Showing posts from January, 2012

Saviano's Italian ~ Euless, Texas

I tend to forget about Saviano's when thinking of Italian restaurants in NE Tarrant. I had just mentioned a few days ago about restaurants that we frequent the most, and that we're struggling to settle on a great Italian joint in the area. I don't think Saviano's necessarily solves that dilemma, but they're definitely part of the equation. One potential reason we don't think of them is their location at the far southeastern edge of our primary coverage area. By being situated on Euless Main and 183, Saviano's is further for us than many places in Ft. Worth proper or Arlington even. No matter, as Saviano's has proven to be very popular with the locals and was again packed to the rafters on this particular evening. Incidentally, it was on our way here that we first discovered the Mexican Inn in Bedford had shut down.

Saviano's has recently opened a second location in downtown Ft. Worth, that has also proven to be very popular. And why not really, as S…

RJG's most frequented NE Tarrant restaurants

As we have a break in the action, I thought it would be a good time to recap some of our most frequented places (not the same thing as listing our favorites). But first a few comments on how we got here.

If you follow this blog on a regular basis, you could come away with the impression that we only go out for our meals. We actually eat at home more, especially for dinner. Still, we do manage to get out on most days, usually for lunch. The main reason for this is that I work from home. In fact, I've been doing this for close to 13 years now. When I first started with this arrangement, I did what I think most folks would do in my shoes - eat at home for lunch. I'd give myself 15 minutes to gobble down a sandwich, and back to work I went. That's not a healthy way to live. And Mrs. RJG was working back then too (on location), so even if I did go out, it would be a lonely pursuit. In the last few years, I finally got smart and started scheduling lunch, and made sure no one plop…

***CLOSED*** Chencho's ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

Chencho's sits in a former Italian restaurant location that was a 3 time loser. (now a 4 time loser apparently, as Chencho's is now closed. A home cooking restaurant will be the 5th to make a go at this spot!) This location originally housed a Ferrari's, a place that had more notoriety via the news than it did amongst diners (never a good sign). We never sampled the place ourselves. This was followed by the Bella Cafe. Mrs. RJG and I dined there a couple of times. It was decent, but very typical of the Italian food found in NE Tarrant. And finally Mia Cafe went up and was well on its way to closure, when the final owner wised up and said "You know what? Maybe this isn't a good location for an Italian restaurant." Ya think? So he wisely found another partner, from nearby Alvarado's in fact, and launched a Mexican restaurant. I'm usually hesitant to be "first" to try a restaurant, but we were in the area, and said why not? We added it to Urban…

Cool River Cafe ~ Irving, Texas

Last visit: September 2017

Cool River is clearly geared towards the male business traveler. And on this business visit last week, the four of us dudes fell in lockstep. We started at the bar for cocktails, frozen margaritas, beer (nice selection of craft) and wine. Then we headed over to the billiards room and shot a few games of stick. Then off to dine where we feasted on large mounds of red meat. And finally a trip to the cigar bar to puff on some stogies, while being served drinks by cute girls in slinky cocktail dresses. Now on this later point, the RJG doesn't smoke, but having grown up with it, I have no objection to sitting in the room and polishing off a Chimay (Rouge) while they smoke away.

Personally I think their steaks are some of the finest in the area. And the sides are excellent as well (I tried the basmati rice this time). I've seen low ratings for Cool River in the past. Most of the gripes seem to stem from the high prices, but it's not near as expensive a…

Cafe Italia ~ Grapevine, Texas

Last visit: December 2016
Last update: December 28, 2017

Our last two visits are noteworthy. The last was for the official RJG's Mom's birthday. It was way too crowded. It was between Christmas and New Year's Day of last year (2016). The time before that was we chose this restaurant to celebrate the RJG obtaining his new job in Baltimore (Nov 2016). Of all places... And we haven't been back since.

Cafe Italia is probably the epitome of the type of Italian food you're likely to run across in NE Tarrant. And one can argue that it may be the best of the Eastern European owned Italian eateries in the area. We've been going to Cafe Italia almost since we moved to the area in 2003, though not on any kind of regular basis. All the same, it's surprising that we're just now getting around to posting about it. In the early days, because of its popularity, there was usually a line out the door. So they further opened a second "overflow" location a few mil…

***CLOSED*** Oscar's Mexican ~ Haltom City, Texas

Oscar's moved up north to Sanger, and then closed as well.

For our money, Oscar's is the best Mexican "interior" styled restaurant in NE Tarrant. Oh sure, they have tacos y enchiladas, but that's not what they excel at. Sample some of their specialty dishes, and I think you'll agree that Oscar's has some very unique recipes and flavors, which distinguishes them from other restaurants in the area. My favorite dish is the chicken breast smothered in a creamy ancho chile wash (Pollo Cozumel). Has a slight kick and is delicious. The rice and beans are well prepared and it also comes with a small salad. Mrs. RJG has a similar dish except she prefers the green poblano sauce. Chips and salsa are fairly standard, but they do have an excellent creamy jalapeno sauce if you ask for a spicier option.

Oscar's is a "destination" Mexican restaurant, with a full bar and beautiful surroundings. Give it a try if you want an alternative to the standard Tex-Mex…

Oliva Italian Eatery ~ Fort Worth, Texas

I think I just heard someone yell "Well it's about time!". I know, I know - we're way late in writing about Oliva. Strange that we haven't discussed it before, only in that we've been a few times since they opened. But it was right at the time I stopped writing for the RJG. But we're back, and it's time to give Oliva their proper due.

Also please note the restaurant is technically in Ft. Worth. As you can see in the comments, someone felt very passionate about that - so I figured I should mention it.

You've heard the RJG grouse about the fact that almost all the Italian restaurants in NE Tarrant are the same. The antidote? Oliva. The menu is a mix of old school red sauce Italian and newer, more trendy options. Though the balance is definitely tilted towards the traditional. Oliva does the basics right like cooking the pasta al dente, while providing a good (not great) tomato based sauce. They also have a fantastic meatball, that Mrs. RJG really h…

Taco Bueno ~ Keller, Texas

You just knew I was going to cover Taco Bueno didn't ya? I feel somewhat obligated to, even though it may seem to folks here in DFW that the chain is as ubiquitous as McDonalds. In reality, it's actually a localized regional chain that continues to outwardly expand. In that way, it's somewhat like Whataburger - a place you might take for granted because it's always there. Leave the Southwest part of the United States however, and they are absent. According to their website, Taco Bueno was founded in Abilene in 1967. I can remember them as far back as the mid 1970s in the DFW area.

Taco Bueno was the original RJG late night taco place with buddies. We had one near my high school in the early 1980s (W. T. White for the three people who might care), and we'd wander over in the late evenings (8/9 o'clock?) and grab a handful of crunchy tacos. Hey, we were growing teenagers with enormous appetites! Taco Bueno has always been a "mild" option in the fast fo…

Del Taco ~ Parker, Colorado

Last update: December 29, 2017
Of course Del Taco lives on, but they have exited the DFW market entirely. So I'm naming Parker, Colorado (Denver area) as my go-to location. Parker is where we used to live full time (1998-2002), and I still frequent about twice a year. It is on occasion we might stop here for a snack.
My history with Del Taco goes back many years to when I was still in high school in the early 1980s. For those of you who were here in the DFW area then, you may recall this as well. But like many chains, they grew too fast and eventually shuttered all across the state. It would be nearly a dozen years before I ate at a Del Taco again - on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles! Fast food tacos are a guilty pleasure for me, so I try to sneak a couple in everywhere I travel - and I would run into Del Taco's in various California locales. Until they finally ended up in Denver around 2001 or so.

For such a large chain, it's truly remarkable how well managed their stores tend…

***CLOSED*** FasTaco ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

Last update: December 30, 2017. FastTaco is still going strong in the southern reaches of Fort Worth, with 5 locations in Fort Worth (Hulen Mall area), Joshua, Cleburne, Burleson, and Crowley. If we ever go to one again, we'll update this post and move forward.

January 2013 update: A few folks have asked me to reconsider my vote on FasTaco, per my initial request. And since the place seems to be doing a decent business, and they're locally owned, why not give it one more shot? My quick observations are this: The restaurant is very clean, and the owners are incredibly friendly. I thought the taco meat tasted better than prior, and the shells were crispy - and this time they didn't skimp on the cheese! I tried the beefy burrito per recommendation, and though the meat of course was good, I didn't care much for the soft chewy tortilla. The salsas are still a big problem for me. The red is way too plain, and the green - while having enormous potential - is too mild and sour …

Thai Thipp (fka Thai Thippawan) ~ Hurst, Texas

We've received a few comments at the RJG to consider Thai Thippawan. And for us, it's actually a reconsider position. We did try Thai Thippawan not long after they first opened in early 2008, and we were not overly impressed. So we were reticent to return, especially considering we're more than happy with Sea Siam, Sweet Basil and Bangkok Cuisine - all featured prominently on this blog. But the RJG feels it only fair to try (or retry) all the restaurants that fit our tastes. And Thai food is at, or near, the very top food group for the RJG. And the fact that the restaurant is still open with a whopping 92% approval rating on Urbanspoon tells us that Thai Thippawan must be doing something right.

And indeed they are. What a difference 4 years makes. We went for lunch, and the specials come with a house soup, an egg roll and a small-ish entree. The soup is delicious, a simple recipe of chicken broth with rice, garlic and pieces of chicken. The egg roll is also very good - fr…