I was invited to join a paella and sangria class up the road at Bulla Gastrobar in Legacy West. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for the giant skillet of seafood and rice … and for this amazing restaurant.
Starting off the night, we enjoyed a few passed appetizers and cava while we learned about the head chef, the background of the restaurant, and how to make paella and three different types of sangria.
I’ve always been a little intimidated to make paella, but … fun fact, this dish gets its name from the pan used to make it. Anyone else intrigued by that? I’ll say this … it’s a good thing I didn’t try making this on my own. The ingredients are simple, but the process needs a little finesse. The dish is created with love, and from start to finish it takes about 30ish minutes … and that’s great because the smells were almost as intoxicating as the sangria and none of us could wait to eat.
Whether you are a microwave master or home chef, this class was perfect for all levels. Coming around a table, sharing, and conversing with fellow classmates made the evening an enjoyable and relaxing experience that I highly recommend attending … and make sure you’re hungry!
Bulla is hosting this exact class, “Lovers & Friends, Sangria and Paella Making Class” on February 13th at 7PM. If you don’t have plans yet and are still on the hunt for a fun night, grab tickets on their website for $200 for two people!
With three DFW locations, Mí Día scratch kitchen has something very unique to offer … it doesn’t just focus on the traditional.
The menu is well designed and carefully crafted with a fresh mentality. I dined in and enjoyed a few items off their catering menu (which are also on their regular menu), and was surprised by the excellent quality that usually isn’t found in cooking intended for large production and was pleased by the bold flavors I enjoyed. Their largest catering order was for 4,000 people, so should you be on the market for a catering option, I think your needs will be met with weddings, birthdays, holiday gatherings and more!
I normally go with my gut (pun intended) on food choice, but I stepped outside my comfort zone and let my waitress dictate my experience! She recommended the Fig and Berry and Cloud 9. The first is their current signature drink with blackberries, figs, house-made cinnamon agave, THREE liquors, and a cinnamon sugar rim. It may be a new favorite. The second was a LTO cocktail that gained enough fans that it made its way on to their cocktail menu. It’s made with 1530 Blanco Rosa, Cointreau Noir, lemon, lime, vanilla agave, and hibiscus air (ummmm basically the adult cotton candy). I’m not sure if calories are involved with air, but I’m here for it either way.
Now, on to the food! Tamales are one of my favorite traditional items—kinda like when I go to an Italian joint and judge them on their chicken parmesan. Theirs definitely passed the “Taylor test” … the masa tastes crazy fresh, the ratio of masa to protein was spot on, and both proteins (pork and chicken stuffed with New Mexico red and green Chile sauces) have a spicy, but not overwhelming kick to them. Who doesn’t love a good taco, right? Especially when you get to build it yourself! The Cochinita Pibil were pork tacos served with picked onions that offer a bright acidity that really livens up the dish. The meat was moist, well seasoned, and comes tied up in a banana leaf! You can’t go wrong here!
On to dessert … holy churros, (Chalupa) Batman! If you like chocolate, cajeta (Mexican carmel), and fried dough, YOU MUST try this. Y’all know I have 28 sweet teeth and this did not disappoint. The crunchy outside with a creamy cajeta inside, lightly drizzled with chocolate and side of cappuccino ice cream was the best way to end this dinner.
Every dish that passed our table made us want to extend the meal—the presentation was nicely crafted and polished. Believe it or not, you eat with your eyes first, folks … and I was pigging out.
If you’re dining in, their happy hour is Monday thru Friday, 3-6PM; $2 off multiple menu items and $5 house margaritas. Seeing as we are coming up on patio season here in Texas, theirs has oscillating fans and is fenced-in by wire trellis covered with greenery. It has a relaxing, laid back vibe … just what we all need to unwind from the day.
I can’t wait to come back and try more of their food and drink offerings … though I’m not sure I’ll be able to be enticed to try something other than what I’ve already had since everything was perfect. I guess I’ll just have to go for lunch, enjoy a couple HH drinks, and stay for dinner!
MÍ DÍA FROM SCRATCH Grapevine: 1295 S Main Street | 817.421.4747
Plano: 3310 Dallas Parkway, Ste 105 | 972.403.7474
Flower Mound: 2601 West Windsor | 972-874-4747
Bellagreen may have multiple locations, but its inspired menu makes it feel like anything but a “chain”. The menu encompasses hand-crafted, American bistro favorites in a fast-casual environment. It offers traditional dishes with a twist, but they certainly take pride in modifying all menu items to align with a wide range of dietary needs like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, keto, paleo, or Whole 30!
Their mission to source certain organic products, certified “Best Agricultural Practices” seafood, leveraging water-saving devices, alternative power sources and giving back to the community are just a few non-food related reasons I’m crushing on BellaGreen.
Now let’s get to the food, shall we?! For an appetizer we had the high-protein hempenadas, which were flavor bombs with raisins stealing the show … trust me on this. For the main course we had the blackened shrimp salad and paleo spaghetti squash bolognese. The mound of salad was perfectly dressed, seeing as I normally ask for my dressing on the side, super colorful and had tons of texture with perfectly cooked protein. The flavor of the bolognese was so rich and deep that it tasted like they had been cooking it for hours.
For dessert we indulged in the carrot cake, and they nearly found the perfect frosting to cake ratio.
The drink menu was very diverse with a good emphasis on local. I had a rose since that pairs nicely with shrimp and the Texas heat, and my husband had a Revolver Blood & Honey.
The esthetic of the restaurant feels light, airy, and fun. There is plenty of outdoor and indoor space to kick back and enjoy. All times would be a great time to enjoy this restaurant but my favorites might be: girls’ night, girls’ night with the kiddos, fast-casual lunch with friends/coworkers, fast-casual dinner on my way home if I don’t feel the desire to cook. They also serve brunch … so the next time I go you can guarantee it’ll be for that!
If you have kids, sit outside and let them play cornhole or play in the small, grassy area while you continue to sip on an adult beverage and enjoy the evening.
They cater! So, if you want to impress at the next office lunch, or dinner party they can customize to your heart’s desire.
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!
TAVERNA ROSSA tavernarossa.com Plano: 4005 Preston Road, Suite 512
Southlake: 1151 E. Southlake Boulevard, #300
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 aGinger 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.
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.
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.
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 Knotbanana 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!
SHAKE SHACK PLANO shakeshack.com
7401 Windrose Avenue, Plano (in Legacy West)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
MÍ DÍA FROM SCRATCH midiafromscratch.com
PLANO: West Plano Village, 3310 Dallas Pkwy #105, (972)403-7474
GRAPEVINE: 1295 S Main Street, (817)421-4747