Showing posts from 2013

Lawry's The Prime Rib ~ Dallas, Texas

Barring any surprise discovery, this should be the final restaurant post for 2013. I plan on doing a summary of the year tomorrow or Tuesday if possible.

For those who've been following the RJG, you'll know that Lawry's is not our typical fare (witness yesterday's My Lan entry). But my parents had some history with this restaurant, and because of that, here we are dining elegantly. So what is that history? For a brief time, from 1966 to 1967, when the RJG was just a toddler, we lived in the Los Angeles area, before relocating to Dallas. My father, who was in sales, had been transferred from New York City to LA. For their 5th wedding anniversary in 1966, they had a splurge meal at the Five Crowns, which I believe had only been open a year at that point. While they were enjoying themselves immensely, most assuredly I was eating Gerbers or some such crap and spitting it up on the babysitter. Anyway... My old man loved prime rib more than anything else, and he had fond me…

My Lan ~ Haltom City, Texas

You may have noticed that we haven't featured any Vietnamese restaurants in the RJG yet (though Mr. Music did one a few months ago). We rarely eat Vietnamese is the obvious reason. And to be honest, we haven't been motivated to do such, and tend to spend our Asian food dollars on the excellent local Thai restaurants almost exclusively, with an occasional Chinese take-out meal. Strange then when you realize that Mrs. RJG and I, when we were dating love birds in 1996, spent most of our dinner time at one Vietnamese restaurant in Denver. That would be Kim Ba, and it remains, perhaps not surprisingly, our favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the country. We were regular visitors until 2003 when we relocated to NE Tarrant. (And I hope to write about it on the RJG at some point). So when we arrived here, we asked about local Vietnamese food, and were promptly pointed to Haltom City. We tried a couple of the noodle houses from there, and they were definitely good, and perhaps one day w…

***CLOSED*** Apeizza e Vino ~ Southlake, Texas

Final visit: January 2014

For the second new restaurant that the RJG tried, after a lengthy cold spell, I had awaited a visit from Mr. Music - a true connoisseur of the Napoletana pizza tradition - to try NE Tarrant's latest coal oven venture. With Campania (Southlake) going completely down the tubes (our last visit was not good, and it seemed to be on its last legs), and INZO (Roanoke) starting to mail it in, there is definitely room for a new pizza place in Northeast Tarrant with a 900 degree oven. Grimaldi's (Grapevine) pretty much owns this market as far as the RJG is concerned (and Coal Vines (Southlake) which is slightly different in my mind). But there's a new sheriff in town! Let me introduce to you all Apeizza e Vino, the second location for the burgeoning Denver based chain. Lafayette is east of Boulder, and it's quite ironic that one of our favorite coal oven pizza places in the Denver area is a small chain called Proto's. And the location we tried was i…

TruFire Kitchen and Bar ~ Southlake, Texas

Last visit: January 2018
Last update: January 25, 2018

It had been many a year since we last dined at TruFire. A little bit over 3 years in fact (late 2014). TruFire had been one of my go-to restaurants for business lunches, but once that slowed down, I just never returned. Well Mrs. RJG and I finally ended that, and headed over for dinner one recent evening. And we fell into lockstep and she got the Spicy Garlic Noodles and I the Chicken Parmesan. Still excellent! TruFire maintains its 4 star rating.

TruFire is the modern kind of American restaurant that is chef driven, but not necessarily expensive or overly fru-fru. The menu is definitely Mediterranean focused, with a specific Italian flair. After ordering a bottle of wine, we decided to try the The Board (fka The Paddle Board) appetizer which is a sampler of high quality meats, cheeses, spreads, and breads. It was quite good. The Mrs. RJG likes the Spicy Garlic Noodles, which I would describe as an Asian/Italian fusion with shrimp,…

Bleu Monkey Grill ~ Hot Springs, Arkansas

On now for the final restaurant from Mr. Music's Hot Springs trip. This one apparently did not live up to its lofty reputation.

Our friend, Ms. ChefGirl had done some research and wanted to try a place called the Bleu Monkey. It looked like a modern, American spot. The menu had some interesting items and they boasted a dozen or so beers on tap so we decided to give it a try. My buddy, BeerBoy and I bolted for the bar, but the most exciting things on tap were Blue Moon and Goose Island Honker’s ale. I opted for iced tea. We sat down and looked at the menu and I actually saw a few things that looked really good. Cuban sandwich? Bleu Monkey Shrimp, a dish made with pan seared shrimp seasoned with a pickapeppa sauce served with Cuban black beans, fresh mango salsa, steamed white rice and fried plantains was a contender as well. But Mr. Music settled on what seemed to be a twist on a Vietnamese specialty: Lemongrass chicken sandwich! Grilled lemongrass chicken with marinated cucumb…

The English Muffin ~ Hot Springs, Arkansas

(photo courtesy of Urbanspoon)

Oh where have thou gone RJG? Well, believe it or not, we haven't been to a single new restaurant since Burrito Jimmy in late August. You can always tell when the RJG is in work hell by my total absence from this blog. My last two months have averaged 75 hours a week (some closer to 90). I use the weekends to catch up on stuff a normal person would do during the week. When I'm cooking on this blog, so to speak, I'm at a usual 45 to 50 hour a week pace. And even better are the stay at home vacations. We have been eating out some - certainly not near as much as normal - but mainly to our favorites around NE Tarrant. I do sense the clouds are breaking some. November might be my re-entry point. For certain in December we should be back on pace. I have been diligent in keeping up with the updates, which keeps me tethered to the blog in some form or fashion anyway.

Just because the RJG stopped doesn't mean that DFW did. There are a lot of new r…

Rocky's Corner ~ Hot Springs, Arkansas

(excellent photo courtesy of Robby Virus)

I've really been slammed at work in the last few weeks. I have so many things I want to cover here in the RJG - plus more on our vacation trip to Northern California, as well as my working week in Santa Fe. Not to mention the ever continuing reviews of our favorite Denver restaurants. And there's plenty of new places here in Northeast Tarrant we need to try. To be honest, I don't see a break in my schedule for at least another month. But I'll hold out hope that the 70 hour weeks will subside again.

In the meantime, let's continue to wrap up on Mr. Music's Hot Springs journey. Here's his next submission:

Our friend, Chef Girl said her kids would really like some simple, Italian pasta. The waitress who tables for an excellent restaurant called Rolando’s, told us she really liked Angel’s In The Park for Italian food. We looked it up online and saw it received decent reviews, but with 4 kids under 10 with us, we were no…

Burrito Bandito ~ Redding, California

OK - where were we before I was so rudely interrupted by my official job? Ah yes, we were munching on burritos. And we were sporadically choosing locations from our last vacation a week ago.

On this day, we were taking the drive on I-5 south from Medford, Oregon back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I had done this trip in reverse way back in 2002 - at that time I had a 2 week business trip from San Diego to Seattle, with one week at my satellite office in Pleasanton. But Mrs. RJG wasn't with me, so this would be her first time to experience. The trip from Medford to Redding, through the Mt. Shasta and Shasta Lake area, is beautiful. One of the more attractive Interstate highway routes you will ever encounter outside of I-70 in central Colorado. Redding is either the gateway to the beautiful Shasta area -or- boring agricultural land depending on which way you're going.

As you may have read here before, the RJG has been to all 50 state capitals at one point or another (having ga…

High Tech Burrito ~ Windsor, California

And while on the topic of burritos, how about I cover off on a couple of those California chains I referenced?

If you've never had the pleasure to drive the 101 north out of San Francisco via the Golden Gate bridge, then it's surely something you should strive for one day. I've done it dozens of times in the past, and I never get tired of it. Over the years, we stayed in various areas in and around Napa and Sonoma. In the last couple of years, we've made Windsor our base camp for exploring the wine country, specifically the Russian River Valley. There's a very nice and newish Hampton Inn there, with well stocked grocery stores and restaurants nearby. And a State Park with running trails, which is perfect for the RJG couple, as we need to run off all that wine, beer, and food! And Windsor avoids the hustle and bustle of Santa Rosa just to the south - so it's truly an ideal retreat. On this trip, we drove by many wineries, but we didn't stop this time and do…

***CLOSED*** Burrito Jimmy ~ Irving, Texas

Last visit: October 2015

December 28, 2017 update: This location has now closed. We know of one still open not far from Love Field airport. If we visit another Jimmy's, we'll be sure to update this post and move forward.

As I write this in July of 2015, Burrito Jimmy remains our favorite burrito place in DFW! We go often since the Las Colinas Beverages store mentioned below has become a regular destination for the RJG when he seeks new beers to try (also now closed).

I was looking for a new place to stock up on craft beers, and noticed that Irving has a cool new store called Las Colinas Beverages. Since it's on the other side of the Great Divide, Mrs. RJG and I decided to make the area a lunch destination. After lunch, the plan was to drop her off at the TJ Maxx (apparently this location has far more stuff than the usual) and I would drive a few miles south on MacArthur to the beer store. Now we haven't been to Cavalli since last year, but I had remembered they were clo…

JavaPrimo Coffee House ~ Hot Springs, Arkansas

Our next entry from the adventures of Mr. Music and family while in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The first time we stopped by this place, Mrs. Music and ChefGirl just stopped in for a coffee drink. We like to try local places over chains for coffee when out of town and the coffee drinks were very good. Mrs. Music was surfing up a different breakfast place to try since we had been to the English Muffin twice. We laughed when we saw that the place we thought was a coffee shop was recommended for their breakfasts too! 

We ventured in to the very small, but cozy place. It was sort of like Café Brazil, or perhaps a little like Panera with a touch of Obzeet in that they had gifts, cards, creams, and soaps for sale. The menu had some nice breakfast and lunch options. They even had brick oven pizza that looked really good and a few beers on tap: Hoegarden and 2 others with some interesting choices for bottles as well. I also noticed they had quite a few bakery items - all made from scratch. The…

Rolando's Nuevo Latino Restaurante ~ Hot Springs, Arkansas

Well apparently the RJG is now going to be a major player in the Hot Springs restaurant blogger community! This is, of course, due to a recent run of reviews that our own Mr. Music just composed for the blog. He sent in no less than 5 reviews while we were away on vacation this week. That vacation, by the way, was to the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California, and Southern Oregon. I really want to get some reviews out from that trip. We'll see. I had mentioned in July that we had recently returned from a trip, but never mentioned where. On that trip we had gone to Alberta - primarily Banff and Calgary. I did manage to get some thumbnail sketch reviews onto Urbanspoon for about 5 of the restaurants. Maybe I'll flesh those out here eventually.

OK, onto Mr. Music's latest adventure in Hot Springs!

We had taken a fun trip to Mount Ida to dig for crystals and diamonds at a crystal mine. 

But it was here that we found the most precious gem in Hot Springs! As soon as Mrs. M…

Don Juan Authentic Mexican Restaurant ~ Hot Springs, Arkansas

(thanks to Urbanspoon for the photo)

Two posts in one day! I've been wanting to get this post out from our correspondent Mr. Music. He's obviously been doing some traveling and sent this in during the week. I had a busy week at the office, so here it finally is! Take it away Mr. Music...

The Music family took a little trip to Hot Springs for a last hurrah before school starts! We got into town a bit late and I was concerned that a sleepy town like Hot Springs might not have anything opened late - even on a Saturday night. We tried a couple places at 9:30 and struck out. As fate would have it, we happened on to a little Mexican place called Don Juan. Ahhh, opened until 10pm! Hmmm, Mexican food in Hot Springs, Arkansas? We shall see. 

As we walked in, the décor was totally 70s Tex-Mex like El Chico or El Fenix. We were seated in a booth and they brought chips and 2 cute little pitchers of salsa. The chips were hot and fresh. The salsa had very little heat, but was VERY t…

Lupe's Tex Mex Grill ~ Keller, Texas

Last visit: February 2017

Back to our own grazing range, it was time to try the latest Mexican restaurant entry in our area. We'd been to the Bedford location once last summer, and it was definitely good, but we weren't really wowed by it. And since Bedford is a bit of a haul for us, and the 183/121 construction is a bit daunting, we just let the restaurant fall through the cracks of the RJG dining agenda. But now they've moved up our way, right near our own ranch land, in nearby Keller. The competition is stiff around here, with Anamia's (Southlake), Mi Pueblo (NRH), El Paseo (Keller), Fresco's (Watauga), and the Baja Grill mini chain (based in Grapevine) all nearby and all excellent.

So how did the new Lupe's, opened only a month ago, stack up? Quite well actually. Very well indeed... as in we need to go back shortly.

The restaurant setting is very nice, featuring a well decorated interior and a full bar. It sits in a newish strip mall on the west side of Ruf…

El Gabacho ~ Arlington, Texas

Mrs. RJG and I had a free Saturday, with absolutely no obligations for lunch, dinner, or anything else for that matter. So on days like this, the RJG likes to travel outside of our usual cow pasture here in Northeast Tarrant, and try something new. We've been pretty negligent with Arlington, and so I decided to point our cattle car straight south and see what happens. We both had a hankering for some Mexican food with a beer or margarita, and so with my handy dandy Urbanspoon App at my disposal, we went digging. After a couple of minutes of research, El Gabacho looked like the perfect place to try. And it was.

The first thing you'll notice upon arrival is that it takes a couple of minutes to get your bearings. Even though the restaurant is visible from the street, and there is outdoor patio seating, the actual entrance is inside a nice mini-mall called the Brownstone Village. Once inside the restaurant, you'll be immersed in the world of the Old West - at least according …

***CLOSED*** Daddy Jack's ~ Southlake, Texas

Every time the RJG travels to New England, I like to frequent a seafood chain from Boston called Legal Seafood. They're famous for clam "chowda", New England styled crab cakes, and baked fishes amongst many other things. Daddy Jack's is clearly aiming for that market. Right down to the red and white checkered tablecloths - which is not strictly an Italian tradition.

So is Daddy Jack's really as good as Legal? Well, no, of course not. Legal has the distinct advantage of having the Atlantic Ocean right next to it. But Daddy Jack's is certainly very good, and one of the best seafood houses in DFW.  More casual and less pricey than Trulucks, which the food is on par with.

Nearly 9 full years ago, we took Mr. RJG's official Mom to the Daddy Jacks in Coppell for her birthday. In doing research for this entry, it appears that particular Daddy Jack's is run completely separate from the locations listed here. Perhaps it started as a franchise entry, and later …

Taqueria Burritos Locos ~ Grapevine, Texas

(thanks to Polyonax for picture)

...And so after returning from my cattle drive, I spun tales to Mrs. RJG about my day with Mr. Music in the far off land of Denton. Most of the stories were met with an eye roll, or "better you than me", but it was my description of Taqueria Guanajuato that had her salivating. Mrs. RJG, born and bred south of the border, is always up for a true taste of the homeland. With that backdrop, we decided it was high time to finally try Taqueria Burritos Locos, a very successful taqueria that we once remembered being a Chicken Express.

The first thing you will notice is that Burritos Locos is not a small, fast food place. It is in fact a full service restaurant. And as such, they cater to a much larger audience than a traditional taqueria would. But we were there for tacos and sopes, and so we stuck with the game plan. One advantage of the sit down restaurant, of course, is the complimentary chips and salsa. They provide two, both with a pretty good…

Oak St. Drafthouse & Cocktail Parlor ~ Denton, Texas

As mentioned in the Taqueria Guanajuato post, Mr. Music and I also dipped into Oak Street Tavern for one or two craft beers, before heading back over to the Taco Lady. This is a frequent hangout for Mr. Music, and I was eager to try it. Oak St. Drafthouse sits in a truly a cool setting that they describe as thus: "Being the third oldest house in the City of Denton, we’re making sure to keep the history and integrity of the house alive by making minimal changes inside the house.  (and also not to piss off the ghosts). All of the decor inside and surrounding Oak St. Drafthouse were found at local vintage and antique shops around Denton.  Our extremely large patio beer garden allows for a great time. On the weekends, we open the back bar for your enjoyment.  We have a very relaxing environment where people can carry on a conversation without getting distracted by loud music or tv’s."

Our plan for one to two beers turned into 3 as we met and chatted with Ben from The Be…

Taqueria Guanajuato ~ Denton, Texas

Saturday was a day of music, beer, and dining with Mr. Music and family. After absorbing a few vinyl albums, Mr. Music and I plotted our lunch and afternoon activity. We decided to go to Taqueria Guanajuato for some tacos, followed by a stop at Oak St. Drafthouse for a local craft beer or three (more on that in another post), and then we'd stop by The Taco Lady for some more tacos. And then off to hit Denton's record stores, and perhaps another bar or two. Back to Casa Mr. Music for tunes, and then to dinner with the whole Mr. Music brood (which turned out to be Dough in North Dallas. I'm not ready to write about it though. Need another visit). That was the plan anyway, and for the most part we stuck to it.

I'm not going to write about The Taco Lady. It was definitely good, and I gave it a thumbs up on Urbanspoon, but we weren't wowed. But we were both absolutely floored by how good the upstart Taqueria Guanajuato is. This is exactly how a taqueria should be. We ea…

Taco Villa ~ Fort Worth, Texas

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

I often would eat at Taco Villa while a student at Texas Tech in Lubbock back in the early to mid 1980s. Before we go further here, a quick history lesson. Taco Villa was a decent sized regional chain based in West Texas and was started by Bobby Cox in 1968 (Odessa). Sometime after I left college, in the late 1980s, he sold the chain to some investors. From what I understand, they ran the chain into the ground, and Cox wanted to buy back in. About 10+ years ago he bought most of the stores back, and had a friend of his buy the Lubbock locations (and a couple of other locations). So there are two different Taco Villa's, each independently run and with different logos (and we did manage a visit to one in Lubbock recently). The branch that has ventured into the DFW area is the original one as owned by Bobby Cox.

Ask and ye shall receive right? It was only a little over a year ago that if you wanted to go to Taco Villa, you had to ve…

Niki's Italian Bistro ~ North Richland Hills, Texas

We've spoken of Niki's before on the RJG, but there have been some changes since our last update. For one, it appears our loving duo of Northeast Tarrant County Niki's Italian Bistro's are no longer together (aww). The website, and the menu, are very clear in stating that the NRH Niki's is no longer associated with the one in Keller. And the other big change is they have moved across Davis to a beautiful new Tuscan structure that they painstakingly built for well over a year. The strip center location that Niki's had been in, for God knows how many years, needed an update badly. The place was, quite frankly, miserable. So rather than gut the 80's style strip mall, they purchased the Catfish Tucker's Haven across the street. And subsequently bulldozed it (I'm sure it was in worse shape than the original Niki's! One can only imagine all the fried fish - and cigarette smoke - pew). And proceeded to build a very large Medieval Italian styled buildin…

Cousin's Bar-B-Q ~ Fort Worth, Texas

We've written about Cousin's before, when they had a little shotgun shack over in Keller. But with Back Forty recently arriving in NRH, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the mothership. Or actually a branch of the original. They shut down the to-go only place in Keller, so that they could open this very large location in the Alliance shopping area of far north Ft. Worth. This is the second visit here for the RJG. We first went in December of 2010. So obviously we haven't done our part in helping the restaurant along. There's really no explanation as to why we've been infrequent visitors, as I've been a fan of Cousin's since we moved back to DFW 10 years ago.

Mrs. RJG had the baked potato with smoked turkey, and she loved it. I tried the turkey, and it's as good as ever. Cousin's always had the best turkey. They need to show their sibling over at Back Forty how to do it right. And speaking of sibling, since Cousin's has a similar meat…

Viet Bites ~ Denton, Texas

The RJG just returned from a 6 day vacation, which I hope to report on soon. However, while catching up on e-mails, I discovered that none other than Mr. Music had sent us a fresh review. Alright! So take it away Mr. Music....

A recent drive from the Denton library with Mrs. Music, Music Jr., and Baby Music revealed a welcome sight!  A new restaurant on S. Elm called Viet Bites!  I was just talking to Music Jr. a few days ago about how cool it would be for a real Vietnamese restaurant to come to Denton.  We couldn't wait to go!  I have to admit that it tickles me that my 8 year old daughter often asks me when we can go for spring rolls and pho! 

On Friday night we met another couple at this cute little, standalone building. It looks like it once may have been a one-off taco stand or something similar. As we walked in, we marveled at the rows of fresh Thai basil with their purple leaves and Thai chilies pointing to the sky surrounding the perimeter!

Even under the cute …

Prego Pasta House ~ Dallas, Texas

The RJG goes from our favorite Denver Italian restaurant, to our second favorite Dallas area Italian restaurant. As many of you all know, Pietro's is our favorite Italian in DFW, and remains the RJG's all-time favorite restaurant. But for close to 30 years, Prego has been right there behind them, providing hearty competition. And like Pietro's, we're infrequent visitors to Dallas anymore, so it's a rare treat indeed when we do dine here. We may have been only a couple of times since I started this blog, so this week's visit gave us the opportunity to finally blog about it. One major difference between Pietro's and Prego, is that the latter is open for lunch. And it's just that opening that allows me to choose Prego when in the area at that time. Mrs. RJG and I were in Dallas for an emergency weekday errand, and we had a bit of downtime right around lunch. Of course we first had to visit Northpark (guess who was behind that decision?) - and then I took …

Mama Louise ~ Aurora, Colorado

Continuing with our favorite Denver area restaurants, here is our go-to Italian place. We first started going to Mama Louise not long after they opened in the DTC (Arapahoe and Dayton) around 1998 or so. (Prior to that there was a burrito place - I believe it was called "Jalapeno's" that we had eaten at a couple of times). After about a year of infrequently visiting, Mrs. RJG and I became regulars. Rarely would a week go by where we wouldn't venture up from Parker for a dinner. Usually on Friday night. Even on snow nights, we would go. Not long after we relocated back to DFW, owner Kent moved his establishment east to the Piney Creek area of Aurora. I can remember going to the original DTC location as recent as 2004 on a visit, so this must have happened shortly thereafter. The new location is a wonderfully decorated restaurant. Kent has been there since day one, and he's always pleasant and glad to see you. For years, his Mom would be by his side ensuring all …

Potbelly Sandwich Shop ~ Hurst, Texas

I was beginning to wonder if Potbelly would ever come to Northeast Tarrant. It seemed the chain was avoiding the area like the plague. They've been in DFW for quite some time, and as you can see above, I've been to the Las Colinas location. That was in 2006 when I had an office nearby working for another company. The situation was becoming almost comical. About once a year, I'd go to their website and click on a map for DFW locations. Dots everywhere, except a huge gap of nothingness West and NW of DFW airport. When I was a kid, we had a cat. A cat that disliked my Dad. So every time he would reach from his easy chair to pet it, the cat would take a wide swath around his chair just to avoid him. It seemed Potbelly's was doing that to us.

But they finally made it here. They're in an area of Hurst that is basically being rebuilt around the construction of 183/121 at Precinct Line Rd. Across the highway is In-N-Out Burger that we've written about. The city of Hur…

Tony's Pizza and Pasta ~ Watauga, Texas

Last visit: February 2018
Last update: June 19, 2016 

Another update here from the RJG archives. When we first moved to NE Tarrant in 2003, there were dozens of these places. I was anxious to try them all, until I realized they were all more or less the same: Eastern European owned, and stemming from the Moni's empire in Arlington. As time has moved on, most of these establishments have shuttered, moved on, shut down by the authorities, etc... The few that are left have carved out their own identity, and are the cream of the crop. And for us, Tony's is our go-to Italian in the area.

Tony's is very similar to most of the $ and $$ Italian restaurants in NE Tarrant, and you can read some samples of that here and here. All the same, unlike many of the Italian restaurants in this category that have closed recently, Tony's continues to be very popular. Their to-go pizza side of the house is doing a land office business, as dozens of folks come in for pickups, and no doubt jus…