Showing posts from 2015

Pho Big Bowl ~ Watauga, Texas

Last visit: June 2017. Mrs. RJG has been here more recently. She likes to come here when I have to travel for work.

Finding a quality Vietnamese restaurant in the northern parts of Northeast Tarrant county has always been a challenge. Recently we've been blessed with two new start-ups, and at the current time, we think Pho Big Bowl is the best of them all! Though the other place is very good too, and we'll be reporting on them soon as well. It's a long drive to Haltom City, so we're hoping these places stay around.

PhoBig Bowl offers soups, sandwiches, and full dinner entrees, as you would expect. On our first two visits, Mrs. RJG and I tried the pho. In fact, on our very first time here, I was beginning to get a cold, and what better way to knock it out than with a big ol' bowl of meatball soup! Their noodles are fantastic, and the broth is somewhat unique (excellent of course), adding to the allure. On a recent visit, I was most curious how their entrees would st…

Benito's ~ Fort Worth, Texas

Benito's is a legendary Mexican restaurant in Fort Worth, having come around before such establishments were commonplace. We'd never actually been, until very recently. I see places such as this as a good barometer to see where the RJG fits in the local dining culture. Because of its institution status, much ink has been spilled over the years on the pluses - and minuses - of the food and ambiance. Some say it's the ultimate late night dive to cure a hangover (or conversely to tie one on), while others say they have the best breakfast around. One aspect you will constantly read about Benito's is that it's not Tex-Mex, but rather more authentic south of the border fare. Mrs. RJG, born and raised in Sonora, agrees that it certainly feels like a place from the homeland. The food, on the hand, isn't quite as convincing, but it's definitely not Tex-Mex, this she agrees with. This foreshadows our entire experience I'm afraid. They can't all be good right…

Gloria's ~ Colleyville, Texas

You may recall recently that the RJG's official boss was in town from New Jersey and we went to Trulucks in Uptown. Well that same week my former boss, and now good friend, from Phoenix was also in downtown Dallas (I sense a conference here). He's been in these pages before, but I'll rename him Danny Huston since he's a spitting image of the actor. And my friend and peer The Garland Troublemaker (who is also in a few of these posts) was on hand as well. We decided to meet at the Gloria's in Dallas (on Lemmon near Oak Lawn). I had intended on writing about that experience, when I recalled that we have a Gloria's here in Northeast Tarrant as well. The RJG's Official Mom was wanting to take me out someplace nice for my belated birthday dinner, so I suggested Gloria's. We haven't been to this location since 2006, and quite frankly, I just forgot about it. So off the 3 of us went for a recent dinner....

Food: Gloria's is in reality a Salvadoran rest…

Second Street Brewery ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

And we have arrived at our final destination for our 2015 week long visit to Santa Fe, which as I write this, was over a week ago itself. This is our third trip to Second Street in as many years, and it appears I may have ordered the wrong thing this time, but we're still bullish on the brewpub.

Food: On our first visit back in 2013, Mrs. RJG and I just stopped by to try one of their handcrafted beers before dining elsewhere. While there, we noticed they had a special on green chile chicken noodle soup. I can honestly say it was the best chicken noodle soup we've ever had! And very spicy! It's too bad it's not a menu item. They offer a similar green chile chicken stew, but it's a bit different (still very good though). In any case, we vowed to come back for a full meal on our next visit to Santa Fe (we were wrapping up our trip at that point). In 2014, we decided to have a mid-week lunch here. I tried their grinder, which was outstanding. And I want to say they had…

Shake Foundation ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you spend enough time in Santa Fe, you'll learn that another local favorite meal is a green chile cheeseburger. Shake Foundation has a good rep in town, and it was lunch, so let's check it out!

Food: It's burgers and fries, and all made with strictly fresh ingredients. They also have burgers beyond the usual beef, including lamb, turkey, and portobello mushroom.We each went with the traditional "Junior Foundation" which is a simple cheeseburger (and good size for lunch) and jack cheese with... green chile. The chile is added similar to a condiment, so it's not overly sloppy. The buns are buttered (a Midwest tradition) and lightly toasted which is another differentiator. Just a superb tasting burger, and the chile is very hot (spicier than the norm for Santa Fe). Which works for the RJG! And that spiciness continues to penetrate, and thus opens up the flavor of the burger that much more. Also, special mention goes to the fries, which are of the super thin s…

Casa Chimayo ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

OK, time for another new-to-us restaurant. Casa Chimayo has a solid reputation in dining circles and we were ready for some more New Mexican food. Did it live up to the "hype" as they say? Oh yes, and even more so! We'll be back.

Food: Casa Chimayo's fare is solidly in the New Mexican camp. Perhaps a bit more upscale than the usual New Mexican breakfast/lunch hybrid house. Casa Chimayo offers complimentary chips and salsa, which isn't always a given in New Mexico. The chips were very thick and crisp, clearly homemade, and taste fantastic on their own. The salsa is a thick and smooth red, with garlic and chiles, and very satisfying. For entrees, we both settled in on the Blue Corn Enchiladas, which they proudly state were featured on Fiori's DDD. We weren't feeling diverse this evening, so we both went with the chicken and Christmas chile and it comes with whole beans and rice. WINNER! Without a doubt, Casa Chimayo holds its own against the formidable loca…

The Pantry ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

We've driven many times past The Pantry as we go up and down Cerrillos, and it is a rare time of the day when there isn't a line around the building. The Pantry is one of the big names for breakfast and lunch in Santa Fe (they also serve dinner until 8:30). It's time for the RJG to venture in. We took a chance on a mid-week brunch hour of 10:30 and got seated immediately. Woohoo! Planning wins again.

Food: Traditional American and New Mexican breakfast is the primary draw at The Pantry. They also have a full menu of burgers, sandwiches, Mexican entrees, and comfort foods. There was no question at all what the RJG was going to have: A smothered breakfast burrito with Christmas chile. And it comes with "pantry fries" (potatoes in the vernacular). Out comes this wonderful and large skillet, with a steaming fat burrito and incredible looking cheese and chile staring me in the face. I always start with the green chile side first (rarely do I mix the two). First bite i…

Cowgirl BBQ ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

Here's another new restaurant for the RJG. And our first experience was a thumbs up!

Food: Though BBQ is in the name, barbeque is only one portion of their rather large menu. They also have steaks, burgers, seafood, and yes, New Mexican cuisine. We went here to add a bit of diversity to our diet, and so I settled on the Pulled Pork BBQ sandwich. Apparently the smothered in Salsa Diablo was featured on the "Heat Seekers" show. They brought mine on the side, and it's definitely a sizzling red chile blend. But nothing overwhelming. In fact we thought it was quite tasty, and I dipped my wonderfully cooked fries into it throughout the meal. Couldn't really tell you if the Pulled Pork was any good on its own, because it was completely drenched in the chipotle barbeque sauce - just as advertised. The brioche bun is perfect for handling the moist sandwich, and managed to stay firm. Overall, an excellent barbeque sandwich. Mrs. RJG, despite the premise of why we were ther…

La Choza ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

Last visit: April 2017

Unlike the other restaurants we've reported on so far in Santa Fe, La Choza is consistently rated as one of the top dining spots in the area, and is very well known. Is it tourist hype and group think? Not at all. In fact, the RJG is close to rating La Choza as our favorite restaurant in Santa Fe as well. We've only been 4 times in a three year period, but we're almost at the point of awarding it 5 stars.

La Choza has to be considered one of the gold standards for New Mexican cooking. We've smothered a few items in their famous chile's, and never have we left without huge smiles of happiness. In general, regarding the chile, I've stuck with the Christmas standard. Their green is slightly spicy and I would consider it good to very good in flavor. Their red chile is quite simply the best I've ever had - and one of the best food items I've ever had. It's so velvety in texture with flavors that continue to explode as time goes on.…

New York Deli Southside ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

One doesn't normally associate Jewish deli's with Santa Fe, New Mexico, and yet the New York Deli is one of the finest the RJG has been to outside of New York City itself. This is our 3rd year in a row to go, and sometimes we visit twice on the same trip. Especially since it's right around the corner from our chosen hotel (the Doubletree - which we highly recommend primarily because they have balconies to enjoy the beautiful cool weather. And maybe with a beer or three...)

Food: New York Deli is an old fashioned Jewish delicatessen, with a strong Italian slant. Well that just about covers the Mob of the 1940's eh? Whether it's fat kosher deli meat sandwiches, Italian hot subs, or a traditional breakfast with the best homemade bagels you've ever had, New York Deli is the elixir to the New Mexican food hangover. And since we overindulge on the local cuisine, we welcome the diversion. As I presume the locals do as well. Their portions are hearty, at a fair price. …

Fire & Hops ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each time we visit Santa Fe, we like to try a few new places (for us) as well as our favorites. This was the first one on this particular visit. And the conclusion? We will be back again next time!

Food: Fire & Hops is a classic Craft Tavern (fka Gastropub), with focus on locally grown ingredients, small and large plates, and of course, craft beer. Seems as if these places were designed specifically with the RJG in mind! The definition of "small plate" wildly varies from place to place. In San Francisco, it means a small appetizer, whereas at Fire & Hops it means a full meal. And a large plate means we couldn't finish it. And what was my massive dinner? A Cubano sandwich. It was giant! I was expected a regular size sandwich with a handful of homemade potatoes. Well I got a bushel full of those as well. And they were delicious! The sandwich was almost perfect, especially the bread, but the pork was unfortunately a bit tough for a sandwich, and I ultimately pulled …

Horseman's Haven Cafe ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

We first visited Horseman's Haven Cafe back in 2006, as we were on the lookout for the spiciest chile in town. And we found it. We've been regular visitors ever since. And this trip was no exception.

Food: One aspect of New Mexican cuisine you will discover if spending much time in Santa Fe, is an almost apologetic approach to spicy chile heat. You cannot read more than one page of any local restaurant guide without running into the familiar words "it's not about the heat, it's about the flavor". And while the RJG wholeheartedly agrees with that sentiment, what if we really do want the heat and the flavor? Answer: Horseman's Haven. This unassuming diner on the way out of town was once a local secret. Today it's found its way onto one of the many food TV shows that proliferate. And yet you would never know that by walking in. It still seems a secret, even with the notoriety. The menu is a mix of breakfast and lunch/dinner entrees. The recipes have more…

Pho Kim ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

As much as we'd like to eat New Mexican food the entire time we're in Santa Fe, sometimes we need a break. And for something relatively light and tasty, we've added Pho Kim to our regular routine of restaurants. This is our 3rd visit in the row, and we always leave happy.

Food: No surprises here, but Pho Kim features Vietnamese cuisine. In general, we've gravitated to their famous soups, and I generally like the meat ball and Mrs. RJG enjoys the chicken. The broth and noodles are cooked to perfection, and the side jalapeno slices are extra hot. While most Vietnamese restaurants provide an admirable pho, we do think Pho Kim is a cut above the rest. However, on this visit, I decided to venture into their chicken and rice dish, which used to be my staple, having been spoiled by the all-time great Kim Ba in Denver. And I'm glad I did, as this was a unique slant on a traditional dish. At least to me it was - as I've not encountered the type of marinate applied. When…

Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

We first went to the Blue Corn Cafe in downtown Santa Fe in 1997 (not long after they first opened), only about 6 months after Mrs. RJG and I were first married. And we've been regular visitors ever since. Regular in the sense of when we visit Santa Fe of course. Though in recent years we moved to the south location off of Cerrillos near the Santa Fe Place Mall. It remains one of our favorite places to eat when we go to Santa Fe, which lately has been an annual event (but that's not always been the case).

Food: Blue Corn is at first a New Mexican restaurant, followed by traditional brewpub fare (burgers, sandwiches) and Mexican (fajitas, etc...). Of course, we come for the New Mexican food, and while Blue Corn's reputation isn't the highest in Santa Fe (regarding their food that is), we've always thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, it's one of the RJG's favorite restaurants ever. From 1997 to 2014, I dutifully ordered the Carne Adovada, which was heavily marina…

Del's Restaurant ~ Tucumcari, New Mexico

Del's has become our go-to dinner stop when on the drive from DFW to Santa Fe. This is our 3rd year in a row to visit, and it never disappoints. Well worth stopping in town if you're on I-40 and hungry. There's not much else around between Albuquerque and Amarillo, other than Tucumcari (or Santa Rosa), so it's a wise move to go into town and try them out! Word on the street says the Santa Rosa restaurants aren't up to snuff, though we haven't tried them (yet).

Food: Del's menu is a mix of roadside Americana (chicken, fish, steak) and New Mexican specialties. Given that the primary purpose for us being in New Mexico in the first place is to eat the local cuisine, we haven't ventured beyond the native offerings. It would be tempting to declare there's no way a place such as Del's can compete with Santa Fe's finest (which we will cover shortly on the RJG), but that's not really the case at all. When talking New Mexican food, chile is going …

Memo's Tacos ~ Roanoke, Texas

Mrs. RJG and I are always on the lookout for good street tacos, and we thought it would be a good time to try Memo's up in Roanoke, as we were on our way out of town (more on that soon!).

Food: The sign says "Authentic Mexican Food", and that's what you get here. You see places like this more in the barrios than in the suburbs, though that trend is fortunately changing. While they have a full menu of Mexican staples (tortas, gorditas, quesadillas, burritos, breakfast items, etc...), we went right for the street tacos ($1.99 each). And, as if to prove we've been married 18 years, we each ordered the same thing: (1) pollo asado, (1) carne asada, and (1) al pastor. So we have the same test dishes it appears. Immediately after ordering, out came some homemade chips and two squirt bottles of hot sauce. That's a nice touch, and not always something you can count on from taqueria's (unlike a restaurant where it is expected). The chips were excellent, with a good…

Truluck's ~ Dallas, Texas

The RJG recently had his official boss in town from New Jersey and he wanted to meet for dinner. Since he was staying in downtown Dallas sans a car, I recommended we meet just north of there at Truluck's, which has in recent years become my go-to place for business meetings when they (yea, they) are staying downtown without wheels. It's only a $5 Uber ride according to The Boss. And the RJG has a place to park (valet though), so that's always a plus.

And speaking of which, I was completely disoriented when I arrived. This isn't where the restaurant used to be is it? And the answer is no - there's a new structure they built at the other end of the parking lot, and the old building along McKinney has since been torn down. I thought I was having a Mr. Robot moment there (yea, that's right, the RJG is hip, mannn).

Food: High end steak and seafood. I recommended we both start with the Lobster Bisque, one of Truluck's signature items, and it once again was delici…

Super Tortas #1 ~ Corinth, Texas

Looks like Mr. Music is back in his own graze land. And he's very enthusiastic about a local place up in the Lake Dallas area. Makes the RJG want to get in the cattle car and go north!

I have been meaning to go to the newest taco spot in Corinth called Super Tortas #1. I finally made my way there and was glad I did! The owners, John and Lucinda were super friendly, big time food lovers and excited to talk about it! The shop is small and in an old shopping strip facing I-35­E on the Southbound access road; just before Swisher. The d├ęcor is nice and simple; the place is spotless!

After looking at the menu for awhile and yakking to the owners, Lucinda suggested the Milanesa. Theirs is a fresh piece of beef that is pounded by hand until it is super flat and thin. It’s very lightly coated with a batter and deep fried?...oh no, they put just a little oil on the grill and cook it right there. It cooks nicely with just the right amount of crunch and keeps it from getting real greasy. …

Pollo Tropical ~ Hurst, Texas

A handful of these restaurants have popped up in the DFW area suddenly. We had a choice between this one in Hurst or Watauga, and it's a bit easier to go here. Let's check it out shall we?

Food: How many of you all been to El Pollo Loco? Or for a more known local option, El Pollo Regio? Pollo Tropical is the same concept, except instead of the cuisine of Mexico, you get the flavors of the Caribbean. Grilled chicken is the primary driver here, but pork loin, ribs, and beef are also available. All with a wonderful marinate made up of Caribbean spices. And the platters come with rice (white, brown, or yellow with veggies) and black beans. On our visit, the portions were more than plentiful. The rice was oh so slightly undercooked (maybe one more minute), but still enjoyable (better than overcooked!). The bottled spicy condiment that is made especially for Pollo Tropical, is excellent when doused on the rice. And the beans were steaming hot and delicious. Worth mentioning that the…

***CLOSED*** Jimboy's Tacos ~ Irving, Texas

Last visit: August 2015

December 28, 2017 update: And now Jimboy's has exited the Texas market. Sigh. If we visit another location, we'll update this post and move forward.

Well look at this, would ya? The RJG's only prior experience with Jimboy's Tacos was at their Yuba City, California (aka middle of nowhere) location about 4 years ago. Mrs. RJG and I were driving from the wine country (Windsor/Russian River) on our way to Lake Tahoe via a scenic route. I had originally picked out a delicatessen, but as we were driving through town, Mrs. RJG noticed Jimboy's, and the car beelined immediately over without me even steering it. So you can imagine our surprise when we found out that Jimboy's snuck into the DFW area without much fanfare (there's another location in Plano as well). Given their relative close proximity to the RJGs favorite craft beer store (Las Colinas Beverages - say hi to Nick!), Jimboy's Tacos is fighting for our attention with Burrito Jim…

Texas law regarding consumption of alcohol on Sunday before Noon

Here's something I've been meaning to promote here on the RJG, and I forgot about. This probably doesn't apply to the majority of you, but for a borracho like me, I find it very important.

As a rule, we like to eat our lunch early (generally between 11:00 and 11:45), primarily because we've already run 3.5 miles and I don't feel like breakfast. Especially on Sunday's - and Mexican food is usually very high on our list of choices. Well Mr. RJG loves his frozen margaritas with his Mexican food, especially in the summer! Now comes the dilemma - will the restaurant actually serve me the drink without question before Noon on a Sunday? 95% of the time the answer is yes. And those 95% of the times, the restaurant is technically breaking the law. Not that I would ever tell...

The TABC's website is incredibly vague on the topic. They say nothing more than "Sunday: Noon to midnight. (10am-noon only in conjunction with the service of food)". Very well then…

Bombay Bistro ~ Austin, Texas

Mr. Music has been hanging out in Austin again, and sent this review in. I believe this is the first Indian restaurant we've ever featured in the RJG.

The Music clan is on the move again and down to Austin for a last getaway before school starts.  After a nice morning hike at the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, our appetites were ready for a treat! Indian food was the consensus!  After doing some research, it looked like Bombay Bistro was a good choice with a recommended buffet. Mr Music is usually drawn towards little hole-in-the-wall spots, but Bombay Bistro is an upscale eatery.  The eight of us (the Musics and another family, the Vespas we were vacationing with) piled in the already bustling place. The Bistro is a smallish place, but very nicely decorated.  The buffet was nestled in the back with a station for salads and condiments and the back wall lined with pans of North Indian goodies.  They served some of the usual suspects like saag paneer, dal makhani, chick…

I Fratelli ~ Irving, Texas

First published November 28, 2008 and updated with a recent visit.

When I wrote the review in 2008, that represented our first visit. Since then, I Fratelli has become my go to place for local business in the area. Since all of my DFW co-workers are based in the Plano-Richardson-Garland region, while I'm here in Northeast Tarrant - we needed a meeting place that is halfway. I Fratelli is about 30 minutes away for each of us. As well, the DFW airport location makes it ideal when we meet with partners, vendors, and clients. I Fratelli is absolutely perfect for business: It's local; popular; has a nice bar; easy to get to; plenty of parking; and most importantly - great food. Everyone from out of town asks if we can meet there again.

Food: Like many locals in the DFW area, we first discovered I Fratelli via one of their many pizza to-go portals throughout the area. I Fratelli makes what I'd call "Dallas styled Italian pizza". It's a cracker thin crust, cut in tin…