresh that will have you ooh-ing and ahh-ing in between sips of your Mambo Taxi.

While well loved in the Park Cities, Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village was once a dark, outdated dining room, but after 8 weeks of intense renovation, it’s now a clean and crisp vision reminiscent of a Mexican villa. The walls are now a bright white and the ceiling a dark wood. The seating has been reupholstered, and the balcony is now curved.

 

But the main update has been to the upstairs bar, known to locals as Monkey Bar due to the large painting of monkeys that used to adorn the walls. Previously only known by hyper locals, they’re making the once small space filled to capacity almost nightly a more welcoming space with additional seating. The bar now has an outdoor patio with umbrellas for shade and misters to keep cool even on the hottest of Dallas days. Monkey Bar is accessible from both Mi Cocina’s interior through a back staircase and the stairs across from Bistro 31. (Just keep climbing.)

 

The inside of the bar was also given a face-lift with new upholstery and brass accents. The Monkey portraits may be gone, but the theme is not lost: we’re still excited to monkey around up there. While sitting out on the patio you may even hear some jungle sounds over the speakers to set the beach-in-Mexico mood. We’re not mad about it.

 

Monkey Bar offers a great selection of appetizers from $8-$16, like Nachos Al Carbon and Quesadilla Morita con Huevo. Margaritas range from $12-$16 … but really we’re all there for that Mambo Taxi.

Stop in to see our favorite MiCo face lift. The food remains the same, but now the dining room’s a whole lot better to look at.

 


MI COCINA
micocina.com
Newly renovated location: 77 Highland Park Village (Highland Park)

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214.521.6426

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen may be filling the spot of Grayson Social, but they are certainly setting themselves apart from the previous southern-style restaurant. This new joint has all the comfort food you could possibly need … and the whiskey list to match, The space lends a feel of porch sitting at Grandma’s after enjoying a home cooked meal.

They’re all about the whiskey and bourbon at Elm Street Cask & Kitchen, and if their “Whiskey Bible” doesn’t do it for you, then I don’t know what will. The extensive book features history lessons, cocktail recipes, and plenty of information on whiskey. As for their cocktail menu, they feature drinks such as their Maker’s Mark Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, Whisk(e)y Sour, and even whiskey flights. (For non-whiskey drinkers, they also have wine, beer, and various signature cocktails available.)

I went with the Kentucky Buck (Four Roses whiskey, fresh muddled strawberries, lemon, ginger, and bitters), and it was SOOOO refreshing—perfect for those wanting to get into whiskey drinking, but not necessarily be hit with it like a sack of bricks.

Now, as a Southerner, I take my Southern-style cuisine very seriously. They do a great job providing traditional Southern fare alongside current crowd favorites like hushpuppies with roasted chili honey butter and Crushed Avocado (aka guacamole) with chimichurri and black pepper crackers.

The main dishes are packed with flavor and cooked perfectly. I suggest the Beer Can Chicken with apple cornbread stuffing, almonds, charred carrots—order it with can of Lonestar for just an extra $2! The Bourbon Braised Short Rib with Lakewood Bourbon Barrel Temptress glaze, asparagus, and brown butter mashed potatoes was also quite intriguing and we decided was worth a return visit for us. If you’re into fish, you might enjoy the Pan Seared Salmon with black-eyed peas, ham hock, pickled shallot, and watercress.

 

The only logical way to end a filling meal is to overstuff yourself with delicious sweets—am I right? It’s pretty hard to choose between the Cast Iron Bread Pudding and the Banana Cream Pie … so just go ahead and get both.

Courtesy of Elm Street Cask and Kitchen

 

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen offers Happy Hour pricing Monday-Friday from 2pm to 7pm featuring $5 bites, $5 select drinks, and $12 chili dog/draft beer/TX bourbon shot combos.


Elm Street Cask & Kitchen
ElmStreetCaskKitchen.com
1525 Elm Street (Downtown)
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*Header photo courtesy of Elm Street Cask & Kitchen*

bartaco in Preston Center

Bartaco may be new to town, but they’re not new to the game. Margaritas and tapas-style taco bites are their specialty, and they know how to do them right. With a uniquely Asian flair, bartaco has something for everyone.

We started with margaritas, specifically the Pomegranate Margarita and the Classic Margarita, both of which were delicious and smooth. The Pomegranate Margarita is actually part of their “Margarita March” promotion, but more on that later on (skip to the bottom if you really can’t wait that long).

I would suggest starting your meal with some salsa roja and corn tortilla chips, which you get to break yourself; and the duck quesadillas, which are tender and served in a blue corn tortilla. If you’re looking for something lighter, the tuna poke is a colorful and refreshing option.

Everything ordered at bartaco is served family style in small tapas form, so you can order as much as you want and not feel guilty about it at all! Each taco will run you $2.50 – $3.50.

We tried a ton of tacos—the baja fish, spicy chorizo, falafel, fried oyster, glazed pork belly, carne asada, and Brussels sprout. All of the tacos were delicious, but the crowd favorite was the Brussels sprout taco … which isn’t even officially on the menu! It comes with a sweet balsamic glaze and spicy carrot purée, which tastes more like a sweet potato mash and works beautifully with the other ingredients. This taco was so good that we ordered a second to share.

We supplemented our taco frenzy with a side of Asian slaw and black beans with sofrito. Sides are easy to add on at just $2.50 each!

Round two of drinks hit the table to help us finish our meal. We (greatly) enjoyed the Mojito Tinto (Flor de Caña silver rum, winter spiced sangria, lime, mint, and sugar) and, of course, the Smoke on the Water (Banhez mescal, Pisco, pineapple, lemon, bitters, and egg white), pictured below. bartaco also serves bottled and canned beers, wines by the glass, and sangrias by the glass or liter.

If you’re anything like me and need to end your meal with something sweet, then the platanos fritos are the way to go. They come with a side dish of a mayo dip, but I personally think they taste better dipped in chocolate gelato. If anyone has tricks for kicking a bad sugar habit, I’m all ears.


Now, back to the Margarita March news that we’ve all been waiting for. Each week in March, bartaco will feature a different specialty margarita, like the Pomegranate Margarita mentioned above (Liber grapefruit cordial, lime juice, lucardo marascino, and Libelula Joven Tequila*). The drinks are only around for one week each in March, so grab your friends, order some tacos, and get to living the #bartacolife!

Photo courtesy of bartaco


BARTACO
bartaco.com
6130 Luther Lane (Preston Center)
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*This tequila was selected specifically for bartaco by Destilladora Bonanza and is crafted in the highlands of Jalisco (obviously … or it wouldn’t be Tequila!)

2018 Dallas Chocolate Festival

“Chocolate Wasted” is an understatement. Prepare to get chocolate obliterated.

If you love chocolate, you are gonna love this. Dallas is lucky enough to have an annual chocolate festival. A yearly celebration of all things cocoa.

This year’s Dallas Chocolate Festival celebrates the “Future of Chocolate”, an exploration into where the chocolate industry is headed. A $35 ticket* gets you access to the main hub of the festival when all the demos and samples take place! 70+ exhibitors will be on show during the festival, which runs September 7th-9th at the Fashion Industry Gallery downtown.
Tickets to the main event on Saturday, September 8th can be purchased here.

The first night of the festival features a VIP Party with chocolate cocktails, treats, goody bags, and more. Most of the vendors will be at the VIP party so you can sample and purchase once you’re a little tipsy on the chocolate cocktails. (Make sure to Uber home!) Tickets to the Friday night VIP Party are $75, but you could buy a two-day pass that’s good for Friday and Saturday for $100.
You can purchase VIP Party tickets here.

The final day of the festival is when all the workshops take place. Here you can learn how to make chocolate from bean-to-bar and everything in between for just $100 per person, or you can take part in a very extensive tasting experience for $60 per person. If your tastebuds are still kicking, you could even do both for $150 for the all day pass. The workshops will all take place at the Preston & Forest Whole Foods.
Tickets to the workshops can be purchased here.

No matter what day you choose to go to the Dallas Chocolate Festival, you’re bound to taste some delicious chocolate made by local chocolatiers … and you may just learn something about the chocolate industry.

I was lucky enough to attend a preview for the Dallas Chocolate Festival, and there’s a lot to look forward to. Make sure to get your tickets online and plan to ramp up your sugar intake in the week before so your sugar rush isn’t a handicap at the festival. Because there’s a lot of chocolate to be had.

 


THE DALLAS CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL
The Dallas Chocolate Festival
September 7-9, 2018

Event being held at The Fashion Industry Gallery (FIG)
Fashion Industry Gallery
1807 Ross Avenue (Downtown Dallas)

*$5 for kids under 10)

Velvet Taco’s New Uptown Home

When Urban Taco outgrew its Uptown location on McKinney, we were all left wondering what would take its place in such a walkable and restaurant-filled area. It doesn’t really come as a surprise that another taco joint has taken its spot. But boy am I glad it’s not just any taco joint—it’s Velvet Taco.

While this new location is quite close to the existing location at Knox and 75, this location offers all the same tacos you know and love (and a couple new ones), just with a new patio view of McKinney Avenue instead of a highway.

Their menu features tacos with delicious base options like fish, chicken, beef, pork, and many others. My two favorite tacos, you ask? The Spicy Chicken Tikka taco and the Bacon, Egg Frittata Taco. Taco prices range from $3.50 to $6.75 and they allow substitutions if you’re a little picky or have an allergy. They also have “WTF” tacos and brunch tacos served all day in case “normal” tacos aren’t enough for you.

The new tacos available at this location are:
– Chicken & Waffles – crisp tenders, country gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, peppered bacon, red chili aioli, chives, waffle tortilla. $4.75
– Monte Cristo – strawberry jam, honey ham, gruyere, strawberry jalapeño salsa, powdered sugar, micro mint, French toast flour tortilla. $4.25
– Flank Steak & Egg Frittata – crispy potatoes, Sambal hollondaise, arugula, tomato, pickled fresnos, queso fresco, micro greens, flour tortilla. $5.25
– Ahi Poke (Raw) – sesame soy vinaigrette, arugula, pickled red onions, pickled fresnos, seaweed salad, wasabi crema, pickled ginger, black sesame seeds, lettuce wrap. $6.75

 

 

 

Don’t forget to grab a margarita and a side dish like Red Curry Coconut Queso ($4.95), Elote Corn ($4.25), or my personal favorite: Crisp Tots & Local Egg. The Crisp Tots are tater tots covered in herb goat cheese, smoked cheddar, avocado crema, chili butter, and peppered bacon, then topped with an egg for $5.25.

If you happen to look up from your tacos for a breath of air, you might notice some pieces of art work portraying Marie Antoinette. Well, you do know what her most quoted phrase was, right? “Let them eat cake!” And red velvet cake you must eat when frequenting Velvet Taco.

 


VELVET TACO
VelvetTaco.com
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NEW LOCATION: 3411 Mckinney Avenue (Uptown)
OLD LOCATION: 3012 N Henderson Avenue (Knox-Henderson)

Savor the New Happy Hour at Savor Gastropub

Savor Gastropub in Klyde Warren Park hit us with the real deal—their all-new happy hour menu has arrived … and I’m just wondering what took it so long. With great deals on drinks and food, there’s no reason to not make it in to their (air conditioned!!) digs and try it out sooner than later.

For those who haven’t been yet, Savor Gastropub is a glass box-esque restaurant right on the North Western side of Klyde Warren Park. They have a chef-driven menu with shareable plates (or not shareable if you’re anything like me) and options for lunch, dinner, brunch, and even a pre-show option if you’re in a hurry to catch the latest performance downtown.

During their new happy hour, you can expect to see these great choices:
$3 select beers
$6 Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds, Sidecars, French 75s, Moscow Mules, Oleo Daiquiris, select wines, and their dangerously delicious frosés

Also included in the Happy Hour are these tasty dishes:
$3 Tator Tot Poutine smothered in cheese curds, gravy, and bacon
$10 Margherita Flatbread
$6 the Q Dog drowning in bacon, onion, relish, cheese, ketchup, and mustard
$6 Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders with horseradish pickle, roasted onion, maple vinaigrette on a brioche bun
and so much more!

Their delicious and highly flavorful happy hour runs 4-7pm Monday through Friday. Even more clutch, they offer happy hour ALL DAY when it rains or temps rise above 100ºF, which kind of makes the heat somewhat bearable.


SAVOR GASTROPUB
SavorGastropub.com
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2000 Woodall Rodgers Freeway (Downtown)

Luna Grill’s Newest Location

Eat Real, Fuel Good.
Luna Grill’s motto isn’t just a motto, it’s a way of life. When you eat real, good food, you feel good in return. Luna Grill aims to serve only the best real, good Mediterranean food and with their new Dallas location on Walnut Hill, they’re doing just that.

Here are some of my favorite dishes from the preservative-free and antibiotic-free restaurant:
For starters, you’ve got to try the Dip Trio with Garlic Sauce—Spicy Feta, and your choice of either Classic or Spicy Hummus (get the spicy). Then, take your pick of entrees. I tried the Norwegian Salmon and the Never, Ever Gyro (a blend of beef and lamb that has never been administered hormones or antibiotics). Each entree comes with rice, salad, pita, and your choice of roasted tomatoes or carrots.

 

 

 

If you’ve still got room after their massive plates, you can finish the meal with a baklava, or their special choclava (a chocolate baklava, duh).


LUNA GRILL
LunaGrill.com 
8165 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 1300 (North Dallas)
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