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April 2017

Featured Food Lifestyle Travel

Where to Find the Best BBQ in Dallas

April 27, 2017
Best BBQ in Dallas

This past weekend we had a friend in town from Arizona. The moment he arrived, The Hubs whisked him off to get some Texas BBQ. While I know that this friend was really a convenient way to satisfy the Hub’s BBQ craving, it got me thinking about the best BBQ in Dallas. During my relationship with The Hubs, I’ve gained a lot of insight into the best BBQ in Dallas. I have carefully curated that list for you. Please note that these are not all in Dallas proper, but all in the Dallas area. They’re worth the drive! Also, as a warning: you are getting crappy cell phone pictures here. Consider it Raw Footage. Live, from the field!

Tori’s Definitive List of the Best BBQ in Dallas:

Pecan Lodge

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Food:

Pecan Lodge is, hands down, my favorite BBQ place in Dallas. It’s a favorite for many other’s as well. It was also on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (though they went to the old location in the Farmer’s Market. It has since moved.) Pecan Lodge makes my favorite brisket. Their sausage is to die for. Like, I am not a sausage person, but I can go to town on some Pecan Lodge BBQ. Their sauce, while not a traditional BBQ sauce, is another strong favorite of mine.  Pecan Lodge is also the most creative with their sides. Their mac and cheese features bacon and green chiles (I actually prefer mine plain, but The Hubs likes it this way so we roll with it.).  Pecan Lodge is also the home of the Hot Mess, which I love and discuss here.

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Hot Mess

The Location:

Pecan Lodge is located in Deep Ellum (right next to an Emporium Pies, score!), which is always an interesting place to visit. There’s a lot of cool street art around and some pretty cool concert venues (Trees, Bomb Factory).  Deep Ellum isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however. Your hipster brother, yes. Your conservative father, maybe not. Also, you can’t really escape paying for parking in Deep Ellum, so that’s a bummer.

The Wait:

Count on at least hour wait if you arrive right when Pecan Lodge opens (worth it!). It’s generally pretty shaded in the early part of the day and half of the line is indoors, so it’s not horrid. You can always snag a seat at the bar or order The Trough($75, serves 4-5) to skip the line.

Hard Eight

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Food:

This is my husband’s absolute favorite place to get BBQ. Hard Eight catered our wedding(even though I was too preoccupied to eat), so we may be a little biased here. Their brisket is solid and their sausage is fine, but not as flavorful as Pecan Lodge. Their sauce comes in traditional and spicy and it’s what you would expect for a Texas style BBQ sauce(sweet, spicy, and tomato based). Hard Eight has some pretty good poppers as well.  As for sides, I like the mac and cheese at Hard Eight better than Pecan Lodge. They also offer free beans, which is good if you’re trying to save your money for, well, the BBQ.

The Location:

Hard Eight has two locations, one in Coppell and one in The Colony. The one in Coppell feels like the middle of nowhere (At least it does to me. I have no sense of direction.). The location in The Colony is right in front of Nebraska Furniture Mart near Stonebriar Centre so there are lots of other things to do in the area. Parking isn’t too bad, and they have a golf cart that drives around and shuttles people (though I’ve never been offered a shuttle).

The Wait:

Depending on when you go, the wait time is about 30 to 40 minutes. The unfortunate factor about Hard Eight is that the line where you winds through the area filled with the meat smokers, so you WILL smell like a campfire by the time you are done. Your clothes, your hair, it’s all going to smell like smoke by the time you order. The area is shaded, but it gets pretty hot and muggy from all the smokers, so it’s not my favorite.

Hutchins BBQ

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Food:

Hutchins BBQ was a new place for The Hubs and I. I really enjoyed everything that I had there. Hutchins the only place on this list that has an all you can eat option (for around $21) and it was totally worth it. I normally don’t eat a lot of meat, so I didn’t order it. It would have been way to much for me. But for any red-blooded male out there, it’s perfect. The Hubs liked it because it allowed him to sample a larger variety of meat. The sides were pretty awesome too. They were all piping hot and fresh and the mac and cheese was excellent. (I hope you’re starting to get an idea of my priorities by now.) They also offer a free dessert, which is a major score! When we went, they had soft serve ice cream, cobbler and banana pudding.

The Location:

Hutchins also has two locations. One is in McKinney and one is in Frisco. We initially tried to go to the McKinney location but it was closed for remodeling. This was reflected absolutely NOWHERE on their website or google page, which was frustrating.  From there we drove to the Frisco location, which was blessedly open, despite not answering my call to verify. That location was pretty accessible, with lots of parking. It’s a little further back from the road, but we still found it easily.

The Wait:

We waited in line for about an hour or so. The line stretches both inside and outside and honestly clogs up the exit a little bit. Still, it wasn’t terrible unpleasant. They were on their last thing(I don’t know the unit of measurement here) of brisket by the time we got to the front (maybe around 7:00 PM?) but had plenty of burnt ends left.

Lockhart BBQ

The Food:

Lockhart BBQ is good, but doesn’t really stand out to me. Perhaps that’s why I never actually took a picture of my food at Lockhart BBQ. The Hubs likes their smoked turkey and their brisket is pretty standard. Whatever you do, do NOT get their spicy mac and cheese if you want to taste the rest of your meal. It is SPICY. Like nothing else tasted right afterwards. I would not recommend the spicy mac…unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Best BBQ in Dallas

Shameless Engagement Spam! Also, pretend you can’t see my nasty bra: Old Faithful.

The Location:

Lockhart BBQ also has two locations. One is in Bishop Arts District, the other in Downtown Plano. Both are really cool areas. We did our engagement pictures at Bishop Arts District, so naturally I love that place. It’s a super cool place to just go and walk around. Good luck with parking though. Be prepared to walk. Downtown Plano is the closest to where we live, and it’s really easy to access. It’s also right by the DART rail, which is nice.

The Wait:

I’ve rarely seen a wait at the Plano location. It’s really easy to get in and out. The upstairs seating is pretty cool too,  The Bishop Arts location had maybe a 20 minute wait, but it was all indoors, so it barely counts.

So there you have my humble assessment of  the best BBQ in Dallas. There are other places besides these four, but these are the ones that stand out as the best in my book. They all have different strengths depending on what vibe you’re looking for and how much time you want to spend. Do you have any favorites that I’ve missed? Let me know and I’ll add them to my taste test list!

 

Featured Finished Object Knitting Lifestyle

Jubilee Cardigan: Pattern Review and FO

April 20, 2017
Jubilee Cardigan: Pattern Review and FO

If today’s blog post were a book chapter it would be titled, “The Jubilee Cardigan: In Which Tori Has No Clue What Size Babies Are.” Seriously. I have a decent reference point on toddlers…maybe. But I have no clue how big an infant is. Can’t figure it out. If you are like literally everyone I know, you will tell me that this could be easily solved by having one of my own. I will politely deflect this comment in some way because nothing scares me more than thinking about my own motherhood. So lay off, people!

Despite not knowing how big babies are and being terrified of having kids, apparently I make a pretty decent aunt. Really. My 3 year old niece told me just this Easter that I was her very favorite Tori. The Hubs asked her if he was her favorite uncle, to which she replied, “No, Tori is.” Clearly, I am succeeding in the Aunt department. Bubbles, candy, and My Little Pony figurines help too.

Since I’m feeling pretty good about this Aunt thing, I am excited to double my aunthood this summer with the addition of another niece. Ya’ll know what this means: baby knits! Oh, I have plans. I have visions of knitting another Elijah elephant; this time in speckled pink yarn, because #specklesaresohotrightnow.  Heck, I have visions of a while pink elephant themed baby shower (It’s gonna be cute!) The first of my baby knits, however, is a pattern I’d been waiting to use for a long time. It’s the Jubilee Cardigan from the 2010 Holiday Gifts Edition of Interweave Knits.

Jubilee Cardigan: Pattern Review and FO

 

Jubilee Cardigan: The Pattern

The Jubilee Cardigan is an easy short sleeve raglan cardigan with a lower lace detail. It fastens at the top with three buttons, while the lower section is left to fall open. It’s super cute and super easy and I think I still managed to mess it up a little. The only tricky part (and the part where I think that I messed up) is remembering where to make the button holes. They’re probably supposed to only stay in the raglan section, but I put the buttonholes wherever. Oh, well.

My only qualm with this pattern (and it may just be me, because see above) is that I think that sizing may be way off. I knit the 6 month size, or at least I thought I did, but I appear to have a cardigan that would fit a 1 year old. Again, my knowledge of baby sizes is very poor, but I’m pretty sure this knits up large.

Jubiless Cardigan: Pattern Review and FO

Jubilee Cardigan: The Yarn

I used Universal Yarn’s Bamboo Pop for this project. It’s 50% cotton and 50% bamboo, which makes for a nice summery (washable) knit. I’m always stumped on yarn for baby projects. I don’t like acrylic because it can melt at high heats. I know wool is the technical good choice, but what mom is going to hand wash baby clothes? Every  mom I know would felt a wool knit in the wash in minutes. Cotton is a good choice too, but I hate knitting with it because it feels like twine.

Bamboo pop ended up being a good choice for this project, but I won’t say it’s my favorite. The bamboo gave it a little bit more stretch and bounce than plain cotton, but it also made it more slippery. I also found it to be fairly splitty, though it doesn’t appear to show many splits in the finished product. It just meant that I needed to concentrate more while knitting. Still, they have a good range of colors and I would use this again for another baby project if needed.

Jubilee Cardigan: Pattern Review and FO

I’m setting this one aside for now to wait for it’s future wearer, but I look forward to working on more baby knits in the future. I’m thinking toys and blankets and maybe a hat or two (but definitely not baby booties, because they are my kryptonite!). Yes, this baby is going to be fully stocked by the time I am done with it.

Lifestyle Mini Monday Tutorial Uncategorized

Mini Monday: How to Dye Wood with Food Coloring

April 17, 2017

Hello all! I hope you had a good Easter weekend. My was good and peaceful and I amassed so many peeps. It was great. Last week, I shared my tutorial for making a gift card frame, which I embellished with a hand dyed wooden letter. As promised, here is my tutorial for how to dye wood with food coloring!

This tutorial is about as easy as they come. And if we’re being honest, I only chose to dye wood with food coloring because I didn’t want to have to buy paint. I was pleasantly surprised by the stained effect and how the wood grain came through, which I thought made a great accent for the wood of the frame. Want to learn how to do it yourself? Scroll through my tutorial below!

Mini Monday: How to Dye Wood with Food Coloring

How to Dye Wood with Food Coloring

Supplies:

-Large glass jar/bowl (Don’t not use metal or plastic. Those materials may absorb some of the dye!)

-1 Tablespoon(ish) Vinegar

-Food Coloring

-Wood to be dyed

Mini Monday: How to Dye Wood with Food Coloring

Step 1:

Heat enough water to cover your wood until it is hot enough to dissolve your dye, about a minute or two in the microwave. The heat is also helpful in getting the color to take. I just used kettle water from when I made my tea. Double-tasking for the win! Add about a tablespoon of vinegar. The acid is important in setting the dye.

Mini Monday: How to Dye Wood with Food Coloring

Step 2:

Add your dye to the water. I used Wilton’s Food Coloring that comes in the little tubs, because I have a ton of it (I used to use it to dye yarn, which was great fun.), but the little four packs that you buy in the baking aisle work just fine as well. Wilton’s is more of a gel than a liquid, so I had to stir it around a bit before it dissolved.

A note about dyes:

Some dyes, like violet and black, have a tendency to break, meaning that your project may not absorb the color evenly. In the case of violet, it may absorb pink first and then the blue, leading to a more splotchy color. You can attempt to combat this by adding the vinegar gradually, rather than all at the beginning, and keeping the water temperature lower. Basically, avoid “stressing” the dye.

Mini Monday: How to Dye Wood with Food Coloring

Step 3:

Submerge your wood  in the dye. I ended up using a knife to hold the wood under the water, because it kept bobbing back to the top. Let it sit, checking the color periodically, until it is the color that you want.

I left my in for about 6-8 hours if I remember correctly. I just left it out on the counter.


Mini Monday: How to Dye Wood with Food Coloring

Step 4:

Remove your wood from the dye, and let dry. I did not rinse my wood, I just set it on a stack of paper towels to dry. It will dry lighter than it looks while it is wet.

Once dry, you are free to use your dyed wood to embellish your projects! I really appreciate this method to dye wood with food coloring because it lets the wood grain show through. I think it gives it a subtle texture that makes it look really interesting.

So what do you think? Is this a technique that you would use? Let me know if you do. I want to see your projects!