Tuesday, March 31, 2009

*** CLOSED *** Molly's Burgers and Ice Cream ~ Keller, Texas

Closed: April 2011

Last visit: January 2011

If you are a burger aficionado, then living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area certainly has to be a contender for one of the nation's best cities. And NE Tarrant, in particular, does what it can to accommodate. We've covered many in these pages, as the RJG is a fervent devotee of a good cheeseburger.

Add Molly's to the list of great places to devour a succulent hamburger. Molly's started in Arlington and Keller was chosen as their second locale. A wise choice given the relative distance, so as to not take away from their core base. Molly's is located on Golden Triangle (aka Keller Pkwy, aka Southlake Blvd.), west of US-377 and east of I-35W in far NW Keller.

Definitely one of the best gooey cheeseburgers I've had, with a unique salty blend of spices that penetrate all the way through. And the bun is nice and toasty. And I can also vouch for the milkshake, made with real ice cream (for some odd reason, I didn't ask who made the ice cream - I'll find out). I liked it so much on one Saturday lunch visit, that I insisted Mrs. RJG and the RJG's Mom go the next day. Definitely a big hit with the ladies as well. Saturday was empty, but Sunday was jammed packed, so file that away if you plan to drop by.

If you want to die early, may I suggest the "Molly Burger": A 1/3 patty, topped with a grilled hot dog, bacon, and cheddar cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo. Yea, a real cardiologists delight that is. They also have a Veggie Burger and a "Brendan" Burger, which they shamelessly call their "In N Out" Burger (though they spell it "In and Out"). I haven't tried the latter - need to do that!

Oh, and it's BYOB for you lushes out there (like us!).

Molly's is a cool little place, seemingly dropped in from a university campus area. The decor is a nice blend of heavy woods with a distinct industrial design.

Add Molly's to the ever growing group of the burger A-list: Five Guys, Kincaid's, Johnny B's, Clown Burger, Freddy's, Chapps, etc...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ojeda's Mexican ~ Lewisville, Texas ; Dallas, Texas

February 2013 update: Ojeda's is more popular than ever. And at least two family friends, Mr & Mrs. Cowcatcher and Mr. and Mrs. Chic-Coffee consider the Maple Avenue location their favorite DFW Mexican restaurant. And we've met both of them at that location for dinner, including the Chic-Coffee's last night. I've also met up at the Maple location with The Prowler before a Rangers game. Of all the original Mexican restaurants on Maple, I think we have to conclude that Ojeda's is the most successful. For some reason, the website doesn't list the Lewisville location. But I just called and they're still open!

Original review

In the Avila's and Herrera's posts found on this blog, I spoke of the Mexican restaurants on Maple Avenue we used to haunt back in the late 80s and early 90s. The other two were Rosita's (now closed) and, the focus of this post, Ojeda's.

Ojeda's is old school Tex-Mex, which is a nicer way of saying HEAVY Mexican food. These are places you don't just walk out of, but rather waddle out. Expect lots of gooey cheese, beans with lard, mush meat tacos with filler, thick flour and corn tortillas, and as many chips as you can stuff in your face. Top that off with a few cervezas, and you have instant 5 pound weight gain. Is it worth it? HECK YEA!

No point in walking you through the meal, as Ojeda's isn't that much different from Herrera's. Both places feature spicier than normal salsa's (I detect a strong hint of Valentina Salsa Picante in the flavor), great tasting chips, and combo platters that thin the wallet and expand the waistline. No complimentary bean and bacon soup at Ojeda's though.

As with all the Maple Avenue institutions, Ojeda's doesn't have a presence in Tarrant County. But the location in Lewisville isn't too far for us NE Tarrant citizens. I've been to that location a couple of times over the last year, and makes for a convenient meeting place with friends who live "on the other side". Ojeda's have 4 locations total (the other two are in Plano and Desoto). The Lewisville location is on Hwy 121, a few blocks west of I-35E.


Ojeda's Mexican on Urbanspoon

Ojeda's Mexican on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Italian Bistro ~ Roanoke, Texas

One Italian place the RJG hasn't written about, but is quite popular amongst many in NE Tarrant County is Cafe Italia in Grapevine (actually they have two locations in Grapevine). We've been to Italian Bistro in Roanoke twice now, and I could swear this is Cafe Italia's third location. Without having an opportunity to interview the owner, I would be willing to testify there's a connection or shared ownership involved here.

It's been awhile since we wandered up north to Denton County and their little SW outpost of Roanoke. We last mentioned the town in the C&A Italian Family Deli almost a year ago. For the wife and I, it feels like a trip out in the country, and even though the area is truly a bedroom community, Roanoke has gone to great lengths to make it seem like an old, small rural Texas town. Babe's and The Classic Cafe are its most famous daughters, but the other restaurants are well worth visiting too.

Like 90+% of the Italian restaurants in the area, Italian Bistro are Balkan owned and share many similarities with their restaurant brethren. Honestly there's not much about the food I can speak to that I haven't already covered here or here or here and a few others. So it's a matter of location / convenience basically. Even though Italian Bistro might not be the most original of Italian restaurants in our area, for what they do, they do it right. It's a pleasant restaurant, with good service, and consistently good (and hot) meals.

One other observation: On both our recent visits, we noticed at least two separate parties of women (all ages). Italian Bistro seems to be the restaurant of choice for girls-night-out! So ladies, you might want to consider it for your next restaurant venture. Besides, it's nice to get out into the country once in awhile.

You'll find Italian Bistro on Byron Nelson Blvd, east of US 377 (go through old town if coming from NE Tarrant and turn right at the end of the street).


Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pho Empire ~ Irving, Texas

Perhaps even more surprising than not having recent Thai updates, is the fact that I have yet to write about any Vietnamese restaurants. And the blog is nearly a year old.

Surprising in the fact that when the wife and I were dating, Vietnamese food was the restaurant of choice. Not just any Vietnamese place, but namely Kim Ba, a wonderful little restaurant in eastern Denver near Aurora. This was Mrs. RJG's first food love. It got to the point that she wouldn't eat anywhere else during our courtship. We had to get married just so we could eat Italian food again. After we married, naturally we continued to frequent Kim Ba for the next few years before moving to NE Tarrant. We would still go almost weekly, even after we moved miles away to The Pinery, far southeast of Denver proper.

So is Pho Empire the second coming of Kim Ba? Hardly, but that doesn't mean it's not good, because it is. We've also frequented a handful of other Vietnamese places in Haltom City and Arlington, and none have matched our old Denver favorite. But there are plenty of good places to talk about - and we'll get to them all eventually.

Vietnamese food is almost the perfect Regular Joe's Guide food: It's plentiful, it's flavorful, it's simple and it's cheap. Not necessarily in that order. Vietnamese cuisine is at the meeting place of Asian and European cooking. The French colonization penetrated the local cuisine, and it provided the perfect marriage of taste. If history had taken a different course, Vietnamese would almost certainly be the primary Asian food of choice amongst Americans, rather than Chinese.

There seems to exist three kinds of Vietnamese restaurants: Fast food, soup kitchens (pho = soup) and nice restaurants. Kim Ba was the latter. And so is Pho Empire.

I first frequented Pho Empire with Ms. JW when we both worked at Software Company You've Actually Heard Of in Las Colinas. In those days they were known by the more modest moniker of Pho Republic. Obviously delusions of grandeur have taken over, as they expanded to one other whopping location in Arlington, and now go by Pho Empire. Look out McDonalds - here's your challenger! cough.

So this was my wife's first encounter with Pho Empire, and it had been at least 4 years since my last visit. They have the usual array of soups and rice dishes and we both opted for the latter. The soup bowls are enormous! I tend to go for lemongrass chicken over a bed of rice and subsequently squeeze Sriracha sauce all over it. The Mrs. will mix it up and on this date she also went for a variation of the lemongrass chicken theme. Good thing she did, as Pho Empire broke the cardinal rule as far as I'm concerned: My dish is not what was advertised. It was a stir fry with everything from the backyard. It didn't say that on the menu! It said chicken, spices and chile's - which is what I wanted. Fortunately Mrs. RJG got more of what I wanted and mine was more to her taste. So it worked out. All dishes come with a beef broth pho, which works perfectly as an appetizer. Despite the ambitions of the name change, the food has taken a step back from what I remembered.

Pho Empire is a nice, and quite large, restaurant with no less than three dining areas. If you've never had Vietnamese food, you will feel very comfortable here.

This location of Pho Empire is located at the SW corner of Belt Line and Northgate, just on the "other side" of DFW airport.

Website: http://www.phoempire.com/

Pho Empire on Urbanspoon