Category Archives: Neighborhood

EL RINCON: The Gem on the Corner

This joint is a gem!

What makes it different than any other Tex Mex spot in Texas? The uniqueness comes from the owners, Rick and Susan. They’ve added touches here and there to give the space a modern yet comfortable feel.

The bar is absolutely gorgeous with eye-catching tiling and a large selection of alcohol displayed beautifully on open shelves. The best of the bottles, though, is theirs. The owners went to Mexico and bought a barrel and had their own tequila produced. (Because that’s a normal thing to do right?) A single barrel which only produces around  240 bottles to use, so, pro tip: get there ASAP to try theirs before it’s gone! Their goal was to have vanilla and citrus notes come through their tequila, and upon first sip of their blend, those notes rang true.

To start our meal … as with any Tex Mex joint worth its (tequila and) salt, their chips and salsa hit the table right when you sit down. They’re made fresh daily and the salsa has a bright charred flavor. Not to start off too strong, but my husband claims this is his favorite salsa … looks like we will be going back soon … ya know … for quality control purposes!

For an appetizer we indulged in the Brisket Empanadas that were filled with juicy meat and had a soft yet crunchy flaky crust. For the entrees we had Brisket Tacos and Seafood Ancho Relleno. Both dishes were stuffed with a generous portion of protein and really hit the spot. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients in the crunch of the vegetables.

To top off the meal we had the sopapillas. Did anyone else grow up “rais[ing] the flag”? No? Just me? Ok, well this dessert was the stuff dreams are made of. Show me a pastry covered in sugary goodness and you have my full attention (after I eat it  … because I’m not focusing on anything but that until it’s gone.) The whipped cream it came with had a subtle kick of heat, which was a delightful surprise.

The environment was light and airy. The bar filled up before the restaurant, obvi, and it had an energetic feel without being too loud to enjoy your dining companions. If you hit this place up, I recommend that you head to happy hour first and let the night go from there!

Just a couple of last tips:
– It gets busy right around 6pm, so get there early to get a good seat and start sipping a delicious marg.
– Their Carrollton location is super convenient but if this isn’t close enough to Highway 75 for you, they will be building a location in Frisco very soon!
– If you sit in the bar, be sure to chat with Danny! He’s pretty awesome!


EL RINCON
elrincontx.com
Facebook | Instagram
1114 S Elm St #100 (Carrollton, Texas)
469-892-6429

Header and queso pictures courtesy of El Rincon, all others taken by Taylor Sutton.

Save Lives with Me on June 30

Hello, friends! I have been a blood donor for many years and am proud to be hosting a drive with Carter BloodCare at Texas Live on June 30!

Every two seconds, someone needs blood, and there’s no substitute for it. Each donation could save three lives, so I’d be honored if you’d join me to #giveforlife!!

Anyone who donates during this event will be thanked with:
– a complimentary slider from Lockhart Smokehouse Arlington
– goodies from Balcones Distillery
– an entry into a raffle for a “Day at Balcones with SusieDrinks”
– a “Cheers to Life” mason jar from Carter BloodCare
– a Rangers t-shirt and a BOGO Rangers ticket voucher

Make an appointment now to #GiveforLife. Call or text CBC at 800-366-2834 or visit http://bit.ly/31qv1BY.

Deep Ellum Welcomes a Boozy Oyster Bar

There’s a new bar in town, it’s right at the edge of Deep Ellum where Elm meets Malcom X Blvd. Formerly Idle Rye, it’s now called Bitter End.

I experienced all of this for myself when I went to Bitter End for the first time last month. The first thing I noticed was that there is a solid patio which is where they hosted Puppies on the Patio every Sunday in April where they welcome your four-legged companion and kept free pupsicles in stock. But don’t worry … the patio is always pup-friendly and there’s a chance they will bring back Pups on the Patio for an encore. (Crossing my fingers!)

Inside, you can find vibrant art of famous rock legends along the wall which ties into the cleverly named cocktails—Walk the Line, The Madonna, and The Selena, to name a few.  You’ll also find a raw bar full of oysters on ice from all over. Bitter End will always carry Gulf and Blue Point Oysters, but there are other types on rotation like Sweet Jesus oysters. (Seriously.)

If raw oysters aren’t your thing, I recommend the charbroiled oysters or clams. They are wood-grilled with garlic herb butter and Parmesan and served with a toasted baguette that is excellent dipped in the leftover herb butter! The menu isn’t all oysters—they also have burgers, Nashville hot chicken sliders, salads, lobster rolls (on pretzel buns!), and other delicious pub food.

As far as cocktails go, you’re going to want to try them all! I am somewhat obsessed with the Ziggy Stardust (rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit and lime). They use a mini clothespin to fasten the garnish to the glass and it’s adorable (and very insta-worthy).  If you want something a little less sweet, I would suggest you Walk the Line (bourbon, spiced pear, lemon and egg white). It sounds like a weird combo, but go with it! I also discovered my new go-to coffee cocktail—I still love you, Twilight Lounge—called the Madonna (frozen coffee liqueur, espresso vodka topped with whipped cream). It’s going to be perfect for Dallas’s hot weather and late night patio season.

Now let’s talk about their events…
Mondays and Tuesdays, ALL DAY: $5 champagne and $1.50 oysters
Every day, 5-7pm: $5 wells, wine and beer
7 days a week, 10pm-2am: reverse oyster happy hour with $1.50 oysters

There are more than 20 TVs, so it’s also a perfect spot to watch your favorite sports team and there will be various specials for select games. Now would be a great time to check out Bitter End while cheering on your favorite Dallas team …


BITTER END DALLAS
bitterenddallas.com
2826 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75226
(214) 792-9888

Tasty Happenings at the Dallas Arboretum

As if the Dallas Arboretum wasn’t already perfect … they’ve opened up a new pavilion and garden space called “A Tasteful Place.” It’s a 3.5-acre garden that features different crops of seasonal produce that they use for daily cooking demos. The goal is to demonstrate how to make simple, healthy recipes with locally-grown food that you can see growing just outside of the kitchen.

I got to go check out a cooking demo by the head chef from El Centro cooking school at the new pavilion. And let me tell you, the new gardens are gorgeous and the tastings were delicious! The chef made samplings out of a few controversial items that many picky eaters would turn their nose up at—celery and black eyed peas.

 

The chef whipped up a quick salad with celery, walnuts, apples and a super simple vinaigrette. She explained that many people don’t like celery because of the pesky strings BUT she also made the bold claim that you can destring a bunch of celery in less time than it takes to drink a glass of wine (sounds like a challenge that I will definitely have to attempt myself). I was a surprised how much I enjoyed the light and refreshing salad AND the black eyed pea dish – they were the perfect summer pairings.

Did you know that you can grow food 12-months out of the year even in this finicky Texas climate? El Centro has tested out different varieties of different crops – from greens to beans – to see what does best here in Texas. If you want to check it out for yourself, they do tasting 7 days a week using ingredients growing in the garden and since opening the new pavilion, they’ve already served about 300,000 people. I would recommend packing a bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers and finding a beautiful spot in the garden to soak up the views and enjoy one of prettiest spots in Dallas. The arboretum has tons of events happening all summer long so be sure to check out their calendar of events here.


Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
8525 Garland Road, Dallas
dallasarboretum.org

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen may be filling the spot of Grayson Social, but they are certainly setting themselves apart from the previous southern-style restaurant. This new joint has all the comfort food you could possibly need … and the whiskey list to match, The space lends a feel of porch sitting at Grandma’s after enjoying a home cooked meal.

They’re all about the whiskey and bourbon at Elm Street Cask & Kitchen, and if their “Whiskey Bible” doesn’t do it for you, then I don’t know what will. The extensive book features history lessons, cocktail recipes, and plenty of information on whiskey. As for their cocktail menu, they feature drinks such as their Maker’s Mark Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, Whisk(e)y Sour, and even whiskey flights. (For non-whiskey drinkers, they also have wine, beer, and various signature cocktails available.)

I went with the Kentucky Buck (Four Roses whiskey, fresh muddled strawberries, lemon, ginger, and bitters), and it was SOOOO refreshing—perfect for those wanting to get into whiskey drinking, but not necessarily be hit with it like a sack of bricks.

Now, as a Southerner, I take my Southern-style cuisine very seriously. They do a great job providing traditional Southern fare alongside current crowd favorites like hushpuppies with roasted chili honey butter and Crushed Avocado (aka guacamole) with chimichurri and black pepper crackers.

The main dishes are packed with flavor and cooked perfectly. I suggest the Beer Can Chicken with apple cornbread stuffing, almonds, charred carrots—order it with can of Lonestar for just an extra $2! The Bourbon Braised Short Rib with Lakewood Bourbon Barrel Temptress glaze, asparagus, and brown butter mashed potatoes was also quite intriguing and we decided was worth a return visit for us. If you’re into fish, you might enjoy the Pan Seared Salmon with black-eyed peas, ham hock, pickled shallot, and watercress.

 

The only logical way to end a filling meal is to overstuff yourself with delicious sweets—am I right? It’s pretty hard to choose between the Cast Iron Bread Pudding and the Banana Cream Pie … so just go ahead and get both.

Courtesy of Elm Street Cask and Kitchen

 

Elm Street Cask & Kitchen offers Happy Hour pricing Monday-Friday from 2pm to 7pm featuring $5 bites, $5 select drinks, and $12 chili dog/draft beer/TX bourbon shot combos.


Elm Street Cask & Kitchen
ElmStreetCaskKitchen.com
1525 Elm Street (Downtown)
Facebook | Instagram

*Header photo courtesy of Elm Street Cask & Kitchen*

bartaco in Preston Center

Bartaco may be new to town, but they’re not new to the game. Margaritas and tapas-style taco bites are their specialty, and they know how to do them right. With a uniquely Asian flair, bartaco has something for everyone.

We started with margaritas, specifically the Pomegranate Margarita and the Classic Margarita, both of which were delicious and smooth. The Pomegranate Margarita is actually part of their “Margarita March” promotion, but more on that later on (skip to the bottom if you really can’t wait that long).

I would suggest starting your meal with some salsa roja and corn tortilla chips, which you get to break yourself; and the duck quesadillas, which are tender and served in a blue corn tortilla. If you’re looking for something lighter, the tuna poke is a colorful and refreshing option.

Everything ordered at bartaco is served family style in small tapas form, so you can order as much as you want and not feel guilty about it at all! Each taco will run you $2.50 – $3.50.

We tried a ton of tacos—the baja fish, spicy chorizo, falafel, fried oyster, glazed pork belly, carne asada, and Brussels sprout. All of the tacos were delicious, but the crowd favorite was the Brussels sprout taco … which isn’t even officially on the menu! It comes with a sweet balsamic glaze and spicy carrot purée, which tastes more like a sweet potato mash and works beautifully with the other ingredients. This taco was so good that we ordered a second to share.

We supplemented our taco frenzy with a side of Asian slaw and black beans with sofrito. Sides are easy to add on at just $2.50 each!

Round two of drinks hit the table to help us finish our meal. We (greatly) enjoyed the Mojito Tinto (Flor de Caña silver rum, winter spiced sangria, lime, mint, and sugar) and, of course, the Smoke on the Water (Banhez mescal, Pisco, pineapple, lemon, bitters, and egg white), pictured below. bartaco also serves bottled and canned beers, wines by the glass, and sangrias by the glass or liter.

If you’re anything like me and need to end your meal with something sweet, then the platanos fritos are the way to go. They come with a side dish of a mayo dip, but I personally think they taste better dipped in chocolate gelato. If anyone has tricks for kicking a bad sugar habit, I’m all ears.


Now, back to the Margarita March news that we’ve all been waiting for. Each week in March, bartaco will feature a different specialty margarita, like the Pomegranate Margarita mentioned above (Liber grapefruit cordial, lime juice, lucardo marascino, and Libelula Joven Tequila*). The drinks are only around for one week each in March, so grab your friends, order some tacos, and get to living the #bartacolife!

Photo courtesy of bartaco

BARTACO
bartaco.com
6130 Luther Lane (Preston Center)
Instagram | Twitter

 

*This tequila was selected specifically for bartaco by Destilladora Bonanza and is crafted in the highlands of Jalisco (obviously … or it wouldn’t be Tequila!)

Catch Lovers Seafood’s new menu and patio

Blue crab and truffle deviled eggs.
Crispy shrimp corn dogs.
Maytag blue cheese potato chips.

Say what??

These are just a few of the things you can find on Chef Kent Rathbun’s new menu at Lovers Seafood and Market. I recently had the chance to sample a little bit of everything from this new menu and hear all about their new weekly specials … and you’re gonna want to go check it out.

The tasting started off on a boozy note with the unveiling of their signature cocktails. The tasting lineup featured their Marfa Mary and Gypsy Wife along with a classic, the Corpse Reviver. Each of them were light enough to start the meal nicely without blowing out your palate. (They were also delightful to enjoy on their cute patio!) My personal favorite was the Gypsy Wife (Ketel One, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, grapefruit, basil and lime). This should be no surprise since I’m very into grapefruit-based cocktails lately.

These delicious cocktails are half priced during their happy hour which you can check out Monday through Saturday from 3-6pm. The happy hour also features half priced oysters … such a steal! It’s also very important to note that on Wednesdays they have half priced martinis all night long.

On the new menu, you’ll notice that they have added more grill-oriented items like the Roadhouse Cheeseburger and tender kale salad. This is part of their strategy to re-brand as more than just a seafood spot. (Rumor has it that they will soon change their name to “Lovers Seafood + Grill”.) I love that there were multiple healthy options on the menu like the charbroiled burger bowl that was served over quinoa and sweet potato pieces.

The tasting wrapped up with a sampling of the desserts … and ohhhemmmmgeeeee. They have a key lime pie to die for. The graham cracker crust and raspberry coulis were so good that I would come back just to have dessert.(I seriously considered licking my plate clean. Calories be damned.) Don’t skip dessert when you go!


LOVERS SEAFOOD AND MARKET
loversseafoodmarket.com
5200 West Lover’s Lane (Preston Hollow)
214-414-9880

Fried Chicken + Bubbles = the Dream Team

I love sparkling wine.
I love fried chicken.

(I’d like to meet someone who doesn’t agree with the above. … actually, I don’t think we’d get along, so NM.)

Street’s Fine Chicken sent out a press release, and they have the right idea: fried chicken + sparkling wine. The pairing is classic, and one of my favorite things in the world is to pair haute elements with food that comes in a cardboard container of some sort.

So, of course, I HAD to do some “research” to verify that their fried chicken did, in fact pair nicely with sparkling wine. And, research I did. (Not like I didn’t know what the research would return, but it’s best to do your due diligence.)

Luckily, my results were correct. Using bubbles to mitigate the richness of the chicken is just about perfect. Acid can act as a palate cleanser, which is why you’ll often see pickled items served alongside fried items. Since sparkling wines usually ring in 2.5 to about 4.5 pH, their acidity helps to cut the richness and greasiness of the chicken. Choosing a dry sparkling wine helps to push through the fat, and makes for a delightful experience.

Street’s Fine Chicken’s signature fried chicken is “brined for 24 hours and fried in herbs from various French Provinces.” They take their time to do it right, and they get it right. They also offer sparkling starting at just $5 a glass and $18 a bottle, so you can try out the pairing for yourself. (Enjoy.)

 


STREET’S FINE CHICKEN
streetsfinechicken.com
3857 Cedar Springs Rd. | 469-917-7140
5211 Forest Lane, #108 | 972-803-5181