How Fried Jesus Abel Gonzales Jr. Got Snubbed in the State Fair's Fried-Food Contest (Q&A)

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Mike Mezul
Abel Gonzeles has been a staple at the Big Tex Choice Awards for years.
If The State Fair of Texas is Fried Christmas, Abel Gonzales Jr. is its Fried Jesus. The first year of the Big Tex Choice Awards, he won with Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. The second year, he won with Fried Coke. Third year: Fried Cookie Dough was his winner. The fifth year he competed, he won with Fried Butter. And the eighth year, he won with Fried Jambalaya. He had, until this summer, been a finalist in the Big Tex Choice Awards for nine years in a row.

This year was the 10th year of the Big Tex Choice Awards, and when the list of finalists was announced, there was something very different about it: many of our beloved fried competitors had returned as finalists once again, but Fried Jesus was nowhere to be found.

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Dear Dallas Restaurants: The Music on Your Patio Is Probably Too Loud

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Cover your ears and proceed with caution.
If you haven't been to the West Village in a while, you might not have noticed LYFE Kitchen, which sprung up recently in the spot that used to house Lemon Bar. The fast-casual restaurant is devoted to meeting your every dietary need while supplying you with plenty of shrubbery. Outside the restaurant -- flanking the fake street that would welcome pedestrians into the shopping complex if not for the crass metal gate that's always closed off -- is a nice patio so you can eat your tofu and drink your chia seeds while soaking up the sun.

Music pours from speakers up above, including the artists often featured in commercials about global warming and inhumane slaughter, like Coldplay. I guess the music is supposed to remind you that you're doing a good thing for the world by choosing to consumed responsibly sourced animal proteins. And it might work if Mi Cocina didn't have a competing patio with blaring trumpets just across the street.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 15: Veal Bolognese with Pappardelle at Urbano

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Catherine Downes
Comfort food of the highest order.
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.

Comfort food means different things to different people. Most of the time it's hearty dishes that warm you from the inside out -- soups, stews and fried things all fit comfortably into the classification of comfort food. Another requirement, though, is that the dish resonates with something from the past -- in addition to being filling, it also has to evoke certain memories that are comforting on a spiritual level. This is how food soothes us.

But some dishes are so damn comforting it doesn't matter what you grew up on. And while I'm sure Italian people who grew up with a nona rolling out pasta in a kitchen perfumed with simmering tomatoes will especially appreciate the bolognese at Urbano Cafe, this is comfort food that easily speaks to everyone.

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How Chef Brian Zenner Helped Oak Recapture That Elusive Fourth Star (Interview)

Categories: Interviews

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Sometimes when a restaurant is struggling, all it needs is a new face to turn the whole thing around. In the short tenure of Chef Richard Gras, Oak went from earning four stars when Jason Maddy was chef to scoring only three from Dallas Morning News food critic Leslie Brenner. After Gras tendered his resignation this summer, Chef Brian Zenner was brought in to revitalize the struggling design district spot.

Before working at the recently-shuttered Belly and Trumpet, which is owned by the same restaurant group, Zenner helped open Oak with Maddy. Oak has since been restored to its four stars with Zenner's "globally influenced soul food" on the menu, giving the restaurant a new luster that it seemed to lack during Gras' tenure. I sat down to talk with Zenner about breathing new life into Oak, played out restaurant tropes, and why it's difficult for a fine dining restaurant to make it in Uptown Dallas.

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Jack Mac's in Plano Says It Will Stop Showing NFL Games in Protest of Recent Violence

Categories: Food News

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Last night, as the Philadelphia Eagles stormed back against the Indianapolis Colts, and the ESPN hype machine kicked into high gear in support of the NFL, Jack MacDonald, the owner of Plano's craft beer haven Jack Mac's Swill and Grill, took to the restaurant's facebook to proclaim his distaste for how the league has been handling its current spate of domestic violence issues:

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Six Stops to Make at the New and Improved Dallas Farmers Market

Categories: Eat This

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Your new and improved Dallas Farmers Market, Dallas.
After the City of Dallas sold the Dallas Farmers Market off to a private entity, market goers were promised big changes. When the market reopened on September 1, it was a little difficult to tell what exactly had changed. Shed 2, the former home of Pecan Lodge, is completely closed as the group renovates the building for new vendors, and the newly christened "The Shed" sat completely empty.

But Shed 3 was open and totally packed with vendors. This shed formerly housed large-scale produce distributors, but now the focus is back on the farmers. Before the makeover, the produce on offer here was just like the fruits and vegetables you find at the supermarket, like Chiquita bananas and Dole oranges. Now the space is almost completely devoted to local farmers and artisan food purveyors.

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Cake Bar Opens This Week in Trinity Groves, and It Looks Like a Contender

Categories: Food News

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Trinity Groves
The dessert menus at Trinity Groves restaurants just got challenged.
The dessert sales at Trinity Groves restaurants could take a major hit this Thursday when Cake Bar opens. The dessert bar and retail shop will sell traditional, southern-style cakes and confections for customers to eat on-site or take with them to go.

In an effort to be a well-rounded fatness shop, a variety of pound cakes, quick breads and cookies will be available. And because it goes so well with cookies and poundcake they'll also be making their own ice cream. You could almost skip dinner altogether.

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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 16: The Chicken Scratch at Chicken Scratch

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This is biscuit is a complete breakfast.
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.

Truth be told a good biscuit is best with just a bit of butter and, if you're craving sweetness, a drizzle of honey. Served this way and pulled fresh from the oven and a good biscuit can be the best thing that happens to you all day.

Or you could throw your whole kitchen at a biscuit, which is exactly what Tim Byres does with the Chicken Scratch he serves at Chicken Scratch. It's a snapshot of most of the menu, all served up in a single pie tin.

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TJ's Seafood Market Has a New Home, a Bigger Menu, and More Booze

Categories: First Look

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Joey Stewart
Oysters that will make you be shellfish.

TJ's Seafood isn't exactly new to Dallas. It started in 1989 at Preston and Forest, serving up seafood out of a fish case. A few years ago, they expanded to the Oak Lawn area and added a dine-in restaurant component to their business. Now, they've shuttered the original TJ's Seafood and opened up the brand new TJ's Seafood Market and Grill in the Preston Royal Shopping Center.

It's beautiful:


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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 17: Campechano at El Come Taco

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When two meats collide, we all have campechano in our eyes.
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.

Briskizo? Brisketzo? Chorisket? Trying to come up with a word that effectively conveys the loving marriage of brisket and chorizo is a hard thing to do. But when creations taste this delicious, you want to get it right.

Campechano: That's what they're called here. When you walk up to the counter at El Come Taco, proudly declare you'd like seven or eight Campechano tacos. Limes come with every taco regardless of your order, but don't forget to request cilantro and onions.

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