Herrera's Keeps Getting Booted From Its 'Hood, and Keeps Getting Better

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Kathy Tran
We would follow Herrera's sour cream enchiladas to the end of the earth, presuming there was a nice spot to nap there.
No other image better captures the Dallas dining scene: Under a cloudy sky, hungry customers wait their turn for one of the nine tables inside a restaurant that looks like it survived a recent bombing campaign. Six-packs of bottled beer litter the street, and a red and white cooler hints at more. Not all the letters are legible, but you can make out the restaurant's name around the single light-fixture that illuminates the scene. This is how Café Herrera got its start.

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What Dallas Chefs Listen to While They Cook

Categories: Interviews

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via Danyele McPherson
Danyele McPherson, chef. Music snob.
Food and music have always been inexplicably linked. Maybe it's because cooks and musicians are generally the same sorts of surly, creative types, or because everyone regardless of profession loves great music. Either way, there's a huge overlap among music nerds and people who spend their days cooking in the city's best restaurants.

In the kitchen, which is generally a loud and tense kind of place, music is occasionally a necessity. We asked some of Dallas' finest to tell us what they've got playing back in the kitchen, and some of their answers are genuinely surprising.

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A First Look at Spork, North Dallas' Newest Burger Restaurant

Categories: First Look

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All photos Scott Reitz
Trust me, you can't miss this one at night.
The neon is shining at Spork now, as long as you show up after sunset. The casual burger restaurant opened earlier this month at the hands of Eric Justice (former chef at Mexican Sugar) and other Dallas-area power chefs. Tim Byres and Katherine Clapner were among the chefs tasked with the menu design.

The space used to be a Sonic, and the team made good use of every legacy design element. The counter is now a bar, and the eat-in parking stalls have been turned into a huge outdoor patio. (It's not available for dining yet. The owners are still working through the permitting.)

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The Good Markets Chili Cook-Off: Because It's Texas, and It's Chili

Categories: Events, Food News

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In Texas, a good bowl of chili is practically currency. It's a way to warm up on a cold day, works well in fried applications and over Fritos, and can occasionally help mothers keep their delinquent children coming back home. Chili is certainly important in Texas, and the good people behind Good Local Markets (formerly White Rock Local Market and others) have come up with another way for this Texas staple dish to be engrained into our lives -- by helping us show up our neighbors.

When Good Local Market was still White Rock Local Market, the chili cookoffs were nothing short of legendary. Despite the name change, the newly rebranded farmers market will still host the same competition that Lakewood residents learned to love this year on April 19. Be prepared to bring your A Game, though -- these chili aficionados don't play. Whether your top-secret recipe is traditional, spicy, vegetarian, or more of a "wild card," it had better be legit.

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Inside Lakewood Brewing's Awesome New Brewery and Taproom

Categories: Beer

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Paul Hightower
The new space for Lakewood Brewing
The talk around North Texas used to be of what new breweries are opening this month. Now it's all about what local breweries are building and expanding and by how much, and how far ahead of their growth curves and expectations they find themselves.

Lakewood Brewing held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week with the big-scissor-wielding Mayor of Garland and other city officials to formally dedicate its new brewing facility. The new digs are are three stories and 14,000 square feet of brewing awesomeness, built adjacent and abut to their original facility (which they are keeping for packaging, labs and office space, by the way). Just marking their fourth year in business this week, owner Wim Bens says his original business plan didn't expect this expansion until after their seventh year.

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Super Chix, the Chick Fil A Knock-Off from Yum! Brands, Is Coming to Dallas

Categories: Food News

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Lauren Drewes Daniels
Move over burgers -- chicken is cheap.
When Yum! Brands, the fast-food minds behind KFC and Taco Bell, opened its first location of Super Chix in Arlington, we gushed. The obvious spin on the Chick fil A model served fast food just as good as fresh and addictive as Chick fil A's, without all the weird politics. The only problem for anyone outside of Arlington was that Super Chix was in Arlington.

What's worse was Yum!'s announcement that there would be no more chicken restaurants in Texas, or the rest of the country. The Arlington location was a test bed for international locations, according to a spokesperson. Suddenly we were all skulking back to our familiar waffle fries and Polynesian sauce.

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Matt McCallister and Omar Flores Will Throw Down at the 2015 Dallas Observer Iron Fork

Categories: Events

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Matt McCallister will take on his toughest component yet, Omar Flores
It's time for another Dallas Observer Iron Fork event, and while the participating restaurants are sure to provide another gustatory marathon of epic proportions, it's hard to discuss the food until you've gotten past this year's awesome competition chefs.

Matt McCallister has been dominating the competition since he ousted Scott Romano in Iron Fork 2013, but this year will bring his stiffest competition to date as he takes on Omar Flores of Casa Rubia. Of all the restaurants to fill Trinity Groves, Casa Rubia is in a league of its own, with an inventive take on Spanish cooking that Dallas has never seen before. Flores is in a special position to oust McCallister. If you like to root for the underdog, this is your year to get caught up in the competition.

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Uptown Is Taking Another Crack at a Farmers Market, and This Time it May Stick

Categories: Food News

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If you ask people who do a lot of work with outdoor markets, they'll tell you that one of the most important components is walkability. It's not enough that shoppers be able to walk around the market, exploring stall after stall -- a vast majority of them should be able to walk to it, too. This is what helps connect a market to its neighborhood.

That's what's so exciting about the Uptown Farmers Market, which starts this weekend. After a few years without a market (previous attempts failed), the neighborhood is giving a Saturday-morning market another shot. Venders are limited, but they always are when markets get started. Let's think instead about where this market could be headed.

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More Dallas Burger Restaurants Are Grinding Their Own Meat, and It's Worth Their Time

Categories: Food News

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Catherine Downes
The Hopdoddy burger
More Dallas restaurants are grinding their own beef, an attempt to differentiate their burgers from the rising deluge of patty grease. They're also making the move because it results in burgers that are more delicious.

Most recently, Braindead Brewery released a menu (pictured above) with a house-ground burger that's said to induce a coma. And in North Dallas, Spork gives the fast-casual burger the same treatment.

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With the Cookies and Milk from Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum's Savior Is Complete

Categories: Happy Endings

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Kellie Reynolds
Cookies and stout-spiked milk. Perfect for dunking.
If you know anything about Dallas, you've heard Deep Ellum is coming out of its coma. After its bar and club scene peaked and plummeted, many wondered if and how it could be restored to its glory days of the late '90s. Little by little, things changed; developers bought up chunks of land, the DART rail expanded, Trees was renovated. Who would have thought that the solution would be as simple as cookies and milk?

Fortunately for you, the geniuses behind Braindead Brewing figured this out. After being in-the-works since 2013, the brewpub finally debuted earlier this month. It's so new, in fact, it still smells of fresh-cut wood. And, though you can see the giant tank in their brewing room from a perch at the bar, it'll be a while before they're cranking out their own brew. Until then, they've got 42 taps to keep you busy, plus one of the best desserts ever imagined. Their warm oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies (served with stout chocolate milk) are just the thing to cap off a night in the neighborhood.

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