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!
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
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.
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.
Lovers Lane’s Zio Cecio recently celebrated their 6th anniversary, and while resident Sardinian Chef, Francesco Farris, doesn’t like to fix what isn’t broken, they’ve decided to add some new items to their menu to celebrate this milestone. We got to test out the new dishes along with wine pairings from Eroz Spinozzi Selections.
If you’ve never been, Zio Cecio is known for their upscale rustic Italian cuisine with Sardinian touches to each plate.
After some light finger food and a glass of prosecco, we sat down for the antipasti in true Italian fashion. First up: Carpaccio Di Manzo ai Copperi, which for non-Italian-speaking-folk is thinly sliced beef tenderloin turned in citrus and topped with parmigiano and capers.
Then, a Carpaccio Di Tonno Con Bottarga, which is fresh thinly sliced tuna served with shaves of bottarga. To finish this first course, we then had various cheese and meats paired with Simone Capecci Ciprea Pecorino, a light, crisp white wine.
New on the pasta and risotto menu, and beautifully paired with Picus, Rosso Piceno Superiore (an Italian red made up of 60% Montepulciano, 40% Sangiovese):
Gnochetti Sardi al Cinghiale, a Sardinian “tear drop” pasta made with a wild boar ragu.
Bucatini del Gennargentu, hollow pasta made with smoked pancetta, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes in a zesty tomato sauce.
As for the meat and fish course, you can now find Mailetto Ai Mirto, a Sardinian style suckling pig roasted in their wood burning oven on myrtle leaves, on their menu. The meat from this is absolutely the most tender and juiciest meat you’ll ever find and you’d be a fool not to try it!
Su Kostale, a bone-in aged ribeye marinated and garnished with Italian herbs and oven roasted to perfection. Filleto di Pagnello Alla Bottarga, which is fresh red snapper fillet pan seared and served with shaved Bottarga from Porto Cervo. You can easily pair any of these dished with these wines: Le Muraie, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, Recchia (personal favorite of the evening!) or Ca’Bertoldi, Amarone Della Valpolicella, Recchia.
If you’ve made it this far and still want more, you’re in luck. For desert, you have the choice of: tiramisu, limoncello cake, and Sa Carapinna, which is the chef’s homemade creation of the day. Pair with Mirto to finish the evening.
No matter what you order at Zio Cecio, you know it’ll be delicious because Chef Farris creates each dish with his home country of Sardinia in mind. And, with a famiglia mind-set, he’ll tailor each dish to your specific needs.
ZIO CECIO ziocecio.com
4615 W Lovers Lane (West Dallas)
Some people say you haven’t done Dallas if you haven’t been to The Perot, or a Cowboys/Mavs/Stars game … others would say that you have to visit Reunion Tower, the Dallas Zoo, or Pioneer Plaza to genuinely do Dallas right. While all of those experiences are uniquely Dallas, I would argue that you haven’t really done Dallas right until you’ve eaten at Y.O. Ranch.
Currently the oldest steakhouse in the city following the unfortunate closing of The Palm (we know Wally and Bruce will be back in even more legendary fashion before we know it), Y.O. is quintessential Texas. It’s chef-owned with a menu offering some of the best meats and game Texas has to offer with a Hill Country twang and a bar offering creative takes on classics.
The restaurant has all the romantic charms of ranch life; think antler chandeliers, brick arches, supple leather seats, a hostess stand wrapped in cow hide … it’s basically Texas in a restaurant. Soak in the ambiance as classic country plays and head to one of their two bars to try the new set of cleverly crafted cocktails.
I started with the cocktail of the month, a riff on an Old Fashioned, the El Jefe; a bold Anejo tequila-based drink with orange zest, agave nectar, and a dash of cinnamon. The Anejo is complemented well by the cinnamon and orange zest for a taste that has that familiar tequila zing, but the richness of a whiskey based drink. It starts to transform into something slightly sweeter that actually leans towards an Old Fashioned as the melted ice, orange oils, and cinnamon dovetail with the tequila at the bottom of the glass. Next up was a Black Manhattan. It’s an interesting new take a on the classic—rye whiskey, vermouth, and black walnut bitters. Smooth, sultry, and draped in rye; it’s a solid way to start and end an evening. Thus, I opted for another drink since the night was just beginning. The last spirit I imbibed before diving into dinner was the Dirty Marshall, arefreshing cocktail bristling with citrus from the lime garnished grapefruit beverage made with Herman Marshalls’ excellent rye whiskey mixed with mint simple syrup, The Dirty Marshall is an exceptional summertime sidekick.
After enjoying my spirited visit to the bar, I decided it was time to take the plunge into Y.O.’s renowned cuisine. The meal started with the Wild Game Mixed Grill, a wild boar sausage link, venison with mozzarella and jalapeño-wrapped in bacon, and chicken fried quail breast all resting on a bed of wild rice made me wonder why they led with a winner. The boar was spicy, juicy, and cooked just right. The bacon-wrapped venison hid cheesy, peppered, elk under its salty crunch; and it was delicious and exciting like the nostalgia of finding the hidden toy inside a box of Cracker Jacks. Finally, the chicken fried quail was an surprise with its eager crunch blanketing a moist and flavorful breast. All of this masterfully made game framed by precisely prepared wild rice was a superb way to start the meal.
The Tomato Burrata Salad (fresh buffalo burrata, beefsteak tomatoes, and fresh basil drizzled with EVOO and balsamic reduction) was a refreshing palate cleanser to prepare for the Chilean Sea Bass. Caramelized and crusted for the perfect crunch and served with a sweet miso glaze, it is buttery, flaky and flavorful. Done a la carte, the Maple Dijon Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon were astonishing. Lightly roasted and wilted on the outside with a savory, earthy crunch on the inside; these are hands down the best Brussel sprouts I’ve ever had, and I usually hate the little green monsters. Not to be outdone, their Buffalo Filet Au Poive, YO’s signature dish, is served crusted with black pepper and crowned with a green peppercorn cognac cream, this is a truly memorable dish. Lean, rich, and flavorful, I enjoyed every bite.
Resting in a nearly comatose state, I didn’t think it could get better … until they brought out their Lemon Brittle topped with Prickly Pear Sorbet and fresh berries. Beautiful, tart and bitingly sweet, I could only handle a few bites before a brain freeze/sugar high kicked in.
My time at YO was a revelation. After a meal that made dining a borderline religious experience, it’s easy to see why US News and World Report were such big fans. The new dinner menu is fantastic and the specialty cocktails are well balanced and creative takes on classics.
While there are many ways to experience a city, I’d like to offer a close-minded word of advice: Don’t come to Dallas if you aren’t planning to go to Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse. Otherwise, you won’t be authentically visiting the southwest, you won’t be genuinely visiting Texas, and you definitely won’t be legitimately visiting Dallas; you’ll just be simply be wasting your time.
What would you say if someone asks you to go to a gas station for dinner? Well, Susie asked me to go dinner at a gas station … in Watauga … that Guy Fieri visited … and write about it. (Are you f**king serious? I really thought it was a joke.) But I went.
Chef Point Cafe, located in Watauga at a legit gas station. And I’ll tell you … this restaurant puts the tacos at Fuel City and the BBQ at Buccees to shame. (Hate mail for that comment can be directed to Susie.) It’s a sit-down restaurant about 20 minutes from Fort Worth and 40 minutes from Dallas, and it needs to be on all DFW resident’s bucket list. Drive up and you notice the working gas pumps, walk in and you notice the glass door beverage coolers. Yes, everything still resembles a gas station, until you look around and see the kitchen, the bar, and all the diners enjoying great food and drinks. To top it off, they have a huge, pet-friendly patio.
For starters, you must try the Lobster Mac n Cheese. While it’s on the appetizer menu, I could’ve handled it solo—not because it was small, but because it was that good. It is creamy with the right amount of lobster to compliment the gooey cheesy goodness.
For dinner, I highly recommend the Chicken Pesto Pasta. The chicken is tender and juicy, with just the right amount of seasoning. The pesto sauce was rich and decadent, and complimented the bow tie pasta perfectly. Be warned, the bowl of pasta could’ve fed a family of 4 … but I wasn’t complaining the next day when I ate the leftovers, they were just as good. I also got to try the Better than Sex Fried Chicken. The chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the outside, and full of flavor. (I will withhold my comments about the name.) It was served with a side of country gravy that was perfect for dipping. And, if the appetizer and main course isn’t enough, make sure to try the Bread Pudding. It was like a giant roll soaked in delicious syrup.
If the food isn’t enough, the drinks are literally out of this world— they even have a Northern Lights Margarita to prove it. It’s a frozen margarita layered with a rocks margarita in the colors of the Aurora Borealis. One special touch at Chef Point is the bartender comes to each table to see if you have any questions about their drinks. I also enjoyed the Blackberry Smash which is TX Whiskey, Cointreau, and wildberry syrup. It was a refreshing, summer cocktail that goes down a little too easy! Chef Point has a full bar with a great cocktail menu.
The pièce de résistance that you may just have heard about is their “Bloody Best” Bloody Mary. It includes a double order of their spicy Bloody Mary and accompanied by a 16oz domestic beer and … well, a lot of things. Y’all … this thing has a slider, waffle fries, shrimp, fried chicken, and a hell of a lot of other things on it.
Another fun bit about that sprawling aforementioned dog-friendly patio? You can order something your furry friend from their Doggie Menu featuring things like the Hot Diggity Dog (a hot dog) and the Rover Easy (two scrambled eggs)—all served with brown rice.
Three of my top ten favorite things: burgers, bacon, and beer. And it happens that there is a new place adding to the renaissance of the Lower Greenville area in Dallas within walking distance of where I live. Their description? “Slater’s 50/50, Burgers, Bacon, Beer”. This is incredibly dangerous to my waistline because, when the opportunity arose to try it out, I loved it.
There are so many great burger joints in Dallas. TBH, when I heard about it, I was like, “Another one? Do we really need it?” My tuned changed after a visit and a meal.
The space is incredibly well designed and the layout flows nicely. I took my wife along for the visit, and, as a healthcare interior designer, she admitted that she liked everything about the space. The large, u-shaped bar offers plenty of seating, and an impressive collection of beer taps. Additionally, there are plenty of TVs so you can sample all their beer offerings while watching the game.
There are some things about Slater’s 50/50 that make it really sizzle. (Pun intended.) First, bacon serves a primary function in everything they do. (As God intended.) From their burger patty made of 50% ground beef and 50% ground bacon to bacon cocktails, ketchup, milkshakes, and even a bacon brownie … you get the sense of the theme. This isn’t just any ground beef though. Slater’s 50/50 uses only the freshest and highest quality ingredients—all patties contain premium, natural beef, made without hormones or antibiotics.
We started off with the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with mustard and white balsamic vinaigrette, shaved parmesan, bacon and fried sage. This was a great starter—one, because it is delicious. Two, it wasn’t too filling, which was excellent because I wanted to save room for what was to come next.
The Bison & Bacon Burger made with 100% Durham Ranch bison, thick-cut bacon, swiss, jalapeño bacon jam, tomato, green leaf lettuce, and sage and garlic aioli served on a honey wheat bun. This beautiful beast was incredible and the bison perfectly lean. I know, this isn’t one of their 50/50 beef and bacon patties, but I had to try it.
The wifey ordered the Rosemary Turkey Burger made with ground turkey, rosemary parmesan bacon, smoked gouda, spring mix, tomato, red onions, roasted red peppers, and sage and garlic aioli, served on a honey wheat bun. I highly recommend this one. The flavors of this turkey burger will knock your socks off.
The sides here aren’t just that, they could carry the show themselves. (And one could say we are connoisseurs of Onion Rings.) Sadly, there are very few places in Dallas where you can find top-notch onion rings (I am totally open to suggestions if you have them). However, the side of onion rings we got to share were fantastic. They are served with, wait for it … bacon ketchup! Great job Slater’s 50/50 … we all owe you.
And for dessert? OF COURSE, we got the Bacon Brownie—candied bacon, chocolate ganache, a la mode! I had my doubts—I have had many sweet treats paired with bacon, and I can honestly say, I have only really enjoyed a few of them, and mostly for the novelty. However, since literally everything we had eaten up to this point was served with bacon, our palettes were totally ready for this brownie. It was incredible. Though, after all the food and beer, we couldn’t come anywhere close to finishing it. (Though we made a noble effort.)
Speaking of the brownie, another thing that needs to be mentioned about Slater’s 50/50 is their philanthropy. They have partnered with The Boys & Girl’s Club of Greater Dallas, and for the rest of August 2017, if you purchase their Slider Pops (current Burger of the Month) or Bacon Brownie, a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit this amazing cause.
Aside from their unique signature burgers, you’ll notice their beer pairings that accompany every food item. However, every server in the joint is required to go through Cicerone certification. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a beer sommelier. So if a suggested beer doesn’t strike your fancy, or you are looking to try something new, the servers and bartenders can help you find the perfect beer from their 50+ local beers—each served at the correct temperature and in the glass that the beer is supposed to be served. The taps are constantly rotating due to being local and to make room for seasonal offerings. It’s the perfect location to find new beers to love and to see what the local crafts are producing.
If you aren’t a beer person, you won’t be left out. They have a wide range of signature cocktails, bacon and un-bacon. We got to sample a couple of them ourselves. The Peach Basket (whiskey, peach puree, ginger beer, orange squeeze) was wonderful. Also, their Across the Pond (Smirnoff Citrus, St-Germain Elderflower, grapefruit juice, soda) was incredibly refreshing. We agreed that’s great for these stupid hot summer days here in Dallas.
One thing to note: if you like to dine with your favorite pupper in your life, Slater’s 50/50 is dog-friendly on both their ground outdoor and rooftop patios AND offers a Doggie Menu! This menu includes their 50/50 patty, beef patty, turkey patty, chicken breast or 2 strips of bacon! So bring them along with you next time you visit and treat them to their own feast!
Altogether, Slater’s 50/50 should on your list of places to visit; it really is a one-of-a-kind experience. There is a pretty good chance you will see me there stuffing my face and sampling a local beer offering. Just try not to stare.