Category Archives: Neighborhood

The Sake Social Hour at Uchiba

When Uchi announced that it would be opening a more bar-focused concept earlier this year, I could barely contain my excitement. (Though, I know many of us Top Knot-lovers were a bit wary.) You can breathe easy, because the new concept is yoi (gooooood).

The name makes sense—the word Uchiba combines “Uchi,” which means house in Japanese, and “Ba,” bar. Since its opening on January 31, this concept brought to us by Chef Tyson Cole under the Hai Hospitality umbrella, is Uchi’s sleek and stylish little sister has been a hit for those seeking shareable bites, fabulous décor and incredible cocktails.

 

If you’re anything like me (and our friend Susie), you love a good happy hour, but really love when the good happy hour also has incredible food. That’s why I was so excited to go check out Uchiba’s Sake Social Hour, which is offered daily from 5-6:30pm and the entire menu is $10 or less! Yes, you read that right! It features delicious creations like their hot fried chicken buns, spicy crunchy tuna temaki and hama chili. Oh, and not to mention, half priced specialty cocktails.

All of the food I sampled was incredible, but you can’t miss the nigiri (which is only $2 during the social hour)! I also tried both types of temaki that is offered during the Social Sake Hour, and while it’s hard to choose a favorite, the spicy crunch tuna has a little bit of spice with which the avocado perfectly complimented. And do yourself a favor and order the hot fried chicken bun. It’s similar to Nashville hot chicken but with Asian-style flare. They definitely have a kick but nothing too overbearing.

And the cocktails … yassss. All of the specialty cocktails are half-priced during the social hour. I started out with the Too Much Heaven, which was very similar to an old fashioned but with a nice hint of lemongrass. My second choice was the Sanmittai, a refreshing blend of gin, lemongrass, black warrior shochu, cilantro, mint and basil. It’s like an herb garden in a cup—in the most delicious way possible. If specialty cocktails aren’t your thing, Uchiba also offers a variety of wine and beer for a steal.

Something to note: if after you’ve had a taste of the social hour and you need to really fulfill your Uchiba fix, you can order from the full menu at the same time! I’ve heard that the fried milk dessert is to die for.

You can either walk-in or make reservations based on availability for the Sake Social Hour. If you’re planning to check it out on a Friday or Saturday, I would definitely recommend calling at least a few days in advance since those are some of the most popular days.

Sake Social Hour: DAILY, 5-6:30pm
1/2 price all specialty cocktails
$4-5 select wine & beer
$2 nigiri (sake, avocado, or hamachi)
$2-3 yakitori (shishito yaki, pork belly, or ribeye)
$6 temaki (sake karei or spicy crunchy tuna)
$6-8 tastings (hama chili, foie gras mousse, yuca fries, or hot fried chicken buns)
$6 selected seasonal dessert


UCHIBA
uchiba.com
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214-855-5454
2817 Maple Avenue, 2nd floor (Uptown)
complimentary valet

Cover image courtesy of Uchiba.
**Thanks to Uchiba for treating Lauren to happy hour.**

Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ

Growing up Texan, I basically came out of the womb eating brisket and ribs. I mean, what Texan didn’t? Eating brisket burnt ends are like biting into a piece of heaven… with bbq sauce… okay anyway. If you love good BBQ and great atmosphere you are sure going to love this place. I know I did.

Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ is definitely the spot to hang out at. This fun spot serves up smoked meats, unique cocktails and oh, a 50-foot working Ferris wheel. The place is dog friendly, hosts occasional concerts and events, and has games like cornhole and jenga if you’re the competitive type.

As much as I wanted to eat everything on the menu, I stuck with a two-meat plate. I ordered turkey, and of course, I HAD to get burnt ends. Let me just say, that this is the best BBQ I have had in a long time. As a self-proclaimed BBQ eating professional, that is saying a lot. The brisket had amazing flavor and just melted in my mouth. The turkey was moist and soft, and left me in a coma afterwards. Served alongside are your choice of two sides, so I asked the bartender for his recommendation, and without hesitation told me to get okra. The okra was seasoned perfectly and was just the right amount of crispy. I had to stop myself from eating the entire basket.

This place is so Texas. Their cocktail menu proves it—they even have Lemon Chills. That’s right … their version of the old school lemon treats that we shouldn’t have been allowed to touch because they are gazillion grams of sugar. Turns out, they’re better when there’s booze in ’em. This refreshing drink will take you back to your childhood and give you a buzz, how great is that? I’ll take 3.

Their cocktail options aren’t limited to over-the-top sweet options. Look for a little more heavy-handed options like the Old Timer (an Elijah Craig bourbon old fashioned) and the Gentleman’s Handshake (a Lone Star tall boy & a shot of Evan Williams whiskey). Take it easier with one of their local beers—canned or on tap. And as wines go, they have glasses and bottles of a variety of options. You can even get a little chi-chi at the BBQ joint with a bottle of Veuve for $110.

Courtesy of Ferris Wheelers

You should know, thought, that this BBQ spot is more than just a restaurant. Keep an eye on their event schedule for upcoming concerts and special events!

Ferris Wheelers left such a good impression on me, through food, atmosphere and service. Come check out this smokin’ hot place, make some friends and ride the Ferris Wheel! You won’t regret it.


FERRIS WHEELERS
ferriswheelers.com
1950 Market Center Boulevard (Design District)
(214) 741-4141

ORNO—No Ordinary Wine Bar

I promise you, I had every intention of ordering wine when I arrived at ORNO last night. It is a wine bar, after all. As I walked through the front door, I saw the matte black wall of wine—individual bottles stood on floating shelves with their respective names and origins neatly written out in white chalk. Beneath this display sits a long, cushy leather banquette, the majority of which was already occupied by what I observed to be a big, happy group of friends who were enjoying the company and their meal.

Courtesy of Orno


The restaurant has a cozy, neighborhood vibe with good music, perfectly low lighting, and a quirky live aquarium display on a large flat-screen TV set right in the middle of the back bar.


… now we come to one of the reasons why I never ordered the wine. I perused the cocktail list that the server presented, and quickly spotted a spirit that I didn’t even know I was craving: mezcal. As if on cue, the bartender walked over from behind the bar to say hello and ask if we wanted to order some drinks. My date ordered a sangria while I ordered an El Viejo.


Once I tasted the mezcal, I never turned back. Every cocktail I subsequently ordered centered around the smoky, agave spirit, and I only requested that each new mezcal drink be different from the last.

Turns out, the friendly bartender was Nael Rodriguez, the owner of this fine establishment. He was also a food runner, server, greeter, gracious host, and seeming jack of all trades. During the meal, he informed me that, during ORNO’s design phase, he made sure that everything in the build-out facilitated the ability to jump from one position to the other with as much ease as possible. From the bar, he could still an eye on the food coming out of the kitchen as well as on the front door to welcome guests. It’s actually brilliant.

Speaking of food coming out of the kitchen … ORNO’s cuisine offerings are top notch New American bites, and by “New American”, I mean it highlights aspects of many cultures that make up the fabric of our wonderful country. For example, I requested that he surprise my date and me with a three-course dinner of his choosing, no dietary restrictions or food allergies to worry about. Nael smiled and disappeared, promising that our first course would arrive within an hour (he’s a funny guy, that Nael!).

Within a few minutes, a dish of  sweet and spice lacquered pork belly bites arrived at our table, with earthy and sweet aromas wafted my way and made my mouth water. The meat melted in my mouth, and the fresh slaw of julienne veggies in the center offered an appropriate balance to the depth and unctuousness of the fatty pork.


Not a bad start, Mr. Rodriguez.

Nael then took us from Asian-inspired fare to more Italian flavor with the Pig & Fig flatbread.  The crispy, thin crust held a light layer of Alouette Brie cheese that was topped with delicate slices of prosciutto, dollops of fig preserves, and bits of candied cayenne walnuts. Simple. Delicious. No one item overpowering the rest, each playing off one another so well that before I knew it, the whole flatbread disappeared. Oops!


So far, Nael is two for two. Where was he going to take us next?
To the Caribbean!

For our last course, Nael presented us with the Voodoo Shrimp—a half pound of jumbo (and I mean JUMBO) shrimp dressed in a Caribbean-inspired BBQ sauce that intrigued us to the point that we tried to identify as many spices in the sauce as we could. There was such complexity and depth of flavor that eventually Nael had to come by and reveal that there were no less than 18 spices that make up the sauce and that the sauce had to be made a few days prior to serving so all of the flavors could deepen.

It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? As consumers, we go eat out at restaurants and the dishes we enjoy take mere minutes for us to consume and enjoy. We usually don’t think about the time and work that goes into composing our meals, but in the moments when we do stop to really consider it, it’s usually when some part of us recognizes that the food was made with thought, care, and love.

… and that’s ORNO.

I truly love it when a meal inspires me to wax romantic about the dining experience, and the best part about this meal is just how comfortable the setting was. The space housed around 24 seats in the dining room, and no more than maybe 8 seats at the bar. If I lived in the Cedar Springs area, I could see myself stopping in there at least once a day, even if just to say hi to the staff or to grab a cocktail.

ORNO is a neighborhood gem that’s bursting at the seams with soul. And, in a tricky restaurant city like Dallas where every week is a laundry list of flashy openings and abrupt closings, I hope that ORNO’s quiet charm and culinary approachability ensure that it’s here to stay a while.


ORNO Restaurant
facebook.com/ornodallas
3908 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas (Cedar Springs)
(469) 726-2004

Closed Mondays, Open Tues/Wed: 11AM-10PM, Thurs-Sat: 11AM-11PM, Sun: 11AM-4PM

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
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
2000 Woodall Rodgers Freeway (Downtown)

3Eleven Brings Clever Cocktails to Dallas’s West End

As a soon to-be senior in college, I drink Burnetts and sprite on the weekends. We go to the same bars with sticky floors, sweaty people and loud music. It is what it is, but when you come home for the summer, and Susie asks you to go to events in downtown… well, I’m a little spoiled now. She’s on a mission to help me appreciate the finer points of cocktails, spirits, and food.

Recently, I had the pleasure of going to 3Eleven’s grand opening party and had such a fantastic time. I walked along a red carpet, was greeted with wine and crab cakes, and found a new favorite bar in Dallas’s West End. Liv-ing the life.

For those who don’t know, 3Eleven is a stylish restaurant and bar that puts a modern twist on historic downtown. When you walk in, you’re taken back by the little details that make this place unique. The entire staff is kind and passionate about making sure you have the best experience possible.

3Eleven gives a nod to some of Dallas’s most infamous history, stories, and lore. The cocktail menu itself pays homage to Dallas history, and food itself isn’t bad at all. The entire experience was fantastic, and the drinks were also an experience.

 

Risky Business. This spicy cocktail was made with 3Eleven’s very own vodka, infused with cucumber and jalapeño, giving it just the right amount of punch to go with the lime juice, and simple syrup. It definitely has a spicy edge, so be warned.

Whiskey Sour. Their version of this classic was delicious—amaretto instead of whiskey, lemon, sugar, and egg white. This simple cocktail made me question why I drink whiskey and coke. (Again, thank God for this internship.) The flavors were well-balanced and made this cocktail easy to drink.

Stop by 3Eleven for creative cocktails, unique atmosphere and of course, the crab cakes!

3ELEVEN KITCHEN & COCKTAILS
311 North Market Street, #100 (West End)
3elevendallas.com

3Eleven’s Happy Hours:
Monday All Day
Tuesday through Friday: 2-6 pm

  • $2 appetizers and PBR
  • $1 off beer, wine & cocktails
  • $3 sangria

Peru Gourmet Fusion Cuisine

If you’re someone who loves trying new things and experiencing other cultures, this restaurant is the place for you. Peru Gourmet is an Peruvian-fusion restaurant and bar located just north of Six Flags in Arlington.

As soon as I walked in, I was greeted with smiles and the welcoming smells. The restaurant felt cozy and comfortable, with beautiful decor and dim lighting. They have a large selection of food on the menu, and if you’re indecisive like me, it’s a lot to choose from. I sat up at the bar and asked the bartender, Michael, to surprise me with some good cocktails and meal. Because, after all, who knows a restaurant’s menu better than the employees?

Firsts things first: cocktails.

The Pisco Sour. Their take the quintessential Peruvian cocktail (which is usually shaken) is frozen and blended! Made with egg whites, house-made simple syrup, lime juice and of course, pisco (a brandy distilled from grapes). Peru Gourmet offers this by the pitcher, and for good reason.

The Chilcano. This cocktail was so simple and refreshing; it would be perfect to have poolside. It’s made with Pisco, lime zest, ginger ale, and lime juice. I could drink 10 of these, and so could the owner, whose favorite cocktail it is.

The Machu Picchu. My personal favorite, because who doesn’t love a rainbow drink? There’s not just a technique to making it, but there’s also a technique to drinking it! Starting from the bottom, carefully lift your straw and sip at the same time, tasting every one of the flavors separately on the way up. Do that till it’s gone! Very challenging when you’re 5’3 with a tall cup at a bar, but I did it and it was worth it! Grenadine, orange juice, pisco and crème de menthe work together creating a beautiful, fun drink that will get you feelin’ good fast.

Now on to food …

Ceviche. (PICTURED AS HEADER) Hands down the best Ceviche I’ve ever had, I mean … amazing. Citrus and garlic-cured sea bass, peruvian peppers, peruvian corn (which is giant kernals), sweet potatoes, and chullbe (peruvian corn nuts), and garnished with red onion, cilantro and lime juice. This colorful dish is a must-have on the menu.

Lomo Saltado. Diced savory beef steak sautéed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and secret seasoning and served with crisp potato wedges and white rice. The steak on this dish packs so much flavor it would be a crime to not eat all of it.  For the steak lovers out there, this one’s for you.

Peru Gourmet gave me a new love for Peruvian food and drinks. The intriguing flavors of the region are beautifully exemplified in the dishes and cocktails. Call it a little Per(u)view of what to expect if you ever make down there!

Happy hours: Tuesday through Sunday, from 4-7
$3 domestic bottles
$4 premium beers, house wines and margaritas

Truluck’s Debuts New Menu Items and a New Happy Hour

Truluck’s has been a longtime favorite of my sister’s and mine. When she first went to college and I’d visit, we’d stop in just to have dessert. Their Jack’s Sack was always our favorite—a chocolate shell hiding pound cake, berries, and whipped cream that the guest gets to crack and mix. It’s not just delicious; the destruction of the presentation is really rewarding.

It’s nice to see a longtime favorite with twelve locations continue to give diners new options to enjoy instead of adopting an “if it isn’t broken …” mentality. They recently released not just a new cocktail menu, but also a new happy hour and new menu items. The new happy hour is stupid good. (And I know happy hours.)

The new happy hour can be enjoyed Monday through Friday, 4:30-6:30pm and includes select cocktails starting at just $5.50 and appetizers starting at $6. More into wine? They have 12 from just $6 a glass.

The new cocktail list has a bit of everything among the 20 new cocktail options. Some new offerings have a slight tropical feel (like the Heart of Gold with pineapple juice and smoked orange syrup or the Sao Paulo Punch with cachaça, run, and pineapple syrup), some with a downright tiki vibe (like the Singapore Sling and the Uptown Swizzle) and others with a more traditional origin (like the Amaretto Sour 2.0, Uptown Manhattan, and the Aviator).

New food items like the Shrimp Primavera Flatbread can be enjoyed alongside old favorites like their shrimp cocktail (giant shrimp served over dry ice to keep them chilled) and Kung Pao Cauliflower. See the full menu of 20 cocktails, wines, and food items.

Beyond their new cocktails and appetizers, they continue to offer a large, thoughtful selection of wines and whiskey options (and obviously a full bar and beer). There aren’t many combinations I enjoy more than a dessert and a dram. I enjoyed the Balvenie Caribbean Cask with their Carrot Cake … and it was good.

Stop by one of their twelve locations during happy hour to enjoy their new half price options. While you do, you’ll be entertained by talented musicians and treated to incredibly attentive hospitality. Now, that’s the right way to unwind from a hard work day.


TRULUCK’S
trulucks.com
Uptown: 2401 McKinney Avenue (Uptown Dallas) | 214-220-2401
Southlake: 1420 Plaza Place (Southlake) | 817-912-0500
(+10 other locations)