Tag Archive : Restaurant

So, I’m late to the game — Meso Maya has been around for a while now. I’ve driven past and even called to ask a few questions about the menu. And, honestly, based on its early reviews and the lackluster love received over the years, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try it. That was until it inched its way across the loop and into my neck of the woods. Meso Maya had planted its huarache where I could no longer ignore the smells of handmade corn tortillas and mesquite grilled meats. (more…)

Earlier this summer, one of Dallas’ brightest star chefs, Omar Flores, partnered up with Alec Marshi to open Whistle Britches, a Southern-inspired casual restaurant focused on killer fried chicken, biscuits that only grandma could make, cold beer, and all the picnic fixin’s you could want in far North Dallas.

There’s been quite a bit of talk about it. Having just met Chef Flores at the Chefs for Farmers event last weekend and hearing mostly positive reviews about Whistle Britches, when a friend of mine mentioned her phenomenal experience, I couldn’t put it off any longer.

omgs-dfw-food-whistle-britches-dining-room-bar

My first thought as the doors opened was, “Wow. This is really bright and open!” I loved it. It was a much lighter and inviting atmosphere than its previous space owners had created, and we absolutely loved the outdoor patio. Bright colors, fun fixtures, and natural lighting really make the space impressive and fun. The outside area has colorful chairs and an open deck perfect to enjoy now that the weather calls for outdoor seating. However, for this particular visit, we kept it indoors since e’rybody was showing up. We were celebrating my dad’s birthday!

omgs-dfw-food-whistle-britches-jalapeno-pimento-cheese

To save time while everyone arrived (and mostly because it says it’s a 30 minute wait time), we ordered “The Whole Bird” for the table and some appetizers. Let me tell you; even if you just want a little afternoon snack, get your whistle britches over there and order the “Pickled Jalapeño Pimento Cheese.”

Guuuuuuuuuuuurl, I could eat that entire thing with a spoon and a blanket in a corner all by myself. It was such a comfort food champion; I don’t even know what to tell you. Their saltine crackers are house-made, very on-trend at the moment, but there was nothing “trendy” about how those crunchy chile-flaked wafers of deliciousness worked magic in combination with that pimento cheese to transport me directly into a huge wooden rocking chair on somebody’s grandaddy’s front porch somewhere in the South. North Dallas was not the vibe that app was rockin’. It was a tip of the hat to Southern cuisine in one unassuming countrified bite, and it was amazing.

We also enjoyed their wonderful “Creamed Corn Hoecakes;” however, the hoecakes arrived a little underdressed, as their pats of butter had flown off the side in the journey to the table. So, I didn’t get a great shot of those. They were very light and delicious, but they ain’t no pimento cheese.

omgs-dfw-food-whistle-britches-biscuit

When the main event arrived, the first thing that captured my nose’s attention was the lovely waft of butter dancing across my senses, coming from the ridiculously and generously sized biscuits on the table, alongside sweet local honey butter and a blueberry jam sent from the gods. They arrive as four, but Grandma Ollie snagged one right as I was taking a shot, and I don’t blame her. They were dreamy.

omgs-dfw-food-whistle-britches-chicken2

Immediately thereafter, all eyes were on that beautiful basket of chicken. What I remember before passing out from joy was the hot, crispy herbed crust being so unique. There was a definitive note that really separated this fried chicken from what one would expect. And, I’ve had me some fried chicken, my friends. This was special. The crust adhered so perfectly to the chicken, and the wonderful aromas circling the table were intoxicating. Even thinking of it now, I can recall that herbaceous note of the crust without being heavily crusted with herbs. It was certainly memorable.

omgs-dfw-food-whistle-britches-dinner2

Sides included were their creamy chive potato salad and light vinegar coleslaw. The consensus at the table was that the sides were “okay” while the fried chicken blew everyone away and the biscuits were a soul-touching experience. One side worthy of mentioning though was the macaroni and cheese. Goot Lort, it was mac’daddy delicious. Definitely get you some of that when you go.

omgs-dfw-food-whistle-britches-mac-n-cheese

We were most impressed with the pimento appetizer, biscuits, and chicken overall – which is probably how it should be! Their moniker bears the trio ‘Chicken – Biscuits – Beer;’ so, I would hope those would be the highlights! We didn’t get to the beer this time but believe me… there will be a next time.


omgs-dfw-food-whistle-britches-menu2

Last night, I couldn’t sleep; so, around midnight, I ventured out to one of my favorite 24/7 places in DFW, Café Brazil. This wasn’t my typical visit. I wasn’t looking so much to delve into the food and report back. This was just a good opportunity to soak up a little material and run with my thoughts.

The late night crowd painted a colorful picture as they entered the scene. I saw everything from young, energetic groups of friends meeting up for coffee to tired, older, much-better-looking-in-dim-lighting club goers. Some appeared to still be searching for the meaning of life but digging through the medicine cabinets and botox-filled syringes to find it – a very interesting collection to observe for a moment in time.

It’s funny. Comparing the two most distinctive groups, it almost seemed backwards. The younger group was a combination of happy, bright men and women who were relaxed and completely stripped down to their authentic self. They were a combination of alluring female beauties with little to zero make-up and seemingly not a care in the world, plus somewhat low-key yet attractive men who appeared completely intoxicated by the genuine behaviors of their female table mates. Both parties were entirely engaged and fearlessly diving into every word. They declared a tangible sort of freedom by laughing openly and heartily at jokes, enthusiastically sharing stories, and dynamically intertwining verbally with one another.

Whereas, the older group emoted a prison vibe, trapped in an evening they just needed to survive.

Each of the mature women repeatedly and somewhat desperately touched up their hair at the table, struggling to sit in a way that drew attention from the run-down, obviously disinterested men. They all sat in uncomfortable silence. The women’s faces were caked over with so much eyeliner and lipstick. Their postures were reminiscent of hungry puppies eagerly seeking a reward. One by one, they marched to the restroom to groom and primp, adding more shades to the color palette, drowning out the vibrant peachy hues of flesh to feature the gray, pasty spackled-on facades they relied on for attention. And, the men waited with emotionless and empty faces. I couldn’t really tell if they were miserable, just tired, or paralyzed from botulinum.

My food arrived – Chicken Crepes.

Cafe Brazil

 

 

 

 

 

I was actually in the mood for grilled cheese but remembered how much I enjoyed their crepes filled with shredded chicken, mushrooms and spinach and that spicy cream sauce. I also convinced myself it was the healthier choice. Per the norm, the plate was generous in portion and in flavor. I wasn’t disappointed and was able to return to my people watching.

In a way, it was refreshing to see the newer generation unshackled from the conventional standards and social pressures oftentimes suffocating young women. But, perhaps that’s my own projection,recalling when my always confident, brutally honest conversations sometimes led to discussions about “toning it down” and not wanting to “chase anyone off.”

And, I guess that’s what I mean about backwards. Stereotypically, the more mature group should have been the carefree ones, knowing their truth from experience and fearlessly wearing it as a badge. While the younger group might still be finding their truth possibly muted by society’s standards at that stage in life. That wasn’t the case here. That characteristically millennial poise and conviction far outweighed the older crowd’s desire for acceptance. Maybe the older group’s desperation was their truth?

Anyway, the younger group demonstrated confidence, not once relying on a flip of their hair or even the lean forward of a shoulder to entice responsiveness from anyone. They each appeared relaxed and uninhibited.

Then in walked another uninhibited trio, freshly pressed at the local bar. Cawing above the ambient sounds of glasses clinking and tables chatting, they were engrossed in deeply philosophical and obnoxiously loud debates regarding manhood, anatomy and body art – oh, and very polite. A vulgarity-studded stance on the true meaning of friendship became so spirited that one of the girls stood up at the table to apologize to the entire establishment on behalf of the group for their animated conversation, flashing the middle finger to her partners seated next to her in order to reprimand them, only to return to the discussion at full volume seconds later.

By this time, it was close to 2am. Then came the late night science fiction crew, the salsa dancing sexpots and the failed date leftovers, each clearly marked by their appearance and behaviors.

The sci-fi crew was formulaic – adorned with black rimmed glasses and Dr. Who attire, excitedly discussing the “Greybeards of Higher Hrothgar.” The salsa sexpots, both men and women, were dressed in perfectly placed, tightly-fitted designs that were screaming from tension, and the group was too busy ogling one another at the table to see their server peeved and waiting to take their orders. The “failed dates” came in two forms: pairs of slouching men reeking of defeat and separate pairs of limping women wondering why they had suffered all night in those shoes for nothing.

Then, there was me. The jeans and t-shirt sporting female sitting at the corner table, alone with her plate and a cup of coffee, occasionally smiling to herself and carefully scanning the room from time to time, attempting to appear inconspicuous but giving herself away by typing feverishly on her laptop.

Needless to say, I had plenty to observe.

There’s really nothing better than sitting at a comfy table, eating a comfy dish, and watching people get comfy with one another. Thanks for the late night inspiration, Café Brazil.

IMG_8321
It was that time of year where we found ourselves in the Land of Enchantment nestled in a sea of green chilies, and I just couldn’t get enough. One morning, we decided to make a quick stop for breakfast before heading out towards Ruidoso. And, instead of grabbing a sure thing and getting on the road, we were in a gambling mood and decided to try somewhere we’d never been, La Nueva Casita Cafe. Winner! We hit the jackpot!

IMG_8299-1

The second we walked into the doors, we suspected it would be an amazing experience, and they did not disappoint. The deceptively small but charming adobe building is located in the historical part of Las Cruces and is on the legendary El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road of the Interior Lands. The restaurant has been “a timeless tradition with a modern-day flare” since 1957, according to their menu.

IMG_8264-2 As we entered the building, we were kindly greeted and ushered to the open dining area where the masa-colored adobe walls, Mexican ranch-style wooden chairs and tiled wooden tables created a statement of comfort. The distinct aromatic flavors of Mexico danced in the air and made me a little giddy, knowing we were in for a treat.

Our server, Diana, introduced herself cheerfully and offered us menus to review. I immediately noticed their choices were few and unique, like a specialty menu. In my experience, for the most part, the smaller the list of items, the better quality of food. Although they do have a breakfast menu, you can order from the lunch or dinner menu anytime. We decided to stick with breakfast choices and then ask for a few side dishes to try the lunch and dinner items that stood out the most.Green Chile Omelette

Bear enjoyably devoured their Chile Relleno omelette, and I snuck in a bite (for research purposes only, of course). When someone describes a cheesy dish as warm and gooey goodness, they’re describing this dish. From first to last bite, the fluffy, light omelette filled with warm, green chile and smothered in melted cheese delivered an ooey, gooey experience with every lift of the fork. Needless to say, there was absolutely no remnants of ooey or gooey cheddar or green chile after a few minutes with Bear.

 

Huevos Compuestas

As he focused intently on the relleno omelette, I turned my attention to the abundantly filled corn cups with green chile beef, topped with perfectly cooked over easy eggs and melted cheese, Huevos Compuestas. Oh. My.

Egg YolkOnce the yolks were released, they slowly nestled into every crevice of the green chile beef to blanket it all, adding a creamy finish to the already cheese laden dish. To say the first bite was delightful, unctuous and warm with spice would be a terrible understatement. I vaguely recall hearing by name being spoken moments after that first bite and slowly drifting back to reality from this pillowy green chile dream sequence. It was damn good.

And, because I knew this would be a short visit and I’d likely not have another chance to try many other items on the menu, we managed to build a nice, solid rapport with our already phenomenally accommodating and sincerely service-oriented server, Diana. Believe me, it wasn’t that difficult to create a bond, and I give full credit to Diana for what I’m about to tell you.

When we explained it was our first visit, that we’d likely not return for a year, then ordered a small side of fideo to taste, plus obsessively kept taking photos of our food, she immediately began to offer tastings of their best dishes… just because!!! Needless to say, I leveraged this opportunity to our advantage.

FideoFirst up to taste, we tried the fideo. For those unfamiliar, this is a very simple, traditional Mexican staple that involves toasting vermicelli noodles in oil and then creating a seasoned light broth in which the noodles fully cook. Some people may add beef or chicken to fideo, but the most common version is a tomato-based broth with noodles. At La Nueva Casita Cafe, they took this comfort food to a whole new level by creating the broth mainly with steeped, then blended, red chiles and only enough water to cook the noodles. I was convinced they’d added some sort of thickener, but Diana confirmed the only thickening agent came from the red chiles which provided this incredible slow, warming, spectacular burn as it made its journey to become nourishment. And, the finishing touch was fresh, diced tomatoes suspended in this magical, flavorful tomatoey potion that had me so transfixed!
Menudo
Another magical potion was their menudo! We were able to get about five spoonfuls total from our tasting, and it was amazing. Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup or stew created with beef stomach lining, hominy and spices. The soup is usually very light and fluid, but this menudo had a similar texture as the fideo and was teaming with warm, spicy red chile flavor that thickened the broth to this ridiculously addictive consistency. You couldn’t get enough! It wasn’t soupy; it wasn’t creamy or too thick; it was the absolute perfect consistency, and we ate it up!

CalabacitaJust as we thought the tasting was over, Diana walked over with a tiny bowl of calabacita. This is another traditional vegetarian Mexican dish but is very different from the calabacita I grew up eating in Texas. Where I’m from, the base of all calabacita is the calabaza or green squash that can be found in any market. Next is the corn, onions and tomato. They’re stewed in a tomato based salty broth, rich in flavor, and is oftentimes combined with chicken and ends up more like a very hearty stew where the squash sort of melts into the dish and becomes… well… squashed.

This calabacita was the New Mexican  version and very different from what I’d experienced. While the base was mostly familiar with calabaza, freshly cut corn, and tomatoes, this calabacita replaced onions with green chiles and thickened the broth with cheese, creating this unbelievably velvety finish with every bite! And, what truly impressed my palette was the amazing balance of freshness from the brightly colored vegetables against that creamy, intoxicating broth. I’m salivating just thinking about it. You better believe I’ll be doing this dish at home on a regular basis.

IMG_8290-0So, after the tasting parade was over, Diana (who was just a total bad ass at her job), did what any great server would do when facing two people who had already eaten way too much, she offered us dessert! And, we did what any two people would do after tasting all those amazing dishes – we said, “Yes!”Bear and ChocoFlan

After Diana listed every house-made sweet treat, Bear landed on ChocoFlan, a combination of a rich, chocolate cake topped with a creamy caramel flan and garnished with whipped cream. I’m sure you can’t tell by the look on his face just what he was thinking. He was thoroughly impressed and did not leave a single bite of that unique dessert combination on his plate. Thankfully, I got first bite dibs, and I can tell you, the cake was very dense but moist and flavorful, while the flan created this fantastic balance of texture. I don’t blame him for the face. It was well-deserved.

Cherry EmpanadaAnd, I decided to go with a cherry empanada. Diana explained that their back of house baker used to own his own bakery and when that didn’t pan out, he started work at La Nueva Casita and brought his delicious Mexican pastries to the menu. The moment she placed the empanada in front of me, I could smell the anise and cinnamon in the dough, teasing my senses and calling me to duty. I did not hesitate. I have to say, I could not get enough of the light, delicate dough that was gently wrapped around the filling and preferred it much more than the filling itself. Come to find out, the filling was pre-made. While I did absolutely find the empanada flavorful, I was surprised it didn’t fall in line with all the other house-made items on the menu.

So, when you’re in Las Cruces and are looking for a comforting meal with genuine personality in a relaxing environment, check out La Nueva Casita. I can’t wait for next year!!

La Nueva Casita
195 North Mesquite St. Las Cruces, NM 88001
575-523-5434
http://www.lanuevacasitacafe.com/