From its humble beginnings as a single Austin store in 1980, Whole Foods Market has grown into a gleaming and organic grocery empire, comprised of healthful mega-marts that lean toward all things natural. From the extensive selection of organic produce to grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, sustainable seafood and a wide array of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free specialty products, anyone familiar with the concept of globally-conscious living would be happy to get their shopping done inside. At this Lakewood location, Dallas hippies both young and hold can fawn over tofu ice cream, environmentally-friendly cleaning products and endless vitamin supplements, spanned across long, well-stocked aisles inside the airy and inviting space. Best of all, this Whole Foods boasts its own in-store bar, where shoppers can enjoy a local craft beer or fill up a growler on their way home.
Sokolata owner Olina Nikolini carried two things with her throughout her career: a love for her family’s sweet confections and the recipes used to make them. Through the years, she’s throughout Europe, tasting the local flavors and broadening her palate. A trip across the pond to the United States brought her even more opportunities to sample different creations, and as her knowledge grew, she tailored her family’s recipes to bolster their flavor. Today, Olina draws upon her experiences to fashion gourmet, organic handmade chocolates enlivened with natural and sugarless ingredients such as cocoa powder, honey, nuts, and a variety of tantalizing fillings, such as pumpkin, Texas pecan, and imaginary friend–endorsed air.
Most people probably don't know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator. Chef Ivan Pugh, however, could likely tell which was which by taste alone. At The Alligator Cafe, gator is a mainstay of Pugh's menu, found in spoonfuls of gumbo and between slices of french bread. It's not the only item that's imported directly from the bayou. Chef Pugh sources most of his seafood from Louisiana, although he looks to Mississippi for his catfish supply. As for the fixings, they tend to come from local purveyors, including Empire Bakery and Rudolph's Meat Market.
These ingredients combine for Cajun and Creole entrees that have become accustomed to regular press attention—recently, a Dallas Morning News review that praised the "bold, fresh and piquant flavor" in a bowl of gumbo and found the crawfish étouffée "smooth and spicy, its complex heat developing with each spoonful." Diners can spice up their meals by requesting that they be "voodoo'd," which means covered in a mixture of hot peppers or stuffed into a small doll to-go. Abita beer offsets the fiery sauces, as do the cool notes of frequent live acoustic blues performances.
When culinary veteran Jose Ramirez decided to break out on his own, he and his wife both agreed that they needed more family time. So JJ's Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch only, seven days a week. Their honed focus leads to breakfasts in which diners find the popular banana-pecan pancakes. Guests can also get some south-of-the-border flavor without pretending the food they normally eat is Canadian by ordering chorizo with their eggs. Or, they can try migas, scrambled eggs topped with jalapenos and picante sauce. Lunch options include sandwiches and salads, as well as comfort food such as chicken fried steak smothered in country cream gravy. The kitchen's also well known for its grilled biscuits, which sub in for toast on breakfast plates.
Goodfriend might not exist if there were back yards in New York City. When he tired of the fact that a bar was the only place he could go to drink with his friends in New York, Goodfriend's apocryphal idea man purchased a storefront space in Manhattan, packed a cooler full of Kronenbourg beer, set up a few lawn chairs, and invited his closest and dearest. The Dallas pub is a take on that man's original conception, with a few twists. The most significant of these is the space: instead of a sparse storefront, they've set up in an airy, loft-like tavern full of wood beams and exposed pipes. But the idea has remained the same—Goodfriends strives to be an inviting gathering place for friends to socialize over drinks and share in a quality meal. Just don’t expect a single cooler full of Kronenbourg. This incarnation of Goodfriend features 16 beers on tap and a selection of more than 60 bottles, many of them limited availability beers, others from local and craft breweries. And chefs Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare have designed a menu that mirrors the bar’s philosophy: unpretentious grass-fed beef burgers piled high with such ingredients as spicy house harissa, white cheddar, and onion bacon jam. And to further the theme of friendship, the menu suggests beers that pair well with each burger and what to say if that burger asks them to help on moving day.
Central Market cooking schools enlightens the epicurean masters of tomorrow with instruction from the gourmet gurus of today, having previously hosted guest instructors such as the renowned Cat Cora and Mario Batali. Meal mentors post classes in both Fort Worth and Southlake every four to six weeks, usually providing 26–30 options per month. Whether it's your first time holding a skillet or you're looking to polish your sushi skills after finally discovering how to uncook fish, Central Market provides coaching for every experience level. Curious foodies can peruse an array of informative options, including sharpening your knife skills ($55), making indulgent desserts ($45), creating vegetarian dinners ($55), and fine-tuning a soufflé filled with an event horizon. Running roughly 2.5 hours each, sessions are offered most days of the week. Most hands-on classes can accommodate about 18, while demonstration classes can accommodate up to 48, depending on location. See Central Market's frequently asked questions page for more information.