Category Archives: Contributor

Restaurant Review: CraftWay Kitchen

CraftWay Kitchen is unique in many ways, but most due to the fact that the chef highlights the food by letting it speak for itself. I feel like we now often find long flavor profiles that are well-developed and unique, but sometimes simplicity is just as important, which is the case here.

We tried the crab stuffed mushrooms, flash fried asparagus, candied bacon, French onion soup, filet, ahi tuna, and grilled Verlasso salmon. Delightfully, it was all delicious.

I’m always impressed when a restaurant’s vegetables get the same attention as entrees. The crab stuffed mushrooms had the perfect amount of filling and umami and the asparagus was crisp and fresh even after its visit to the flash frier. Meat is difficult, yes, but when you can make a veggie sing, I’m here for it.

Unsurprisingly, the candied bacon was delicious—gooey, crunchy and packed a little bit of heat. The onion soup was classically prepared, and should be on your list if you want something comforting.

As for the proteins, the chef once again displayed his perfect preparation with exactly the right balance of salt, fat, acid and heat that was given to let the food speak for itself without having to add sauces and such. The filet, again, cooked perfectly, was accompanied by whipped garlic mashed potatoes. The ahi tuna was beautifully simple—and when you get an ingredient like, that you have to focus on quality and thoughtful preparation, which the chef executed amazingly. The grilled Verlasso salmon was my favorite thanks to its decadent flakiness, and the the sauce and broccolini it was served with were perfect compliments.

Their cocktail list was very inspired and creative. If more than one thing catches your eye (which it will), get your waiter’s opinion because they have something for everyone and the staff is very knowledgable. I heard great things about the Spring Gimlet and Cucumber Fizz, but I went with the Bonfire. It left me wanting a little more smoke and a little more sweetness as it has the potential to be fantastic.

One really unique feature of Craftway is that they offer Michael David’s Freakshow Cabernet and Chardonnay on tap! Yup, you heard right. I am a big wine (and environment) lover, so this hits both marks for my hippie wino self.

The atmosphere is a fun, date night feel, but you could also visit and enjoy a casual dinner. The bar area is quaint with a electric energy … of course, depending on the game that’s happening or what young professional company may be hosting a happy hour. I’d recommend going for happy hour, dinner, and maybe even brunch.

While we enjoyed sampling their dinner menu, I bet you their brunch is just as good! And again, a great location for the north Dallas crowd. If you’re in the neighborhood I would definitely give it a try!

CraftWay Kitchen
CraftWayKitchen.com
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5809 Preston Rd., Suite 578, Plano, TX 75093
972-403-0555

Ebb & Flow: more than just a pretty patio …

What do you get when you combine an expert restaurateur and a sought after music director? An absolutely adorable, bad-ass restaurant that I can’t wait to visit again. Ebb & Flow is a new restaurant in Deep Ellum founded by two experienced restaurant and nightlife veteran who just happen to be brothers, Dallas Hale and Eric Bradford.

When I went to go check it out, I hadn’t done much research (bad, I know) and just walking up to the restaurant I was immediately impressed with how cute and impressive it was. I did know that their design director described it as “your tattooed girlfriend going home to meet your parents” in a press release … and that’s pretty accurate.

The patio is adorable and the inside is even more-so. It’s a somewhat small space, but they’ve really made it work. The attention to detail is ON-POINT. There’s trendy tile work, chandeliers above the bar and the outside patio is covered with gorgeous ivy and flowers. (Bonus: the patio will be heated for winter.)


We started out the evening tentatively with their Garden Margarita because I don’t do well with spice … and it was garnished with a jalapeño slice. But I was delighted to find that it was incredible. It was light, refreshing and flavorful without the strong flavor of jalapeño and it was cooled down by the cucumber. The second cocktail was super cool. The Velvet Butterfly features butterfly pea flower that makes the drink its beautiful shade of purple.

Honestly, everything on the cocktail menu was super unique and meticulously crafted. If you’re a big fan of Palomas, you must try the Cocoloma made with coconut tequila, cream of coconut, sparkling grapefruit and garnished with tajín. I kid you not; it tastes like the beach but without the sugary syrup.

Now, the grub! As far as starters go, they had stuffed jalapeños that stole my heart. (Yes, this is coming from a spice-hater.) Stuffed with brisket and pimento cheese and wrapped in bacon … you really can’t go wrong with that. The other two apps we tried were the toasted ravioli and Cubano egg rolls. Yet another show stopper? The tater kegs!! While they aren’t the most photogenic item you’d order, just imagine a twice baked potato, deep fried and made bite-size.

My favorite entree was the stuffed chicken breast but the salmon piccata was a close second, largely because of the light lemon vinaigrette that the pasta was tossed in. To round out your meal, be sure to close it out with their good ol’ fashioned homemade carrot cake, and pair it with the seasonal old fashioned. You won’t regret it!

Ebb & Flow is now serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch!

Ebb & Flow
ebbandflowtx.com
2651 Commerce St Suite 100, Dallas, TX 75226
(972) 913-2322  
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Fireside Pies

Fireside Pies is a Dallas native pizza joint with five locations in DFW … and it’s growing. (The newest location is opening very soon in Lake Highlands!) Their food is made fresh in-house daily with high quality ingredients to make some really fantastic pies that pizza fanatics crave.

As it should, my meal here started with a stiff, well-balanced cocktail. My go-to cocktail at Fireside Pies is their traditional old fashioned. They make it with Old Forrester Signature Bourbon, Maraska Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, and bitters.

After our cocktail arrived, we began to peruse the menu. We had a large meal coming, but we were advised that the perfect starter to prepare for the main event (aka … the pies) was the Caesar salad and their mouthwatering burrata mozzarella crostini. The crostini is a new must-have for me at Fireside Pies. Bread and cheese—name a better combo. Tomato, EVVO, balsamic drizzle and you have yourself a wonderful beginning to an Italian food adventure. This Caesar is next level! And the addition of chicken on the salad is optional but highly recommend as it was seasoned and cooked to perfection.

And then … it was time to enjoy what Fireside Pies does best … the pizza pies. We tried three pizzas—all different and de.lic.ious. When you have a vegetarian at the table, you kind of have to be a nice person and accommodate them. The Garlic and Sage White Pie was hands-down the winner for best pie of the night … and it won the title without a hint of meat! The flavors were deep and complex, the dough was light and crispy, and the toppings were nothing short of perfect. You can taste the pride that Fireside Pies takes in making its authentic food with each and every bite.

🍕 Premium Meat Pie: house-made spicy Italian sausage, crumbled wagyu meatballs, crispy prosciutto, mozzarella, smoke provolone, truffle oil
🍕 North Beach: salami, peperoncinis, smoked provolone, chopped tomatoes
🍕 Garlic & Sage White Pie: ricotta, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, shaved garlic

Find the Fireside Pies location closest to you to enjoy some of the best pizza in DFW made with the freshest ingredients. Make sure and check out their website for the latest news on the newest location opening very soon in Lake Highlands!


FIRESIDE PIES
firesidepies.com
Locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Plano, and Lake Highlands (coming soon)

Local Yocal (McKinney, TX)

The Local Yocal was the perfect addition to downtown McKinney. They originally started as a meat market, which still operates across the street, and recently opened as a full restaurant and bar. To be totally transparent, I’ve been to this establishment when it first opened and it was damn delicious so walking in again, it had a pretty big reputation to live up to, and man did it deliver. So now let’s get to the things we ate and drank on this visit!

Pro-tip: if you haven’t been to their class that the market hosts, Steak 101, I highly recommend it—for yourself OR as a gifts—to as many friends and family as possible … just speaking from experience.

We had the Local Yocal Cask Reserve, Kill Bees Knees, and Flypside off the regular cocktail menu and Hard Start off their secret menu. Be sure to ask for it if you want something a little more adventurous! All of the drinks were exquisite. If you’re dining or just drinking at the bar, get to know your bartender as they can help guide you to something unexpected. The flavors in the cocktails we had were sophisticated, strong, and balanced. Our bartender Matt has really honed his craft and was so knowledgeable about their liquor selection. 

For food we indulged in the BBQ sampler and mac & cheese! Every bite of the BBQ sampler kept me looking forward to the next. It’s hard to pick a favorite … but the brisket was astoundingly delicious with its smoky flavor and perfect crust. The cole slaw it came with was properly seasoned and well dressed with sauce. The mac & cheese was creamy, rich and not to be missed. The noodles were cooked just past al dente, and came smothered, but not overly so, with cheese. I did not mind one bit having these as leftovers the next day!

The dining room was filled with spirited conversation, and the space was given a chic, rustic charm thanks to a bit of mood lighting and comfortable, lush furniture. A very relaxing way to start or end an evening out!

There is always a good reason to come here—everything from special occasion to a random Tuesday night. Their menu is classic with an elevated flare. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it as we head into the holiday season. My next stop will be their brunch for sure!

LOCAL YOCAL
localyocalbbqandgrill.com
350 E Louisiana Street (McKinney)
(469) 225-0800
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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

RESTAURANT REVIEW: MI DIA

With three DFW locations, Mí Día scratch kitchen has something very unique to offer … it doesn’t just focus on the traditional.

The menu is well designed and carefully crafted with a fresh mentality. I dined in and enjoyed a few items off their catering menu (which are also on their regular menu), and was surprised by the excellent quality that usually isn’t found in cooking intended for large production and was pleased by the bold flavors I enjoyed. Their largest catering order was for 4,000 people, so should you be on the market for a catering option, I think your needs will be met with weddings, birthdays, holiday gatherings and more!


I normally go with my gut (pun intended) on food choice, but I stepped outside my comfort zone and let my waitress dictate my experience! She recommended the Fig and Berry and Cloud 9. The first is their current signature drink with blackberries, figs, house-made cinnamon agave, THREE liquors, and a cinnamon sugar rim. It may be a new favorite. The second was a LTO cocktail that gained enough fans that it made its way on to their cocktail menu. It’s made with 1530 Blanco Rosa, Cointreau Noir, lemon, lime, vanilla agave, and hibiscus air (ummmm basically the adult cotton candy). I’m not sure if calories are involved with air, but I’m here for it either way.

Now, on to the food! Tamales are one of my favorite traditional items—kinda like when I go to an Italian joint and judge them on their chicken parmesan. Theirs definitely passed the “Taylor test” … the masa tastes crazy fresh, the ratio of masa to protein was spot on, and both proteins (pork and chicken stuffed with New Mexico red and green Chile sauces) have a spicy, but not overwhelming kick to them. Who doesn’t love a good taco, right? Especially when you get to build it yourself! The Cochinita Pibil were pork tacos served with picked onions that offer a bright acidity that really livens up the dish. The meat was moist, well seasoned, and comes tied up in a banana leaf! You can’t go wrong here!

On to dessert … holy churros, (Chalupa) Batman! If you like chocolate, cajeta (Mexican carmel), and fried dough, YOU MUST try this. Y’all know I have 28 sweet teeth and this did not disappoint. The crunchy outside with a creamy cajeta inside, lightly drizzled with chocolate and side of cappuccino ice cream was the best way to end this dinner.

Every dish that passed our table made us want to extend the meal—the presentation was nicely crafted and polished. Believe it or not, you eat with your eyes first, folks … and I was pigging out.

If you’re dining in, their happy hour is Monday thru Friday, 3-6PM; $2 off multiple menu items and $5 house margaritas. Seeing as we are coming up on patio season here in Texas, theirs has oscillating fans and is fenced-in by wire trellis covered with greenery. It has a relaxing, laid back vibe … just what we all need to unwind from the day.

I can’t wait to come back and try more of their food and drink offerings … though I’m not sure I’ll be able to be enticed to try something other than what I’ve already had since everything was perfect.  I guess I’ll just have to go for lunch, enjoy a couple HH drinks, and stay for dinner!


MÍ DÍA FROM SCRATCH
Grapevine: 1295 S Main Street | 817.421.4747
Plano: 3310 Dallas Parkway, Ste 105 | 972.403.7474
Flower Mound: 2601 West Windsor | 972-874-4747

midiafromscratch.com
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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

BELLAGREEN RESTAURANT REVIEW

Bellagreen may have multiple locations, but its inspired menu makes it feel like anything but a “chain”. The menu encompasses hand-crafted, American bistro favorites in a fast-casual environment. It offers traditional dishes with a twist, but they certainly take pride in modifying all menu items to align with a wide range of dietary needs like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, keto, paleo, or Whole 30!

Their mission to source certain organic products, certified “Best Agricultural Practices” seafood, leveraging water-saving devices, alternative power sources and giving back to the community are just a few non-food related reasons I’m crushing on BellaGreen.


Now let’s get to the food, shall we?! For an appetizer we had the high-protein hempenadas, which were flavor bombs with raisins stealing the show … trust me on this. For the main course we had the blackened shrimp salad and paleo spaghetti squash bolognese. The mound of salad was perfectly dressed, seeing as I normally ask for my dressing on the side, super colorful and had tons of texture with perfectly cooked protein. The flavor of the bolognese was so rich and deep that it tasted like they had been cooking it for hours.

For dessert we indulged in the carrot cake, and they nearly found the perfect frosting to cake ratio.

The drink menu was very diverse with a good emphasis on local. I had a rose since that pairs nicely with shrimp and the Texas heat, and my husband had a Revolver Blood & Honey.

The esthetic of the restaurant feels light, airy, and fun. There is plenty of outdoor and indoor space to kick back and enjoy. All times would be a great time to enjoy this restaurant but my favorites might be: girls’ night, girls’ night with the kiddos, fast-casual lunch with friends/coworkers, fast-casual dinner on my way home if I don’t feel the desire to cook. They also serve brunch … so the next time I go you can guarantee it’ll be for that!

PRO TIPS

  • If you have kids, sit outside and let them play cornhole or play in the small, grassy area while you continue to sip on an adult beverage and enjoy the evening.
  • They cater! So, if you want to impress at the next office lunch, or dinner party they can customize to your heart’s desire.

BELLAGREEN
bellagreen.com
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2408 Preston Road (Plano)
972-975-9033