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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Chi-town Meets D-town

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 @ 09:03 AM

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, PCC-ers!  My husband (Adam) and I live in Dallas, but as most of you know, I lived in Chicago for a large part of my life (and don’t worry, I won’t bore you more with more “I love Chicago…” blah-blah:)), so why not bring you the best of both worlds this week…a Dallas favorite created over 20 years ago by two native Chicagoans looking for for good pizza; and what could be better than getting that Chi-town tavern feeling right here in D-town? (and we don’t really refer to Dallas as “D-town” but, I thought I’d try it out…my bad ;))  Well, Louie’s is just that, a tavern first and foremost.  The bonus…, it is a tavern than serves darn good food!  Located in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood of East Dallas, it was overlooked by us at first because of all the regular hot spots located in that area.  However, we were invited out to another bar near it a while back, and we noticed that it was packed!, which was surprising from the looks of this place (and I’m not saying this as a positive), so our interest was definitely peeked.  I mean, at first glance it looks likes an old auto shop (in fact it is), rather than a top-notch bar or restaurant.  Well, the kicker was when we saw the following clip on Travel Channel’s “Diner’s, Drive-ins, and Dives,” and we knew our first judgment had been a mistake.

I told you they wanted a place for good pizza…and I think they’ve found it! 🙂  After seeing their pizza, I had an instant craving; and it just so happened that we were looking for a low key but fun place for Valentine’s Day.  We both agreed that Louie’s was exactly the kind of place we were looking for; and I always jump at the chance to try a pizza made the “Chicago-way”…even if it is thin crust.  So, we invited our friends Garrett and Audra to tag along and experience Louie’s as a Valentine’s treat.

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098Since we were going on a Saturday night and this place is not very big, we figured there would likely be a wait, which there was.  However, lucky for us there happened to be a couple of bar stools opening up at the bar when we arrived, so we opted to bide our time and enjoy a pre-meal drinky-drink. 😉  Continuing with my luck, they had one of my most favorite drinks on the menu…Lindeman’s Framboise, which if you have never had one, they are delish. 🙂  Ummm…thick, sweet, raspberry flavored Beligian beer.  It was truly enjoyable (although uber-expensive!).

096While enjoying that special treat, we were able to sit and survey the scene.  The bar area is a fairly narrow space and very dark, but remember that Louie’s is a bar that serves food, not a restaurant with a bar…so this was understood.  The walls are covered with a variety of signs, memorabilia, and other trinkets reminiscent of Chicago.  Adam and I both commented how eerily similar it felt to a lot of the bars we had frequented when we lived there in its decor, cramped quarters, and the feel from the staff, so much so that we felt like we were back in our old town (I swore I had taken a picture of this, but my camera seems to have eaten it, I guess you will just have to see for yourself ;)).

As I mentioned previously, Louie’s is a tavern, but they also wanted to create a menu that would keep the people coming back; and remember, they originally wanted a place where they could finally get good pizza in Dallas.  That being said…, Louie’s is a bar first, restaurant second, and that is how the staff treats it.  Additionally, much of the main seating is smooshed into the front bar area, so it is difficult to escape the bar atmosphere.  However, around the corner and towards the back is another section that is really open and has more tables and booths, which is actually where we got to sit which was nice because it was much roomier and quieter than the rest of the place, allowing us to enjoy our “double-date” company.

After seeing the Triple-D clip, I already knew I wanted to try one of their large Caesar salads and a pizza with their homemade sausage and grilled onions (both of which I heard were amazing!).  Adam was initially going to do pizza as well, but that was until we sat down and heard that the special was lasagna (which the show had said they serve from time to time and is a crowd favorite).  Garrett and Adam both started drooling, and from there it was a no-brainer…lasagna it was for the boys. 😉  The guys also decided to get an order of meatballs to split before the start of the meal; and as a table we got some wonderful chewy French bread, as well.  Needless to say, we had a lot of food coming our way.

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These salads were enormous and easily fed two people.  Adam and I shared the Caesar and Garrett and Audra opted for the Greek.  The were HUGE…but oh so delicious.  They totally hit the spot, and I would not hesitate to order either one again.

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We all agreed that the meatballs, which we all tried, were edible at best.  Their saving grace was that they were smothered in Louie’s homemade house marinara, which is unbelievably tasty!  As Guy Fieri says, “You could put that stuff on a flip-flop and it’d be good.”  What I’m saying is that their marinara is really good, and compliments (or helps in the case of the meatballs) anything it’s served on.  Trust me…, you gotta try it if you’re a fan of good ‘ol fashioned Italian yummy-goodness.

101The pizza…, ummm…can we say “YES PLEASE!”  I mean, look at that gooey cheese and huge chunks of sausage…, yummy!  Now, Adam is not the biggest fan of thin crust pizzas, but I am not as judgmental. 😉  I like pizza of all shapes and sizes, and I rate them based on category and overall taste.  But in truth, I’ve yet to meet one I didn’t really like. 🙂  I have to be honest that I was a bit skeptical of the grilled onions, but let me just say…OH…MY…GOSH…, sweet & succulent caramelized goodness!  What I liked so much about this pizza was well it still managed to hold all of the toppings, even though it was very light and thin.  The sauce, which is perfectly thick and sweet and not overly runny…, well I don’t think I need to mention more about how I feel about it. 😉  The homemade sausage had a zing, but a good zing that added to the flavor; and between the onions and the real Wisconsin cheese, it was extremely creamy and delicious.  (Side note: it tasted even better warmed up a few days later!) 🙂

104…and that right there is the LASAGNA (and I’m writing the word big, because that is exactly what it was…BIG!).  They ain’t kiddin’ around with this dish.  It is one huge plate of pasta, meat, cheese, and sauce; and yes my friends, that is one single portion on the plate (and to think that Garret and Adam each had one in front of them :)).  Seeing that there was not much conversation after the plates were placed in front of the guys (at first because their jaws were wide with shock & awe ;)), I think it’s safe to assume that they truly enjoyed it.  In fact, Adam says it’s the best lasagna he’s ever had, which is saying something; and since neither were able to finish their plates (honestly…I would be a little scared if they could), they were both able to take home a nice portion of leftovers.

106 Before heading to Louie’s, we did a lot of research on what to expect, and I’m not sure if it was the fact that they don’t have a website, so I read a ton of reviews on YELP, or that it reminded me so much of other Chicago establishments, but Louie’s was one of those restaurants I really felt like I knew what I was getting when I got there; and unlike other places in Dallas, it does not try to impress with its looks and fancy shmancy attitude, rather it provides a gathering place for a cold beer, good food, and a fun atmosphere.

We knew that their signature dish was pizza, but were pleasantly surprised to find most of their other dishes were also very good.  Besides the meatballs, we all enjoyed every dish that we tried, and speaking for myself would want to eat again.  The ambiance was fun and interesting, and well…bar-like.  Just keep in mind that this place is not a restaurant…it is a bar that serves food, so it may feel a bit cramped.  Although we were glad to sit elsewhere and were able to hear better because of it, visually the bar area was more interesting, so I give it a toss up. 🙂

The service was good; and to be honest I was figuring it would be way worse based on the reviews I had read.  I was very pleased with how we were treated given how busy they were and the fact that they are a bar.  Finally, the real drawback with Louie’s has to do with their prices, and this is on a few levels.   Their prices are a bit high I think (especially considering it’s a bar ;)).  By the time you add in all the fixings to a pizza (they charge per topping), it was close to $20.  True, we were able to take a fair amount home, but I just felt it was a bit pricey for what it was.  Also, you only get one free refill for a soft drink of any kind, which is highly unordinary and annoying when you have a husband that drinks diet coke like it’s a drug! 🙂  Not knowing he was being charged each time, Adam ordered a few, and needless to say they added up!  Lastly, they don’t take credit cards, so be sure to have plenty of cash.  We were prepared for this from our research, but is still annoying.  This is a major pet-peeve of mine…I mean, what year are we in?  There is no reason, especially for a place that does this kind of volume, to not accept credit.  It’s just a hassle; and Louie’s…you need to get with the times(website included)!

Still, overall we had a really good experience at Louie’s; and I know given the chance, I would go back.  Therefore, although I feel this place would be a better fit in its owners native town, Louie’s is a place that everyone in Dallas that is looking for good pizza and all-around comfort food should try; and i give it 3 1/2 ‘Little Piggies.’

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4 Responses to “Chi-town Meets D-town”

  1. kate says:

    Dont feel bad about loving Chicago – I do too! Pizza, hot dogs, whats not to love?

    • Katie says:

      I know, talk about a city with GREAT food! We loved living there for that reason and love going back to visit for it too!

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