Showing posts from 2008

Kincaid's Hamburgers ~ Southlake, Texas

Last visit: February 2018
Last update: June 22, 2016

Kincaid's is as great as ever. Their location in Southlake is probably as close to a "regular" burger stop as can be for us. And why is that? Because this is Mrs. RJG's favorite in the area, and she's really picky about hamburgers. I finally made it to the original Camp Bowie location in Fort Worth last November (2015), and I have to say that the Southlake locale did a fantastic job of replicating the original.

What better way to end the year than a writeup about one of Fort Worth's most endearing institutions? Officially known as Kincaid's Grocery Market and Hamburgers, the Gentry family has been delighting visitors with their unique blend of seasoning for over 40 years. Kincaid's opened in 1946, and as the name suggests, as a local grocery. Starting in 1965, O. R. Gentry began grinding up excess beef and cooking hamburgers for a few cents each. The legend began.

You don't need the Regular Joe…

Kirby's Prime Steakhouse ~ Southlake, Texas

Like many local restaurants, Kirby's got its start as a neighborhood steakhouse, a place to meet friends for a casual meal. Kirby's was an institution in the Lower Greenville district of Dallas, and lasted from 1954 to 1987, when the owner decided to retire and close up shop. Though my parents and I would occasionally head down to Lower Greenville for Italian food throughout the 1970s, we never once stepped foot in Kirby's (Dad was a big fan of the Steak and Ale near Bachman Lake), though I remember driving by it each time.

So it seemed yet another classic place from DFW that was dead, gone and buried. Except 6 years later, in 1993, a group of neighbors decided to go into business together and reopen the landmark. This time as a "high end" steakhouse. Kirby's is an ideal place to take business clients or to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary.

Because of my business, I've had the opportunity to try many of these so-called "high end" ste…

Fresco's Cocina ~ Watauga, Texas

Last visit: August 2016
Last update: September 24, 2015

We've been going to Fresco's for many years, and it consistently rates for us among the best of the Mexican restaurants in NE Tarrant.

There are a few things that make Fresco's special, and worth the journey to Watauga. Foremost is their trio of sauces that you can request to supplement the regular salsa that comes out with the chips. Actually, even if you didn't know about the trio, the primary sauce is a medium heat level chipotle concoction that is unique and quite excellent. Amongst the trio, they offer a fiery chile de arbol, a honey jalapeno, and a blazing hot habanero. They added the latter in the last few years, and it replaced their tomato based mild sauce. Apparently everyone liked the hotter alternative. Just like the RJG! And while the chile de arbol made us happy enough, the habanero clinches the deal. This may be the hottest salsa I've ever had at a Mexican restaurant - at least of those t…

***CLOSED*** Lina's Cocina Cafe ~ Watauga, Texas

October 2011 update: One of the hazards of doing a restaurant blog is that a place can change in a heartbeat, and suddenly your recommendation is met with scorn by those who trusted you, and credibility is thrown out the window. This is what happened to the RJG with Lina's. This is the primary reason why we insist on updating the blog and making sure you know when we last visited. Lina's has undergone dramatic shifts since we last were there. Not least of all is a complete move to a larger location next door. It's now all spiffied up with flat screen TVs and new tables and booths (though fortunately the old bowling alley ones remain). If they're going to go to this much trouble to make you want to stay, then they should offer up a full bar. It's still BYOB - which I like in Italian and Thai restaurants, but not so much in Mexican (perhaps the RJG likes his frozen margaritas? And I like wine with Thai and Italian, where BYOB is more preferable). And they ditched the…

2008 DFW Roundup Pt. 1: Fish City Grill, El Fenix, Mi Cocina, La Playa Maya, Bosses Pizza

There are many restaurants that Mrs. RJG and I dine at that do not grace these pages. Many times they represent a lackluster visit, or even if the food is quite good, it does not inspire me to write down my thoughts. Sometimes a restaurant is perfectly fine, but what can I say really, other than "good food - nice place". And as far as the mediocre places go, I'm always hesitant to write a few discouraging words - except for those places that go out of their way to deserve my wrath. At the same time, it does help paint a picture of our own peculiar tastes, and even if you the reader disagree, at least I'm providing you the data from which can choose whether to follow the RJG advice or not.

With that preface out of the way, I think the best way to handle this situation is with a "roundup" of sorts. Not detailed reviews of our experience, but rather short capsules, that may inspire a decision one way or the other.

Fish City Grill, Seafood - Southlake. We'll…

Peace Burger Dive Bar & Grill ~ Grapevine, Texas

January 2013 update: The beer revolution continues here in DFW, and the whole Baja "chain" has gone all in for local craft brews. Hooray, hooray! Mr. Music and I visited Peace Burger this past weekend, and now I can say they really will be part of a "burger rotation". We each tried a local-to-Texas beer - I had the Peticolas Royal Scoundrel, while he had the Real Ale "Devil's Backbone" (which I've had in the bottle but not on tap). Like their Funky Baja's location in Keller, they feature gigantic $5 "Freaking" Burgers. Mr. Music had the Hell Burger and I tried their chili cheese dog, which is about the biggest one I've ever had. Sloppy goodness. This chain has evolved so much, I'm not even sure how much of the below is worthwhile to read. I've struck out items that are no longer true

October 2011 update: The below review represented the RJG's first visit. And now some 3 years later, we have gone back for only the secon…

Siciliano's A Taste of Italy ~ Garland, Texas

Mr. Music was over at the RJG headquarters about a month ago, and we were reminiscing over former restaurants we had gone to when the RJG lived in Addison, and later Carrollton, in the late 80s and early 90s. I asked "What about that one in Garland?" After much deliberation, Mr. Music said "Oh, I remember - Siciliano's!" In the database it went, with a code saying "revisit".

So it was one recent Saturday that me and the Mrs. decided to make the long journey over and visit this restaurant that I haven't been to in at least 16 years. Saturday is the ideal day to embark on "road games" as it were. We've tried to make a point to venture out of our comfort zone of NE Tarrant and visit the various regions of the DFW area. And Saturday is the only day where we can be pretty certain of less traffic - and that the restaurant is likely to be open (unlike Sunday or holidays).

In parallel news, one of my colleagues in the San Francisco Bay Area …

Anamia's Tex-Mex ~ Southlake, Texas

Last visit: February 2018
Last update: June 28, 2015

As far as the RJG is concerned, Anamia's remains our favorite Mexican restaurant in NE Tarrant (as I update this post in 2018). And we award them with the very rare and coveted 5.0 rating! We've been going to Anamia's ever since we first moved back to the area in 2003, so this recommendation has some heft to it. Anamia's is not inexpensive, but it's worth the extra dollars for a consistent, high quality meal, every time!

Despite having "Tex-Mex" in their name, I would avoid the combo plates (they're average at best). We recommend you go straight for the Mexican specialties and never look back. Mr. RJG personally recommends Rickey's Tacos which features charbroiled white meat chicken in a homemade soft corn tortilla, heavily seasoned, that is served with rice and many condiments (onions, diced jalapeno's, and cilantro). Along with a wonderful, and entirely unique, fiery dark red pasilla sau…

***CLOSED*** Mezza Luna ~ Keller, Texas

About once a year, Mrs. RJG and I will drift over to Rufe Snow and Keller-Smithfield Rd in Keller and enjoy a weekday lunch at Mezza Luna. We first tried this "ristorante" for a dinner in 2003, and decided it was a bit too dear for what it is, and that lunch would be a better alternative. And since then, we've been there about 5 times - yep, once a year. I can count with my toes too...

Remember terms like ristorante, zuppa and insalate mean $5 more per dish. Mezza Luna holds up this deep rooted tradition. Lunch, however, is very reasonable. Two entrees which include salad or soup won't set you back more than $20 including tip.

Like almost all of the Northeast Tarrant County Italian restaurants, Mezza Luna possesses a Balkan heritage and is tied in with the Moni empire. They even have a dish called Cappellini alla Moni, for which I mentioned that my wife should get it for free. They didn't get it.

There are some breaks with the traditional Moni styled restaurants.…

Prince Lebanese Grill ~ Arlington, Texas

A major event has happened since we last wrote about Prince Lebanese Grill - the appearance of one Guy Fiori from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It should come as no surprise to my readers that I love that show. He basically has the same attitude and concept I use here but taken to the highest level. Of course, he's a chef himself, and is very much qualified to review what each kitchen is up to. He reminds me of my very good friend Mr. Music, in his attitude, gregariousness and even his physical shape. Sometimes on a slow Saturday, especially during the summer, Mrs. RJG and I will watch a few hours of his show on the Food Channel consecutively. And get really hungry. You know, come to think of it, he also went to another RJG recommendation: Avila's in Dallas. Could Fiori be a fan of the RJG?

Because of Fiori's visit, Prince became wildly popular (though it already had a loyal local following). On Urbanspoon, it is rated as the 84th most popular restaurant in all of DFW (and…

Clown Hamburgers ~ Haltom City, Texas

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you the finest Regular Joe's Guide hamburger for Northeast Tarrant County. If you asked me to draw up the perfect Regular Joe's Guide restaurant, I still couldn't produce the masterpiece that is Clown Burger. Just look at those photos. My oh my. I would travel all day just to see a place like this. Careful on that last point, as they have some quirky hours. Check their website (below) before heading over.

From what I can gather, Clown Burger is a surviving institution, and the interior was pretty much moved piece by piece over to its current location. Originally it was on the old US Highway 377 (Belknap) and like just about every other such place, eventually closed down. Only to be resurrected later. We spoke about Haltom City in the Bangkok Thai entry, and it's the suburb that provides the most Regular Joe thrills per square mile. Populated by working class and newly arrived immigrants, it's the perfect blend for allowing…

Firehouse Subs ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

Based on a tip from one of our three readers, I rolled over to Firehouse Subs the other day. Jacksonville, FL based Firehouse Subs represents yet another niche in the overcrowded QSR sandwich segment. Let's take a look at the different type of subs out there: There's the good old fashioned cold deli sub, most known via Subway, but RJG readers know we favor Jersey Mike's and the Dallas area Great Outdoors. Then you have the conveyor belt hot subs pioneered by Austin based Schlotzsky's, copied by Alvin Ord's (The RJG fondly remembers this obscure chain from the 1980s - one that still exists in Weatherford - and I haven't been since 1991 which was at the old NW Dallas location), and altered to great success by the Denver based Quizno's. Now you have the assembly line created sub, from the enterprising Dallas franchise Which Wich. Then there's the order up, sit down deli's like Jason's and McAlister's. Another variation is the wrap, a concept t…

***CLOSED*** Billadelphia's Authentic Philly Foods ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

May 16, 2016 update: Billadelphia's is now closed. It's a Mexican take out. I mean, where else can you find one of those? Meanwhile, authentic Philly Steaks are an endangered species in these parts.

Here's a place I probably should go to more often than I do. it's just a little far off for a quick lunch, but certainly close enough for a weekend visit. Lately I've been allocating Friday's for places like this. Let's see how long that lasts.

What it says on the sign above, "Authentic Philly Foods". Billadelphia's is all about the food of Philadelphia, including their signature cheesesteaks. My first visit to Billadelphia's was in 2006 (while still in Bedford), and my interchange with owner Bill went something along the lines of: "I'll have a wiz wit", and he immediately struck up a conversation along the lines of "You from Philly?". Nope, but been there a few times for business I said. He then went on to explain tha…

Recent closings: Uncle Joe's Pizza, Enrique's, Green Bamboo

Been awhile since I mentioned some closings.

While driving to Cafe Sicilia, we noticed that Uncle Joe's Pizza and Pasta in Bedford had boarded up. Uncle Joe's were one of the better Balkan owned Italian restaurants in the area. And Mr. Jose still misses the excellent pizza and pasta dishes at Big Joe's, formerly on Hwy 26 in Colleyville.

Enrique's in old town Keller is gone. We didn't really care for the food, but the ambiance was classic Regular Joe's Guide. A tiny white shack on US-377. Hard to image the structure surviving much longer.

And we received word that Green Bamboo, also in Keller, is no longer. That's too bad, as they were one of the few Vietnamese places in the northern sections of NE Tarrant. And quite good at that. We hadn't been in awhile, but it was a place I intended to write about eventually. That leaves Pho Texas in Southlake as the only Vietnamese up north (there are tons in Haltom City and Arlington).

El Rancho Grande ~ Fort Worth, Texas

Recently we wrote about Los Alamos, and on our journey we drove by El Rancho Grande, just a block away. And then I'd remembered the place from a few years ago when Mrs. RJG and I visited the La Playa, a branch of the La Playa Maya local chain minus the Maya (now closed). It seemed to be a happening place that particular Saturday night, and now we were going for our first visit on a Saturday afternoon.

The interior is "Old World Mexico", as found in places like El Fenix, Cantina Laredo and Pulido's. Dark, gold lighting fixtures, stucco and wood trim.

Time for the most important part of the meal: Chips and hot sauce. Why most important? As Fort Worth Hole in the Wall so astutely observes, it's 90% of the meal. May sound funny, but there are times when he's exactly right. The chips are homemade tortillas, a bit thick in texture, and have a taste that I've not had in a chip before. Not sure I'm overly fond of it, but it is different. The salsa is like man…

Five Guys Burgers and Fries ~ Southlake, Texas

Last visit: November 2017 (Greenwood Village, CO)
Last update: December 28, 2017

I myself cannot believe how rapidly Five Guys has expanded. It was only a few years ago that they were practically a local chain operating in and around Washington DC, and the Maryland / Virginia suburbs, which I visited many times on business. And not too long ago, I was thrilled to find out they had a location in Annapolis, MD. But I would've never dreamed in such a short time that they'd be in DFW! And as I update this in 2017, they appear to be thriving.

Five Guys has mastered one aspect of the fast food experience: The limited menu. It's hamburgers, hot dogs, and the one concession to vegetarians - grilled cheese (I appreciate this as there are times when my business group will include vegetarians and I still get to eat at places like this. For example, In-N-Out Burger doesn't have any options for veggie heads.)

And so with that, it's then paramount that the hamburgers are of a hig…

Cafe Sicilia ~ Bedford, Texas

March 2015 update: New location in Watauga does not hold up the standard of the original!

May 2013 update: It's been about 3 years since we last visited Cafe Sicilia. Mrs. RJG and I decided to celebrate Mothers Day here (on a Friday night prior) with both our official Mothers' in tow (imagine that?). Food quality has remained excellent, and the restaurant seems as popular as ever. Strange then, that we find out that Ms. Stoman sold the restaurant not long after our last visit. So kudos to the new owners for maintaining the high standard set forth prior. Cafe Sicilia is quite possibly the best of the NE Tarrant neighborhood Italian restaurant stable.

Original review

Cafe Sicilia was yet another branch to the Moni's Italian restaurant empire. The original owners decided to sell out and open up Dal Italia in North Richland Hills (and they sold out again and the restaurant is now known as Oggi Italia Cafe) (May 2013: Which is now sadly closed altogether). Enter Karin Stoman, bor…

***CLOSED*** Fernandez Cafe ~ Fort Worth, Texas

April 2012 update: From Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat: "Breakfast hasn't been the same in west Fort Worth without Fernandez Cafe. Former server Olga Garcia finally brought back Fernandez's burritos and hot-hot sauce this week, reopening the restaurant months after buying it from Betty Ruiz.Garcia has kept the same Fernandez menu, including the unusual west-side tradition of chicken and tortilla-cut dumplings Thursday nights."

Original review

Looking for the best Tex-Mex enchiladas? Here's an insider tip from The Regular Joe's Guide: Fernandez Cafe.

This is one of the rare great places that I've found using a coupon, but were it not for said coupon book, then I may still not know about Fernandez Cafe. It was the summer of 2003, and our neighbor was selling those big books filled with coupons. They're a good deal, if you actually use them. I decided right then and there that the book would be our guide to discovering places in Tarrant County. At the time, …

Niki's Italian Bistro ~ Keller, Texas

August 2013 update: The NRH location is no longer associated with the one in Keller. We have recently visited, and here's our entry.

Mrs. RJG and I have been regular, albeit infrequent, visitors to Niki's since we moved back to Texas in 2003. In fact, I think they're the first Italian restaurant we visited upon our arrival.

Niki's, like almost all of NE Tarrant's Italian restaurants, are of a Balkan heritage. So there isn't much deviation of taste from others we've written about before on these pages like Oggi Italia, Cafe Italia and Bellisimo's. All the familiar telltale signs are there: A tomato based vinaigrette house dressing, similar desserts, a familiar menu with a mix of chicken / veal entrees and tradition pasta, including baked dishes - and pizza of course. On the latter, of the restaurants we mentioned above, we've only tried Oggi Italia's pizza, and if the others follow suit, we'd be very happy. Mrs. RJG's co-workers swear by …

***CLOSED*** Los Alamos Cafe ~ Fort Worth, Texas

Unbeknownst to me, Los Alomos closed shortly after our last revisit. Devastating news, but we weren't the type of customers they needed to stay in business. At best we made it over here once a year from NE Tarrant (it quite simply was not anywhere close to where we live). In the RJG's opinion, they had the best salsa in town. I hope the salsa (or restaurant) resurfaces at some point.

Lately, Mrs. RJG and I have been just going to our favorites in NE Tarrant, many of which we've already written about in these pages. So this Labor Day weekend, we figured it was time to venture out again and try a new place. Using my patented Random Restaurant Generator, and a bit of careful weeding out, we ended up at Los Alamos near the Stockyards. To be exact, 14th and N. Main near Marine Park. Strangely enough, Google Maps will send you South to near Magnolia. That's entirely wrong...

Located in an old brick building, with a tile roof, Los Alamos is a welcoming place. Once inside, you…

The rest of the rest: Road Trip 2008

I covered most of the highlights and lowlights of our last Road Trip this past July. Some other places of interest:

Garfield's, Susquehanna, PA: Garfield's to me represents the epitome of the boring 1980's styled chain. But we were on the open road from Harrisburg, PA to Geneva, NY and it was way past lunch time and we'd already given up on our original plan to head to Penn State University, since we were running behind schedule. Garfield's, predictably enough, sits at the entrance of an equally boring mall. That said, Mr. Jose was more than impressed with Garfield's for offering locally made Pennsylvania wine. For that alone, the stop was worth it. Bravo to this branch of Garfield's!
Mighty Taco, Tonawanda, NY: Loved it, loved it, loved it! After the lackluster Spicy Thai experience, Mr. Jose decided dessert needed to be at the nearby Mighty Taco. Mrs. Jose, the beautiful woman who I have been married to for 11 years, agreed. She had only one and I had 2, bu…

Luca's Ristorante ~ Flemington, New Jersey

Sometime back in 1999, when Mr. RJG was working in the northeast Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem on a 2 week assignment, I asked the locals where was the best place for Italian food. They said the closest was not south Philly but rather Trenton, New Jersey. I ran out of time and only ended up trying a couple of local Bensalem places which were good, not great (pretty much what my cohorts said). So when I did my homework for this trip, it appears I may have missed my window of opportunity. Apparently many of the classic places in Trenton have either boarded up or are “not the same”. Analyzing the situation, and looking at hotel options in the area, I settled on the community of Flemington instead. And Luca’s was to be the Italian destination of choice.

With the great taste of Little Italy still on our mind, we stuck to our game plan, and headed over to Luca’s for dinner. We sat down and prepared to order win when the waiter said it was “BYOB”. What? As noted many times in the RJG, BYOB…

Albany Pump Station ~ Albany, New York

The next day in Tupper Lake we had a charming “continental breakfast” at our motel. Consisting of coffee and a wrapped powder donut – I’m pretty sure it’s the first powdered donut I've had in 20 years. Afterwards we drove out of the Adirondack Mountains, down to the state capital of Albany, where we arrived at lunch time (could it be a coincidence? Ya think?). Per original plan, we headed to a local brewery / brewpub called the Albany Pump Station just on the outskirts of downtown and the Capitol building. The Albany Pump Station resurrected an old brewery from the past called C.H. Evans Brewing Company. We had such great success with the Appalachian Brewing Company, that we were hoping for a repeat performance. And did it succeed? Well, sort of. Mr. RJG gives it a thumbs up. Outstanding brew (the Quackenbush Blonde) and I went for the cheeseburger, always a good choice at a brewpub. Great seasoning, well cooked, high quality meat, excellent toppings, and just the right amount of …

Little Italy Restaurant ~ Tupper Lake, New York

From Gouverneur, we enjoyed a picturesque drive through the Adirondacks and onto to our destination of Tupper Lake, ideally situated in the middle of the mountains and by a lake (naturally). I think we might have even snuck in an ice cream break. The little place by the side of the road served Perry's Ice Cream, which I've only seen in the New York state area. Quite good actually.

Like many of the small towns in the Adirondacks, Tupper Lake doesn’t possess a large chain hotel. Since Mr. RJG travels a lot for business, I tend to stay at Marriott or Hilton owned hotels – generally the more business friendly ones like Hampton Inn or Courtyard. And so I’ve made that a habit for personal trips as well, and Mrs. RJG likes the free breakfasts at the Hampton in particular. We typically eat light for breakfast, nothing more a bagel, coffee, juice, yogurt, fruit, maybe some cereal. And that’s what Hampton excels at. But for Tupper Lake, I needed to be creative. After searching the inte…

Jreck Subs ~ Gouverneur, New York

After Simcoe, and a drive through Hamilton, we enjoyed two wonderful days in Toronto, seeing the sites and walking the quaint neighborhoods near downtown. As for our meal choices, unfortunately nothing stood out, though we did have a nice lunch (all to be covered in the summary). Leaving Toronto in the morning, we headed for our longest drive of the trip, taking a major highway through Ontario. The original plan was to stop in Kingston for a German meal, but frankly neither of us were hungry despite walking many miles around Toronto the prior two days. We felt too full for a large German lunch. So we headed for the border through to Upstate New York. After getting through US customs (not a friendly bunch, that’s for sure), we journeyed towards our destination in the Adirondack mountains. We really had no idea where we were going to eat lunch, but Mrs. RJG was starting to get hungry, and that means Mr. RJG better find a place quick, or Momma ain't goin' to be too happy. We were…

Swiss Chalet ~ Sincoe, Ontario

The next day we crossed into Canada and chose a scenic drive along the coast not far from Lake Erie. Compared to the rather gritty western portion of New York, Ontario is considerably more bucolic. Just to mix it up a bit, I thought it would be a good idea to try one of Canada’s corporate chains, and so I’d selected Swiss Chalet as a good stop on the open road (Simcoe, Ontario for those keeping score). Now I’m sure for any Canadian reading this (as if), going to Swiss Chalet is about as exciting as going to Denny’s. But their website indicated rotisserie chicken and Mr. RJG saw an opportunity for a good meal without all the calories.

To be honest I was expecting a fast food place, but to my surprise it’s an actual sit down restaurant. Mrs. RJG likes that. I ordered the white chicken sandwich on a Kaiser role, and it comes with a Greek Salad (well, as an option for a small charge if I remember right). Mrs. RJG had something similar. And I think it came with a soup as well. Well… the sa…