100 Favorite Dishes, No. 12: Emporium Pies' Pies

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No Star Wars jokes allowed.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

It's the quintessential ending to just about anything: Something sweet that might otherwise induce a nap, paired with something bitter with a bit of a jolt to keep you moving. The pairing works so well that the folks at Emporium Pies decided to stuff them both into a pie tin creating Java the Hut, a caffeinated cream pie that comes with a buzz.

The only problem is you can't have a slice because Java the Hut was a summer pie and has since been removed from the menu. Mark your calendars toffee-bottom-with-an-espresso-filling-pie-lovers: you can see it again next June if you're lucky.


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How Meat Church's Matt Pittman Smokes His Brisket

Categories: Barbecue

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In "Shigging," we ask barbecue experts to give us some specifics about how they smoke their meats. In the spirit of barbecue secretiveness and competitiveness, they're allowed to lie once.

This week, for Shigging, I'm doing something a little different, and speaking with a competitive barbecue champion. I've heard that in these competitions, there's a lot of injecting and spritzing and that the strategy for smoking meats in a competition is different than when you're smoking meats for the masses. To find out whether or not those awful rumors were true, I spoke with Meat Church's Matt Pittman.

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Texas Department Of Agriculture Commissioner Disagrees That Kids Should Eat More Beans

Categories: Complaint Desk

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An educational slide from the Texas Department of Agriculture's Square Meals program.
September has been a long one for Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. At the month's start, Staples drew some heat for an op-ed he fat-fingered for the Austin American-Statesman. It denounced efforts to get school children to eat less meat and sparked an Internet backlash that preceded Staples' resignation from the Texas Department of Agriculture, which was announced yesterday morning.

Elementary schools in Dripping Springs, a suburb of Austin, had recently embraced Meatless Monday as part of their school lunch program. The movement encourages participants to give up meat on the first day of the workweek, in the hopes that the behavior will curb Monday meat consumption and also shape mealtime choices the rest of the week. The push towards flexitarianism is said to benefit the participant in terms of healthier choices, and also the environment, which suffers negative impacts from unfettered meat production.

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In Praise of Short Menus

Categories: Food News

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Menus don't have to run for days and days.
This week The Washington Post published an article noting a trend towards smaller menus in large, corporate restaurants. The Olive Gardens and TGI Fridays, among others, have found increasing utility in streamlined menus, compared to their previous offerings, which literally read like a book covered with sticky honey mustard sauce.

The article made me think back to a review I wrote two years ago of Ten Bells Tavern in Oak Cliff. I praised chef Carlos Mancera's short, tight menu that I said was leading the charge on improving the state of bar food here in Dallas. Even though that WaPo article was written with regards to large restaurant chains, there's a lot to be gleaned for a local restaurant scene. In fact, it would be nice to see an increasing number of local restaurants take this cue from the big, commercial restaurant businesses. (How often does one say that?)

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Spec's and Total Wine Are Battling for Wine Supremacy, and You're Drinking the Benefits

Categories: Drinking

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Spec's opened its Walnut Hill behemoth in late 2011.
Want to buy a variety of brand-name wine, beer, and liquor practically at cost? Or shop an almost unprecedented number of Texas-made whiskeys, craft beers, and wines? Or choose from thousands and thousands of alcoholic beverages, a selection that dwarfs almost every other retailer in the area?

Then thank the battle between Spec's and Total Wine for control of the Dallas-Fort Worth liquor market. Over the past couple of years, the two chains -- Houston-based Spec's and Maryland's Total Wine -- have turned what used to be a gentlemanly and often price-controlled environment into the booze business' version of a pro wrestling cage match. This includes two lawsuits against Total (though none filed by Spec's).

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 13: Hanger Steak and Eggs Taco at Good 2 Go Taco

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Hanger steak and eggs done the taco way.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

This is not your every day breakfast taco. Before Tamale House closed in Austin, you could make a reasonable argument that it was worth the three-hour drive just for those loosely scrambled eggs. Factor in a warm tortilla and scratch-made salsas and it was worth the same distance as a walk.

But Tamale House did close, and its shuttering has shifted the breakfast taco galaxy. It may not be the best example of taco simplicity, but it is a damn fine example of fill up your belly, quickly and efficiently. Meet Good 2 Go Taco's Paris in Texas. And you don't even have to fill up your tank to get one.

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'Tis the Season for Dallas Restaurant Breast Cancer Fundraisers with Stupid, Sexist Names

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Lenny Pichette/Flickr
Oh, this will be rich.
In the coming weeks, you will start to see everything from the sleeve on your coffee cup to the jerseys your wife-beating running backs wear in the National Football League turn a Pepto-Bismol shade of pink. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

You'll also start to see restaurant promotions that benefit breast cancer charities. These promotions typically offer to donate a portion of your cash to a breast cancer charity of their choice, which in theory is an excellent idea. Breast cancer is a terrible disease that kills millions of women each year. But restaurants don't always choose the best way to promote their support of cancer-fighting charities.

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Dalat's Vietnamese Banh Mi Burger Is One of Dallas' Most Unique. And It's Good.

Categories: Burgers

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Nick Rallo
Why aren't more burgers long?
Saddled up to the bar at Dalat, I experienced a number of burger firsts.

Hot bowls of noodles shuttled out of the kitchen under a big dragon that's tattooed on the wall, and a guy at the bar sang along to A-ha's "Take on Me." I ordered the T&A Vietnamese Burger, which is probably named after the letters T-N-A in Vietnamese (Note: I was confused about this for way too long).

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 14: Chicken-Fried Steak at Babe's

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I could have worn this chicken-fried steak like a helmet.
To prepare for this fall's Best of Dallas® 2014 issue, we're counting down (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes. If there's a dish you think we need to try, leave it in the comments, or email me.

The best thing about Babe's, no matter what location you visit, isn't the chicken-fried steak or the fried chicken alone, but how they plate them both. Grab as many of your friends as you can, wait for a table and you'll soon see what I mean.

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Cedars Mediterranean Mezza & Grill Really, Really, Really Wants to Top Off That Water

Categories: Cheap Bastard

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Sara Kerens
The baklava at Cedars.
Follow the Cheap Bastard as she scours the city, looking for a good -- or at least non-lethal -- lunch for less than 10 bucks.

Eight old dudes, sitting at a table near the back, had buckets of empty wine and were clearly mid-serious-slurred-conversation when I walked in. Cedars Mediterranean Mezza & Grill (8141 Walnut Hill Lane) is BYOB. I had not seen anyone take advantage of BYOB at lunch on a Tuesday before this day. It was a wonderful sight. I couldn't tell if they were arguing about President Obama or pants with zippers. I don't think they were sure, either. "The zipper broke when I sat down, and these pants are only 20 years old! Thanks, Obama."

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