Peak & Elm chef Jesse Moreno steams the corn before roasting. He cuts it off the cob and adds four different kinds of pepper and lime blend. He tops it with his special crema compusta and adds two wedges of lime. It’s sublime.
Well, damnit. This is sad news: Escondido, the tiny, family-run Tex-Mex joint on Butler Street closed last Friday. Damn it. I knew they were struggling. Last December I spoke with owner Juan Herrera and he said they’d already closed their dinner service because business turned bad after The Salvation Army Carr P. Collins Social Service Center opened across from Parkland Hospital on Harry Hines Boulevard. The 161,000 square foot center, which houses up to 600 homeless people a night, backs up to Escondido. In the December post, Herrera said, “We have people walking all over the neighborhood and begging our customers for food. The 7-11 was getting robbed and they closed. So I had to close my restaurant at night. I just had to let employees go.”
Escondido served Tex-Mex out of that building for 35 years. Emma, Maria, Nancy,and Juan we will miss you all.
William Pacheco step son of owner Juan Herrera sends this note:
After reading your blog, it left me with the impression that we closed because of lack of business, which is not quite why we closed. The only reason why we closed our doors was because of the new Parkland. When we heard that there was going to be a new Parkland built next door, we knew that soon enough the owner of the land would end up selling to Parkland or we thought the city would take the property over for Parkland. Either way we knew we only had years left when we heard news of the new Parkland. Over the last year when we began to physically see buildings being torn down we thought the end is coming. The end of Escondido that it is, but we kept our doors open. It wasn’t until the morning of March 21st of this year when the owner of the building and some of his business partners gave Juan Herrera the news of his life. He was asked to vacate in about 60 days or so. Now while we thought that he had been given the right number in order to sell, that wasn’t the case. The owner of the land did not sell but rather partnered up with a parking garage company. So sometime this year there will be a parking garage at the corner or Butler and Redfield where Escondido stood for 39 years under the same family ownership.
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Nosh Euro Bisto’s executive chef Jon Stevens’ last day at the popular Park Cities and Plano restaurant is Saturday, April 27. He’s leaving Avner Samuel’s kitchen with Samuel’s blessing. Stevens was hired by Samuel in September, 2010 and together they created two locations of Nosh. “We are parting as friends,” Stevens says. Avner and his wife,Celeste, are on “a San Francisco eating trip.” Celeste confimed Steven’s departure via email.
Stevens plans to open his own restaurant, Stock and Barrel, in the fall. Stock and Barrel will feature Americana food. “It’s a work in progress,” says Stevens.
Stevens will fill some of his time by helping his friend, Mico Rodriguez, open his new spot Mesero Miguel. Stevens was working in San Francisco in 2001 when Mico recruited him to work at The Mercury alongside chef Chris Ward.
Mico has taken over the space formerly known as Cuba Libre/Lemon Bar on Henderson and plans to open an “American grill with a Mexican menu.” Huh? “We are cleaning this place up and changing the interior. I’m really inspired by ‘60s Palm Springs,” Mico says. “I’m going to use organic ingredients and serve steak two ways. You can have it American-style or Mexican-style.”
Rodriguez plans to incorporate “a little Mia’s” into the menu. “We will have pork belly tacos and duck tacos,” he says. “But we will also have brisket tacos.”
The 5,000-square foot, two-story restaurant will seat 120 downstairs in the restaurant and the 2,500 square feet upstairs will be a bar with last call at midnight. “My other restaurant (Mr. Mesero) is only five minutes away,” Mico says. “I turn away so many people that this restaurant makes sense for my business.”
The prices at Mesero Miguel will range from $8 to $35. Opening date is July 11.
Press release just in:
Haystack Burgers & Barley, opening mid-April at the Richardson Heights Shopping Center. Owned and operated by local residents Kevin and Jenny Galvan and Rob and Christine Wondoloski, Haystack will be a true neighborhood burger joint with a quirky, southern vibe that offers fresh, mouthwatering burgers, hand-cut fries, creative sandwiches and selection of salads. Haystack will feature local handcrafted beers on tap and The Haystack signature drink.
The bottom of the release notes Kevin Galvan owned Ricardo’s Tex-Mex in Allen and “the Galvan’s industry experience runs deep, and their family is best known for ties to Dallas’ Tex-Mex history.” However the Galvan’s ties to the restaurant Luna de Noche are not mentioned. Just curious.2 Comments »
By now, you should know what The Big Read Dallas is. If you don’t, go here and leave a comment so you can get a free book. The basic gist is this: we’re spending the entire month of April together, as a city, to read Fahrenheit 451 and encourage people to read. What’s D Magazine’s involvement with it? Well, we’re one of the sponsors. We donated a lot of time (5,000 hours of staff time) and money ( a whopping $160,000) to this campaign. And all we’re really hoping is that this project will get one student hooked on reading.
For the rest of this month, we’re hosting a bunch of cool programs and dinners related to Fahrenheit 451. Join D Magazine, the Friends of the Dallas Public Library, and the National Endowment for the Arts at Wild Salsa on April 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. for “A Fiery Fiesta.”
For $60 a person, you get four delicious courses, cocktails, and a chance to mingle with the ladies of D: The Broadcast and D Living. To buy tickets, go here.
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This week’s post may as well be the sequel to last week‘s. At least in the sense that both recipes feature tomatoes and dried chilies prominently, and both of their names end with an appropriately festive ‘ole.’
But mole, if more common than posole, seems the more shrouded in mystery of the two. I mean there’s no real leap of faith involved in enjoying the various flavors of posole getting together, but chocolate in a savory sauce? WEIRD. (It’s not weird, I’m making a point) At some point, all of us – whether you’re a dainty food sophisticate or you have a hobo gutter palate – thought of chocolate as strictly the turf of sweets and, as such, the notion of chocolate serving as the linchpin of a pan-savory extravaganza probably seemed at first…off-putting. Not gum-mixed-with-popcorn off-putting, but still, like I said, weird.2 Comments »
I collapsed, my will broken, my hunger undiminished. For an interminable month, I had wearily trudged through the desert of downtown food, searching for a glimmer of relief, a refuge from the stinging tyranny of tastelessness. Everywhere I turned, I encountered the same stale sandwiches and the grease-pool pizzas from which I sought escape. Could there ever be hope amidst such desolation? I cried, piteous and, now, fallen.
Then, it appeared. Sand-plunged, heavy-headed, I trained my squinting eyes on the miraculous vision in the distance. I espied a tawny form, a mustachioed stoicism, a sombrero of solace. I found Señor Bean.
Eddie Cervantes has seen and served a lot of Tex-Mex. For 22 years, he ruled over Primo’s, the popular and always-packed restaurant on McKinney Avenue. It was the favorite late-night hangout for Dallas chefs. Dean Fearing was a regular. Cervantes sold Primo’s in 2008 and worked a year at Hully & Mo before he took a couple of years to get back in the Tex-Mex business.
Would love to hear you opinion.
Everyday lately, it’s warm, it’s cold. It’s cold, it’s warm. Get it together, nature. There have been so many cloudless days the last few weeks that look so inviting, but it’ll be like 50 out, with a wind that charges directly through your soul. Then it’s hot in the sun, arctic in the shade. I don’t know whether to wear a parka or jorts (probably both).
Weather as ambivalent as this calls for a dish that works no matter what it’s like outside, so this week it’s all about posole. Posole is a classic, traditionally pork (but in this case chicken) and hominy soup/stew. How classic is it? According to wikipedia, pre-Columbian* classic. In other words, it’s an old dish.** It’s kinda crazy that, given it’s extensive history on this continent, I didn’t get the memo about it’s existence until 3 or 4 years ago. No matter, I have made up for lost time since then.4 Comments »
J. Pepes on Greenville is closed for renovations. A loyal SideDisher and J. Pepes fan writes in:
J Pepes is closing for “renovations” after Sunday (2/3). Don’t know anything else about what they’re doing, when they’re reopening, etc., but the many regulars are despondent at the loss of their local.
Eater National calls Pizza Hut’s new pizza sliders a “monstrosity.” I call them fancy bagel bites.
Winning the “Grossest Super Bowl Foods” category, these chicken wings cupcakes from a New York bakery are truly, deeply nasty. ABC News says that “the cupcake itself is made of cornbread then topped with blue cheese frosting and accented by an actual chicken wing on top.”
Bonus: It’s National Pancake Day at IHOP tomorrow (Feb. 5). FREE pancakes, my friends. Free pancakes.
Announced last June…Herrera’s Cafe opens in the space formerly known as Margarita Ranch in Mockingbird Station on Friday, Feb. 1 at 4PM. Food till 10PM; bar open until midnight. The new menu will feature classic Tex-Mex family recipes, such as slow-cooked meats and sizzling fajitas, as well as a comprehensive tequila list and flights. Happy hour and brunch details can be found on their blog. Regular hours of operation can be found here.
Former D Magazine editor Mary Brown Malouf and I ate our way across town looking for the best one-location-only Tex-Mex joints. We conquered 17 joints in 7 days. Here are our top ten. Yes, we know Tejano was sold after we went to press and no we don’t feel bad leaving Mia’s off the list. Everybody got one shot and the day we ate at Mia’s was not their best. Update: Make that nine, we deleted Tejano.
Let’s begin with two words: processed cheese.
In this age of artisanal, responsibly raised protein, people shudder when they read those words. But you can’t have Tex-Mex—still the most meaningful cuisine to emerge from this state—without it.
We’re all about understanding other cultures and learning to appreciate Mexico’s authentic regional cuisines. Love that stuff wrapped in the banana leaves. Love the million and one moles. But those are, well, Mexican cuisines. Tex-Mex is ours. Its gold standard is the cheese enchilada, and a cheese enchilada requires greasy, yellow cheese. So does a soft cheese taco. So does a platter of nachos. And, of course, chile con queso is nothing but. We’re talking American. We’re talking Velveeta.
Newcomers eager to try Dallas’ most famous cuisine tend to be, if not dismayed, then certainly unsettled the first time a server shoves a platter—“Hot plate!”—of earth-tone glop in front of them. Maybe you had to grow up with it. For sure you have to live with it awhile to love it. But for most of us, Tex-Mex is the taste we crave when we are away and the one that defines “home.” Most of us have a steady relationship with our favorite Tex-Mex place, our go-to joint that makes it just the way we like it. No matter that there’s only one way to make a real cheese enchilada (soften a tortilla in hot, flavored fat, roll it around chopped onions and grated cheese, cover it with thinned chili con carne and more grated cheese). Each restaurant has its own signature flavor. You can argue the superiority of your favorite until you’re azule in the face, but it’s like trying to convince a Philadelphian that Pat’s is better than Geno’s. Or vice versa.17 Comments »
Tamales seem to me a rather odd Christmas tradition, if only because I would happily eat one (or more) on any other day, any time of the year. The same can’t be said for the palatability of some of the other trappings of Christmastime. It goes beyond palatability, even – there’s a safety concern here. If you hand somebody egg nog in April, you might get punched in the face. If you jam out to Mannheim Steamroller in July*, you’ll likely be institutionalized – and for good reason.
But tamales are good all the time, and Christmas is as good an excuse as any to indulge. This recipe is about as uncomplicated (and probably gringo-y) as tamale making gets, so if you’re an experienced tamale maker…. well, why are you reading a recipe for tamales? You should really spend your time more wisely. But for the novice, this is a good place to start. These also freeze well, so if you don’t have anything to do a couple of weeks before Christmas (hint, hint)…1 Comment »
Good news. Remember the old Luna Tortilla Factory building downtown? About a block from the Perot Museum? Mike Karns, who also owns the El Fenix chain, has moved into the Factory at 1611 McKinney Ave. and turned it into the second location of Meso Maya. He’s kept the original floors and archways, but the place looks shiny and new, and the patio is still the biggest highlight. Nancy wasn’t the biggest fan of Meso Maya’s Tex-Mex food-disguised-as-authentic-Mexican, but I do hear there will be chicharonnes (pork cracklings) at this new location. Wahoo.
Here’s a bonus bit of good news: Mike Karns is also opening a tacqueria one block away from Klyde Warren Park on Caroline Street. La Ventana will serve everyday Mexican food (so, basically, tacos with homemade white tortillas) at this spot where you can quench your thirst with margaritas, Mexican beers, and Mexican sodas.
So, what does this mean? In summary:
In the current edition of D Magazine, I review Urban Rio in Plano. As Leslie Brenner would say, “I quite liked it.” However, La B did not. Last week, she granted Urban Rio one lonely star (paywall may apply). I felt she took points off the place for the wrong reasons. She notes the ubiquitous TV screens (it’s Tex-Mex in Plano!) but dismisses the efforts the kitchen takes to produce fresh ingredients such as grinding corn into masa on site and making sophisticated, time-consuming sauces (inspired by Mark Miller!). She fails in Tex-Mex once again for stating: “For dipping, there are baskets of sturdy, not particularly addictive tortilla chips. The unnatural-looking bright green ones? They’re made from cactus, a server tells us.” Leslie, that’s a good thing.
And shame on you Mr. Scott Reitz. In his Dallas Observer review he types: “Sure, there’s an endless procession of store-bought chips you can dip in a tomato-heavy salsa or runny black beans…” Huh? Didn’t you spot the workers hand cutting the tortilla chips in the open kitchen? I’ll give Reitz three stars for grasping the history of Plano and noting the significance of Urban Rio. TVs or no TVs, Nathan and Bonnie Shea, who also own Urban Crust down the street, are responsible for adding a chef’s touch to the food served in historic downtown Plano.
Guys, I understand you are both from out of town, but in Dallas we take our chips and salsa seriously. Oh, I see a best chips and salsa post. Come on gang, tell these two where to go. For chips and salsa, that is.
For your consideration:
There have been plenty of prospectors who have talked about developing historic downtown Plano into a vibrant, hip destination. The Fillmore Pub and Vickery Park, two spinoffs from trendy Henderson Avenue in Dallas, sparked the fire when they moved in among the vintage clothing stores, furniture markets, and quaint embroidery shops that have populated 15th Street for many years. The little old ladies who lunch at Jörg’s Cafe Vienna began sharing the sidewalks with tattooed barflies.
But Nathan Shea is the one who fanned the flame. He has opened two thoughtful and successful restaurants, turning East Plano into a destination for diners from as far away as Oak Cliff. Plano doesn’t seem remote when you sit at a table in the second-story bar at Urban Rio and watch the twinkling lights of Reunion Tower in the distance.
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This recipe will turn you into a snob — a tortilla snob anyway. You have been warned.
Jump like a hot tortilla.2 Comments »
Urban Rio, the newest restaurant in downtown Plano, is Nathan and Bonnie Shea‘s baby. For two years, the owners of Urban Crust dreamed and conceived and schemed about opening a Mexican restaurant until, finally, last Monday, it all came together when they opened their doors to the public. The restaurant features a menu of “Next Mex” cuisine and is housed inside the historic Plano Ice House, which was gutted for the Shea family’s Urban empire. On the first floor lies Urban Rio and Nate’s Gelato where guests can get their dessert fix, while the second contains a cantina called On the Rocks with a full bar. The third floor is used as office space. The Rooftop sits at the fourth floor, and the Sheas plan to use the space as a catering service and event center where musicians can play live music.
But I’m getting too far ahead of myself.
Jump for NSFW food photos.
This is a dish I put together late one night because I was both bored and the proud new owner of a Texas-shaped cookie cutter. The specter of heartburn kept me from devouring it on the spot (stupid aging), but it ended up being worth the wait. In fact, it was pretty freakin’ delicious and easily the most adorable thing I’ve ever eaten at my desk.
Ironically enough, this Texas-shaped enchilada is a variation on the stacked enchiladas popular in New Mexico. It’s basically a tortilla casserole, so it’s super easy to make and a fun dish to bring to a party or serve with poached eggs at brunch. Just not in New Mexico.
Jump and get tiny with me.4 Comments »