Village Baking Co. Boulangerie

Mom & Dad came to visit a few weekends ago, and on Saturday morning Mom & I snuck away to Village Baking Co. Boulangerie to reward ourselves for completing a super-sweaty Bikram yoga class. We had discovered the original outpost a few years earlier, but since then the company expanded and built a boulangerie on the other side of town. We determined that this new-to-us expansion was reason enough to justify a visit, so we made our way over to lower Greenville Avenue, where there’s been a revival of restaurants over the last couple of years. Situated in between several new eateries is Village Baking Co. Boulangerie, inviting with its darling patio and the wafting aromas of baked goods and coffee. The interior decor is just as you’d imagine a classic French bakery to be, with white-washed walls and gorgeous pastries glistening behind glass cases. After debating between several scrumptious-looking options, Mom and I ordered a pretzel croissant, a lemon tart, and a pistachio éclair, all of which were just heavenly. We drank almond milk lattes and savored our treats, our environment, and our time with each other. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning.

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Bolsa Mercado

7c8474060d53ede52bac0ad967e95533Kyla, Laura, and I met at Bolsa Mercado for dinner a few weeks ago. It was a Monday night and it felt right to kick off the week with a cozy BFFs dinner. I had grabbed lunch at Bolsa Mercado a few years ago but hadn’t been back to check out their new menu. The Mercado is owned by Bolsa, the delicious new American restaurant located down the block. The market is the more casual version of the romantic, dimly-lit restaurant, a place where patrons can come for a delicious bite to eat, something lovely to drink (ranging from Topo Chico and fresh squeezed juices to wine and beer), and lots of goodies and treats to peruse through while relaxing on vintage furniture.

Laura frequents Bolsa Mercado often, as it’s located a stone’s throw from her office, so she recommended that I try the pulled pork sandwich. It seemed like an interesting choice, considering that the menu focuses more on deli-style bites and delicious salads. But I’m so glad I trusted her selection because it was absolutely fantastic – my mouth watered just now as I’m thinking about it! I chose a green salad as my side dish, which was a nice complement to the flavorful barbecued treat. Based on some reading I’d done on the blogosphere prior to our besties date, I knew that I wanted to have a booze-infused juice to go along with my dinner. I had such a good cocktail – kale, pineapple, orange, lime, jalapeño + tequila. It was like nature’s margarita – so good!

The three of us lingered at the table long after our meals were over, laughing and chatting all the while. This is such a sweet place to post up with cherished friends – it’s comfy, cozy, and there are delectable treats galore. What’s not to love?

P.S. There were no good photos online of Bolsa Mercado and I forgot to snap one while we were there, so this gorgeous image from pharmacie_la’s Instagram account will have to suffice!

404 Kitchen

404 Kitchen

While I was in Nashville last week, I enjoyed so many tasty treats at so many delicious places – crispy brussels sprouts with apples and bacon vinaigrette at Silo, pork tacos with yogurt dill sauce at Mas Tacos Por Favor, bourbon vanilla lattes and homemade Pop-Tarts at Barista Parlor, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and coffee at Pinewood Social, sweet cream biscuits & peach jam ice cream at Jeni’s, sweet potato buttermilk pie at Husk, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese & pepper jelly at the Oak Bar, and barbecued brisket sandwiches at Edley’s. Nashville is a southern epicenter of good food, that’s for sure. If forced to choose a favorite, though, I would have to select 404 Kitchen, the tiny restaurant nestled in the corner of an even tinier hotel.

Becca had to make reservations two weeks in advance and we were still only able to score a table at 5:15 p.m. This speaks both to 404 Kitchen’s popularity and to its very small, intimate size. The space, though small, is beautiful, complete with plenty of natural light and a picturesque bar. We settled into our teeny table and began poring over the menu. We already knew that we wanted to start with the burrata cheese, which was served alongside the most diverse and delicious accompaniments that I have ever seen. The cheese was laid delicately over salty anasazi beans, crispy brussels sprouts slaw, and a piece of corn pone, the latter of which I can only describe as cornbread’s saltier, more flavorful cousin. It was intensely delicious. We each drank a glass of the best chardonnay we’ve ever had while deciding what to enjoy as our entrees. I settled on the tri-tip, and it was perfection. The meat was seasoned wonderfully and it was complemented by a tasty mustard green pesto. But the show-stopper was the side of farroto served alongside the tri-tip. This dish is 404’s take on risotto, substituting the common arborio rice with farro, a longer, heartier grain. It was creamy and rich and flavorful and studded with hazelnuts and dried cherries. It was, in a word, heavenly.

For dessert, we enjoyed more wine and a deconstructed apple pie, a caramel-y, rich, autumnal treat that rounded out the meal so well. The whole dining experience was exploding with flavor. If you find yourself in Nashville soon, see if you can snag a reservation at 404 Kithen – and if you can, consider ordering an extra helping of farroto along with your meal.

Image via 404 Kitchen

The Commissary at The Line Hotel

The Commissary

Considering that eating is one of the Johnson family’s favorite hobbies, it should come as no surprise that we consumed so many delicious treats at plenty of wonderful restaurants while in Los Angeles this past weekend – kale salads and Mexican Cokes at Public School 310, baked coconut bites and green juice at Grand Central Market, chicken tinga tacos and limon agua fresca at Guisado’s, tuna tartare with avocado & wonton chips and fresh cucumber mint martinis at The Culver Hotel, polenta cake Eggs benedict and pumpkin spice lattes at Akasha. But if I had to pick a favorite place, my vote would be cast in honor of The Commissary at The Line Hotel.

I noticed photos of the beautiful restaurant on social media outlets recently (it’s designed to look like a gorgeous greenhouse so it’s hard to miss) and was intrigued not only by The Commissary’s space but by The Line Hotel as well, seeing as it’s the newest hipster hang-out in Koreatown (and home to a Poketo outpost, a fantastic shop that sells gifts, home goods, and accessories). Andrew gave us a fantastic tour of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday (including visits to his super cool office, the aforementioned Grand Central Market and Guisado’s, and Perch for rooftop cocktails overlooking the city) and we were preparing to wind down before making a last-minute impromptu stop to peek into The Commissary.

Mom, James, and I all saw (and loved!) Chef, and the visionary behind The Commissary is none other than Roy Choi, the culinary genius who Jon Favreau’s character is loosely based upon in the film. So it was no surprise that the food was at the restaurant was absolutely stellar. We only intended on having a late-afternoon cocktail but we were so drawn in by the menu (which is comprised only of pictures, so you can choose what you’d like to eat but the preparation ultimately ends up being a supremely delicious surprise) that we tried a few snacks…before having a few more drinks…and then eating a few more snacks. Check out the menu below – isn’t the choose-your-own adventure a fantastic concept?

Commissary Menu

We noshed on the corn, French fries, hash browns, deviled eggs, grilled cheese sandwich, and club sandwich (don’t worry, we ate a few extra salads and drank green juice to counterbalance these fabulously carb-laden choices throughout the rest of the trip) and everything was so tasty – if pressed, I would choose all of these selections again, and then on top of that, I’d get the carrots, the fish, and the tomatoes, as well as several more flutes of the delicious sparkling Bordeaux that I drank (that was served icy cold, just the way I like it).

The vibe of the restaurant itself was just mesmerizing. For someone who loves clean lines and plants everywhere you look, The Commissary is heaven. There is seating outside of the greenhouse space as well, and the back section of the restaurant opens up to the hotel’s gorgeous pool. Everything about the restaurant, down to the mismatching glassware and creatively crafted dining chairs, is perfectly curated and lovingly  decorated. It’s basically something that I wish I could recreate in Dallas! (Or just in my backyard so I could be the only patron at all times…because I’m selfish.) If you’re heading to LA soon, I highly recommend that you check out The Commissary. Dare I say it’s my new favorite restaurant…ever?

Taco Stop

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This morning was one of the really great ones. I felt invigorated and all sorts of hopped up on endorphins, thanks to an early personal training session with one of my City Surf instructors (who took pity on my measly ankle and offered me some one-on-one time to get me back into action). While on my way to the training site, I spotted a pretty little taco shop that I’d never visited (or heard of) before, and I knew that my post-workout breakfast plans were set. My instructor confirmed that the place was delicious, so after getting my sweat on, I excitedly drove a few blocks to Taco Stop.

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Let’s pause and take a moment to appreciate the fresh, bright decor at this lovely little place. Doesn’t it look pretty in the morning sunlight?

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I ordered two breakfast tacos – one with bacon and eggs, and one with potato, cheese, and eggs – and one of each of the salsas (green and red, of course). I added a bubbly, refreshing Topo Chico to the mix and the kind gentlemen working in the kitchen threw in a fresh black coffee for free (!!!). The tacos were piping hot and, as expected, totally delicious. I liked that the tacos were on the smaller side, too – you know that I love me a beast of a taco like the ones that are served at Good 2 Go but I usually reserve those treats for weekends when I can take a nap afterwards. The smaller tacos are certainly way more conducive to having a productive workday (as is the black coffee, which I am slowly but surely acquiring a taste for) – they’re filling but not so rich that I enter into a food coma immediately after consuming them.

I took a minute to reflect on my morning as a whole while I noshed on my tacos. I felt invigorated by doing something out of the norm, even though it was something as simple as trying a new local spot. I savored the quiet time I had to sit and enjoy my breakfast as the world hurried on by. It’s nice to pause in the middle of the work week to  treat yourself to some peace and quiet (and coffee and tacos) every now and then, isn’t it?

P.S. I am going to continue bookmarking all of these recipe & restaurant-related posts in my Taste & Try folder on the sidebar but I’m going to remove the T & T verbiage from the blog post’s titles (just to keep things simple and clean). I hope you don’t mind! All of the content and foodie goodness and Taste & Try vibes will remain the same, I promise.

True Food Kitchen

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My most favorite go-to restaurant as of late has been True Food Kitchen. I’ve gotten to dine there several times lately (including when Mom & Dad visited Dallas) and I keep finding gems on the menu, delicious treats like their fresh-squeezed Kale-Aid green juice, the vegetable crudités with tzatziki and black olive dips, the “inside-out” quinoa burger, and, most recently, the summer market salad made with greens, corn, almonds, cucumbers, avocado, goat cheese, blueberries, and tomato & herb vinaigrette (which I topped with a perfectly grilled piece of salmon). Dad and I sampled my favorite of their cocktails, the Thai grapefruit martini, which is a simple, delicious, and refreshing combination of vodka, Thai basil, and grapefruit juice. So tasty! All of the menu items are made with the diner’s health in mind but taste is certainly not sacrificed in the process – I have yet to see something on the menu that doesn’t appeal to me. And there really is something for everyone – Mom, a vegetarian, loved the quinoa burger and Dad, who was initially skeptical when we described the restaurant, raved about his bison burger after we finished our lunch. James hasn’t tried True Food Kitchen yet but Mom & Dad generously gave us a gift card to the restaurant when they left – I can’t wait for us to go there for a date night!

Pizzeria Locale

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Oh, man, I had the best weekend in Boulder with my girlfriends. A full recap is on its way but in the meantime it seemed fitting to do a Colorado-themed Taste & Try post on Pizzeria Locale, the amazing Boulder-based restaurant where Erin serves as the Director of Events. This centrally located contemporary pizzeria, nestled in the heart of Pearl Street, is the perfect place to post up for an incredible lunch or dinner (or, dare I say, both? yes, it’s so good that I’d certainly be willing to eat there twice in one day). Erin took us to Pizzeria Locale for lunch on Saturday, and it was absolutely a highlight of our weekend.

We had so much fun letting Erin take the lead on the menu, ordering treats for us throughout our meal. We shared all of our dishes, which is my favorite way to enjoy a restaurant experience – I love being able to try a little bit of everything. We started with the fried risotto and the seasonal crostinis (the fava bean + house made ricotta combination was my favorite), along with a round of spritzes. Let me pause for a minute and acknowledge the fact that Pizzeria Locale has a section of its menu devoted entirely to spritzes, which are bubbly Prosecco-based beverages that are beyond delicious. I chose a limoncello + basil concoction that was so summery and light (and I may or may not have ordered a second one to go with dessert). We shared a variety of salads, my favorite being the arugula, parmigiano reggiano, and balsamic vinegar concoction. The pizzas were perfect, as you’d expect, fired up in 90 seconds or less in the restaurant’s incredible oven imported from Italy. We shared so many tasty pies, but the stand-out pizza to me was the white version topped with sweet corn, creme fraiche, garlic, and prosciutto – wow. We enjoyed a crisp, clean white wine with our pizzas before moving on to a dessert of budino butterscotch pudding and lemon meringue tart. I know, I know – I’ll let you take all of that in for a minute. I’m salivating just reliving the meal.

If you find yourself in Boulder, please do yourself a favor and pop into Pizzeria Locale (just make sure to book a table in advance – this gorgeous spot fills up fast!). The decor is modern and pretty, the staff is helpful and speedy, and the food, as you can tell, is the absolute best. Make sure to say hi to Erin, too! It was so fun to see her in her element at the restaurant – she is a rock star. I can’t wait to eat at Pizzeria Locale the next time I visit her!

P.S. Pizzeria Locale has partnered with Chipotle to bring a casual spin-off version of the restaurant to the greater Denver area. Too cool!

Image via Archinect 

Kitchen LTO

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A few weeks ago, James & I got to have dinner with two of our favorite couples – Allison & Taylor Vieger and Allison’s parents, Steve & Carol Baker. We met at Trinity Groves, a great new area of Dallas that is bursting with new restaurants and watering holes. Steve made reservations for us at Kitchen LTO, which has a super cool premise, best summed up via the restaurant’s website:

Kitchen LTO is a permanent pop-up restaurant that reinvents itself three times per year and gives a rotating home to up-and-coming chef and design talent and their ideas. Essentially, the entire restaurant is “Limited Time Only,” where a new [space] is born every four months. Three times a year, a new chef rotates in and introduces a new menu concept. Simultaneously, a new interior designer re-designs the [inside’s] transformable elements. Applicants will be screened by our selection committee for qualifications and then voted on through our website and social media channels, as the general public will be the ultimate deciding factor for who will chef and design the restaurant every four months.

So fun and interesting, right? Brooke Eggers is the current leading lady at Kitchen LTO, and this Santa Barbara-based chef specializes in Urban Regional cuisine. We started the meal with cocktails, and Allison, Taylor and I loved our Peach Bellaritas, which were a simple mixture of fresh peach, tequila, and lime juice – so simple and delicious. We noshed on the blue corn & short rib chili “fritos” (so good) and drank several delicious bottles of wine, per Steve & Carol’s excellent selections. I really enjoyed my caprese fredda salad as a starter (though I could have done without the burrata gelato and gone with plain ‘ole burrata cheese…that was a little sophisticated for me) and I super loved my wild harvest risotto for dinner (topped with a tasty cheese corn fritter). Several members of our group had the halibut with coconut parsnip quinoa (yum!) and porterhouse steak with blistered tomatoes. So much goodness! Oh, and the carrot cake – so good, y’all.

It was definitely a treat to eat at such a neat restaurant with people we love and admire. What a great night!

Chow Asian

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I’ve had Thailand on the brain for weeks now (I briefly mentioned that here), which has not only prompted me to scour travel blogs & research airfare prices (a girl can dream, right?) but it has also made me crave Thai food in a major way. James often craves Thai food, too, and he was thrilled when he found Chow Asian, a restaurant in our neck of the woods that, according to him, makes the very best (& very spiciest) curry in town. He took me there one night and I absolutely loved my Pad Thai (so much so that I didn’t have any leftovers for lunch the next day like I had anticipated…whoops). I’m a creature of habit, so Pad Thai was certainly a safe and easy choice but I’d like to branch out in terms of both entrée selections and restaurants – Chow Thai, located even closer to our house, has a great menu, too. A few adventurous items caught my eye, things like crab & avocado spring rolls with cashew dipping sauce, lobster & shrimp tempura, and sea bass in Thai chili sauce. I need to scoot in for happy hour, too – so many places end their cocktail deals at 6:00 p.m., which seems a tad early for the working crowd, so I love that both Chow Asian and Chow Thai have drink deals until 7:00 p.m.

UM. I also just stumbled upon the most amazing realization while perusing Chow Thai’s website – THEY DELIVER. There goes my social life.

Image via Rasa Malaysia 

Mesa

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There is no shortage of delicious Mexican cuisine in Dallas, certainly, but there always seems to be room for more spots with menus boasting delicious treats from south of the border. Even though I have my favorite Mexican staples around town, I never pass up the chance to try out a new fiesta-flavored spot, and Mesa was certainly no exception. In March one of my Matrons of Honor, Erin, and I had a night in Dallas to ourselves before the rest of our best gals arrived for my bachelorette festivities, so we headed to Oak Cliff to try out the newest hot-spot. We had to circle the block a few times before finding Mesa, a small restaurant nestled into a strip on Jefferson Boulevard. We snuck inside just before happy hour ended and snagged a quiet table near the bar, ordering margaritas (a spicy version for Erin) and guacamole to start the night off.

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Our margaritas were out-of-this-world, necessitating a second round. They were extremely flavorful without being sugary or sweet. My drink was the perfect blend of lime juice, tequila, and nectar agave, and Erin’s beverage, made with habanero serrano tequila, was undoubtedly special. The guacamole was polished off in moments, making us consider another order, but we diversified and chose to order some ceviche instead. Being the foodies that we are, we had scoured the menu earlier in the week, deciding that we wanted to split the vegetarian enchiladas for dinner. We munched on our tasty, fresh ceviche (complete with more of the homemade chips that we had devoured alongside the guacamole) and chatted excitedly about our entree, which turned out as beautifully as we hoped: we were served a plate of delicious julienned vegetables wrapped in homemade tortillas and topped with an incredibly flavorful mole & black bean sauce, so we rolled up our sleeves to dig in. To say that was delicious would not be giving the dish enough credit.

The gist? I can’t wait to get back to Mesa. In fact, I’m sort of ashamed that I haven’t dined there since March. I’ve got my eye on the black bean & chicken enchiladas as well as the lobster enchiladas. Who wants to meet me there, say, tonight?