Cinco de Mayo

The Quinn

The Cinco de Mayo parade and festival in Oak Cliff was scheduled for this past Saturday, May 2. There were worries that it was going to be canceled because of the swine flu scare, but it went on as scheduled. I don’t think the weather cooperated though.

Well, today is Cinco de Mayo. For those of you like me who missed the festival for whatever reason, you can come celebrate with me at The Quinn. The sign out front says they are going to have live music, which is always a plus. I think Senudos Suaves is the name of the band, but I’m not sure. I tried to check their website, but apparently they haven’t updated their events page in a while. Honestly, it doesn’t matter who is playing, as long as I get a couple of tequila shots in me. This place also has an awesome jukebox selection, so I’m not too worried.

The QuinnThe Quinn has $2 well and domestics from 3 PM to 7 PM everyday. You can get nice and responsibly hammered, and still have plenty of time to recover before you go into work tomorrow.

The Quinn (click here for directions)

202 W. Davis St.

Dallas, Tx 75208

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Fast Food Mexican Style

Cesar's Tacos

Cesar’s Tacos is, by far, the best fast food mexican restaurant you are going to find, anywhere! I know this is a bold statement, but if you can think of a place that is better, please let me know. Where else can you get delicious, cheap tacos at 3 am? (If you say Taco Bell, then you deserved to be punched in the face).

torta

More Cesar’s Tacos have opened in Oak Cliff as well as other parts of Dallas and surrounding suburbs. Their bold yellow and red stores help them stand out, for better or worse. I frequent the one by my house at least once a week. With school during the day and work at night, I sometime don’t find the time to cook a nice Mexican meal, and have found Cesar’s to be pretty damn good substitute. 

Whether you want tacos, tamales, burritos, tortas, or full on platters, they have it all and at a reasonable price. Most of these places might not have a drive-thru, which is pretty essential for fast food restaurants, but the few extra minutes you spend going into the place is worth it. I mean, do you really want to pay to eat something that someone just microwaved? 

location: pretty much everywhere

Restaurant War: The Original Chicken N’ Rice vs. The New Crispy Chicken N’ Rice

Original

Crispy

If you happen to drive by the intersection of Illinois Ave and Hampton Rd, you will notice on one side The Original Chicken N’ Rice restaurant and directly across the street The New Crispy Chicken N’ Rice. I know competition exist, but this is just being lazy. Quizno’s may be similar to Subway, but at least they didn’t call themselves The New Toasty Subway. Even the color scheme of their signs are way too similar.

So, why is this a war you may ask? Because The Original Chicken N’ Rice has signs up in its store claiming that they are “the original,” and that they are not associated with the impostor, The New Crispy Chicken N’ Rice. They adopted “the original” as part of their name in response to the other opening up, and have gone about replacing everything in the store to now say The Original Chicken N’ Rice. 

Which restaurant is winning the war is unclear. Several of my friends have told me that The Original Chicken N’ Rice taste better, so I’m going to have to pick that one.

Hanging Out at Jack’s Backyard

 

Jack's Backyard Sign

Jack’s Backyard has to be one of my new favorite places to hang out with friends and drink a beer. The name of the place pretty much sums up what kind of atmosphere you’re going to find there.  It is very laid back and chill, a perfect place to relax and enjoy good company.

Jack’s used to be an old mechanic’s garage that has been turned into a bar/lounge, if that helps give you a better picture. It’s also part of it’s charm. They have a huge outdoor area with plenty of seating and several fireplaces. Inside, there are several low-lit lounge areas and a couple of pool tables by the jukebox. They occasionally have live music from local acts playing there as well. You can check their website for more information regarding live music shows and events: jacksbackyarddallas.com. And if you get hungry, you can enjoy delicious southern cooking from the Chill Grill located just next door (they will bring the food to you). Food is served until the standard 10 p.m. Sundays thru Thursdays, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Whether you swing by for the music, the food, or the atmosphere, Jack’s Backyard is definitely worth a visit. 

Jack’s Backyard (click here for directions)

2303 Pittman

Dallas, Tx 75208

Dallas Tour Part II : Taqueria La Victoria

La Victoria Taqueria

Part II of the Dallas tour I was giving friends from out of town involved me picking a place that served a really good Mexican breakfast. Finding good Mexican food in Oak Cliff is not a hard thing to do, but choosing a place is. A favorite place of mine that I came across recently is Taqueria La Victoria. Everything I’ve ordered here has been pretty amazing, so I knew it wouldn’t disappoint.

We all ordered the eggs with chorizo, which also come with refried beans, potatoes, and hand made tortillas. This was the perfect meal after a night of moderate, to not-s0-moderate drinking. The salsa they serve is one of my favorites. Its not too intense that it overpowers the food, but just strong enough where you get that slight runny nose thing happening at the end of the meal. This salsa may be a little hot for those of you who think the “fire” hot sauce at Taco Bell is intense.** White people, you have been warned**

Everyone loved the meal. The price was not bad as well. They do serve breakfast past noon, but charge an extra dollar to do so, which changes it from $4.99 to $5.99. Their entrees are a little more, but well worth it. Taqueria La Victoria serves all your favorite Mexican dishes, as well as some not so familiar ones. According to their sign outside, they serve “tacos a vapor y tacos de trompo” (or al pastor). Even I had to look up what kind of tacos vapor and trompo were. 

Taqueria La Victoria

2851 S. Westmoreland Rd

Dallas, Tx 75233

located at Westmoreland Rd and Illinois Ave across from the Westmoreland Dart Rail Station

The Belmont Hotel

The Belmont Hotel    

 

 

The Belmont Hotel

Recently, I had the pleasure of playing tour guide to friends that were in town for a wedding (which was canceled at the last minute). Part one of our tour involved getting alcohol to take away from the stress of a cancelled wedding. The weather was beautiful, so I decided to take them to The Belmont Hotel to enjoy some drinks on the patio. This place has one of the most amazing views of the downtown Dallas skyline. We made it time for happy-hour and caught the last set of some local musician, which they have on occasion. 

Downtown DallasMy friends enjoyed the atmosphere as much as I did. They said it had a very Austin-like feel to it. This might be attributed to the fact that the Austin-based Bunkhouse Management team has been with the hotel since 2008. Thankfully, the restoration the hotel received in 2005 kept a lot of the original architecture that gives this place its uniqueness and charm.

If you are thinking of checking this place out, Tuesday night is a good time to start. Tuesday night is game night! People can come in and play their favorite board games and enjoy happy-hour all night. More event information can be found at their website, belmontdallas.com.

The Belmont Hotel (click here for map)

901 Fort Worth Ave.

Dallas, Tx 75208

Super Mercado Mexico vs Economy

 

Super Mercado Mexico

In a previous post, I talked about my favorite neighborhood grocery store, the Super Mercado Mexico. I contacted the Martinez family that owns the store, and they were kind enough to answer some questions for me. Here is the interview with Fernando Martinez Jr.

How long have you been in business?

My family started the business in Oak Cliff in 1977.  From there they were able to expand the business to the three current stores in Oak Cliff, East Dallas, and Pleasant Grove.

Has your business been affected by the current economic crisis? 
Like everyone else, we’ve felt the effects of the crisis.  Customers have become more concerned with buying only the essentials that they need, and they often forego certain supplemental goods that they used to buy regularly.  We see that they may opt to buy unmarinated meat to save the money that they can, buy ingredients for salsa instead of buying premade, stuff like that.
 
What changes have you had to make?
We’ve had to be more scrutinizing in the products we recieve from larger companies.  We have to make sure that the products we sell are affordable, but still mainain the quality that the customer expects and needs.  We cater to the current spending ability of the consumer, but we keep the same service and quality that keeps people coming back smiling. 
 
When Fiesta opened,  many thought that would be the end of your neighborhood supermarket. Is there any benefit to being a smaller neighborhood store than a larger chain? 
Fiesta affected us when it first opened, we knew it would.  At first, we did see a loss of business.  Whenever a large store like that opens, it’s natural that the excitement and appeal of such a large establishment will take away some of your clientele.  Ultimately though, they found that at our store, they could find something that Fiesta couldn’t offer.  They came back to us because they know that we provide authentic foods, the flavor that people of our culture know and want.  They know we provide the best customer service, preparing cuts of meat made to order, and always with more care to the quality of the meats that a large chain cannot provide.

What have you done to set yourself apart from the larger chains? 
Again, we can only give what we can, and we do the best we can at it.  The reason our stores exist and are still visited by customers is because we are very concerned with keeping the customer happy.  The quality of the cuts and the attention given to the customers are our highest priorities. 
 
What have you done to keep your current customers coming back? For me it is the fact that you make some of the best tortillas. 
Yeah, the tortillas are a crowd pleaser.  Actually, weekends usually bring people from the suburbs who come to the city to visit family, and they stop by just to buy tortillas and marinated meat.  They tell us “we came all the way from…just to get these, they’re amazing.”  But as for the people from the neighborhood, the stores provide them that “mom and pop” feel and give them exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to preparation and quality.

How do you see the future for your business?
Despite the current crisis, we’re pretty optimistic.  The stores will always remain a family run establishment meant to cater to the neighborhood.  Our reason for being there is to provide a service to the community, and if we can do that, then we’re happy.