Traditional recipes

Bethesda Stalwart Keeps on Truckin'

Bethesda Stalwart Keeps on Truckin'


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Persimmon was one of the early pilgrims to colonize the now fully bloomed Bethesda restaurant scene. Although diners complain that as packed with restaurants as the little downtown area is, the quantity of choices doesn't promise quality. However, there are exceptions, both established, like Raku and Persimmon, and relative newcomers, like Jaleo and Black's Bar & Kitchen.

Whether in Bethesda or anywhere in the country, for me there are two hallmarks of a good brunch: a well-made Hollandaise, and a breakfast food dish that's unique enough to the restaurant that gives you an idea of what might be in store should you come back for dinner another time. I sometimes use brunch as a cheaper way to test out a higher-end restaurant before committing to full-on dinner. Although the downside of this is that the executive chef is usually not in the kitchen during weekend brunch service, you at least get a feel for the restaurant ambience, experience, etc.

A recent brunch at Persimmon had me checking off both boxes — my friend's Hollandaise (atop eggs and smoked salmon on toast) was silky and not too heavy or thick, and my sweet potato duck confit hash with perfectly poached eggs was an inventive and indulgently rich surprise. As a fan of classic diners, I love a good corned beef hash, and this was a creative way to elevate a traditional brunch dish.

As I've heard from other people, Persimmon's interior could use some sprucing up; it's not worse for the wear but some dramatic flourishes would really make the space pop. Still, on a sunny weekend morning before the traffic on Wisconsin Ave. really gets going, a nice sidewalk table is a great place to be.


Paula Deen

First I must apologize to all my fans who have asked me in emails and private messages why I haven’t really commented on the whole Paula Deen situation. As y’all know, I am a major Paula Deen fan. I’ve eaten in her restaurant many times, I’ve taken my mother to Savannah just so she could do the same for her birthday, and I have promoted many of her recipes right here on my Food Blog. So why have I been so quiet then? Am I ashamed to be a Paula Deen fan? Am I concerned if I show my support I will lose my fans who disagree with my stance? Well I am here today to tell you that none of these could be farther from the truth.

For those of you who do not know, I have a bit of a personal connection to Paula Deen. I’m sure you, her fans, have heard Paula Deen talk about her two beautiful aunts, Peggy and Trina. She is very close with them. We’ve seen her Aunt Peggy many times on her shows and we remember Paula telling us how Aunt Peggy helped her get started in her cooking career.

So how does this all connect with me? I came into the picture with her family through her aunt Trina. Trina Paul Bearden and I have recently finished collaborating on a cookbook we’ve been working on for the last year. I’ve spent many hours on the phone and internet with Trina, and I have also been a guest in her home. We’ve spent many hours poring over recipes, changing them to come up with that perfect taste, and yes, going through many of Paula’s cookbooks. Trina has shared with me many of her mama’s recipes and we wanted to make sure we were not duplicating ones Paula had already published. During this time together I listened to her tell me so many stories of her and Paula growing up together. Trina is only a couple years older than Paula so they were more like sisters. Trina would tell me how caring Paula is, how much she treasures her family and the respect she has for everyone in her life. I can’t tell y’all how many times, as I listened to her talk, I felt as though it was Paula’s voice talking about her family herself. Through these conversations I received a personal education of Paula Deen.

There is much talk about the “word” Paula used over twenty-five + years ago. I cannot now or ever say I condone that word. It has always been a word that I would even leave a family get-together if I heard it. Yes, my maternal side of the family is all southern. I’m talking mountain southern people, and this word was part of their vocabulary. There’s no changing that. But Paula apologized for her use of it. She apologized because she’s an honest person who could easily have lied to protect herself but she didn’t. I cannot say I could have done the same. Nor do I think many who have chastised her this past week could have either. Again, I am not saying she was right in using this word. Nor am I defending this word being used in any manor. I am not.

There are other things Paula is “accused” of saying by the individual whom, it has been reported, asked for $1,250,000.00 from Paula or she would sue and go public with her “accusations”. Did you hear that word? “Accusations”. That is all they are right now. There has been no court hearing ruling in favor of this accuser.

At this point all we have is her side of the story, and now Paula’s side of the story. So why is it that only Paula is being victimized? Why is her accuser not on the news every day and night? Perhaps it is because the accuser is not worth millions of dollars. The accuser would notsell their magazines or newspapers or get you to watch their news and entertainment shows.

Paula on the other hand is a household name because we have all invited her into our homes sometimes on a daily basis. She reminds us of our mother or aunt. We have respected her for all her charitable contributions and events she’s held. One that stands out to me is her support of Bethesda Academy for boys and the tremendous amounts of money she has given and raised for the them. She loves this organization so much, she even married her soul mate Michael Groover in Whitfield Chapel at the Academy. This is not the only charitable thing she has done out of her loving generosity, there are too many to list in my small blog. Just Google her name and charities and you will see just how giving and loving Paula is.

So those news and entertainment magazines/shows who are accusing Paula of only worrying about her bottom line need to look in the mirror. They are using her and this story to increase theirs. I sat and watched the evening news and Paula’s was the lead story two nights in a row. She topped a murder case of an NFL player, the murder trial of Travon Martin and the story of Edward Snowden’s release of U.S. intelligence information. Why? The networks’ bottom line and their advertisers.

Now if y’all look back over what I have written, it’s mainly what I have heard on the news. Much the same way all of you have gotten your information. How many of you actually know Paula Deen? How many of you have spent hours, days and weeks with her? I am guessing very few if any of you who are reading this. I am basing my point of view of my direct contact with her family this past week.

Last week Paula Deen’s Aunt Trina was admitted to the hospital early in the week. Thursday of last week Paula was going to fly out to be with her aunt but couldn’t because of severe storms in the area of where her Aunt Trina lives. Paula had already flown her cousin and Aunt Peggy to Savannah to accompany her when they found out they couldn’t fly into the area. It was the very next morning when Paula was so emotionally exhausted that she could not bring herself to appear on the Today show. I believe I would have been in the same state if I were losing a dear family member on top of the accusations being slung around. Then Friday evening I got the call from one of Trina’s daughters saying that Trina may not make it through the weekend. I was on the next flight out and spent the next 48 hours with Trina and her family a family holding on dearly to their matriarch. I watched them as they were grieving for the hell that their mother was going through while at the same time they were being bombarded with the news reports of their niece and cousin being chastised with accusations and dragging her name being dragged through the mud. These are the same people who were raised in the same way as Paula. Heck, Paula and Trina grew up together. Did I see any sort of racism in any of these family members? NO. Did I hear that “word” this time in their home or last November when I spent a week with Trina? NO. I was welcomed into the home of this beautiful southern family as one of their own and treated as though I were a member of that family. The same way their Paula does with the people she comes in contact.

So, I am not saying that any of Paula’s accusers’ accusations are true or untrue. I can’t do that. That is up to a court of law. What I am saying is that I do not believe Paula is a racist or would ever want to knowingly hurt anyone. I somehow think a lot of these companies that are abandoning Paula Deen are using this as a way out. They are looking for personalities who appeal to their younger demographics. They can’t be blamed for looking out for their own companies, but they should be honest if this is true. Hell, Paula was honest, why can’t they be.

Even today, former President Jimmie Carter stated his support of Paula Deen. He suggested that she allow the dust to settle but continue to apologize as she has for her mistake.


Monday, June 8, 2015

We reached $4,000! The next threshold - Conflict Dragons.

So we reached our $4,000 threshold goal level and with that another iconic for NeoExodus. Now we work on our next threshold goal: Conflict Dragons. Conflict Dragons are the two words together that sound fantastic. And we want them to be just as awesome as you think the will be. Just wait until you see their breath weapons in action. These are going to bring back the feel of fear and dread when you see a dragon. Let's make this happen!

Don’t understand what that $150 reward with headshot means?


Shadow Achievements

Shadow Achievements are achievements that are "either unfair or difficult to attain", and require more time and effort than regular achievements. The following 16 achievements do not count towards the Milk percentage, nor will they show up on the stats tab until you have achieved them.

Shadow achievements  
Icon Name Description ID
Four-leaf cookie Have 4 golden cookies simultaneously.
"Fairly rare, considering cookies don't even have leaves."
324
Seven horseshoes Click 27,777 golden cookies.
"Enough for one of those funky horses that graze near your factories."
491
All-natural cane sugar Harvest a golden sugar lump. 271
Endless cycle [note 8] Ascend 1,000 times.
"Oh hey, it's you again."
207
Cheated cookies taste awful [note 10] Hack in some cookies. 70
God complex [note 11] Name yourself Orteil.
Note : usurpers incur a -1% CpS penalty until they rename themselves something else.
"But that's not you, is it?"
159
Third-party Use an add-on.
"Some find vanilla to be the most boring flavor."
160
When the cookies ascend just right [note 12] Ascend with exactly 1 trillion cookies. 397
Speed baking I Get to 1 million cookies baked in 35 minutes. 93
Speed baking II Get to 1 million cookies baked in 25 minutes. 94
Speed baking III Get to 1 million cookies baked in 15 minutes. 95
True Neverclick Make 1 million cookies with no cookie clicks.
"This kinda defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?"
78
Just plain lucky [note 13] You have 1 chance in 500,000 every second of earning this achievement. 104
Last Chance to See Burst the near-extinct shiny wrinkler.
"You monster!"
262
So much to do so much to see Manage a cookie legacy for at least a year.
"Thank you so much for playing Cookie Clicker!"
367
Gaseous assets [note 14] Have your stock market profits surpass a whole year of CpS ($31,536,000). 463


Best Cover Bands in the D.C. Area

The evocative lyrics, the lush harmonies, the shredding guitars there’s nothing quite like the music of yesteryear. If you’re sick and tired of all of the over-hyped, over-synthesized and over-played songs hitting the airwaves today, check out these best cover bands in the D.C. area, along with some top picks from 2012.

Founded by local Bethesda musicians, the Bandhouse Gigs band is known for its one-of-a-kind tribute concerts of a variety of artists including Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The band’s next concert tribute will feature songs made popular by George Harrison and The Beatles including “Here Comes the Sun” and “All Things Must Pass.” The concert will be held on April 6 at The Hamilton, a restaurant known for its contemporary dining experience which also features a uniquely designed, state-of-the-art live performance venue and bar.

The English Channel
American Classic Entertainment
(804) 784-0508
www.thenglishchannel.com

Relive the British Invasion with the help of The English Channel, a cover band that recreates popular British pop hits of the 1960s and 1970s with notable energy and enthusiasm. Jam to the sounds of shredding guitars, lush harmonies and vibrant vocals. Each song is performed just as it sounds on the record so there are no surprises. Songs you may hear while at a show include “All You Need is Love,” “Do Wah Diddy,” “You Only Live Twice” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” See The English Channel perform at the Tally Ho Theater on April 25. The Tally Ho has a 2,000-square-foot dance floor, cocktail bars, seated areas and a full-service, award-winning Moroccan restaurant.

Get ready to rock with the help of Beggars Tomb, a popular Grateful Dead cover band that plays accurate renditions of the band’s greatest hits with heart and gusto. Inspired by a lyric in the song “Uncle John’s Band,” Beggars Tomb performs many Grateful Dead hits including “Friend of the Devil,” “Ramble on Rose,” “Truckin'” and “Deal.” The band can be seen at the New Deal Cafe, located in the historic Roosevelt Center. Enjoy Middle Eastern-inspired menu items such as hummus, falafel, tabouleh, chicken kabobs and kibbeh. Desserts and a children’s menu is also available.

Dr. FU
(703) 298-2090
www.drfu.com

Bang your head to all of the hottest rock hits of the 80s with the help of Dr. FU. This dynamic rock cover band features members who have shared the stage with some of music’s greatest including Third Eye Blind, Pat Benatar, Naughty by Nature and the Sugar Hill Gang. Songs currently on the band’s repertoire include “Rebel Yell,” “Paradise City,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.” The band will be playing Celebrate Fairfax in June, which is Northern Virginia’s largest family-friendly three-day festival that features carnival rides, interactive activities, exhibitors, crafters, live performances, games, food and nightly fireworks.

The Reagan Years
(301) 717-7653
www.thereaganyears.com

Take a walk down memory lane without the embarrassing leg warmers, shoulder pads and huge hair. Known as the premier 80s tribute band, The Reagan Years plays all of the greatest hits from the popular era including “Jessie’s Girl,” “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The band has performed in many top gigs including the 2011 Ronald Reagan centennial birthday celebration at the Ronald Reagan Building. See the group live in action at Champion Billiards Sports Cafe, a full-service restaurant and bar that features daily food and drink specials as well as competitive events including trivia nights, poker and pool.


Welcome To The Jungle! (Lime Jungle – Hells Kitchen)

Eating at Lime Jungle on 9th Ave. between 53rd and 54th is a lot like a drunken bar hook-up. Definitely an experience you will enjoy in the moment, but will it blow your mind or change your life? Nope. In fact, much like your average drunken romantic foray, the next day I couldn’t get my steady taco love Taqueria LES off my mind.

That being said, their tacos require no beer goggles to (somewhat) enjoy. The ingredients were fresh, and the proteins (in this case short rib and pulled chicken) were moist and expertly cooked. The problem is that the proverbial ‘spark’ was non-existent. Even with their hottest salsa applied, the tacos at Lime Jungle just seemed a bit bland. The contradiction between how well the meat was prepared and the lack of flavor ends up leaving you in a sort of tortilla purgatory where your natural inclination is to eat more, hoping that eventually you’ll get some sort of satisfaction out of the experience. We all know how that goes…

Veggie Taco – I’ve made no attempt to hide my weakness for veggie tacos. Steamed veggies, nopales, hongos…I love it all. This was not my favorite. There was plenty of vegetables (peppers, onions, black beans, tomatoes, lettuce), and the guacamole and shredded cheese were nice. But as the intro to this review might tell you, this taco had a serious lack of flavor. All that considered, I still would have eaten 20 of these if I could have. I give it 3 out of 5 tortillas.

  • Peppers and Onions
  • Vegetarian Black Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Guacamole
  • Jack & Cheddar Cheese
  • Spiciest Level Red Salsa
  • Sour Cream (provided on the side, I did not use)

Chicken (Original) Taco – If you recall my review of Paty’s Taco Cart, I mentioned how the chicken had a ‘homemade chicken soup’ sort of taste, these tacos had the same taste to me. Impressive considering the chicken is slow cooked. It should also be noted that there was plenty of chicken on the taco as well. The toppings were pretty standard, and neither made the Lime Jungle Original a top taco (nor did it activate the gag reflex). Like the veggie taco I would give this 3 out of 5 tortillas, as I would happily eat plenty more of them but there was no chance of an emotional attachment developing.

  • Pulled, Shredded Chicken
  • Chopped Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Jack & Cheddar Cheese
  • Salsa Verde
  • Sour Cream (on the side, I did not use it)

Short Rib Taco – Short rib taco…oh you fancy huh? Nope, not really. Like the chicken the short rib was tender and cooked well. But true to my experience here, flavor-was-a-lackin’. Condiments were good enough. I poured as much of the spiciest level salsa as I could on it, and was still not impressed with the spice. Because short rib is delicious, even unseasoned, I give this taco 3.5 out of 5 tortillas.

  • Slow cooked Beef Short Ribs
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Chopped Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Hottest Red Salsa
  • Sour Cream (served on the side, I did not use)

Perhaps I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe if I call Taco Lime again things will be different. Maybe I’ll find that chemistry that will lead me to introduce it to my friends from out of town, even take my parents there. Maybe, just maybe…we can make this a real relationship.

Then again maybe I’ll just end up drunkenly calling Taqueria LES for reservations after the next trip too…

Lime Jungle (Hells Kitchen, Manhattan)
803 9th Ave. (btween 53rd & 54th)
New York, NY 10019


Best Of 2011

The food truck trend has changed the late-night game, but it also seems that, every year, more sit-down and drive-thru restaurants get the message: People get hungry after midnight.

One of the new standouts, Café Brazil (2880 W Berry St, FW), is open 24 hours and offers great variety and quality. The much ballyhooed In-N-Out Burger (2900 W 7th St, FW) is serving the burger-craving masses until 1am on weeknights and 1:30am on weekends. Everything is fresh, never frozen, and the service really will get you in and out.

As for food trucks, all of a sudden, the mobile kitchens are like spiders — you’re never more than a few feet away from one. The after-closing-time crowds now have a rich variety of options, all within stumbling distance of several bars. In West 7th, Trough Burger Wagon (2801 Crockett St, FW) keeps grillin’, chillin’, and thrillin’ until 2am Thu-Sat Taco Heads (2700 W 7th St, FW) mines late-night taco gold until 2am Wed-Sat and The Wiener Man (700 Carroll St, FW) throws a delicious sausage party until 2:30am Wed-Sat. Late-night stalwart Salsa Limón (2916 W Berry St, FW) keeps truckin’ until 2am every night, and its stationary location at La Gran Plaza slings gourmet tacos until 2am on Fridays, 3am on Saturdays. The food is actually healthy, and the ingredients are muy fresh.

Some of the old stand-bys still warrant applause. Every weeknight, El Mil (3910 Hemphill St, FW) stays open until 3:30am (and 4am on weekends), and the food is alcohol-absorbing, greasy brilliance. Taco meccas Ernesto’s Taqueria (4050 Hemphill St, FW) and Juanito’s Taqueria (4150 Hemphill St, FW) stay open past 3am on weekends. Benito’s (1450 W Magnolia Av) keeps the Mad-nolia crowd full of authentic Mexican fare until 2am. Fuzzy’s (2917 W Berry St, FW) serves outstanding fish and shrimp tacos all day, but on weekends they keep ’em coming until 3am for TCU-area nightowls.

All-Star Mexican Food

Soup: Mexican lentil at Lili’s Bistro, 1310 W Magnolia Av, FW. Spicy, earthy goodness, the only sopa we know that can beat out the bean soup at La Familia.

Tacos: The El Capitan at Salsa Limón is crazy good: beef, melted cheese, and pickled cabbage on a flour tortilla. 4200 S Fwy, Ste 1099, FW.

Enchiladas: Pick a sauce, any sauce (we’re partial to the jalapeño cream) to top your chipotle shrimp enchilada, and you’re in wrap heaven. Salsa Fuego, 3520 Alta Mere Dr, FW.

Chiles rellenos: Giant battered-and-deep-fried chile, served in a tasty broth and stuffed with gooey cheese and meat. Benito’s.

Guacamole: Can guacamole be so fresh it sparkles? It does at El Asadero, 1535 N Main St, FW.

Seafood cocktail: Go for the shrimp version at La Playa Maya, 1540 N Main St, FW. The red juice/sauce is sweet and hot at the same time, the shrimp big, fresh, and tasty.

All-Star Barbecue

Brisket: There’s a wallop of mouthwatering, meaty goodness inside every slice at Wilson’s Bar-B-Q, 6513 Brentwood Stair Rd, FW.

Chicken: Among the dozens of other reasons for the multi-decade longevity of Angelo’s Bar-B-Cue, the bird –– hearty, peppery, and dripping with flavor –– is one of the biggest. 2533 White Settlement Rd, FW.

Pork chop: You’d be hard-pressed to find one better than the smoky, succulent, gut-busting two-incher at The Smoke Pit, 2401 E Belknap St, Haltom City.

Ribs: So big you’d think they came from a brontosaurus. They’re also juicy and fall-off-the-bone good at Woody Creek Bar-B-Q, 6996 Green Oaks Rd, FW.

Sausage: Unlike the handiwork of imitators, the jalapeño-and-cheese link at Roscoe’s Smokehouse ain’t no gimmick. It’s an explosion of sweet-and-salty spiciness that will make your tastebuds party. 1541 SW Wilshire Blvd, Burleson.

Sauce: Doesn’t get much better than the dense, creamy, and tangy but not overly syrupy sauce concocted by old man Robinson at Robinson Bar-B-Q. Better still, he bottles the stuff for sale. 1028 E Berry St, FW.

Turkey: The big bird is smoky and melt-in-your-mouth –– and not the least bit dry –– at Texas Pit BBQ, 324 S Saginaw Blvd, Saginaw.

Sides: The potato salad is chunky and rich yet goes down smooth at David’s Barbecue, 2224 W Park Row Dr, Arl. (The ’cue is also pretty darn tasty.)

All-Star International

Drink: Salty preserved-lemon soda is an acquired taste, for sure, but there’s nothing better for washing down a pork-and-pâté sandwich. Acquire yours at Ba-Le Vietnamese Restaurant, 2240 Browning Dr, Arl.

Bread: The wonderful lunch buffet at Star India almost has it all — but do go a la carte for the paneer kulcha, a puffy, fresh-baked flatbread stuffed with raisins and homemade cheese, to sop up all of the other stuff. 703 W Park Row Dr, Arl.

Appetizer: How do you like your stuffed grape leaves? Lebanese style, with an extra sparkle of lemon and tomato, or Greek, with a dip of housemade tzatziki sauce? No need to suffer the anxiety of choosing Al Wadi Café does a fabulous job with both. 2712 Brown Tr, Bedford.

Soup: Pho Que Huong, in the upscale strip mall by Central Market, calls itself a “bistro,” but appearances are deceiving — the rich beef pho here is the real deal, the nine-hour-simmer kind, just like you’d find along Belknap Street. 4601 W Fwy, FW.

Salad: But where’s the lettuce? Gone, to make more room for tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and feta cheese. Feta salad at Chadra Mezza & Grill, 1622 Park Place Av, FW.

Entrée: It’s hard to figure how chicken chunks can be grilled so crispy on the outside yet remain so tender and juicy within. Ancient Syrian secret or a simple garlic-lemon marinade? Probably both. Shishtawook at Semiramis Café, 803 W Park Row Dr, Arl.

Sides: You have to order an entrée to get access to Korea House’s bottomless side dishes — kim chee, fish cakes, soybean sprouts, seaweed, and many more, all as tasty as they are lovely — but trust us, that’s no hardship. Korea House BBQ, 4750 Bryant Irvin Rd, FW.

Dessert: Ah, strudel. Is there any dessert more perfect than a buttery, crisp pastry with a warm apple-walnut filling? Answer: No. Apple strudel at Blue Danube, 2230A W Park Row Dr, Arl.

All-Star Home Cooking

Meatloaf:The best way to avoid shame when you take your grandmother out for meatloaf is to find her a booth at Montgomery Street Café, 2000 Montgomery St, FW. The loaf is homemade, delicious, and covered in brown gravy.

Chicken-Fried Steak: Perhaps the most important dish in the chicken-fried capital of the world, no one does it better than Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, 114 W Pearl St, Granbury. The generously portioned steak is slathered in cream gravy and crisp to perfection.

Chicken Livers: There aren’t many places that serve the most under-rated part of the bird, but Paris Coffee Shop, 704 W. Magnolia Av, FW, does it right. The little morsels are lightly battered and slathered in gravy.

Pork Chops: Rosebud Café, 1519 W Rosedale St, FW, doesn’t do anything fancy with the chops, but they are always tasty, comforting, and well-portioned.

Desserts: The various fruit-filled pies at Division Street Diner (1800 W Division St, Arl) are good enough to eat first. They’re made daily, in-house, with flavors dependent on what fruit is in season.

All-Star Chain Dishes

Appetizer: It’s a mystery why a chain restaurant named after a traditional Southwestern dish associated with cowboys and settlers would be able to serve such flavorful egg rolls, but it’s a happy mystery. The egg rolls rock at Chili’s.
Salad: You’ll crunch away with tasty, nutritious zeal when you get the spinach salad at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar.

Entrée: The garlic cream in the Pasta Milano is good enough to be named a national treasure, and when you add roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms, it’s a bowl of heaven at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

Sides: The homestyle sides are so good, you might just be tempted to order the veggie plate and make it a meal at T.G.I. Fridays.

Dessert: For many of us, the cone is as important as the topping when deciding on a little frozen after-dinner treat. The waffled bad boys hit the spot at Marble Slab Creamery.

Readers’ choice: Fred’s Texas Café, 915 Currie St, FW

Sure, if all you’re after is filling your tummy right this second, hit the drive-thru of one of the national burger chains that have been popping up on seemingly every corner in the county. You’ll get a predictably decent burger and fries. But if you have a few minutes to spare, try actually going into a real burger joint. Sit down. Relax. Enjoy something better, fresher, a bit more imaginative. Our favorites this year:

• Hefty enough for two, but you won’t want to share: The aptly named Extreme Burger is made with fresh-ground beef and topped with two cheeses, real bacon, and fresh-from-the-farmers-market portobello, avocado, lettuce, and tomato. Christie’s Extreme Burgers, 5209 Rufe Snow Dr, NRH.

• The updated traditional cheeseburger: Grass-fed, locally raised beef is seasoned and grilled just right, then finished with a classic yellow square of all-American goodness and super-fresh toppings. And of course, it’s found in a gas station-slash-diner. Chef Point Café, 5901 Watauga Rd, Watauga.

• If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, let’s have it on a burger: The Magnolia Custom stacks chicken-fried bacon, country ham, and a fried egg atop one delicious hot rod of a patty. Magnolia Motor Lounge, 3005 Morton St, FW.

• When in Texas … don’t be afraid to try something different. The Carolina, a char-grilled mixture of ground beef and slow-smoked pulled pork topped with bold Carolina-style barbecue sauce, will have you shouting yee-haw (in a funny accent). Chop House Burgers, 1700 W Park Row Dr, Arl.

• Sometimes you just want a simple, classic, perfect American cheeseburger. And sometimes you want a Belly Buster, a half-pound of fresh-never-frozen ground beef sautéed in Worcestershire and topped with the usual fixings — plus onion rings, jalapeños, grilled onions, bell peppers, bacon, and two kinds of cheese. Go to either extreme at Pop’s Burgers & Grill, 4400 Benbrook Hwy, FW.

Readers’ choice: Del Frisco, 812 Main St, FW

Best too-pretty-to-eat (almost). Gorgeously seared shell, juicy pink mantle, warm red core — exquisite. We hated to make it disappear, but luckily this steak tastes as good as it looks. Filet mignon, Ray’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood, 3206 Winthrop Av, FW.

Best use of pan juices. Added-in brandy, mushrooms, shallots, butter, and cream don’t hurt, but it’s those little brown flavor crystals that make the Steak Diane a goddess. Lambert’s Steaks, Seafood & Whiskey, 2731 White Settlement Rd, FW.

Best omigod-that’s-spicy. This is a steak for Texans –– big, bold, chipotle’d, Shiner-marinated — a steak that melts in and warms up your mouth all at once. Rib-eye at Fred’s Texas Café, 95 Currie St, FW.

Best pairing. Skinny and double-fried, with crispy outsides and soft warm insides — the frites here are the best in town, the rib-eye is perfectly cooked, and the peppercorn cream sauce joins the two in holy scrumptiousness. Steak frites at Sapristi! Bistro & Wine Bar, 2418 Forest Park Blvd, FW.

Best bargain. The flavor of a strip steak, the tenderness of a filet, the price of a couple of gourmet burgers. Flat-iron steak at Cat City Grill, 1208 W Magnolia Av, FW.

Taqueria

Critic’s choice: Salsa Limón, 4200 S Fwy, Ste 1099, FW

Taco impresario Ramiro Ramirez follows a single un-fussy formula: fresh, simple, and authentic. The result is something refined and elevated. Salsa Limón offers all of the various parts of pigs and cows that most gringos shy away from, and yet Ramirez’ star is rising with the mainstream while maintaining credibility with Hispanics.

Readers’ choice: Ol’ South Pancake House , 1509 S University Dr, FW

Critic’s choice: Montgomery Street Café , 2000 Montgomery St, FW

When assessing a restaurant for being the best at some style, you must take into account the sum of the parts. Montgomery Street Café’s breakfast wins hands down. Atmosphere: old-fashioned diner with counter seating. Service: old-school waitresses who are efficient and friendly. Food: solid and traditional. (We love the bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar.) Value: Now this is the best part. Two eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns or grits, and biscuits and gravy or toast for $3.99. The biscuits –– homemade, huge, and fluffy — served with the cream gravy are a meal in themselves.

Readers’ choice: Avoca Coffee ,1311 W Magnolia Av, FW

Critic’s choice: Buon Giorno , 915 Florence St, FW

This Grapevine staple recently opened a downtown Fort Worth location, where locals have been lining up for tasty cups of joe made from beans roasted in the home base up the road. The downtown establishment is comfy, the staffers are knowledgeable and nice, and the brews are flavorful –– all of which indicates that the people behind these roasts know what they’re doing. Sit down with your laptop (free WiFi, natch), get your Garry Kasparov on with a game of chess, or play Words with Friends the old-fashioned way — with Buon Giorno’s complimentary Scrabble board. The people-watching is good too.

Coffee House

Readers’ choice: Avoca Coffee

Critic’s choice: Avoca Coffee

Avoca Coffee is just one more thing that makes the South Side the envy of all other neighborhoods in the Fort. Yes, the coffee served here is a little more expensive than what you’d get at Starbucks, but it’s twice as good, locally owned, and with beans roasted in-house. The dining room/lounge area is stylish, artsy, and comfortable, and the staff is friendly and prompt.

Readers’ choice: Blue Mesa Grill, 1600 University Dr, FW

Critic’s choice: Lambert’s Steaks, Seafood & Whiskey , 2731 White Settlement Rd, FW

At Lambert’s all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet, help yourself to house-smoked salmon, smoked prime rib with horseradish cream, migas with fresh salsa, maple-glazed pork loin, and griddled potatoes until you’re too stuffed to move — but wait, there’s more. Included in the price of the buffet are cooked-to-order dishes like salmon or prime rib Benedict, brioche French toast, eggs any way you want them, and Lambert’s renowned green-chili cheddar grits. We dare you to save room for dessert –– or even dinner.

Lunch Bargain

Readers’ choice: Nizza Pizza , 401 University Dr, FW

Critic’s choice: Rosebud Café, 1519 W Rosedale St, FW

It may not be the height of culinary achievement, but Rosebud serves up good home-cooking that won’t dent your wallet. With lunch specials as low as $3.99, Rosebud exists for the working men and women who appreciate good value and tasty grub.

Kids’ Dining Venue

Readers’ choice: Fuzzy’s Tacos, 2917 W Berry St, FW

Critic’s choice: Curly’s Frozen Custard , 4017 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

Though it’s been around for only about 10 years, Curly’s is an institution. And with good reason: Their frozen custard cones and sundaes are the best in town, and nobody can touch their Nathan’s hot dogs. Whether you’ve got the kids on a 100-degree summer day in a car with no air conditioning or just want to bring out your inner child, Curly’s banana splits, slushes, malts, floats, and simply amazing “concretes” — vanilla or chocolate custard with your favorite candy, fruit, or nuts mixed in — will do the trick. Best of all, the prices are so reasonable you can bring a carload of youngsters and not feel the pinch.

Romantic Atmosphere

Reader’s choice: Sardine’s Ristorante , 509 University Dr, FW

Critic’s choice: Reata Restaurant , 310 Houston St, FW

So, it’s not particularly feminine, luxurious, or fluffy –– that’s a plus. A staggering number of folks go to Reata for engagements, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Every night there’s at least one couple celebrating something and upward of a dozen such couples or groups on the weekends. Maybe that’s because Reata manages to be both upscale and spectacularly comfortable –– definitely a plus for men (and women) who like their romance a little more understated. The service is usually impeccable, and the menu offers consistently fine cuisine.

Home Cooking

Readers’ choice: Buttons , 4701 W Fwy, FW

Critic’s choice: Montgomery Street Café

Montgomery Street Café is a throwback to the era when the waitresses called you “Hon,” people sat on stools and ate at the counter, and the food was hot, reasonably priced, filling, and delicious. It’s the kind of place that Grandma would endorse and that everyone else should support.

Readers’ choice: Carshon’s Deli , 3133 Cleburne Rd, FW

Critic’s choice: Taste of Europe , 1901 W Pioneer Pkwy, Arl

This multifaceted place, with its tchotchkes, antiques store, jewelry shop, and military-collectibles depot, somehow also finds room for a small delicatessen, whose smorgasbord of Eastern European lunchables includes Hungarian bacon, German bologna, Estonian salami, Polish knockwurst, and cheeses from nearly every post-Soviet republic. And, not surprisingly, the finest borscht in town.

Greasy Spoon

Critic’s choice: Vickery Café, 4120 W Vickery Blvd, FW

Fans of down-home cooking, fast service, and reasonable prices should make Vickery Café a regular lunch stop. Though some recent remodeling has made the restaurant a little less dive-y, it still holds its charm and churns out chicken-fried everything.

Readers’ choice: Bombay Grill , 4625 Donnelly Av, Ste 109, FW

Critic’s choice: Star India, 704 W Park Row, Arl

Honestly, finding good Indian food west of Hwy 360 is tough, but there’s a couple of tips you should always keep in mind: Seek out a hole-in-the-wall and, when possible, opt for the buffet. Variety is key, and choosing from the buffet will also help you approximate a full, balanced, home-cooked meal. Star India’s well-rounded selection would suit vegans and omnivores alike. In some ways the place is atypical for an Indian restaurant, since you might find the dal (lentils) conspicuously missing from the buffet and beef-based dishes available. This hearty North Indian fare, not too tough on the wallet, is perfect for any casual diner with a curious palate.

Readers’ choice: Boo-Ray’s , 3039 Fort Worth Hwy, Hudson Oaks

Critic’s choice: Pierre’s Mardi Gras Café , 2816 S Cooper St, Arl

We gave “Best Cajun” to Pierre’s Mardi Gras Café twice before, in 2007 and 2009, and a visit earlier this year confirmed that opinion: Pierre’s continues to roll out the most reliably tasty and authentic N’awlins staples in Tarrant County, if not North Texas. The meat-and-seafood-loaded gumbo is still a hot mess of delicious flavors, the fried oysters are silky and delectable, and the jambalaya spicy and savory.

French Cuisine

Critic’s choice: St. Emilion Restaurant , 3617 W 7th St, FW

St. Emilion is stubbornly traditional. And that’s not a bad thing, considering that French culinary tradition involves honoring fresh ingredients creating big, rich, flavorful food and executing it perfectly. Every night, Chef Mark Hitri and his staff create a window into the origins of modern American Nouveau, a style that borrows heavily from French cuisine, while transporting patrons to the French countryside.

Readers’ choice: P.F. Chang’s , 400 Throckmorton St, FW

Critic’s choice: ABC Seafood , 2420 E Arkansas Ln, Arl

The 265-item menu at this warehouse-size Chinese restaurant includes plenty of fire pots, sizzling platters, shark-fin dishes, and stir-fries, but the best reason to go is dim sum (11am-3pm every day but Mondays). Kick back while the cart ladies trundle by with dumplings (fried or steamed, stuffed with shrimp, pork, leeks, and/or other yummies) steamed buns (pork or red bean) fried shrimp balls sticky fried rice, marvelous barbecue pork and plenty of dishes featuring tofu, beans, and vegetables. Point at what you want, smile, and enjoy.

Tex-Mex (Under $10 Entrée)

Readers’ choice: Taco Heads, 2700 W 7th St, FW

Critic’s choice: Amy’s Restaurant , 1537 N Main St, FW

The building isn’t fancy, just a little old storefront on the North Side. But inside, Amy’s serves authentic, basic, quality Mexican food at low prices. Breakfast specials are only $4 lunches are $6. This nondescript hole-in-the-wall has been incognito for too long. Amy deserves your love.

Tex-Mex (Over $10 Entrée)

Reader’s choice: Mi Cocina , 4601 W Fwy, FW

Critic’s choice: El Gabacho , 408 W Abram St, Arl

Some of the best Tex-Mex in the area can be found at this family-owned, family-run restaurant, tucked into a pretty little shopping center in central Arlington. Over the last two years, David Govea and nephew/co-owner Ryan have made some modifications — bigger patio, flat-screen TV in the bar. But the deals are still the same, and much of the menu hovers right around $10. Try the fajita enchiladas: three huge, gooey cheese enchiladas covered in chicken fajita meat, then smothered in tangy ranchero sauce. The Tex-Mex tour runs about $20, but the selection of quesadillas, chicken-stuffed fried jalapeños, flautas, and crunchy tacos easily serves a party of four.

Readers’ choice: Nonna Tata , 1400 W Magnolia Av, FW

Critic’s choice: Fortuna Italian Restaurant and Pizza, 5837 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

As a small, independent, moderately priced restaurant specializing in tasty Northern Italian dishes, Fortuna’s has few peers. It still serves hearty pastas in tomato sauce and tempting pizza combinations, but its triumph is the savory cream and wine sauces it brings to meat and seafood entrées. If you still have room, the tiramisu, spumoni, and cappuccino-ice-cream pie are sinful.

Readers’ choice: Pappa Chang Asia Bistro , 1526 Pennsylvania Av, FW

Critic’s choice: An Zen , 2740 Western Center Blvd, Ste 516, FW

No discussion about pan-Asian food in town is complete without An Zen, a stylish, friendly, and often-overlooked spot in a North Fort Worth strip mall (a few parking spots away from Fred’s North). Though the menu contains adventuresome signature rolls, the classics get the job done, and whether you’ve ordered some Thai food (awesome), curry (spectacular), or Chinese –– the kung pao chicken is not only plentiful and mouthwatering but wonderfully presented –– everything that arrives is gourmet quality: fresh, perfectly prepared, and delicious. (And the price is always right.)

Readers’ choice: Pho Hung , 4125 E Belknap St, Ste 107, Haltom City

Critic’s choice: Tu Hai Restaurant , 3909 E Belknap St, Haltom City

With all of the new Vietnamese restaurants popping up throughout North Texas, it’s easy to lose sight of the stalwarts. But Tu Hai –– family-owned and operated for more than two decades –– continues to deliver the goods. The pho soups are delicious, with the right blend of heat, sweetness, and mint. The bun noodle bowls (our favorite is bun thit nuong, a beef-and-vermicelli concoction) are filling, and the spicy sauces add to the flavor. Same with the banh xeo: crepes stuffed with shrimp and pork. And don’t miss the spring rolls, accompanied by the best peanut sauce around. The care that Tu Hai gives to food preparation and service is a part of family pride. Only one (small) problem: cash only.

Readers’ choice: Thai Tina’s , 600 Commerce St, FW

Critic’s choice: Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine , 977 Melbourne Rd, Hurst

This little place near Northeast Mall has “sweet” wrapped up, from its décor –– cinnamon walls, tasteful art –– to the lovely presentation, generous portions, and top-notch flavors of the food. Try the peanut chicken: The al dente broccoli and snow peas plus a sweet and spicy (not gloppy) sauce raise the traditional dish to new levels. Even lowly egg rolls are works of art on the plate here.

Middle Eastern

Readers’ choice: Chadra Mezza & Grill , 1622 Park Place Av, FW

Critic’s choice: Chadra Mezza & Grill

Chadra’s Mediterranean buffet on Friday and Saturday nights is truly a bargain, with all-you-can-eat lamb chops, the to-die-for Heavenly Chicken, and lots of other yummy Lebanese and Italian dishes that we never seem to have room for after our lamb and chicken appetizers, main course, and dessert. (That’s why other nights are also a great time to visit this pretty restaurant — no lamb chop competition.) From the full menu, start with muhamarra or foul maudamas finish with pomegranate ice cream or sweet hummus along the way, enjoy best-in-show kibbeh, ablama, or Shaik al Meshe. Not familiar with these dishes? Well, you could try sampling them at the weekend buffet before you go ordering a whole plate, but don’t say we didn’t warn you about lamb chop distraction.

Latin/Caribbean

Readers’ choice: Gloria’s , 2600 W 7th St, FW

Critic’s choice: Jamaica Gates , 1020 W Arkansas Ln, Arl

Executive Chef Barbara Renfro keeps expanding her fan base with the richness and complex spiciness of Jamaican cuisine served at her laid-back family restaurant. Besides delightful versions of jerk shrimp and brown stew chicken (a must-have), Renfro has opened up her menu to more daring Jamaican favorites like Mannish Soup, a spicy dumpling soup with goat meat, green bananas, garlic, and peppers.

Vegetarian Meal

Readers’ choice: Spiral Diner & Bakery, 1314 W Magnolia Av, FW

Critic’s choice: Vegetable Fajita Especial, Uncle Julio’s , 5301 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

More people would probably eat vegetables if they could taste them fresh off Uncle Julio’s grill. The chefs cut squash, portobellos, peppers, onions, and zucchini into thick slices, marinate them in citrus and oil, then throw the whole colorful array on top of the flames. Served in conjunction with fresh guacamole, Julio’s smoky salsa, and hot, handmade flour tortillas, these fajitas get high ratings from both health and flavor standpoints.

Readers’ choice: Railhead Smokehouse BBQ , 120 South Ranch House Rd, Willow Park

Critic’s choice: Longoria’s BBQ , 100 Christopher Dr, Everman

The ribs are meaty, the turkey is juicy, the finely chopped beef is ultra-flavorful, the pinto beans are bacon-y — but don’t miss the blow-you-away item at this country-style shack: Longoria’s brisket sausage. Thanks to the crispy casing and coarse grind that together ensnare all of the oak-smoke goodness, this sausage is lean yet pops with pure Texas barbecue flavor. We recommend the triple-meat plate — make at least two of them sausage.

Chicken-Fried Steak

Readers’ choice: Cat City Grill , 1208 W Magnolia Av, FW

Critic’s choice: Stevie’s Diner , 5500 N Tarrant Pkwy, FW

Doesn’t get much better than the CFS at this recently opened retro diner in North Fort Worth. Stevie’s chefs judiciously bread a piece of tender, succulent steak, fry it ’til perfectly golden, and serve it with some peppery cream gravy (and bunches of sides). From 11am to 3pm Mondays through Fridays, Stevie’s offers blue-plate specials for only $5.99 each, and the chicken-fried steak is often featured.

Readers’ choice: Hot Damn Tamales , 713 W Magnolia Av, FW

Critic’s choice: La Tortilandia Mexican Restaurant , 1112 W Berry St, FW

The tamales served at this Mexican comfort-food restaurant are fat and happy, filled with tender, spicy shredded pork folded into a tasty, just-right masa dough and steamed to perfection in corn husks. You can order them four to a plate with refried beans, Spanish rice, and the hottest salsa this side of the border and eat them off white tablecloths in elegant surroundings on a not-too-elegant stretch of Berry Street — or take a dozen home for $10. If you eat in, a full bar offers whatever you need to wash them down with.

Readers’ choice: Fuzzy’s, 2917 W Berry St, FW

Critic’s choice: Rio Mambo,1010 Houston St, FW

This Rio’s is a modest cousin of the Rio Mambo’s Tex Mex y Mas in Cityview — plainer, catering to downtown workers and guests at the also-modest Park Central Hotel. But even though lunch came served on plastic platters with salsa in a Styrofoam cup, it was good, and the mild-looking queso was better, with a smoky edge to it: great for dipping the chips in or, better yet, the brisket quesadillas.

Readers’ choice: La Familia , 841 Foch St, FW

Critic’s choice: Original Mexican Eats Café , 4713 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

The interior of this long-standing Tex-Mex eatery may be getting a sleek, new look, but one thing hasn’t changed: the salsa. The Original’s salsa is fresh and spicy but not tear-inducing and features loads of veggies. Though it’s available by the jar at Central Market, it seems to taste best at the restaurant (and, preferably, while sipping on a margarita).

Green Salsa

Readers’ choice: Taco Heads

Critic’s choice: El Barrio Tacos Y Platos Mexicanos , 1329 N Main St, FW

Fort Worth folks love nothing better than spicing their tortilla chips, tacos, and nachos with tomato-heavy red salsa, but any self-respecting salsa freak knows the best flavor is found in the jalapeño-based green variety. Problem is, most restaurants don’t carry salse verde, and those that do often go overboard with the tomatillo. El Barrio Tacos Y Platos Mexicanos uses serrano and jalapeño peppers for maximum flavor but only a touch of tomatillo to tone down the heat.

Quesadillas

Readers’ choice: Blue Mesa Grill

Critic’s choice: Tillman’s Roadhouse , 2933 Crockett St, FW

The elegant quesadilla caddie served up by this So7 eatery is a meal unto itself, with smoked brisket playing well off the Mexican cheeses inside. Additional points for the lime sour cream dip that comes alongside.

Readers’ choice: Shinjuku Station , 711 W Magnolia Av, FW

Critic’s choice: Blue Sushi Sake Grill , 3131 W 7th St, FW

This Omaha-based sushi place is on quite a roll (rim shot). The sushi is consistently fresh and flavorful. The specialty maki roll menu features some innovative takes on the traditional Japanese staple. Take the Rodeo Roll, for example: seared tenderloin, crispy crawfish, avocado, cilantro, radish sprouts, crispy sriracha onions, and Fresno pepper aioli. That’s just one of many reasons Blue sits atop the sushi hierarchy in Fort Worth.

Readers’ choice: Mama’s Pizza , 5800 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

Critic’s choice: Brooklyn’s Best Pizza & Pasta , 2425 SE Green Oaks Blvd, Arl

They’ll make you a mighty fine deep-dish Sicilian, white pizza, or stuffed pie if you want, but Brooklyn’s Best’s best is old-school Noo Yawk: a razor-thin, fight-you-back crust topped with bubbly-hot fresh mozzarella and a schmear of fresh tomato sauce. Add pepperoni, Italian sausage, or savory housemade meatballs grab a fork (if you’re Donald Trump), or fold the slice (if you’re a normal person) and enjoy. The grease and cheese that dribble on your shirtfront? Dessert.

Readers’ choice: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, 3100 W 7th St, FW

Seafood fans have long known that some of the best places in town for catfish, tilapia, and shellfish are Mexican restaurants, and La Tortilandia has established itself as a proud purveyor of the fruits of the sea. Oysters fried or raw, whole grilled catfish, savory and spicy ceviche on nachos or tostadas, large fried shrimp, and an excellent shrimp cocktail are all on the menu here.

Fried Chicken

Reader’s choice: Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, 230 N Center St, Arl

Critic’s choice: Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

Picking the best fried chicken is, even in a perfect world, dicey. Fried chicken purists are damn picky. This year, the winner is the always-tasty offering from Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. We’re fond of the new Arlington location, but the locally owned chain has outposts in Burleson and Granbury as well as several in Dallas. The bird (and anything else you order) is served family-style. The chicken is breaded in batter that manages to be peppery and thick, as well as surprisingly delicate. Even the breast (which tends to dry out easily) is crunchy and moist. The slightly chunky cream gravy provides a lovely accent, but the bird is good enough to stand (or fly) on its own.

Readers’ choice: Great Outdoors , 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

Critic’s choice: Club sandwich at Yogi’s Bagel Café , 2710 S Hulen St, FW

A Yogi’s club sandwich is nothing more than turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on sourdough bread, but this thing is a picture of sandwich perfection. Thanks to the open-skillet area, you can watch as the cook assembles the ingredients and browns them step by step. The proportions are perfect, the ingredients top of the line. While the club sandwich probably isn’t the healthiest selection on the menu, it is without a doubt one of the best.

Readers’ choice: Buffalo Bros. , 3015 University Dr, FW

Critic’s choice: Dublin Square , 6651 Fossil Bluff Dr, FW

The only red you’ll see here will be the ketchup bottle on your table. In other words, Dublin Square doesn’t do “hot” wings. Rather, the North Fort Worth bar/restaurant does wings that are about as close to backyard-grillin’ wings as legally possible. These bad boys are not only huge but also fresh (never frozen) and finger-lickin’ good. They come in four varieties, including honey barbecue, barbecue (a savory brown sauce), garlic parmesan, and lemon pepper, and all of the dressings are homemade.

Readers’ choice: Central Market , 4651 W Fwy, FW

Critic’s choice: Black Rooster Bakery, 2430 Forest Park Blvd, FW

These folks treat bread as something more than bookends for sliced turkey or as a vehicle to deliver butter into your mouth. Black Rooster’s artisanal breads are made from a long fermentation process that extends freshness and enlivens flavor. Specialty breads include oatmeal cranberry pecan, pain au fromage (baked with asiago, gruyere, or parmesan) and kalamata-stuffed fougasse. They also pour free-trade coffee and serve up gourmet sandwiches that range from French ham, butter and sea salt to goat cheese and black olive tapenade, making for a stellar, European café experience.

Reader’s choice: Dixie House Café , 3701 E Belknap St, FW

Critic’s choice: Warm cocoa brownie at Fireside Pies , 2949 Crockett St, FW

Perhaps ironically at this local mini-chain, there’s no pie for dessert on the menu. There is, however, a decadent, molten-cocoa brownie. With a gooey center and slight exterior crunch, the brownie is good on its own. Add a river of sea-salted caramel, toasted hazelnuts, and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you get an over-the-top dessert experience. At the Grapevine location, the warm brownie concept is the same, but the execution — vanilla ice cream and cherry sauce — is a little different.

Critic’s choice: Sapristi! Bistro & Wine Bar , 2418 Forest Park Blvd, FW

True foodies like to pack as much variety into their dining experience as possible. For them, Chef Carlos Cavazos is a godsend. He breathes intelligence and creativity into his appetizer menu, which walks the line between classic French and modern Americana. Sapristi! offers a multitude of preparations of mussels, an ever-changing tapas plate, and one of the last few excellent cheese plates in the city.

Readers’ choice: Sweet Sammie’s , 825 Currie St, FW

Critic’s choice: Braum’s , 100 W University Dr, FW

Now that the Bull Ring in the Stockyards has shut down, the best ice cream in town is offered at Braum’s. The University location is our favorite — you get soda-fountain service, milkshakes, floats, real banana splits, good fresh toppings, and delicious ice cream.

Readers’ choice: Winslow’s Wine Café , 4101 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW

Critic’s choice: Winslow’s Wine Café

Oh, the grueling research involved with this one. Winslow’s wines vary from the modest to that $250 bottle of Dom Perignon for celebrating something really special (and, we trust, lucrative), but few of the offerings are boring. More than 40 vintages are available by the glass, including some classics but also a lot of small-production wines you might not see anywhere else in town. The list changes with the seasons, so if you enjoyed that last glass, better go back soon — and tell them to buy more.

Critic’s choice: Café Hana , 3610 S Cooper St, Arl

True, this Japanese eatery, which serves excellent noodle and teriyaki fare, occupies a small strip mall space. But Café Hana boasts some of the most modestly effective mood lighting we’ve seen in such a space. It’s soothingly dim but not dark — each table or booth is softly lit from above so there’s no confusing your dining partner with the waiter. The booths’ polished-wood partitions encourage a sense of privacy and intimacy. Café Hana feels like a sleek, cozy refuge from the crazy South Cooper Street traffic outside.

Place to Buy Ethnic Food

Critic’s choice: Fiesta Mart , 275 NE 28th St, FW

There are plenty of supermercados in Tarrant County, most carrying the same products and many with elotes stands in front, but only the Northside Fiesta Mart starts you off with Elotes by Esteban, purveyor of the tastiest mix of corn kernels, crema, grated cheese, chili powder, and lime juice in town. After that pre-shopping snack, head inside to stock up on produce, meats, bakery items, and canned goods from the warmer parts of the Americas — like fresh-cut cactus, frozen pupusas, bags and bags of dried peppers, refrigerated (not canned!) refried beans, Mexicana and Salvadoreña crema, and more banana/plantain varieties than you can shake a monkey at.

Place to Dine Alfresco

Readers’ choice: 8.0 , 111 E 3rd St, FW

Critic’s choice: Lightcatcher Winery & Bistro , 6925 Confederate Park Rd/FM 1886, FW

First, the concept: At times the weather is so pleasant that people want to eat outside. It’s OK — we all forgot. But now it’s time to refresh our memories, and there’s no better place to do that than by driving out of the city to Lightcatcher. They make a merlot with real meat on its bones, and who can guess what magic Caris Turpen — chef, owner, and winemaker — will be up to in the kitchen? Her food is stellar, often featuring local and organic ingredients. Fans, umbrellas, and heaters mitigate whatever the elements are out on the spacious flagstone terrace and pavilion.

Place to Dine Alone

Readers’ choice: Chuy’s , 2401 W 7th St, FW

Yes, it’s a bit pricey. And you have to buy a plane ticket, show your ID, and take your shoes off just to get in. Once you’re inside, though, no venue in North Texas beats the incredible range of dining options here. Whether you’re looking for a quick McDonald’s burger you can eat standing up, the upscale sit-down dining experience of the Cool River Café, or anything in between, this Grapevine institution has just the thing to help you customize your dining experience. Plus, you can bond (or even hook up with) your fellow travelers.

Place to Buy:

Critic’s choice: Roy Pope’s Gourmet Deli , 2300 Merrick St, FW

There’s nothing wrong with a good sub and a cold soda for a short road trip, but if you’re thinking of hitting the road for a long haul, consider making a stop at Roy Pope’s. Imagine how much fun your trip will be if your cooler is stocked with a couple of jars of Roy’s specialty pickles — including asparagus, okra, and artichoke heart — and relishes and salsas. Then have him cook you up a couple of slabs of alligator tail to slap between thick slices of fresh bread — or just go for the deli meats and gourmet cheeses –– and voila! You’ll think you’re driving to nirvana.

Place to Buy Fruits and Veggies

Critic’s choice: Sprouts Farmers Market , 4650 SW Loop 820, FW

The new Sprouts on I-20 and Hulen Street permanently advertises its “farm-fresh produce” on the side of the building. Like the bigger (but slightly pricier) Central Market, Sprouts sells only the fresh, good stuff. You can blindly grab a cantaloupe or green pepper and trust you’ll get a good one. The store runs specials on seasonal fruits and veggies and makes purchases from local growers whenever possible. While the farm-to-table philosophy is commendable, the folks at Sprouts also take chances by importing exotic things like rhubarb, daikon, and taro root.

Meat Market

Critic’s choice: Woods & Cuds, 5601 E Hwy 67, Alvarado

A half-hour drive from downtown Fort Worth, Woods & Cuds sells hormone-free beef, chicken, and pork from local Johnson County ranches, plus imported lamb, bison, elk, and other exotics. Pork sausage, in half a dozen varieties, is made fresh daily in natural casings. The on-site butcher can’t be stumped, whether the question is history, hormones, cut, storage, or cooking method. Best of all, prices run 30 to 40 percent less than the gourmet stores (example: gorgeously marbled rib-eyes, here just $10.24/lb). Even if you’re the kind of carnivore who doesn’t want to know where your meat comes from, it’s well worth meeting it halfway.

Readers’ choice: Taco Heads

Critic’s choice: Taco Heads

Although it’s stationed behind 7th Haven, Taco Heads is good anytime, not just after you’ve been boozing for hours. Drunks may miss the nuances of the flavorful, generously portioned tacos. Prepared with a gourmand’s sensibilities and with a mind toward sating a tipsy person’s voracious appetite, Taco Heads’ tacos are manna for the masses.

Frozen Yogurt

Readers’ choice: Yogurtland, 2600 W 7th St, FW

Critic’s choice: Yo! Frozen Yogurt Lounge , 3021 S University Dr, FW

It’s the amenities that make the difference with these fro-yo places. Many such establishments have minimal seating areas or none at all this TCU-area joint has plush booth-like seating and an LCD TV to watch while you partake of your cupcake batter-flavored yogurt with chocolate sprinkles. Because of the college-student clientele, this place also keeps late hours, which helps if your sweet tooth kicks in late at night.

Presentation

Critic’s choice: Piola , 3700 Mattison Av, FW

Everything about this Italian restaurant is lovely — its location in an old Cultural District home, the understated décor, the garden out back. And the food is top-notch. But the presentation — ah, we kiss our fingers! On a recent visit, everything from the crabcake appetizer to the roasted chicken entrée arrived looking like works of art. No wonder each table seemed to be having its own party.

Wait Staffer

Readers’ choice: Matt Gibbons, Spiral Diner & Bakery

Not to categorize people — that’s so wrong — but here are the waiter types you generally come across in upper-end restaurants: 1. the waiter who says, “Hi, I’m [insert name], your new best friend!” 2. the “I’m just here to make rent” musician/actor/writer/artist and 3. the highly sought-after professional. Jeremy Foiles definitely isn’t 1. He won’t fake-laugh at your awful jokes or volunteer his life story (which is probably quite interesting). No, Jeremy is the real deal. Following stints at Reata, Kirby’s, and Olenjack’s, Jeremy has been at Lambert’s since it opened in 2008. He’s knowledgeable, efficient, courteous, and non-hovery but magically there when you want him: everything you’ve ever wanted in a server. Well, maybe he could laugh at our dumb jokes once in a while.

Readers’ choice: Cat City Grill

Critic’s choice: St. Emilion Restaurant

Stepping inside the dining room of St. Emilion is like being transported to a European city. The atmosphere is cozy, quaint, and elegant. The service is efficient and friendly, and the staff members know their stuff. And there is pure magic coming out of the exposed kitchen. The food is classical country French, executed to perfection by Chef Mark Hitri and company. Everything on the menu is special, and the place itself is a local treasure.

New Restaurant

Readers’ choice: Shinjuku Station

Critic’s choice: Shinjuku Station

There aren’t enough restaurants like Shinjuku Station in Fort Worth. The chic yet approachable Japanese eatery is conceptually cool both in menu and décor. It serves izakaya fare: traditional upscale pub food designed to be shared and to complement the drink list. The brick interior and exposed air ducts give the place a very hyper-modern feel, no doubt making diners feel a little cooler for eating there.

Readers’ choice: Al Cavazos, La Familia, 841 Foch St, FW

Critic’s choice: Vance Martin, Lili’s Bistro, 1310 W Magnolia Av, FW

Once you’ve created a restaurant like Lili’s, with sophisticated, welcoming charm, an inventive, delightful menu, and excellent service, what more do you need? Well, Vance Martin tops that by wandering among the tables, bestowing his welcoming smile on regular customers and newbies alike. And then he enlarged Lili’s to take in the space next door, adding more tables and a piano bar. If Magnolia needed an ambassador, Vance would occupy the embassy.

Readers’ choice: Keith Hicks, Buttons

Critic’s choice: Lanny Lancarte II, Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana , 3405 W 7th St, FW

Chef Lanny Lancarte is producing some of the most interesting dishes on North Texas’ fine-dining scene. His haute Mexican fare has traditional, classic roots but is firmly based in the here and now. Lancarte is one of precious few upscale chefs who lives out on a limb. He’s not afraid to take a risk, and Fort Worth diners get to reap the rewards.

French fries are good on their own, but you haven’t really lived until you’ve tried Lili’s version, complete with cracked peppercorns and large chunks of gorgonzola cheese. The menu offers them plain, too, which means you get a helping of waffle fries — more potato than oil — covered in a lightly tangy dry seasoning mix. While consuming these tasty nuggets in Lili’s low-key, comfortable surroundings and in conjunction with hearty bistro fare, you could easily forget that fries are not actually good for you.

Critic’s choice: All Raw Salad, Spiral Diner & Bakery

Folks who think of salad as something one dutifully eats to be healthy or get skinny should try this offering from Spiral. The chunks of apple and raisins, walnuts, and other nuts put the, um, meat on the bones of this concoction, with salad greens plus thinly sliced or julienned vegetables as the base, creamy avocado slices as the extra goodies on top, and raw walnut dressing for a sweet finish. Satisfying, filling, delish.

Sausage/Hot Dog

Yes, we know hot dogs are bad for you, but damned if they aren’t sooo good — especially when the lowly tubesteak is elevated to gourmet heights, an achievement for which The Wiener Man strives with an almost apostolic zeal. Sporting an affable, Keep-on-Truckin’-esque logo, your friendly neighborhood hot dog guy’s been food-trucking around town since the early part of the summer, usually landing where people like to drink, serving up specialties like the fried, bacon-wrapped Crunch Wiener the Alchemist, which tops the Crunch Wiener by adding spinach and sriracha mayo and the locals-only Rahr Wiener: a Hebrew National dog marinated in Rahr’s Ugly Pug.

Nontraditional Burger

Critic’s choice: Bison burger at Shaw’s Hamburgers and Shakes, 1057 W Magnolia Av, FW

Lean without being dry or bland, the bison burger at Shaw’s is a thundering herd of flavors. The combo of Wisconsin cheddar and blue-cheese mayo gives the sandwich some nice tang, mellowed out by tasty Cabernet-grilled onions. Pair this bad boy with a side of baked beans for a nice departure from the burnt-patty-’n’-fries doldrums.

Critic’s choice: Bryan’s Brutal Tacos, Spiral Diner & Bakery

Bryan’s Brutal Tacos are delicious mixed veggie tacos on corn tortillas served with a side of guac. The mixture of spicy onions, red peppers, and chipotle seasonings in the tacos erupt like a bonfire in your mouth because there’s not a drop of animal fat to absorb them. This Spiral Diner favorite is definitely proof that healthy doesn’t have to mean dull.

Carb-Loading

Critic’s choice: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit , 451 University Dr, FW

Meat gets all the love at barbecue joints, but the star attraction for carb lovers at Dickey’s is the plate of homestyle mashed potatoes filled with yummy butter, cheese, and pork bits –– oh yeah, and potatoes. Best of all, you get to scoop your own mashed potatoes onto your plate, so the sky’s the limit.

Critic’s choice: Chuy’s, 4441 River Oaks Blvd, FW

The color is gorgeous — reddish-orange with a shade of deep purple speckled in black, making you wonder if Jackson Pollock is working in Chuy’s kitchen. The meat is tender-chewy and never slimy, the hominy-versus-meat ratio is right, and the bold seasonings stop shy of being overbearing. This stuff does more than just cure hangovers.

Readers’ choice: Terra Mediterranean Grill, 2973 Crockett St, FW

Critic’s choice: Zorro’s Buffet & Catering , 4421 S Fwy, FW

The buffet is a dying breed. Food costs have zoomed upward, and many folks are struggling with portion control, so the all-you-can-eat buffet is too much temptation. But Zorro’s continues to put out a quality assortment of meats, veggies, salads, and desserts at a reasonable price, all while offering discount coupons at www.zorrosfortworth.com to boot.

Critic’s choice: Pollo Regio , 715 N Riverside Dr, FW

From the outside, Pollo Regio is your standard fast-food joint. But inside, it’s like a city park on a Sunday, the kind that has kids tearing around and dads charcoal-grilling their special-recipe marinated chicken. Only here, you don’t have to be a family member to eat your fill of that smoky, tender chicken served with rice, charro beans, and a homestyle (rather, outdoor-style) grilled onion half. The asada, barbacoa, and other meats are excellent, too, but our loyalty is to King Chicken.

Readers’ choice: Reata Restaurant

Critic’s choice: Reata Restaurant

The view at any time of evening is nice, but no place in town can beat the Reata’s balcony patio, four stories above downtown, as a place to watch the sunset, urban-style. Especially now that it’s sunset-watching weather again. (You may want to get your view on before February Reata’s balcony patio will be closed in early spring while the restaurant gets a small facelift.)

Soul Food

Critic’s choice: Good Luck Drive-In , 900 W Rosedale St, FW

Good Luck Drive-In on the South Side has been operating mostly under the radar for four decades now, probably because it’s not really a sit-down establishment –– there’s only a handful of tiny tables. Regulars swing through to get the top-notch, fresh-fried catfish and chicken livers, pork chop sandwiches, hot links plates, and very good chicken-fried steaks.

Restaurant with Locally Sourced Ingredients

Critic’s choice: Potager Cafe , 315 S Mesquite St, Arl

Potager Cafe first drew notice with its pay-what-you-want approach to pricing, which has subsequently been modified to include a suggested payment list. Nice as it is, the gimmick risks overshadowing the quality of the food, which owes a lot to the fresh ingredients that owner Cynthia Chippindale selects from North Texas farms. Right now, Potager buys its meat from Grandview’s Burgundy Beef and from Taylor Cooper in Sherman produce comes from Carter Farms in Bowie and Marilyn Simmons’ CSA in Waxahachie. Other vegetables and herbs come from the restaurant’s own little garden. Naturally, the menu is seasonal and vegetarian-friendly. Main and side dishes change daily, as well as the recipes for the regular offerings of quiche, salads, and house-baked bread.

Field of One

Critic’s choice: Spiral Diner & Bakery

It’s the obvious choice but also the correct one — there’s nothing like it in Fort Worth. The vegan eatery stands in open defiance of our chicken-fried nation by consistently delivering flavorful, healthy, and well-presented food. It’s easy to take a place like this for granted, but every now and again it’s nice to take a step back and reflect on just what owner Amy McNutt and company have accomplished: a successful vegan restaurant in the heart of Cowtown. Bravo.

Best-Kept Secret

Critic’s choice: The Cupcake Cottage , 5015 El Campo Av, FW

It can’t be all that big of a secret to Westsiders, because The Cupcake Cottage sells out its made-from-scratch selection almost every day. But it’s a good bet that the rest of the Fort has yet to discover the wonders of these tiny treats, all made with the highest quality ingredients and no preservatives.


The 5-part answer to late-summer wines: Four whites and a rosé


(Goran Kosanovic/For The Washington Post)

As summer winds down, here are four whites and a rosé to guide us through to cooler weather. We have a serious California sauvignon blanc done in a French style an excellent, moderately priced white Burgundy for chardonnay lovers and a vibrant sémillon to herald the welcome return of a major Australian producer to our market. Cap that with a juicy Spanish rosado, and you have a recipe for late-summer fun.

Many California sauvignon blancs taste like a tropical fruit salad, but Elizabeth Spencer goes for a more classic, European style, with flavors of quince, apricot, stones and maybe some sea air — definitely lots of sunshine. This wine is delicious. Alcohol by volume: 14.1 percent.

Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in the District at Dean & DeLuca on the list at Convivial, Fig & Olive, Logan Tavern, Provision 14. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop, the Market at River Falls and World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac Chevy Chase Supermarket in Chevy Chase Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg. On the list at Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda. Available in Virginia at Grape+Bean (Rosemont) and the Organic Butcher in McLean on the list at Clarity in Vienna Girasole in The Plains Ten Spot Kitchen & Tap in Leesburg.

Hunter Valley, Australia, $26

Retailers and fans of Australian wines, take note: Tyrrell’s Wines are back in the United States through importer Broadbent Selections. Tyrrell’s is a stalwart of the Hunter Valley region, with a fine lineup of whites and reds. So far, they haven’t made much market penetration, but one I certainly hope to see more of is the semillon, which is perhaps the Hunter Valley’s flagship white. Racy with acidity and citrus flavors plus some fig, this wine will actually benefit from a few years in your cellar, if you can wait that long. ABV: 11 percent.

Distributed by Country Vintner: Available in Maryland at Wine Source in Baltimore.

Mâcon is an area of Burgundy known for good-quality, inexpensive everyday chardonnay. The Tripoz wine, which is certified organic and biodynamic, is a step above that: It shows impressive minerality, with aromas and flavors of chalk and wet stones over a core of ripe tree fruit. Like the best biodynamic wines, it also conveys a lively sense of energy that may cause you to steal a glance at your glass, wondering what’s going on in there. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Whole Foods Market (Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, Tenleytown). Available in Maryland at Beer Wine & Co. in Bethesda, Canton Crossing Wine+Spirits and the Happy Grape in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean) Cheesetique (Alexandria) Crystal City Wine Shop Two Locke Modern Country Store in Millwood Once Upon a Vine South and Union Market in Richmond Unwined (Belleview) Whole Foods Market (Arlington). On the list at Brine in Merrifield, Le Refuge in Alexandria.

This is a rock-’em, sock-’em, tutti-frutti rosé that’s big on the fun, strawberry side of summer’s favorite wine. ABV: 13 percent.

Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at the Bottle Shop, Circle Wine & Liquor, Eye Street Cellars, Grand Cata, Rodman’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, Virginia Market on the list at All Souls, Estadio, Graffiato, Jaleo, Vidalia. Available in Maryland at JP’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Jessup on the list at 13.5 Percent Wine Bar in Baltimore, Jalapeños in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Cheesetique (Alexandria, Ballston, Shirlington) and Grand Cru in Arlington on the list at Burtons Grill and Junction Bakery & Bistro in Alexandria Requin in Merrifield Pepita Cantina in Arlington.

Western Cape, South Africa, $8

Chenin blanc performs extremely well in South Africa, and this charming cheapie shows us why. It offers ripe fruit flavors with no sense of fake oak, just fun. Watch out, though. It seems to evaporate quickly — at least in my glass. ABV: 12.5 percent.

Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Oasis Gourmet Deli, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe. Available in Maryland at Beer, Wine & Co., Bradley Food & Beverage and Cork 57 in Bethesda Country Boy Market in Wheaton Grosvenor Market in Rockville Hillandale Beer & Wine and Quench! Beer-Wine-Deli in Silver Spring Lakefront Fine Wine & Spirits, Old Farm Liquors, Plus Mart, Riverside Liquors and Westridge Liquors in Frederick Kelly’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits and Bistro in Beltsville Quarry Wine & Spirits and Wine Source in Baltimore Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington. Available in Virginia at the Vineyard (McLean), the Wine Outlet in Vienna.


Tag Archives: Best Tacos NYC

These days, one of the many beautiful things of big cities is the bounty of food trucks. Offering anything from báhn mì, to grilled cheese or dumplings, wings, noodles….I could go on, but you all know that tacos are my main concern. The abundance of high rise office buildings in Midtown Manhattan, where I happen to be employed, give the stalwart food trucks plenty of space to sling their specialties. On one lunch in particular I hunted one truck of renown, Big D’s Grub.

For lunch, Big D offers tacos, sandwiches and rice platters topped with your filling of choice. For my tacos, I chose bulgogi beef, spicy pork and spicy chicken. All of the tacos came with cucumbers, scallions and cilantro. They were ready about 45 seconds after I placed my order, or it seemed that fast at least!

Bulgogi beef – This taco had delicious cubes of marinated beef. The soy and garlic flavors of the meat complimented the cucumbers and scallions along for the ride. If I go back, I would order 3 of these tacos. The bulgogi gets 4 out of 5 tortillas.

Spicy Pork – Nothing bad to say about this taco. The pork had a very delicious spicy flavor, and I can’t stress enough how much I’m into cucumbers on a taco. I demand more of this! Spicy pork gets 4 out of 5 tortillas.

Spicy Chicken – The spicy chicken comes advertised as Big D’s Favorite. I did not feel quite the same. There seemed to be more heat than flavor in this taco. Not a bad taco, just nothing to be excited about. The chicken gets 2.5 out of 5 tortillas.

It’s definitely nice to know that there’s another good soul out there, slinging quality beef tacos to the toiling masses of New York. The trucks go where the people are hungry, and this Midtown cubicle dweller continually craves a damn good taco. I’ll be back, Big D.

Big D’s Grub
Food Truck
Moving Target


[The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild] Return of the King

The openness here is really, genuinely exciting. I just crawled around the walls in the first few minutes and the significance of, "Oh. I really can go anywhere now," hit me hard.

Being able to climb anything as a design feature rather than relying on sliding and bugging out over terrain to bypass geometry is a weirdly powerful change for an open-world.

Personally, I have to say that I've never been a big fan of Open World. Not a hater, either, it's just kind of a thing that is neither a positive nor a negative for me, and which I simply cannot get excited about.

So mostly to me it's kind of "I have no idea where I'm going, so I'll just wander at random until I run into something".

Anyone know what's the deal with this stone circle near Mount Hylia?

The openness here is really, genuinely exciting. I just crawled around the walls in the first few minutes and the significance of, "Oh. I really can go anywhere now," hit me hard.

Being able to climb anything as a design feature rather than relying on sliding and bugging out over terrain to bypass geometry is a weirdly powerful change for an open-world.

Personally, I have to say that I've never been a big fan of Open World. Not a hater, either, it's just kind of a thing that is neither a positive nor a negative for me, and which I simply cannot get excited about.

So mostly to me it's kind of "I have no idea where I'm going, so I'll just wander at random until I run into something".

This is the first time an open world hasn't seemed like an annoying way of avoiding editing and pacing. It's fun to play, and I have a genuine sense of wanting to know what the hell is 'over there.'

Early times, might change my mind, but this feels like it's addressing the shit I hate about most of this style of game.

And almost immediately got attacked by this:

It's not the best shot since it's partially blocked by that structure, but it's a HUGE swarm of keese. Like, about 40 or 50 of them, all attacking at once. When they flew straight at me, I managed to hit a dozen or so of them and then they flew off.

Anyone know what's the deal with this stone circle near Mount Hylia?

Another shrine, another out of reach chest

Something tells me this will make more sense later.

Anyone know what's the deal with this stone circle near Mount Hylia?

I threw a bomb and blew up a fire Barrel, the Bokoblins went to investigate, then I threw another bomb which caused them to investigate that, then I blew them off a cliff.

I also collected a frog that I clubbed over the head first.

Zelda has now become Nintendo's Elder Scrolls. I am okay with that.

Anyone know what's the deal with this stone circle near Mount Hylia?

Anyone know what's the deal with this stone circle near Mount Hylia?

Does anyone have the "good" warm recipe? I can't find the third ingredient near the tower.

Mind you the standard warm recipe gave me just enough time I needed.

I threw a bomb and blew up a fire Barrel, the Bokoblins went to investigate, then I threw another bomb which caused them to investigate that, then I blew them off a cliff.

I also collected a frog that I clubbed over the head first.

Zelda has now become Nintendo's ZElder Scrolls. I am okay with that.

Does anyone have the "good" warm recipe? I can't find the third ingredient near the tower.

Mind you the standard warm recipe gave me just enough time I needed.

Oh god. Oh man.. OH NO MY LIFE!!

Spoilers, about 4-5 hours in following the main questline.

You gave me a camera.. and you linked it to a compendium.. where the pictures I take unlock the info. and allow me to track them.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT IT IS METROID PRIME ALL OVER AGAIN!

My life. it is going to be CONSUMED by trying to photograph every goddamned thing!

Holy fuck this Zelda is amazing! Just spent all day with it, and I feel like I'm only scratching the surface. It's breath*-taking.

Horse, I named him Dilbert. He's very naughty/flighty at the moment. (I have one called Epona, too, of course!)

The horse controls are great, once you get used to them. I can practically do gymkhana!

Fucking 11/10, A*, and to quote Vinny Caravella, it is a great time to be playing video games people/duders!

*. Of the Wild!

Does anyone have the "good" warm recipe? I can't find the third ingredient near the tower.

Mind you the standard warm recipe gave me just enough time I needed.

I got a cool bandanna in a shrine! I didn't know there were more types of gear!

Man, I didn't know if I was going to dig the way that there are no icons on the map except ones I put there, but it really increases the sense of discovery when you do it yourself.

Blood Moon event right in the middle of a Bokoblin camp I'd spent 20 minutes carefully & stealthily clearing out, before I made it to the chest.

They all re-spawned, ganged up on me (with flaming clubs), and I died in less than 10 seconds. Right then and there, it felt like at least one of the developers was a Dark Souls fan. So unfair! I'm doing my best, game!

I got a cool bandanna in a shrine! I didn't know there were more types of gear!

Man, I didn't know if I was going to dig the way that there are no icons on the map except ones I put there, but it really increases the sense of discovery when you do it yourself.

The thing that sold me on this was when I shot an arrow at an apple to get it from a tree, and it worked.

Is that spoiler? That shouldn't be a spoiler. I'm sorry if I spoiled my top tier apple tactics.

What sold me was a bit different.

I was shooting birds to collect raw poultry. Shoot a bird, get a couple legs. Cool.

I killed a bird, and a white chuchu showed up, and did his icy explosion. The poultry instantly froze, making it unable to be cooked, but I can now eat it for heat resistance.

I found a little raft with a tattered sail towards the start of the freezing river in that area, and couldn't help but climb my way out onto it. I saw it was stuck on some poles and assumed it was just there for atmosphere, but went ahead and used a korok leaf I picked up on the sail to see if it did anything.

It did! I went sailing down the river until I was pressed up against a bridge. Still feeling really clever, I used the ice pillar rune to lift myself up to the top of the bridge.

Instead the pillar flipped the raft over and I immediately froze to death in the water.

It's on the opposite side of where you should first approach if you said "Why wouldn't I go to this church first Old Man?!" I saw it randomly while wondering "The hell do I get down from here. . ."

Also sooper proud of myself after killing the Green Spiked Hobokin/Bobokin (sp) with his group of friends. Took like 15 minutes, kept getting one shotted, learned there's something akin to a dodge and that you have to bait out some of these attacks.

Here I was thinking I was being clever!

Anyway, my Link just got a job as a poolboy to save up to go to Hyrule University.

This game is just fantastic. We'll be learning a lot of design stuff from this one, especially simple but brilliant graphical stuff like having key landmarks colored so they attract the eye even when practically on the other side of the game world.

The game's secret sauce, for me anyways, is that it's an open world without any boundaries that feel arbitrary (well okay, except the obvious ones that keep you in bounds). Normally when I want to go somewhere there's mountains or buildings or whatever effectively acting as walls, and it makes exploration suck. But in BotW, you just clamber over that shit and keep on truckin'. There's also a lot of thinking as you trying to figure out how far you can stretch your stamina. If you do find an insurpassable area, it's typically because you just lack the upgrades to. But you can still clear it. If you really don't want to wait, you can just hook up an elixir IV to Link and brute that shit. It really does feel liberating in a way other open world games fail at, and while BotW does have the dick-measuring "Look at how BIG our map is" statements, I do at least feel like I'm traversing wilderness as opposed to just a whole lotta nothin to make for good PR sound bites.

This is the best use of an open world design in any game I have ever played. And it also happens to be ZELDA of all things. I could go on and on about it but the simple reality is that future games need to realize this as standard now. The clunkiness of boundaries will be found extremely wanting after this game.


Watch the video: ALL Recurring characters in The Elder Scrolls series (May 2022).