American barbecue is highly regional. True, barbecue has exploded across the country over the past decade and, when you venture beyond the traditional barbecue regions of America, the cuisine becomes a gallimaufry of styles. And that’s fine, especially since the regions identified by a particular style continue to hew to their traditions. Sure, it’s possible to find smoked brisket in North Carolina and pulled pork in Texas, but you’re far more likely to enjoy yourself if you sample the chopped whole hog pig in The Tar Heel State and get all greasy with smoked brisket and muscular beef sausage in The Lone Star State. Continue reading
Big breakfasts all day, hearty home-cooking entrees like chicken and dumplings and meatloaf, a lengthy roster of country-style vegetable sides, mile-high pies… and fantastically popular chicken fried steak, all served in a casual and welcoming town cafe atmosphere — that’s been Norma’s Cafe of Dallas, TX for the last 60 years. It was 30 years ago that longtime customer Ed Murph bought the place from the original owners. Over the years he’s opened two additional area Norma’s, with a fourth, near NorthPark Center, in the works — but he’s pretty much kept Norma’s as he found it. Continue reading
When it comes to barbecue beef sausage in Texas, we think there’s none better than the extravagantly juicy links to be found in Elgin, at Southside Market & Barbeque. In fact, we have a couple of packages of the stuff in our freezer at this very moment (having eaten our way through an entire smoked brisket!). We’re particularly fond of the one they call 1882 Recipe, which harkens back to the meat market and smokehouse’s founding. Over the decades, Southside has tamed the heat in their sausage but, if you want to enjoy it the way it was made and served about a century ago, at the original heat level (which is still not all that scorching), 1882 Recipe is for you. Continue reading
Published in 2002, Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue, Recipes and Recollections from the Pit Bosses is nominally a cook book but in reality a tour through the varied world of Texas barbecue. For those who view the story of Texas Q as the story of smoked brisket and beef sausage, the book is an eye-opener, revealing the Lone Star State’s wide-ranging smoked meat traditions. Mr. Walsh has just released a revised edition of his book (with a slightly revised title: Pit Bosses has been changed to the slightly more egalitarian Pitmasters). Continue reading
Where can you find the best barbecue in America? Leaving aside, for the moment, the silliness of seeking a single best barbecue joint, the answer to that question is a very personal one. Our favorite spots may not be your favorites. Do you like ribs, pulled pork, smoked brisket? Do you prefer a lot of smoke, or a subtle hit? Do you like it spicy or do you prefer to taste mostly meat? Do you want the meat to fall apart at the slightest prodding or do you think barbecue should retain an honest chew? Is sauce the most important factor to you? Continue reading
We learned last spring that a Shake Shack would be coming to Scottsdale AZ in 2016. It hasn’t yet opened but the latest word is that three Shake Shacks will be opening in the region in 2016. That Scottsdale location, in Fashion Square, along with a Phoenix Shake Shack to be planted in Uptown Plaza, should be operating by this spring. A third location will begin serving sometime this year in Phoenix’s Kierland Commons. The Arizona-only concrete, named the Camel Shack, will feature vanilla custard, salted caramel sauce, and banana cream pie made by The Bakery Phx of Phoenix. Shake Shack has been rapidly expanding in the east but these Phoenix stores will join the ones in Las Vegas and Austin as the only western U.S. Shake Shacks to date.
Let the debate begin! Tom Sietsema, food writer for The Washington Post, did some extensive dining across America, with the goal of determining the nation’s top ten eating cities. Some results? The top three cities are all on the Pacific coast! Houston beats Philadelphia, and both beat Chicago and New York! We’re glad to see the recognition for Charleston, SC and New Orleans, two truly fabulous and unique food cities. Gotta hand it to Mr. Sietsema, agree or disagree, it took a lot of research and a passion for eating (and big brass ones) to produce such a list. There is a ton of great info here for future travelers, and a lot of appetizing reading. See for yourself.
We’re big fans of the Agawam Diner of Rowley, Massachusetts. The Agawam was founded in 1940, bounced around The Bay State, and settled in a 1950s-model Fodero before resting in the town of Rowley. We’ve enjoyed dishes like hot dogs with homemade potato salad and mile-high banana pie at the Agawam but now want to return to try their chicken pie, which is good, old-fashioned chicken pie with one innovation: it’s served upside down. Also, it’s been named one of the country’s five best diner dishes by The Food Network. Continue reading
Top Pot, with 17 stores in and around Seattle and three more in and around Dallas, plans to bring their much-loved hand-roasted coffee and “hand-forged” doughnuts to Tacoma, Washington. There will be two Tacoma cafes, the first of which should soon be open at 2724 North Proctor Street. Then, in the spring of next year, another Top Pot will open in The Village at Chambers Bay. We’ll take a Glazed Old Fashioned and a Glazed Chocolate Old Fashioned, please!
It began 27 years ago when 150 free Thanksgiving meals were served by Norma’s Cafe of Dallas, and this year the number of free meals served yesterday may have exceeded 8,000. Norma’s is not a large place so if you weren’t able to eat in, a free dinner was there for you to take home. Watch the two videos below to see Norma’s free Thanksgiving in action and to learn more about Norma’s 27 year tradition of giving back to the community: Continue reading
For the 27th consecutive year, Norma’s Cafe will be serving free Thanksgiving dinner, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, at their Oak Cliff location (1123 West Davis Street in Dallas). While they don’t say anything about who the meal is for (in fact, they explicitly state it’s for anyone who comes), we suspect it’s meant more for people in need than anyone else, so if that’s you and your family, we suggest you show up early and enjoy the holiday and Norma’s hospitality.
Gus’s Fried Chicken, which began life in the 1950s in the small town of Mason, Tennessee, northeast of Memphis, will be opening their 13th store early next year in Knoxville, TN. That’s not all for the spicy-crusted bird that many folks put on their top-ten lists. By early 2016 there should also be new stores in Los Angeles, Detroit, Fort Worth, and Kansas City (where it will face especially stiff competition). Future stores are in the works for St. Louis and Philadelphia.
The first Dallas area branch of the Chicago deep dish pizza chain Gino’s East arrived earlier this year in Arlington. This Thursday, November 19th, will see the opening of the first Gino’s East in Dallas proper, at 10310 Lombardy Lane. This will be the seventh Texas Gino’s East. Other branches can be found near Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Like the other Texas Gino’s, we expect this one will be serving their unique BBQ Brisket Za filled with BBQ brisket, caramelized onions, and roasted peppers.
The official name of this festival is the 49th Annual Original Terlingua International Frank X. Tolbert – Wick Fowler Championship Chili Cookoff, which is a mouthful and then some! All those words are necessary to distinguish it from another chili cookoff happening in Terlingua the very same weekend: the Terlingua International Chili Championship, spun off from this one in 1983. All this chili brewing began in Terlingua in 1967 when Mr. Fowler, Mr. Tolbert, and others staged the first chili cookoff. That first cookoff ended in a tie between Mr. Fowler and H. Allen Smith. Continue reading
A best hot dog list apparently is released on a daily basis. Why? Because people love ’em – hot dogs AND best lists. We read them not only to see what they have to say about our favorites (the yellow-relish-topped deep-fried rippers from Rutt’s Hut of Clifton, NJ appears on today’s list in question) but to pick up on the new, unfamiliar joints (Luscher’s of Dallas, TX, from a fancy-pants chef). You’ll also find coneys, Sonoran dogs, half-smokes, and dogs topped with SpaghettiOs on the list. Have at it!
Residents of Dallas, Texas will see for themselves if all the fuss is warranted when Shake Shack opens their first branch in the city in 2016. They’ll be moving into The Crescent retail complex in the New Urbanist neighborhood known as Uptown. The Shack currently has a presence in Texas with two stores in Austin. No word yet on the location-specific concretes, which always feature cookies, candies, cakes, and other sweet treats made by local food artisans, for the Big D.
“The Home of the Official Kolache of the Texas Legislature.” West, TX received that designation back in 1997 and, while such an honor perhaps leaves you less than awestruck, don’t sell the town, or the pastry, short. The kolache today is truly as Texan as it is Czech, and Texans go to great lengths to nab some of the fruit or poppy seed-filled pastries from one of West’s Czech bakeries. Continue reading
Chef and owner Hoover Alexander and General Manager Alvin “Skip” Walker of Austin’s crowd-pleasing Hoover’s Cooking were named Outstanding Restaurateurs of 2015 by the Greater Austin Chapter of the Texas Restaurant Association. Said Hoover, “I am just a working man, and am so humbled and honored to be chosen for this by my peers who best understand the sweat, sleepless nights, sacrifices and hard work that goes into our business.” Congrats to Mr. Alexander and Mr. Walker!
They’ve achieved a measure of national fame for the free 72-ounce steak dinners they offer those who can consume it in one hour, but there’s so much more to The Big Texan‘s kitsch quotient than that: they sell their own fudge; there’s a live rattlesnake in the gift shop; you’ll find bobcats (stuffed), stagecoaches, and giant rocking chairs and cowboy boots; you can buy a souvenir Texas mug. If you’re driving into town you’ll start to see their billboards hundreds of miles ahead of your destination. But the food’s better than you might expect! Read more about The Big Texan at the LA Times.
Are you a seed spitter? A really, really good seed spitter? As in, can you break the world seed spit record of 68 feet, 9 1/8 inches? Because if you can spit a watermelon seed farther than the current world record, you will be awarded a bonus prize of $500. That’s in addition to the regular cash prizes awarded in the World Championship Seed Spitting Contest to be held at the Luling Watermelon Thump this year. Continue reading