Category Archives: Guest Contributor

Hosting the Perfect Dallas Garden Party this Summer

Written by Matt Smith

With summer just around the corner, many people in the Dallas area will be thinking about enjoying some leisure time such as taking a vacation or entertaining at home. If you enjoy having friends and family over to your home, one great idea is to host a daytime garden party where you can all enjoy the great weather as well as a range of food and drink.

Hosting a party such as this at the weekend is a great idea, as it means that many people will be off work so you have more flexibility with regards to the time you have your party. You also need to make sure you plan your food and drinks menu properly so that you cater for all needs.

Some tips that can help with your garden party planning:
There are various tips that can help when it comes to planning a garden party for the summer. When it comes to drinks, creating delicious chilled cocktails is perfect for this sort of event. The first thing you need to bear in mind is that not everyone will be drinking alcohol. Some people may be driving and others may prefer to stick to soft drinks. So, although you can create sumptuous alcoholic cocktails for those that are able to drink, make sure you also have the ingredients to make some virgin cocktails (or “mocktails”) for those that are not drinking.

The next thing you need to consider is the food that you will be serving up. As it is summer and the party will be held outdoors, it is best to stick to buffet food that can be enjoyed cold rather than go for hot food. Of course, you can also consider a BBQ if you prefer but depending on the weather it may be a little too hot for someone to be slaving over a hot grill all afternoon. If you opt for bugger food, go for simple options that are likely to appeal to most people and are simple to make and serve up. Also, don’t forget about people that may have special dietary requirements such as vegetarians or those with certain food allergies.

Biscuit Bar

Entertainment for your guests is also an important consideration when it comes to your summer garden party. You can’t go wrong by having some music by way of entertainment and these days you can just go on music streaming sites to download the perfect summer tracks for your garden party. You can then use a Bluetooth player to play the tune directly from your smartphone, which makes finding the right entertainment a breeze.

If you want to push the boat out or the garden party is for a special occasion, you may even want to consider hiring a marquee where guests can go to get some shade. In addition, you can put tables up in the marquee to set up your food, which will keep it free from insects and pests.

**Pictures by Beckley Co.**

Must Visit Dallas Food & Drinks Events in March

The month of March is full of different activities and events all over the world. From the widely-observed International Women’s Day to series of other festivities, every country has its own local food events that are celebrated with pomp and of course, an abundance of food. We decided to put the spotlight on a well-known city for this year’s list of early spring food/drink carnivals.

The city of Dallas, Texas is usually acknowledged as the cultural and commercial hotspot of the northern region of the state. It is no surprise, then that a host of eye-catching food events would hold here. They go further to prove the fact that one can discover a ton of things to do in Dallas.

This year’s celebrations, particularly those in March promise to be colorful, exciting and food-packed for all occasions. Here’s a few must-visit, food-related events to look out for during March:

Red Mare Wine Dinner

March 1st

The III Forks Steak place will be hosting an exclusive wine dinner in partnership with the Red Mare Winery. This exclusive wine dinner will feature a host of exquisite courses along with the finest wine, plus an appropriate dessert to seal the event. It will be held in the evening hours of the day.
Tickets: $125.

Texas Independence Day

March 2nd

The Oak Highlands Brewery is proud to announce an all-open celebration of the 182nd Texas Independence Day with a cold beer and BBQ ribs Dallas style. The event will also feature the brewery launch their new brown ale brand, made from pecans grown exclusively in Texas.

Festival of Colors by Radha Krishna Temple of Allen

March 3rd

Better recognized as the Indian cultural festivity of ‘Holi’. This event serves as a commemoration of the oncoming spring. Celebration involves lots of colors, cultural music and Indian street food at all its spiciest! Get your taste buds satisfied with the feel of garam masala spices you’ve never tried before! The Festival of Colors kicks off at noon.
Entrance is FREE

Dallas Bites! Best Tacos & Margaritas Tour

March 3rd

Are you a lover of hot, spicy Mexican food? Then this food festival is for you. Food Tours is glad to host the March version of their Best Tacos & Margaritas Tour this year. For $64 you get to experience a bus adventure through the best gourmet and street taco places in East Dallas. Participants are allowed to bring their own drinks while savoring the tastes of award-winning margaritas across the city.

Poke & Sake

March 22nd

This event will be sponsored by the Dallas Fish Market. It will feature an unforgettable night experience as participants will search out unique poke cuisines. Each poke dish will be paired with the perfect sake tasting.
Tickets: $55

Dallas Arboretum Food & Wine Festival

March 22nd

Won’t it look like a great idea to taste all the dishes available in the world without traveling? This food and wine festival is designed to do just that. The event will feature an assorted choice of cuisines from four regions. You can also enjoy the finesse and expertise of chefs from some of the fun places to eat in Dallas.

Between the Buns

March 24th

This outdoor food event will feature the best sliders Dallas has to offer, alongside with fried chicken, burgers and many other bun-related cuisines. There will also be music and of course, cold drinks at cash bars. The food event is set for a kick off in the second half of the day.

Bacon and Beer Classic

Date TBD

This event features everything with bacon and beer. Nothing sounds more appetizing than cheesy bacon fries or bacon mac ‘n’ cheese inside a baseball arena. It is a cross-country festival, which is held in major baseball playing grounds across the USA.

To the tune of a host of interactive games plus exciting music, participants get to experience the evolution of bacon-inspired recipes. These foods will be made by the best local restaurants in the area. Although the date for the Dallas version is yet to be revealed for this March, our friends at Edubirdie recommend the experience and advise us to look out for this year’s date. It promises to be quite the gathering.

Without a doubt, a lot of other food events will be announced with time. These are our must-attend picks. We believe you will find an event suitable enough for your taste buds among the ones we picked. Have fun!

**Crystal Roman, the author of the post, is a blogger and a freelance writer for She is currently exploring the most fascinating places and events all around the globe to share her experience with readers.**

One90 Smoked Meats is Smokin’

Written by Carolina Merino

If you’re like me and had never heard of One90 Smoked Meats (shhh please don’t rat me out), then believe me, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself … and fast. This unassuming shop in East Dallas put on a great show.

This past week I had the privilege of attending a One90 Smoked Meats media dinner, hosted by the owners of One90 and Oak Highlands Brewery. As explained to us that evening, long time friends, Kyle St. Clair, Herman Guerra, and Adam Weatherred had been smoking meat together for years in their backyards before leaving their respective careers and opening up their shop in 2015. And for good reason … because they have this art down to a science. (Yes, I wrote that correctly.) Their smoked meats are perfection.

The dinner started off with an assortment of cold shaved smoked meat and cheese trays, smoked salmon dip, and a brisket chili that brought some serious heat. That was followed by a stop at the bar to taste one (or more) of Oak Highland Brewery’s 10 craft beers on tap. The DF-Dub, a German dark wheat style ale, was a standout and paired nicely with the smokiness of the entire meal. (Because, beer and BBQ.)

Then, it was time for the main event—melt-in-your mouth brisket, pulled pork, and buttery poblano sausage. While seated, trays of mac and cheese, potato salad, and coleslaw were delivered to our tables. If all that wasn’t mouth-watering enough, we ended the meal with a decadent banana pudding that tasted like it was made in your grandmother’s kitchen.

Their shop kiosk reads “small batch craft meats” and that’s the dining experience One90 offers with their popular sandwiches piled high with the smoked meat of your choice, their vacuum-sealed grab-n-go smoked meat packages, and bevy of unique meat options which also include duck breast, rack of lamb, beef tenderloin, pastrami, and salmon. (They also have all this available online.) You can order meat delivered directly to your door or sent to anyone across the country as the perfect holiday gift.

Additionally, One90 has put together a menu of their go-to staples to make your holiday extra special. Orders must be placed by November 14 for Thanksgiving and December 19 for Christmas. Order now!

I enjoyed every bit of this meal and can’t wait to head over to their storefront to try one of their delicious ham sandwiches and grab some packaged brisket to go!

At first glance, One90 Smoked Meats seems like a typical bbq joint, but as I quickly learned, it truly is so much more.

10240 E. Northwest Highway (Far East Dallas)

Cover photo courtesy of One90.


Written by Andrea McCall

If your Super Bowl weekend was anything like mine, it was full of highs (endless guacamole, Gaga performing at halftime) and lows (Tom Brady winning … again, Beyoncé not performing with Gaga at halftime). So when I was invited to a Campari happy hour at Americano, I knew my week was on the up and up. The restaurant’s already successful happy hour just got happier with the re-introduction of “Aperitivo Hour”,  an event hosted by Campari.

“Aperitivo” in Italian means a low-alcoholic drink consumed prior to a meal, intended to stimulate your appetite … but what I heard in that definition was for me to become as classy and smart as an Italian, I’ve gotta pre-game with my pals before dinner. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

This Italian idea of sharing a drink and some snacks with friends before dinner sounds like a win-win, and low ABV drinks from Campari make it an even better sell. Small bites like fried calamari and fried olives (Susie’s favorite) paired with an Aperol Spritz (Campari, grapefruit bitters, prosecco) or the restaurant’s namesake Americano (Rosso Vermouth, Campari, soda) get you prepped for what will certainly be an excellent dinner.

Stop by the downtown hot spot weekdays from 4-7 to cultivate your new favorite Italian tradition.

Bon Aperitivo!


1530 Main St. (Downtown)


Everything the Perfect Home Bar Should Have

Written by a Guest Contributor

When hosting friends or for those quiet nights in, having the perfect home bar set up is a slice of luxury that everyone should have.

We all love getting dressed up and heading out for the night with friends to a plush restaurant or bar, especially on a Friday or Saturday night without the worry of work in the morning. However, every now and then it’s nice to stay in and enjoy a quiet night in or invite guests round for a celebration or casual get-together.

It is for these occasions when a home bar setup comes in handy and is the perfect centrepiece. The best part is, you can stock up your cabinets with the alcohol and liquor of your choosing – if something doesn’t take your fancy, it’s off the menu, and your favourite is always the special.

Proper Furniture
The first thing is to ensure you have the proper furniture for your home bar, a specialised and dedicated cabinet and/or sideboard is a must. Your bar must not have any other use; it should be exclusively kept for drink – i.e. kept clear of children.

You are not going to want something too big, or anything too small that you cannot fit all of your drink and barware. Consider what you will be including in your home bar – what types of liquor and how much? Also, take into consideration the size of bottles you will be storing as such items should be stored safely; otherwise you run the risk of shattered glass along the floor.

Stock – Pick your Favourites
Once you have decided on your furniture and know exactly how much room you have to play with, it is time to stock up your home bar with your personal preferences. If you are planning to invite friends round from time to time, it might be worth investing in popular favourites, even if they might not be your personal preference.

For beer lovers, a mini fridge to store bottles or cans is ideal – after all, the best way to serve beer is cold – and wine connoisseurs might look to install a rack in a cool and dry area behind the bar. If your taste is for something a little stronger, gins and spirits are easily stored in a cabinet and served with ice.

With a home bar, you can take the opportunity to experiment with mixing drinks – a popular talent for any barman, especially when impressing guests.

With your favourite tipple of choice in stock, the correct barware is an essential finishing touch – the correct glass must be used depending on the drink. You simply would not serve wine in a pint beer glass.

Glasses do not have to cost the earth and can be bought for a reasonably price; popular bar favourites include LSA glassware which is handmade for an extra classy look. If your bar focuses predominantly on wine then the glasses you buy must match the types of wines – believe it or not, the shape of the glass does have an effect on the taste of the drink.

The last thing any good home bar needs is rules that should be obeyed. As already touched upon, the bar should not be used for anything other than drinks – do not allow children to play around the bar due to the number of breakable glass items.

Keep your bar setup neat and tidy, do not allow clutter to gather and never leave dirty glasses on the side. As soon as you are finished with your glasses, get them washed up and put back into their designated space ready for future use.

The perfect home bar setup should not be difficult or expensive to achieve. With these simple steps, you, too, will also be able to enjoy the benefits of your favourite bar in the comfort of your own home.

The Original Pancake House

Written by Anna Tomczyk

Most great nights out leave me surprisingly hungry, despite any late night burger runs. When Susie asked me to visit the newest location of The Original Pancake House in Irving for a Saturday brunch, I was a bit confused. (I mean, one would assume that a booze-less brunching normally wouldn’t be Susie approved. As it turns out, OPH truly sets themselves apart with high quality ingredients and top-notch hangover mitigating breakfast favorites.) Their menu offers a large selection of breakfast and lunch dishes and there’s something on the menu for everyone.

The staff at the Original Pancake House in Irving was eager to please and greeted me quickly. After being seated, I was given a full breakfast and lunch menu along with their specialty coffee menu. This particular location has a full service espresso and brew bar to serve up your favorite coffee beverages all day. PRO TIP: order a pick-me-up drink at the bar while you wait. Their brews are locally sourced and their espresso (a blend of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Brazilian coffee) is brewed in-state. I ordered a vanilla latte and it was perfectly balanced with a surprisingly savory finish.

Every great brunch place has to get the basics right, so I started out with the sugar-cured, thick-cut bacon and buttermilk pancakes with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. I can tend to be pretty picky about my bacon and it didn’t disappoint–it was perfectly crispy. Some places have a hard time freshly squeezing juices and managing to chill them the same day before serving, but not OPH. It came out chilled and very refreshing. And the best part of this plate, of course, is the pancakes! The owner of this location let me know it takes five days to make their famous pancakes and guaranteed they would not disappoint. I buttered my pancakes with their soft, whipped butter and smothered them next with in-house pancake syrup … and they were indeed delectable and just as fluffy and flavorful as I was promised.

Since I have a strong European ancestry and my hubby is 100% Polish, it’s comforting to see dishes such as the OPH potato pancakes and the Dutch Baby on the menu. For those who are unfamiliar with potato pancakes, they’re shredded potato, egg, onion, and flour all pan fried to golden brown resembling the more popular (but less delicious) hash brown. My mother-in-law makes traditional Polish-style potato pancakes and they are a homemade favorite for everyone in our family. Amazingly enough, OPH serves really fantastic potato pancakes with your choice of savory sour cream or sweet apple sauce–I’m convinced they would be mother-in-law approved. The Dutch Baby was just as amazing (if a bit more oddly named), and I was eager to try this signature sweet offering. This traditional German pancake has a slight lemon flavor without being overpowering. The flaky, golden baked treat is topped with whipped butter, lemon, and powdered sugar.

Dutch Baby (Picture courtesy of OPH)
Dutch Baby (Picture courtesy of OPH)

OPH offers quite a few other breakfast dishes–omelets, crepes, dutch pancakes, other egg specialties, and some really fantastic sandwiches and random other lunch items. The restaurant truly made me feel like a friend of the family and I was able to see the fun culture and pride that everyone from the servers to the owner to the head chef have for the food they make and the guests they serve.

This is the place to keep in mind to frequent with friends and family alike when you want to give your kitchen a rest but still enjoy made-from-scratch, hearty goodness.

The Original Pancake House
Facebook | Twitter

***OPH invited me in for brunch.*** 

Cinco Tacos Cocina & Tequila

Written by Anna Tomczyk

Everyone loves a relaunch.  That’s why, when Susie asked me to stop into Cinco Tacos Cocina & Tequila (formerly Lazaranda), I was excited to see how they’d remixed their offerings and if they still had their killer ceviche on the menu.

As I entered Cinco, I noticed the modern craftsman décor splashed with bold Mexican colors and up-beat Mexican music. I was greeted immediately by a friendly, fun staff and they escorted me to a table in the bar area. The bar at Cinco is separated from the main dining room, allowing this restaurant the ability to go from a happening Saturday night out, to a calm mid-week dinner in no time.

I quickly noticed their expansive tequila list (because … tequila), Mexican beer and drinks, and, of course, their margaritas–they have 10 different choices when it comes to their margaritas, a fully loaded tequila bar and are also stocked with more than 12 beers on tap … holy tough decisions, Batman. My date (ahem … my handsome husband) and I both tried out the house margaritas, he ordered his frozen and I had mine on the rocks. It should be said that this is not an average boring house margarita made with mediocre mix and (god forbid) cheap tequila … oh, no, you won’t run in to that here. Their house margarita is made with 100% Agave Tequila and freshly squeezed key limes allowing a natural, balanced sweetness to blend flavors with the smooth tequila. They dusted the rim of the glass with a blend of salt and Tajin, which added a slight savory tang to this semi-sweet drink. Both styles of margaritas were more than acceptable – whether you like it on the rocks or frozen, the house margarita is a must!  Also, don’t miss the incredible selection of tequilas–great for mixing or sipping!

Picture courtesy of Cinco Tacos
Picture courtesy of Cinco Tacos

As we were happily sipping on our margs, we were able to try many appetizers and the house chips and salsa. I was again very delighted to see the generous use of Tajin on the house-made chips that paired nicely with their in-house salsas. All of their salsas were very fresh and full of flavor, and my favorite was the Molcajete Salsa –a peppery, roasted tomato blend with a warm medium spice.

Their appetizers were phenomenal and proved to be authentic, but mastered to their own unique style. Among the many small plates we tried, the Aztec Shrimp Ceviche was one of the most memorable. The shrimp ceviche boasted a bold key lime flavor, with grilled cactus leaves, fresh tomatoes, onions, and Serrano and pasilla peppers. I am always a sucker for ahi tuna and the Michoacan Fresh Tuna Tostadas had a satisfying blend of citrus and savory, and the creamy chipotle dressing completed the small bite perfectly. We finished our small plate happy hour with dessert, and the house made flan was a show-stopper with a warm, nutty flavor, and creamy texture.

Aztec Shrimp Ceviche

Cinco Tacos Cocina & Tequila is a taste of Mexico right here in Dallas. With so many choices throughout the DFW area for Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants, this hearty Mexican restaurant is a must try for those seeking a truly authentic Mexican dining experience. You will not be disappointed with the modern accents on traditional classics, and the chef holds nothing back with the freshest ingredients and a well-rounded menu.  I’d suggest bellying up to the bar and ordering a (few) margaritas and enjoying a boozy happy hour with some of their delicious appetizers.

Facebook | Twitter
5000 Belt Line Road, Addison

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 3-7pm
Beers: $3-4
Wells: $4
La Zaranda Signature Wine: $4
House Margaritas: $4
Premium Margaritas: $7
Select appetizers $9.50-11

Sunday Brunch Buffet: Sundays 10am-3pm
$19.95/person, $7.95/children 10 and under

***Cinco Tacos Cocina invited me in to try out their offerings gratis.  All images courtesy of Cinco.***

Product Review: Pickle Juice Chaser

Written by: Anna Tomczyk

Designed with the trendy “pickleback” shot in mind, The Pickle Juice Company has announced their brand new product, The Pickle Juice Chaser. What is the big “dill”, you might ask? (Yeah, I made the pun … whatever.) The chaser provides 10 times the electrolytes, vitamins, and zinc and is ready to easily pour out of a bottle (forget making a mess with old fashioned pickle jars).

The Pickle Juice Company boasts 15+ years in the pickle juice arena, but up until now their primary focus remained in the innumerable health benefits in this powerful beverage. The juice is a big hit for pickle-lovers nationwide and those looking for a 100% natural, healthy thirst quencher. Pickle juice is proven to prevent dehydration and muscle cramping, which has also made it a great choice for athletes of all levels. (Yes, drinking can be considered a sport.)

As a pickle lover myself, I was eager to give The Pickle Juice Chaser a shot … a literal shot, by trying the infamous pickleback shot first. I found the chaser a satisfying balance of savory and salty. To my surprise, it completely took away the harsh sting that can follow a shot of whiskey. The aftertaste was as if I bit into a juicy dill pickle, slightly salty with full pickle flavor.

63034ae01b041240dbc5cd88853c38cbThe Pickleback
1 shot Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 shot Pickle Juice Chaser

Pour each shot into separate shot glasses. Drink the whiskey shot immediately followed by the shot of Pickle Juice Chaser.

If you aren’t into shots but want to try the chaser, The Pickle Juice Chaser works great in cocktails and martinis as well.

The Dirty Pickle Martini
8 oz gin or vodka
½ teaspoon dry vermouth
2 tablespoons Pickle Juice Chaser
2 pickled okra spears for garnish

Add ice halfway up the cocktail shaker. Add gin, vermouth and pickle juice. Shake well and strain into 2 martini glasses. Garnish with a pickled okra spears.

The Pickle Juice Chaser by The Pickle Juice Company
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Available for purchase online or at Kroger, Academy, and HEB.