American, Coffee Shop, Fort Worth, Mexican, Sweets, Uncategorized

La Zona on Magnolia- Fort Worth, TX

Yet another adorable spot has opened in Fort Worth and it would only be fitting that it land on West Magnolia. La Zona only opened this past January, but they’ve been all the buzz in town. Tapas and sangria is the name of the game and, although you’ll have to keep reading on my take of it all, the food is delicious and that sangria was like the nectar of the gods. La Zona is definitely a great addition to the city.

New restaurants typically get a ton of buzz and press, but then you hear they are kind of disappointing particularly when it comes to how smooth service is. Every new restaurants struggles with the new system of things, training, everything. That was the case with the newest addition to West Magnolia in Fort Worth. This is actually why I like to wait a little to go to new places, give them the time to work out the kinks with service and the menu. The changes from what I’ve heard to what I experienced prove they have improved greatly. Our waiter was great, a tad nervous perhaps, but the effort and time he put into our table was wonderful and he did a fantastic job.

Some critiques of the overall restaurants are small, but still key I think. The staff doesn’t have uniforms so it was hard to tell them apart from guests. You only knew they worked there if you saw them with food or they came up asking you about your meal. From observation a good portion of the waitstaff that night were men and I couldn’t help thinking that a simple, but universal button down of some kind would do just the trick. A second thing is the overall vibe. I was really excited about a tapas and sangria inspired restaurant, Fort Worth is missing that and this was the perfect opportunity for La Zona. However, it kind of fell flat. The items on the menu were delicious and the sangria was scrumptious, but it lacked the tapas menu I was looking for. The feel of the restaurant is perfect and cute and spot on, but the menu didn’t necessarily coincide.

With that last sentence on your mind, the vibe is great and the look of the restaurant is adorable. It’s on a huge amount of land for the Magnolia area, but the actual restaurant is really small. The majority of their seating is outside, which is perfect most of the time in Texas, but certainly questionable weather nights would deter me from trying to go. The inside is super cute with lots of colors and fun light fixtures. The bar looked comfortable and cool, a great first date spot for sure. They have movie nights where they set up a projector and have local DJ’s come to entertain the guests and fill the air with fun music.

Like I said the menu wasn’t what I was expecting. A lot of the starters sounded great and tapas like, but from a natural Mexican/Hispanic vibe I wouldn’t really think to order pizza. Some of the pizzas have Spanish flair and flavors, but again it wasn’t what I was expecting. However, I ordered the rioja pizza which had chorizo sausage, red peppers, and onions on it and that was a damn good pie. It was a super thin crust, which is what I like, and all the ingredients were fresh and tasted amazing. I wish it was cooked just a little bit longer because the weight of the toppings just barely sat on the pie, the dough a little too soft.

The sangria was absolutely superb. I’m not a huge sangria person mostly because they tend to be overly sweet, but this sangria was perfect. The sweetness wasn’t too much and definitely tasted to have come from the fruit, no added sugar. We all enjoyed eating the fruit too, which in the past I’ve seen some sangrias without fruit…so is that really sangria? No, but La Zona is serving up real and really good sangria.

Afterwards you have to walk next door to Saint Sofia. Don’t be confused, La Zona is two buildings with the main restaurant being named Hotel Madrid and the cute churro shop Saint Sofia (it’s all on the same property). The churros are all over Instagram when you look up La Zona’s location and rightfully so. It’s super small and cute and transports you to a place where you would see little shacks on a dirt road serving up the best food. The churros were fried to a nice crisp with a soft inside and doused in cinnamon and sugar to leave your taste buds happy.

Overall I really like La Zona and would go again. I think they could work on their “identity” a little only because they could fill the hole that they are saying they are that Fort Worth needs. They’ve found their niche, they just need to fulfill it. In the meantime, the food they are firing is delicious and they’ve already improved so much since they first opened. I can’t wait to see what happens here next.

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American, Bakery, Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee Shop, Dallas, Fort Worth

Magnolia Table- Waco, TX

One week ago Fixer Upper fans watched the final episode of Chip and Joanna Gaines’s broadcasted projects. The Magnolia cult is not dead though, from a Fixer Upper spin-off to the Silos in Waco, TX Chip and Jo are pretty set for life. Why stop there though? Fans everywhere rejoiced when Chip changed the Elite Cafe sign to ask “Avocado Toast?” and the Gaines’s made their official announcement to open Magnolia Table.

Y’all I can’t lie, I’m a huge Fixer Upper fan and I’ve tried so hard not to fall in love with Waco (Go Frogs), but I can’t help it. Waco has grown on me and I love Chip and Joanna and everything about them and their Magnolia brand. When Magnolia Table opened I immediately opened my calendar, called my best friend Hannah Haston (she’s an amazing professional photographer who works in the DFW/Waco/Austin area, click the link!!) and we made plans for a Monday, months into the restaurant being opened. I have been waiting forever to eat, see, love, and write about Magnolia Table for so long! Two things before we dive in: this blog will contain somewhere around thirty photos (y’all IT’S SO PRETTY I LOVE YOU JO) and it 100% met my expectations from design to food. 

Going into a place that’s been so hyped up and can, let’s be honest, ride on the name to get business I was unsure if the food and service would be any good. And after seeing so many professional photos and the episode of it being fixed up (haha see what I did there?!) I wasn’t sure if it actually would be as stunning in person. I was proven wrong on all fronts. Yes, it was an hour and fifteen minute wait, but you know that going into this it’s going to be a long wait. And that’s when checking out the Take Away section and outdoor waiting area are two smart ideas on their end. The Take Away is primarily there for people to grab either chicken salad, strawberry butter, chicken salad, pimento cheese, or chicken salad (maybe they’ll expand the options soon) as well as some Magnolia merchandise like shirts, tea towels, mugs, and some food extras like coffee and honey. The outdoor waiting area is really well done with some tables and chairs, bench seating around the perimeter, and a shaded area for those hot Texas days. You can grab a coffee while you anxiously check your place in line on your phone. Sipping on a delightful lavender coffee was just the ticket to pass the time. It had just a hint of lavender that wasn’t too much or too little! (Now I bombard you with more outdoor photos 😁) 

Then you walk inside and it’s almost a whirlwind, if that’s not too dramatic to say. You want to take it all in as you’re being seated, the interior really is stunning. From structurally speaking to all the detailing it’s truly eye catching in person as much as in photos. Hannah and I were seated in the back room that had some private seating as well as their community tables and bar seating. We got lucky and got our own table with patio viewing and all of that natural light Jo loves! 

Our waitress was super cute, feeding into the lightness you’d expect from the employees working here. She loved giving us her opinions when we asked, checked on us frequently, and always had a smile. 

Okay, remember Cara (hi that’s me, I’m at the bottom of the post in those overalls) this is a food blog…SO LET US TALK ABOUT THE FOOD! Oh y’all…it is so scrumptious, delicious, met my brunch food expectations. They aren’t riding on their name, they are firing really amazing food here. 

We started with Jo’s buttermilk biscuits with fresh strawberry butter. They weren’t layers of dough, it was almost more of a British scone than a Southern style biscuit on the outside. The inside was, however, pretty classic and a lovely crumbly mess of fluffy buttery goodness. The strawberry butter was superb, with no apparent added sugar it seemed to be just butter and fresh strawberries mixed in one spreadable piece of joy.

Now those of you who know me personally know that before going to a new restaurant I do ample research on the menu and check Instagram for visual reference…Table was no different and I knew way ahead of time what I was going to order. I mean, how could I (a lover of Chip Gaines) not get Chip’s ham sandwich?! 

A plate of beauty really. Let’s start with them tots, these are not your average tater tots. They were fantastic, packed with potatoes that were so light and fluffy with a crispy exterior fried to perfection. Fresh Parmesan and chives were the perfect topping. 

The ham sandwich, consisting of sliced ham steak, scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese on a buttery croissant (I prepped my body for the carb intake by not eating that weekend) was everything and more. It was precisely what I would expect Chip to want for breakfast. The croissant was flaky and flavorful, the eggs fluffy and light, and ham cooked with obvious love with those stove-top burnt bits. Cheddar cheese melted in these layers and I was ready to take on the afternoon, grab some shiplap and start a demo day. Well done chef and Chip, you’ve won that cooking baton.

I told you I took a bunch of photos! Magnolia Table didn’t disappoint me at all, not that I was expecting it to, but it certainly could have. It fulfilled my foodie tastebuds, pleased my interior designer eye, and had my Fixer Upper heart full…and my stomach. The Gaines’s have made it quite clear: they aren’t abandoning their fans or passions, simply feeding into our lives one of the best ways possible. They’re opening their hearts and doors saying “Meet me at Magnolia Table…where everyone has a seat at the table.”

“Come and Get It

             -Chip”

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American, Fort Worth, Italian, Uncategorized

Cane Rosso- Fort Worth, TX

All of my readers know that I’m extremely picky about my Italian food. I very clearly announce on a daily basis that I do not eat Italian in Texas, just like how I don’t eat Tex Mex in Boston. However, when the word on the street is all about an Italian place in Fort Worth, my curiosity just takes over. I had to check out what all the hullabaloo was about Cane Rosso

Man, I swear every other post I do about a place in Fort Worth is located on West Magnolia. But it’s true, W Magnolia is just popping with exciting and innovative new idea restaurants that keeps people coming back. The area is electric and Cane Rosso fits in perfectly. Located next door to Brewed on the tail end of Magnolia, it’s always been a popular place, people constantly coming in and out flocking around the building. Reminder, they take reservations on Open Table! Definitely suggest making a reservation no later than 24 hours in advance, time slots get taken quickly! It’s super helpful that they do business on Open Table though, as many Fort Worth restaurants don’t, so take advantage of it. 

The vibe is very homey, tables packed closely together, the brick pizza oven behind the long bar. They have some outdoor seating too, which would be beautiful on a cool night. It doesn’t necessarily scream “Italian, quaint, trattoria”, but it is sort of a hipster, Italian look. The ceiling is adorned with several different light fixtures, each one with character and creating some separation in the big main room. 

The menu is adorned with several classic Italian dishes and ingredients. Our waitress did a fantastic job explaining what San Marzano tomatoes and soppressatta are. Even though I know what those are, most Texans won’t, so the fact the staff is educated in these special ingredients and can explain what they are is great and a testament to the kind of establishment they are creating.

We started off with the classic caprese just because it’s so hard not to enjoy. The tomatoes were juicy and the mozzarella tasted like Italy. The balsamic had to have come from a legitimate source bursting with tangy, sweet notes. The bread tasted fresh and grilled perfectly with a drizzle of olive oil. The pesto tasted homemade too, adding another component to the dish.

As the entree, how could we not get pizza? With the san marzano tomatoes and brick oven just behind our shoulder, we would be silly not to try the pizza. It didn’t disappoint. The ingredients tasted fresh and came together harmoniously. We chose the “OMB” pizza with meatballs, sausage, caramelized onions, and calabrian chiles. The onions added a sweetness while the chiles gave a little heat. The meatballs and sausage were fantastic and the dough was actually impressive. It wasn’t sweet like some doughs can be, it only enhanced the flavor. My one critique would be that the crust was flimsy, not crisp. I know not everyone likes a crisp thin crust and that Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be soft, but it still could’ve been cooked a little longer in my opinion.

After this experience at Cane Rosso, I don’t know, I may have to stop saying that I don’t eat Italian in Texas. This is yet another Italian restaurant that has proven me wrong about there not being good, high standard Italian food. I continue to be surprised by the capabilities of the chefs, not only by their cooking skills, but their knowledge of what real Italian food is. These chefs are great and are working for and with fantastic investors, sous chefs, waitstaff, and most importantly serving the community their absolute best. West Magnolia is home to yet another fantastic restaurant that I will certainly be going back to. 

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