I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day (and no, not in a sad girl way), but after years of low key, forced romance with respective boyfriends, I’ve learned that it’s actually a great opportunity to spoil your friends. Because, really, love comes in all sorts of forms … isn’t that what Hugh Grant told us in “Love Actually”?
I got some of my girl friends together (and surprisingly, two dudes) for a fancy, little plein air brunch this past weekend. I went a little full-tilt girly brunch with French macarons, yogurt parfaits, cookies, quiche, and croissants. I didn’t make a dang thing (very unlike me) because I wanted to have one no-stress party. It was the best decision I have made in a while.
I sweetened the deal (and ensured a longer brunch session) with a mimosa bar featuring Segura Viudas Brut Cava, blueberry and orange juices, and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur. Everyone was able to make their perfect mimosa concoction. Trader Joe’s has a fantastic selection of unique juices for mimosas, just stay away from the carbonated options as it can make your mimosa too effervescent.
A fun, extra touch on the brunch was adding party favors at each place. Segura Viudas makes the cutest little (totally totable) splits that were perfect as placeholders.
So, what are your favorite Valentine’s Day traditions–both with S.O.s and friends?
There are people who like breakfast, and then there are people who LIVE for breakfast. I fall into the latter category and have been known to eat breakfast meals at any hour of the day. Eggs, bacon, avocado, fruit, pastries, waffles — I truly believe that you can satisfy any craving with breakfast food.
That said, I’m stoked to share my experience at the newest location of breakfast favorite, Yolk! The breakfast and lunch spot’s first-ever Dallas location was right next to Tei-An in the Arts District, but now they have an even more accessible location in Preston Center! This brightly colored, family-friendly, sit down restaurant serves a variety of sweet and savory breakfast plates as well as some standard lunch fare daily until 3pm.
I know some of you are a may want some suggestions on what to order, so I went ahead and tasted all of their best sellers for you (it’s a rough job, I know). Here’s a quick rundown of some go-to favorites that you can’t go wrong with:
Eggs Benedict: classic, rich, savory. Always a solid choice with an english muffin, Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and a side of potatoes.
Chilaquiles with Chorizo: for your Spanish side. This option comes with house made corn tortilla chips, salsa verde, avocado, jack cheese, red onion, crema, and is topped with two eggs any style. Side note — this plate is also gluten free!
Chicken & Waffles: Oooh boy. As their top selling item, it’s easy to see why people can’t get enough. Bacon waffle topped with crispy fried boneless chicken breast and sausage gravy, served with a side of warm maple syrup.
Citrus Blast Salad: for those who aren’t always in the breakfast mood. This refreshing salad has a little bit of everything–mixed greens, grilled chicken, apple, avocado, pecan, raisin, mandarin orange, dried cranberries, bleu cheese crumbles, and mango chardonnay vinaigrette. Heads-up: this option only comes in one, large size, so either come hungry, share, or be prepared to take some home.
Patty Melt: substantial lunch choice. Fill-er-up with this char-broiled burger, gilled onions, American cheese on grilled rye with a side of onion chips.
Stop in for some yummy breakfast and lunch options between the hours of 6am and 3pm.
Brunch in Dallas is a thing. You will wait as long in line for brunch as the one you probably waited the night before to get into a new club. The main difference is you’re more likely in the early stages of a hangover waiting for brunch. And that’s rough.
On the usually quiet little street of McKinney (ha), there’s a little place that, up until recently, was known for its dinner, cocktails and booming club beats on weekend nights. (I mean, they have an entire wall of speakers upstairs.) Next Door’s environmental design is what every loft owner wishes his or her apartment could look like. Behind the bar, the wine and spirit bottles are arranged between stacks of vinyl on wood shelves. There’s no shortage of leather and filament bulbs, and the downstairs patio and upstairs balcony make what is a small venue seem open, airy, and large.
Executive Chef Paul Niekrasz’s dinner menu is already far ahead of most of the culinary options in Uptown, and now he’s throwing his new “Proper Brunch” menu in the mix on Sundays. The menu is wonderfully small but creates an incredibly difficult choice because everything sounds amazing. If it’s your first time, I suggest either the Steak & Eggs or the BFFT (Best F**cking Fried French Toast).
As a person who prefers savory brunch options, I go more for the protein and bold flavors. The filet mignon in the Steak & Eggs was perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked and fork-tender. Topped with a sunny egg, it is set off nicely by a red wine-roasted garlic sauce and paired with zesty hash browns.
On the sweeter side of brunch, it’d be tough to find a comparison to the BFFFT. It goes without saying that it is deliciously rich, but it was not as sweet as expected from a French Toast. (Thank the brunch gods.) Reading its description, I was wondering how much any one person could eat, but it was fantastic. You guys … it’s cream cheese-stuffed cinnamon-raisin bread that’s pancake battered and fried topped with fresh berry compote, maple syrup and whipped cream. Even if it’s not your cheat day, ORDER IT. The BFFT does not disappoint.
On the lighter side, the Skinny Omelette was surprisingly delicious. From the menu description, I didn’t hold out much hope (farm eggs, asparagus, goat cheese, tomato, roasted red peppers, pesto). The goat cheese, roasted red peppers and pesto really flavor up what I thought was going to be a bland dish. Good news for those of us already working on our bikini bods. (Yuck.)
For me, the Smoked Salmon Sandwich was a bit on the rich side. It was delicious and the flavors were delightfully refreshing, but I just couldn’t eat it by myself. Also, it was served “deconstructed”, which threw me off, but I was into it. I’m a sucker for smoked salmon, though, and would suggest ordering this for the table for everyone to get a bite or three.
Don’t think I have forgotten the beverages … we know why you come here. They have the go-to mimosas and bloody marys, but Next Door is known for their wide range of modern classic and hand-crafted cocktails, so you know they have some random s**t in store. I am a sucker for Revolver Blood and Honey. It has become a staple in my beer line-up. Next Door livens it up a bit in their Blackberry Summer Beer with Deep Eddy Lemon, Monin Syrup with muddled blackberry. I was worried that it would be too sweet, but it was just right.
If a hangover cure is what you’re looking for, coconut water is said to be one of the best ways to rehydrate after a long night. They thought ahead and made it the key ingredient in their Coconut Water Mojito. (The name kind of gives it away, no?) The Captain Morgan White, Strawberry, Mint, and coconut water is perfect to cure what ails you.
All in all, if you are looking to hit up a great brunch spot this Sunday (yes,ONLY Sundays, 11am-3pm), head over to Next Door and take advantage of the softer, way more laid back side of their venue.
We’ve all seen brunch gimmicks from bloody mary bars to full meals as the garnish on a giant mason jars, but this one’s new to me (outside of Indian restaurants). The Ivy Tavern, a neighborhood hangout on Lemmon, now offers an all you can eat brunch buffet.
For $15, you can mix and match all your brunch favorites as many times as your little heart desires … and your stomach can handle. The best part is, all of the elements are actually good. The eggs don’t have the usual styrofoamy texture that so many buffet eggs seem to have, the bacon is well seasoned and perfectly cooked (to me, at least), and the bread is perfectly toasted.
They’ve also rolled out a brunch cocktail menu with some rather … interesting … options. You’ve got your standards–a bloody Mary and mimosas by the carafe (for $10)–and then you have your stranger options. Think cocktails like a smoky Maria (a bloody with jalapeño tequila instead of vodka), sangria with Skittles (yuck … Common Table’s is gross and so is this one), a bizarre combination of Crown Royal Apple (eesh) with lemonade and cranberry, and what they’re calling the “Brunch of Champions”–it’s a shot of Crown Royal Maple (double eesh) served with a slice of bacon and a shot of oj. Whether you’re meant to shoot them separately or mix them together is apparently your choice.
If you’re asking me, their brunch is a damn good deal. Order yourself a carafe of mimosas (for yourself, obvi), then hit the buffet and get creative. Make the most of that $15. Then use the money you saved for an Uber home.
I’m going to get right to it: Pakpao is Thai me up, tie me down delicious. Now with three locations strong, Pakpao led by Chef Jet Tila serves up authentic Thai food with fresh ingredients in a really beautiful way. (Like … actually nice to look at, but also beautifully done.) Their food is amazing, but their brunch offerings are a truly unique take on Dallas’s favorite meal. Think Coconut Pancakes and lemongrass and kaffir lime sausage hash.
The drinks offered at brunch are as unique as it gets for brunch. You aren’t going to find bottomless mimosas or bloody mary bars here, but you will find refreshing options like their Thai Lemongrass bloody mary (my personal favorite in Dallas), their Lychee Bellini, and Chula-Rita. The best part? These delightful libations start at just $3.
While the brunch was a revelation, most of the food that they make it. (I mean … I’m not sure why I was so surprised by all of the amazing brunch options with their track record … whatever.) The less brunch-y items we tried were the Hoi Obh (steamed P.E.I. mussels with the most amazing lemongrass and Thai basil broth) and the Pork Congee. The congee was, as best as I can describe it, a comforting porridge-like soup with ground pork and ginger. I may or may not have insisted on taking home the little bit that was left just so I could taste it again. Whatever.
The decor is simple and seemingly authentic down to the ingredients stacked thoughtfully on shelves below the open kitchen window. Located directly beside its sister restaurant, Oak, it’s easy to miss since it’s not visible from the street.
Stop in to one of the three locations for a brunch you won’t soon forget … just make sure to invite me for some coconut pancakes.
Add another gem to Collin County’s increasingly impressive lineup of Dallas hotspots making their way north because Pakpao Thai just opened their third location in West Plano Village. Highly accessible (located at Parker and the Tollway), plenty of parking, and a great patio situation; what more could a Suburbanite such as myself ask for? Well, great food, for one thing. Luckily, Pakpao delivers.
Pakpao and celebrity chef Jet Tila welcomed guests at a grand opening with some of their favorites: their take on the swirled margarita, the “Chula-Rita“- featuring premium tequila infused with lemon grass for 10 days ($9). With a cocktail menu featuring an array of fittingly exotic ingredients (think tamarind, lychee, and Thai basil), you’re sure to find something new to try (and love). Pakpao features an assortment of Thai beers (in addition to the usual suspects), and a nice assortment of wines, which are, well … not Thai. (This isn’t a bad thing.)
We started out with an array of appetizers, including the Beef Jerky Trio–Salty Thai, Spicy BBQ, and Massaman Curry jerky–each paired with a local beer ($14). If there are two things Texans love, meat and beer and high on the list, so I don’t really see how Pakpao can go wrong with this offering. Personally, I was impressed by the Crispy Morning Glory Salad … because, speaking of things Texans love, THIS WAS BASICALLY A FRIED SALAD, Y’ALL. Crispy Thai Spinach, shrimp, shallot, yum dressing, and cucumber relish ($12) … I promise you, you are going to want this “salad” in your life.
We sampled a variety of entrees, including the Chicken Pad Thai ($12), which I heard more than one diner proclaim to be their favorite pad thai in DFW. The Drunken Noodles ($12) were also a big hit, with just the right balance of Thai basil and a savory sweet sauce. If noodles aren’t your speed, try the Short Rib with Massaman Curry, with tender braised short rib, sweet potato, tamarind, peanuts, and massaman curry sauce ($19), definitely a hearty meal worthy of sharing. I would be remiss not to mention an unassuming little side dish that was unceremoniously placed our table, the Coconut Jasmine Rice ($5). Holy crap, you guys. Get this. It was one of the most talked about dishes of the evening, with its perfect creamy texture and mildly sweet flavor; a total crowd pleaser.
Save room for dessert, because the Thai Donuts ($7) are pleasantly reminiscent of delicious beignets; except for the accompanying plum jam and condensed milk, which as it turns out are perfect for dipping.
Pakpao Thai also features a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The brunch menu is really interesting, and definitely a departure from your requisite Eggs Benedict. Pakpao offers a happy hour Monday-Friday, 4-6pm, featuring $5 Chula-Ritas, Thai beer, and house wine, in addition to select appetizers available for just $5.
Pakpao Thai – Plano pakpaothai.com
3310 Dallas Pkwy (Parker & the Toll Road)
Regular readers know that I have my bubble. That’s the reason that I have contributors that just happen to cover areas north of 635 on my behalf. I’m ashamed of myself, but it’s true.
That said, I will travel to the great, white north for select things. One of those things: Ivy Kitchen. I finally made it in for their brunch this past weekend and wasn’t surprised in the least by the quality of the food and drink.
My friends and I decided to start with some brunch drinks–as all brunches should. We went with the Michelada, the Recovery (vanilla vodka, OJ, Robust), Sangria, and a pitcher of the Vine Peach Mimosa for the table. (Because what is brunch without a pitcher of something?) All were perfectly delightful, and the Recovery was a unique choice to break free from the usual brunch options–slightly sweet, slightly boozy, all delicious.
Once sufficiently lubricated, we started perusing the menu and had a hell of a time deciding what to order. Ivy Kitchen does a lot of different things, and surprisingly enough, seems to do them all well. We all decided to order a bunch of things and simply share so we could try more, which ended up being the absolute best idea.
Our brunch choices were somewhat traditional–Cinnamon Crusted French Toast that’s made with crushed cereal and the Ivy Crab Cake Benedict. I’m not often a fan of either (I’m weird about brunch food), but enjoyed both of them a little more than my meal companions appreciated.
Round two of food led us to some more savory options (and a shot or two of Patrón), including some of their new options, the Beef Short Ribs with Mustard BBQ sauce, Smoked Bacon Jalapeños, and Chopped Asian Salad. The Smoked Bacon Jalapeños were large jalapeños hollowed out and stuffed with brisket and spicy cheese then wrapped in bacon. These were SO DAMN HOT, but really delicious. I kind of fell in love with their Chopped Asian Salad (what, I eat salads …)–it was incredibly fresh and the many ingredients just worked … even the random smoked almonds.
To cap off the meal, we went for another round of drinks and I opted for their new Mojito Infusion, because new is always better, right? The orange infused rum paired well with the peach liqueur and citrus and was perfectly offset with the fresh mint. One more, please …
New Cedar Springs hotspot, Cedar Grove, opened in the former DISH space back in June after transforming the space into a whimsical fabricated forest … that just happens to have a restaurant in it. With food by Executive Chef Taylor Kearney and drinks by Beverage Director mixologist Trevor Landry, this bizarrely decorated restaurant was still a “wow”.
The drinks, we were warned, are all on the sweeter side as that is “what the clientele prefers”. While I enjoy my cocktails spirit forward (if not drinking straight liquor on ice), so I had to prepare my palate accordingly. Trevor let us try quite a few of their options and I didn’t have a single thing I didn’t enjoy, though I was glad to have someone to share with since my sweet tooth had been more than sated by the second drink. (The entire drink menu was also very inexpensive with most drinks ringing in around $6. They also offer punches for sharing!)
The drinks on the whole were playful (flavor or garnish … or both) and their unique offering (you know, the drink that everyone is going to Instagram?) is adult snow cones. The Crushed Caipirinha Snowcone was sweet and enjoyable, but I preferred the Lemondrop Snowcone because … Sour Patch Kids.
If you’re not into sweet drinks, your brunch options on-menu are limited. (I’d suggest ordering off-menu or asking for a dinner cocktail menu. The Shrubbery (Old Forester, peach shrub, lemon, house made grenadine, Angostura Bitters) is quite refreshing yet spirit forward and very flavorful.
Along with scrumptiously sweet drinks, the food was surprisingly delicious. The brunch selections we tried made for a great start to the day, especially the Chicken & Waffle Sliders. Tiffany and I shared one and it was plenty since it’s quite rich thanks to the runny, fried egg. I’d suggest ordering a few items to share since all of their options are quite good … why choose? (No one should have to deal with a Sophie’s Choice-type decision at brunch.)