Texas®

Speaking of beer and The Flying Saucer, all sorts of holiday merriment will be going on at Dallas’ Meddlesome Moth come Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve!

If you’ve never dabbled in all things Moth-like, here’s your chance to spend some of the scrilla Santa may be stuffing your stocking with:

CHRISTMAS EVE:
On Friday, Dec. 24, the Moth will be open regular hours of 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Rare beer tappings will include Austin’s 512 Double Pecan Bourbon Barrel aged cask-conditioned ale and Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary series Grand Cru. The chef will prepare some chalkboard specials to pair with these fine ales.

CHRISTMAS DAY:
The Moth will reopen at 5 p.m., and guests are encouraged to arrive early for the tapping of a rare cask of Jester King Commercial Suicide aged in George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey barrels. The Jester King is a Texas brew and is extremely limited in quantity.

SUNDAY, DEC. 26:
Guests and their families are invited to enjoy the Moth’s new Sunday brunch menu, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which features flavorful, interesting food selections and specialty beers, including Eggs Creole (poached eggs, crawfish, cayenne hollandaise and lyonnaise potatoes. Ask about the Meddlesome Margarita, you’ll love it! Reservations are recommended.

NEW YEAR’S EVE:
New Year’s Eve will feature a prix fixe menu option, prepared by Chef Chad Kelley, accompanied by a handpicked selection of beers specifically chosen to pair well with each course. Wine lovers should not feel left out, as there will be wine pairing options, too. The Moth will open at 11 a.m., and celebration seating will begin at 10 p.m. The three menu options will include Coffee-Cured Duck Confit with Pistachio, Mache and Coco Nibs, and New Bedford Scallops with Sweet and Sour Golden Raisins and Parsnip Puree. Reservations are strongly recommended. For those guests who would like to reserve a table without dinner, the Moth is also taking reservations to celebrate and ring in the New Year with a special beer toast.

For more information about the holiday schedule or to make a reservation for any of the holiday events, please call (214) 628-7900.

Holiday hours for the Meddlesome Moth are as follows: Friday, Dec. 24, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, Dec. 25, 5 p.m. to close; Sunday, Dec. 26, 11 a.m. to midnight; and Friday, Dec. 31, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

It’s a yearly pilgrimage to fried food and farm animals and The State Fair of Texas opens today and runs thru October 17th.

Last year the State Fair of Texas almost gave me, the husband and friend Taylor a coronary. I’m sure this year will be no exception considering the additions of Fried Beer, which still sounds awful to even after I throw back a few cold non-fried beers.

STAR WARS COW!!

I ’m not as excited this year about the food as I normally am, with the exception of a Fletcher’s corn dog, but I am really excited about the animals. Because it’s in the livestock barns of the State Fair that I really feel at home. The sweet straw, and the sounds of livestock lowing, grunting and squee-ing…it all makes this enormous, bright, fried, be-Ferris Wheeled place seem more like being at small county fair, and I just love that.

There’s always Boris, the 1100 lb pig, the baby animals in the Children’s Barnyard where we almost always spend more on cups of food for the critters than we do ourselves, there are Star Wars cows, Elsie the Borden Cow and of course, the ducks that wear grossly oversized toupees.

It was also at last year’s fair that I began to learn more about its long and storied history.

The State Fair of Texas has been around since 1887, with its initial draw being horseracing. Both World War I, World War II and the Spanish flu caused its cancellation many times. “And though the fair was so successful, they still suffered under repeated fires, grandstand collapses, mishaps, mounting debt and the Texas Legislature banning gambling on horseracing, the fair’s main source of income. And yet the State Fair of Texas fought and struggled and survived and has thrived for over 120 years, no matter the obstacle. For me, that is the personification of the Texas spirit.

So as you walk past Big Tex and overindulge in fried food and farm animals, pause for a moment and realize you’re walking paths long trod and long fought for and be grateful for the spirit of Texas and her denizens lost passed.

Forget the best of the wursts, Plano’s Ringo’s Pub is playing host to their very own Texas-style Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 9th.

Gates open at 2 p.m. and there’s lots to satisfy even the persnickety-est of tastes, both musical and edible. Featuring BBQ and beer, of course, there’s plenty of live music with Todd Stewart at 3:30 p.m., Austin Allsup at 5 p.m., the wondrous King Bucks at 7 p.m. and ending the evening with Whiskey Myers from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

If BBQ ain’t your bag, may we recommend the Ringo Burger? It’s so good, just just might stab anyone who might try to steal a bite!

Ringo’s Pub
865 Kincaid Rd.
Suite E14 (Behind Angelika)
Plano, TX

It has been called “Plano’s little strip mall gem” by Dallas Observer. The Dallas Morning News has reviewed it twice, giving it praise each time. My time at the Bavarian Grill in Plano was a German treat that left me satisfied albeit, a few pounds heavier.

Lots of Good Times are Had Here

There is a reason why the Bavarian Grill is ranked so highly by so many people throughout the internet and was voted The Best German Restaurant in America for 2009 by GermanDeli.com. It’s just that good. Bavarian Grill is easy to find yet, with the construction around the area, it’s hard to get to. Of course, when I found it, I had to do a double take to make sure I was in the right area. It’s located in a strip mall between a prosthetics office and Fitness 4 Life (ironic), but Bavarian Grill is its own island of German cuisine and culture.

I like saying the word “schnitzel” so I ordered the Jager Schnitzel. For those who wonder, no, they do not use Jagermeister. Instead, this breaded treat is made with a rich sauce and a copious amount mushrooms. I must say that the Bavarian Grill lives up to its claim of having the largest schnitzels in Texas. It took me what seemed like a happiness-filled forever to finish off the schnitzel. The Bavarian Grill has a huge menu and plenty of choices for everyone including vegetarian and gluten-free menu items.

Too much goodness for one plate

German beer is a large part of the culture and for anyone who might refer to themselves “beer connoisseurs,” the Bavarian Grill is a “must try.” Bavarian Grill offers over 60 different brands of German beer which made choosing my beer the hardest part of my visit. They also have three domestic American beers but ordering one of those would be like bringing a McDonalds cheeseburger to a restaurant known for its filet mignon. After minutes of deliberation, I eventually went with a dunkel “dark” beer named “Franziskaner Hefe Dunkel.” It had a bit of a spice taste and was not too heavy, which I enjoyed. They also have a gluten-free beer and three different kinds of alcohol-free beers.

Bavarian Grill has a “Stein Club” which one become a part of after drinking all Bavarian Grill has on its “Bier Card.” Members of the Stein Club receive a personalized ceramic stein, preferred seating on weekends, free use of the Bier Book Library among other perks. Of course, it will take me awhile to become a member of the Stein Club, but I suppose every man needs a goal.

Wine aficionados also have a club which is called the Wein Club. Bavarian Grill has a plethora of choices of German wines and once you have a glass of all of the choices on the “Wein Card,” you are awarded with your very own “Wein Glass.” Bavarian Grill also has a plethora of schnapps and liquors though there is no club for drinking all of the liquors.

Legends Are Made Here!

Bavarian Grill hosts happy hours, contests and parties. One particular event that the Bavarian Grill is hosting is the regional qualifying matches of “Masskrugstemmen.” This is an event in which you hold a liter Stein of Bier with one completely stretched out arm that is parallel to the floor. These matches are held at 9:00pm every Friday night fron July 9th until August 13th and at 8:00pm on every Wednesday night from July 14th until August 11th. Or if you and at least 4 friends make yourselves known to the manager on duty, an impromptu Masskrugstemmen match will be held.  If you happen to see me at Bavarian Grill, then I challenge you and your friends to Masskrugstemmen!

So, in closing, I highly recommend the Bavarian Grill for anyone who is looking to experience the best in German cuisine, bier and culture.  The atmosphere is light and an all-around fun place for family and friends to gather.

Bavarian Grill
221 West Parker Road
Plano, Texas
75023 * (972) 881-0705

One of the first new restaurants to open in Downtown Plano just as the city began to emerge as a food destination was Kelly’s Eastside, a small pub with a smaller patio when it first opened Kelly’s has grown to incorporate a neighboring storefront and increase their footprint on K Avenue in Old Plano.

“When we first opened there really was just us and Jorge’s.” says owner Tim Kelly referring to Jorge’s Café Vienna just across the intersection. “There really was nothing here at all just junk shops, antique stores and a couple of places that you really weren’t sure what they were.”

Born in Waco, Tim grew up in Richardson before heading off to Texas A&M “I have a degree in Physical Education, with a Minor in Biology, Mathematics and Health Education. I knew I didn’t want to teach so when I finished up at A&M I went to cooking school because the entire time I was at school I was running a bar at North Gate.”

After graduating Tim went to work for Steak N’ Ale opening their new location in Bryan “They saw I had cooking experience and even though I wanted to work on the bar side they put me in the kitchen and I have never gotten out.”

Tim eventually ended back in Richardson at Taffy’s a long established institution of good food where he worked just after high school. “Eventually I bought Taffy’s, it was a simple breakfast lunch and dinner place in the old Promenade Shopping Center.” Unfortunately in November 2001 Taffy’s had a fire destroying the place and so close to the economic aftereffects of 9-11 Taffy’s could not be reborn.

“I was in the process of looking for a job, my wife had taken one at Central Market and I was interviewing when I heard from a friend that someone they knew was looking at opening a place. Funny thing was I just wanted to meet them to sell them the equipment I had salvaged from Taffy’s.” Tim points back to the corner of K and 15th street, “She was looking around the corner at the 15th street Bakery location right over here behind us.”

“At the time Plano was all Private Clubs, you couldn’t have a “BAR” you had to do the club routine and you had to commit 960 square feet of your building to seating and that building was only 900 square feet so you can see the problem.” Tim shakes his head at the memory. “I asked her where she was going to put the kitchen and seating and she couldn’t seem to see that that building just wouldn’t work.”

By happenstance the landlord for 1422 Avenue K happened to be on site and Tim and his now new business partner walked in. “The place needed some serious renovations to be up to code, it had no grease traps or anything you needed to have so we started looking for SBA loans. Could not find one anywhere.”

Eventually after the truth of how much it was going to take to open a pub became a reality the new “partner” backed out leaving Tim with an idea and not enough money so he reached out to a financial partner who was a classmate at A&M. “He came down and could see what I saw with the potential the downtown area had, I put up what I had and the equipment.”

From May 2002 it took over 18 month to get the building working. “I ended up going through two General Contractors both went into bankruptcy, so I had plumbers and finish contractors who had gotten screwed by the contractor some of the subs were just about incompetent. The plumbers didn’t put stuff in right and we ended up having to remove the new concrete slab that was poured over their mistakes just to fix their screw ups.”

“Honestly, right now, I am looking for a second restaurant location and this time I am looking for one that has already been a restaurant I don’t want to go through this again.”

In November 2003 Kelly’s opened a year later the location next door became available when the Cigar shop moved down the street so they began expanding the bar side of the business. “By the time we got the permits from the city and I managed to get my partner on board with changing something we had just spent a great deal of money building the Fillmore Pub was just getting open down the street.”

The laws had changed as well so they no longer had to have the private club license but could be a 50-50 food drink bar. “With the addition of the Fillmore instead of being a threat they turned out to be a blessing in disguise. With us and them and now Urban Crust and Vickery down town Plano is starting to really become the destination it should be.”

“At first I really was the only night place down here, Jorge closes his place early and that left just me, when Fillmore’s opened there was more to do here and the Dart Rail station and those apartment developments just made downtown start as a draw. I think we are still about a year and a half from really being a destination but it is moving in the right direction.”

During the interim between when Taffy’s closed and Kelly’s opened Tim had been working as a concept consultant helping establish a very successful Texas Themed Smoke house in Boston, “While doing the Village Smoke House in Brookline Village, Mass. I realized I wanted to bring in the smoke house concept and the good food here.”

“Just after we opened, the Kelly’s name really paid off, we really didn’t think of ourselves as an Irish themed pub but people saw the name and we got swamped on St Patrick’s Day.” It was at the point we were almost out of beer and we were definitely out of the stuff we decided to Green.”

Far from Irish, Kelly’s Eastside is more of a traditional Texas BBQ come diner with a variety of food, all fresh prepared, that runs the gambit from Brisket Chips and Queso featuring the slow smoked Brisket Kelly’s has become known for to Spicy Wings and a massive serving of slow cooked ribs that fall off the bone if you look at them hard,

With the selection are some interesting twists on Pub fare including seasoned crackers served with the Crab, Artichoke and Spinach Dip “Really they are Keebler dinner crackers we marinade in spice and Virgin olive oil then roast, we have had people come in begging for the recipe and saying they had been looking for them at Sam’s but it is something my wife came up with so if you can get her to tell you….” Tim laughs

“Now that we have a good selection of places down here more people have begun thinking about Downtown Plano as a place to go, there are others who are also looking at the success of the clubs here and hopefully we will see a couple of more places in the near future.

Kelly’s is located on the East side of K Avenue at 15th street and has become its own destination. Keep your eyes open as you are driving south, it is the place with the crowded patio.

Kelly’s Eastside
1422 Avenue K
Plano, Texas 75074
(972) 424-9200

whipinNestled in Austin’s Travis Heights is the Whip In, a Mom & Pop grocery and cafe run by the charming, married duo, AKA the Mom 7 Pop, of Joe & Chandan Topiwala. They first opened the Whip In in 1986 and this wondrous place is still going strong.

The Whip In is everything you’d expect from an Austin grocery/cafe: Live music, local and organic veggies, meats and wine, beers from around the world and some of the best, authentic Gujarati-style Indian food this side of, well, Western India. Their dedication to great things doesn’t stop there, though. Well respected in the community, the Whip In and its proprietors all give back by way of fundraising events, like this Thursday’s Benefit for Groundwork Music Project, and work with grassroots organizations throughout Austin. The shop’s staff is just as diverse as the contents of the store. For instance, the Beer Manager (he’s assembled the largest selection in Austin, BTW) once considered going into politics, until he remembered that he doesn’t like people. Mom & Pop used to sew uniforms for mine workers in Zambia. As for the kitchen staff, one member is a derby girl, another a singer-songwriter.

Finding the place is easy, it looks like your run-of-the-mill convenience store…but it’s so, so much more.

Whip In
1950 Interstate Hwy 35 S
Austin, TX

Pretty much every guy in the world has the desire to have his own spot, a place where he can go and sit, drink beer, eat and watch sports and just relax. Add in a handful of beautiful young women and you have what can only be called the ultimate man cave.

This concept is not new, but the way the Brick House Tavern and Tap pulls those “Guy Centric” aspects together is. Based in Houston where there are now Two Brick Houses they have descended on what can only be called the epicenter of eating in Plano.

The corner of Park and Preston has become ground zero in the restaurant business because of its proximity to the head offices for some of the largest mass market restaurants like Chili’s and TGIFridays. The corner location and surrounding commercial developments has housed the “Flagship” locations, test concepts and other dining experiences that (with apologies to Frank Sinatra) if they can make it there they can make it anywhere.

The Brick House has moved in to the shell of what used to be Bennigan’s flagship location, gutting it to the walls and turning the shell into the ultimate Guy’s Den. Dozens of Flat panel High Definition TV’s are tuned to sports and there is a variety of seating choices from traditional 4 top tables to booths to sofa/coffee table dining, Hi Tops, inside and outside bar tops, shaded deck and a cluster of leather recliners with custom made TV trays.

All the surfaces and textures are guy friendly with earth tone leather, tweed, dark wood and Stainless Steele. The sub structure of the building itself has also been co-opted into becoming a feature, the HVAC ducts and Sprinkler Stacks are exposed and add to the converted industrial loft feel.

“There is pretty much nothing left of the old Bennigan’s building except its skeleton.” Explains Modesto Alcala, Chief Concept Officer, “In the old location the bar was “U” shaped and attached to the kitchen wall, here we decided to maximize the use by placing it on the deck wall so we can open it up on nice days.”

Trying to figure out what the Brick House is can be interesting: it is part gourmet tap featuring varieties of draft and bottled suds; part Sports Bar with dozens of TV’s, but no Neon and music is playing; part Lounge with comfortable recliners and sofas clustered around open hearth fireplace and part scratch cooked kitchen diner featuring American classics with a twist.

The most obvious part is the Female Centric staff, dozens of beautiful young women in jean shorts, miniskirts and snug fitting black tops glide across the bar in an unending progression between customer, bar, kitchen and back to customer. It would be easy to snap your fingers and say “Ah! It’s a Breastraunt!” a term used to describe the recent explosive market segment buttressed by Hooters, home grown Twin Peaks and Bone Daddy’s and the newest in this market, The Tilted Kilt.

“That is one thing we are not.” Modesto is very quick to point out, “We spend a great deal of time and effort training the staff to know their product inside and out, to understand the process and to be confident in their knowledge. We want to empower them to be able to give outstanding customer service in their way, not by some script. Each young lady here can personalize their outfit; they can also personalize how they interact with our guests. We want them to be comfortable with what they are doing, not feeling like they are being exploited and forced to put themselves on display.”

“We have a very specific hiring procedure as well, the most important part for us is personality.” Modesto points out “we want people who can work together as a unit and be able to stand up alone as well. When we find the right person we are willing to put the effort into training them and we expect them to put the effort into creating a unique experience for the guest.”

Part of the training, aside from understanding the difference between a wheat and a lager is almost to the point of obsessive, “The state of Texas mandates that food and beverage servers are recertified every two years, we actually require our servers to take the on line certification every quarter. So every three months they have to recertify, if they don’t, it is linked to our Point of Sale System and they can’t sign in.”

Modesto points out that one of the things that always bothered him about beer taps is that, in most places, they block the sightlines from the bar. By modifying and re-tasking piping originally intended for the Dairy industry the Brick House designers moved the taps up high above so you look under the tap handles with a clear vista. The Six inch diameter pipes with exposed heavy duty bolts also adds to the industrial feel of the bar and does double duty keeping the beer lines chilled to the proper temperature.

This attention to detail continues into other areas. “I couldn’t find a dish to serve one of our staples, Deviled Eggs, a big seller. Every dish I looked at was created for Escargot, mushroom Caps or other items and I wasn’t happy with any of them. So, I know this guy, who works in the scrap metal business. I told him what I wanted and he fabricated our egg trays out of stainless steel.”

The deviled eggs themselves have a little twist too. The yoke concoction is augmented by finely minced jalapeño’s and is topped with bacon triangles that really do look like devil horns. “It is all about taking comfort food, things you grew up with and taking a fresh look at each dish.” Modesto gets a little twinkle in his eye as he begins talking about the menu, an obvious source of great pride, “Everything from our Meat Loaf Sliders to our pork chops we have looked at how it’s made and how it arrives at the table.”

The Chops come “Drunken” served with a whisky based barbeque glaze, onion strings and are one of the few items served on a white plate. “For the Sliders, we were initially using baskets lined with paper but they were too flimsy and cheep, so again we looked at how we can do it better.” A Galvanized round tray that looks like something you would buy at garden supply to put under a large planter met the need. “We are also going to be using a square pan like these it almost looks like a loaf pan.”

Modesto has a lot to be proud of with how this restaurant works. The time he spent talking to Best of Texas was actually in the middle of the grand opening on Monday just watching how well things were flowing, noticing how well laid out the pathways and transit points it was obvious the people behind the Brick House know what they are doing. There was a complete lack of Chaos, which in itself high praise for an operation of this size.

As an autonomous division of Ignite Restaurant Group Brick House’s sister company is Joe’s Crab Shack. There are currently Six Brick House Tavern and Tap’s, including two in Houston and the one in Plano. During our conversation with Modesto he commented on how familiar he was with this particular piece of real estate. With a little checking it became, again, apparent why everything seemed to work so well. He worked in management and concept departments for both Brinker and Carlson’s developing other well established brands so his office used to be just around the corner.

One of the main things that elevates Brick House from other “female centric” eateries is how they treat the servers. Each qualifies for health and dental insurance, a perk most other companies would never think of and also offers a tuition reimbursement. “Not only do we want our guests to leave here saying good things about our food and our service but we want our employees to be empowered to grow. I really hope some grow with us and stick with the business. We also really want them to work together well, they have to know they have each other’s back.”

This last detail is somewhat the alchemy of this kind of eatery but with such a variety of individuals, each bringing their own touches from Bedazzled belts to nose piercing there sometimes is the risk of what is known in the Bar world as Pretty Girl Syndrome (PGS) where the young lady relies solely on their looks and has the personality of a slightly warm boiled potato.

While sitting with Modesto as the opening unfolded seemingly drama free there was not a sign of any drama behind the scenes. Upsetting the balance of PGS by overwhelming it with 100 attractive young ladies seems to defuse it. The women range from college students to Mom’s reentering the workforce, to service industry veterans from behind the bar each bringing their own approach to their job. “The last thing I want to hear is someone saying ‘Hello my name is Mary and I will be your server today…’ or something from a script. Each person brings a unique story to the bar, their own DNA their own fingerprints and I really want them to put their own stamp on things.”

The other major thing that separates Brick House from the rest is their scratch cooked kitchen. The food is very good, the place comfortable and the service really is top notch.

By laying bricks at the corner of Park and Preston the Brick House Man Cave concept has a lot of competition within feet in every direction, but the simple twists on American Classics and exceptional service will most likely bring many back over and over.

Brick House Tavern and Tap
4900 West Park Blvd
Plano Texas 75093
972.596.0916

I’ve spent the last few months writing about some of the new gastro pubs which have started popping up around North Texas and in doing so, I’ve run into the same name over and over again:

Franconia.

Franconia is an anglicized spelling of Fränkinsche, a hundreds of year old brewing region in Bavaria in Germany. It’s also the name of a hundreds of years old family brewery, Franken Bráu, located near Nuremberg.

In that area of Germany there are literally hundreds of craft breweries, each with its own traditions and unique taste. It’s where brewing was born and there are still some in continuous operation since the 1600’s. It is not unheard of to have every member of a family working at the same brewery and it’s in this world that Dennis Wehrmann grew up and brewed his first beer.

“My father was the only one in the family that didn’t go into the beer business,” explains Dennis, “He became a police man, which was probably a good thing. I guess he worked with beer just on the other side.”

Growing up around his uncle’s brewery, Dennis was exposed early on to all the processes involved in brewing. The Franken Bráu was originally founded by his great-great-grandfather, Frank Schaubert, back in 1800. Even his mother worked as a beer lab technician says Wehrmann, “So I guess I come by this honestly.”

Dennis is a big, burly man who first came to the United States to be the Brewmaster for Two Rows in Addison. If you close your eyes and listen to his deep baritone voice and slight Teutonic accent and picture what a brew master would look like he’s pretty much exactly what you see. He’s tall, barrel-chested and heaves full kegs of brew in one hand to make his deliveries.

After working at Two Rows for years Dennis took the entrepreneurial plunge and founded Franconia Breweries in a small industrial park in McKinney, Texas. The small warehouse is equipped with fermenters, brew kettles, a cold room, keg packaging and a large grain hopper. “Everything we use here is the best quality from the grain to the yeast and water. By keeping it simple and being able to deliver it ourselves we don’t add any preservatives or stabilizers to our beer. It is beer the way beer is supposed to be”, he adds.

Simplicity also goes into the selection at the brewery. Franconia Lager, Wheat, Dunkle (dark) and Koisch are supplemented by seasonal brews like Maybach in the spring, followed by an Octoberfest, Fallenbach and Winter Wheat. “We decided to keep the names simple, too. Instead of using some name like “Rabid Dog” or some catchy brand, we wanted our customers to know what they are getting when they order,” explains Dennis.

Customers like the Gingerman, Rugby House, Holy Grail, Churchill’s and hundreds of other local pubs sell Franconia and are quite used to Dennis showing up with the delivery. Dennis’ robust manner and quality product has earned him a reputation as a master brewer and somewhat of an oddity in the beer world. Most bars expect deliveries handled by a guy in a truck who works for a corporation, but Dennis is the only brewery President and Brewmaster who actually shows up with the kegs he produces.

There are a lot of eyes watching what Franconia is producing. Dennis holds the number of clients and kegs in circulation pretty close to his chest, “I want to keep that to myself, the competition would be able to figure out a lot of things if they knew our volume.”

More and more of the gastro pubs I have been writing about seem to be carrying Franconia, so I have no doubt that others have noticed the name and more than a few have been ordering the all natural selections coming out of McKinney.

And if you happen by the brewery itself? Dennis has a little souvenir from the family back in Germany: A weathered 200-year-old beer keg sits near the sampling table telling a story of a tradition of craft brewing that is, literally, in his blood.

Franconia Brewery
495 McKinney Parkway
McKinney, TX
(972) 542-0705

My neighborhood isn’t exactly pedestrian-friendly. I don’t think I’m being overly cautious (or unfair) when I say that foot traffic is best kept to a minimum. Despite this fact, last week I decided to hoof it to Bryan Street Tavern, which is located a scant two and a half blocks from my East Dallas apartment. The occasion was a friend’s birthday, and the celebration was in full swing by the time I arrived.

Drinks were in hand, and on one of the tables perched two partially eaten pizzas, seemingly begging me to take a slice. Without even glancing at the drink specials, I ordered a vodka soda and settled in at the table with the wood-fired pies on it. One looked to be the pesto chicken version, topped with pesto sauce, chicken, roasted tomatoes and luscious dollops of ricotta cheese. The other, the Tavern Favorite, was loaded with pepperoni, Jimmy’s Italian sausage, onion and mushrooms. Both were excellent; satisfying but not too heavy. As has become standard practice, though it’s no less laudable, Bryan Street has menu items featuring both Jimmy’s and Dallas Mozzarella Company products. Local synergy at work. You can also get filet mignon on your pizza or salad selection, the thought of which made my oft-neglected inner carnivore salivate. The beers available on tap and in bottles were the run-of-the-mill variety, and there’s a full bar plus four wines for sale by glass or bottle. Daily specials are worth marking your calendar for, as my two well drinks fortuitously cost me just $4. My earlier bravado dampened by vodka, I decided to get a ride instead of make the two-block trek home. By proximity, I have no excuse not to visit my new neighbor again soon. Form of transportation to be determined.

Bryan Street Tavern
4315 Bryan Street (between Peak and Carroll)
Dallas, Texas

Barley House

The Barley house has been a Dallas bar staple since 1992. First at its original location at Henderson and 75 where you would see a young Old 97’s plying its song craft, now Barley House can be found at it’s newish location at 5612 Yale blvd.

The Barley has been at this new location for about three years now but since my companion last Friday was unaware of its relocation, I’ll have to assume it’s location still new to most. It becomes quite apparent when you approach the new Barley House it won’t be quite as you remember it if you’d frequented the original location.

There is a good size patio out front and the inside is more open than compared to the original with a bar partitioned down the middle to keep the chatty drinkers and the musicians and music loving regulars, separate for the most part. Though it looks different, it still feels quite the same. Read more