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, Chinese, Ethnic

Gung Ho- Dallas, TX

There are several different areas within the city of Dallas.  When it comes to going out and having a drink most people will tell you to go to Deep Ellen or Uptown. However a just as fun area, less crazy and just as popping, is Lower Greenville and that’s exactly where we went and had the pleasure of enjoying Gung Ho.

The new Chinese-American spot only just opened its doors this past February, right next to its sister restaurant HG Sply Co. It’s prime location is central on Greenville Ave, smack dab in the middle of everything. At first my friends and I walked right past it, HG right next door almost covers it up if you’re walking north on Greenville. Once we back tracked we couldn’t believe we walked right past it. People were dining on the small outside area with others flooding out the doors around the bar. The staff is very accommodating, even on a bustling Saturday night, always checking on us while we waited for a table at the bar. 

The interior is super cool, fun lighting and texture ceilings, intimate booths and Asian inspired decor. The biggest eye catch is the green lit “Gung Ho” bar background enticing you to get a closer look…and a drink. The drinks menu is next level featuring liquors from fig infused rum to famous grouse scotch. Egg whites and lapsang tea accompany other ingredients in these decadent cocktails, new ideas pouring over the back bar. The Lapsang Penicillin featuring famous grouse, lapsang tea, honey syrup, ginger and lemon was a fiery delight. 

The food menu is very inviting, classic Chinese flavors and ingredients with some exciting new twists. They recommend getting a couple of different plates and sharing, which is the best way to try a little of everything. With items from classic dim sum and kung pao chicken, the staff recommended some of the fusion dishes being their favorites. We started with the glazed eggplant featuring a fish sauce caramel, garlic, Thai basil and fermented chilis. The eggplant was cooked perfectly and the flavors really popped, the spicy chilis adding a great kick to it. The glaze added a light sweetness to the dish, this was a standout. 

Several staff members recommended the crack chicken, and it did sound amazing boasting fried chicken in a mala seasoning (yes please) along with those fermented chilis and herbs. This dish was really good, spicy flavors really coming through from the seasoning and chilis, but it was pretty basic being just a fried chicken dish. The meat was delicious and juicy and we got our protein for the night, but not as big a standout as the eggplant. 

The star dish of the night goes to the crab and coconut rice. Our waiter set the dish down in front of me and the aromas of coconut immediately hit me. I was actually worried that because there was such a strong coconut smell that it would mean an overpowering taste. I was totally wrong, the perfect amount of coconut flavor paired with crab and delicious rice and egg topped with fresh scallions left me incredibly fat and happy. A subtle sweetness balanced the other spicy dishes out and left me continuously adding more to my plate as my taste buds kept calling for it.

Gung Ho came as a recommendation from my friend Jonathan who enjoyed the restaurant, but certainly Gung Ho has worked out their new restaurant kinks. They changed the menu up a little and improved the service, from exact timing of our wait time to fast food delivery all on a crazy Saturday night. The cool cocktail menu and delicious coconut crab rice will bring me back to Gung Ho along with its cool interior and fusion vibe. 

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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, 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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American, Fort Worth, Italian

Olivella’s- Fort Worth, TX

Let me be perfectly clear: I am extremely picky when it comes to Italian food. Having been to Italy before, I take pride in the ingredients and how pasta and pizza should be cooked. Considering I live part time in Boston, with the North End a hop skip and jump away, I am especially picky about eating Italian food where it isn’t well known, particularly a state that is much better at Tex Mex and barbecue. With that being said, I have found at least two Italian restaurants in Fort Worth with decent Italian food, and since the opening of Olivella’s, I have found a third. 

I had heard great things about Olivella’s through the grapevine. Pretty authentic, very thin crust pizza with their own homemade mozzarella. I knew I had to give it a try and a review. Located in a small strip mall on Camp Bowie Blvd, you see a bright neon sign that reads the restaurants name, certainly eye catching and intriguing from the busy street. 

Upon entering you immediately get the essence of a small Italian trattoria. Several small tables that lead to a wine nook that continues into a large and home like atmosphere. A fire going in one corner and strings of lights hanging makes the restaurant feel magical. You can see how they would be very accommodating to larger groups. 

It was a quiet Monday night, with families coming in for a special dinner with the kiddos. Our waitress was very personable, giving us her opinions on dishes when asked, telling us about the restaurant. She made the evening extremely enjoyable, something I’m sure that is apparent in all of the staff. 

Now onto the food: we started with a classic Italian antipasti, bruschetta. Toasted bread drizzled with bright green olive oil, garlic tomatoes, and homemade mozzarella. How could you resist that? Olivella’s representation of the classic antipasti was very delicious, certainly looked and tasted Italian. Their homemade mozzarella, both in this dish and the pizza below, tasted homemade and was delectable. I can’t say it was “Italy standard” mozzarella, but the fact they make it homemade is a testament to the chef. 

Now onto the pizza. I always judge firstly on the crust, and being from the New York Metropolitan area I only eat thin crust (perhaps this is an exaggeration, but most likely not). Olivella’s offers two different crusts, their Neopolitan and Metro. The neopolitan is described as their regular crust, the metro as being extra thin. To judge their normal crust, we ordered the neopolitan crust of the Soppresatta and Sausage pizza. Soppressatta is a dry Italian salami, with pork being the traditional meat used. Think prosciutto meets pepperoni. When the pizza arrived, it was a nice thin crust, although it did have a decent rise to it. However, it looked beautiful with rich red colors bursting off the pan. It was cooked well, the mozzarella was still their homemade cheese, the meats were seasoned well and paired nicely with the red sauce used. In my opinion the soppressatta used was not true soppressatta, more of a pepperoni. I would be curious to try their listed pepperoni pizza to compare, nevertheless this hot soppressatta/pepperoni had a lovely flavor to it and complimented all the elements of the pizza.

Overall, Olivella’s was a spectacular experience, from the food to the atmosphere to the staff. It was all delicious, and even being in Texas, had hints of Italy. I would most certainly return to Olivella’s, whether it be for a take away pizza or a huge group dinner. No matter how or where, Olivella’s will bring joy and warmth to anyone, just as the Italians do.

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American, Barbecue

Hard Eight Pit BBQ- Roanoke, TX

Quaint Roanoke, TX is located just north of Keller, about 50 minutes from Fort Worth. Although not the original location, along the main road with many other restaurants is Hard Eight BBQ

Hard Eight compliments the town of Roanoke perfectly. Upon walking in, like most BBQ places, you head straight up and get your order. No waiters or hostesses necessary. But what makes Hard Eight a little different from other BBQ places is the pit is right there to greet you. Most BBQ places display the meat they are going to serve you, but here it’s like walking into a bakery where everything is on display. 

What’s also a tad different is that as you enter into the next room you’re herded (ha) into an assembly line or as the website calls it “Texas style service”. You go down the line and pick up any sides you see fit to accommodate your meal. You start off at the bread station, where if you got this far and ordered the brisket sandwich and didn’t get bread, you request it here! After that it’s pretty much the usual: coleslaw, potato salad, fruit, cups for BBQ sauce, and ending with hot cases filled with Mac and cheese and cobblers. Then you pay, get your drink and enjoy. Now if any BBQ connoisseurs are reading this you may be thinking “wait, what about beans?” Have no fear, for here the beans are free. That’s right, FREE. They station two pots of beans boiling within a mixture of bacon and jalapeños by the drink dispenser. Did I mention they’re free? #blessed

Now to this day, I still swear by Angelo’s and I may be a bit biased, but still. So going into any brisket endeavor I try to be unbiased. When the pit master sliced the brisket you could tell it was tender and pulled apart beautifully. I did not see a significant smoke ring. The meat was tender and delicious, there were particular bites that had a smoky flavor. The sauce was pretty basic, certainly not hot (there are two kinds of sauce: their classic and hot n spicy…I wish I got the hot). 

The sides I got were coleslaw (which Angelo’s also has the best in my opinion) and Mac n cheese. The coleslaw was actually pretty good! Very close to Angelo’s and was not thick with mayonnaise. But the winner of this dinner is the Mac n cheese: one bite and immediately I moaned. So creamy, so cheesy, the shells cooked perfectly. I didn’t even need to add salt or pepper. I would drive 50 minutes for that Mac. 

Hard Eight certainly has a fun atmosphere, it was cool getting to be apart of ‘making’ your meal! The rustic Texan atmosphere makes eating your BBQ that much more enjoyable, I would certainly go back for this unique way of serving BBQ. 

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