Category Archives: Plano

Taverna Rossa Offers Pizza and Pasta with Personality

On the edge of a beautifully manicured pond, tucked away in a pristine strip mall in the Northwest corner of Plano, hides a hip rustic Italian gem. Taverna Rossa is a craft stone-fired pizza and beer joint that has tasty twists on classic Italian favorites. The ambiance is electric powered with beats by Bonobo and Phantogram with décor that’s Mediterranean meets modern industrial. The combination of sound and aesthetics (plus the bar on the lake towards the back patio) sets the perfect stage for an engaging experience.

According to Susie, you can pair just about anything with a cocktail … and TR’s drink list doesn’t disappoint! So, no matter what the meal, they have a boozy option to make it even better. TR offers some standards like their Rossarita (tequila infusion, orange juice, and lemon with a sangria float) and TR’s Award Winning Bloody Mary (Pop’s secret pepper-infused vodka, classic tomato mix, seasoning, and pickled veggies) that are always on the menu. They also bring out seasonal cocktails to keep things fresh.

If you’re not into cocktails, that’s just fine because they offer a well curated beer list and a great whiskey collection. Look for local beers along with crafts from all over. As for their whiskeys, you can find some incredibly unique options. Like, actually unique. Like their Maker’s Mark Private Select, which is a bottle from a barrel of Maker’s Mark that they created themselves.

The Orzo Caprese is the perfect way to start a meal here. Fresh mozzarella, chilled orzo basil, and baby heirloom tomatoes coated in cashew pesto, all drizzled with aged balsamic and finished with a pinch of sea salt. Another starter dish I enjoyed was the Nutty Grape, a mixed greens salad with sliced red grapes, prosciutto, and  goat cheese finished with a white pistachio balsamic dressing. It’s a surprisingly solid salad that pairs perfectly with the colorful collection of cocktails available at the tavern.

After exploring the lighter side of the menu and wetting the old whistle, it’s probably best to get some carbohydrates in your life. The pasta selection here is somewhat limited, but what’s available is delightfully satisfying. The Pesto Greek seems simple at first bite, but comes on strong once the pesto sauce mixes with the cheese, tomatoes, and olives. It’s delicious and balanced, and you can add a protein of your choice to beef up the dish. (Pun so definitely intended.) The Chicken Parm En Fuego is a fiery pasta slant on chicken parmesan—breaded chicken breasts under molten blankets of provolone cheese on bucatini shells in a house-made ghost pepper marinara sauce. This dish is hot, classic, and satisfying.

Obviously, you can’t visit a craft pizzeria without having some pizza! And my recommendation is to go out on a limb and try something adventurous…

The El Pastor is a stone-fired pizza with a roasted tomatillo habanero sauce sprinkled with braised pork, chorizo, onion, tequila-caramelized pineapple, and cilantro completely baked into a bed of house-blended mozzarella cheese, and served with a splash of lime crema. Some say that fruit on pizza is sacrilege (I am part of that many), however, I really enjoyed this pie! It’s an indulgence that can only be matched by a guilty pleasure like watching terrible reality television on a rainy winter day. The El Pastor is dynamic and luscious (the lime crema is a little rich, so if that’s not really your speed I would suggest requesting it on the side), and easily worth a trip to the tavern on its own.


All in all, Taverna Rossa pulls off a splendid hat trick. It’s a place you can go for drinks after work, on a date, to a hangover brunch, or a family night out. You’ll have a wonderful time, enjoy familiar food with M. Night Shyamalan-level surprises, and be surrounded sublime sounds all right in the backyard of suburbia. And make sure to check out their lunch special where you can get a salad and pizza for $10.95!

Plano: 4005 Preston Road, Suite 512
Southlake: 1151 E. Southlake Boulevard, #300

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True Food Kitchen Opens at Legacy West

The eagerly anticipated Legacy West is springing to life before us suburbanites’ eyes. One of the latest establishments to join the Plano development’s impressive lineup of shops and restaurants is True Food Kitchen. Arguably the healthiest dining option amidst the array of Legacy West eateries, True Food Kitchen offers health-driven, seasonal menus featuring fresh ingredients and dishes that, while healthy, are still incredibly flavorful.

The concept was developed in collaboration with best-selling wellness author Dr. Andrew Weil, with an emphasis  on incorporating dishes with anti-inflammatory properties. TFK also offers menu options for just about any diet imaginable, including gluten-free, organic, vegetarian, and vegan options.

But, perhaps most importantly, they also have delicious cocktails. My favorite is their Blueberry Royale (organic vodka, lemon, prosseco, mint) because it’s light and refreshing; just perfect for summer. Other notable offerings include a Thai Grapefruit Martini (organic vodka, Thai basil, grapefruit), The Peacemaker (bourbon, amaro, lemon, clover honey), and a Ginger Margarita  (añejo tequila, elderflower liqueur, ginger honey, lemon).


True Food Kitchen’s seasonal menu features a lineup of creative and unique starters, like the Edamame Dumplings, made with dashi, white truffle oil, asian herbs, and my favorite, the vegan Kale Guacamole (pink grapefruit, cilantro, roasted poblano, sunflower seeds and served with pita chips). Trust me: I was skeptical at first about anything vegan (because so many of us are under the false impression that vegan = tasteless), but it totally works.

It’s easy to develop a serious case of menu FOMO at your table because their expansive menu offers so many diverse options–pizzas, grain-based bowls, salads, sandwiches, and protein or veggie based entree options. The pizzas at TFK have a cult following of sorts, and the House-Made Chicken Sausage Pizza (organic tomato, roasted fennel, scamorza) is the crown jewel of the current menu lineup. The Inside-Out Quinoa Burger (hummus, tzatziki, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado, feta) is a perennial favorite of TFK devotees. If a meat-free entree sounds like a day without sunshine, fear not: the Grass-fed Steak Tacos may be just what the Dr. (Weil) ordered (You can also get ’em with grilled fish). I ordered the Seasonal Salad (asparagus, broccolini, roasted cauliflower, chickpea, pistachio, raisin, manchego, sicilian vinaigrette) on my recent visit, and it made my taste buds sing.

Bonus: I still had room for dessert. Speaking of dessert, I highly recommend the Flourless Chocolate Cake, served with caramel, vanilla ice cream, cocoa nibs. You’ll probably want to share this one. It’s rich. They also offer a gluten-free and vegan Key Lime Pie … because that’s what they do.

Picture courtesy of True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen
7601 Windrose Avenue, Suite F100 (Plano)
Located in the Legacy West

Mon – Thur: 11am – 9pm
Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat: 10am – 10pm
Sun: 10am – 9pm
Brunch: Sat & Sun | 10am – 4pm

Shake Shack Plano is here!

Shake Shack Plano is now open for business! Blazing the trail for a lineup of pretty amazing restaurants planned for the new Legacy West development, the Plano Shack marks the second DFW location for the NYC chain; the first was in Uptown.

ShackBurger, Link Burger, and Fries

In addition to Shake Shack’s classic lineup of juicy burgers, crinkle cut cheese fries and frosty shakes, the Plano location features a special selection of locally inspired menu items. Sink your teeth into a Link Burger, topped with a Pecan Lodge jalapeño cheddar sausage link, and wash it down with something cold and local from Four Corners Brewing Co. or Deep Ellum Brewing.

Brat Burger

Oh, and by all means, save room for dessert. Locally inspired offerings at the Plano shack include a tempting lineup of custard concretes: the West Slide (vanilla custard, Sugar Ray’s old fashioned strawberry cupcake, and strawberry puree), the Top Twirl (chocolate custard, Top Knot banana chocolate cake and miso caramel) and the Pie Oh My (vanilla custard and slice of Emporium Pies seasonal pie).

PRO TIP: If you’re running by during your lunch hour, use the app to preorder and skip the line!

7401 Windrose Avenue, Plano (in Legacy West)

Opening Hours:
11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday – Thursday
11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday & Saturday


Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts

The holidays have come and gone, and that means the one gift you agonized over has been given. So … what can your go-to gift for the year be?  You know … for the person who has everything. Do your friends like to cook? Or as a minimum … do they like to eat? I have the perfect (read: delicious) solution for you: give the gift of a culinary education, with a little help from Chef Tre Wilcox and American Kitchen Cookware.

At the end of 2016, Julia Pearl‘s Chef Tre Wilcox (you may also recognize him from Bravo’s “Top Chef”, or impressively taking down Iron Chef Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef America”) opened Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts: a beautiful event venue in Plano, featuring a state of the art demonstration kitchen with four cooking stations. Cooking Concepts offers everything from themed cooking classes, to team building events, to catering services. Cooking Concepts’ partnership with American Kitchen Cookware is a match made in culinary heaven, giving would-be Wolfgangs and Giadas the opportunity to experiment with some beautiful cookware that is actually affordable.

I had the opportunity to participate in a cooking class with Chef Tre and his crew, and here are a few things I can share:

  1. This is not one of those “cooking classes” where you sit back and watch someone else do all of the heavy lifting while you half-watch amidst socializing with your friends and sipping mediocre wine from a plastic cup. Oh, no. I have very few pictures from this event, and this is because I was constantly chopping, stirring, sautéing, or pan-searing something. You are going to earn your dang dinner.
  2. That said … you will not be thrown to the wolves. Each of the four demo stations were staffed with one of Chef Tre’s kitchen minions, who were A) extremely talented, B) extremely helpful, and C) REALLY INTO FOOD … kind of like that Central Market deep voice guy but remarkably less annoying.
  3. You may learn that you’re doing everything wrong in the kitchen. Just accept this heading into the experience. There can’t really be a “wrong” way to chop an onion, right? Oh, on the contrary. There is, and it’s the way you’ve been doing it all along. Get ready to make some adjustments, and you will learn some time saving (and injury saving and perhaps even watery eye saving … ) hacks you will want to use at home.
  4. You can cook a delicious, impressive, restaurant quality meal. Ok, so maybe it’s under the watchful eye of someone who is slightly more well versed in the kitchen than you are, but that’s a technicality.   Shrimp and grits … pan seared scallops … Thai coconut salmon … yeah, I created all of these dishes. (Me, the UberEats Queen.)
Picture courtesy of American Kitchen Cookware

Here is a list of upcoming cooking classes, with themes running the gamut from sushi, to Southern cooking, to knife safety.  Note: Cooking Concepts is offering a couples’ cooking class for Valentine’s Day, which is coming up quickly. So, make your plans! Online registration is available. Classes are small, and will fill up quickly!

If you’re going to surprise the aspiring chef in your life with a Tre Wilcox cooking class, you may as well give them the right tools to be successful once the class is in the books. Check out American Kitchen Cookware to peruse some of the cookware Chef Tre uses in his demo kitchen. You’ll want to take some home with you.

Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts
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8200 Preston Road, Suite 135 (Plano)
(214) 296-2168

A great, big “thank you” to Chef Tre Wilcox and American Kitchen Cookware for inviting me out to get schooled … and fed! It was so much fun!

Mí Día From Scratch

DFW has some serious options for Mexican food, but we’re so accustomed to the watered down (yet still delicious in its own way) Tex Mex that we forget that there are authentic options out there–Javier’s, Meso Maya, Mí Día, and more.  Mí Día From Scratch recently opened its second location in Plano, and it features the food we’ve come to expect from Chef Gabriel DeLeon that blends authentic Mexican cuisine with tastes of Santa Fe and a bit of Tex Mex.

The food is incredible (and we’ll get to that in time), but the real winner here is those of us who enjoy a drink from time to time.  Their extensive Tequila Tower offers quite a few high end tequilas for their hand crafted drinks, and they’ve even  infused their own tequilas to use in their signature drinks like the Blueberry Habanero Margarita featuring their blueberry-infused Patrón Silver, Cointreau, habanero, lemon, and agave nectar and the Riviera Maya with Strawberry-Infused Dulce Vida Blanco tequila, St. Germain, Coiuntreau, lemon, and agave nectar.  The infusions are flavorful without being overpowering, and the Patron XO infused with dark cocoa and strawberry is not to be missed–rich yet strong and perfect to sip with dessert.

The food has been some of the most unique and authentic seen from a Mexican restaurant in the area since the opening of the original location in Grapevine.  Make sure to call over their fully stocked tableside guacamole cart and start with a giant Molcajete of fresh guac made with your instruction for $15 (enough for 4-6 people)–and don’t forget the bacon.  Their Sopes de Carnitas (corn masa boats with black beans, pork carnitas, queso fresco, pickled onions) were also a nice start to the meal with a nice tang from the roasted tomatillo salsa.


Their menu, as mentioned, offers traditional Mexican options along with some Sante Fe and Tex Mex options.  Everything ordered was incredible, but the biggest upset was that our stomachs weren’t large enough to put away more of it.  Standouts were:
Wood Grilled Banana Leaf Wrapped Salmon (rubbed with achiote, citrus, served with morita whipped potatoes, sautéed chayote & mango-lemongrass mojo): the fish was fresh and the citrus gave it a nice brightness.
Duck Carnitas (Maple Leaf Farms duck, pickled onion, roasted poblanos, micro cilantro, chile morita on flour tortillas): these little tacos served flat were delights thanks to the richness of the duck.
Codorniz (pecan-grilled Manchester Farms whole quail served with guajillo rice & charro beans): these little beauties were tender and exquisite … I may upgrade to the three-bird plate next time.


While the meal was amazing, I’m pissed I didn’t go for the Quesadillas de Huitlacoche (Sautéed Mexican truffle, queso asadero & roasted veggies between house made blue corn tortillas) because they sound ah-mazing.  Also a huge miss?  Not saving room for dessert.  (I mean … a Deconstructed Mexican Macaron?  How did I miss that?)

… a return trip must be planned.

PLANO: West Plano Village, 3310 Dallas Pkwy #105, (972)403-7474
GRAPEVINE: 1295 S Main Street, (817)421-4747

State Fair Treats & Walmart: a Marriage Only Texans Would Understand

The State Fair of Texas ends today, … didn’t get a chance to make it out there this year? (Or, you just simply weren’t in the mood to navigate a sweaty sea of humanity in the sweltering heat, intermittently pausing to open up your wallet and shake it until it’s empty?) Well, I have good news for you and your taste buds … but, bad news for your cholesterol count. A variety of deep-fried, State Fair favorites are now available, indefinitely, at none other than … Walmart. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s such a delightfully perfect pairing (and I do not think I need to elaborate as to why that is). State Fair Treats has opened up shop inside of the Coit Rd. location in Plano.


Isaac Rousso, three-time winner of the Big Tex Choice Award for “Most Creative” deep-fried offerings, is the mastermind behind this amazing marriage of commerce and culinary delights. (You can thank Rousso for the imagining of past delicacies including the Fried Pop-tart, Smoky Bacon Margarita, and Deep-Fried Cuban Rolls.) State Fair Treats features a 45 snacks and treats from the requisites like corn dogs and nachos to indulgent sweet treats like Funnel Cake Fries, Fried Oreos, and the Texas Bluebonnet (a cream cheese-stuffed, deep-fried blueberry muffin topped with whipped cream and more blueberries). I may have had one two, and it was admittedly delicious. Rousso’s award-winning Cookie Fries will join the lineup of goodies this week.

While you won’t find any livestock or midway games at State Fair Treats, it’s definitely worth stopping in for an indulgent goodie or two … and bonus: you’ll still have enough cash left to buy whatever a goodie from Walmart on the way out.

State Fair Treats
425 Coit Road., Plano (Located inside Walmart)
(972) 612-9637

Hours: daily, 7am (yes, they have breakfast) – 9pm

***Thanks to State Fair Treats for inviting us in to check out the fried goodness!***

Cuellars’ Fajita Ranch

If you’ve ventured up 75 lately, you may have seen a new restaurant sign among the many around Parker for Cuellars’ Fajita Ranch.  The restaurant opened in June and was created by three cousins offers “Ranch-Mex” options, which is exactly what you think it is from the name–the foods you’d eat when hanging out on your family or friend’s ranch, mesquite grilled, and served in healthy portions.

Their drinks are quite Tex-Mex–think plenty of margarita options, both frozen and on the rocks, and in many different flavors.  We tried a few of their flavored margaritas and they were plenty fruity and just enough boozy.


Appetizers are about as you’d expect with a couple surprises like their Bean Layer Dip and White Wings, which are delicious wings wrapped in bacon.  (Bring it on.)  Just make sure to keep it light with the appetizers because you’ll have plenty of food on its way to you after ordering your entrées.

White Wings
White Wings

For dinner, since it’s in the name, you should probably go for the fajitas.  The best part?  They have a LOT of options for you from the traditional beef and chicken to portobello mushroom and ribeye fajita style.  Just make sure to throw on some extras–think baby back rubs, jalapeño sausage, and fried eggs.  All fajitas are served sizzling and mesquite grilled … and delicious.  But if you can’t make up your mind (or have an army to feed), you can go for their “Combo Corral” options–the Fajitas del Rey feed “two” and the Tailgate Party feeds “four”.  Both are vastly huge portions of meat and come with plenty of sides and other goodies … eat hearty, and make friends to share with.

Other entrée options include steaks and chicken (available grilled or chicken fried), fish, some Tex-Mex favorites like chipotle quesadillas and burritos, and healthy things that I don’t really need to talk about because … fajitas.

Dessert is as it should be–golden, crispy churros served with molten chocolate sauce and delicate sopapillas.


3310 N Central Expressway (Plano)
(972) 905-5638

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.

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3 locations (Design District, Plano, and Preston Hollow)


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