Jon and Carmen Pei spent years traveling the globe, visiting caf?s from New York to Taiwan in search of the perfect rendition of their treasured childhood treat: bubble tea. After organizing all their recipes, tips, and ideas, the couple opened their own shop, where they whip up their own blend of innovative bubble teas, smoothies, and frozen hot chocolate.
Upon entering their colorful, brightly lit shop, guests are often greeted by Jon and Carmen themselves, who dole out free samples to first-timers, greet return customers by name, and tussle the toupees of visiting congressmen. The duo and their staff of baristas fold premium tea leaves and freshly cooked tapioca boba balls imported from Taiwan into fruity drinks. They also chop up fresh fruit for smoothies every day at the shop. Customers are invited to order from a menu of specialty drinks or choose from a variety of flavors, fruits, and mix-ins to design their own concoction. They can even add from a selection of more than 25 kinds of popping boba balls, which burst in the mouth with every sip. And during chilly winter months, the baristas pour hot bubble tea.
Guests sip on beverages and nibble on snacks?such as crunchy Pocky sticks?out among the tabletops of the lively seating area. Some play video games on wide-screen computers and televisions, whereas others engage in more traditional games such Connect Four or competitions to fit the most straws up their nostrils.
The tradition of Sonny Bryan?s award-winning barbecue started more than a century ago on February 13, a date that would become circled on the calendar again and again throughout Bryan?s Barbecue history. February 13, 1910, marked the opening of Elias Bryan?s Oak Cliff restaurant, Bryan's Barbecue. Exactly 20 years later to the day, his eldest son, William ?Red? Jennings Bryan, launched his own restaurant. When February 13 rolled around again 28 years later, Elias? grandson, William "Sonny" Jennings Bryan Jr., and his wife, Joanne, opened another restaurant, the first Sonny Bryan?s Smokehouse.
Although a different Dallas family now manages multiple locations of the restaurant chain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the legendary barbecue lives on. Sonny Bryan's original barbecue sauce spices up its savory pulled meats and ribs, which have been devoured by famous entertainers, sports legends, and A-list celebrities alike. Sonny's seasoned chefs also cater heaps of smoked brisket and jalape?o sausage to parties and events.
Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse has been on the culinary radar since 1989, snapping up awards and publicity from Food Network, the Travel Channel?s Man V. Food Nation and 101 Tastiest Places to Chowdown, and Emeril Lagasse?s The Originals with Emeril. The modest joints have also earned some highbrow epicurean chops through a 2006 Zagat rating and a 2000 James Beard Foundation award for Culinary Excellence and Achievement.
The Benson and Brozgold families founded Ol’ South Pancake House in 1962 and have stacked mountains of the same griddle-kissed pancakes from the same menu ever since, sticking to original recipes with the addition of Southern diner favorites. Cooks pour fluffy disks of buttermilk-, buckwheat-, or corn-cake batter to forge the rich foundation for strata of sweet or fruity toppings, including spiced apples, peanut-butter chips, and strawberries. Like off-duty senators nestled safe for the night in the congressional warehouse, pancakes pile into short or tall stacks, or in a behemoth pile of eight for the diner’s Take the Pancake Challenge. Any intrepid eater capable of packing away the entire monument to fluffiness in 60 minutes gets the meal free.
In addition to pancakes, the menu features a familiar spread of hearty entrees and sides served all day long. The cooks hand-batter pieces of chicken-fried steak before glazing them with a layer of country-style gravy, or sear catfish and half-pound burger patties on the grill. For internationally inspired flavors, they can also whisk together huevos rancheros, griddle fresh crêpes, or prepare the german pancake filled with fresh lemon, powdered sugar, and whipped butter served with a side of maple syrup.
An eclectic mix of ingredients, such as chipotle peppers, coconut shrimp, crawfish tail, and crunchy duck, gets stuffed inside the more than 40 signature rolls at Wild Sushi. Chefs swaddle shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and jalapeños inside the Red Rock roll and top the creation with spicy tuna, crabstick, and “exploding” sauces. “This roll was a behemoth, a massive construction standing at least 8 inches tall on the plate,” wrote Teresa Gubbins of DFW.com, who highlighted the roll in a review of the eatery. Towering rolls aren't the only surprises up the chefs’ sleeves. They also hide unexpected sweet touches inside their creations in the form of strawberries and honey walnuts. In addition, chefs stoke fires to heat up a variety of Japanese entrees, such as salmon steaks served with an apple-miso sauce or tilapia sautéed in a spicy coconut-curry sauce.
Guests settle into sleek wooden chairs at tables covered with squares of brown butcher paper to draw caricatures of sushi rolls playing tennis. Large teardrop lanterns fill the simple, modern dining room with light and illuminate a sushi bar backed with a wall of soothing waves.
It's a good idea to arrive early at Movie Tavern, and not only if you hate missing the opening credits. Early birds can peruse the extensive menu of chef-crafted American cuisine, from kobe beef sliders to pizza and sandwiches. But even after the show begins, the snacks keep coming. Unobtrusive servers slip in during the show to deliver orders, and can be called on for more drinks or dessert with the push of a button. Guests can even sip margaritas or signature cocktails at the full bar before heading in to the theater. The family-friendly establishment also serves finger food for kiddies.
As for the entertainment, audiences get to enjoy all-digital presentations of first-run films any day of the week, plus Retro Cinema every Wednesday morning at 11:30 a.m. as well as Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Audiences also benefit from Movie Tavern's membership program. Anyone can sign up for free online to receive one free bag of popcorn, plus a free ticket every year on their birthday, special offers, movie news, and invites to screenings and other special events.
Though its name suggests otherwise, the Forget About It roll’s unorthodox ingredients make it pretty memorable: the flavorful crunch of shrimp tempura is wrapped up with crawfish and accented by ginger cream. It's just one of the many unique combinations dreamed up by Piranha Killer Sushi's owner and chef, Kenzo Tran. Non-traditional sushi fixings are Kenzo’s specialty, from the White Lotus roll’s pico de gallo and truffle oil sauce to the Bullet roll’s cilantro chili purée and edible police officer’s badge.
That blend of the classic and unconventional runs throughout Piranha Killer Sushi's menu at all four locations including the newly remodeled location in Fort Worth. Besides distinctive rolls, the kitchen serves up dishes such as Korean beef in ginger marinade, salads with octopus and spicy conch, and blue crab fried rice. Ditto the drink menu, featuring specialty libations such as the saketini, a blend of vodka, gin, and sake with a cucumber garnish. The restaurant's whimsical take on Japanese fare hasn't gone unnoticed—media outlets laud it for its tasty creations and inviting decor.