Wednesday, March 30, 2022

2022 Dallas Trip

I did a brief Dallas trip a couple weeks ago (every winter American Airlines drops roundtrip NY-DFW fares under $100 and I grab one, per strategies explained here). Just a quickie to escape cold and get my fix of stuff found only down there. I really, really love Texas. And Dallas is the city Austin pretends to be. Real deliciousness, not posed or hipsterred into a high frothy lather.

Previous Dallas reporting here

The town was aslumber from post-COVID exhaustion and listlessness. Lots of places out of biz or too stunned to snap back into a normal operation.

Sad note: Old West Cafe in Grapevine (strenuously raved about here and here) is way, way downhill. A less careful chef can topple critical balances. The magic evaporates, and simple salty greasy food tastes - horrors - simple, salty and greasy.

But I did make a tremendous discovery. Parry Avenue BBQ, not far from downtown but in a forlorn underdeveloped stretch that might as well be the boonies, is DYNAMITE. Infinitely more vibrant than Pecan Lodge, the Nicolas Cage of hill country barbecue, which has been phoning it in for a long time. I think it might be better than the good Mueller brother (I don't track them) I tried 15 years ago in Austin,

I'm not expert enough to know the name for the style where the meat's packed in a thick crust of peppercorn. But having eaten around more than my share, I've always found that such treatment overwhelms the meat. Here, it....doesn't. I get it now.

Place is almost completely under-radar for some reason. I'll let the photos do my work for me (sometimes food is so dead-on right that there's not much to say).

Oh...the beans were galaxies better than they need to be. Dude is not just a bbq master, he's also a rather extreme food guy. Described the bean prep method to me, and I lost track halfway through. Many hours of crazy non-corner-cutting work. Finally, I understand baked beans. Need to come back and try more stuff. Ok, here goes:

One advantage of tragically downhill Old West Cafe in Grapevine is its position just a few quick minutes from DFW airport. Well, replace it with these other Grapevine grandees:

Mrs. G's Tacos is a generic-seeming taco joint. Across street from the tragically downhill Old West Cafe. I literally cannot rave enough. This is the scion of a family of late-lamented restaurants scattered throughout "The Valley" (I'm not sure what "The Valley" means, but it's sacred here). Reduced to one humble place, still pumping out greatness, stubbornly refusing to cut a single corner, doing things the old-fashioned way, and nobody gives a damn quite enough to give them the DiFara's Pizza treatment (which it deserves) to lend some support and respect and love and the ability to charge a bit more for vastly better quality.

Last of the Mohicans. I know the menu looks simple to a fault. Don't be fooled. Fly here from anywhere, eat this, fly home, it's worth it. I did not eat these tacos. I vacuumed them with my mouth. It transported me to 1926. The tortillas are homemade. They, alas, were out of pie (see photos of it on Yelp).

Here's something every Texan understands but non-Texans seldom do: Texas is German heritage (and Mexican, of course, but Northern Mexican and German heritages are intertwined, hence lager beers, accordians, and oom-pa music). Breadhaus is a vestige. Some local treats (sweet potato bars, with beans; crazy-simple raisiny "train rolls"), some familiar ones (raspberry kisses; shortbread), but certainly no macarons or other trend-mongering, and even the most ordinary items (7 grain loaves; brownies) have a deeper vibe. Feels genuinely frontier-German.
I have no idea what this little cake was, but my body nearly fainted as the photo hit my retina, apparently inducing a forgotten ecstatic trauma of some sort:

Final Grapevine place near airport: Farmers Market of Grapevine. It's a produce market with lots of diligently sourced pre-prepared and packaged food surprises hidden everywhere you look. They sell multiple varieties of Texas tamales (nothing like them anywhere else), and they're vibrant. I bought some frozen, packed with ice (the counter guy helped) and they made it back home with me intact, and that made for a good day.

You could manage a quick run to these three Grapevine places on a DFW layover, and I suggest you do!

Two lagniappes, 'cuz Texas is generous.

Lagniappe 1: I don't drink mochachinos. I am not a mochachinos person. Honestly? I'm not totally sure what a mochachinos even is. But the iced mochachinos at Commissary, right downtown in Dallas, made me see God. And he was envious as a mo-fo. Bring a rosary.

Lagniappe 2: Las Almas Rotas is the best mezcal bar in America. I was there when they opened, and they're still killin' it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I came back to read your review of the BBQ... That picture is worth a million words... I miss my Austin BBQ (lived there from 1977 to 1981 working for IBM). You have got me thinking of a Covid road trip...

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