I don’t enjoy being poked (hello, flirting on Facebook in 2006), but Denver QSR Tokyo Joe’s changed my tune last night. I was invited in last night to try some of their goodies at the restaurant (I had some of their items delivered when they opened) including their new Poke Bowls and quite enjoyed the experience.
I started my night with a Lucky Buddha beer while waiting for my friend. (I’d liken it most to a Heineken.) Tokyo Joe’s offers a couple imported beers and a few Shiner options (CHEER?!?!?!), along with some of the usual suspects. It being a Tuesday, I opted for a single beer and my friend went for their tea bar, which they stock with two of their five tea options at all times.
I sipped and ordered a few little bites–the Gyoza (steamed pork dumplings with Joe’s dipping sauce), Miso Soup, and white chicken Spring Rolls. I was delighted to see three options of spring rolls–white chicken, tiger shrimp, and organic tofu. The basil in them was refreshing and I nearly guzzled the peanut dipping sauce on its own.
We were encouraged to try the new (launching today, 2/3) Poke bowls (ok … they say that it’s actually pronounced pok-ay)–one tuna and one salmon. The fish was fresh and incredibly tender and the avocado was perfectly ripe. My favorite part? They added chopped Macadamia nuts on my tuna bowl. Hell to the yes.
Tokyo Joe’s offers much more than just the poke bowls–made-to-order sushi rolls, bento boxes (also launching 2/3), salads, additional bowls, and more. And, if you’re like me, you feel empowered when you make decisions, but hate to do it at the same time. Enter: TJ’s bowls. Each bowl gives you limited (but generous) options with your choice of five proteins, three carbs, 11 sauces, and 13 vegetables.
Surprisingly, they also offer made-to-order sushi using fresh fish and REAL crab. The CaliTartare Roll we enjoyed had a serious and unexpected kick to it and the lemongrass aioli was seriously delicious.
Bite by Eddy T recently opened in the former Cyclone Anaya Kin Kin Urban Thai space on Oak Lawn. Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin (affectionately known as Eddy T … because, who can say that name?!), brought his concept over from Fort Worth in December offering American cuisine with an Asian influence. The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner, an extensive wine list, teas, and a full bar complete with a menu of rather interesting cocktails.
I was intrigued by the cocktails which use some local spirits and infusions made in-house. My favorite, which is also my Fort Worth contributor, Amanda’s favorite drink at Bite, was the smoked bourbon, sweet tea, limoncello, and St. Germain business. When delivered, the mason jar is capped to keep the smoke chambered. Hot damn. (Literally and metaphorically.)
Dinner was fantastic and my favorite was the Parmesan Soufflé. I was so pissed that I hadn’t ordered that myself and had to settle for just two bites of it. The Braised Short Rib (not pictured, also not ordered by me) will be what I return to eat. Dessert was a different story … it was delicious–every.damn.thing was delicious.
The food and drink satisfied all of us at the media event, which was capped off beautifully by their homemade lollipops. The staff was incredibly friendly, the restaurant lovely (if a bit dark… always tough to get decent pictures of the food!), and the atmosphere charged.
Check out Eddy’s newest restaurant in Dallas soon … and make sure to have a smokey drink and lollipop for me!
If you follow me on my social platforms (especially Snapchat … @susieoz), you’ll know that I’ve been spending some time in Las Vegas for work. One evening I was able to try out STK at the Cosmopolitan. Eddie and Angelee, the dynamic duo behind His + Her went along with me to the Chef’s Menu–a smattering of their best dishes–the night before we skipped town. The NYC transplant offers a decidedly sexy steakhouse feel.
We were greeted by our very friendly server and started with a few drinks to ease into the night. I was told that the Strawberry Cobbler Martini (Belvedere, strawberry, graham cracker crust) is their most popular drink … which was delicious, but a bit sweet for a dinner drink, so save this one for dessert. Later on I tried the … Not Your Daddy’s Manhattan (Bulleit Bourbon, Fernet Branca, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth). It was much more my speed and the Fernet was a surprisingly perfect addition to the traditional manhattan.
(Bear with me through the pictures … the lighting is quite low in there and I didn’t have my camera. 😒)
Our waiter began our tasting with a Caesar Salad, Tuna Tartare, a plate of large shrimp, and a cluster of their bleu cheese pull-apart bread. The pull-apart bread was nearly irresistible. They serve it with a cilantro oil that was unreal … Angelee and I all but licked the ramekin it came in. (Also, since I’m allergic to bleu cheese, they kindly served one portion without the glaze. So kind!) I usually don’t mess with salads … who wants to waste the space? But this one was worth a few bites … especially the housemade croutons. The Tuna Tartare, served with perfectly crispy taro chips, was fresh, tender, and had a soy honey sauce with it that was to die. I’d definitely recommend ordering this!
Being a steakhouse, STK obviously had a bomb steak–nice and tender … so tender that we could cut it with our butter knives. (If I were ordering it for myself, I’d have ordered it medium instead of medium well, but to each her own.) The Seared Big Eye Tuna (served with wasabi potato, maitake mushrooms, and sweet miso jus) was seared to perfection and nearly fell apart. We nearly had to flip a coin to decide who got the last piece … and you better believe that the sweet miso sauce was sopped up … and some bread may have been dipped in it, too. I personally enjoyed the Free Range Chicken (served with polenta fries, smoked tomato whiskey, and green beans) the most because I couldn’t get enough of the green beans. They had a simple soy-based sauce that made them like crack to me.
For me, dessert after steak is completely unnecessary–I’ve had my awesome meal and don’t need something else to fill me up even more. However, if you go to STK and don’t order the STK Donuts (sweet potato donuts, maple glaze, candied pecans), then you’re doing it wrong. These things were little pillows of goodness and I stared the discomfort of a full belly right in the face, defied it, and ate two.
Make sure to make a reservation if you plan to visit STK on your next visit to Vegas … if for anything, for their take on the Manhattan and those GD green beans.
Every time I go to South Congress in Austin I MARVEL at the line wrapped around Hopdoddy. Once they came to Dallas, I had a new appreciation for the patience and resolve of the people who wait in that line. Hopdoddy is damn good, y’all.
Their McKinney Avenue location, one of three in D/FW, occupies the former Frankie’s space and has been there for just under a year. It’s a great space with a nice amount of natural light, a giant bar in the middle (my fave), and plenty outdoor seating.
Choosing what to eat here is more challenging than finding your way from the parking garage into the restaurant. (I took my dad on this review with me, so, if you remember from my review at Village Burger Bar, you’ll know that I was the one making the risky food choices.) Luckily we had some time to decide after the drinks hit the table. Dad went with the Chocolate Stout Milkshake and I, in true SusieDrinksDallas form, went with an adult libation, the SoCo Sweet Tea (house infused Limoncello, Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, raspberry purée, & fresh-squeezed lemon). My drink was nice and light and the raspberry purée wasn’t too liberally added … the perfect treat for a warm evening. I was tempted to go for one of their Maine Root Fountain Sodas or local beers, but was happy with my ultimate choice (because … limoncello).
After a few sips, I got in to the french fry options. They serve their fries not as a side, but as an appetizer (giving them the attention that they sure as hell deserve). Their fries are good … but their Truffle Fries are outrageous. Get.these.fries. Make sure to check out their dips, too! If you’re anything like me, you just want them all to get a little taste of each. (Quite honestly, I just really hate to decide so it’s easier to get them all.)
Since we were at a burger bar, we ordered burgers. (That may have been on of the more idiotic sentences I’ve ever written.) Per usual, good ole’ Dad ordered his standard well done cheeseburger, ketchup only. He seemed to like it, but I know that it couldn’t compare to my Primetime Burger. Seriously, y’all … the beautiful melange of the incredibly tender Texas Akaushi Beef, brie cheese, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce danced around my mouth like I think my first bit of solid food will on Friday morning. (Oh, yeah … I’m on a juice cleanse. Writing about food is real hard right now.)
Dessert had to happen because they have … wait for it … adult milkshakes. The Nutella & Chocolate Pretzel Milkshake is kind of everything. It’s sweet and the pretzels give the shake a bit of texture and a salty kick.
I do have some slight regrets from my visit … though I’d order everything I ate again (and again), I think I didn’t explore the menu as much as I should have. I’ll be ordering the Baby Kale Salad (baby kale, arugula, feta, watermelon, avocado, sunflower seeds, pickled red onions, pomegranate vinaigrette) the next time I stop in.
Luckily I rereturned with a few friends a couple weeks later and was able to try some other items. We were treated to their ah-mazing Green Chili Queso (which had a nice kick and a perfectly creamy texture) to accompany the Kennebec Fries. Since one kind of fry is never enough, we got into the Truffle Fries that came with some of the most amazing dip I’ve ever experienced. The Ahi Tuna Burger (Sushi-Grade Tuna, Sprouts, Teriyaki, Honey Wasabi, Nori Chips, Pickled Ginger, Mayo) was maybe the most surprising thing we had that night–the tuna was so delicate that it just feel apart and the nori chips gave it a nice crisp.
Hopdoddy recently started a new offering at their McKinney Avenue location–they’ll now serve you at a table instead of having you order when you arrive QSR-style. It was a nice touch and actually made me order more food. (Watch out, my friends.)
Beyond the delicious food and great service, Hopdoddy likes to keep it as local as possible and real fresh, which makes me love it even more. Their beef is ground fresh daily from all-natural, quality, hormone-free meat; their buns are baked twice daily and you get to choose from three types including a gluten-free option.
Stop in for a burger and fries sometime soon … and sit outside because the weather starting this weekend will be perfect for an al fresco meal. Just don’t forget the Truffle Fries … or the milkshakes … or the house-made limoncello. (Ya know, all of it.)
I consider myself an adult … which means I have to carefully plan my Sunday Fundays–ensure plenty of heartburn medication is on-hand as bloody marys will happen, make sure your Uber app is properly functioning, and start early to ensure you aren’t out past 8pm. This past Sunday, I rallied the troops and we began our day at Public School 214 to try out their brunch. I’d heard about their “just about bottomless” options, so I had to test it out myself.
We opted for the patio since everything else was ridiculously crowded. I mean … I like my friends, so I wanted to be able to actually hear them. (Crazy concept.) The patio was PERFECT–perfect weather, plenty of room, and, best of all, we had Freddy.
We settled in and ordered our various bottomless options. (You can get “just about unlimited” mimosas/beermosas or bloody marys/micheladas for $10) I was the only one that went for the bloody mary option and ended up being the envy of the table because mine came with a chicken wing. #Win(g)ing. The drinks were nicely spiked and gave us all the kick we needed to start the day. I have been slightly under the weather so Freddy made a hot toddy happen for me. This drink, I kid you not, brought me back from the dead.
Since we knew we were consuming mass quantities of booze, we needed to get moving on food. I’m going to tell you one thing that I’ve told you before … good + good = really good. So, that with that logic, their Bacon Cheddar Tots served with Sriracha ketchup are really good. (I had to include some math here … I was at school, after all.) Needless to say, they went fast. We also got the first of two orders of their Chorizo Mac & Cheese which is topped with Salt & Vinegar chips … I mean. To finish off the warm-up, we passed the Mezza Plate (baba ghanoush, hummus, tapenade marinated feta, and crispy chickpeas).
Lunch had to happen at some point even though we were quite happy with the porky deliciousness on the table, so we checked out the brunch menu. Since I can’t say no to chicken and waffles, I went for the Fried Jidori Chicken & Green Chili Cornbread Waffles … and I made a damn good choice. The chicken was crispy and the waffles weren’t underdone, which is my least favorite thing about breakfast. (I mean … cook your waffles and pancakes to a nice golden brown, people. Learn from PS214.) The other brunch entree at the table was the Smothered Breakfast Burrito (smashed browns, egg, chimichurri, provolone, and bacon).
The portion size at PS214 is pretty damn ridiculous. (I don’t think any of us finished our entrees.) So try to find someone who wants the same things as you … you know … on the brunch menu.
Everyone loved their meals. (I really don’t think that was only because we were a couple of carafes each in. Brunch at Public School 214 is available Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm.
So … my company started a fitness challenge. This isn’t your ordinary “Biggest Loser”-type weight loss challenge … it’s serious. They gave us a meal plan and a daily exercise regimen–the types of things that I just can’t get behind. Needless to say, I planned my own fitness challenge–start running on a regular basis again and stop eating pizza. The ladder of the two has nearly killed me. Case in point … the team that handles Coal Vines’ PR had a media night the second day of my fitness challenge. (Seriously?!) If it were nearly anywhere else, I’d have told them that they can keep their pizza and I’d delight in their other offerings, but I cannot say no to a Coal Vines White Pizza. It’s just not possible for me. So, I ran a little further that morning and ventured in with my friend for dinner.
We started the evening with their fried zucchini chips (which haunt my dreams) and a bottle of 2014 Astica Cuyo from Mendoza, Argenita, which, as it turns out, retail for a hot $5 a bottle at your local wine shop. (I think my dad had the right idea when he went in to the wine business.) I will say that, despite the low price tag, we enjoyed the bottle … all of it. (I mean … it was a Tuesday, so why wouldn’t we?) Coal Vines has done a damn decent job of finding wines at a reasonable price whose taste doesn’t disappoint.
New chef, Angelo Landi, has really done well with the menu. As mentioned previously, I eat their white pizza like it’s my job. (Or at least I did when I was completely obsessed with this place and ate there at least once a week 2008-2011 … they knew my name.) Luckily, this meal forced me to try some of Angelo’s new items and seasonal offerings like the watermelon and tomato salad situation that I’ve tried to replicate in my own kitchen a few times since. Honestly … it was ridiculously good. The tomatoes were fresh and the watermelon wasn’t drowned in the light dressing … all great. Then came the Burrata, which was also really damn delicious. The cantaloupe added the perfect sweetness to the garlic-kissed cheese and greens. To keep it a little less healthy (yuck yuck), we also ordered the Calamari which is served with tomato basil dipping sauce and lemon garlic aioli–a standard that they’ve kept constantly satisfying for years.
Enough foreplay … let’s get to the pizza, shall we? Their schtick is New York-style pizza from a wood-burning oven … think somewhat thin with a perfectly bubbly crust. My love affair with their White Pizza has lived on for no less than eight years and I dare say that it’ll remain for years to come. It’s the perfect blend of Mozzarella and ricotta cheese spiced up with parmesan and oregano. When I say “perfect”, I really kind of mean it. Don’t f**k around and order the White Special–while it’s good, it’s like putting an engine on a flying unicorn* … it just doesn’t need anything else.
Coal Vines is in the same location in Uptown, but they have a few new tricks. Stop in and see what Chef Angelo is cooking up. (Obi, make sure to order the White Pizza. And be sure to meet Wolf, their bartender that has been there for at least eight years! He’s the kind of guy that you just know has some amazing stories to tell if you could only get him started.)
If you want to read a seriously old review about their brunch, you can check it out here.
*It’s 1:30am. I’m not sure where that metaphor came from … but I don’t hate it.
I love visiting Grapevine … it’s perfectly quaint with a little something for everyone. I began the night by dropping by Messina Hof to refill my growler with some cabernet sauvignon before heading down the road to Palio’s for dinner. (Palio’s is an order at the counter or take out restaurant. If my visit was the norm, it seems they do a large amount of their business in take out orders.)
Palio’s is a chain that can be found all around DFW, but each restaurant is independently owned. They make their dough from scratch daily and use all natural ingredients. They offer authentic Italian pastas, salads, calzones and side dishes.
To keep things fresh, each month they do a few specials like Wives Appreciation Night, National Dog Day, and National cheese Pizza Day–each special offers some sort of free pizza. Luckily, I made it there on National Cheese Pizza Day, which included a free cheese pizza if you spent a certain amount of money! (And the only thing better than pizza is free pizza. 🍕)
I went for the pizza of the month, which was a meat and cheese stromboli and it was served with a side of marinara and a garlic butter sauce. I would highly recommend the garlic butter because … duh, butter makes everything better.
The dessert display looked reeeeeeally good, but I was stuffed and just couldn’t. (Could I?) Palio’s graciously gave me a cannoli to take home, which was AMAZING.
In the summer, Palio’s has a great patio that is a perfect place to watch the fireworks over Lake Grapevine. Sounds like the perfect night to me. I mean … pizza, wine, fireworks … yeah.
I remember the days when weekend nights were spent at The Loon (RIP) and were often followed by late night burgers and fries at Village Burger Bar. If I had a dollar for every time I called a cab to pick me up at VBB, I’d have about $7. (I miss the days that I could do that and not feel like death warmed-up the following day. Damn y slowing metabolism and adult responsibilities.)
Village Burger Bar has been around for years and has proved its staying power. So many other burger joints have come and gone, but they’re still around flipping burgers and slinging drinks until 2am in West Village — oh … and at three additional locations now.
Throughout the years, I remember craving their frozen rum & Cokes (which are a bit sweeter than what I usually go for). On these 100º+ days, though, they’d be a welcome refreshment. However, VBB recently switched out their longstanding Cuba Libre with an even more summery option–Frozen Cherry Limeades. Let me tell you, folks … they’re dangerous. They’re sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. Make sure you bring a Sharpie to keep count of how many you’ve downed.
The next drink that hit the table (gently) was a Strawberry Martini (vodka, strawberry puree, simple syrup). It packed a decent vodka punch … along with some serious vitamins. The strawberry was just enough to give the drink some flavor without making it too goopy.
While VBB is famous for its burgers (and bar), that’s not all it has to offer. Their Grilled Buffalo Chicken Strips are a light way to start a meal, served “naked” with their hot sauce on the side. However, if you’re into the whole “eat so much that I need to unbutton my pants” thing, go for the West Village Dip. This dip’s legit, y’all … cheese, bacon, tortilla chips … damn. I mean damn.
VBB offers “Bespoke Burgers” where you can choose your own patty (beef, turkey, or chicken) then pair it with any (and all) of 9 cheese, 14 sauces, and 17 toppings (including a fried egg, dried cranberries, and bourbon caramelized onions). I kind of hate math, but my calculations show that you could make … a lot of different burgers. If you’re not super into the whole “define yourself by your burger choices” thing, they offer eight suggestions. My long time favorite has been the Swiss ‘Shroom Burger. Make that happen sometime.
I took my dad along for this review and he’s a finicky eater. (It was his second review with me and he’s getting good at it! I don’t have to smack his hand anymore when he tries to take a bite of his food before I’ve gotten sufficient documentation.) When I say finicky … I’m not kidding. This man likes well done cheeseburgers, “plain and dry with ketchup only and a side of well done fries” … and that’s exactly what he ordered on our visit to VBB. He said, as boring as his cheeseburger was, that it was a great burger and the accompanying shoestring fries were perfectly crispy.
To top off the meal, my dad got a tall, frosty glass of St. Arnold’s draft root beer. I mean … I was sick to death that I was sick (literally) and couldn’t steal a sip of it.
They offer a full bar, the aforementioned burgers, paninis, plenty of sides (the siren call of the onion rings and truffle fries was nearly unavoidable), some desserts (hello, root beer float), and plenty of other deliciousness.
Overall, Village Burger Bar is as good as I remember it. Now that I have eaten it (a bit more) sober than I was accustomed to previously, I realize the quality behind the menu.