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.
If there are two things I know for certain: it’s that it’s hot as balls outside and that pizza is the best thing that God made. (Only one of those is constant.)
Greenville Avenue Pizza Company (GAPCo) is the little pizza shop on Lowest Greenville that has supplied drunkards with the perfect late night food generously sprinkled with Pizza Crack (more on that later) since 2007. This food isn’t just any drunk food … it’s good enough to even eat sober. The owner, Sammy Mandell, spent the evening with our group and told us about his baby on Lowest Greenville that has gone from a small pizza shop to a rebranded, refurnished restaurant that was named one of the top 100 highest grossing pizzerias in the U.S. this past year. By which I’m not surprised at all because everything in GAPCo is made by hand–from the dough to their ranch.* The employees, from management to delivery drivers, are 100% behind Sammy and the brand and they support the shop and each other in spades. In fact, Sammy’s wife, Molly, not only takes charge of their snarky social media channels, but also rolled GAPCo’s meatballs for years. (They were even dubbed “Mollyballs”!)
BOOZE INFO: GAPCo offers Texas craft beers (uhhh and some wine)–Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Martin House Brewing Company, Cedar Creek, Saint Arnold, Shiner, and Eastciders dry cider. I mean … what’s possibly better than a cold beer and pizza when it’s 100º outside? (Maybe just following it up with a Steel City Pop from across the street.)
We’ll get to the pizza, but we have to chat about some of their other items first. (Because once pizza enters the conversation, that’s all there really is.) If you’ve never branched out past pies here, you’re missing out. The first thing that hit the table was a GIANT meatball and garlic knot. The Meatballs are 81/19 beef (the texture is perfect), lovingly hand-packed, and served with marinara sauce that takes five hours to make.
Their salads are delicious, fresh, crisp, and unique. The Brutus Salad was their take on a Caesar salad without being drenched in heavy dressing or sporting the cliche croutons (take a basic chicken Caesar salad, then add tortilla strips, diced jalapeños, and jalapeño Caesar dressing). The Italian Salad–romaine, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, parmesan, shallot vinaigrette dressing–was quite good, but I’d stick with the Brutus on my next visit.
Now, a pizza place with salads options … that’s super expected. But … a pizza place with wings good enough to stand on their own is a diamond in the rough. I don’t know if I’d ever attempt these spicy pieces of chicken goodness after a couple drinks, but sober, I’d eat the shit out of these fried Hot Buffalo Wings and would only pause to find a napkin and make sure my lips were still intact. And that aforementioned homemade ranch … it kind of makes these transcendent. The Lemon Pepper Wings had a perfect crisp to them if you’re into that not-as-saucy situation and the lemon flavor in the seasoning is surprisingly refreshing.
No … for the main event: the pizza. I think Bill Murray said it best when he said, “Unless you are a pizza, the answer is ‘yes, I can live without you.’” Amen, brother.
GAPCo’s pizza, like its other menu items, are made with homemade ingredients. You can TASTE the love in these slices. The fresh cheese, delicious meats, veggies, and more come together in a beautiful symphony of flavors and crispiness. Have it drunk and you’ll never ask your Uber driver to take you through the Whataburger drive-though again. The pieces hold up nicely without that sad wilting effect brought on by too much grease and not enough “crusture”. (Crust structure … it’s going to be a thing.)
I think it was all over for me when I had my first bite of the Supreme Pizza–pepperoni, ham, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, bacon, and olives. I mean … the bacon wasn’t just any bacon; it was just thick enough to really stand out in a crowded pizza but not feel like you’re missing a helping of eggs. (And once that Pizza Crack hits the cheese, you know it’s all over.)
Their famous Pizza Crack is made with garlic, salt, and their special mix of spices. Apparently they sell enough of this stuff that they’ve started selling jars of it. Full disclosure: a jar of this was one of the first things in the cabinet at my new condo.
Stay tuned to GAPCo for more new offerings coming up … they have a great product and are finding more ways to evangelize to the people of Dallas. Recently, GAPCo came out of the cover of night and they’re now open for lunch. The lunch special is $10 for a slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza, caesar salad, and a fountain drink. (And they’ll start offering brunch in August!)
Kent Rathbun. (Not Ken Rathburn or Kent Rayburn.) However you may butcher his name … you know that he knows what he’s doing. We can thank him for the amazing concepts like Abacus, Jasper’s, and (formerly) Blue Plate … and now his newest venture, Hickory Plano, can be added to the list.
Their amazing PR girl arranged a bus to take us alllllll the way up to Plano to check out the new concept … which, if you know me, was a huge treat because I hate to drive. Like …I hate it real bad.
The drive took us up the Tollway just past The Shops at Legacy (the home of Kent’s Jasper’s). Upon arriving, Kent greeted us and showed us around the newly renovated space. Expect a lot of raw wood, metal, and deep reds and browns.
While Hickory is a BBQ joint, the drinks leave nothing to be desired (except maybe another one). They offer a full bar that can crank out anything from a Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned featuring Makers 46 to classics–Moscow Mules, anyone? If you want to get a little crazy, check out their Cactus Juice (Avion Reposado, Triple Sec, prickly pear nectar, and lime). And make sure to check out their Texas cocktails featuring Deep Eddy drinks.
If you’re into the beer situation, they have some great local options, but certainly not an extensive list–select crafts on tap and a handful of bottled options. Their wine list includes a couple Texas wines and a curated list of decently priced options.
When the food started hitting the table, we all knew we were in for a long night. I LOVED the salad options, which sometimes can be a bit lacking at a BBQ restaurant. I almost couldn’t get enough of the Shrimp & Crab Coleslaw that featured a spicy cilantro vinaigrette that I could just about take a straw to. I would also have to say that the Fried Green Tomatoes with charred jalapeño ranch were unreal. (We may or may not have been fork-fighting for the last piece.) A starter that cannot be missed is their Smoked Sausage Fondue featuring whichever of their house-made sausages they choose for the day with creamy, cheesy goodness.
When I saw the entrees, I was so thankful knowing that we had a bus to take us back as I knew I’d have at least half and hour to recover before getting behind the wheel. (I mean that not due to the drinks … but due to the sheer amount of meat I was about to consume.) Their options for mains range from traditional burgers and sandwiches (and some not-so-traditional ones) and meats. Some seeeeerious meats. Their “little red smokehouse” prepares heavenly cuts that are sold by the 1/2 pound like their Smoked Pepper Crusted Wagyu Brisket, Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast, and Shaved Roti Pork Shoulder. All of the meats were quite flavorful and I’d return for any single one of them, but some were a bit on the salty side. That just means that you need to balance the meats with their Charred Corn Bread which was UNreal. Get into that and don’t miss the Round Rock Honey butter that comes with it.
All of the sides that we tried were good, but the Crispy Brussels Sprouts were in the only bowl that saw the light of day. These things, y’all, are f**king amazing. (And not just because I love Brussels sprouts.) Don’t miss the Blackstrap Molasses Baked Beans, too. I mean … these beans have bacon on top.
The meal was coming to an end (so we thought) when dessert came out. Instead of one of their Shareable Desserts for the table, they brought us all of them. We tried Maw Maw’s Buttermilk Pie, which was a light-ish option but wasn’t up my alley, the Texas Size Chocolate Cupcake, which had a bit of spicy bite to it, and the Skillet Cobbler, which I’d eat all day every day! The crunch on top was a perfect textural balance to the gooey fresh berries it hid.
Overall, the meal was overwhelming … and I don’t mean because of the amount of food, but because of how amazing everything was. I don’t know why I expected anything other than brilliance from Kent Rathbun!
Make the drive–just plan to give yourself some recovery time before driving anywhere after. Because … meat. HICKORY BY KENT RATHBUN www.hickoryplano.com | Facebook | Twitter
8100 Dallas Pkwy #115, Plano
Las Vegas has a little bit of everything. It seems one of the first stops for chefs after their home city. Luckily, Emeril has more than one concept in Sin City from bank-breaking chef’s tables to more reasonable options. Anyone who has set foot in Las Vegas knows that, while drinks are (sometimes) free, it can be an expensive city. For that reason, I was delighted to enjoy a meal at Table 10 in the Palazzo and was pleased that they have a four course meal option for just $48.
After a long evening of shopping (one word: Barney’s) and five (or just one) Coffee Bean Ultimate Iced Blendeds, a relaxing evening at Table 10 was just what the doctor ordered. The staff was incredibly welcoming and the atmosphere was relaxing thanks to the low lighting and dark furniture. I sat in the dining room, but if I ventured in again alone I’d sit at the Food Bar, no question. It gives diners a view of the action in the kitchen and shows just how well the chefs know their craft.
I started my evening with a Lagasse Lemonade (Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Southern Comfort, vanilla & pomegranate syrups, and fresh lemon juice) when my waiter told me it’s the most popular drink. I enjoyed it, but it was a bit sweet for my taste so I got a bit of club soda to mellow the sweetness. (Win.)
Before ordering dinner, I wanted to be good and prepped, so I ordered an Emeril’s Passion (Emeril’s Eagle Rare bourbon, passion fruit puree, Luxardo liqueur) as my second drink. It packed a punch and, while still nicely sweet, wasn’t overwhelming. It was JUUUUUST drinkable enough.
For dinner, I opted for the four course menu which offered some traditional American dishes from seafood to steak and Pea Ravioli. I started with the seasonal soup, Lobster Bisque with melted truffle butter which was incredibly rich without being overpowered by truffle. My appetizer was the easiest choice I made all night … Candied Farm Bacon served with warm maple syrup cured in a 10 year old bourbon barrel. Seriously … that stuff was unreal. It was all … BAM. (I just had to.)
I was craving steak that day (I mean … I kind of am every day.) so I ordered the 6 Ounce Filet which was served a perfect medium with light vegetables. I was so full so it took every bit of my strength not to stuff myself silly … because I wanted to. Dessert was a tough choice, but I went with the White Chocolate Malassadas coated with cinnamon sugar and filled with white chocolate served with raspberry sauce to accompany my perfectly crafted latte.
Table 10 offers happy hour daily and live music in the bar on weekend nights. Sit in the large bar area for a lively atmosphere or sit in the dining room for a more intimate meal. Table 10 also offers a private dining room with the badass glass that frosts with the touch of a button. (So cool.)
Ok, y’all … it’s no mystery that I have a pretty serious obsession with Asador. (Evident here, here, … and here.) I was lucky enough to be invited in to try some of their new menu items from their Executive Chef, Brad Phillips. They update their menu so often (like … sometimes daily) that they’ve decided to print their menus in-house so they don’t have to wait for a printer.
Some things are always amazing and can’t be missed, like their cocktails which are mixed using infused liquors inspired by the ever-awesome Tyler. (P.S. she’s a lady and she’s awesome.) One of my contributors, Laura, joined me for the meal and swore that she’d be back as soon as should could be … it was that good.
To start … cocktails … oh, the cocktails. I started with the Mellow Honey (Honeydew and cucumber-infused gin, fresh lemon juice, and prosecco), and it is, no doubt, the perfect light cocktail for spring. The infused gin was so delicate without letting the other flavors mask it–truly amazing.
We enjoyed the Farm Salad to start that will be different every time you order it. They go for fresh, so they only put the best stuff in there. The “croutons” on this were absolutely craveable. The Pork Belly served with sunny side-up quail eggs were perfectly crisp and incredibly flavorful and the kimchi BBQ sauce made it just to die for. This is a bacon and egg combo that I can seriously get behind. These seriously can’t be missed. The PEI Mussels with ginger, cilantro, lemongrass in sambal broth were so good that I nearly asked for a straw for the broth. We actually did ask for more bread to soak it up–and that’s no crime. They paired the mussels with a crisp glass of white wine that really hit the spot.
Stop in and try some of the new options that they’re slinging from the bar and the kitchen … I promise you’ll be impressed.
Never heard of it? Understandable, but now you know better. Asador is the high-end-but-casual restaurant inside the Renaissance Hotel over on I-35 — you know, the brown one that’s a gigantic oval? There ya go.
I was very excited to try Asador and was even more excited when I sat down at the bar and began looking through the delicious victuals that they offer. Grab a tissue, because your mouth is about to water — smoked duck sliders, candied bacon lollipops, grilled Texas quail … and those are only a few of the bar snacks! They offer a full chef-driven menu of delightfully-prepared foods made with fresh ingredients, all from within 100 miles of Dallas (except for the fish … but that’s because we’re pretty landlocked). Fresh isn’t an understatement here, so much so that they print new menus almost everyday. Steaks that are cooked to perfection and fish that cuts like butta’ using nothing but a fork.
I think one of the best parts of the experience was dessert (duh). Asador makes their ice cream in-house. OMG – I never wanted the sweet potato ice cream to end but while attempting to make it last, a bit melted. BLAST. Their pumpkin crème brulee was also one of the highlights of the pumpkin season this year (right up there with the pumpkin souffles I made for Thanksgiving!).
Their cocktails are made with the same fresh ingredients as the food and are mixed thoughtfully with a flare for the unique. They have the usuals but add a twist to each. To give their cocktails depth, they infuse liquors with some unexpected items. For your consideration: bacon bourbon, grilled jalapeño tequila, maple-Belgium waffle vodka (believe it), pomegranate gin, and more. Changed often, creative, and tempting, they’ll serve you a shot of one of their seasonal infusions for only $5.
My absolute favorite item of the evening was the harvest margarita – a margarita made with pumpkin puree and apple cider and finished off with a brown sugar spice rim. It.was.amazing. Being one who doesn’t like margaritas, I have never in my life had a margarita that I didn’t want to end … except for this one.
My other favorite cocktails from the evening were the Blossom Margatini, the Orange Twist, and the Posh Cosmo (pictured above in the same order). The Blossom Margatini is tequila, rose nectar, St. Germain, citrus juices, and an edible flower (I wish I’d known that sooner b/c I would have eaten it). It reminded me of some of my favorite drinks from Paris; light and sweet but quite potent. The Orange Twist was pomegranate juice, port, orange juice, and rum — talk about a refreshing drink, I could have downed three. Lastly, the Posh Cosmo was what you’d expect from any Cosmopolitan with some interesting additions, they added Gran Marnier jam (yes, like jelly) and Pimms —- heavvvven.
In addition to their specialty cocktails, they have 100+ tequilas arranged on a wall (complete with ladder, pictured above) that you can try individually or in a flight. The bartenders really know their stuff and are very friendly and helpful so you can just ask and they’ll serve you up something you’ll love. Ask for Tyler (girl) or James – they’re both fantastic.
The bottom line: Specialty cocktails are $7-10, bar snacks are $4-9, entrees are $4-38. They have a full bar, exotic beers, a great wine list, steaks, seafood, and some more slightly casual bites. If you’re bored, you can watch your game on one of the flat screens or play pool in the back room — but with food this good, why would you be bored?
As some of my more loyal readers know, I have a certain radius that I remain inside. However, my friend Liz (some of you may know her as @ohheydallas) requested my company out to PLANO, (yes, Plano), to try out Whiskey Cake. Bribed with a chauffeur and a $50 gift card, I obliged.
When we walked into the large, rustic building, the hostess semi-greeted us and took a phone number at which to text us from her iPad when our table was ready (how sci-fi) … which was meant to be a mere 45 minutes later (ON A WEDNESDAY, YOU MUST BE KIDDING!?). We pushed our way through the middle-aged Plano-ites and families and found a spot at the crowded bar beside a guy who was very obviously there to find date. (Yikes.)
The bartender handed us a comically large menu and we perused the alcoholic concoctions available to us. Their choices are all very clever–some are classic cocktails and they also have a few newbies. My first drink was a Texas Bluebonnet (a delightful mix of açaí blueberry vodka, prosecco, and egg white). It danced on my tongue and made me wonder why I don’t eat blueberries more often, but it wasn’t very strong. Liz got the French 75 which was quite good, but it’s tough to mess up a French 75. (I got some shit for writing that … and as classic cocktails go, it’s one of the less difficult ones if you have half of idea of what you’re doing.)
What seemed like less than 30 minutes later, we got our text message and made our way to the hostess box (yes, box), were seated, and greeted by a bubbly young lady. She was one of the best waitresses I can ever remember having–friendly, quick, and very amenable to any request.
Dinner begged another round of drinks and I had the Guava Gimlet and Liz partook in the basil version. Both were good and very refreshing, but seemed out of place with the cooler weather. (Perhaps they should move to a fall menu?) Overall, I think the drinks are well made, but nothing groundbreaking … and the only have three kinds of ice. (Totally sarcastic – I love a good variety of ice.) … I ordered a scotch to go with the Whiskey Cake just so our waitress would make an ice ball at our table.
The food was delicious. The only thing I could have hoped for in the food department was that my stomach was larger so that I could have eaten more. To get the full run-down of our experience, check out OhHeyDallas’s review of the food we ate here: Whiskey Cake – OhHeyDallas.com.