Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Campania Pizza, Neapolitan Pizza, Italian, Southlake-TX

Last visit: December 2013

Rating: Sell

December 2013 update: Well, we had another bad experience. There was almost no one at the restaurant this day for lunch. The help was unmotivated, and the pizza was completely lackluster. It really had the feel that they were going out of business soon.We've given it enough tries. We're done.

August 2013 update: It appears Campania have expanded their menu since our last visit - and the pizza's are back to the standard that we first came to love from them. Mrs. RJG learned a new trick: Order it "extra crispy". Also it appears they closed their original location in the Uptown section of Dallas. This closure seems to have resulted in more focus on the Southlake location - much to its benefit.

November 2011 update: Since I wrote the below, it appears Campania have lost their Vera Pizza Napoletana certification. Whether that's due to an authentic lack of consistently meeting standards, or Campania just didn't want to pay the fees, is anyone's guess. The RJG thinks certifications in the business world are nothing more than a racket, so it doesn't matter to me one way or the other. But worth mentioning all the same. On our last visit, I felt the pizza was slightly undercooked, and this is the second disappointing visit in a row for me. I'm concerned it's "not the same as it used to be." Mrs RJG had the penne arrabiata and the sauce was very good - and spicy as it should be.

Original review

Sometime back in the late 1980s, when the RJG first began to backpack through Europe, one of the great pleasures in life was to devour an individual Italian style pizza. Not to mention that it was very affordable for a budget-conscious backpacker, usually costing no more than $5 even in the most expensive places like Sweden or Norway. These were not the big sloppy gooey cheese creations, like at home, but rather a more simplistic, but no less delicious, pizza pie. And like most Americans, I didn't know pizza was meant to be eaten with a knife and fork.

While in the 1980s this kind of pizza might have seemed a novelty, today it is more accepted. Whether it's due to the fact that many Americans have now traveled through Europe, or just the notion that we should be eating things more "authentic", is anybody's guess. No matter, as we're all fortunate to at least have the opportunity.

The Southlake location of Campania's is one of 26 pizzeria's in America to be certified by the Vera Pizza Napoletana, an organization committed to "producing authentic Neapolitan style pizza according to the guidelines of the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association based in Naples, Italy."

We've been to the Southlake location multiple times now, and each time the memories of Europe raced through my mind. The thin crust is durable and slightly chewy but not crispy. The ingredients are all top notch. I still get a kick out of ordering the salami pizza, with the huge round slabs covering the pie.

Also recommended is the salad, once again a simple variety, as you'll find in Europe. Fresh greens with a vinaigrette dressing that I could eat all day.

They also have pasta, which we haven't tried, though I'd expect nothing but the best. Probably a drier version than what we're used to here, if authenticity continues to hold court.

There's a tendency amongst food reviewers to state that places like Campania are "much better" because they are "more authentic". Phooey I say. I'm proud of the "Italian American" style and consider it almost an entirely different food from what you'll typically find in a Tuscan village or a major metropolis like Rome. For me, they're both wonderful, and I'm glad we have the options to eat at both here in America.

The original is was in Dallas in the Uptown/West Village section, though we've only ever been to the Southlake location. To get here, go to the Southlake Town Square and park by the East garage. You'll see it directly across from the garage.

Website

Campania Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Galligaskin's Submarines, Sandwiches, Ft. Worth-TX

Last visit: January 2009

Thanks to a reminder from Food and Fort Worth, Texas, the Mrs. and I decided to journey over to Ft. Worth and visit Galligaskin's. You may think it's a bit far to go for a sandwich, and it is, but I wanted to revisit a place I haven't to in over 20 years.

Galligaskin's started in Dallas (near SMU) in 1972 by some guys who wanted to recreate the sub sandwiches they could get in Boston while attending college there. According to their website, they are the oldest sub shop in Texas. Really? Well a quick check of two of the most known of Texas sub chains, The Great Outdoors of Dallas (1973) and Thundercloud of Austin (1975) does indicate that Galligaskin's may indeed be the original - at least of those that are still around.

At one point, the chain had grown to quite a few stores throughout DFW, including one near Bachman Lake in NW Dallas. Even though Dad and I were loyalists to the nearby Great Outdoors, we did cheat on them a couple of times and gave Galligaskin's a whirl. In the end, we felt The Great Outdoors was the better of the two. Unfortunately, this location of Galligaskin's bellied up shortly thereafter (the Bachman Lake location of The Great Outdoors, though it held out much longer, has also been closed for some time). That was over 20 years ago. This may be the only place in DFW that I have a 20 year interval between visits.

Today, the Ft. Worth store on Camp Bowie (opened in 1973) is all that remains of the chain. It's independently owned / operated and seems to do quite well. It has attained a cult following, especially those who have nostalgia on the brain.

I had the Italian, generally my test sub for these kind of places. Soft hoagie roll (plus), light on the meat (minus), with flavorful toppings and dressings (plus). It's a good sandwich, but I'd be lying if I said there isn't better out there.

I mentioned to Mrs. RJG, that the Philly is recommended here, and since that's one of her favorites, she made a go of it. It was a hit - and she allowed me a bite (what? half a sandwich isn't a bite?). We both loved the seasoning of the meat - a special salty blend. And the soft roll was perfect for the sandwich. We also went in for an order of tater tots, something that Mr. RJG remembers fondly from his days working in Boise, Idaho. Yep, these are homemade tater tots! Good and greasy, the latter sealing the deal on its authenticity.

Everything about the place recalls a Northeastern sandwich chain, from the lighting to the seating to the lettering of the sandwich board. Definitely brought back memories for me.

A far more colorful review, as expected, can be read at Ft. Worth Hole in the Wall.

Galligaskin's is on Camp Bowie, a couple of minutes SW of I-30.

Website

Galligaskins on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse, Barbecue, Ft. Worth-TX

Last visit: January 2009

NE Tarrant locations: Ft. Worth (Alliance)

Other DFW locations: Richardson, Las Colinas, and 6 in Dallas including the original

Plus one in Utah (?!)

Started in 1958, Sonny Bryan's is a Texas legend for barbecue. Its original location on Inwood Rd. and Harry Hines in Dallas remains a tourist destination. As the menu itself states, the area was then considered "Far North Dallas". Hard to imagine that today.

While I've still never stepped foot in the original location with its DISD school desks (saw enough of those... in DISD schools), I do remember going to the Red Bryan's on Lombardy (Thanks Mr D for the catch!), just west of Webbs Chapel, not far from the "North Dallas" I grew up near. We had gone a couple of times on the way back from bowling at Circle Bowl when I was still a young boy in the mid 1970s. Curious - any of my readers ever bowl at Circle Bowl? Any of my readers ever bowl in a "Bantam League" (generally for kids aged 11-12)? Today, the old Circle Bowl is a dive bar of ill repute (11/4/10 update: it's been torn down to make way for the DART light rail). And the area where the Sonny Bryan's was is now a fully fledged Little Mexico. Actually the RJG recommends a couple of taqueria's in the area, but that's for another post.

NE Tarrant once had a Sonny Bryan's in Grapevine (TX-114 and Wall), but they closed down sometime around 2004. We visited only once, so I guess we didn't do our part to keep it open. The closest location for us is near the Alliance airport in "Far North Ft. Worth". There doesn't exist an Alliance, TX in reality. Despite the local boosterism.

On this visit I tried the brisket, pulled pork and jalapeno sausage. For sides I chose beans and mac & cheese. All were good, though no question I've had better elsewhere. I added their sauce (neatly heated in old Dr. Pepper bottles) as well as a "pork sauce" which I didn't care for. I couldn't find a homemade spicy sauce, though they offered the usual array of cajun sauces.

So yes, there's better barbecue in DFW. But if an out of town guest wanted to visit this legendary chain, then by all means do so - they won't be disappointed.

They currently have 9 locations, the other 8 on the east side of DFW airport.

Website

Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mancuso's, Italian, White Settlement-TX

Last visit: January 2009

In 1987, Cathy Mancuso opened up an Italian restaurant in far west Ft. Worth for the simple reason that there wasn't any Italian eateries out that way. Coming from Utica, NY where her Dad ran a place called Nash's for many years, Cathy comes from the New York tradition of making high quality Italian meals for the public at large. She would have a hard time finding a more incongruous spot than this.

We've had good luck at the RJG recently in finding Old School Italian hole in the wall's: Siciliano's in Garland and I Fratelli in Irving are but two examples. Add Mancuso's to the list. We have others to spring on you, including the RJG's favorite restaurant, and we hope to write about them in the coming months ahead.

As we mentioned before, the Mrs. and I like to use Saturday's for our "road games" as it were, and try places outside of NE Tarrant. We first visited Mancuso's in the summer of 2007, and this is our first return visit. It's quite a haul south and west, but not too bad without traffic on a Saturday evening.

Even though Mancuso's opened in 1987, there's almost nothing about the place that gives you the impression that we live in 2009. If you're looking for a time warp to 1962, then Mancuso's is the place to experience that. That alone gets you major points at the RJG. It's about the food and only about the food. As it should be. This is a place that should be experienced after dark, where you can imagine it's 20 degrees outside and you share the warmth of conversation with friends and family. In an earlier time, it would be filled with cigarette smoke, which I guess we should all be grateful that doesn't exist here now. But I still had that mental image.

Remember when all Italian restaurants had black and white photos signed by the stars and starlets of the day? It was a credibility thing. Mancuso's still does that. And where does Tony Bennett eat when he's in town for a concert? Mancuso's! Good enough for Tony, good enough for the RJG.

At this point I don't need to tell you that they do all the basics well. Pasta's (though we were disappointed that the default isn't al dente), red sauce, chicken parm, sausage, meatballs, meat sauce, salad, etc... it's all done the old way - heavy on good taste, long on quality service and short on gimmicks. The cappuccino pie for dessert was delicious. And house wines are decently priced. Check out their menu from the website I have listed on the bottom. That's all you need to know.

Even though I've listed Mancuso's in White Settlement, technically it's in Ft. Worth. Mancuso's is at the intersection of White Settlement Rd. and I-820, on the west side of I-820. The east side is White Settlement. Close enough for me.

When Cathy Mancuso opened up her restaurant, there was nothing there but cows and land. Today the intersection resembles an Interstate truck stop, with large gas stations, motels and big-chain fast food outlets. Hidden behind this Americana mess is Mancuso's - the perfect roadside find.

Website

Mancuso's Italian Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Texadelphia, Texas Cheesesteak, Irving-TX

Last visit: June 2014

Rating: Hold

Other DFW locations: Dallas, Plano

June 2014 update: It's been over 5 years since I had last visited Texadelphia. And it seems like a place whose concept has come and gone. There doesn't seem to be much of a buzz about the place, their offerings are the same as before (they seem to be a natural to cash in on the craft beer craze for example, and yet Shiner Bock is about all they carry) - but perhaps with less care applied - and they haven't expanded their DFW operations in years. It would seem my prediction below has held true. Placing a Hold rating on it for now, as there are many places to spend my lunch dining dollars on when in the area. Hoping to hear of an effort to reinvigorate.

Original review

Everything you need to know about Texadelphia can be derived from the name itself. As a base, they put forth the Philly cheesesteak concept, but with a Texas infused twist. They start with the soft hoagie roll and finely chopped and seasoned beef, just as in Philadelphia, but you also get chips and salsa on the side. And a host of toppings like BBQ sauce and Mustard Blend. No cheeze whiz or even provolone, but rather mozzarella is used. The salsa reminds me of Pace, so nothing special, but a nice accompaniment all the same.

So as you can see, it's not "authentic", and that's just the point. That's why they refer to themselves as a "Texas Cheesesteak". And the RJG will always reward a new fast food concept.

We first started going to Texadelphia when the RJG started to work for Software Company You've Actually Heard Of at the beginning of 2005. Nowadays the Mrs. and I visit a couple of times a year, as it's a convenient stopping point on the way to see the RJG's Mom in NW Dallas.

Texadelphia is a regional chain with roots in Austin, and the decor and atmosphere is very much that of a Hill Country bar, with dark lighting, beer signs and TV's tuned to sports. It's still a relatively small chain, consisting of only 18 stores, with 8 in Austin and a handful spread throughout the major metropolis areas of Texas: Houston, DFW and San Antonio - and one location in the arch enemy territory for any Austinite: Norman, Oklahoma.


According to their website, the chain has recently (Sept. 2008) been purchased by a "group of investors" with mucho Publicly Traded Company experience. Nothing good usually comes of this, but we'll keep our fingers crossed here, as the Texadelphia concept is a winning one. Maybe these investors are tired of the Wall Street game too? They've moved their headquarters from Austin to Dallas.

In the mood for a Philly Cheesesteak? Try Texadelphia and compare the difference. The RJG recommends it!

Website

Texadelphia on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kassandra's Mexican Kitchen, Mexican, Keller-TX

Last visit: June 2013

Rating: Buy

May 2013 update: They've remodeled since we last visited in 2012. As well they have a new menu with countless items on it. We're not a fan of big menus, but the food is still the same, and very good!

November 2011 update: There seems to be two kinds of Mexican restaurants: Destination places with a full bar (Anamia's, El Paseo, Abuelo's, Mi Pueblo, Miguelito's etc...) and homespun family cafe places, with usually (not always) no alcohol. Kassandra's fits the latter mold to a "T". In this sub-category, Kassandra's is becoming our favorite family diner styled Mexican in NE Tarrant county. Otherwise, the review below continues to hold serve.

Original review

Roughly four years ago, the Mrs. RJG and I visited Kassandra's one Sunday for lunch, enjoyed it immensely, and.... inexplicably never went back. I cannot put my finger on any one reason why. It had been suggested from time to time. "How 'bout Kassandra's?" either of us would ask."Maybe next time". Finally one recent evening I put my foot down, and said "We're going to Kassandra's". "OK". No explanation what our hesitation was, especially considering how good it is - as we found out again.

Kassandra's is a typical hole-in-the-wall you find in worn out suburban strip centers from the 1980s and before. The kind that breeds the non-denominational start-up churches and a handful of other small businesses. For any dedicated RJG follower, this is where you have to look to find the gems.

Once you walk in, it feels like an old diner somewhere in small town West Texas. It's a family restaurant, where the lighting is a bit too bright and the whole brood is there, screaming babies and all. Not the place for a romantic dinner, but that would be obvious from the parking lot. Kassandra's is best for lunch, but if you do have dinner in mind, it's BYOB - and that's always a good thing!

The ritual:

Chips - Oh, these are good. Taste like real corn. Crispy. You could eat these without salsa and be satisfied.

Salsa - The sauce they bring is a tomato, onion and cilantro mix. Something the RJG is very familiar with from our days living in Colorado where 80% of the restaurants serve this kind of salsa. We haven't seen much of it in Texas, so it's kind of a treat.

Hot salsa - We never settle for the table sauce unless it's very spicy. So we asked for the "hotter one". Oh... oh.... oh... this is ridiculously good. Spicy and very tasty. I've never tasted one quite like it, but somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind (between Gilligan's Island and The Love Boat) there was a recollection. And we come to find out it's a mix of Japanese hot peppers and jalapenos. That's it! There's an incredible dish at a restaurant in Manitou Springs, Colorado ("The Loop") called the "Burrito from Hell" that has a similar mix. We could just stop at the chips and salsa and be happy.

The enchiladas are offered with a number of sauces, so we tried three of them:

Green - this was recommended, but it's.... too green if that makes sense. It's a tomatillo and cilantro mix and it ended up tasting minty. Unique for sure, but not for us.

New Mexico - To us, New Mexico means a spicy green chili concoction. But they mean tomatoes, red peppers, cinnamon and chocolate. Again, very unique, but.. a... no this wasn't a hit either.

Chile sauce - Standard Tex-Mex, but Kassandra's does it (cue Wendy's) waaaay better.

We tried Cheese, Chicken and Beef.

The cheese enchilada was a bit boring and wasn't hot enough, so the cheese had already started to harden. It got stuck with the New Mexico sauce - so it was a total loss.

The ground beef had a unique seasoning and could be eaten alone and still be wonderful. Excellent.

The chicken was the real hit - charbroiled and seasoned BEFORE entering the tortilla. So even the green sauce couldn't overpower the contents. Not chicken-y at all. Super.

So you know what we're thinking for next time? That's right - chicken tacos! And ground beef tacos too...

Rice and beans - The Mexican rice was perfectly cooked and tasty. The beans were light and smooth, with a great taste. Both come up aces.

With all the references to New Mexico and Colorado, I have to think the family has some history from that area - or at least maybe West Texas, given the feel of the cafe itself.

A great find, and recommended to all of the RJG Nation!

Kassandra's can be found at the NW corner of Keller Parkway and Pate Orr Rd. behind the Taco Casa.

Kassandra's Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rosa's Cafe & Tortilla Factory, Mexican, Hurst-TX

Last visit: January 2013

Rating: Sell

9 total DFW locations

January 2013 update: Some quick updates here on Rosa's. First off, interesting to note that Taco Villa itself is now in the DFW area (in Benbrook). This is my first revisit since I wrote the below review - almost exactly 4 years ago. I decided to go back because the place seems to be popular still, and maybe I'm just not ordering the right thing? So this time I tried a chicken fajita burrito. What a joke. It was practically the size of a taquito, with a mushy tortilla and tough chicken. Seriously I would've needed 4 of them to fill me up. But I passed on that temptation since quite frankly it wasn't good. At all. The salsa bar is still there, and their chile de arbol sauce remains the only thing I can recommend about Rosa's. Their ground beef tacos mix in potatoes to cheapen the product (I know it's authentic, but authentic doesn't always translate to the best experience). There's only one thing I can say about Rosa's: It's cheap. Cheap. Cheap. That's all it is. I'm done with this place and I vow not to go back unless I hear of significant changes.

Original review

One of the staples of my diet while attending Texas Tech in Lubbock in the mid 1980s was Taco Villa. They always had more to offer concerning taste and spice than the competing Taco Bell (there was also Taco Mayo, but that's for another day). Bobby Cox opened his first Taco Villa in Odessa in 1968, and built a regional empire of taco stands throughout West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. As the crunchy fast food taco fad eventually subsided, Taco Villa fell on hard times, and eventually lead to a split of the company. Today the original Taco Villa still exists in the Midland-Odessa area as well as Amarillo. The Lubbock franchise is completely separate but about equal in size. I haven't been to either in years, so no idea how one stacks up against the other (they were one company in the 1980s).

All of this leads up to Rosa's Cafe & Tortilla Factory, Bobby Cox's next venture. The company was bought in after the concept had already begun, but it's clear the franchising expertise has been put forth. Whereas Taco Villa competed against Taco Bell, Rosa's Cafe is a direct response to Taco Cabana. That is, the second generation of the fast food Mexican experience.

Truth be told, there's nothing exceptional about Rosa's, except one very critical point - the price. Nowhere else can you get a complete Mexican meal with beans and rice for under $4. Everything here is average, but certainly decent enough, I guess. And one other aspect of the franchise that is to be commended - the salsa bar. While they have the usual array of mild and medium sauces, not too many offer a chile de arbol as a regular item, and it even has a bit of a kick to it.

When we first moved to NE Tarrant at the beginning of 2003, we gave Rosa's a few tries. But this was my first visit in nearly 5 years. Nothing has changed. And the place is still mobbed. So much so, I couldn't grab a table and had to have mine repackaged to-go. Times are hard, but people still like to go out and eat. Given their popularity, one has to conclude that Rosa's provides the right food at the right price. It's a winning combination for the current economy. But it's not a restaurant I'd recommend.

Website isn't working. No doubt they were too cheap to pay the fee.

Rosa's Cafe & Tortilla Factory on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weinberger's Deli, Chicago Deli, Grapevine-TX, Westlake-TX


Last visit: November 2013 (Westlake) 

Rating: Buy

NE Tarrant locations: Grapevine, Westlake

Other location: Denton

November 2013 update: I seem to get over about once or twice a year. Tried the LA at Night this time. Basically like a chili dog but with pastrami instead of a frankfurter.

December 2011 update: Managed to squeeze a visit to one of our favorite deli's earlier this week. They have tons of different sandwiches, so it's always difficult to just pick one. On this visit I tried the Wallstreeter, which is a hot pastrami with Russian dressing - and quite good.

The Weinberger legacy goes back to the early 1950's and a rejuvenated old chicken parts store in Homewood, Illinois. At its zenith, Weinberger's grew to 5 stores and covered the south Chicago suburbs as far as Indiana. A few years after the last store closed, the second generation picked up the name and opened a Chicago styled deli right here in Northeast Tarrant - specifically in old town Grapevine. And we're all the better for it. This was in 2003, coincidentally at the same time the RJG relocated back here from our 10 year stint in Colorado.

Finding authentic Midwest and Northeast deli's of any sort are difficult to find in DFW. It shouldn't be this way, living in such a large metropolis as we do. Of course, the hardest part is using authentic ingredients from locally made produce. Most deli's rely on specific meats, cheeses and breads, of which many of them aren't exported beyond their own city limits, and in some cases, their product may not even be available within the same city! We're not used to this concept here in DFW, where we're used to getting our meats, cheese and bread at the grocery store from national brands. It's our loss. But inroads have been made. Billadelphia's imports product from Philly. And Weinberger's does the same with vendors from Chicago. It's a bit more expensive to do business this way, but it's worth the premium for us consumers.

We've been regular visitors to Weinberger's since about 2004 or so, and nothing has really changed. That is to say, it's always excellent and remains so. Weinberger's offers a range of goodies from sausages to cold and hot subs and "dagwoods". And, of course, they offer that most recognized of Chicago sandwiches: The Italian Beef. Or as it is so proudly painted on any decent Chicago storefront worth its salt -- "BEEF". That's it - just beef. Personally I think Weinberger's is exceptional in all areas, except one, and that's the signature beef sandwich. Maybe it's just a fantasy, or I'm just plain stubborn, but it doesn't remind me of the beef sandwiches I've had in Chicago. It's either the bread or the flavor of the beef, but something is just a little off. That's not to say it isn't good - it is. Just not the same. And maybe that's for the better, as it gives us something to call our own, while giving me a perfectly good excuse to continue to go to Chicago. I could eat in that city for 50 years, and not discover the half of it.

On this visit, I devoured the "Italian" sub, with additional "sport peppers", which were pretty hot actually. And while I was enjoying my sandwich, I spilled mustard all over the Fort Worth Weekly where they apparently just discovered Fernandez Cafe. Are they sneaking a peek over here? That I doubt, but they did a great job actually - and I learned a few things about the Fernandez family. They were also going on about how "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" will be featuring Fred's Cafe in a soon to be aired episode. Is it just me, or is the Regular Joe in fashion now? Perhaps no longer can one afford $45 meals that include a thimbleful of meat and a nice presentation of arugula? Don't forget the $65 bottle of wine...

Back to the topic at hand, Weinberger's comes wholeheartedly recommended. For awhile, they attempted expansion in Watauga and Westlake. The Watauga location, which we visited a couple of times, closed down quickly. It was pretty sterile compared to the original if truth be told. Weinberger's is the kind of place that's worth driving long distances for, so if they do decide to expand again, they should think about Arlington, Dallas or Ft. Worth first.

The Grapevine location is on Main Street, on the primary drag through old town. Definitely an essential stop for deli hounds!

Website

Weinberger's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Weinberger's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Freddy's Frozen Custard, Hamburgers, Euless-TX, Keller-TX

Last visit: June 2014

Rating: Buy

Other DFW locations: Highland Village, Keller

June 2014 update: The Keller location opened up at the beginning of 2014, and that's now our go to location being much closer than Euless.

December 2011 update: The original plan for this day was to visit Burger Island, a local DFW chain that we'd been to once, and liked quite a bit. It's the third consecutive burger place in this exact spot in Colleyville, on the NW corner of 121 and Glade. Prior to that there had been a Ken's and an Old Engine No. 9. Both were also very good. And now, burger place #3 is out of business. The RJG advises all restauranteurs out there that if you have a good tasting burger, do not open up in this shopping center!

So... now what do we do? Well, Freddy's is on the other side of the freeway in Euless, and we haven't been in awhile. At least here in DFW. Freddy's has expanded rapidly since we first posted here, and they opened one close to our summer place in southeast Denver - so that's been our go-to Freddy's location.

Everything below still applies, though on this visit I tried their chili as well. There's a bit too much masa in it for me, but otherwise it was flavorful.

Original review

Freddy's Frozen Custard is exactly the type of regional chain the RJG loves. Started only a few years ago in Wichita, Kansas, the chain has slowly expanded in a circumference, with a stronger market penetration to the south and west, naturally enough since it's following population trends. Texas has been a key focus area for them starting in San Antonio and working their way up.

Freddy's seems to have modeled their chain after two different, but iconic, Midwest concepts: Steak & Shake and the proliferation of Custard stands in Kansas and Missouri (Sheridan's, Fritz's, Ted Drewes, etc...) This blend has proven to be a hit, and Freddy's continues to grow at a rapid rate despite a deep recession. And its no surprise why: The food here is great, and offered at a good value. One reason for both of these qualities to remain true is that Freddy's is still a relatively small independently run chain, where the owners maintain full control. Let's hope it stays that way. Steak & Shake was once like this, but they lost their way years ago when they went to the public markets, and thus had to answer to the demands of shareholders and Wall Street - none of which has to do with food and all to do with profit. The RJG fondly remembers visiting Steak & Shake's in Missouri when it was still a small chain, and the quality was considerably better in years past. Oh, one other difference between Freddy's and Steak & Shake: Freddy's is traditional fast food, where you order up at the counter, rather than at a table with waitstaff.

So what is Freddy's signature burger called? A "steakburger". Does that sound familiar? And it's very similar to the Steak & Shake creation, as it's a very thin and crispy burger with a wonderful seasoned taste. Based on the price alone, I figured a double would be the right size, and it was, though I could even imagine having a triple, the patties are so thin. The last time I had a triple burger, I was a teenager with an endless appetite! Anyway, if you're a fan of thin burgers (you notice the RJG is a fan of ALL burgers), then Freddy's is a must stopover. On a second visit, this time with the Mrs., I tried the recommended California Steakburger. Presumably this is Freddy's answer to In-N-Out Burger, since it contains fresh lettuce, tomatoes, gooey American cheese and "Freddy's sauce", generally known as a variation on Thousand Island dressing. In the end, it tasted like a Freddy's burger with different toppings, rather than a copycat of the In-N-Out Burger. And that's a good thing. The Mrs. tried the fries, and these are some of the best the RJG has encountered. As the reader suggested, these are "shoestring" fries, with a very crispy texture. And the taste is out of this world. Freddy's has mastered the french fry.

And for dessert, of course I had to have one of their concrete's! A concrete (invented at Ted Drewes in St. Louis if I'm not mistaken), is a frozen custard mixed with other ingredients and blended so thick, that when you turn it upside down, nothing moves. The strange thing is - it's actually very smooth, and eventually it begins to melt into a creamy texture. I love 'em myself. Like most custard stands, they have two basic flavors (chocolate and vanilla) and you can add any one mix-in or flavoring for free. I had chocolate with a coffee flavor. Mmm-mmm-mmm, I'm going over there right now....

The Euless location is at TX-121 and Glade, which is a massive shopping center, with all 4 corners stocked full of shops and restaurants. And you need a map to know which suburb you're in. Basically if you're south of Glade, it's Euless. The NE corner is Grapevine and the NW is Colleyville. Freddy's is on the service road of TX-121, on the SE corner, thus it's Euless.

Website

Freddy's Frozen Custard on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 9, 2009

News: Clown Burger, Avila's, Kincaid's

From today's Star-Telegram, a few items of interest on restaurants we've covered.

Kincaid's (see entry below) will be staying in their original Camp Bowie location after all - so good news there.

Clown Burger will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Wed, January 21!

And, finally, Avila's is featured on an episode of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives"

We have many more entries to the RJG to come!