Category Archives: Contributor

An Open Letter to Suburbia from a Suburbian

To Whom it May Concern:

One of the best parts of living in the ‘burbs has been my slow realization that living out here is not the end of the world socially. Every time you look up, there’s a new import of a Dallas favorite, a side project from a chef you already love, or places that have helped us move beyond the downtown/uptown view that we’re all watching MMA fights at wing restaurants between trips with the kids for unlimited breadsticks and a dip in a chocolate fountain.

As this has happened, I’ve noticed two distinct feels for these northern concepts. The first (let’s call it the “right way” to do business) is to create a restaurant that will be part of the neighborhood with a great dining/drinking experience that stands on its own. This seems like a really easy concept to grasp and a general key to success … right?

There’s a second troubling approach I’m starting to notice and it can be summed up as “Hey, you suburban Neanderthals, put down your slop for a second and come have the honor of dining on what us city folk eat.” Sometimes this comes through from a server; other times you can just feel it permeating the entire restaurant the moment you walk in. It’s not limited to second locations – in fact, most of the biggest offenders I’ve encountered are places that have opened out here only. For a few of these, you can almost circle the date on the calendar in 12-15 months when the novelty will wear off and everyone moves on to the next big thing.

Now, I’m not going to name names or turn this into a list – different places have bad days, sometimes a waiter from the Dallas location who feels this way takes a shift and does a poor job of hiding an attitude or, being frank, there are (gasp) exhausting suburban stereotypes in suburbia that reinforce the whole outlook. I love that I can hop over to a second Lockhart’s and walk out with ribs and some of the most underrated turkey you’ll ever see at a BBQ joint and I certainly don’t want to seem ungrateful, especially as someone who spent my childhood in a town that didn’t get a Chili’s within 30 miles until I was in high school.

So, why am I ranting? Because as a person who moved out here after 7 years in Dallas “proper”, it’s exciting to me to not only kill my own misconceptions and judgments, but bring friends out here and have them do the same. I won’t pretend to not still venture to Dallas when I can, but it is very satisfying to have a community feel up here that also captures some of the best things about living near the city. There are people who plan their lives around the Lakewood house and the job downtown, which is awesome, but there are also plenty of great opportunities (and parking spaces, yards, less congested roads, etc.) outside of the bubble as well.

There’s nothing worse than convincing a person to come out all this way, taking them somewhere that sounds great on paper and then watching them get so turned off they either find a way to never come again or just suggest making a few drinks and ordering in at your place. So, please, if you’re an owner of a restaurant, bar, cocktail lounge, house of wine, illegal moonshine bathtub or anything else that lets us eat, drink and be merry, please remember to keep treating customers the way you would want to be treated and help us to continue to build up a real food and drink scene north of 75.

Yours (somewhat ungratefully),

Brian

Cubierto’s

Hi. My name is Brian, and I have a confession that will be hard to hear for most Texans: At some point in the last 5 years, I gave up on Tex-Mex/Mexican. I didn’t stop eating it or anything, but after hopping from place to place, it all was beginning to run together to the point where seeking out new places or menu items lost all appeal. I think this came about from excessive exposure – especially when every night out in Uptown had to be started with a group of 12 (8 girls, 2 beaten-down dates, 2 single guys usually) headed to Primo’s (RIP), MiCo’s or Chuy’s. It’s not that I don’t like it – I just sort of realized that if I went limp and stayed real still, Mexican food would still find me.

Picture courtesy of Cubierto’s
Picture courtesy of Cubierto’s

That’s why when Susie asked me if I’d tried Cubierto’s, I made a note of it, but didn’t rearrange any immediate plans. To her credit, she didn’t give up, and kept telling me that I wouldn’t regret the trip. Finally, as the polar vortex welcomed me home to DFW from a work trip, I felt the long-dead Tex-Mex craving knew it was time … time for Tex-Mex.

As I walked up to the building, I had hesitations. The patio looked great and expansive, but it was still early in the evening and the happy hour crowd hadn’t quite been replaced by the night diners. Then, there was a note on the door about following a dress code. This was obviously a chance to write my own Addison/North Dallas joke, but instead, I opened the door and found a very happy hostess, a great atmosphere and live music going on by the bar. The service was extremely welcoming and pleasant (not always a given during this time of night on a weekend as folks recover and gear up for the second wave.)

For drinks, I tried two different margaritas – the house-made frozen one as this experiment’s constant, and then the higher end offering on the menu. The frozen one was good – not too sweet, the tequila came through and it was very refreshing, but there’s only so much you can say about a frozen house margarita. The top shelf one with cointreau was perfect. The overbearing sweetness that usually limits me to a margarita or two every few months had been replaced by a balanced taste of tequila, lime and orange that was equally enjoyed by my margarita-eschewing fiancée. I found myself wishing I had just started with this one and couldn’t even bring myself to try the sangria or the pepper cocktail, but have both of those on my list for next time.

For a meal, we had the chicken mole and the tenderloin quesadillas, which were both excellent. I had a friend in college who had family in Mexico City and was obsessed with finding the perfect dish, and this was about the closest I’d seen anything come to the homemade attempts we’d all split after being disappointed elsewhere. The quesadillas were also fantastic and replaced the ones at Tupinamba’s as my favorite, rarely-mentioned quesadillas in Dallas.

I owe Susie for convincing me to check this place out and definitely recommend the trip to anyone looking for something a little bit different than the usual Dallas spots.

Drink strength: 4.5 of 5 (that top shelf will get you)
Food: 4.5 of 5 (everything from the salsa trio to the entrees was excellent – and there’s a lot more to try we missed)

Cubiertos Gourmet Mexican and Margarita Bar
www.cubiertosdallas.com
facebook | Twitter: @CubiertosDallas | Instagram: @CubiertosDallas
18020 Dallas Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75287
(972) 381-7779

Astoria Caffe & Wine Bar

Truth be told, I find wine to be a bit intimidating. I can’t do what sommeliers do. I’m a beer guy. I have no idea how to really even “taste” wine as a professional would, seeking out hints of boysenberry (what does boysenberry even taste like???) or a lingering aftertaste of leather or graphite (whaaa?). I couldn’t tell you if a wine should be older or drunk the same year it’s made, and I have no idea of the “terroirs” associated with different wines. (Wait … since when are dog breeds involved in wine-making???) Nevertheless, the staff at Astoria Caffe & Wine Bar in Addison Circle makes me feel like a pro and helps me get to just the right glass (or three) of vino.

Wine and CheeseI recently had the chance to visit this corner bar with the wife for a light dinner of wine and cheese (which is totally acceptable). This wine bar is family-owned, completely unpretentious, and boasts a diverse selection of wines and a small, well thought-out menu. It’s the kind of place where you can see yourself being a regular. For those who aren’t big wine drinkers, don’t fret, Astoria stocks a selection of domestic and imported beers, too.

For the casual wine drinker who doesn’t want to an entire bottle (or the indecisive), there are plenty of choices available by the glass. I thought that the prices for both glasses and bottles of wine were quite reasonable. If you’re looking for something in particular or just need help with a recommendation, the staff is eager to help and knowledgeable about the bar’s offerings.

Astoria is intimate and cozy, allowing one to quickly feel right at home. The interior has a dozen or so small tables as well as a dog-friendly front patio surrounded by lush trees. This wine bar attracts an eclectic mix of patrons that range from the mature wine snob to young couples to hipsters. Those looking for a great first date spot in Addison or those simply looking to unwind with a glass of good wine in a relaxed atmosphere can look no further.

Whether you’re an experienced wine buff or an amateur like me, there’s a lot to appreciate at Astoria Caffe!

ASTORIA CAFFE & WINE BAR
astoriacaffe.com | (972) 239-5853
15701 Quorum Drive, Addison, Texas 75001
Facebook | Instagram: @Astoriacaffe_Winebar | Twitter: @Astoriacafewine

Happy Hour: Daily from 3pm to 7pm

  • Monthly bottle specials
  • Live-music on select nights

 

Where to Get Your Adult Milkshake Fix in Dallas/Fort Worth

Originally written by Lauryn Bodden, edited and updated by Susie O.


Ice cream, desserts, and booze:
these are a few of my favorite things.

With national ice cream month upon us, it appears there is no better time than now to enjoy this match made in heaven. Pick your favorite frozen pint of dairy, blend it with a splash (okay, splash is a little naïve) of Kahlua or booze of choice and top with desired toppings like whipped cream, peanut butter cups, and fudge.

But then again, Dallas has its fair share of adult milkshakes floating around town and something of this measure should really be left to the experts. That being said here is a roundup of some of my favorite places to get that boozy shake fix.

Grub Burger Bar | Photo credit: Susie O

Grub Burger Bar
grubburgerbar.com | multiple locations

– Bourbon & Caramel
– Mint Chocolate Chip
: Vodka, crème de cacao, crème de menthe and Andes mints
– Birthday Cakefetti: Cake vodka and sprinkles
– Moonshine American Pie: Apple pie moonshine, applie pie filling, bakes pie crust, maple syrup, vodka and kosher salt, grated cinnamon and granola crumble
– Dirty Kitchen Sink: Chocolate vodka, pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds and potato chips
– Tipsy Worms & Dirt: Vodka, crushed Oreos and gummy worms

Royale - adult milkshake
The Royale’s Adult Milkshake | Picture by Susie O

The Royale Magnificent Burger
royaleburgers.com | 3310 Dallas Parkway, Suite 121 (Plano)

These overdressed shakes are boohoozy. Options include some tamer options like their Salted Caramel Shake spiked with Nassau Royale Liqueur (pictured above) and their Banana Shake “jolted” with Maker’s Mark, then get a little crazy. Their Magnificent S’mores Shake (pictured as the header) has chocolate ice cream, fudge, toasted marshmallow, and a graham cracker rim … then they add marshmallow vodka. It’ll set you back $13.50, though! (Other options include vanilla with Myer’s Dark Rum, chocolate with Godiva Liqueur, and strawberry with Ford’s Gin.)

Kenny’s Burger Join’s Chocolate Grasshopper | Picture by Rachel Farrar

Kenny’s Burger Joint
kennysburgerjoint.com | Frisco & Plano

– Insomniac: Espresso vodka, Kahlua, Baileys and chocolate syrup
– Attitude Changer: Stoli vanil, Godiva dark chocolate liquor and Oreos
– Easy Rider: Maker’s Mark and caramel
– Chocolate Grasshopper: Crème de menthe, white crème de cocoa and Oreos

Twisted Root Adult Milkshake (Big Fat Elvis)
Twisted Root Adult Milkshake, the Big Fat Elvis | Picture courtesy of Twisted Root

Twisted Root Burger Co.
twistedrootburgerco.com | multiple locations

– Cookies & Cream: Amaretto and Oreo cookies
– Bailey’s & Banana: Bailey’s Irish Cream and 99 Bananas Liquor
– Chocolate Cake: Vanilla vodka, Frangelico and chocolate vodka
– Fruit Loops: Strawberries and 99 Bananas Liquor
– PB & Chocolate: Chocolate vodka and peanut butter
– German Chocolate Cake: Malibu rum, chocolate vodka and pecans
– Grandpa’s Favorite: Butterscotch schnapps and vanilla
– Rocky Road: Amaretto, chocolate vodka, pecans and marshmallows
– Chocolate Bananas: 99 Bananas Liqueur, chocolate vodka and chocolate chips

Snuffer’s Burgers
snuffers.com | multiple locations

They actually don’t offer them on the menu, but it’s a Snuffer’s secret that you can ask for them!

Hopdoddy’s Strawberry Buttermilk Milkshake Special | Picture courtesy of Hopdoddy

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
hopdoddy.com | multiple locations

You can add any booze you want to the shakes listed on the menu!

Alamo Drafthouse
drafthouse.com | multiple locations

– Breckenridge Vanilla Porter Shake: Breckenridge Porter (nitro)
– Grasshopper Shake: Crème de cacao, crème de menthe, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream
– Irish Coffee Shake: Bailey’s Irish Cream, vanilla ice cream, coffee and whipped cream
– Maker’s Mark Milk Punch Shake: Maker’s Mark, vanilla ice cream, nutmeg and whipped cream
– Reposado Chocolate Shake: Reposado tequila, chocolate, cinnamon and whipped cream
– The Temptress Shake: Lakewood Milk Stout (nitro)

Del Frisco’s Grill’s Vanilla Adult Milkshake | Picture courtesy of DFG

Del Frisco’s Grill
delfriscosgrille.com | D/FW locations only

Their more adult-seeming Vanilla Adult Milkshake is a blend of Nocello Walnut Liqueur, Crème de Cacao, chocolate liqueur, and vanilla ice cream.

Header image courtesy of The Royale Magnificent Burger.

THE SOCIAL HOUSE’S SUMMER SIPS & BITES

Summer is upon us, and we all know what that means, Dallas … patio season is now in full swing! With that said, The Social House recently had us come in to try out some fresh bites and Summer cocktails on the patio of their Addison location.

Everything we tried at the tasting was great. It may just be that I love mangos, but my favorite beverage was the Frozen Mango Margarita. The thickness of the fruit itself makes this frozen margarita taste more like a smoothie. It’s pretty awesome. If it’s food you’re after, check out the Irish Pork Nachos. They’re made with house-cut chips, topped with Ancho pulled pork, avocado mousse and pickled jalapeños …yes, it was as good as it sounds.

Whether you are looking for a great patio to lounge on a beautiful day, a tasty beverage after a long day or some delicious food for a grumbling stomach, The Social House is your one-stop shop!

PROTIP: Check out their amazing happy hour specials! For example, the cocktails shown above (or below) are all served at half-price during happy hour… Talk about the happiest of hours!

Social House Addison
5100 Belt Line Rd. #410
Addison, TX 75254
TEL: (972) 392-4300
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday from 4PM till 7PM

JAMBA JUICE’S NEW FRESHLY SQUEEZED JUICE LINE

Written by Enrico DeLeon III
With the big juice craze gaining more and more steam amongst all our super healthy friends, Jamba Juice‘s new line of fresh juices could not have come at a better time!  JJ rolled out the new menu at select locations only* to test them out, and us DFW-ians are lucky enough to have a chance to taste them!
When first hearing about this new line, it made me happy to hear that someone in the smoothie world was finally breaking into a real line of juices (not just one or two or simply just wheat grass shots).Jamba Juice’s expanded juice platform incorporates high-nutrient super foods like kale, beets, cucumbers, apples, oranges and chia seeds. They offer great tasting beverages which increase your fruit and vegetable intake without taking awhole lot out of your pocket.I recommend trying their “Tropical Greens” juice. Although it has all of their Supergreens (organic baby spinach, organic baby kale, and organic red and green chard), the blend of ice, fresh apples, pineapples and chia seeds gives you a great tasting beverage with nature’s sweetness from the fruit complimented by the freshest flavors of the greens. Don’t be scared to try this amazing beverage just because you may not like all the greens… you’ll definitely be surprised! Besides, if it’s good enough for Popeye the Sailor Man, it’s damn sure good enough for you!  (It might even win you a hottie like Olive Oil.)

The following stores in the Dallas area will have fresh-squeezed juice:

  • Southlake – 222 State St, Southlake, TX 76092
  • Sundance Square – 400 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
  • Frankford – 18204 Preston Rd, Dallas, TX  75252
  • Shops at Legacy – 5700 Legacy Dr, Plano, TX 75024
  • Greenville – 5923 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206
  • Northwest Highway – 8421 Westchester Dr, Dallas, TX 75225
  • Las Colinas – 6440 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75039
  • Watauga – 8450 Denton Hwy, Watauga, TX 76148
  • Hulen – 4801 Overton Ridge Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76132
  • Spring Creek – 1201 E Spring Creek Pkwy, Plano, TX 75074
  • Flower Mound – 3180 FM 407, Highland Village, TX 75077
  • Camp Wisdom – 3040 Camp Wisdom Rd, Grand Prairie, TX 75052
***Rico was given a gift card by Jamba Juice to try out some of their new options.***

Citadelle Gin

 

Written by Lauryn Bodden

You should know by now I am an avid gin drinker and I will praise its herbal notes to my grave. A spirit that is meant to be mixed and bring depth to drinks, gin is the most used alcohol in classic cocktails. A friend once told me, “Saying you don’t like gin is like saying you don’t like sauce.”  Gin uses juniper as its main ingredient, but ranges with flavor profiles from cucumber and rose to lavender to lemongrass and black pepper.

Citadelle Gin from Cognac Ferrand proprietor, Alexandre Gabriel, combines the delicacy of fresh flowers, jasmine, honeysuckle, and cinnamon—a flavor profile reminiscent of springtime picnics and summer patio sipping. Citadelle is the only gin in the world distilled in small, Charentais copper pot stills over a naked flame.  (That sounds pretty sexy.)

Intrigued by flavor possibilities imparted from aging gin in different types of casks, Gabriel began to experiment in the mid-200s and introduced the Citadelle Gin Reserve in 2008. Going back to the style of “yellow gin”, Citadelle Reserve matures for several months in old oak casks to produce the freshness of Citadelle gin with older, cask-aged spirits. Each year since 2008, Gabriel releases a limited edition aged gin each year to give customers new, exciting flavor profiles.

In 2013, Gabriel hit the holy grail of gin production. He came to the conclusion that a cell master should not age gin in just one cask, but several casks and then marry the liquid. This process is called solera, which means you have a “mother solera vat” that maintains the blend profile.

The process appears grueling, but basically involves putting new-made Citadelle into three types of casks from two to five months. Here’s the breakdown of casks used:

1.)  ex-Cognac that are rinsed with gin, so the Cognac doesn’t overpower the gin

2.)  ex-Pineau des Charente that imparts a full-bodied mouth feel, a little spice and a flowery roundness

3.)  American oak casks, which is the mother solera vat that contains a special taste profile created by Gabriel. The gin marries in the mother solera vat and then bottled.

As you prepare to embrace this Texas summer heat with a cool, refreshing cocktail, check out Citadelle Reserve Solera to make the perfect drink by the pool (or, ya know, anywhere).

Here is a recipe for a more exotic Gin & Tonic using Citadelle:

Created by Citadelle’s Spanish team.

  • 35ml Citadelle gin
  • 140ml Tonic
  • Orange
  • Licorice root

In a wide glass, place two slices of orange. Pour gin then tonic.  Add the licorice. Garnish with orange peel.