American, Beef, Burgers, North Carolina, Uncategorized

Hops Burger Bar- Greensboro, NC

This past weekend I got to make a very special trip to Greensboro, NC to see my sister and brother in law and it was full of extra tummy rubs…I’m going to be an aunt! It’s definitely all about the pregnant lady, but I made sure my food needs were known and I knew I had to try 2015’s best burger in the nation. Yes, this weekend we went to Hops Burger Bar.

Indeed they were named the best burger in the nation, a title not to be taken lightly. Over the years of having some pretty amazing burgers I’ve concluded for myself (sorry if you disagree, but this is my blog) that most burger places are kind of the same, but in a really good way! Having fresh quality beef and ingredients is the norm now and how amazing is that! Now it’s down to the variations and overall vibe and story of a place and Hops lives up to that expectation. 

With a couple locations they’ve obviously done well for themselves, attracting the crowds enough to need to expand. Upon walking into the Lawndale location the aromas of beef and hops fill the air. An array of chalkboards dazzle the board with what’s on tap and the burger of the month. A good size restaurant bustling the middle of a Friday…you definitely know it’s going to be good and worth it. 

The menu of burgers is a huge selection, from the many options of burgers they’ve concocted to being able to make your own made it a difficult decision on deciding what to order! I was literally stuck between three burgers and putting my favorite parts of all three on one burger was just not going to mesh well. So upon asking our waiter of his thoughts, I ended up with the fan favorite…The Spicy Goat.

As you can put together so far about the burger it has goat cheese along with applewood bacon, sweet and spicy pepper jelly and topped with lettuce. In the end it’s just really hard to pass up goat cheese! I’m so happy I got this burger because in one bite I was on goat cheese cloud nine. The biggest hunk of cheese sat in between the incredibly juicy burger and crisp fresh lettuce. The sauce had a tangy sweetness and then would finish with just the faintest spicy kick. The combination was superb, all the flavors melding well and complimenting each other. 

Perhaps the only thing that could steal the show would be the crispy fries. There’s a pretty extensive menu when it comes to the fries, but the classic ones are done perfectly…super crispy yet soft and warm on the inside. I loved the plain old fashioned, having tried the Parmesan and truffle ones they really weren’t winning me over. But look at these golden brown beauties:

Of course more and more restaurants are aware of dietary restrictions and choices, but it’s pretty cool walking into a burger place and seeing gluten free buns available as well as vegan friendly substitutes like veggie patties!

Hops Burger Bar lives up to their title of being the best burger in the nation. Although some time has past since they’ve been given that honor, they are serving up some really great, well made burgers. Like I said, I can’t wait to go back and try more!

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American, Beef, Burgers, Fort Worth, Ice Cream, Sweets, Uncategorized

Hopdoddy- Fort Worth, TX

Another burger joint has graced Fort Worth, sharing their fresh ingredients and spreading community outreach within the city. Hopdoddy has made an impression on Fort Worth after only been open for three months. From the fresh and delicious food to the overall atmosphere, Hopdoddy is a great addition to the city.

Located on West 7th, across from the Barcadia/Parkside area, is Hopdoddy. This area is just now being built up with new apartments and a grocery store just behind. The area is definitely growing and being close to downtown is another plus. The space is a decent size, the inside has a large round bar in the center with booths and tables along the perimeter. There is some outdoor seating, but certainly room for a couple more tables, including a long table for larger parties. The vibe inside is cool and relaxed, it isn’t terribly loud and attracted a nice, middle age crowd. 

It’s a ‘walk up counter’ service kind of place, it actually reminded me of Wahlburgers in terms of the idea, atmosphere and food. What’s great though is they take your party number when you enter and assign you a table number. You don’t have to worry about finding a table after ordering food and they do their very best to accommodate you. Service was actually really quick, too, that kitchen is obviously working hard to fire food. Once you sit, you do have a ‘waiter/waitress’ who comes around if you need anything or want to order anything last minute, which is much appreciated if you want to go back and get that milkshake (which you should do, definitely get one). They checked in on us very often and always had a smile. 

The food, again, was very similar to Wahlburgers. The ingredients all tasted very fresh and that burger was so juicy and cooked perfectly. I ordered the Goodnight/Good Cause burger. For every one of these burgers sold, Hopdoddy donates $1 to a charitable cause. They’ve raised over $700,000 so far, they are doing amazing things with this delicious burger. On the angus beef patty is Tillamook Cheddar, Caramelized Onions, Jalapeños, Hickory BBQ sauce, and their signature Sassy Sauce (a mayo based dressing). This burger was so good, all the flavors coming together and that juicy patty just dripping delicious between a toasted, soft, fluffy bun. A very notable menu item is the Impossible Burger and I suggest that you go ahead and Google it. Here is the gist of it: it cooks like meat, it looks like meat, it’s supposed to have a similar taste to meat, but it’s not meat. It’s 100% plant based and I hope/promise to eat one and write about it. The idea is intriguing and as someone who obviously loves meat, I gotta try this thing out. I’ve heard mixed reviews, from it being truly mind blowing to being “meh” so I want to try and be honest about it. 

To go with such a great burger what else are you gonna have other than fries? Oh but at Hopdoddy they don’t just have regular Kennebec potato fries, they have Parmesan truffle fries. Man oh man were these fries good! Thin cut, nice and crispy yet soft inside, the right amount of truffle and covered in delicious Parmesan cheese, how could you go wrong? The sweet potato fries were equally as amazing, giving local Fort Worth favorite Brewed a run for their money, in my opinion. 

The milkshakes are also amazing, strong flavors and thick, I would suggest getting one, whether to save for later or share with a friend. Check their Instagram as they have special burgers and milkshakes over a certain period of time! When I went their special was the Banana Shake- enjoy the picture below. 

Hopdoddy is already proving that they belong in Fort Worth. A town with a strong food culture, they are on my list of top places in town and certainly a place I’ll be recommending to people, locals and visitors alike. Hop over to West 7th and check them out, whether that’s before or after you’ve already checked out the mouthwatering menu online or on Instagram. 😉

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Barbecue, Beef, Uncategorized

Snow’s BBQ- Lexington, TX

This is what dreams are made of…or at least bbq dreams. I can officially say that I’ve had the best bbq in Texas. Texas Monthly made the tough decision back in 2008 to name Snow’s BBQ the best bbq in the state. It’s created quite the following, hundreds of people waiting for hours to try the brisket and pork, flocking from around the country and even the world. Along with the food people only hope to catch a look at the famous pit master, Tootsie Tomanetz.

Although the original Texas Monthly article stated they make the best in ’08, the popular joint was renamed the best this year. The article (which you should give both a read) perfectly describes the scene at Snow’s. You enter tiny Lexington, TX, the sign stating a population of 1,200. You find parking in their “downtown” and head towards the small red building that has several parked cars along the main street. You loop around and take your place in line. It’s early in the morning (I suggest getting there between 7:45-8:45 to secure getting food) and you just wait. People have brought chairs, beer, water, cornhole, the whole nine yards…and they aren’t even open yet. As they open their doors and the line starts to slowly move, you finally catch a glimpse at the “open air shed” that houses the three to four working smokers. 

One great way to pass time while waiting is sipping either on the complimentary water or go for the keg of free Lone Star beer. Yes, they have a free keg of beer for all to enjoy. A small thank you from the Snow’s family for your service and patience. You may be able to catch Ms. Tootsie herself pulling up in her white pickup truck and get right to work, and she’s a mere 82 years old. 

Three hours seem to go by fast because soon enough you’re near the front and finally come face to face with the bright Snow’s sign and peak at the quaint back patio area, equipped with several tables and funny signs to boot. Yes, it took about three hoursto get  food and yes it was well worth it. 

Soon, you’re nearly at the door, and the guest book is to your left. You sign your name and where you’re from and simply can’t help yourself from browsing through the names and places. Naturally there are plenty from all over the Lone Star state, but other places that caught our eye were Madrid, New Zealand, Singapore, even the group behind us drove from Louisiana that morning just for Snow’s. 

Finally you enter the sacred building, the smell of oak and sweet aromas filling the air. For such great quality and for the best, the prices at Snow’s are very reasonable. I highly recommend the brisket (obviously), but also the pork. Naturally you have extremely high expectations of what you’re about to eat, knowing its been named the best bbq in Texas. 

Oh my word, mind blown. It truly is the best bbq I have ever had. The meat had a smoke ring all the way around, not just one side like most places. It pulls apart so smoothly and you can tell its going to melt in your mouth. The flavors of the wood come through and the sauce only enhances the smokiness of the meat, it doesn’t steal the show.


The pork was just as smoky and the rub was more prominent. It seemed to be more peppery than the rub on the brisket and a thicker layer. The meat was moist and, like the brisket, the meat to fat ratio was perfectly balanced. 

Everything about Snow’s lived up to the expectations set by Texas Monthly. You knew there was going to be a long line, a long wait, but knowing a keg of beer was waiting reassured you the wait was worth it. And aside from that you knew that the meat and atmosphere of Snow’s was also going to be worth it. 

Exiting the famous building you feel a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and Texas honor. Most of all you feel complete because it’s worth being able to say you’ve been to Snow’s, the best bbq in Texas.

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American, Barbecue, Beef, Fort Worth, Uncategorized

Heim Barbecue- Fort Worth, TX

Well it’s that time of the year, Texas Monthly released their Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas list and this carnivore certainly didn’t miss the chance to read through it. They had a good list comprised, but in my opinion forgot some places too (particularly Black’s in Lockhart and even The Longoria’s in Everman…Angelo’s is one of my favorites, but it’s been some time since it’s made the list). However, barbecue is growing and expanding and the millennials are taking a crack at it…and succeeding. One young couple is doing just that and was named the top BBQ joint in Fort Worth, Heim BBQ.

The story basically starts with Travis Heim who started smoking meat young, learning from his grandparents, and the BBQ fire was lit. He and his now wife, Emma, started off local and small, grew to a food truck, and then met the right people to start their own place on W Magnolia in the Fort. It’s a great story of growing your business and going after your dream, never giving up. And it has obviously paid off.

The Magnolia area is a perfect fit for Heim, like I said the Heim’s being a younger couple have sort of aimed for the millennial generation as their customers and making BBQ ‘hipster cool’, which is precisely what Magnolia is sort of known for. Don’t get me wrong you see the older couples in there too, just my opinion and overall feeling I got.

They do have daily hours, but when they sell out they sell out. We went on a Friday and it was still hopping around 7:30, but if you check their Facebook they update it and it’s usually around then that they sell out, just a heads up. The space is nice, some outdoor picnic tables, full bar area, and decent amount of seating inside. Long tables take up the center part of the joint which adds a community feel to it, and isn’t that what barbecue is all about? 

Overall the food was good, I can see why it made the top 50 list. However, I wouldn’t say my mind was blown by the food. Let’s get into detail here:

The sauce- tangy, some smoky flavor, but definitely a sweet taste to it. There was a good mix of spices that I could taste, I’d certainly take a bottle of it home.

Coleslaw- I’m not personally a fan of heavy mayo or super creamy coleslaw and Heim’s was far from that. They actually use red cabbage only with shredded carrots, which made it bright and pop off the plate. However there wasn’t much seasoning to it, just a lot of pepper. Could’ve used a little more of a creaminess to balance it more.

The mac and cheese- good flavor, but don’t expect any chile flavor from this ‘green chile’ mac. It was very cheesy though!

Beans- huge tomato flavor that pops, good heat and cooked perfectly. Probably one of my favorite sides. 

Potato Salad- Wow, amazing. The cheese mixed in added a creaminess to the mashed potatoes. There isn’t a lot of seasoning, but I didn’t feel the need to add any. It was very refreshing to have compared to the other sides. My other favorite!

Now for the brisket- I have to start with that it was good, but it wasn’t mind blowing like some people have talked about it being. The meat pulled apart nicely and had a good, promising, smoke ring. There wasn’t really any smoky flavor to it unless you took a bite of meat with the bark. The piece of meat was very fatty, I like some fat, but almost the whole piece was fat. It was tender outside of that though, but again not much flavor which was disappointing.

To make up for the meat was the highly suggested bacon bits. The meat was delicious, I mean bacon, and the rub gave the bits almost a pork flavor. It was very sweet for a rub, but it was amazing.

Overall Heim had a cool feel to it, trying to get the younger generation into barbecue from the location to the hipster kind of vibe it has. The Heim’s have certainly paved their way and worked hard, but their meat was fatty and everything was very sweet rather than smoky. I would go back for that potato salad and other sides though! I recommend it so all y’all can experience and say you’ve been to Heim, but there are plenty of other great barbecue joints that deserve a spot on that list. 

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American, Beef, Burgers, Uncategorized

Mighty Fine Burgers- Austin, TX 

I’ve done quite a lot of posts on burgers on here, and rightfully so, because a really good burger is food for the soul. Most of my burger posts are more “complex” or “fancier” with add ons and specials. Well this post is about a good, solid, greasy, basic burger. And what a Mighty Fine Burger it is.

It’s your classic burger place, picnic like tables inside with white and red checkered tablecloths. The location we actually went to was in Round Rock, just outside of Austin. However, this burger joint got its start in Austin and they are proud of it. The Round Rock location has a really lovely outdoor space with a little play area for the kiddos, which is appealing for all the shoppers in close proximity. 

The staff was just lovely, asking how our day was and exuding a joyfulness that leads you to believe they enjoy their job. 

Another notable and unique part of Mighty Fine is the hand washing system. Technically you’re supposed to wash your arms up to your elbows and so at Mighty Fine they have a “spa for your hands”, a machine that when you put your arms into it are sprayed with soap and water and bristles brush around your arms and hands. They even include stickers so you can let everyone know of your clean arms.

Now the food! This burger really is classic, no fancy stuff just good fresh ingredients and delicious beef. A warm soft bun to encompass the deliciousness and you’re golden. Speaking of golden, the fries! Nice and crispy with a soft center and fun crinkle to it. I suggest adding their seasoned salt for some extra flavoring.

It’s voted the best burger in Austin and I have to say this was one good burger. A classic, an American staple, and they’re Mighty Fine.

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Baking Recipes, Beef, Mexican, Savory, Tacos, Uncategorized

Mexican Casserole

It’s taco night in your house, but you’re looking for something a little different to make than just plain old tacos. This taco Mexican Casserole from Recipe Diaries is not only easy and delicious, it’s a Weight Watchers entree, so if you’re following that program or take comfort in that it’s a healthy option then I highly suggest it! 

I tweaked the original recipe, just used it as a base and used up some peppers in my fridge! I browned the ground beef (you could definitely use turkey!) and drained that, meanwhile I only had frozen corn so I sautéed that in a separate pan. I chopped up red, yellow, and green peppers and onion and threw that in the beef pan with some oil just to get that cooking. 

After a few minutes I added the beef back and corn followed by the taco seasoning as instructed. Now the recipe doesn’t specify if you need to add water, like the taco seasoning says. The seasoning wasn’t really getting distributed though so I added a mere 1/4 cup of water and that helped to season everything in the pan. I added in the tomatoes, but sadly I didn’t have any jalapeños! So to improvise that heat I added cumin and sriracha along with salt and pepper.
 As I let that sizzle up a bit I prepared the casserole dish. I sprayed the dish and heated the oven to the instructed 350°. Now my casserole certainly wouldn’t accommodate the amount of tortillas the recipe says, so in total I only used four. They do overlap so still cut them in half. The rest of the recipe is perfect, cooking time was spot on and five minutes covered for the cheese was plenty time. 

I have had this as leftovers and a solid minute and a half in the microwave and it’s just as good. Some of the comments say that after freezing it they experience soggy tortillas (we don’t want soggy bottoms, right Mary Berry?), but I’m still curious to try freezing it. I’ll try to update the post after doing that, if I don’t eat it all first! Add your favorite toppings to the side and you’re golden! One thing I didn’t do was do a layer of sour cream, just because I don’t like sour cream, but I’m sure that layer in the casserole would make it delicious. Who knows, maybe that’s what causes the soggy bottoms after freezing! 

I hope you get a chance to make this recipe, it would be perfect for a potluck or picnic! Tacos condensed! Let me know how it goes for you and leave a comment, I would love to hear from my readers! Thanks for reading, happy cooking! 

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American, Beef, Burgers, Uncategorized

Twisted Root Burger Co- Waco, TX

If you’re a fan of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives” then you may have seen this Dallas based burger joint on tv. That’s right, this burger place is so good America got to see a chef chow down on one of their burgers, and so did I. This is Twisted Root Burger Co

Originating in Dallas, chefs Jason and Quincy expanded to build nine other stores in just over seven years. There’s no question they know their stuff and know good food. The store in Waco has a cool vibe to it, very high ceilings where they could easily build a second story for more seating. With projections of music videos, a big bar in the center of the restaurant you can tell this Waco store is a hotspot for the college town. With so many burger options, many being similar to each other with small changes, a solid Texan burger was just calling to me, so Big Tex it was. Cheddar cheese, guacamole, fried onion strips and chipotle sauce makes for one pretty amazing burger. Another really cool thing about Twisted Root, which reminded me of Tim Love’s “Woodshed”, is they offer different game, from buffalo to elk to duck. Now don’t get your hopes up, I didn’t try any of them, but having those options makes for a wide demographic of people who do enjoy game. 

Back to the burger: The beef was cooked nicely, spices enveloping your taste buds. The cheese and guacamole worked together harmoniously, the onion strings a nice addition. The fries were delicious, they weren’t particularly crispy if you’re a crispy fry kind of guy or gal, but they were seasoned nicely and tasted delicious. Also at Twisted Root they have a pickle bar, different variations of pickles from classic dill to ranch. They are free, amazing, and free. How could you pass that up? I highly recommended getting a shake as well, especially the peanut butter brownie. Wow. From creamy ice cream to brownie chunks it was mouthwatering. Do it, just do it and get that shake. 

Twisted Root is a really great place to catch up with friends, grab an amazing bite to eat, and enjoy the Waco evening. It’s super easy to get to, right off I-35, and certainly would make for a special lunch on the way to Austin. Pull over and grab a great burger and shake from Twisted Root Burger Co. 

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