Tag Archives: sangria

California Pizza Kitchen: the Next Chapter

Once upon a time, when I was  starving college student, I worked at the mall. Upon clocking out for my 30 minute lunch break, my M.O. was to pick my sad granola bar from my purse or maybe grab a kids meal from Chik-fil-a (in my defense, it did come with a fun toy), because we all know $128 text books don’t pay for themselves. But once a month or so, when I was feeling particularly saucy, I would splurge and spring for a BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad from California Pizza Kitchen. I’m pretty sure in some instances that salad was the highlight of my month.

Admittedly, I haven’t visited California Pizza Kitchen much since my mall days ended. No real reason; I guess I just sort of forgot about it. Fast forward double-digit years: I recently revisited California Pizza Kitchen at their Willow Bend location to check out their new “Next Chapter” menu. I was excited to revisit an old favorite (but also anxious to see if they still served my coveted salad), and to see what their new menu was all about. I won’t make you wait in suspense: CPK did indeed still have my beloved salad along with several other familiar salad selections. The pasta and pizza selection also appeared relatively unchanged, with classic offerings like the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza and Thai Chicken pizza still gracing the menu.

So, that said, what’s in CPK’s “Next Chapter?” California Pizza Kitchen has recently updated its menu to focus on high quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients, and *most importantly* (OK, maybe that’s a matter of opinion, but barely) hand-crafted cocktails, and locally brewed beers.

Speaking of those craft cocktails; I’m going to go ahead and admit I was pleasantly surprised (if somewhat skeptical) when I looked at the new menu, which billed CPK’s cocktails as “unique and spirited”. The new cocktail collection features premium spirits paired with fresh fruit purées and herbs, with an extra surprise of unexpected ingredients. One such cocktail I sampled was the California Roots, (fresh avocado, shaken smooth with Svedka vodka, mint and lime, garnished with a fennel salt rim, $10.29). While I wouldn’t characterize the avocado flavor as identifiable in this imaginative cocktail, it definitely gave my drink a pleasantly rich and smooth consistency. I loved the zippy lime and mint, and the fennel salt rim was an awesome touch.

We also tried the  Blueberry Ginger Smash (fresh blueberries, lime and cranberry with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Domaine de Canton Ginger, $10.89). This one was packed with berry flavor, and about as summery as a whiskey drink can get. Most notably, the cocktails we sampled packed a rather surprising punch. I have tried my fair share of “fancy dranks” that look pretty and taste good but seem to be characterized by a relative lack of booze, but rest assured, this was not a problem we encountered. (I’ll note that it’s a dangerous thing to get mall-drunk … drunk shopping is real, y’all.)

Picture courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen


CPK has also added a stellar sangria flight to their lineup. It includes Orchard Sangria (white wine, St. Germain Elderflower, Monin Stone Fruit, orange and cranberry juices), Red-Berry Sangria (red wine, Rémy VSOP, Monin Blackberry, raspberry purée, cranberry juice, lemonade), and the seasonal Harvest Sangria (Bacardi Superior Rum, St. Germain Elderflower, Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay with muddled grapes, basil & fresh agave sour), all three for $10. In additional to being a pretty amazing value, all three varieties were very nicely balanced. Additionally, CPK has a variety of wines available in 6oz or 9oz pours as well as by the bottle. And they offer a “Wine Adventure Guarantee”, encouraging patrons to be adventurous and try a new wine … and if it doesn’t thrill you, they will replace it with your regular favorite.


Their craft beer selection is also slowly expanding with offerings from the likes of Chimay, Rogue, and Goose Island gracing the menu. Additionally, CPK has added a selection of local favorites, currently including Lakewood Hop Trapp, Lakewood Temptress (yum), and Nine Band Pale Ale.


After sampling so many drinks, it was a good thing CPK invited us to try several of their new menu items, too. They have a new collection of small plates and flatbreads, ranging from Crispy Mac ’n’ Cheese to White Corn Guacamole. We sampled the new Bianco Flatbread (whipped truffle cream, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and fresh sage, $6.99), and the truffle cream was approximately as outstanding as it sounds, and the fresh sage was dee-lish.

CPK has added a variety of new entree options to their menu, emphasizing “globally inspired” seasonal ingredients. We sampled the Hearth-Roasted Halibut (wild caught from Alaska and roasted on a cedar plank with butternut squash farro, grilled asparagus and baby kale, $19.49) that was incredibly flaky and tender, and the butternut squash farrow was one of those dishes that just warms the soul. Even my husband, who tends to be somewhat of a “fish snob”, gave this dish two thumbs up. We also tried the Roasted Garlic Chicken with Seasonal Vegetables (a crispy-skin chicken breast in lemon-garlic sauce, with a medley of the seasonal vegetables) that was amazingly decadent and moist, bursting with buttery lemon garlic flavor. CPK is also featuring a new Fire-Grilled Ribeye (house-made pinot noir sea salt, topped with creamy bleu cheese butter and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad, $25.99).

Overall, I was quite impressed with California Pizza Kitchen’s “New Chapter”, and I think this may be a “New Chapter” for CPK and I, as well (mall job not included).

California Pizza Kitchen – Willow Bend
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6121 W. Park Blvd., Sp.D-126, Plano (South Side of Mall, Next to Crate and Barrel)

 To view menus or find other locations, visit cpk.com 
Our team was invited in for a meal on the house.

Summer Sipping: UV Sangria

It’s a hot summer day in New York City with the sun shining and people watching at its peak. I find myself in a dilemma. On one hand, I couldn’t imagine anything better than a cool pitcher of red sangria and a picnic spread on the Great Lawn at Central Park. On the other hand, it’s hot and it’s Saturday and I just want to cut loose with some friends.

Enter: UV Sangria

This drink brings the best of both worlds with sweet notes of citrus and exotic fruit alongside that sultry burn of liquor. It’s the first ever of its kind, which makes you wonder, “Why has no one else thought of this yet??” (Note: UV Sriracha hit shelves just before this baby did.)

Upon my first sip, the hairs stood up on the back of my arms. Maybe, I just forgot this was vodka not the mulled juice I’m used to? Maybe it’s a drink that grows on you? Or maybe the more you drink the less you care? Whatever the case, my second go around proved successful as I mixed the spirit as it should be: pitcher-style for all to enjoy.

Combine UV Sangria with sprite, sliced fruit of your liking, and serve over ice for optimal boozing purposes. It’s the American twist on a Spanish classic that makes it perfect for cocktails during outdoor entertaining season and get-togethers with friends and family. (To be honest, it may be why my Fourth of July was such a hit.)


Distilled four times, UV Sangria brings a blend of citrus with a light zest in the background, finishing with an exotic taste that lingers on the palate. UV Vodka offers a diverse portfolio of over 20 fun, colorful flavored vodkas. The lineup also includes interesting flavor profiles of UV Blue Raspberry, Sugar Crush, Cherry, Apple, Salty Watermelon, Chocolate Cake, and even Candy Bar.

The suggested retail price is $12.99 for a one liter bottle, $11.99 for a 750ml bottle and 99 cents for 50ml bottle.

Here are a couple recipes for your next summer gathering:

1 part UV Sangria
1/3 part grenadine syrup
3 parts orange juice

Pour over ice & garnish with orange slice.

1 part UV Sangria
1 splash cranberry juice
1 splash triple sec

Shake with ice and strain in a martini glass

UV Vodka
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***Disclaimer: This beauty came to me for free from UV. God Bless America.

McCormick and Schmick’s

My favorite thing about writing these reviews is that I get recommendations for places I never would have thought had a good happy hour.  Case and point:  McCormick and Schmick’s.  My brilliant friend Matt told me about their killer happy hour specials and they really are incredible.  Where else could you get an entire meal at a nice seafood restaurant including drinks for $22?

Here’s how it goes:  cheap food, daily drink specials, and a crowded bar.  I tried the following:  a “marvelous” mojito (which it was!), red sangria, a ZiegenBock fish taco, sweet potato fries (delic.), a beef dumpling, and the McCormick’s half pound cheeseburger.  Everything was wonderful except for the burger which needed a little more spice – but for $2.95 I can reach for the pepper shaker.

The people in the bar area are varied, our waitress was nice, drinks were decently strong, and the music was incredible.  This place was quite the nice happy hour, a definite recommendation for a more chill evening.

McCormick and Schmick’s

307 NorthPark Center (on the south side beside P.F. Chang)
(214) 891-0100

Monday-Friday (4-6:30, 9-10 p.m.) and Sunday (4-9 p.m.) | food specials, sangria $5 
Monday | peach margaritas $6 
Tuesday | Captain Morgan punch $5 
Wednesday | mojitos $6 
Thursday | martinis $5.95 
Friday | Simi Rose wine $6 
Saturday | Franconia $4 
Sunday | bloody marys $4

Food specials
$1.95: ZiegenBock fish tacos, tempura vegetables, sweet potato fries, hummus
$2.95: McCormick’s half pound cheeseburger and fries
$3.95: buffalo chicken wings, beef dumplings, grill bratwurst, chile con queso
$4.95: buffalo shrimp, PEI steamed mussels, shucked oysters, BBQ ribs

Gloria’s … glorious.

After a long day of swimming at J Pepe’s, I needed something with fruit, ice, and more fruit.  My pool buddy, Matt, and I walked over to Gloria’s and sidled up to the bar.  The attactive bartender snappily brought our drinks, sangria for me and the usual Crown and soda for my friend.  The drinks were strong enough to make it worth dragging our tired bones across the street.

Gloria’s is perfect for a few drinks before a concert at the Granada, date night, or a chill drink at the end of a long summer day.  The sangria has fresh fruit chopped small enough to suck through the straw and avoid awkwardly fishing out the fruit with a spoon.

The best thing about Gloria’s????  Not having to remember when or what day has what special with what purchase.  It’s as simple as this:  Sunday – Thursday, all day, same price.  Another reason Gloria’s is … glorious.

Gloria’s Greenville Ave
3715 Greenville Ave. | Dallas, TX 75206 
(214) 874-0088

House Margaritas $3.00 
House Wines  $5.00 
Domestic Beers  $3.00 
Imported Beer  $3.50 
Mango Margaritas  $5.00 
Swirls  $4.00 
Strawberry Margaritas  $5.00 
Meltdowns  $5.00 
Mojitos  $3.00 
Sangria  $3.00


The drink sangria comes in many forms: blended, straight up, sparkling, white, red, loaded with fruit, dry … but whomever decided that Sangria the tapas restaurant should exsist is straight up a genius. The drinks are strong enough to make the night worth the somewhat expensive bill that is sure to come from too many orders of mushroom croquettes and pitchers upon pitchers of white, red, or sparkling sangria (all of which are amazing, but the sparkling takes the cake).

Late night inexpensive martinis and cosmopolitains are a little-known feature of this personable restaurant. Your exotic, curly-mopped waiter will hop-to-it and get your drinks to you quickly leaving your with another glass of heaven and a suggestive smile. You can find all types here; there are the young SMU kids out for their splurge dinner of the week sitting next to a table of young professionals next to a cute couple on a date.

Sangria Tapas Y Bar
4524 Cole Ave Dallas, TX 75205-4129 
(214) 520-4863

Monday – Friday 4 p.m.-7 p.m. | $3.00 Happy Hour on Selected Tapas & Drinks (Well drinks, House Wine, Sangrias, Martini of the Day)
Monday – Thursdsay 10 p.m.-11 p.m. & Friday – Saturday 10 p.m.-12 a.m. | $3.00 Happy Hour on Selected Tapas & Drinks (Well drinks, House Wine, Sangrias, Martini of the Day)
Monday | ½ Price Sangria Night (Pitchers Only)
Tuesday | ½ Price Bottle Wine Night
Wednesday | International Night with DJ Tony starting at 8:30pm with Tapas & Drink Specials
Thursday | Tour of Spain: Different Regional Tapas & Wine Specials of Spain Each Week
Friday Late Night | DJ Tony 10:00 pm with Reverse Happy Hour
Saturday Late Night: DJ Tony starting at 10:00 pm with Reverse Happy Hour
Saturday & Sunday Brunch $6.00 Bottomless Sangrias & Agua Valenciana (Spanish Mimosa)