In Dallas and Beyond, Custom Cocktails Are Overrated

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Catherine Downes
The stage at Smyth is set for the cocktail of your dreams, or a complete disaster.
It's Drinking Week at City of Ate, which means even more stories than usual about our favorite pastime. Check back for more stories about craft beer, killer bartenders and more.

I had my first "custom cocktail" about four years ago. I was at new bar in D.C. called The Passenger, where, along with doing untold things to hot dogs, they served drinks few others in the city were making at the time. A man named Tom Brown was behind the bar, and a friend beside me mentioned I could order a customized cocktail -- something whipped up just for me, based on my tastes.

I remember Brown's hulking figure turning toward a wall of spirits, one hand wrapped around a stainless steel shaker and the other near his face, finger tapping his lip in deep introspection. He'd just asked what kind of base spirit I liked and a few other questions about sweetness and flavor preferences, and was presumably was using the information to create something that had never been created before.

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The Line at Steel City Pops Makes No Sense

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Looks good, but be ready for a wait
Dear Steel City Pops,

First, I want you to know I love you. On a hot day, one of your fruity pops is the pinnacle of refreshment; I can't eat it fast enough. An avocado pop, with its creamy tang, would be a treat no matter the weather, and I'm convinced that delicious coffee pop provides a significant boost. I love you so much I favorably reviewed you in a column that's normally reserved for restaurants. You: a little popsicle stand, with only one product.

But there's a problem and it is keeping me from eating all the delicious pops I would otherwise. It's the line. It's INSANE. I absolutely can't understand it. It starts at the counter, stretches out the door before it turns, and at times runs all the way to Prospect Avenue. There might be a hundred people in that line, which you think would not be a problem, but it's enough to keep my inconsolable popsicle paws at bay.

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Go Away, Restaurant Musician

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Anja_johnson
Back up, dude.
Dear Tableside Restaurant Serenade Man,

We all have to make a living, I know, but your present vocation is having significantly negative impact on my dining experience. I came out to share a quiet meal with a friend and all I can hear if your incessant thrumming.

I can't recall a single meal that was enhanced by your pitchy crooning, in fact, not to mention your lack of respect for my personal space. I'd like to think I might be able to convince my date to come home with me eventually, but you're standing so close that your crotch is directly in her face, subjugating my masculinity. You look at her with eyes that suggest you might be available, should things not work out with me, and then you use the same raised eyebrows in my direction to say, "Hey buddy, how 'bout a tip?"

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Five Dallas Dives Guy Fieri Should (Not) Visit

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Naomi Vaughn
Guy marked his territory at Maple and Motor in 2012.
Everyone's favorite backwards-sunglasses and flaming-shirt enthusiast Guy Fieri revisits DFW this week, sort of, with an hour-long rehash of former Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives episodes that he's calling "The Legends of Texas" tour, airing all week. As we wrote about in 2012, this means some people's favorite restaurants, including Cane Rosso, are about to be crushed.

In the spirit of Guy's visit to our fair city, we decided to give Guy a few new suggestions for some future Dallas-focused episodes. Then we decided, Screw that. But we'd already written our tip sheet so we just redacted the important details so Fieri can never find them and can never ruin them, too.

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A Review of Doritos Loaded, Which Aren't Really Food

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Nick Rallo

Doritos come in multiple forms and dimensions these days. There's the two dimensional-like flat chip option, which have been Street Tacoed, nacho cheese explosioned, Tapatioed, and, more recently, contorted into the taco dimension. On the taco axis, Doritos is often filled with "beef" and sour cream and stuff.

Now, 7-Eleven scientists are thinking more third-dimensionally: Doritos Loaded exist like 3D triangles in the physical universe with depth and breadth. In Doritos Loaded space-time, like in all life everywhere, a dimension is filled to the brim with American, Romano and cheddar cheese and another is encrusted more Doritos.

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Pakpao Has Lost its Way

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Catherine Downes
The fried catfish and red curry of old-time Pakpao
If you haven't been in a while, there have been a lot of changes at the Design District Thai restaurant Pakpao. Owners Richard and Tiffanee Ellman first got attention when they asked chef Eddie Thretipthuangsin to leave late last year. They said they wanted to make Pakpao a "national brand," and the restaurant remained without a chef until recently, when Jet Tila was announced as both chef and partner.

Tila was introduced as a celebrity chef -- he had television appearances with Anthony Bourdain, Iron Chef and others to his credit. He also cooked in restaurants in Las Vegas, where he lives, so he had no intention of working the line in Pakpao full-time. Instead, Tila is leaving a few cooks in Dallas, so a member of "Team Tila" was always in the kitchen. He plans to drop in occasionally.

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A Dallas Man Claims He Drank a $55 Dollar, 60-Shot Coffee Drink at an Uptown Starbucks

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Twitter
Proving that the American workforce is increasingly bored at their desks these days, a $54.75 Starbucks order propelled a Dallas man into Internet fame yesterday. Inspired by a previous unsubstantiated record in which a customer ordered what he called the "Quadriginoctuple Frap," Twitter user Andrew Chifari strolled into an Uptown Starbucks and proceeded to order a coffee drink with 60 shots of espresso.

Then, he says, he did something even dumber. He drank it.

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Tasting the Worst Taco in Dallas

Categories: Complaint Desk

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All week at City of Ate, we celebrate the magic of the taco. Check back for more interviews, essays and maybe a list or two. Or maybe four?

If you live in Dallas, you've likely shopped at a 7-Eleven, and if you've shopped at Dallas' official convenience store, then you've likely spent some time staring into the hot box staged near the cash register as you wait in line to pay for your Red Bull.

The dimly lit fortress of sodium displays all manner of food things: the pizza slices with desiccated pepperoni slices and hardening crusts; the chicken wings that look exactly like the partially chewed fried bird parts you find on the sidewalk in summer; the taquitos that look like cigars that someone lit, let float in a swimming pool for a day and then dried in the sun; and, of course, the miniature tacos that somehow manage to look cute when surrounded by so much salty sacrilege.

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Fuel City's Tacos Are Not Good

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Fuel City tacos circa 2011.
All week at City of Ate, we celebrate the magic of the taco. Check back for more interviews, essays and maybe a list or two. Or maybe four?

Three or so years ago, when I was driving in a rickety Penske truck with my life's possessions toward Texas, I knew just one thing about Dallas' taco scene. A chef friend back in Washington D.C. told me that the best tacos to be had in Dallas were sold at a place called Fuel City. We were in his kitchen and there was an entire duck with its head still attached simmering away in hot oil. "They serve tacos in gas stations down there," he told me. "No shit," was all I could say in return.

Within a few days of my arrival, I found myself sitting at an outdoor table under the Texas summer sun with the biggest glass bottle of Coke I've ever purchased and a Styrofoam box filled with picadillo and barbacoa tacos. I remember thinking they were pretty good, and that the picadillo was spicy, and that it was pretty great to suddenly live in a state where you could gas up your ride with one hand on the pump while the other cradles a warm tortilla stuffed with meat.

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Happy Easter! I Hate Peeps.

Categories: Complaint Desk

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The Chad Houser
Behead your Peeps. Do not eat them.
If you've never had a Peeps, know this: It's like eating a tablespoon of sugar lovingly dusted atop a mouthful of your gramma's cellulite. Pretty sure those are the two main ingredients, just behind yellow dye number gross. This is punishment candy. It's the equivalent of getting a turd in your stocking at Christmas.

And it's not like they look delicious, either. The original Peeps just look like someone took a log of border collie crap, rolled it in yellow sugar, put some eyeballs on it with a brown Sharpie and called it the greatest Easter candy joke of all time.

Of course they're gluten-free. But so is the vomit of every gluten-free-er on the planet. (Opting out entirely is obviously gluten-free. Air don't have no glutes. I just wanted to offer up another chewable option, if that was needed.)


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