Sunday, July 8, 2012

Northeast Tarrant Roundup (Jan-Jul 2012)

So here's the first of the guides. All of these are places that we have not written about previously. Some were entirely new to us, while others were restaurants we may have first tried before we created the blog, and it was our first trip back in many years.

As always, we adopt Roanoke into the NE Tarrant scene, even though technically it's in southern Denton county. The month listed in parenthesis represents our last visit.

Bite the Weenie. North Richland Hills (July). I was recently in Chicago on business and was bemoaning the fact that DFW, at least on the FW side of the house, had a dearth of fine hot dog establishments. Only a couple of weeks later, here comes Bite the Weenie, sure enough started by a former denizen of the Windy City. And since it's only about 10-15 minutes from our house, I think we'll be regular visitors! Their menu is based on the various regional style of hot dogs. I tried the Coney, which the owners correctly attribute to Detroit (rather than Brooklyn), as the combination of Greek chili, mustard and onions is a proud tradition at the various "Coney Islands" you find in the Motor City. But they have dozens of other specialties to try, and they also move to other types of sausages such as Italian, Polish and German. They even have a $20 Foie Gras hot dog for the more adventurous (and well-heeled apparently). Now if we can convince the owners to add the Czech/Slovak classic dog Parek v Rohliku, I may never need to go anywhere else! I have yet to see anyone in America import that crucial "missile" styled appliance that makes those so special.Bite the Weenie is next to Red Hot and Blue, and if I recall right was a former Starbucks. Closed April 2013

Planet Burrito. Southlake (July). We first tried Planet Burrito in April of 2007. It had arrived to Southlake with much fanfare, as apparently their Plano store was all the rage (and it would appear to be a 15-minutes-of-fame moment as it is now closed). Frankly we weren't impressed and wrote the place off. Sometime a couple of years later, I was ready to revisit when the now famed "hookers" reviews were coming out. Hot waitresses are fine with the wife and I, but something didn't seem right, so we didn't pursue it. And now, finally 5 years later, we made it back. Planet Burrito are back to the basics of burrito making: Choose the tortilla, rice, beans, meat, toppings and salsas. All served up by regular guys and gals on the assembly line. Since there are plenty options to choose from, I put Planet Burrito in the same category as Freebirds rather than Chipotle. And quite frankly, I'm preferring Planet Burrito more nowadays. As Freebirds grows and loses touch with their original success, Planet Burrito seems to be putting more into their one store. The burrito tasted great. And perhaps even more endearing to the RJG, they have hot sauces that are really hot! And they have bottles on the table as well, so you never run short. Flat screen TV's round out the experience. We'll be adding Planet Burrito to the regular rotation. Closed December 2013

Bayou Jack's Cajun Grill. Roanoke (June). Review moved to here

Chuy's. Watauga (June). It was sad to see the demise of Lina's. And as predicted on our entry for them, they are now closed. They were doing a fine homespun business, when they decided to expand to a larger space next door, and add flat screens, a full bar, etc... And the food quality seemed to suffer. Gone were the crowds and next thing you know - they were closed. In comes Chuy's, a local chain of old-school family styled Tex Mex restaurants. This Chuy's is not to be confused with the much glitzier Austin based chain. I've been to a couple of Chuy's before (in fact they once had a store only about a mile south of this location), and they aren't very exciting. Maybe 20 years ago, they would have been considered acceptable, even great. But times and tastes have evolved and Chuy's really hasn't kept up.Even with that setup, I couldn't say anything else but "likes it". There's nothing wrong with Chuy's, and they fill a void for local Mexican food. There's no frozen margaritas or anything that resembles spicy here, so it's really quite boring in the end.

Lupe's Tex-Mex Grill. Bedford (June). Review moved here

Press Box Grill. Grapevine (April). Cut above the usual sports bar, Press Box Grill offers unique dishes like blackened chicken and mango salmon, both of which we tried and loved. Still need to try their burgers.It appears the beer selection is more robust at the original Dallas location, but I'm holding out hope that Press Box Grill will add more craft brewery micros, especially local Texas ones. Plenty of TV's around to gawk at your favorite sports including one HUGE TV on the west wall. Press Box Grill is in the old Lucy's spot (later Guadalupe's) in a 1980's era strip mall just north of Main Street. Closed February 2014


Baja Mex Grill. Watauga (April). We ended up going here 4 times in a short period of March and April. We haven't been back, for no particularly good reason. We'll probably make the effort this week. Baja Mex is related to other "Baja" ventures in NE Tarrant like Funky Baja's (that we featured last year and is an RJG favorite) and Baja's Bar & Grill. Each one features a slight variation on Mexican cuisine. Baja Mex would likely be their most pure interpretation of Mexican cooking. The chips taste like real corn and the salsa is excellent. Fantastic, and powerful, frozen margaritas - perfect for the summer. Many of their dishes are great, but I find myself ordering the Street Tacos more than anything else. Overall, an excellent option for those that enjoy Baja California styled Mexican. Baja Mex occupies a lonely end position of a boring strip center. To make it easier to find, the restaurant faces North Tarrant and is close to Hwy 377.

Cafe Medi. Hurst (March). We'd gone here first in September of 2006, and weren't very impressed. But some friends recommended we try it again, and I'm glad we did! We probably got the wrong thing the first time. Even though they claim to have Middle Eastern food, I think it's best to think of this place as Greek, and that's what they excel at. I really loved their Gyro meat flavor! I just noticed that Keller has not one, but two new Greek restaurants. This is great to see. More on that after we try them. But for now our favorite Greek place in NE Tarrant is Cafe Medi.

Wildwood Grill. Southlake (March). A good place to meet business associates who have a flight to catch. Especially if they're buying! Otherwise, honestly, nothing stood out here for me including their famed flatbread pizzas. Sort of a typical upscale grill, with a decent beer and wine list. I'm reading that their chicken dishes are quite good. So if I go again, on someone else's dime, I'll try that. I actually preferred the previous tenant - 29 Degree Tavern - owned by none other than the same group behind the now bankrupted Bennigan's.

Uncle Buck's Brewery & Steakhouse. Grapevine (February). As a long time prior resident of Colorado, I'm surprised I don't absolutely froth about NE Tarrant's one and only brewpub (well, OK, BJ's in Hurst counts too, even though it's a national chain). The beer is very good and so is the food. It's pretty upscale and pricey, like some of Denver's finest establishments that make their own beer. Mrs. RJG sort of turns her mouth askew every time I suggest it. Even though she admits to liking it. I just need to round up some more friends to get over here. This place is great. Incredible hunting lodge like setting. Sits next to the Bass Pro Shop and the decor is fitting.

Tortilla Flats. Roanoke (February) A pretty good authentic taqueria right in the middle of the "Unique Dining Capital of Texas". An anomaly for the setting, but would be good for folks on a budget. Their street tacos are very good, though not exceptional. With so many other options within walking distance, and better taqueria's elsewhere in DFW, this place exists solely for the locals.  Closed January 2013

Bronson Rock Bar & Grill. Keller (February). Do you all remember my feature on Keller goes burgers and beer? Here was the 4th place that I never got around to writing about. I went with the Cowcatcher for lunch (who also went with me to Tortilla Flats). We both thought it was really good. In fact, I liked their burgers better than the other 3 (to refresh your memory: Bottlecap Alley, Yourway, and Keller Tavern.). But it would appear my opinion is in the minority. This place gets absolutely lambasted in Urbanspoon. Most of it seems to center around service issues. As stated many times before, the RJG is very tolerant on that topic, unless a place has a trend of poor service. The one time we went, we had no issues, but it was a mid week lunch. Perhaps a Friday night is a different story. The restaurant space is pretty small. Anyway, it would seem to be a good place for a burger and a beer during the week. Otherwise, sounds like a sweaty wild joint that I just assume avoid on Friday nights.

D. Asian. North Richland Hills (December). Ha. This one got lost in the shuffle when I was able to actually keep up with reviews. D. Asian is a Thai restaurant in a dingy gas convenience store space. The food is pretty good but not exceptional in any way. It doesn't even come close to the NE Tarrant Big 3 Thai places of Sea Siam, Sweet Basil and Bangkok Cuisine. It's catty-corner from Cuco's that we reported on earlier this year. Give them a try, but if you're that close, you may want to drive a bit further west to Bangkok Cuisine.

Oh, I should also mention that Fat Daddy's Burger House in Southlake has closed down and is now called Burger Shack. We weren't really that keen on Fat Daddy's and it would appear others agreed with us. It was good, just not great. And in NE Tarrant, great is all that will do when it comes to burgers. As an aside, early reviews aren't positive on Burger Shack so we'll take a wait and see on it.

OK, that about does it here. Next up is the remainder of DFW, followed by a feature on chains in the area.

3 comments:

bourgon said...

RJ, you have half of an awesome Cajun Joint right near you. Two Sisters (might be Three Sisters) on Bedford Euless. Awesome, awesome Roast Beef Poboys, gravy and all the dressings.

RJG said...

Ah cool - I'm glad you said that. I have it on a list to try! Two Sisters I think is right :-)

Cowboy fan, burger junkie, GodFather of Tech said...

welcome back!!!!!