Gym, Tan, Lunch: Sizing Up the Muscle Maker Grill, the New Restaurant on Lower Greenville

Categories: First Look

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Just back from the gym? This is your place.
If you've driven down Lower Greenville Avenue lately, you might have noticed the Muscle Maker Grill, a restaurant that quietly slid into the old Company Café spot. A bright red sign announcing the place was recently illuminated, and the "EST. 1995" caught my eye.

It turns out the casual restaurant is a chain based in New Jersey, which, if you've spent any time in New Jersey, makes the name all the more awesome. If you don't get it, watch a couple of episodes of Jersey Shore. Everything will come into focus, bro. No seriously, bro. Bro. Seriously.

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Ashwood, Which Replaced the Awesome Bonchon, Is Not Awesome

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Ashwood's namesake burger boasts pickled peppers.
If you've been missing Bonchon, you might want to let that lament go; no trace of the excellent Korean-fried chicken joint remains. Bonchon closed about three weeks ago, after a short-lived existence on Greenville Avenue. The owners said revenue hadn't been what they expected.

For their new concept, they gave the face a minimal face-lift. The greasy sheen that was ever-present on the floor during the Bonchon days is gone, and some brick work has been added behind the bar. There's a patio space now, complete with two sets of cornhole decks but hardly enough room for anyone to use them. They face each other in a bed of mulch, maybe 20 feet apart from each other and tightly packed side-to-side.

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Kate Weiser Is Making Chocolate into Art in Trinity Groves, and It's Delicious

Categories: First Look

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Amy McCarthy
More than just a pretty face.
Fine chocolate is a finicky thing, especially when you're talking about the kind of tricked-up, hand-painted beauties that Kate Weiser is crafting at her new spot in Trinity Groves. You'll probably remember Weiser from her stint at Chocolate Secrets a few years ago, but this new shop is inarguably all about her own fresh and creative approach to an art form that has always been known for being a little too traditional.

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With Noisy Pies and Moonshine, Stonedeck Pizza Fits Right in in Deep Ellum

Categories: First Look

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Pizza pizza
If you've driven down Elm Street in the past few months, you know it's a mess. There are as many potholes as there are pothole patches and just two blocks or driving can rattle the shocks off your car. But behind the rubble and concrete there are glimmers of hope about the future. You can envision the equivalent of the newly renovated Greenville Avenue, only drunker and louder and more covered in ink.

Stonedeck Pizza Pub hopes to be a part of Deep Ellum's future. The restaurant opened about a month ago with crisp, modern lines and massive windows. While much of the neighborhood's bars and restaurants are obscured in darkness, Stonedeck wants to let the light inside. It could almost be a scene from an Edward Hopper painting, if the counter were a little longer.


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A First Look at Ramen Hakata in Addison

Categories: First Look

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Photos by Kathryn DeBruler
Coming in, sitting down, scanning the menu, ordering, waiting, eating and finally, satisfactorily patting our bellies while saying "wasn't that good" before going home. This is the order of things, the way we eat out. It is a complacent activity by design. Often, the joy we take in having a meal at a restaurant is preceded by a reluctance to do work. We don't want to cook, and we certainly don't want to clean up after ourselves. Thus, the luxury of being served dinner by someone else -- usually someone we don't see, or think about -- forever appeals.

Sitting at the bar that faces the open kitchen of Ramen Hakata, one is reminded of just how much work it takes to make dinner out so easy, and so passive, for restaurant-goers. The galley-style kitchen is just big enough for four or five cooks and the occasional waiter bearing clean dishes. Any more staff and the rapid, fluid movements of the workers would be stalled.

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Melt Ice Creams Is Simple and Awesome and Worth the Drive to Fort Worth

Categories: First Look

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Amy McCarthy
Sunshine in a sea of beige.
In an area that is hot for most of the year, it's somewhat surprising that there aren't more local ice cream shops in Dallas-Fort Worth. There are plenty of places to find paletas and popsicles, but a pint of hand-churned ice cream made with local ingredients is a little more difficult to find in Dallas.

You'll have to drive to Fort Worth, but Melt Ice Creams' "farm-to-cone" frozen treats are worth the trip.

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A Sneak Preview of Scotch & Sausage, Which Opens Today in Oak Lawn (Photos)

Categories: First Look

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After months of taunting Oak Lawn with its contemporary design and one-two punch of a name, Scotch & Sausage (2808 Oak Lawn Ave.) finally opens its doors today at 11 a.m. The causal restaurant and beer garden offers more than 20 varieties of sausage "sandwiches" (which are basically like giant, more complex hot dogs) for up to $8. The sausages are all either created in house or made locally, according to the restaurants recipes, and include the basics; pork, beef, chicken and vegan options. But there's also some slightly more adventurous meats like venison, quail and antelope.

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The Green Door Public House, Once a Bank and Long a Bar, Is Now Open in Downtown Dallas

Categories: First Look

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Kathryn DeBruler
The Liberty Bank building has quite the provenance. It has been four saloons, one bank and now, over a century after it was built, the building is home to Green Door Public House.

Architect Craig Melde relocated the building from its original site at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Elm Street to South Harwood Street, near the Dallas Farmers Market. And now Bryan and Kathy Crelly, the duo behind Deep Ellum's Uncle Uber's Sammich Shop, have turned the first floor of the building into their latest foray into Dallas' bar and dining scene.

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Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria, a Fast-Casual Pie Shop Near Knox-Henderson, Is Now Open

Categories: First Look

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Photos by Kathryn DeBruler
The new paint smell is one of the dead giveaways that Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria just opened. The other is the staff, who are eager in a way that only fresh hires can be. This much becomes apparent as white-jacketed employees rush to man their respective stations and greet customers. With time, their zeal for topping pizzas will plummet in reaction to demanding customers, orders gone awry and inevitable marinara-based incidents. Until their customer service souls are crushed into oblivion, though, employees will treat you to an overview of how Firecrust works -- enhanced by Vanna White hand gestures -- without ever breaking eye contact.

The way it works is this: The pizzas are personal, one-size-fills-all. There are three bases to choose from: the margherita ($6.75), the marinara ($5.50) and the bianca ($5.75.) The latter is a no-sauce, "white" option for all the pizza nihilists out there, while the first two feature red sauces made from San Marzano tomatoes.

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Choose Your Own Adventure at S&M Eats

Categories: First Look

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Photos by Kathryn DeBruler

One of the keys to any good eating establishment is being able to find it. S&M Eats, newly opened and making use of The Grapevine Bar's adjacent kitchen space, appears very approachable. Located just off Maple Avenue, S&M is painted an inviting how-do-you-do turquoise, which is offset by punchy neon green chairs and an awning that beckons potential patrons under its umbrella.

When I was there, however, the walk-up window was shuttered. The chairs? Empty. And the only person standing under the awning was me, looking confused. I could hear the sounds of people enjoying themselves. I even caught a faint whiff of caramelized pork belly. Was I overlooking the "this way" arrow, or does S&M Eats exist only in an ephemeral, Platform 9 and ¾ way? ....Was I the Muggle of tacos?

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