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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Archive for the ‘Dallas’ Category

Monday, January 10, 2011 @ 09:01 AM

Well we are back from a wonderful weekend in Nashville celebrating my lil’ brother’s wedding.  Needless to say due to the business of all of that I apologize that this post is a little bit tardy.

Pop Culture Cuisine is officially a year old and we can hardly believe how fast time has flown!  Adam and I have loved incorporating all these wonderful culinary adventures into our travels, mostly because of the great memories it has made for us.  We have compiled a list of some of our favorite and not so favorite spots to share with you with links so you can read our reviews for yourself.  We love food and hope to continue to share lots of great finds with you all along the way.

SIGNATURE DISH

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1. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous’ “Ribs” – Memphis, TN

2. Round Rock Donuts’ “Round Rock Donut” – Round Rock, TX

3. Lucky’s Sandwich Co.’s “Stuffed Sandwich” – Chicago, IL

TASTE

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Louie’s – Dallas, TX

3. Twisted Root – Dallas, TX

AMBIANCE

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1. The Silver Palm – Chicago, IL

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

SERVICE

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1. Blue Ash ChiliAnna – Blue Ash, OH

2. PinkberryChristine – Orlando, FL

3. Avila’s – Dallas, TX

PRICE

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH

OVERALL TOP 5

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Manny’s Delicatessen – Chicago, IL

3. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

4. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH

5. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous – Memphis, TN

TOP 5 BIGGEST LET DOWNS…NOT WORTH THE HYPE!

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1. Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q – Memphis, TN

2. Willie Mae’s Scotch House – New Orleans, LA

3. Acme Oyster House – New Orleans, LA

4. Drago’s Seafood – New Orleans, LA

5. Juan in a Million – Austin, TX

BEST OF THE REST…HONORABLE MENTION

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Best Burger – Twisted Root – Dallas, TX

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Best Pizza – Giordano’s – Chicago, IL

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Best Sandwich – Lucky’s Sandwich Co. – Chicago, IL

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Best BBQ – The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

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Best Bar Food – J. Gilligan’s “Irish Nachos” – Arlington, TX

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Best Cocktail – Pat O’Brien’s “Hurricane” – New Orleans, LA

Three Little Piggies

Most Outrageous Dish – The Silver Palm’s “Three Little Pigs Sandwich” Chicago, IL

Saturday, January 1, 2011 @ 08:01 AM

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Well it’s officially 2011 and I want to wish you all a very Happy New Years!  I hope everyone had a fabulous time celebrating with friends and family and that everyone stayed safe on one of the craziest nights of the year.  2010 was a very momentous and crazy year for Adam and I, and it brought lots of great memories.  PCC is coming up on a year old and really has become something we cherish as a journal of all our wonderful travels.  It’s amazing the wonderful adventures we’ve had and all the new cuisine we’ve tried in the name of Winking smile research.  Hopefully, the coming year will be another year of good changes and we are looking forward to whatever those might be, as well as finding new ways to branch out with Pop Culture Cuisine.

New Years is one of those holidays that typically has a lot of hype and lots of parties & events all in the name of celebration; and everyone who knows me knows I’m a person who loves a good excuse to celebrate.  And what better way to celebrate with others than with a festive drink?…of which we’ve encountered quite a few of along our travels, some famous, others just a part of the experience.  Still, I wanted to share a glimpse of some of the gems we have discovered and the places we found them at throughout this past year.  So with festive cheer and no further adieu, I give you the Year in Drinks for PCC…Cheers!

 

Pat O’Brien’s – Orlando, FL and New Orleans, LA

Drink: The Hurricane

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Created during WWII with a bunch of fruit juice and rum, this drink has been their most popular drink and a favorite place for many to hit up at any of their locations.  We have visited 2 locations and every time we are near one we have to stop in for at least 1 hurricane…and usually many more! Smile  These babies are potent, but delicious, and can be enjoyed on their beautiful patios during the day or hopping piano bars at night!

 

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Mariano’s – Dallas, TX

Drink: “The Frozen Margarita”

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You may remember Mariano’s from our review earlier this year, but being the originator of the frozen margarita, it’s hard to not include them again in this drinks feature.  Sweet and tangy like any good margarita should be, this one definitely was tasty and stood out in our minds as one of the better ones we have ever had.  We are now glad to say we’ve tried the first ever created (more than once) and can from now on compare it to our hometown Hacienda margaritas.

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The Pump Room – Chicago, IL

Drink: Cosmopolitan, Chocolate Martini, and White Russian

We lucked out on on my birthday trip a couple weeks ago that our hotel was attached to the famous Pump Room.  Popularized by many celebrities of yester-year like Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack friends, this spot still has the old time feel of a great crooner bar.  We were glad we could enjoy a couple of cocktails their throughout the weekend.  Great atmosphere and really well made drinks.

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Tujague’s – New Orleans, LA

Drink: Shock Top, Abita Brand Beers

One of the oldest bars in the whole USA, this New Orleans’ landmark in the French Quarter is a must stop if you are into history, old bars, or just want to take a break and cool off.  On both of our trips to N’awlins we have enjoyed grabbing a beer and hearing some of the fun stories the bartender (who has been there all most as long as the bar and has become a New Orleans standard) has to tell.  Although I am sure you can get any New Orleans staple drink you want, we opted for a nice cold beer on a nice hot day, and it was a welcome withdraw.

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Cheers – Boston, MA

Drink: Blue Moon

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I am pretty sure everyone out there is familiar with good ol’ Cheers….yes, that sitcom bar from the 80’s with Sam Malone and NORM!  And if you didn’t know that the show was based off a bar in Boston, you must have been living under a rock or you are REALLY young. Smile  Nonetheless, I was lucky enough this past May to be able to pay a visit to the original location in Beacon Hill with my best friend Emily.  I probably could have been adventurous and tried a real Bostonian beer, but already knowing I don’t like Sam Adams, I stuck to something I know and love…Blue Moon!  It was fun to be in the atmosphere, although now pretty touristy, but still fun to look around and see all the old memorabilia.  However, be forewarned, this place is nothing like the “Hollywood” set bar that we all know from the TV show….it’s MUCH smaller.  So you may be in for a shock.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Orlando, FL

Drink: Leffe

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This next spot I will go into way more depth in a future post, but since drink was one of the components of the whole event, I wanted to touch on in briefly.  Each year, Epcot and Vanity Fair put on an International Food and Wine festival throughout the park where culinary dishes and drinks from around the world are matched and can be purchased.  Although we opted not to drink at most of the stops, when we saw an old favorite being featured in Belgium, we knew a small taste was in order.  It was deliciously refreshing on that hot day.

 

Jasper’s – Plano, TX

Drink: Jasper’s Triple Chocolate Martini

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Jasper’s is another restaurant we have already given our glowing review too, but this martini was so OUTSANDING I still compare every chocolate martini to it and often dream about it. Ok…not literally about the dreaming part, but ladies (and gentlemen too I suppose Winking smile) this drink is purely sinful!  Not only is it chocolately, it is also creamy and extremely rich.  They are sweet and probably a million calories, but who cares…this is what a sweet martini should taste like!

 

The Walnut Room – Chicago, IL

Drink: Poinsettia

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We had the pleasure of dining at the the famous Walnut Room inside Macy’s during my birthday weekend.  The food and experience are another whole post in and of themselves, but again with drinks being the theme, I must share my beautiful festive poinsettia that I REALLY enjoyed.  The perfect blend of champagne and cranberry juice, it is a drink I am certainly going to be making in years to come, and it was a perfect cap to a perfect birthday weekend.

Anheuser Busch Brewery – St. Louis, MO

Drink: Shock Top, Michelob Brands

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Growing up in St. Louis I was unfortunately never of an age where I could enjoy touring a landmark that was so close to home.  I was glad Adam and I were able to visit the brewery on a trip a few years back and really see the whole process at work.  He and I are Bud people in preference, but it was this trip where I first got to try a Shock Top for the first time and it has quickly become one of my favorite beers.  In fact, since that time, I’ve been seeing it in bars more and more.  We had a great time learning about the history, the beer making process, and most of all enjoying some brews.

 

The Silver Palm – Chicago, IL

Drink: Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon

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Although the wine brand and restaurant name are just a happy accident, the wine was every bit as enjoyable as the meal itself.  We gave our rave reviews of the restaurant this year and one of the great features was the great atmosphere, especially where we enjoyed a few drinks after our meal.  I highly recommend this bar (and the tiny Matchbox next door) for a sort of a little unknown jewel for a night out in Chicago.

 

Hula Hut – Austin, TX

Drink: Pink Lemonade

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Unfortunately I can’t remember or find the name of this drink I ordered at the Hula Hut, but suffice it to say, it was their version of a pink lemonade with a kick.  It was very sweet and refreshing from what I remember, but also tasted too much like juice so it went down way to easy. Smile

 

Louie’s – Dallas, TX

Drink: Lindeman’s Framboise

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This was a spot in Dallas that we were so happy to stumble upon when we lived there.  Louie’s not only had great food, but their ambiance truly made us feel at home as former Chicagoans.  Because it was Valentine’s Day that weekend, I was looking for a little something special to drink so I was very happy to discover they have one of my all time favorite items on their menu…Lindemans’ Framboise.  Although they are super sweet, I love the berry flavor and how they a just a fun change up from a typical beer.

 

Well, I hope you have enjoyed our brief recap of some of the wonderful beverages we enjoyed in 2010.  I’m sure there were others along the way, but these were certainly the most tasty, most famous, or most memorable.  I am going to forgo a traditional review of each, but know this…each of these drinks stood out to me or Adam either because of the drink themselves, the experience that went along with them, or both.  We truly love every minute of our culinary adventures and the life journal that Pop Culture Cuisine has become for us.  I hope you all continue to follow our crazy foodie adventures each week…and hey…maybe tell a friend or two. Winking smile  So “For Auld Lang Syne”…HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Thursday, September 23, 2010 @ 11:09 AM

033It’s hard to believe it’s Fall already; and as I look at this picture of me in a sundress standing in front of this week’s feature, it’s sometimes weird to think that we don’t live in Dallas anymore…and I’m actually going to get to experience a change in season once again.  It seems poignant, that in a few short months we moved across the country and started the rest of our lives…sort of a change of season for us, and I couldn’t be happier. 

But I’m still thinking about the summer, and nothing takes me there better than good Mexican food; and although there are a lot of Mexican restaurants where we are now (I know I was surprised too), there are not quite as many "authentic" options as there were in Big-D. I mean, come on…it DID USED TO BE Mexico. 😉

On that note, I’m not sure I will ever experience as authentic Mexican cuisine as I did at our next feature spot.  Avila’s Restaurant has been serving up authentic and home-made Mexican meals for 25 years and they don’t seem to be near a stopping point anytime soon; and although they have gone through some modern updates and changes to the decor, their recipes have not changed one bit…recipes passed down through generations since 1985…recipes developed by the matriarch Anita Avila.  Family gatherings were always important to Anita and her husband Octavio, and these same recipes she so lovingly prepared then were the same recipes she began to prepare in their restaurant when it opened in 1986 when the Avila family began "literally" inviting the public into their home to enjoy this freshly prepared food.  Although I said it has had a minor facelift and a portion added on, this is the same home that Anita and her children lived in.  Yes my friends…they turned their home into a restaurant, so if that don’t say “home cooking” I don’t know what does! 

I would have to say that this little gem would have remained hidden to us and we might have moved away without ever experiencing it (it’s one of those local places that is almost as if it is a secret kept under lock and key that only the well deserving locals seem to know about) had it not been for one of our favorite foodies, Guy Fieri. Guy stopped in there one day on Food Network’s "Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives" to sample this hidden treasure.  Check out a clip of what made us realize this place was not the same as all the “other” Mexican joints in town…

 

 

After re-watching this clip, I wish I would have ordered those gorditas on our visit, but I’ll get to that.  Avila’s had been on our list of places to visit for awhile, and when our move became a reality, we knew we would need to make that visit sooner rather than later.  So we invited our friends from church Scott and Ashley to tag along, as well as say goodbye to them as well (they were also moving away to North Carolina…hi guys!).  So the four of us ventured down to just north of downtown Dallas, an area that is pretty run down and I have to say we did not go often; and literally this restaurant is so tucked away (a secret like I said) you could easily miss it if you were not paying attention. I mean…IT’S A HOUSE so you’re not actually looking for it.  But although small in nature, it still welcomes you in as any house might.

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The minute we sat down we were promptly provided with baskets of chips, which it did not take me long to dig into.  In fact, I think our table went through at least 4 or 5 baskets of them before it seemed like we ordered. :)  I may have a small weakness for tortilla chips and these were delish.  Typically, I like thinner and saltier chips, but I must say that these were very authentic, yet still had the crunchiness and saltiness I crave. Also, their salsa was amazing and had a flavor that was extremely unique and kept you wanting more (I think they put pineapple in it).  It took us a little while to peruse the menu (thus the baskets of chips) and decide on what we should all order.  Having already stuffed myself, I settled on the pork tamales. Adam chose the create your own enchiladas so he could sample their famous molé sauce, while Scott and Ashley each got one of their combination plates (and I think there was a brisket taco in there somewhere ;-)).  Although it took us awhile to order, it did not take long to receive our food…which is always appreciated!

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Looks tasty huh?  But after stuffing my face full of chips, I was hardly hungry anymore, although I was still able to chow down on at least one of my tamales.  At the time, I was a bit disappointed with my choice, not because it didn’t taste good, but because it just wasn’t that different of a flavor from the millions of corn chips and salsa I had already mowed down on.  However, thinking about it now, it was a really darn good and fresh tamale. I just think I was oversaturated at that point and all of the flavors were not coming through. 

Adam’s plate on the other hand was a smorgasbord of flavors, particularly in the molé.  I am not sure where he saw it or tried it, but Adam’s world had recently changed with the discovery of molé and I’m not sure he’ll ever be the same. 😉 I have to admit that the nuances in flavor just in the molé alone brought something amazing to that dish, and their sour cream sauce that was on the other enchilada was not half bad either.  According to Adam…it was close to the top for best enchiladas he’d ever had…and he’s had a lot!

After we were all sufficiently stuffed to the gills, I walked around to take in some of the decor, including Guy’s calling card…

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Overall, our trip to Avila’s was a great experience, and it didn’t hurt that it was a great last meal with great friends and in a wonderful atmosphere.  I surely do hope I can make it there again someday, especially because those gorditas look divine!

SIGNATURE DISH: Although they don’t have a particular dish that they call their “signature,” their tamales certainly seem a feature they are proud of; and as seen in the video, a dish they add a little something extra too.  With a menu that only boasts the dishes they love and know they can cook well, it would appear that they are proud to call any of their dishes a signature.  They do not try to cook everything under the sun, just those dishes that have been in the family for years.

TASTE: At the time I was not blown away. However, I’m writing that off to the mistake of stuffing myself with chips…which were delicious by the way.  Thinking back, I did enjoy the extra flavor the masa of my tamale had. It brought a unique element I had never tried before. Also, Adam loved-loved-loved his dish, so much so he could not stop talking about that molé for days!  I think it safe to say we have a molé enthusiast on our hands! 😉

AMBIANCE: I truly loved the idea that this restaurant is literally in a house!  Although not huge, it was spacious enough to feel like you were in a regular restaurant yet it had that charm of a quaint little authentic spot only you have discovered.  And I felt that because this was literally the home Anita developed these dishes, it just felt extremely authentic and made with love. One caveat, however…parking is an issue. They only have 5 or so parking spots, plus a lot they share next door that has about 10 more. Granted, the inside only can seat about that many, but at busy time, it isn’t in the best of neighborhoods to park far away.

PRICE: For lunch, this place is a little pricy. You can expect to pay around $15 per person for whatever you get, which in my opinion is a bit high for Mexican. Sure this is not your ordinary Mexican and perhaps you’re paying for the extra flavor…but it could have been a little less. Still, it was not high enough to keep me away if I still lived close by…so that’s a push.

SERVICE: Our service was wonderful and the wait staff (we had 2) was very patient with us, even though it took us a little while to order.  They had no problem continually bringing us fresh chips and salsa, and once we did order, I mentioned that our food was out to us extremely quick. 

All around we really enjoyed ourselves, and I would go back in a heartbeat. Plus it is always good to share a meal with friends…especially when it is a good meal.  So I think that Scott and Ashley would agree with me in giving Avila’s Restaurant 4 ‘Little Piggies.’

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