Cliff's Bar and Grill (You Know, the New Loon) is Open

Categories: Food News

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A simple fried bologna sandwich illuminated by the flicker of CNN at Cliff's
I'm not so sure my first impression of Cliff's Bar and Grill was a good one. When The Loon closed earlier this year, Cliff Gonzalez warned me the new bar would be different. "You'll never be able to duplicate what's been here for this long," he said, back at the old place before it closed. He's right, and I didn't expect to encounter decades of history faithfully re-created blocks away in Uptown. I just didn't expect his next watering hole to be THAT different.

Cliff's, which is destined to be referred to as The New Loon for months if not years to come, is presently going through a soft opening. Bartenders are still figuring out how to work the point of sales system, communication with the kitchen is achieved via tin cans and string, the menu is still sparse -- those sorts of things. But the sharp corners and rough edges haven't been enough to keep the old timers at bay. Jacquie behind the bar says they've been knocking on the door for days waiting for the place to be open. While The Loon, or whatever it's called, rested through a long summer and fall, The Regulars have been quietly holding vigil.

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The Burger at Digg's Tacos Is Oddly Addictive

Categories: Burgers

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Nick Rallo
Make sure you warn anyone near your elbows that you'll be diving into this.
There's no reason for Digg's Tacos to have one of Dallas' most addictive burgers, but they do. I'm there just as it opens for lunch, before the carnitas or queso has been fired, and the burger hits the cooktop with a blazing sizzle. A griddle press is placed on top for maximum crunch, and a squirt bottle makes it hiss. JBL speakers embedded in the booth play a sad and folky cover of The Clash's "I Fought the Law."

The "hamburguesa" comes refreshingly simple, with shredded lettuce, pickles, onions and a couple of fried onion rings lattice-worked with ketchup, mayo and mustard. There's no house-made pickles or fresh buns from Empire -- don't look for that here. They don't ask how you want the meat cooked. Monterey Jack was perfectly melted with the steam from that squeeze bottle. It's store-bought ingredients, executed well enough to make you order five more for every lunch of the week.

The second you pick up this burger you know it'll be gone in a few minutes. It's almost worth warning your table neighbor --"Hey, how's it going -- I'm going to eat the shit out of this."

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Oh, You Hate Thanksgiving? Shut Up, Hater.

Categories: Holidays

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Original by Norman Rockwell. Ruined by foodbitch
Call off the Carb Police. Tell calories they can "see you next Tuesday." Fuck fat. Just fuck it. Because Thanksgiving. It's the Rex Manning Day of holidays for this turkey lover. It's a time to get drunk and sit on the couch to watch all the sports (I hear). It's a time to eat a perfectly sensible amount of food, then a bit of pie, and then so much more food than is sensible for Round 2. Piles.

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Chennai, Beloved Biryani Maker, Moves to Frisco

Categories: Food News

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Catherine Downes
The vegetable Biryani at Chennai
Folks who enjoyed dining at Chennai but hated driving all the way to Plano are in for some bad news. The Indian restaurant known for its complex biryanis and thali specials has permanently moved further north to Frisco.

The extra drive is surely a drag (unless you live in Frisco) but there are some good reasons for the move. "The new location is bigger and more spacious, so we can improve the ambiance and service," says Karthik Thambidurai, who runs the restaurant with his wife Cecilia Santhi and partner Priya Narayanasami. The Plano location was pretty mobbed during lunch and some dinner services, so the new space could reduce the wait for diners forced to bask in the smell of curry while enduring pangs of hunger.


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FireWheel Brewing Celebrates Expansion with Grand Opening

Categories: Beer

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Shiny new tanks for beer-making at FireWheel.
After outgrowing it's original facility in Rowlett, FireWheel Brewing has announced a grand opening event for a new, expanded brewery. Owner Brad Perkinson says he has reached the point where demand has outpaced his ability to fill kegs with beer with his first facility. The expansion was the only next logical step as craft beer sales continue to rise in Dallas.

Using his own rudimentary welding skills, Perkinson cobbled together his first commercial brewing set up. It was enough to get his beer into local bars, including LUCK in Trinity Groves, Alamo Cinema Draft House and the Brass Tap in Fort Worth, but the 1,000-square-foot facility quickly maxed out.

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The Five Best DFW Stout Beers to Warm You This Winter

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Scott Reitz
Dallas' most famous stout has some serious competition
After Dallas' usual two weeks of beautiful fall weather the cold arrived with a vengeance and we skipped straight to an actual snowfall, in November. This means it's time to do away with those wimpy summer beers you've been slurping on for the six straight months of Texas summer, run past the 14,000 styles of pumpkin beer as fast as possible, and put some hairs on your chest with some real manly stouts, strong enough o keep you warm in the face of yet another icepocalypse. Here, in no particular order, are the pick of your local choices.

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In the Park Cities, the Flailing Front Room Finds its Way. Will it Stick?

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Kathy Tran
Start with the pork schnitzel ...
The restaurant business isn't known for stability. Flux and dysfunction are built in to the gig, in menu and operational tweaks and makeovers, staff changes, backroom drama and bloodshed in the budget. Restaurants are more likely to close than they are to stay open during the first year in business, and those that aren't doing well often tweak their concepts or designs. All that said? Front Room, in the Park Cities, really needed to get its shit together.

When the hotel restaurant, which operates in tandem with the Lumen just off SMU's campus, was first announced in summer 2012, Scott Townend was tapped as opening chef. But by the time a first review was published in The Dallas Morning News that fall, a new chef, Nick Amoriello, was manning the kitchen. It might have been the tepid nature of that review, but Amoriello didn't last long, either. He was replaced by Tim Bevins, who brought with him the kitchen chops and a reverence for simplicity he had honed since his days at the W Hotel's now-defunct Craft.

Bevins didn't last either. The restaurants manager, Consilient Hospitality, was replaced by NL Group, and Bevins picked up and moved to Austin to work on a vegan menu. So just into its second year, a fourth chef, Michael Ehlert, stepped up to the pass at a restaurant that had been recently remodeled and rechristened Front Room Tavern.

So the bad news is that, despite the tony surroundings and contemporary facade, the space might just be doomed. The good news: Front Room 2.0.1 is the most likable of the restaurant's incarnations.

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What Dallas' Best Chefs Are Cooking, and Eating, at Home This Thanksgiving

Categories: Interviews

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Alison McLean
Don't you wish Dodds was cooking your Thanksgiving dinner?
Even though they spend the other 364 days of the year cooking for other people, chefs love Thanksgiving. Whether it's because they're craving something much simpler than the fancy dishes cooked in their kitchens or they just really, really love cranberry sauce, many of Dallas' best chefs are planning on making a pretty sizeable contribution to their Thanksgiving dinner.

So we asked them what they were cooking this year, and which dishes absolutely must be on their Thanksgiving table. Most of our chefs have pretty traditional tastes, but there are some surprises on this list that might inspire you to shake up your normal Thnksgiving spread.

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Dallas' Five Best Barbecued Pork Ribs

Categories: Barbecue

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Sarah Yu
Dear ribs from Off The Bone: Please get in my mouth.
For all we go on about brisket, the pork rib has a beauty all its own. Beloved in greater swathes of the country than brisket, it's nevertheless shunned across the Lone Star state as an not so worthy of barbecue. Well, if Kevin Spacey on House of Cards is constantly eating them, they're good enough for us too.

The thing is, it's very difficult to get a great brisket and a great rib going at the same time. Lots of places have a good to great one or the other, and the same is true with this list, as all the places here have average to non-existent brisket. Nevertheless, the art form of the perfectly smoked rib deserves a category all of its own, so here's to the perfect rib, which is smoky, tender, falling but not plummeting off the bone, and not skimping with the meat.

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Beers Under 8 Percent ABV Are a Waste of Time

Categories: Beer

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Is this what you want? Really?
Recently, my esteemed colleague wrote about the lack of available and palatable session beers, those beers that can be drunk during a long hot summer's day. Do you know what I say? The lack of session beers is simply a sign that we're all going in the right direction.

I don't want to drink for an entire day, and neither should you. We all have things we need to be getting on with. I want to finish doing those things, and then with the remainder of my day get absolutely hammered with laser-like precision. By the end of this article you will consider me to be your personal alcoholic savior. You're welcome.

See also: Jester King's Petit Prince Farm House Ale: Finally, a Real Session Beer

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