The Sir, Uptown's Burger Lounge, Is Closed

Sara Kerens
The Sir got served.
I've written about so many new burger restaurants opening I have a story template permanently saved on my desktop. All I have to do is enter in whether the meat is ground on-site or not, the address, who bakes the buns and the word "pink" here and there, and the story's ready to go! Plug and play!

I have not, however, written very much about burger restaurants closing, so forgive me if I stumble here. We're in uncharted burger territory.

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The Odd Charm of Melios Char Bar

Categories: Burgers

Nick Rallo
The overview of a good diner-style plate: fast, fried and beige
There are a few things to absorb when you enter Melios Char Bar on Greenville. There's the board that announces the chicken-fried steak special, hand-drawn and bordered with cartoon vines. There's the classic, bold '80s GYROS sign in Santorini blue. Bulging firehouse brick is stacked behind the short order cook station, and the menu above is faded like a Mad Men prop. Facing the register, with one of the friendly Meliosi writing tickets, there's a random photo of a swim team, presumably from a couple of decades ago. Then, there's the convention bureau-like photos of cities in Greece that run around the walls of the restaurant.

Nothing on the menu acknowledges food trends. This is a house that lives outside the scrutiny of the modern foodie. Pork chop sandwiches are on the menu. There's a Western omelet. Looking over the simple list of food, and H.G. Wells era salad bar, you'll forget the cult significance of bacon. Bacon is just bacon at Melios.

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The Perfect Midnight Snack: Velvet Taco's Red Velvet Cake

Categories: Happy Endings

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Kellie Reynolds
Mo' velvety than an Elvis painting.
It's midnight on Saturday night and you've been out on the town getting likkered up. You're not ready for the night to end, so where do you go? You could swing by the Taco Bell drive-thru, but you'd probably regret that decision in the morning. Plus, they don't have beer. Or cake.

Velvet Taco, my friend, has both.

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Dallas Grilled Cheese Company: A First Look

Categories: Food News

Scott Reitz
Soooo much cheese and chewy bacon.
Dallas Grilled Cheese Company opened earlier this month, and cheese-deprived diners have been pounding on the restaurant's door looking for an update on their favorite childhood sandwich. You'll find the new butter-burdened sandwiches just around the corner from Oddfellows in Oak Cliff.

The dining room was packed during a recent lunch service, and sunlight poured through the windows, illuminating white walls, metal pipes and blonde woodwork. Customers flipped through pages on a clipboard menu, perusing beers, appetizers that included some saucy-looking chicken wings, and more than 15 variations of grilled bread and cheese. The waitstaff, all the while, bounced around the dining room wearing Carhart utility belts as aprons.

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It Just Might Be a Kick-Ass Year for Crawfish

Categories: Food News

file photo
Your 2015 needs some crawfish.
It's technically not too early to start thinking about an entire summer of eating delicious crawfish and drinking beer, but most of Dallas' seafood restaurants have yet to put freshly-boiled bugs on their menu. Crawfish season's start date is a little fluid, occurring usually between late February and early March, and is mostly dependent on climate factors like temperature and rainfall.

2014 was a pretty terrible year for crawfish farmers and the people who enjoy eating them. As we reported last June, an uncharacteristically cold winter caused crawfish farmers to close up shop after just a few short months of mediocre catches. This year, though, farmers are much more optimistic about the crawfish crops.

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Cucina Neighborhood Italian Is Not the Red-Sauce Savior Dallas Needs

Kathy Tran
The meatballs need work. Or less work, maybe.
Americans have an unhealthy obsession with Italian cooking: Unhealthy not only because the American interpretation of boot-food features an excess of mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and meat, but also because Italian American is one of the most popular imported cuisines. The pizza served stateside may bear little resemblance to the rounds served in Napoli, but what kid in the history of kids doesn't appreciate a giant, floppy slice? Just about anyone would swoon at the sight of a pot of tomato sauce slowly simmering, while lasagna noodles stacked high with ricotta and meat sauce warm in the oven. Italian American is appealing because we've made it our comfort food.

Catering to these red sauce cravings, Italian American restaurants are everywhere, serving from the same playbook of loose adaptations handed down for generations. Chicken Parmigiana heaped with marinara and melted cheese, fettuccini alfredo made with no less than a quart of cream -- these dishes have been interpreted so many times they cease to be Italian. Instead, they are fuel for regular Friday night meals out and birthday celebrations. Adults that grew up dining at Campisi's, Sal's and Scalini's here in Dallas eventually take their kids to do the same.

Recent restaurant reviews:
- Oso Food & Wine Is Full of Surprises, But They're Not All Good Ones
- Ramen Hakata: Noodle-Bowl Bliss in a Suburban Strip-Mall Box
- Clark Food & Wine Co. Moves to its Own Rhythm

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Cafe Momentum's Chad Houser Is "Cooking to Save Lives" (Interview)

Categories: Interviews

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Stanton Stephens
Chad Houser in his natural habitat.
Not many chefs can say that their dishes profoundly impact the lives of other people, except for Chad Houser. The veteran chef, who once helmed Dallas institution Parigi, is currently head of one of the country's most interesting culinary concepts, Cafe Momentum. In his kitchen, you'll find 37 interns, all of whom spent time incarcerated for non-violent offenses.

After four years of pop-up dinners scattered across the city, Cafe Momentum finally has a permanent home in an old Downtown building. Here, Houser and his staff are deeply devoted to ensuring that the young men who participate in their culinary internship know that they have a future, that their lives matter. Through teaching skills like manning a fry station and proper plating technique, Houser is helping some of Dallas' most at-risk youth build a handsome resume of skills while also putting out fine dining-quality food.

It's a difficult task, but Houser is relentlessly optimistic in his pursuit. In the midst of the always-crazy opening week, I sat down with Houser to talk about the process of opening Cafe Momentum, how he has tweaked the cooking process to work best for his employees, and the primary driving force behind his cooking: saving lives.

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Café Momentum, the Restaurant with a Higher Cause, Is Now Serving Dallas

Inside 1510 Pacific
As food writers, critics, bloggers, instagrammers and otherwise overly food-obsessed folk, it's often easy to get wrapped up in the idea that food is somehow more important than it is. Yes, food nourishes our bodies. Food can be delicious, comforting and even healing. Food can be beautiful and often it makes us feel good.

But when is food more than just food?

When it's prepared and served at Café Momentum.

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I Ate the Pancho Villa Burger at the New Harvey G's So You Don't Have To

Categories: Food News

Scott Reitz
It's not a burger. It's a tower of meat.
I wasn't concerned until I reached into the brown paper bag to remove the burger I'd just ordered from Harvey G's. My first attempt to grasp the beast was too feeble and it slipped. I had to dig deeper, curl my hand under the tinfoil parcel and then lift. It was heavy -- not quite a dumbbell, but noticeably heavier than most burgers I've picked up.

The East Dallas take-out joint started burger-slinging last week. It offers the usual suspects -- LTO, mushrooms, Swiss, jalapeños -- and then, to give customers something to talk about, a monster creation. Naturally, I went whole hog. I ordered the Pancho Villa.

See also: Coming Soon to East Dallas: Harvey G's, a Humble Burger-and-Fries Takeout Joint

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Bijoux Is Closing

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Scott Reitz
The veal cheek at Bijoux.
Scott and Gina Gottlich, owners of Bijoux in Inwood Village, have announced the closure of their small French restaurant. The couple says they are closing Bijoux to focus their energy on their other restaurant, The Second Floor in the Galleria.

Which means the veal cheeks terribly depicted above will no longer be available. I added the plate to our 100 Favorites Dishes and will blame the bad photography on Bijoux's romantic, low-lit dining room. The plate was delicious though, and emblematic of Gottlich's cooking.

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