Friday, October 9, 2015

Fuzzy's Taco Shop ~ Southlake, Texas


Originally published April 14, 2011 and updated with a recent visit

Food: Fuzzy's are the pioneers in what I call tacos y margaritas, and these kind of places are popular everywhere today. Their tacos (or what they call Baja Tacos) are excellent and feature a wide variety of choices from grilled or tempura shrimp to shredded pork and onto more traditional offerings like shredded beef, chicken, and spiced ground beef. Soft or hard corn shells are offered. They also have breakfast, burritos, tortas (called grilled sandwiches here), salads, and soups. Be sure to try their habanero sauce - it's definitely got a kick. Even their regular table sauce packs some heat. We eat here regularly, and it's consistently good.

Drink: Nice selection of taps, including local craft brewers such as Grapevine Brewing. And their frozen margaritas are as good as most of the Mexican restaurants in the area - and at a fair price. And they're not afraid to put tequila in the mixture. This is definitely an adult fast food place. Nothing beats a good Moose Drool (a brown ale from Big Sky Brewing of Missoula, Montana) with a shredded chicken taco and habanero sauce!

Location: Fuzzy's took over a two time loser Chinese restaurant location (Blue Fish being one of them and something with Eden in the name) off of Southlake Blvd (north side) not far west of Centennial Park. Fuzzy's is a quick serve restaurant, so just order up, grab your flashing ashtray, and enjoy your beverage of choice while awaiting the buzz (so to speak). The corporate decor dictates that they have the look and feel of an old fishing warehouse near the docks. A fishing warehouse with flat screen TV's mind you...

Notes: Fuzzy's Taco Shop first opened near TCU in Fort Worth around 2003 or so and was an instant hit in the area. Today, Fuzzy's is one of the fastest growing chains in the nation, and is definitely one of the better chains at that.

Rating: 4.0

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Hours: Sun-Thu 7a-10p; Fri-Sat 7a-11p

Fuzzy's Taco Shop (Southlake) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pho Big Bowl ~ Watauga, Texas

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.

Food: It's 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 stack up. I had the lemongrass chicken stir fry, and Mrs. RJG went with the charbroiled chicken. Mine was good, lacking a bit in strong flavor, but a decent variation of the classic dish. On the other hand, the Charbroiled chicken was an absolute slam-dunk instant classic awesome dish. We haven't tasted chicken this well prepared and marinated since our days in Denver and the hall of fame Kim Ba (which we reference a lot). Loved it, and I can see this being a crave worthy dish. Once you achieve that level, you have a loyal customer. We'll see if they're consistent with it. And besides, there's always the fantastic soup. Oh - and the entrees do come with a cup of broth, which is a nice touch (many of the Haltom City restaurants do this as well). Worth noting as well that the rice was expertly cooked (this is becoming something of a lost art it seems).

Drink: Typical Vietnamese drinking fare, including the always great sweet coffee. We actually snuck* in a bottle of wine, which was met with tacit approval. They're not truly a BYOB place in the sense that they don't have anything to support it - but if you bring your own gear (opener, cups/glasses, etc...) you can imbibe. While BYOB/alcohol is common among patrons of Thai food, it still seems foreign in a Vietnamese place. We need to change that! (*- you know - I didn't realize snuck wasn't an actual English word until now. Who knew? Sneaked I guess is proper....)

Location: On the north side of Watauga Rd. (Mid Cities) just west of Rufe Snow in an old strip center. This used to be a Mexican restaurant (you can still see the touches of it), which we never frequented.

Notes: Pho Big Bowl opened roughly a year ago. Interestingly, when Mrs. RJG and I first moved to NE Tarrant in 2003, there was a Vietnamese restaurant across the street (near Tony's) called Red Mango. We liked it, and on a second return it was already closed. Nice to see a decade plus later Vietnamese returning to the vicinity.

Rating: 4.0 We're starting to get excited about Pho Big Bowl

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Pho Big Bowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 2, 2015

Taco Casa ~ Keller, Texas

Originally published May 1, 2008 and updated with a recent visit

Going to bump this entry up. We're doing a little testing along with Zomato here. As well, it gives us a chance to reformat the entry for one of our favorite fast food places!

Food: Mr. RJG likes his tacos. We mentioned in other posts that while Italian and Thai probably constitute my favorite restaurant experiences, taco places represent my favorite fast food excursion. And I'll boldly admit that it isn't even the authentic Mexican taco / taqueria stand that has been in vogue these last 25 years (though we like those too!). No, I like the good old fashioned American styled, crunchy taco. Taco Bell may be its iconic image, but it's hardly the best representative. Most taco chains are of the regional variety. And I've been to many of them! I've liked tacos since I was a little kid. There are few pleasures in life better than walking off with a sack of tacos, knowing the great taste sensation that comes with the meeting of spiced mush meat, lettuce, cheese, crispy shell and taco sauce (for some reason, I don't like tomatoes in my tacos). If the bag doesn't have a hole at the bottom with orange grease, then you may have gone to the wrong place... Taco Casa isn't the best taco chain I've been to, but I'd put them in the top group. They load up the tacos, so a bag of 5 really fills you up. Lots of cheese and lettuce, and of course meat. The wife likes them too, but depending on her mood sometimes says they have too much meat (how is that even possible?). For regular RJG readers, that's a recommendation right there! The meat is a bit saltier than most chains, but is extremely tasty. Another crucial element of a good taco stand, is the quality of their sauce (in the bottle or packaged). And they have a simple, not too hot, but very good red taco sauce. I would prefer some hotter options, but it's not going to keep me away. Besides, I can always take them home and add my own habanero sauce if so desired (and I never do that anyway).

Location: When we moved to NE Tarrant in 2003, I was thrilled to find out there was one in Watauga. We went there exclusively for years. You'll find this location on Mid-Cities, just west of Rufe Snow. For years, and maybe even today, if you arrived at prime lunch and dinner times, there was a drive-through line around the building. When folks tell me nobody eats this kind of fast food anymore, I just laugh. Yea, sure. Because of this popularity, a couple of more Taco Casa's opened up in Northeast Tarrant in short order: Colleyville (Hwy 26 and Glade - near the Goody Goody and Whole Foods) and then Keller. The latter is the closest for us, and we've been going regularly there for at least 9 to 10 years. The Keller location is on Keller Parkway just west of Pate-Orr on the north side of the road. Because of the story below, I also added a link to the Durant location. And according to the their website, Taco Casa's newest location is in Hurst!

Notes: Taco Casa is a classic regional chain. They are based in Gainesville in far north Texas at the border of Oklahoma. They continue to be in rapid expansion mode, and now are somewhat ubiquitous - especially in Tarrant County. I suppose it's strange then, that I first discovered Taco Casa in Durant, one of only 3 Oklahoma locations. In the early 1990s once a month, my old man got the bright idea of journeying up to Durant, which is located just over the border from Texas, to buy cigarettes from the Indian reservations. Gas was cheaper then (though lately...) and he apparently saved a bundle (God knows he smoked like a chimney). I'd tag along on occasion, especially on lazy Saturday mornings (there was no Mrs. RJG in those bygone days). Also a compliment about their signage: Taco Casa has the perfect retro cornball look, with the big sombrero and handlebar bigote. Awesome.

Rating: 4.0

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Hours: Sunday - Thur 10am - 10pm; Fri - Sat 10am - 11pm

Taco Casa on Urbanspoon