Monthly Archives: April 2012

Restaurant Review: Serrano’s Burgers, Arlington Texas

He came home from work last week with a handwritten map scrawled on piece of scrap paper. “We’ve got a new restaurant to try next time we’re in Arlington,” he told me, looking pretty pleased with himself. Truth is, he loves discovering new, out of the way, eateries as much as I do.

“What kind of place?” I asked.

“Burgers.”

I was quiet. Unless they’re homemade, I prefer a different type of meal. His one word answer conjured up thoughts of mass produced, cookie cutter fare on a sesame seed bun kind of meal. The recommendation had come from a co-worker he tells me, noting my silence.  Apparently, the two of them had be exchanging photos during a break at the factory, and after my guy had shared his Canadian vacation pictures, the other man shared some photographs he’d taken for the menu of his sister’s mom and pop restaurant. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, it had been enough to lead to a hastily hand drawn map.

The opportunity to check the place out came sooner, rather than later, as Saturday night had us making our way through Game Day traffic on I-30 to attend the Arlington Music Hall Rock ‘n’ Roll Revue show. We’d left a little earlier so we could try out Serrano’s Burgers first, before attending the show.

We had been warned that it was a small place, easily missed if you aren’t looking and sure enough, as our GPS announced that we’d arrived, a quick look around from left to right had us scratching our heads and doubling back to take a closer look. We finally found the location, in the center of a small strip mall,  cozily tucked away between a Hispanic Pentecostal Church and Jackson’s Groceries.

I’ve eaten out enough to know that one should never judge a restaurant by its exterior, so we were undaunted by the nondescript facade that greeted us. Inside, the venue was indeed as tiny as promised. “So small you’d have to go outside to change your mind” is the phrase that is most apt. The decor was pleasant, despite the size, with eye pleasing colors and wall coverings, that let you know this was not your typical fast food restaurant. There were four tables with ladder back chairs on one side of the small room, and an ordering counter on the back wall that displayed a large colorful menu sign overhead. A flat screen television set tuned into the customary sports network channel hung on an opposite wall. There were only two other groups dining when we entered, so we were in luck as far as finding a place to eat.

We approached the counter. For those of you who have been served by people who are irritated that they’ve had to leave an intense text conversation in order to do their job, you’ll know just what I mean when I tell you how pleased we were to be served by a  very hospitable young man, who patiently waited while we decided what to order.

The pictures on the menu board were indeed as mouth watering as I’d been told. Serranos serves meals all day long from breakfast tacos, to a lighter lunch menu that includes street tacos (pork, steak or lengua (tongue))  and tortas, as well as a selection of burgers. The house burger is the Serrano Burger, which included both serrano and jalapeno peppers.

“Are Serrano peppers hot?” I asked, my green Northern upbringing shining brightly for all to see.

A man sitting at the table directly behind where we stood, injected with one word “Hot!” Judging by his obvious southern drawl and wide opened eyes as he uttered the single word, I quickly concluded that the house burger was best left for the more daring.  We both settled for the Bacon Cheeseburgers for a very reasonable $6.50 each, that included fries and sat at a table.

The friendly man behind the counter, soon brought out or drinks, which earned further bonus points with me. This was definitely not a McBurger place. He reappeared again shortly after that, with the order for another table, and took the time to come and tell us that our meal would be right up. He was right.

Now — just because the service was fast, let me promise you this was far from assembly line fast food fare. The meat is apparently not frozen which explains the quick turnaround time from order to table.

The burgers are handmade and the bacon is real. The over-sized buns were grilled and the produce used for the toppings was crisp and fresh. The serving sizes are more than ample for an evening meal. This was no sissy burger, but rather, an honest to goodness, two handed masterpiece that had me sighing contentedly after one bite. The fries were seasoned, and definitely not greasy. This was a five star burger served in a down home, mom and pop establishment, that I hope will be around for years to come.

After dropping just a little over $14.00 for two platters and two drinks, for a meal that was as delicious and fresh as it would have been if I’d made it at home, coupled with prompt, friendly service from someone who seemed genuinely happy to take our order, I know we’ll be going back again very soon.  This is hands down the best burger I have eaten anywhere, ever.

Serrano’s Burgers is located at 1821 S. Fielder Road, in Arlington, Texas.

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For those of you following the recipe portion of this blog I’ve moved them over to this site to make them more accessible and searchable. I will continue to review restaurants and share the events, culture and lifestyle posts about Texas here. I hope you’ll find something you enjoy in both sites. For those following this blog — stay tuned. I’ve been under the weather for a few days, but I’m back full strength and have a lot of things to share with you!

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EVENT: Free Concert April 19th – Season 1 Finale of Troubadour, TX

WHO: Twelve artists from the Troubadour, TX television series: Zane Williams, Kylie Rae Harris (w/ Wayne Kirkpatrick & Gordon Kennedy), Beth Wood, Woody Russell, Susan Ashton, Cary Pierce (of Jackopierce), Little Brave, Nicolette Good, Kirk Thurmond, Guthrie Kennard, Ryan Edgar and Tom Faulkner
WHAT: FREE concert and live taping for Season 1 finale episode of Troubadour, TX
WHEN: Thursday, April 19. 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
WHERE: Addison Circle Park, 4970 Addison Circle Drive, Addison, TX 75001
NOTE: This is a FREE event with FREE parking. The festivities will be taped for the Season 1 finale episode of Troubadour, TX, which airs in the Dallas/Fort Worth market on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on TXA 21. Click HERE to see where TTX airs in your market.
For more information about the Troubadour, TX concert in the park, visit: www.facebook.com/events/377830872251738/
For more information about the Troubadour, TX television series and TTX artists, visit www.TroubadourTX.com.
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Restaurant Review: Summers Cafe

Last Sunday morning, we woke up to the aftermath of storms that had hit our neighbors to the north, with a vengeance. We’d been up most of the night watching the radar, and when Sunday morning arrived we felt as if we’d been placed in Kristofferson’s Sunday Morning Coming Down, sans the beer. The last thing I wanted to do was cook our usual full country breakfast, so the solution was obvious. We needed to visit Summers and let them do the cooking for us.

The cafe is located on a lonely stretch of the Jacksboro Highway, and against the storm clouds that morning, it looked even lonelier as we were the first to arrive. Everyone else must have been hunkered down, eating cereal or toast.

To be honest, the outside of this place isn’t the fanciest, which, to be honest once again, is why we knew the first time we visited there, that the food was going to be great. We were spot on. There’s nothing fancy about their offerings — just the basics — biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon and hashbrowns just like I’d have made at home. They also serve lunch, but we’ve only ever gone for breakfast.  I call it an honest breakfast — simple, straightforward and affordable. Two cups of coffee and two hearty plates of country breakfast came to just over $10.00.

As the wind howled and rain poured relentlessly, we ate a meal that fortified us for the rest of the day as the storms moved on through.

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Restaurant Review: Drew’s Place

Drew’s Place Serves Up Home Cookin’ Southern Style

When I go out to eat, I prefer to feel as if I’m eating at home. I want to feel welcomed and I want the food to taste as if it came from someone’s kitchen, as opposed to out of a box or container and heated in the microwave.

We’d been meaning to try Drew’s Place out for awhile, but we usually remembered on a Sunday, which left us disappointed, since its the one day of the week that the restaurant is not opened. When you consider that it’s family owned and operated, it makes admirable sense. Finally this past Saturday we found the doors open, and the lunch hour rush had passed.

Criteria Number One was met as soon as we walked in the door, as were led to a table by a waitress with a welcoming smile, and a warm demeanor. It was as if we were guests in her home.

 We ordered sweet tea, and by the time she arrived back at our table with mere minutes later, we knew what we wanted to order. The menu had no shortage of southern favorites – fried chicken, catfish and pork-chops, but we had our heart set on the special we’d seen on the sign outside the front door — chicken fried steak.  The special stood out to us for two reasons. First, chicken fried steak is one of our favorite eat-out choices, and secondly the special of $7.99 included our sweet tea. As experienced diners, we knew that most restaurants more than made up for the discounted specials, with the prices they charged for the beverages.

Choosing the sides was a little more difficult – we had a choice of two each, and narrowing it down wasn’t easy, when presented with choices such as collard greens, mac n cheese, and beans. In the end I we both chose the mashed potato and I settled on the candied yams, and my dining companion chose fried okra. We had a choice of cream or brown gravy, and cornbread or toast, as well.

In a matter of the same amount of time that it took for our sweet tea to be served, our dinner was brought out from the kitchen. The chicken fried steaks were each served on its own plate, with the sides individually accompanying them, on another. We were both pleasantly surprised and appreciative that the mashed potatoes were cooked just the way we like them, fried – just like Grandma used to make them. The candied yams were delightful and the fried okra, a vegetable side that we find difficult to master, and easy to ruin, was wonderful. I could tell my partner was enjoying himself, because he didn’t utter a single word to me until we’d finished eating and then, he did something completely out of character — he ordered dessert – a lovely, moist, to-die-for piece of chocolate cake for us to share.


In the end, we both walked out with full bellies and a smile, and our wallet was only just under twenty dollars emptier. We’ll be going back very soon.

If you’re looking for a meal, that makes you feel as if you’ve been invited to sit in at friend’s dinner table – I recommend Drew’s Place whole-heartedly. The service is friendly, without being overbearing, the prices can’t be beat and the food is as good as Grandma makes! It’s the kind of place friends recommend to friends.

Drew’s Place is located at 5701 Curzon Avenue  Fort Worth, TX  and their phone number is (817) 735-4408.

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Mark Your Calendar – Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival April 20-21

This weekend is the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival
April 21-22
Antique Car Show and John Denver Tribute Concert…(free) – April 21
Historic Preston St. Garage Sale – April 20-21
BBQ Cookoff at Knights of Columbus Hall – April 20-21
Don’t miss it!
More information here 

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RECIPE: Pecan Pie Bars

There’s no more southern of a dessert than Pecan Pie, but I wanted to make something I could pack easily in lunches. The solution? Pecan Pie Bars. They were quick and easy and almost as good as the real thing.

Pecan Pie Bars

Crust 

Combine the following in a bowl until well mixed and then spread on the bottom of a 9/13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of icing sugar (powdered/confectioners sugar)
1 cup of butter

Filling

Cream together:

1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs

Add:

1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 stick of butter (melted)
a pinch of salt
2 cups of pecans

When well mixed, pour over the baked crust and put back in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Brings Almost Five Decades of Hits to Arlington Music Hall

Any entertainer will tell you that being in a band is sometimes just as stressful as being married to 3 or 4 people at the same time. Those that remain together after a couple of years are fortunate, and those that make it past ten years have achieved more than most. The award winning Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has weathered many years together, after their first performance in 1966.  Since then they’ve accumulated a string of hit songs and tallied up countless road miles together. Last Friday night, they rode into Arlington, and entertained a willing crowd for a few hours, that seemed to fly by all too quickly.

Individually, the band is comprised of Jeff Hanna, John McEuen, Jimmie Fadden and Bob Carpenter; collectively their  musicianship and songwriting skills are formidable. They’ve spent a lifetime not only being ground-breakers, but also, bridge builders, carrying the tradition of great music of forward in its purest form, for future generations.

On Friday night, their sole purpose was to entertain, and they hit the target spot on while rockin’, pickin’ and twangin’ their way through a handful of newer songs interspersed with a healthy representation of their greatest hits from Fishin’ in the Dark and Mr Bojangles to Dance Little Jean and Face on the Cutting Room Floor, just to name a few.

What makes the NGDB legendary is much more than their accumulated platinum and gold records; it is their stellar musicianship, and how the spotlight at center stage is shared as much as possible, while showcasing the versatility of the band’s talent. Last Friday, Jimmie Fadden stepped out from behind his drums, and into the spotlight with his harp,  and Bob Carpenter left his keyboard to perform The Broken Road, with Jeff Hanna accompanying him on guitar. John McEuen, who originally helped found the band, could, and has been, a one man show, himself. He switched instruments at ease, and his talents, whether they be on mandolin, fiddle or banjo, are an integral component that helped create the band’s signature sound.

No NGDB show would be complete without a performance of their biggest and most recognizable song, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and the band not only didn’t disappoint, but they also kicked things up a notch, by calling up Rudy Gatlin to the stage to help them sing it. It was a fitting end to an evening well spent, with good music and good friends.

Find out more about the band, and their music at: http://www.nittygritty.com/

The Arlington Music Hall’s Country Music series continues with even more of your favorite country music artists. Lined up to appear soon are:

George Jones – April 27th
Leroy Van Dyke, Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius and Rex Allen Jr. –  May 11th
Bryan White – May 26th
Deryl Dodd –  Jun 22nd
Gene Watson –  Aug 3rd

Find out more here.

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Tonight at the Arlington Music Hall

The legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will be singing all of your favorites. If you can’t make it, tune in here and we”ll be sure to give you all the highlights!

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RECIPE: Crock Pot Pinto Beans and Ham with Maple Cornbread

The best part of holiday feasts, can be the multitude of recipes you can make with the leftovers. We’d purchased a full sized spiral ham last week and since there are only two of us, we’re going to be eating  the leftovers for quite awhile. My goal is to find enough varied recipes that will make the process enjoyable, rather than boring. We’ve carved it up, and separated into freezer bags, but I wanted to use the hambone first. We’d been given a large bag of pinto beans from a friend, and we’ve been looking for recipes to help use them up — so it was a natural to pair those with two of them together. As an accompaniment I made a pan of maple cornbread that turned out perfect! Here are both of the recipes…. enjoy!

Crock Pot Pinto Beans and Ham

Soak 3 cups of pinto  beans overnight in enough water to cover them. Check to see if you need to add water, as the beans will absorb most of it.

In the morning rinse the beans and boil them in fresh water for 30 mins. Strain and add to the crock pot.

Add the hambone and 2 cups (give or take) of chopped ham.

Add:

1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Add enough water to cover. Cook for 9-11 hours on low, checking water levels occasionally and adding as needed.

Maple Cornbread 

Ingredients

1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/4 maple syrup
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten

Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in 8×8 pan.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and remaining wet ingredients in another. Mix each well. Combine into one bowl. Pour into 8×8 greased pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes of 425 degrees.

*can be served as is, or with butter and maple syrup on top.  This recipe is a winner. You’ll be making it over and over again.

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