Category Archives: Reviews

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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PRODUCT REVIEW: Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate

It’s starting to warm up, and when this time of year rolls around, I’m personally always looking for low calorie beverages that won’t leave me feeling put out (bloated, tired, tipsy … you name it). So, with summer right around the corner, Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate should be on your list of fruit-forward bevs to try … and drink beside a pool, on the lake, at the beach or whatever your plans my be!

Schofferhofer Grapefruit was created back in 2007 and was super successful when it was introduced at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World back in 2012, so they’ve been working on some new options. Now their newest edition to their fam is the pomegranate flavor!

This beer doesn’t taste like beer, and I can appreciate that for my people out there who don’t like it. (But y’all are #crazy.) I’m talkin’ like, lighter than a shandy. That being said, it’s super unique in that it’s 50% pomegranate juice, 50% hefeweizen and that’s exactly the order in which you’ll taste it too. Sweet like juice up front, mild wheat beer taste on the finish that’s not overpowering. So if you like beer that doesn’t taste like beer, this could totally be your jam.

If you do like beer, this might also be for you in the following instances:
– You want something fruity to mix it up and stay “hydrated” since it’s already 50% juice.
– You want to use it as a mixer with a seltzer water to stay even more “hydrated”.
– You want to make a punch with it by adding some gin or vodka.

You can add this beer to your cart at these DFW retailers: Total Wine, Specs, Goody Goody, Whole Foods, Kroger, Market Street, Winco Foods, Central Market, Sprouts, some other spots, and even Bed, Bath & Beyond!

So really it comes down to would I recommend it, sure, if you are in the mood for a light, fruity drink.

STATS
Special ingredients: pomegranate juice
ABV: 2.5%


Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Bier
schofferhofer.usx

Facebook: /SchofferhoferUS
Twitter: @schofferhoferus
Instagram: @schofferhoferus

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!)

Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Dry Riesling

I don’t know about you, but I like to know the history behind what I drink. Call me a booze dork, but knowing the story behind each drink makes it seem to taste that much better.

Chateau Tanunda is located in South Australia—about an hour outside of the town of Adelaide. It was built in the late 1880s and is home to some the oldest vines in the Barossa Valley. The Chateau is the largest and oldest wine Chateaus in Australia. The Gerber family purchased the Chateau in 1998 and continues to revitalize and restore the buildings to keep its history alive. If I ever make it Australia, this for sure will be on my bucket list of wineries to visit.

Chateau Tanunda recently sent me a bottle of their Grand Barossa Dry Riesling, and I was eager to sip, smell, and enjoy it. This fresh, crisp wine has aromas of citrus fruits such as lemon and lime. When most people (myself included) think Riseling, they think sweet, because the higher the acidity of the wine, the more sugar can be in the wine without leaving the sweet taste. If you haven’t had a riesling in a while, or have always been turned off due to the sweetness, you should try a dry riesling. You will be pleasantly surprised.

P.S., I loved reading that most of the grapes in this variety are from old vines that were planted on the estate in the 1920s!

Tasting Notes
Grape Varietal: Riesling
Color: White/clear
Aroma: Lemon and lime
Palate: Bright citrus flavors with a slight acidity
ABV: 11.5%

CHATEAU TANUNDA
chateautanunda.com
Grand Barosssa Dry Riesling: ~$10
can be found in a liquor store near you
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Disclaimer: I was given complimentary product from Banfi.

Howdy, Smithworks Vodka!

I recently had the privilege of welcoming Smithworks Vodka into the Lone Star State with an amazing Blake Shelton concert at the famous Billy Bob’s Texas!

Smithworks Vodka was launched in early 2016 and I’m happy to say that Smithworks has recently expanded its distribution to Texas. Over the next few months, Smithworks will be available in twenty- four states.

Smithworks is an American-made vodka that is made with corn from Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and water from Lake Fort Smith. Smithworks is distilled three times and charcoal filtered for a smooth taste and clean finish. It’s finished and bottled with pride in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and named after the dedicated team there and their hardworking values are symbolized through the tractor icon. They say, “Born and bred in the traditions and values of America’s Heartland, Smithworks embodies the values of the place in which it comes from – local pride, simplicity and hard work.”

Blake Shelton is part of the Smithworks family. He said that he had been waiting to partner with the right brand and he found his home with Smithworks; Shelton said he shares the same values and mission as Smithworks (Vodka. His favorite way to drink Smithworks is with diet lemon-lime soda garnished with a lime. Simple enough.)

Shelton is quoted as saying, “I grew up in Ada, Oklahoma and was raised on the values of hard work, humility and an appreciation for the simple things that make up a good life. As part of the Smithworks family, I’ve been involved in the development of the brand and I’m excited for everyone to finally taste what we’ve been crafting. At its core, Smithworks celebrates that moments in life are better spent with good people and great drinks.”

For the rich mouthfeel and smooth (lack of) flavor, we were surprised by the low price tag—just under $20. A great price for this smooth, clean vodka.

SMITHWORKS VODKA
smithworksvodka.com
~$19.99 / 750mL

We’re eagerly awaiting distribution in the great state of Texas … a note from Smithworks: For now, you can find Smithworks Vodka in AR, CO, IA, KS, LA, MI, MO, NE, OH, OK, TN, IL, NC, and PA. If it’s in your neck of the woods, ask your favorite local spot about us—it’s usually the personal touch that gets it done.

Banner image courtesy of Smithworks.

Meet Vidorra, your new rooftop patio obsession

I love Deep Ellum. Like.. I really really love it. I love all the quirkiness and the constantly changing bars, restaurants and local businesses. It’s not news that Deep Ellum has been the home to tons of new cocktail bars and restaurants in the past few years, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The newest addition to Main Street is Vidorra, “Cocina de Mexico.” You can’t miss the bright yellow sign and the rooftop patio with killer views of the Dallas skyline.

Honestly, this place has so many insta-worthy backdrops, it’s unreal. The décor is Mexican-inspired with vibrant colors and unique textures throughout. There is a moss-covered wall, seating suspended on ropes to create swings, colorful couches perfect for all your group photos, and more.

(Oh, and it’s not just pretty … they also make some great food and drinks.) I’ll be the first to admit, I made a mistake right away when ordering my cocktail. I was so busy soaking in the atmosphere that I hardly had time to get through their extensive menu of margarita riffs. So, I panicked when it was time to order and went with “The Gold Digger”, their take on a frozen mango margarita. Don’t get me wrong … it was delicious, but I quickly discovered that they have an extensive cocktail list on the back of the menu that branches out beyond fabulous margaritas.

Their cocktail list plays around with recipes that feature a variety of mezcals and tequilas to make some seriously killer cocktails. After my margarita, I tried a cocktail called “Howl at the Moon” that has Lunazul Reposado tequila, Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, both orange and vanilla bitters, all barrel-aged for a week. It was so delicious that I had to have two. Whatever.

As far as food goes, you really can’t go wrong. For the appetizer, they sent out a massive bowl of their flaming fundito in a 400º Molajete dish. If it weren’t so hot, I probably would’ve drank the queso straight from the bowl. (No shame here … it was delicious.) For my meal, I got the pick two fajitas with steak and chicken and it was easily enough food for 2-3 people—especially because you need to save room to sample all of the delicious cocktails.

Speaking of cocktails, I ended my evening with a cocktail called “The Verdict” (tequila, Mezcal, agave, absinthe and bitters). The flavor was very intense but it was definitely the crowd favorite at our table.

So go for the drinks, the atmosphere, the food or the views. Whatever you do … just get there!


VIDORRA
vidorradallas.com
2642 Main Street (Deep Ellum)
972.215.0640

Gold Bar Whiskey: It’s What Outside That Counts

I firmly believe there is a time and place for everything in the world of spirits. Yes, it’s nice to find a really great sipping whiskey or a gin with a few different notes that make a unique G&T, but I’m also intrigued by novelties. Visiting a new place? Hit me with your crazy, local novelty liquor. (Even you, Chicago … malört me.) Got a crazy bottle or random flavor idea to throw at me? Well you should know I’m the guy who went on like a full two year moonshine bender, just because I could. And I’m the guy who agreed to review Captain Morgan’s Jack-O Blast for Susie.

If you want to know exactly how Gold Bar Whiskey tastes, the easy review is that it’s fine. It’s a tad sweet with notes of honey and vanilla plus a bit of heat at the end. I would recommend it in a cocktail over it being a sipping whiskey. (And some cocktail recipes are included for you below.) There’s a bit of information on the bottle about being finished in French oak wine casks from Napa Valley (swanky), with a cursory line about the contents being a mash bill of rye, corn and barley. But the bulk of the information is about the gold packaging and the art on it. So, again, this is all fine. You will sip this, nod and go “alright, cool,” like me and our three other tasters, then you’ll start talking about the packaging if it hasn’t already been a large part of the conversation.

So, about the packaging … drumroll … it’s a giant faux gold bar.

Lay it flat and pretend you stole it from the world’s drunkest mint while cackling like a super villain.
… Use it for balance and display it, letting all your friends know that you have achieved the level of success required to drink from a golden container.
… Allow it to be a conversation starter about how the United States made a mistake abandoning the gold standard in the 1930s.
… Do a few “Austin Powers: Goldmember” lines until no one wants to talk to you. “I love goooold … the taste of it, the smell of it, the texture.”
… Use is as a photo prop. (Because, you will.) Make sure to search Instagram for those aspirational shots that will make you feel like you are part of something. By drinking gold, you truly become gold … right?

Ok, if you made it this far, I will again stress the whiskey is fine. You can make a pretty decent cocktail from it. I’d recommend it as a novelty for parties or housewarming parties, because think how cool it’ll be to be thought of every time someone comments on the giant gold bar on your friend’s bar. Again, there’s a time and a place for everything, so if you need to set a scene or mood or just want the pics from your next gathering to pop, this is a cool way to switch things up.

The Libertine

LIBERTINE
4oz Gold Bar® Whiskey
2oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2oz Simple Syrup
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
2 Tsp. Orange Marmalade
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp. Fresh Orange Juice
1 Egg White

New York Sour

NEW YORK SOUR
2oz Gold Bar® Whiskey
1oz Lemon Juice
1oz Liber&Co Gum Syrup
.5oz Red Wine


Gold Bar Whiskey
goldbarwhiskey.com
$39.99 -$49.99 per 750ML bottle
ABV: 80 proof, 40% ABV
Mash: blended whiskey, approximately 88% corn, 9% rye, 3% barley
Finished: French Oak Cabernet wine casks from the Napa Valley
Age: no age statement

Available in 27 states and 12 countries globally. Distilled in San Francisco, CA

***Brian was given a bottle of Gold Bar Whiskey to try out for a complete review.*** Images courtesy of Gold Bar Whiskey.

Victorious Cocktail Class

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon as I entered through the front door of Tiny Victories in Oak Cliff. I made myself comfortable in a seat at the bar of this cozy bar, flooded with daylight.

My professor for the day: Ryan Payne, veteran Dallas cocktail bartender
Today’s subject: How to make a wide selection of different cocktails
The Assignment: Make and subsequently sample said boozy creations

If my classes were more like this one, I would’ve had a perfect attendance record in college. (I mean … I was close already, but it would have been easier to get to perfect.)

For anyone not yet familiar with the cocktail bar off Davis and Tyler in Oak Cliff, the establishment opened back in February of this year and was warmly welcomed by OC locals and travelers alike. The vibe is intimate, warm, and a touch irreverent. At any given time, you may catch an episode of “Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere” or movies like “Cruel Intentions” or “Caddyshack” playing on flatscreens mounted on the backbar.

The bar boasts an awesome happy hour from 4-7PM every weekday when you can get cocktails for 50% off as well as other daily specials. In the mood for Trivia Night? That’s Tuesday.  Oak Cliff Network Night? Oh, that’s the first Wednesday of every month. Craving a complimentary hotdog on Football Sundays? They’ve got you covered.

If all of that weren’t enough, Tiny Victories also hosts cocktail classes for larger groups and special events, and I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to get a sneak peek into what a class like that entails. Turns out, it entails a lot of interacting with a charismatic and knowledgeable bartender while he makes delicious drinks for me to enjoy.

I was made for this class.

From Daiquiris to Aviations, Sbagliatos and Americanos to Old Fashioneds and Queens Park Swizzles, Whiskey Sours to Miami Vices, Ryan walked us through each step of creating each kind of cocktail. The informal nature of the class made it easy to enjoy the education along with the cocktail consumption.

For any inquiries about attending your own cocktail class, contact Ryan Payne, Managing Partner at Tiny Victories.


TINY VICTORIES
tinyvictoriesoc.com
604 N. Tyler St., Dallas (Oak Cliff)
(972)685-7055