Eight Local-Food Gift Ideas for the Hungry and Thirsty Dallasites in Your Life

Categories: Lists

Amy McCarthy
Artsy chocolate that is also delicious.
If you haven't already wrapped up your holiday shopping, you're probably very near entering panic mode. Who knows what you should buy your picky grandpa, but you're still going to have to suck it up and find a gift before December 25. You could fight the crowds at the malls for the umpteenth time, or you could just remember that everyone -- even your pickiest friends -- loves to eat.

And fortunately, there are lots of great local purveyors selling delicious food gifts this time of year. Instead of elbowing soccer moms at NorthPark or just throwing in the towel and ordering everything on Amazon, consider finishing up your shopping with these ten locally-made gifts. Remember: no one returns baked goods and booze.

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The 25 Dishes That Defined Dallas Dining in 2014

Categories: Best Of Dallas

Kathy Tran
The Peace 'Stachio at Hypnotic Donuts
Despite the near-constant stream of restaurant news, 2014 wasn't especially great for local restaurant openings. For a long stretch of summer and well into fall, the flow of actual openings and interesting, new restaurants dried to a trickle; the scene cracked and opened up like Texas clay in a drought.

Not that it was a bad time for eating. Curious diners could use the time to push further into the suburbs and mine from a collection of affordable ethnic restaurants that were often more delicious than their urban counterparts. Restaurants that had been open for a decade, some even longer, were suddenly cast in a new light. Tender little dumplings at Everest Restaurant in Irving, biryanis at Chennai, which recently moved to Richardson, kitfo at Sheba's Ethiopian Kitchen -- all dishes that might have been ignored if we'd gotten lost in dining rooms resplendent with Edison bulbs, subway tiles and reclaimed wood.
That's not to say the restaurants that did open this year should be overlooked. In fact, some new restaurants were impactful enough to significantly shape the local dining scene. Blind Butcher has changed how we look at bar food and meat, Stock and Barrel has reinvented meatloaf and Brian Luscher's Post Oak operation has turned the humble hot dog on its head. And that's all before Michael Sindoni at CBD Provisions starts slicing into a pig's head.

Here are 25 dishes that defined the year in eating. There are humble hamburgers and take-out dishes alongside pastrami sandwiches that have been repurposed as eggrolls. There's ceviche, for something lighter and brighter, and ethnic dining that spans India, Mexico, Japan, China, Ethiopia and more. What's even better is that nearly every dish is a bargain. And don't worry -- we haven't forgotten dessert.

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Five Awesome Food Events in Dallas This Weekend, December 18-21

Categories: Events, Food News

Max's Wine Dive
via Max's Wine Dive
"However, this bottle was not marked `poison,' so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off." Clearly, if Alice were real and not the figment of Lewis Carroll's imagination, her Wonderland would be found inside a Spec's.

In honor of Alice's inner sommelier, Max's Wine Dive is holding a 12-course wine dinner. Each course corresponds with a chapter in Alice in Wonderland. No word yet on whether any of the offerings will drastically increase or decrease diners' statures. Dinner is $95 per person - call 817.870.1100 for reservations.

What it be: Alice in Wonderland Dinner

When it do: Thursday, Dec. 18 from 7 - 10 p.m.

Where dat is: Max's Wine Dive 2421 W. Seventh St. Suite 109 Fort Worth, Texas

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Blythe Beck Is Campaigning to Keep Her Job At Kitchen LTO, Which Is Just the Dumbest

Categories: Food News

courtesy of Kitchen LTO
Whether or not you appreciate the come-and-go nature of restaurateur Casie Caldwell's Kitchen LTO concept, you have to admit that it's interesting. The idea of a constantly rotating slate of chefs has promise, especially in attracting new talent to Dallas' culinary scene. Some of the restaurant's components may get a little lost in translation during the furious shuffle from one chef to another, but there's no disputing that the concept has merit.

Which is why current LTO chef Blythe Beck's campaign to stick around at the restaurant past her original four-month tenure really doesn't make a whole lot of damn sense. Beck, whose butter-drenched southern comfort food is certainly popular in Dallas, launched a campaign on Facebook this week, urging users to "like" her Facebook page to show support. If the page reaches 1,000 likes by December 31, Eater Dallas reports that the chef will be able to keep her job for another four months.

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How The Grape Chef Sarah Snow Keeps Things Moving, and Changing, at a Dallas Institution

Categories: Interviews

Courtesy The Grape
Sarah Snow, Executive Chef at The Grape

As we've mentioned, 2014 has been the year of the young, up-and-coming chef in Dallas. The old guard continue to be successful in our city's food scene, but it's the youngsters who have really driven this period of innovation and revival in Dallas cuisine. Sometimes that innovation doesn't even have to come from opening a hot new restaurant. Even the city's most beloved dining institution is open to a little change.

Earlier this year, The Grape's Brian Luscher stepped aside from running the kitchen at the Greenville Avenue restaurant and handed over the reins to former chef de cuisine, Sarah Snow. Snow has quickly risen through the ranks in her time in some of Dallas' best kitchens, but scoring the executive chef job at The Grape earlier this year has really given her room to grow. I sat down to talk with Snow about working with the inimitable Brian Luscher, keeping things fresh at the 30-year-old restaurant, and her lightening-fast ascent from line cook to executive chef.

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Henry's Majestic Is Making Bar-Food Magic

Kathy Tran
Had the slice of sour cherry pie I ordered at Henry's Majestic been served traditionally, I probably would have forgotten about it. The crust was flaky and tender, with a vaguely toasty flavor and a hint of salt, and the fruit was firm and plump, with just enough sugar added to round out any tartness. The flavors were balanced and the baking well executed. But what I was served at this recently opened restaurant on McKinney Avenue was nearly just another slice of pie. Except it wasn't.

Recent restaurant reviews:
- Into the Kitchen at Koreatown's LA Han Bat, Home of Dallas' Unsung Soup Hero
- Oak Cliff's VH Has Everything a Good Restaurant Needs -- Except a Pulse
- In the Park Cities, the Flailing Front Room Finds its Way. Will it Stick?

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Plano's Smoke Will Open Soon, with a Custom Hearth and a Lot of Promise

Thumbnail image for smokeburger1.jpg
Sara Kerens
The burger is moving northward
Remember way back in March when we told you the Dallas area was going to get a second Smoke? Owners Christopher Zielke, Christopher Jeffers and Tim Byre signed a lease on a space in Plano and said they hoped to be open by the year's end.

The latest announcement from the group confirms that they will meet this goal, if only barely. The Plano location is set to open the last week of December, and the newest restaurant has a few embellishments the original location is lacking.

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The "Cheeseburger" at Potato Flats Is Dallas' Most Unsettling Burger Experience

Categories: Burgers

Nick Rallo
Now entering the new world of burger!
From the start, Potato Flats feels off. In line, a woman asks if I want a white or sweet potato. Not having prepared for that one, I say, "uh, white?" She proceeds to cut and clobber a white potato with a silver potato-clobbering machine. She asks if I want salt, pepper and butter. A customer in front of me asked for butter, and her potato was painted with a pale yellow liquid. Knowing I'm about to punish my liver and colon with "The Cheeseburger," which I'd read involves a lake of cheese sauce, I kill the butter.

What follows is one of the most unsettling cheeseburger experiences I've had all year. The server asks if I want to add any vegetables. Apparently I blankly stammered, "Uhhhhh," because she finishes my thought. "You just want what comes with it?"

That's when she makes the burger pile.

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Let Dallas Shine a Light on the Nation with More Coffee-Shop Biscuits Like the Joule's

Categories: Eat This

Coffee and ... biscuits?
While nothing complements a cup of coffee better than a baked something, many area coffee shops really muck that something up. I've encountered croissants with the consistency of challah bread and muffins that were dense and gooey. I've had stale scones that eat like biscotti and stale biscotti that eats like limestone. Sure, a quick dip in the coffee cup can soften things up, but baked goods should taste delicious on their own.

One thing I don't see a lot of at coffee shops are biscuits, which is weird, this being the south and all. Composed of flour, baking powder, fat and a liquid, biscuits are the quick bread of choice for everyone south of the Mason Dixon Line. Nearly every restaurant that sells you scrambled eggs will sell you a biscuit, but coffee shops? Not so much.

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The West End Is Getting a Brewery

Categories: Food News

Mark Graham
John Sims at his former brewery, Four Corners.
The West End's glory days in Dallas have long since passed. Now, the touristy area is just a couple of sad-looking chain restaurants and the House of Blues. Most people in Dallas haven't even been to the West End since the 1990s, but you may soon have a delicious new reason to head to the Downtown-adjacent neighborhood after work: beer.

Craft breweries have been popping up in Dallas at a thrilling rate in the past few years, and a new West End brewery from former Four Corners brewmaster John Sims may be one of the most exciting announcements to come out of the West End in over a decade. As Robert Wilonsky reported at The Dallas Morning News yesterday, Sims and his business partners applied for a permit to open an "alcoholic beverage establishment" on the first floor of the building that once housed The Butcher Shop.

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