Category Archives: Restaurants

Wine & Magic

Didn’t think wine night could get any more fun? Think again.

Checkered Past Winery, located in the Southside on Lamar building, is making sure your wine night is never boring. Their $20/person Wine & Magic nights happen once a month, and let me tell you, this isn’t your ordinary magic show.

I’m glad Susie sent me (because magic makes her uncomfortable), and I’m glad she did.  The magic host, Trigg Watson, puts on a modern and entertaining (dare I say frustrating?) magic show. His tricks kept us on the edge of our seats and scratching our heads in awe.

While our team has been longtime fans of Checkered Past, we were excited to visit in a new capacity.

With over 60 wines and 20 local craft beers, the last thing you’ll be worried about is running out of options. To compliment the wine, Checkered Past offers an array of spreads (all made in house), charcuterie, and pizzas. Don’t forget to end your evening with one of their delicious desserts!

Upcoming Wine & Magic nights are March 10 and April 14. Stay tuned to Checkered Past’s website for other events and future Wine & Magic nights.

Checkered Past Winery
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Street’s Fine Chicken Now Offers Brunch

Brunch goers: loosen your belt buckles. Street’s Fine Chicken now offers BRUNCH.

Known for their high quality, southern-style fried chicken, Street’s Fine Chicken is THE place to go for all of your fried chicken cravings. Since opening their second location in North Dallas at Forest & Inwood, they’ve moved on to releasing new, seasonal cocktails and … more importantly … brunch!

Their new brunch menu is only available at their Cedar Springs location (North Dallas location to hopefully follow soon) and can be enjoyed from 10am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

You can expect items like the Fried Chicken Sandwich topped with a fried egg (talk about a “which came first” joke!), Chicken Fried Bacon, served with jalapeño gravy, and Berry French Toast. My favorite was the Breakfast Burrito, which has both fried chicken and egg in it, and is served with brunch potatoes.

All of the items on the brunch menu are $10. (There’s something beautiful about that … and that’ll make big brunch parties easier to split checks!) Oh, and mimosas are just $3 and Blood Marys are $5. (Now you know why you need to loosen your belt buckles … but not really your purse strings.) Not into brunch cocktails? They’ve still got you … their signature cocktail list offers drinks named after famous Southerners like Dolly’s Pardon, Reba’s Red and Shania’s Twang. … oh, and craft beer and wine on tap.

One thing I truly appreciate about Street’s Fine chicken is that even though you’re eating brunch, they still think it’s acceptable to order dessert.


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Dallas: 3857 Cedar Springs Road

North Dallas: 5211 Forest Lane, #108

Perry’s Steakhouse Opens in Grapevine, Texas

Written by: Carolina Merino

Carnivores, rejoice! The Dallas-Fort Worth area will now boast a brand new Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille. Perry’s third DFW outpost, a stunning 10,000 square foot restaurant in Grapevine that will accommodate 400 guests, opened on February 5.

Upon entering the restaurant you will immediately recognize Perry’s signature restaurant style, but will also be treated to a vibrant new color palette, lighting, textures, sweeping sight-lines in the dining room, and dazzling use of glass throughout. Thanks to the lovely layout and always stellar service that one is to expect from Perry’s, the venue is the perfect location for a romantic dinner, business dinner, or simply a happy hour to decompress.

I was the lucky one who attended their “sneak peek” media dinner last week where we were treated to a bevy of Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille favorites.

Pork chop bites: Small skewered, bite-sized morsels of their famous pork chop.
Paired with the Straight Paloma

Chateaubriand (Beef Tenderloin): Carved tableside and served with truffle merlot demi-glace, Bernaise, and Peppercorn reduction sauces
Paired with 2015 Perry’s Reserve Cabernet

Perry’s Signature fried asparagus: Asparagus topped with jumbo lump crabmeat

Chocolate Crunch: Crunchy milk chocolate covered with a dark chocolate ganache served with homemade whipped cream, toffee, and peanut brittle.
Paired with Jameson Mocha Old Fashioned

The standouts were the pork chop bites, the chateaubriand, and the fried asparagus topped with jumbo lump crabmeat. The bites have a savory-sweet caramelization on all sides and are served with a house made applesauce. (Susie’s note: get a little applesauce in every bite. It’s the perfect pairing!) The chateaubriand comes with a choice of sauces—the truffle merlot demi-glace, bursting with rich umami flavor, was my personal favorite.

Grabbing a seat at the bar for Perry’s popular Social Hour (their happy hour, available in the bar only) is always a fantastic idea. There, you can revel in the view of Bar 79’s towering wine wall which includes hundreds of wines, including Perry’s private label reserve Chardonnay and Cabernet, that perfectly complement the menu. During Perry’s Social Hour, you can wind down from a day of work and enjoy an array of bar bites, as well as wine, craft beer, and cocktail specials.

While tackling the famous 7-finger pork chop seems like a worthy culinary feat, knowing I can walk into the bar at anytime and order the bite-size version feels like an indulgence all its own. Make sure and order the “Strait Paloma” to enjoy alongside it. It’s an exceptional cocktail that pairs with the bites beautifully. You can also taste-test the martini menu with their “Pick Three” martini flight which is always fun. Social Hour is held Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Sunday 4-9 p.m.

And every Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Grapevine (and all Perry’s Steakhouse locations) will offer their Perry’s Signature Famous $14.95 Pork Chop lunch special which includes whipped potatoes and applesauce. This is truly a deal. (Susie’s note: This is a full lunch for me, and at least an additional meal. There has never been a better quesadilla made than one with leftovers from Pork Chop Fridays!)

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille – Grapevine

Monday through Thursday: 4-10 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday: 4-10 p.m.
Sunday: 4-9 p.m.

Bar 79: open until 11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.


Carolina was invited to a preview of the new location to enjoy a meal free of charge. Header picture courtesy of Perry’s Steakhouse.


TGI Friday’s Releases Its New Fire-Grilled Meats and Two New Cocktails

With their competition reinventing their menus with less items, there’s a new fire under TGIF’s behind. Their answer: do what they do, just better and for less cost to the consumer.

Friday’s is overhauling their entire menu, meaning new apps, entrees, sides, drinks, and more. TGI Friday’s new Choose Two menu dropped today and it’s all about fire-grilled meats … and good ones, at that. There are 15 different combinations for you to try, each for just $14.99.

First up: Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls and the Philly Cheesesteak Burger. We have yet to find someone who doesn’t love egg rolls (we held a poll in the tasting to prove ourselves right), so it only makes sense to American-ize them into a Philly Cheese-take (pun intended) appetizer.  The burger’s patty is juicy and topped with a cheesy pepper concoction that you’ll fork off the plate after it falls off the burger. Don’t worry – if you order the burger, you get an egg roll on top. (Because burgers are better with an appetizer on top.)

As for the new Grilled Meats menu … all of Friday’s meats are grilled fresh on the fire and never frozen, and they’re moving to higher quality cuts that give the guest a nicer amount of meat with less effort cutting around the less desirable bits. We won’t go through all the different meat and side combinations you can get—they’re all pretty damn good, so just pick your favorite(s). We will, however, tell you about all the juicy, fire-grilled meats you can now get …

Premium Center Cut Sirloin: 6oz seasoned with hickory smoked sea salt, topped with parmesan butter.
Dragon Glazed Salmon: Atlantic salmon fillet brushed with sweet and spicy Korean BBQ sauce, topped with mango pico de gallo.
Big Ribs: 30% meatier, bolder, tastier premium pork back ribs, cooked low and slow in house. (The new ribs launched in October and have been a hit.)
Parmesan Crusted Chicken: topped with a white poblano queso and toasted with crispy parmesan bread crumbs.
Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Shrimp: two skewers of three large jumbo shrimp, wrapped in hardwood smoked bacon and brushed with parmesan butter sauce.
14-ounce Bone-In New York Strip: this cut is ridiculously juicy and flavorful … not to be missed. It’ll give some steakhouses a run for their money.

New sides were also recently introduced to accompany these delicious meats—crispy Brussel sprouts, baked mac & cheese and giant onion rings. All of which were equally “souped-up” recently. Their standard mashed potatoes aren’t anything to shy away from, though … they fold in cheese to make them rich and they’re nearly impossible to hold yourself back from eating the whole pile.

The important thing to remember here is your eyes may be hungrier than your stomach, but that’s okay because they have to-go boxes for you to take things home.

Along with the new entree options, they’ve released two new cocktails, the Magic Lemon Drop Martini and their take on a Hurricane. They’ve been making efforts to move their bar to a “clean bar” concept—no fake colors or ingredients, just good, clean, quality ingredients.

The Magic Lemon Drop is cool on many fronts—visually, because of it’s greatly contrasting purple and yellow colors; experientially, because you get to be your own mixologist with the garnish by dropping it in and watching the color change; and Boomerang-worthy, because they use butterfly pea tea extract. The BPT extract is a new, trendy cocktail ingredient that makes a cocktail blue, and then changes color when some ingredients are added—purple with acidic ingredients, pink with a high pH ingredient. Less new, but still a stunner, their take on the traditional hurricane is fresh and delicious, made so partly because of the fresh passion fruit puree they use.

TGIF’s is stepping up it’s game again, y’all.

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Blue Sushi & Sake Bar

Full disclosure: My husband and I have been fans of Blue Sushi in Fort Worth for several years, so when I found out they were (finally!) opening Dallas locations, I was thrilled, albeit a little reserved. I couldn’t help but wonder whether it would be as good as we love all the way across DFW.

Short answer: Yes. The newest location nestled on the corner of McKinney Avenue and Bowen on the bottom floor of the M-Line Tower, Blue Sushi Sake Grill is a welcome addition to this strip of McKinney. (We’ve discovered that we love the roomy location on 75 at Walnut Hill, too!)

The hostesses were welcoming, the bartenders efficient, and true to memory, the menu included well-executed staples such as tuna tatake as well as more inventive small bites like the lightly fried, creamy-spicy Dragon Shrimp appetizer.


The space is cozy without feeling cramped and the high-top tables in the bar area are large enough to accommodate a group waiting for their reservation. Although it was too chilly to sit outside when we visited, the daily happy hour specials and prime people-watching real estate are sure to pack the small patio come springtime.

While I’m typically more of a wine drinker, the specialty cocktails were light and fruity, if a little summer-y, and we especially liked the Samuri Saketini, a refreshing blend of cucumber lime vodka and unfiltered sake garnished with cucumber. If you’re a fan of sake but maybe don’t know where to start, the two sake flights are a fun way to try a several options.

We had as great an experience at the new Uptown location as we’d come to expect from it’s Fort Worth sibling, and have recommended this spot multiple times to friends looking for good sushi and a fun atmosphere. Be sure to check out their lunch, vegan, and gluten-free menus as well!

Instagram: @BlueSushiSakeGrill
Twitter: @WeServeFunSushi
various locations

pictures courtesy of Blue Sushi Sake

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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Dough Bro’s Italian Kitchen

Admittedly, I tend to be a little bit of a pizza snob. I’m from South Florida—the land of New York and New Jersey transplants. In other words, I grew up surrounded by hole in the wall pizzerias owned by guys with names like “Vito,” and “Nicky”. Since moving to Texas over ten years ago, I have been on a tireless quest to find pizza that lives up to my seemingly impossible standards. A few spots have come close, but I hadn’t found “the one” … until now.  Enter Dough Bro’s Italian Kitchen. I never would have guessed that my new favorite pizza spot would be located in The Colony (ok, they have a Dallas location, too). 

I recently visited Dough Bro’s location in The Colony where I had the opportunity to sink my teeth into some of their pies, and they were phenomenal. The crust, made in-house daily (secret ingredient: locally sourced honey!),  is delightfully chewy yet crispy. Dough Bro’s marinara sauce is perfectly balanced with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a hint of sweetness. The mozzarella on our pie was plentiful, and fresh. I was really sad I didn’t have leftover pizza to eat for lunch the next day, because … we ate it all. Oops.

In addition to pizza, Dough Bro’s features a variety of shareable starters, wings, salads, sandwiches, and calzones, as well as a lineup of entrees. The Deconstructed Fresh Lasagna is said to be a favorite of regulars, featuring house-made noodles, a sausage and beef blend, fresh spinach, and mozzarella. If red sauce and cheese isn’t what you’re after, Dough Bro’s offers a variety of “modern classic” entrees, such as a grilled pork tenderloin served with risotto and asparagus, and wild salmon served with zoodles and a whole grain mustard sauce. Be sure to save room for dessert.  The Lemon Butter Cake … ye-um.

Dough Bro’s features an impressive collection of rotating craft beers and microbrews—the beer list is well-curated and offers options locals beyond the “usual suspects”.

Additionally, they also offer an impressive cocktail list featuring seasonal inspirations. On my recent visit, I tried the Basil Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire, fresh squeezed lime, basil, simple syrup) and I am happy to report this is the best version of this cocktail I’ve found since the closure of Hibiscus (RIP). And that’s high praise in my book. We also sampled a Red Pepper Martini (Deep Eddy, fresh squeezed lime, Tabasco, simple syrup, muddled red bell pepper), which was equal parts smoky, spicy, and smooth.

And of course, vino is available, by the glass or the bottle.

Dough Bro’s offers a happy hour Monday-Friday featuring $6 specialty cocktails and $1 off liquors, beer, and wine. Additional drink specials are featured on Tuesdays, with Ziegenbock and Fireball on special for just $2. For additional offerings, specials, and events (including live music!), check out Dough Bro’s Facebook page.

Dough Bro’s Italian Kitchen

The Colony
2851 Plano Pkwy #270
(469) 353-8182

5181 Keller Springs Road
(469) 248-0058

A special “Thank you” to Dough Bro’s for a delicious meal! An instant favorite, in our book. 

One90 Smoked Meats is Smokin’

Written by Carolina Merino

If you’re like me and had never heard of One90 Smoked Meats (shhh please don’t rat me out), then believe me, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself … and fast. This unassuming shop in East Dallas put on a great show.

This past week I had the privilege of attending a One90 Smoked Meats media dinner, hosted by the owners of One90 and Oak Highlands Brewery. As explained to us that evening, long time friends, Kyle St. Clair, Herman Guerra, and Adam Weatherred had been smoking meat together for years in their backyards before leaving their respective careers and opening up their shop in 2015. And for good reason … because they have this art down to a science. (Yes, I wrote that correctly.) Their smoked meats are perfection.

The dinner started off with an assortment of cold shaved smoked meat and cheese trays, smoked salmon dip, and a brisket chili that brought some serious heat. That was followed by a stop at the bar to taste one (or more) of Oak Highland Brewery’s 10 craft beers on tap. The DF-Dub, a German dark wheat style ale, was a standout and paired nicely with the smokiness of the entire meal. (Because, beer and BBQ.)

Then, it was time for the main event—melt-in-your mouth brisket, pulled pork, and buttery poblano sausage. While seated, trays of mac and cheese, potato salad, and coleslaw were delivered to our tables. If all that wasn’t mouth-watering enough, we ended the meal with a decadent banana pudding that tasted like it was made in your grandmother’s kitchen.

Their shop kiosk reads “small batch craft meats” and that’s the dining experience One90 offers with their popular sandwiches piled high with the smoked meat of your choice, their vacuum-sealed grab-n-go smoked meat packages, and bevy of unique meat options which also include duck breast, rack of lamb, beef tenderloin, pastrami, and salmon. (They also have all this available online.) You can order meat delivered directly to your door or sent to anyone across the country as the perfect holiday gift.

Additionally, One90 has put together a menu of their go-to staples to make your holiday extra special. Orders must be placed by November 14 for Thanksgiving and December 19 for Christmas. Order now!

I enjoyed every bit of this meal and can’t wait to head over to their storefront to try one of their delicious ham sandwiches and grab some packaged brisket to go!

At first glance, One90 Smoked Meats seems like a typical bbq joint, but as I quickly learned, it truly is so much more.

10240 E. Northwest Highway (Far East Dallas)

Cover photo courtesy of One90.