El Rincon, a local, family-owned Mexican restaurant, recently opened its THIRD location in Addison Circle earlier this year. This authentic spot’s first location opened in Carrollton in 2016, and they’ve been a neighborhood favorite since. (I even made the long drive from Dallas Proper to eat at their original location a couple times!) But, I’m delighted that their third spot is even closer to me.
Their dishes and cocktail are made from scratch with fresh ingredients, and you can taste the quality. While TexMex in DFW is a cut throat category, they’ve continued to stand out, and rightfully so. (I broke my diet after this shoot so I could get my face in their queso … it was irresistible.) You’ll also melt when a hot plate of fajitas passes your table; because they’re legit. With five fajita options, there’s a little something for everyone. (Order extra tortillas … you’re welcome.)
As I say in nearly every review—I know why you’re here … THE BOOZE. And luckily, El Rincon has some great drinks. Their approach to the bar is simple yet impactful—they want quality spirits and cocktails, and that extends to their staff’s knowledge. They ensure their staff knows what they’re serving and where it comes from. They say themselves, “[they] believe in fully understanding where our drinks come from.”
Can’t decide which of their delicious-sounding margaritas to get? Opt for their margarita flight—three margaritas made with their house-infused tequilas. (Currently they’re offering tamarind, pineapple-serrano, and hibiscus-ginger margaritas in the flight.) For people like me who just like to try everything, it’s ideal. (It’s like a cruise … see what you like best, and then you can go back to it!)
One of their cocktails, the El Jefe Margarita, is really special. They bring together a house blend of Herradura Anejo Tequila (that they went to Mexico to pick themselves), Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar and they shake it tableside and serve it up in a martini glass. To make sure you appreciate their house Herradura blend, you get a small taste of it to sip on the side.
Beyond great cocktails, killer specials/HHs, and curated spirits list, El Rincon offers tastings and specials to help their customers appreciate spirits. They’re passionate about the juice, and want their guests to learn about them, too! Every Tuesday they feature a tequila and put it on special so guests have a chance to explore new brands, expressions, and flavors. Watch their website and social channels for regular announcements of the upcoming tastings and features. (Also ask about their tequila flights!)
The staff is friendly and ready to take care of your needs. As they say, “Come as a guest, leave as family.”
After a two-week closure in January, 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House is shiny and new with a renovated interior and an exciting rebooted menu by Chef Pete Rukes and Pitmaster Bryan Shanahan!
3 Stacks is now an all scratch kitchen boasting house-made sauces, jams, breads, and of course, sausage. I had never visited this restaurant before and didn’t know what to expect but let me just say, I was more than pleasantly surprised!
The meal started with a choice of a few of their impressive craft cocktails. We sipped on the show smoke, a margarita made with ghost tequila, cointreau, lime, agave, and and the Ol’ Barrel, a manhattan-style cocktail. The Ol’ Barrel was my personal favorite and we learned that the drink itself is barrel aged onsite giving it an extra special smokey char flavor. All in all, it was an exciting and tasty array of well-executed cocktails. It was nice to have that option at a BBQ joint since what you usually find are mostly beer selections.
Next up, we were presented with a variety of appetizers: hush puppies, flatbread, and fried green tomatoes. My personal standout was the BBQ flatbread. It’s a tasty bite of sweet and savory that would work well on its own with a beer for lunch or dinner. It’s a welcomed change of pace to have a multitude of fabulous starters to accompany the mains which of course were the top notch smoked meats.
Which brings us to star of the meal, the outstanding smoked St. Louis ribs, USDA prime beef brisket, pulled pork, turkey, shrimp & grits, and house made jalapeño cheddar sausage. The ribs and brisket were stellar and my personal favorite. I’m talking fall-off-the-bone, exceptionally flavored, lick-every-single-one-of-your-fingers good. At $14 for a half a rack of ribs and $9 a pound for the brisket, it’s an unbelievable caliber of bbq you’re getting for a reasonable price. Along with the smoked meat, were were treated to a sampling of their BLT sandwich which is a delightful combination of house smoked pork belly, fried green tomato, greens, and bbq crema.
Normally, you go to a BBQ joint for the smoked meat and the sides are an afterthought. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the sides at 3 Stacks. We tasted the white cheddar mac and cheese which was a table favorite and the roasted garlic mashed potatoes that had me reaching for seconds and thirds.
And just when we thought we couldn’t possibly eat anything more, they bring out the show-stopping desserts. There was a warm donut and maple bread pudding and my very favorite–I will drive up to Frisco to pay money and eat this again favorite–was the caramelized banana crème brûlée. If you love banana pudding, banana cream pie, or bananas foster, this is the dessert for you. It’s a decadent twist on traditional creme brûlée that will have ordering it first to ensure you don’t run out of room.
3 Stacks’ newly revamped interior coupled with their fabulous service, cocktails, bites, and BBQ is sure to keep you coming back time and time again. I know I certainly will be!
If you’re looking for a spot in Frisco where you can grab a brunch that’s guilt-free AND delicious … and somewhere you can linger over a mimosa (or two or five) … UP Inspired Kitchen might by your new sanctuary.
Owners Mike and Rae Luther (a husband and wife team) have paired up with concept chef Todd Duplechan (of Austin’s Lenoir) to create UP’s fast-casual concept, featuring a chef-driven menu comprised of better-for-you breakfast and lunch options prepared with honestly sourced ingredients. In addition to Mike and Rae’s passion for the food they serve, their passion for people is apparent in UP’s friendly, welcoming atmosphere. From the children’s play house located on the open-air patio to the multitude of power outlets available in the cheerful dining room, UP beckons you to come as you are and make yourself at home.
UP’s menu features cravable, familiar favorites, with a healthy twist like the “Biscuits and Groovy” featuring cornbread muffins with a cauliflower gravy. UP offers a lovely assortment of egg dishes, like the delicious Tahoe Wrap I sampled on my recent visit featuring cage-free eggs, turkey, avocado, cheddar, and salsa verde nestled in a whole wheat tortilla ($9.50). A variety of beautiful toasts grace the menu, like the Avocado Toast with edamame, lime, and a fresno chili relish ($8). A collection of fresh salads, as well as an assortment of bowls with health boosting ingredients like the Acai Bowl (Acai, strawberries, bananas, granola, seasonal fruit, Texas honey) ($9.80) represent some additional guilt-free options.
If you’d rather treat-yo-self though, don’t worry; UP has a “Cheat Day” menu with your name on it. With offerings like the Breakfast Burger– Akaushi beef, sausage, fried cage-free egg, pickles, cheddar, red onion, dijon mustard, arugula ($11), and a Short-Rib Grilled Cheese with cheddar and pickled onion on sourdough ($10) , there’s something for everyone. Vegetarian, Paleo, Whole 30, and gluten-free friends- they’ve got you covered, too. Lots of great options!
UP has partnered with some great companies to round out their coffee and juice menu, including Limitless Coffee, Buda Juice, and Manny’s Cortado. The impressively curated coffee menu offers some unique and interesting options like the Butter Brew Plus made with MCT oil, grass-fed butter, maple syrup, and collagen ($6.80)—trust me, you’ve got to try this one.
If an adult beverage is what you’re after, UP’s mimosas are equally creative; the Mimosa Sampler comes with a bottle of bubbles, traditional OJ, blueberry-pomegranate juice, and a carafe of Holy Kombucha Hibiscus Sangria. The latter works surprisingly well, I must say. A selection of local craft brews are available on tap.
UP Inspired Kitchen upinspiredkitchen.com
5285 North Dallas Parkway, Suite 400 (at the Shops at Starwood)
Serving breakfast and lunch daily from 7:00 AM-3:00 PM
You may remember Tre from his time on Bravo’s “Top Chef” or one of the amazing restaurants around Dallas he’s lent his expertise to over the years–ahem, Abacus, Marquee Grill, Loft 610. Oh … and he was a nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef” award … twice. I mean … whatever … he’s real damn talented.
The 3,200 square foot space has a full commercial kitchen that the team will use for prep and event catering. They have used a central kitchen solution to help save on staff and food costs as well as making it easier to prepare and order the food. The sleek spaces also have a wall lined with top-of-the-line ranges and ovens begging to be fired-up and used to make one of the unreal dishes dreamt up by Chef Tre. The shiny appliances will be put to good use in the group classes and even for the aforementioned team-building games–choose from the “Iron Chef Battle”, “Market Basket Challenge”, and the “Family Dinner”. Sounds like a fun way to get back at Janet in accounting who keeps eating your lunch.
Don’t enjoy the thrill of competition? Grab a spot in one of the upcoming events where Tre will team up with other local chefs or even wine experts for tastings. His casual teaching style makes the techniques feel more approachable–even perfect, homemade risotto seemed attainable after his demonstration at our media preview. (I may need a refresher before trying it again myself.)
One pro tip he gave us was, if it takes less than 20 minutes for a restaurant to bring you risotto … they’re making it wrong.
Let’s get serious for a hot minute … Is there anything better in life than indulging in a piping hot, cheesy, made-to-order pizza? Well, maybe one thing: if that pizza happens to be FREE. Listen up, folks. You’re going to want to hear this.
Blaze Pizza, Frisco’s latest purveyor of pies, will host their grand opening celebration on Friday, May 22, from 10:30 AM-11 PM. Simply follow Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and receive a FREE custom-built, artisanal pizza (one per guest) any time that day. It’s that simple!
And let me tell you, this pizza … it’s good. I had the opportunity to sneak a peek (and a bite) this evening, and I promise you, you won’t want to miss this.
A little 411 on Blaze Pizza: they make their own dough (from scratch) and offer 30+ fresh, artisanal ingredients to choose from on their signature pizza assembly line. As you mosey on down the line, your dedicated “pizzasmith” will customize your pie. You can choose from 8 compelling Blaze signature pizzas or opt to craft your own masterpiece. With unlimited toppings at your disposal, the build your own option (which is a generously proportioned 6-slice pie) is a steal at $7.95. Your selection is then fast-fired in a blazing hot oven for 180 seconds, resulting in a perfectly crisp crust with just the right fold-ability factor (yeah, that’s a word).
Also available are a variety of beautiful salads (the Tomato, Basil, and Ovalini is not to be missed and is just $3.95). I’m told the S’more Pie is a must, so save room for dessert. Blaze will offer beer and wine, featuring Community and 512 for your sipping pleasure.
I am a huge fan of Chef Kenny Bowers and his growing family of seriously delicious restaurant concepts, otherwise known as Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill (Addison), Kenny’s Italian Kitchen (Addison), Kenny’s Smokehouse (Shops at Legacy), and Kenny’s Burger Joint (Frisco and a NEW Plano location!). That said, I was super excited when I received an invitation to check out the aforementioned, brand spankin’ new Kenny’s Burger Joint location in Lakeside Market in Plano. Kenny and his awesome team hosted a holiday-centric event highlighting some fun and festive appetizers, and some seriously tasty cocktails.
If you’ve visited Kenny’s Burger Joint before, it’s no secret Kenny Bowers serves up a mean burger; quite honestly, probably my favorite burger. Kenny perfected his juicy, 8 oz. patties over a natural hickory wood-burning grill, and the availability of delicious topping combinations to follow said grilling extravaganza offers something for everyone. If you aren’t feeling a burger (excuse me, what?), Kenny’s menu features a variety of other tasty options, ranging from the black angus Big Dog, and the Steak Bomb (Kenny’s take on the classic Philly cheesesteak), to lighter options, like the fresh and delicious Ahi Tuna and Asian Chicken Salads.
Hopefully, if you’re a Kenny’s Burger Joint fan, you’re already aware of the greatness that is Kenny’s cocktail menu. Kenny’s well-rounded drink menu is thoughtful and creative, and includes indulgent additions such as the famed “Adult” milkshakes (I got to try the Chocolate Grasshopper (Crème de Menthe, White, Crème de Cocoa, and Oreos) and OhMyLanta, it was good. Additionally, Kenny’s Burger Joint offers a reasonable wine list and a respectable craft beer selection. Oh, and they offer Grey Goose on tap. So, there’s that.
I got to sample a variety of particularly delicious cocktails on this occasion, and today, you are in luck: Kenny’s talented bartenders were kind of enough to share some of their delicious cocktail recipes, so you can try your hand at recreating some of these beauties at home!
**Here’s a tip before you get started: Kenny’s standard for mixing cocktails demands no fewer than 25 “shakes” when mixing cocktail ingredients in a shaker. This results in bruising of the alcohol, which in turn creates a nifty sheet of ice atop the drink when you pour. (The more you know.)
Sapphire 75 2 oz Bombay Sapphire
Splash lemon juice
Splash simple syrup
Shake first three ingredients. Top with splash of Prosecco.
Under the Mistletoe 1 1/2 oz. Stoli Blueberry
3/4 oz. PAMA Liquor
1/2 oz Pineapple juice
Shake and pour, then top with a splash of Prosecco.
Frenchie 2 oz Grey Goose (consider using orange, for extra flavor)
½ oz Chambord
1/2 oz Pineapple juice
Shake first three ingredients and top with splash of Prosecco.
Silent Nyquil (heh) 2 oz Stoli Vanilla
Small shot of whipped cream
½ oz peppermint Schnapps
½ oz simple syrup
Splash crème de Menthe
Splash Blue Curacao
Shake first four ingredients and pour into martini glass. Drop crème de Menthe and Blue Curacao gently along side of glass (they will sink) and splash with Prosecco.
You’re likely to work up an appetite after all of that cocktail shakin’. So, it’s a good thing Kenny shared a variety of recipes for you to try at home- and just in time for your upcoming Christmas festivities, or fleet of non-negotiable house guests!
Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos 10 fresh Jalapenos, whole
1 c. pepper jack cheese, shredded
10 strips of bacon, raw
Cut a ¼” divot in each pepper from just below the stem to just below the toe. Set the divot aside. Gently scoop out as much of the seed and white membrane as possible, and discard. Be careful not to break or tear the jalapeño.
Form enough cheese in your hand to fit in the interior of the pepper and gently stuff (approximately 3 Tbsp). Replace the divot over the cheese. Gently squeeze the pepper in your hand, and compress to close.
Place bacon on a cutting board. Place the jalapeño on the bacon, just above the toe where the divot begins. Wrap bacon at an angle, overlapping on each wrap to make sure the divot is completely covered. Gently squeeze to help bacon adhere. Secure each end of the bacon with a toothpick. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cooking. Cook either using grill method or skillet/oven method:
GRILL PROCEDURE: Place cold jalapenos on medium heat grill, and close lid. Cook until bacon is slightly crispy and cheese begins to ooze. Carefully remove toothpicks. Serve with ranch and BBQ sauce for dipping.
SKILLET/OVER PROCEDURE: Preheat oven to 400 degree. Place cold jalapeños in a lightly oiled hot skillet over medium high heat. Lightly brown on all sides. Move skillet to oven, and finish at 400 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.
Bud’s White Queso
1 ¼ lb. White American cheese, shredded 1 c. Whole milk
1 c. Yellow onion, sliced in paper thin strips
½ c. Cilantro, chopped
¼ c. Pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
2 tsp. Cumin
Can be prepared in microwave or crockpot, as described below:
MICROWAVE: Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave until hot, stirring occasionally.
CROCKPOT: Place all ingredients in crockpot, stirring occasionally, until everything is incorporated and queso is hot.
Juicy Lucy Sliders 8- 2 oz. Burger patties 4 slices American cheese, folded into 2” squares
4 King’s Hawaiian Mini Hamburger Buns
4 tsp. Ketchup
4 tsp. Yellow Mustard
4 Tbsp. Onion, raw and chopped ¼”
4 Tbsp. Pickles, chopped ¼”
Place on square of cheese in the center of one of the burger patties, folding the corners of the cheese so there is a ½” gap between the cheese and the edge of the meat. Place a second patty on top, and crimp the edges together (like making a ravioli), making sure there are no holes. Repeat with remaining patties. Put patties in refrigerator to firm.
Season both sides of burger patties with salt and pepper. Gently place burger patties on an oiled, flat grill or standard grill.
Cook approximately 3 minutes per side over medium high heat until browned on each side or cooked through. When you flip the burgers, do so gently to prevent cheese from oozing out.
Place ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onion evenly on each bottom bun. Place finished burgers on top. Cover with top bun, and enjoy!
Note: Be very careful when biting into the sliders as the cheese can be very hot!
Kenny shared one more thing with us that certainly bears mentioning, and that would be the infamous EL JEFE GRANDE CHALLENGE. This slightly larger than average burger, priced at $50, features:
An impressive 3 lb. patty of the finest beef stacked on two ENORMOUS pieces of Texas Toast (made especially for this sandwich) topped with: · 10 oz. of French fries
· Sliced jalapeños
· ½ lb. of bacon
· Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and your choice of 1 c. of mustard or mayonnaise
It is a sight to behold. Guests who complete El Jefe Grande in less than one hour will receive the burger for free, plus a $100 dining certificate for a future meal, and their picture displayed on a special wall of honor in the restaurant. Plan on signing a waiver before tackling this Big Boss. (Not kidding, actually.)
If you haven’t checked out Kenny’s Burger Joint yet (or, if you have!), I would strongly suggest paying them a visit on a Monday. Why, you might ask? Martini Mondays, my friends. Kenny’s Burger Joint features a collection of speciality martinis and cocktails for just $5, all day long, every Monday. Yes.