Category Archives: Restaurants

RESTAURANT REVIEW: MI DIA

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

midiafromscratch.com
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Mi Cocina HP Village Is Back

Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village is back and officially open after a quick beauty refresh that will have you ooh-ing and ahh-ing in between sips of your Mambo Taxi.

While well loved in the Park Cities, Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village was once a dark, outdated dining room, but after 8 weeks of intense renovation, it’s now a clean and crisp vision reminiscent of a Mexican villa. The walls are now a bright white and the ceiling a dark wood. The seating has been reupholstered, and the balcony is now curved.

 

But the main update has been to the upstairs bar, known to locals as Monkey Bar due to the large painting of monkeys that used to adorn the walls. Previously only known by hyper locals, they’re making the once small space filled to capacity almost nightly a more welcoming space with additional seating. The bar now has an outdoor patio with umbrellas for shade and misters to keep cool even on the hottest of Dallas days. Monkey Bar is accessible from both Mi Cocina’s interior through a back staircase and the stairs across from Bistro 31. (Just keep climbing.)

 

The inside of the bar was also given a face-lift with new upholstery and brass accents. The Monkey portraits may be gone, but the theme is not lost: we’re still excited to monkey around up there. While sitting out on the patio you may even hear some jungle sounds over the speakers to set the beach-in-Mexico mood. We’re not mad about it.

 

Monkey Bar offers a great selection of appetizers from $8-$16, like Nachos Al Carbon and Quesadilla Morita con Huevo. Margaritas range from $12-$16 … but really we’re all there for that Mambo Taxi.

Stop in to see our favorite MiCo face lift. The food remains the same, but now the dining room’s a whole lot better to look at.

 


MI COCINA
micocina.com
Newly renovated location: 77 Highland Park Village (Highland Park)

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214.521.6426

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
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1114 S Elm St #100 (Carrollton, Texas)
469-892-6429

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

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

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)
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*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)
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*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