Category Archives: Design District and environs

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

Pakpao Thai Brunch

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.

Everything atop the plates that hit our table that fateful day was incredible.  Those Coconut Pancakes, tho.  If you eat anything there at brunch, make it that.  Delightfully light and not too sweet thanks to the pineapple syrup and coconut milk, I’d substitute my traditional flapjacks any day.  Another huge winner was the Wok Fried Egg Salad with crunchy cucumbers … who knew that Salads were better fried?  Pakpao did.  (This is also evident in Rachel’s comment about their Crispy Morning Glory Salad at the Plano Pakpao opening.)

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.


PAKPAO THAI

pakpaothai.com
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3 locations (Design District, Plano, and Preston Hollow)

BRUNCH SERVED 11am-3pm SATUDAYS AND SUNDAYS

***Pakpao invited me in to check out their brunch offerings.***

Asador Fall Dinner Preview

Each season, Asador, the restaurant in Dallas’s Renaissance Hotel serving farm-to-table food, presents a delicious dinner featuring fresh, flavorful seasonal selections.  The Fall Harvest Dinner tomorrow,  September 28, will be no exception thanks to Chef Brad Phillips’s creations.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of some of the items at this season’s three-course family-style dinner, and attendees are in for a treat.  With selections like the Local Kale Salad with pumpkin seeds and apple vinaigrette, Gulf Snapper Crudo, and Mesquite Grilled Texas Raised Beef, you can’t really go wrong.

The dinner will be $90 per person and includes beverage pairings, parking, tax, and tip.  Reserve one of the few seats left for Wednesday’s dinner by emailing reservations@asadordallas.com or calling 214-267-4815.  


ASADOR

asadorrestaurant.com
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2222 N Stemmons Fwy (in the Renaissance Hotel), Dallas
(214)631-2222

Hilton Anatole Staycation

Sometimes you need to just not be home.  (Come on … you can’t tell me you’ve never wanted to tell your friends you’re out of town, turn off your phone, and just disappear.  Ok, I’ve never actually done it, but I’ve thought about it.  Like … hard.)  I had one of those feelings recently, so it was perfect that I was invited to spend a weekend at the Hilton Anatole right here in Dallas’s Design District.

I packed up the car Friday before work and scooted over there from the office after dropping off the pup with Grandma.*  The valets were the perfect welcoming committee and helped me unload my box of birthday gifts without complaint.  (I had a really busy week after my big birthday party, so I thought taking my gifts on my staycation to enjoy opening them slowly would be a blast.)  I was welcomed with goodies, a lovely room, and a great view of Downtown.

The hotel itself is huge, consisting of at least four main buildings that sit on 45 acres in the heart of Dallas.  The complex offers 1,600+ rooms, multiple dining and drinking options, event spaces, a full fitness facility, spa, a VIP lounge offering snack and beverages for select guests, and 1,000+ art pieces thanks to the owners, the Crow family.

One of the restaurant options the Anatole offers is SĒR on the 27th floor.  This is one button I enjoyed pushing entirely too much.  But I pushed it … and I pushed it good.  My friend Tiffany joined me for dinner and we were absolutely blown away by each and every one of the courses presented by Executive Chef Kevin Spencer and the drinks by Colin Silva.

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SĒR offers reimagined versions of some basic options like their Steak Tar Tar that closely resembles a deviled egg, but brings so much more to the table.  The Caesar Salad was such a stand-out that made me visit SĒR again Saturday night for another plate of it.  The culinary and bar teams on the 27th at the Anatole are all top notch and you can expect innovative food and drink options to keep your taste buds disoriented yet delighted.   Check out my whole review of SĒR.

The weekend was incredibly relaxing, yet somehow I kept myself busy the entire time.  I kept my evening plans with friends, but spent the days relaxing in the fitness center, sauna, the VIP Lounge, and walking the grounds.

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As they always do, the Sunday scaries crept in while I was packing to leaves, so to spoil myself a bit more I ordered some room service.  (Because who doesn’t love waffles that you don’t have to make?)  The bacon was perfectly crispy and the coffee was exquisitely brewed.  (If you want snacks or specialty coffee options, they have a coffee bar in the lobby offering little goodies.)

The coolest part of this staycation is that I got a little preview of Jadewater, the $22M pool complex that opened this past Friday, July 22.  This isn’t your run of the mill pool complex.  Expect two water slides, a large children’s play area, a 23 seat swim-up bar (YESSS), new art pieces, private cabanas and daybeds, and, the kicker, a 630ft lazy river.  The pool will be for hotel guests only, but the cool thing is that you can get a couple rooms for the night and have full access for less than a night at Great Wolf Lodge.  That’ll get you howling.

HILTON ANATOLE
www.hilton.com/Dallas
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2201 North Stemmons Freeway (Design District)
(214) 748-1200

*Unfortunately, they aren’t dog friendly … yet.  They do, of course, allow service animals.

SĒR at the Hotel Anatole

During a recent staycation at the Hilton Anatole, I was delighted to try their steakhouse, SĒR Steak + Spirits, on the 27th floor.  This is one button I enjoyed pushing entirely too much.  But I pushed it … and I pushed it good.  My girl Tiffany joined me for dinner and we were absolutely blown away by each and every one of the courses presented by Executive Chef Kevin Spencer and every drink by Colin Silva.

The drinks kept us on our toes (and put us on our asses) thanks to the unique flavor profiles and the unexpected extras.  This is one of the places I’d suggest handing the reigns to the bar team; they’ll make you something intriguing and unique.  The scotch cocktail we were treated to (below) was delightfully smoky thanks to the peatiness of the spirit, but was still surprisingly light.  The preparation for the cocktails was involved and completely worth the short wait.

 

SĒR’s kitchen offers reimagined versions of some basic options and quite a few all-new dishes.  The perfect example is their Steak Tar Tar that closely resembles a deviled egg but brings so much more to the table.  Be ready for a rich mouthful here.

Steak Tar Tar
Steak Tar Tar

The Caesar Salad was such a stand-out that I ended up visiting a second time in just one weekend to have it again.  It’s perhaps the coolest salad … ever.  This thing is a slab of leafy greens with “deconstructed croutons”, flowers, and even Pop Rock-like crystals that keep your mouth more than entertained.  The best part of this salad was the dressing.  Through some sciencey process, Chef Kevin creates egg yolk-like pods of dressing so you control your dressing to lettuce ratio.  I like being in control.

Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad

The entrees were just as enticing.  The seafood was fresh (the fish was light and flaky) and the steak was as tender as it could be.  The Texas Caviar accompanying the steak we were served gave it a delightful, spicy snap.

Dessert was just as unique as the preceding dishes.  One dessert (not yet on the menu) boasted grapes prepared three different ways accompanying ice cream and a buttery crumble.  The Millionaire Pie was also a delight with the perfect balance between the tartness of the raspberry sorbet and the creaminess of the vanilla ice cream.

SĒR Steak + Spirits
sersteak.com
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2201 North Stemmons Freeway (Design District)
(214)761-7479

 

Highland Park Draft & Dram

“I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly…” This Ron Burgundy quote definitely embodied the day leading up to the delicious #DramAndDraft pairing event at the Meddlesome Moth presented by Highland Park. Some argue that scotch must be served neat … others would argue that scotch should be served on the rocks. But after this wonderful evening, I would suggest pairing it with a great craft beer.

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Garrett Youngbloog and US National Highland Park Ambassador, Steph Ridgway made it loud and clear that Highland Park Scotch Whisky goes great with craft beer. I have to say that it’s more than just a fancy boiler maker. The great craft beers they paired with the great scotch whiskies opened up flavors in both beverages that are perfectly complimented by other.

We greeted with a cocktail by Austin Gurley of High and Tight, the Lady of Shalot (Highland Park 12, Four Corners Local Buzz Honey Rye Ale, citrus bitters, Cardamaro). Then the tasting began …

Imagine drinking your favorite drink, then having someone offer you the same drink, but better. That’s what happened.

I definitely urge you scotch fans out there to pick up some craft beer the next time you pick up your favorite bottle of scotch. Not only should it compliment your scotch … but you might even find yourself not wanting one without the other!

RICOstudios-SDD_HighlandPark-5639

 

Primo’s: New Ownership, Old Favorites

Primo’s is a Dallas institution in it’s own right. It would be harder to find a cheesier enchilada or a frostier happy hour margarita than the familiar offerings at this beloved industry favorite.

In case you missed it, Primo’s closed its doors in 2013 and reopened them again in early 2015 under new ownership. The new owners attempted to update Primo’s tried and true menu, much to the chagrin of many once-loyal fans. It wasn’t working. I have wonderful news for Primo’s loyalists and Tex Mex enthusiasts alike: Primo’s is, once again, under new ownership; and this time, new owners Dirk and Mark Kelcher (of Ron’s Place and now Cedar’s Social) intend to restore Primo’s to its former glory. Primo’s fans can expect to see the majority of the original menu, with a few thoughtful additions  that don’t take away from what Primo’s should be.

Some welcomed additions to Primo’s menu include a variety of new specialty cocktails, as well as a collection of aptly dangerous tequila flights. While Primo’s Tex Mex menu is full of old favorites, their re-vamped cocktail menu is creative and playful- in a good way. If you’re feeling indecisive, throw caution to the wind and consider allowing  the bartender to craft you an off-menu libation based on your personal preferences. I was lucky enough to sample several off-menu creations, such as the delightfully zippy Basil Jalapeño Margarita and the cleverly crafted Moscow-Rita, prepared with ginger beer in place of triple sec. While all of the specialty cocktails I sampled were interesting and delicious, I would be remiss not to remind everyone how comforting and satisfying Primo’s house marg so happens to be. Not too sweet, not too tart, and nice and smooth; simple and darn near perfect.

I can happily confirm the Kelchers are delivering on their promise to stay true to Primo’s old school Tex Mex roots. The chips are crispy and hot, the salsa spicy, the queso decadently thick and cheesy, and the guac is fresh and chunky. Primo’s beef tacos cause grease to dribble down your chin in the best way possible. Meanwhile, the chicken tacos are quite possibly the ultimate soul-warming comfort food … apart from, of course, the enchiladas. Fajitas are served sizzling, decorated with sexy little char marks that cause one to salivate in anticipation.

Ongoing specials include Margarita Tuesdays, including $3 margs and $7 taco plates, along with Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., including $3 domestic drafts, house wines, house margs, and well. $7.99 lunch specials are available Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.


Primo’s Tex Mex Grille
www.PrimosTexMex.com
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1400 Hi Line Drive, Suite 116 (Design District)
(214) 390-7671

Hours of Operation:
Sunday- Monday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Tuesday- Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Asador’s New Menu Items

Ok, y’all … it’s no mystery that I have a pretty serious obsession with Asador.  (Evident here, here, … and here.)  I was lucky enough to be invited in to try some of their new menu items from their Executive Chef, Brad Phillips.  They update their menu so often (like … sometimes daily) that they’ve decided to print their menus in-house so they don’t have to wait for a printer.

Some things are always amazing and can’t be missed, like their cocktails which are mixed using infused liquors inspired by the ever-awesome Tyler. (P.S. she’s a lady and she’s awesome.)  One of my contributors, Laura, joined me for the meal and swore that she’d be back as soon as should could be … it was that good.

To start … cocktails … oh, the cocktails.  I started with the Mellow Honey (Honeydew and cucumber-infused gin, fresh lemon juice, and prosecco), and it is, no doubt, the perfect light cocktail for spring.  The infused gin was so delicate without letting the other flavors mask it–truly amazing.

We enjoyed the Farm Salad to start that will be different every time you order it.  They go for fresh, so they only put the best stuff in there.  The “croutons” on this were absolutely craveable. The Pork Belly served with sunny side-up quail eggs were perfectly crisp and incredibly flavorful and the kimchi BBQ sauce made it just to die for.  This is a bacon and egg combo that I can seriously get behind.  These seriously can’t be missed.  The PEI Mussels with ginger, cilantro, lemongrass in sambal broth were so good that I nearly asked for a straw for the broth.  We actually did ask for more bread to soak it up–and that’s no crime.  They paired the mussels with a crisp glass of white wine that really hit the spot.

Stop in and try some of the new options that they’re slinging from the bar and the kitchen … I promise you’ll be impressed.

ASADOR
asadorrestaurant.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
2222 N Stemmons Fwy (in the Renaissance Hotel), Dallas
(214)631-2222