Category Archives: Restaurants

SusieDrinksDallas Visits Ivy Kitchen

Ivy Kitchen is a new restaurant that serves sushi, steaks, and one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten.  We had the pleasure of speaking with Brit Milam who came to Ivy Kitchen from Cured in San Antonio and has left his mark on the restaurant.  He spoke about Ivy Kitchen’s local vs. global attitude, which means they refuse to sacrifice quality to call something local.

Their drinks are top notch (the Bootstrap Manhattan is not to be missed) and their wine list, curated by Raven Wine, is one of the most brilliantly simple lists I’ve seen in Dallas. They offer some of my favorite local liquor brands, including TX Whiskey and Cinco Vodka!  Their Sake Margarita is a sort of surf and turf of the cocktail world and The Ivy is their best seller.

Ivy Kitchen offers an abridged menu available in the  Look & Dine theater of LOOK Cinema, which shares one wall with them.  Don’t worry … they won’t serve anything in there that’s too pungent out of courtesy of the other moviegoers!

Alcohol offerings: Full bar, full wine list, local and import beers (some local drafts)
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday
TVs: in the bar
Kitchen hours: 11am-10pm
Bar hours: an hour after the restaurant (especially Thursday-Saturday)
Gluten-free options: yes
Not to miss:
  • Edemame is coated in the crazy good spice
  • Crab cake is possibly the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten. The Cole slaw has macadamia nuts in it and is badass. Like … legit.
  • Their Burger patty is made with equal parts short rib, brisket, and beef … and it’s one of the best burgers that I’ve ever had.
Video courtesy of Rico, write-up by Susie.
IVY KITCHEN

Pegaso Mexican Diner- Fort Worth

Last week I was privileged to attend a media dinner at a new Tex-Mex restaurant in Bluebonnet Circle, Pegaso Mexican Diner. The circle has made a huge turn around since the days of the Qui and Tiff and Andi’s. Now the circle is full of great restaurants and retail, and Pegaso is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.

Pegaso is set up like Freebirds or Chipotle where you go through a line to build your plate. They also offer a few platters were everything is already chosen for you want a quick decision. The basics of the menu are: enchilada plates, burritos, burrito bowls, salad bowls, and street tacos. With almost everything, you pick your filling, sauce, and sides. My first experience was awesome because I was able to try a lot of the menu in small portions. I kept thinking about how good the food during the rest of my week that I went back a few days later for my weekend Mexican food fix. Going through the line for the first time was somewhat overwhelming with all of the choices. It was safe to say that I’m pretty sure I would not have been disappointed with anything I would have chosen. The simple things like the rice and refried beans are amazing. The food is such high quality (this is nothing like Taco Bell fast food).

Eventually they will be offering late night on weekends as well as breakfast.

I’ll admit it … I’m a queso fanatic. For that reason, I deem myself qualified to say that their queso blanco was amazing. My other top recommendations are the enchilada platter with chicken tinga, chipotle crema, vegan cilantro rice, and pinto refried beans. One of the best sides I have tried is the Spicy Mexican Elote (a corn dish with chipotle crema, mayonnaise, and queso fresco). This dish has a great mix of sweet and spicy flavors.

So awesome food, now what about the drinks? Yes, this is considered “fast casual”, but the margaritas are hand shaken using 100% agave Tequila (your choice of Silver, Reposado, or Anejo). I was a big fan of the skinny margarita on the rocks ($8.50). The cucumber margarita on the rocks ($10.00) was a refreshing twist on a traditional margarita and the cucumber mellowed out the sweetness.

Pegaso also offers a selection of domestic ($2.95), imported ($3.75), and local ($4.25) bottles. (I feel that I shouldn’t have to say that you can’t get the drinks to go … but I’ll err on the side of safety.)

All of the items at Pegaso are made with high quality ingredients and sustainable harvested produce when possible. They use healthy fats such as Canola oil in their fryer as well as accommodate any vegan request that is possible. This is a family-friendly restaurant with a very reasonably priced kids menu ($3.75).

PEGASO MEXICAN DINER
3516 Bluebonnet Circle
Fort Worth, Texas 76109
Website | Facebook

Hours:
Tuesday-Thursday: 11am- 9pm
Friday- Saturday: 11am- 11pm
Sunday: 11am- 9pm
CLOSED MONDAY

Happy Hour: Tuesday-Friday 4-6:30 ($1 off all alcoholic drinks)

*TCU students receive a 10% discount with ID.

Not (S)Mash’d

“Have you heard about that moonshine place?”

“Look, Sandy Glopperson checked in on Facebook and is drinking Burt Reynolds’s juice from a jug!”

One of these two sentences describes how social media first introduced me to the fact that there was a restaurant less than five miles from my house serving a bunch of variations of moonshine and moonshine-based cocktails I needed to check out. At the time, I was loosely familiar with the idea of moonshine, but didn’t realize this was the start of a quick crash course elsewhere (more on that later).

I went on a Friday night with a group of friends and was impressed at the quick transition from strip mall parking lot to a cool indoor scene and open patio. Basically, it’s about as comfortable as you can feel within a football field or so of a Twin Peaks. Our waiter was very attentive from the beginning and it was apparent he really enjoyed presenting the menu and concepts to people – which I only note because I think I would be sick of doing that in about a week.

20140530_195900For the uninitiated, the menu has three tiers of strength and flavors – ranging from sweetened sugar water with a kick to the stronger, fruit-infused flavors. We went with the waiters recommendations and quickly ran through a number of options that were on the sweet side and not too strong, but good, including the Cherry Limeade and Pineapple Bomb. The South House Cherry Limeade was listed as its own moonshine flavor, but the waiter encouraged me to try it with Sonic-style ice and mixed with a bit of Sprite to taste exactly like a spiked drive-thru drink. It was delicious and dangerously easy to drink, although I learned later getting the moonshine straight minus the Sprite is much better for those used to drinking stronger cocktails. The bomb was also a great tropical cocktail (although you have to really like coconut to enjoy it without being overpowered). There was also the Jolly Rancher that tasted exactly like a watermelon Jolly Rancher (I guess they hit that one on the head) … so high fives all around on that one.

At this point, it was time for a food break, and Mash’d had some good options (although food reviews tend to get a lot more positive after everyone has 3 drinks). A twitter follower recommended the beef Bulgogi tacos–which I happily devoured–and the wings were good as well. Reviews on some of the other food the group had was a bit more mixed, but everyone found at least one item on the menu that they enjoyed.

With some food in me, it was time to tackle one of the stronger moonshines on the rocks. (DUN DUN DUN.) I went with the Midnight Moon Blackberry and quickly found it was like drinking a straight infusion. All of a sudden, it was like I snapped out of some sugar-induced haze and remembered what I like about drinks to begin with – complexity, tasting the alcohol, a nice finish that lingers. (Oh yeah … and the intoxicating properties don’t suck either.) This is kind of where my review turned on a matter of personal taste. I had enjoyed everything I had earlier in the meal, but it was very much a novelty and not something I’d make a habit of drinking. I also sampled the straight apple pie moonshine and had the same reaction – this was something I would want to pour myself at home versus sampling one time with friends.

20140530_215915I had also been told to close the night with Hillbilly Moonshine, their moonshiney take on a white Russian and, if that’s a preferred drink, I can say you won’t be disappointed. It’s very heavy (which, I mean, duh), so I wouldn’t plan on more than one and I’d do it at the end of a meal only.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip out, although for future visits, I plan to only stick at the straight, high end of the menu and probably skip the cocktails altogether. I would definitely recommend at least a visit to Mash’d for a different drinking experience and a chance to try new things, but my bigger recommendation is to keep an eye out at Total Wine, Spec’s, etc. for the different flavors of South House moonshine and start building your own experience at home.

Drink strength: 3 of 5 (I mean, I had all or parts of 8 different drinks in 3 hours and, while I didn’t drive, didn’t feel remotely smash’d)
Food: 3.5 of 5

MASH’D
3401 Preston Rd, Frisco, TX 75034
www.mashd.com | Facebook | Twitter/Instagram: @Mashdfrisco
(214) 618-9440

After my visit, I had the opportunity (along with the other SDD contributors*) to visit JEM Beverage Company in Carrollton, who makes many of the moonshines at Mash’d under their South House label, as well Western Son vodka (also featured in the Hey Ginger frozen drink at Mash’d) and Red River Whiskey … and some other delicious stuff. It was here I learned what moonshine is (they make bourbon, infuse it with flavors and then don’t age it, which explains why I liked it so much straight). I walked out of the distillery that day with several bottles of each and have been enjoying drinking all of it on the rocks at home without the syrups, sugars, etc. Simplicity is key.

*Note from Susie: if you think you’re a good drinker and can speak English and spell (or if you know someone who fits that criteria), email me! I’m looking for writers both in Dallas and other cities!

Eat Creative: An Evening at Roy’s Restaurant in Plano

20140730_183218
The Pacific Rim Cosmotini

 “So why Plano?” someone asked, almost incredulously, about this restaurant that has been in place for more than a decade.

On one hand, I get the attitude about Plano. (And truth be told, I still fight it myself sometimes.) On the other hand, it was a good reminder of the prevailing idea that these darn suburbs are just out to ruin everything creative and good. Despite not boasting a Dallas (proper) address, somehow the Roy’s brand has thrived out in the ‘burbs, and that’s why a group of us were invited to a special Eat Creative dinner to showcase its new drink and food options – some of which were designed by local Chef Scott Nakachi.

The event was food-intensive, but I jumped at the chance to try the Pacific Rim Cosmotini (vodka, ginger and passion fruit syrups, egg whites, blood orange liqueur). It had a good flavor and it didn’t take long to realize how quickly (and cheaply) one could blow through these – especially during their happy hour when drinks are only $6.

We also sampled some of the food items on the bar menu (which is also only $6 during happy hour – save one exception we’ll get to later) and it was pretty damn good. There was edamame and butterfish lettuce wraps, which were both well-prepared and are must-tries. I found myself eating the fish by itself, which I guess makes me a huge jerk … but it was that good. There were also delicious steamed pork buns and, the star of the show, a giant Wagyu burger the size of my face*. It was spicy and perfectly seasoned, and for $9 on the happy hour menu, it’s a solid meal choice to balance out the happy hour cocktails and walk out feeling full. It also came with massive onion rings which were heavily-breaded and thick.

Based on the conversation at the table, a few of us who were more into onion rings in general enjoyed them and the others seemed to think it was too much. (Who isn’t into onion rings? They must be communists.)  The fat kid in me loved them, but I had to maintain composure as an official SDD representative and not smoosh my face into the plate of them. Ebi rolls followed, which were also battered and tasted like one of the heavy rolls Americans love to eat while onlooking foreigners cringe. It was tasty, but there’s just too much fresh seafood on the menu to opt for a roll unless you’re really in the mood to ruin your dinner.

Alaea Salt Crusted Bone in Ribeye
Alaea Salt Crusted Bone in Ribeye

What we’d eaten to this point quickly became an afterthought when the main courses came out – especially the Maine lobster pot pie. The crust was flaky and delicious and the giant pieces of lobster were swimming in a curry sauce that was hot and delicious. It came in a giant tray that could easily feed three people (or even two going all out pig-style.) You need to eat this dish. I don’t mean to shortchange the other entrees that were all delicious (including an Alaea salt-crusted, bone-in ribeye first introduced by Plano’s Chef Scott), but this was the dish that inspired Susie to email me and say “I want to lick my screen to taste that lobster business!!!!” I have to make sure I capture the magic.

Roy's Restaurant - Signature Lobster Pie
Signature Lobster Pie

^^ Put this in your face ASAP. ^^

Finally, we finished with two delicious desert options: pineapple upside down cake and Roy’s signature molten lava cake. Both were devoured by the sharing table and, while chocolate never fails, the pineapple upside down cake was not too sweet and just different enough to stand out.

Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle
Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle

In summary, allow me to summarize this with a forgotten, but aptly named, SNL Digital Short – Roy Rules. If you need a happy hour spot in North Dallas or Plano, you really can’t beat the value offered here.

ROY’S PLANO
2840 Dallas Parkway, Plano, TX 75093
(972) 473-6263
WebsiteFacebook

Happy Hour Specials: Every Day, 4:30pm-7pm
$6 specialty cocktails, wines
$6 – $9 appetizers

*my face is a normal size for a man my age. Just FYI.

THE SOCIAL HOUSE’S SUMMER SIPS & BITES

Summer is upon us, and we all know what that means, Dallas … patio season is now in full swing! With that said, The Social House recently had us come in to try out some fresh bites and Summer cocktails on the patio of their Addison location.

Everything we tried at the tasting was great. It may just be that I love mangos, but my favorite beverage was the Frozen Mango Margarita. The thickness of the fruit itself makes this frozen margarita taste more like a smoothie. It’s pretty awesome. If it’s food you’re after, check out the Irish Pork Nachos. They’re made with house-cut chips, topped with Ancho pulled pork, avocado mousse and pickled jalapeños …yes, it was as good as it sounds.

Whether you are looking for a great patio to lounge on a beautiful day, a tasty beverage after a long day or some delicious food for a grumbling stomach, The Social House is your one-stop shop!

PROTIP: Check out their amazing happy hour specials! For example, the cocktails shown above (or below) are all served at half-price during happy hour… Talk about the happiest of hours!

Social House Addison
5100 Belt Line Rd. #410
Addison, TX 75254
TEL: (972) 392-4300
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday from 4PM till 7PM

Life’s Better Under the Palm at Pollo Tropical

 

I may have pasty white skin and an absurd fear of sharks, but Florida runs in my blood and the beach will always be my home. That being said, the expansion of Pollo Tropical, a Florida chicken chain, to Addison sends a rush of pure bliss from my heart to my stomach.

This Floridian concept prides itself in fresh, bold island flavor using savory Caribbean spices, mixed herbs and citrus. They combine these for rubs and marinades that are the secret behind the tangy kick of Pollo Tropical’s vegetables and meats. Don’t mistake this place for another casual Mexican or Tex-Mex pit stop and miss out on items such as Refresca juices, Rum Punch, and Calypso Beef. If the bright, distinct colors and beach house facade don’t slap Caribbean across your face then go back to that bowl of melted Velveeta and put on your cone of shame.

Pollo Tropical’s menu represents the islands’ melting pot of culinary culture far different than the Mexican flavors Texans are used to. Naturally, all Texans love their meat and this joint does not disappoint. The grilled bone-in chicken is marinated in a blend of tropical fruit juices and spices and flame grilled with much TLC.  Clearly, the chicken is the star of this show (as POLLO means chicken in Spanish), but it’s so hard to choose a favorite—that’s why I order them all. One of my personal favorite is the Mojo Pork, a dish slow-roasted for four hours in a Mojo marinade of citrus juices, crushed garlic, onion, wine, and island spices that combine to create tender, juicy meat unlike anything you commonly find around town.

But one does not simply transcend to the island of Caribbean flavors without ordering sweet plantains and yuca fries. Sweet plantains are a cousin to the banana, most often baked or fried Pollo Tropical style to caramelized perfection. Yuca or cassava is the potato of the tropics that comes boiled or fried. I like mine fried and generously lathered in the cilantro garlic sauce.

Speaking of sauce…you thought Cane’s Chicken had the recipe to liquid gold? Pollo Tropical packs a punch of spice and zest with 10 unique signature sauces, including Curry Mustard, Guava BBQ, Pineapple Rum and Cilantro Garlic. Prepare yourself to make several trips, piling your table high with at least five cups of each, and smuggling out bags full of samples (it may feel dangerous, but everyone else does the same thing every visit).

Pollo Tropical provides all the island necessities to create your own TropiChop, sandwiches, salads, wraps, and even drinks. (This is Susie Drink Dallas, so clearly we speak of alcohol here.)  Choose a Caribbean beer or add Bacardi rum to one of the popular Refresca beverages, such as tropical breeze, mango peach or superfruit punch.

Dallas may be a landlocked city, but Pollo Tropical makes your beach fantasy come to life. This is their first Texas location, but expect about 20 more to pop up around Texas as diners quickly realize “Life’s better under the palm.”

Plucker’s: Addison

After much anticipation, we arrived at the Addison Pluckers “soft opening” to see a line that must have been a couple hundred customers eager for some wings and beer.  There is plenty of parking available around the restaurant in the Village on the Green Shopping Center sparing people from playing parking lot Hunger Games.  All the tables are good size and able to accommodate groups (i.e. plenty of room for multiple plates, Motherpluckers, baskets, AND drinks without feeling like you’re flying coach and have to keep your arms tucked to avoid getting knocked around).  The restaurant is loaded with large flat screens on nearly every wall, facing every direction, making it impossible not to get a good view of the game.  (Sorry, non-sport enthusiasts … yes, we’re listening to you even if we’re not looking at you.)

Being Pluckers virgins, we relied  on our waiters (one trainer & one learning the ropes) for recommendations.  They done good.  (Note, Pluckers doesn’t use table runners or bussers, instead these type of tasks are a basic expectation for all staff which translated into prompt and attentive service throughout your visit.)

We started off with a baskets of Magic Mushrooms, complete with their famous Dirty Bird sauce, and washed them down a signature Pluckers Lemonade for myself (a vodka Lemonade cocktail perfect for a sunny spring day) and a Psychedelic Frog (a 4 liquor, 3 mixer neon green drink) for Katie*.  Both drinks were served in mason jars, which is just cool.  Pluckers’s cocktail menu offers diners better-than-typical drinks you wouldn’t expect to find at a wing-bar, like Toxic Tea (a sweet tea, lemonade, vodka drink), the Batman (made with Austin’s own Tito’s Vodka), Effen Good Bloody Mary, and more.  The drinks were decently strong, and incredibly dangerous.  (Wait, there was a bunch of liquor in that? Someone call Uber.)

 

For the main event, we ordered a basket of boneless wings with spicy mandarin sauce and the buffalo chicken sandwich.  Among the plethora of places serving wings these days — most of which all I have frequented many times over — the wings really differentiate Pluckers from the others.  The wings themselves were hefty, providing considerably more meat than I was use to getting, and they are perfect glazed in the requested sauce and not drenched or dry fried batter nuggets commonly met with disappoint by wing lovers everywhere.  The wings and sandwich were enjoyed with our second round of drinks, the Batman and the Effen Good Bloody Mary (which seriously lived up to its name).

Bottom line:  This place has good food, GREAT wings, and some unique food options (like the fried Twinkie!) along with decent prices and attentive service.  Drink-wise, they have a variety of “specialty” drink options and plenty of beers on-tap (because: sports + beer = good).  Pluckers is making a (bigger) name for themselves in DFW with more locations opening left and right, and rightfully so! Needless to say, I know where I’m watching the NBA playoffs!


Pluckers Wing Bar – Addison
www.pluckers.com | @pluckers
5100 Belt Line Road, Suite 520 | Addison TX
(972)490-WING

Daily Specials (full list of this location specials here)
Monday – drink specials/All You Can Eat Wings (every other week)
Tuesday – Texas Tuesdays (drink specials on TX beers and liquors)
Wednesday – Pluckers Club Special (coming soon)
Thursday – Tijuana Thursdays(drink specials on Mexican beers and liquors)
Friday – Teacher Freebie Friday

*Note from Susie: Katie is his beautiful, new bride (of one month).  Send them your congratulations!!

Picture of Motherplucker borrowed from Pluckers!

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse is one of the staple steakhouses not just in the Dallas area, but in the country.  Its longstanding ranking among the best steakhouses made tonight’s visit to the flagship location pretty exciting for me.

The night of excess started with an Old Fashioned in true Susie fashion (Knob Creek Bourbon, muddled cherry, orange, sugar & bitters).  It was quite standard (as I’m super spoiled when it comes to OFs) and nothing too extraordinary, but you could actually taste the bourbon used and it wasn’t too diluted, which gave it a really delightful flavor.  (Because … ya know … I love bourbon.)  Luckily, the rest of the drinks were much more unique.

If you’re in for just one drink, make it Del’s Manhattan (Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Dolin Rouge Sweet Vermouth, bitters, Luxardo cherry).  It’s as smooth as a baby’s rump and as strong as Arnold back in the day.  They actually have barrels of Maker’s Mark in the upstairs office that they use (no, I wasn’t allowed to visit them), and the Manhattan is make with Luxardo cherries (because are there any others?).

Next up was the Pomegranate Martini (360 Vodka, PAMA Pomegranate liquor, splash of cranberry), which was quite sweet and reminded me of a drink my favorite cocktail creator/roommate, Sam, would make me after a long day of classes (and before my night classes) back in the day.  PAMA gives any cocktail an incredibly rich flavor —- and it makes it healthy, right?

Last up was the Blackberry Ginger Cocktail (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, fresh blackberries, fresh lemon juice, mint, splash of ginger beer).  It sounds like a girly little drink, huh?  WRONG.  It’s a powerful and flavorful little libation with a perfect splash of ginger beer to give it a little tingle and bubble.

As for food, we started with crab cakes (holy awesome … no filler here!) and onion rings (double awesome … they’re as big as my hand), and then proceeded to entrees.  I couldn’t resist the “feature” of three 4oz steaks with different sauces on each (fois gras butter, port wine, and peppercorn … I think*).  The steaks were tender, juicy, and amazingly savory.  Dessert was pretty incredible (lemon cake and cheesecake).  Their cheesecake is whipped, not baked, which makes it so light that it’s completely irresistible.  Like seriously … I’m meant to be on a diet and I definitely partook in (and took home leftovers of) most of it.  The crust is made with pecans, so if you have a nut allergy, you’re shit outta luck.  (Whatever, dude, more for me.)

Last note: Don’t expect to park your own car here … go ahead and resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to valet.  Even on a Monday night there wasn’t a parking space to be found.  No cash to tip?  No worries … they’ll let you charge a card to get some cash at the bar!

Del Frisco’s has already released their Valentine’s Day menu and are accepting reservations, so (for the guys out there), get a move on and make your girl’s day by having a plan for the night.  (And don’t forget the flowers and lingerie.)

*I’m not a food blogger … I do drinks.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
delfriscos.com | @del_friscos | Facebook.com/DelFrisco
5251 Spring Valley Road
(972) 490-9000

****I was invited to join Del Frisco’s for a meal this evening and my meal was on the house.****