Friday Favorites: My favorite DFW Restaurants

Mr. Right and I love food. Like, REALLY love food. And, one of our favorite past-times is eating out and discovering new restaurants together.

We regularly get texts from friends asking for recommendations for fun new restaurants, date nights, even places to shop, so I’m happy to resurrect a series on the blog – my Friday Favorites.

To kick it off, here are some of my favorite restaurants in DFW… currently.

La Perla

La Perla / Photo Credit: La Perla

La Perla / Photo Credit: La Perla

If we have kids in tow, La Perla is always my first choice. Located near the Convention Center in downtown Fort Worth, it’s got a cute little patio to enjoy on pretty days, and on colder days, if you go early, nobody cares if your child dances in the corner. The owner has a young daughter, so the staff always engages Wrenn and has lots of patience (plus the restaurant is loud enough that she doesn’t bother anybody). I always order the empanadas (the ham + cheese + honey ones are the best) – Wrenn usually eats one as well, and sometimes I get a few to go for the following day – and Mr. Right loves the Cubano and the La Dominicana sandwiches. I also swear by their spicy lime popcorn for an appetizer, because… popcorn.


Max’s Wine Dive

Max's Wine Dive / Photo Credit: Fort Worth, TX Magazine

Max’s Wine Dive / Photo Credit: Fort Worth, TX Magazine

When it’s time for a date night, Max’s is one of my favorites. This is where I took Mr. Right on our anniversary this year. This is where we take out of town friends. This is one of my happy places. (This is not a place I’d take littles.)

The Fort Worth location recently got a new chef, which means the menu changed and my absolute favorite (the PB&J wings), is no longer on the menu. But, I’m still a sucker for the cheese board, the Wine Dive Chicken Sliders, ‘The Royal’ Lobster Pot Pie (lobster bisque + puff pastry = heaven), and the shrimp & grits. They’re famous for their fried chicken (almost everybody orders it). I also hear they have a great Sunday brunch, but alas, that conflicts with church.




Hattie’s / Photo Credit: The Dallas Observer

Mr. Right discovered Hattie’s when he took me here for one of our anniversaries. The decor is so pretty (I’d dress up just a tad), and the food is amazing without being CRAZY expensive. I love the fried green tomatoes and the carmelized onion & cheddar tart with a sweet onion marmalade (again – I love it when my dinner can come in a puff pastry), but there’s also plenty to choose from if you’re a steak lover. This is another one of those great places for a date night, but I’d get a babysitter.


Off-Site Kitchen

Off Site Kitchen / Photo Credit: Dallas Eater

Off-Site Kitchen / Photo Credit: Dallas Eater

If we want to go out to lunch – or an early Saturday dinner… because let’s face it, when your kiddo’s bedtime is 7:00, you eat dinner REALLY early… Off-Site Kitchen is our first choice for burgers. I hear they have great sandwiches, too, but I don’t know why anybody would order something besides the burger, which is SO FRESH. Like, the freshest burger in all of DFW. I like the Green Chile & Bacon burger (includes caramelized onions and a special sauce) and the Russet Fries with garlic salt. They even have tiny fries for dessert. (Very kid friendly)

OSK (what the regulars call it) gets super busy, so I’d pick a slightly off-time to eat. They also have an amazing patio (and not to mention since it’s part of Trinity Groves, there’s a to-die for cake place just around the corner). You can also walk off those calories by strolling down to the old Dallas bridge which has since been turned into a park. Wrenn loves to climb on the playground and we can people watch as we enjoy a gorgeous view of Downtown Dallas.



LUCK / Photo credit: Culture Map Dallas

LUCK / Photo Credit: Culture Map Dallas

Luck is just the best. It’s perfect for a grown-up date night, or you can bring the kiddos and enjoy their giant patio. I love their Hand Twisted Soft Pretzels with beer cheese fondue and their shrimp & grits, but we’ve never had a bad meal there. It just FEELS trendy and the food is unique but again, not crazy expensive. And, if the line is too long, you can pick just about any other restaurant at Trinity Groves – it’s like a giant food court, but with gourmet sit-down restaurants instead.


So friends… go out and enjoy a good meal, and let me know in the comments where YOUR favorite restaurant is. We’re always looking for our next favorite spot!

Practice Hospitality: An Update on our Goal of 200 in 2016

practice hospitality

The year is halfway over, and this may be the first time ever that I have kept a New Year’s Resolution. Since this never happens (except for the one year my resolution was to have a baby… and I was already a couple months pregnant, so the odds were ever in my favor), THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

Our goal is to host 200 people in our home in 2016. Again – it sounds like a lot of people, and it is, but this isn’t something new for us. We have always loved hosting people. It’s kind of “our thing” as a married couple (and was “my thing” and “his thing” before we met). But, hitting our goal of 200 means that it’s the topic of many, many discussions as we intentionally try to map out our calendar, extend invitations, and also create margin for last-minute opportunities.

Here’s how we’re doing so far:

As of the end of June, we have hosted 73 guests in our home. Now, some of those are repeats (like one of our favorite seminary students who spends the night quite often so as to be closer to work on Mondays). Others had never set foot in our home before.

“Christian hospitality differs from social entertaining. Entertaining focuses on the host – the home must be spotless; the food must be well prepared and abundant; the host must appear relaxed and good-natured. Hospitality, by contrast, focuses on the guests. Their needs – whether for a place to stay, nourishing food, a listening ear, or acceptance – are the primary concern. Don’t hesitate to offer hospitality because you are too tired, too busy, or not wealthy enough to entertain.” – Note from my bible under Romans 12:13 – Practice Hospitality

Y’all, it’s so true. I don’t think a single person has come to our house expecting perfect hosts. But several have left telling us that they feel safe in our home – like they can open up and be themselves. This is why we do it.

So 73 guests is actually right on track. We have at least two big parties planned this year (which should cover about 60 people – both parties take place in the second half of the year), which means 140 guests over for dinner (or to hang out – dinner is not a requirement). We actually hosted only once in March and twice in April, because of a very heavy travel schedule, but then we had months like May (we hosted 8 different times) and June (6 times). We have had overnight guests somewhere around 10 different times… we think (we kind of lost track at some point).

If you’re looking to start hosting, check out my previous post for 5 Tips for hosting a dinner party that won’t make you lose your mind. We have also learned a few more things the hard way this year:

  • Don’t host on back-to-back nights during the week. Give yourself space to regroup.
  • Keep the guest list small. We have found that hosting 2-4 adults allows for the best conversations. If the group gets too big, we don’t get to spend quality time with each guest. (Kids don’t count – we just pile them, as many as will fit. And turn on a Disney movie, or set up a pack-n-play for the babies to snooze while we hang out.)
  • Leave margin in your schedule for those last-minute opportunities God sends your way.
  • Talk about the why – constantly. For our family, hosting is our opportunity to show God’s love to other people in a practical way.

Now we need to start planning for our next 73 guests. If you’re local and want to come eat, leave me a comment and we’ll do our best to get you on the schedule. And bring a friend. Or two. And a dessert… please (I like chocolate).

Best Christmas Ever

I figured out why I have so thoroughly enjoyed Christmas this year… it’s because it’s been the first Christmas in ages that hasn’t been overshadowed by life events.
Christmas 2010 – Got married exactly two weeks after Christmas… so I was drowning in wedding to-do lists.
Christmas 2009 – Graduated from Grad School (and threw myself a giant party)
Christmas 2006-2008 – Grad School Finals
Christmas 2003 and 2004 – Moved
So that leaves Christmas 2005 as my only quiet, normal Christmas since college. And that was ages ago! But this year we are making up for lost time…
Mostly by baking and attending parties.
From last Friday to today I will have had gone to six parties. And since Mr. Right and I express love through food (and crafts), here’s what we did:
Chocolate-dipped marshmallows for a dinner we hosted at our house last weekend. They had kids… and kids love marshmallows. And let’s face it, I love marshmallows too… so it worked perfectly. (Mr. Right claims to not like marshmallows, but let the record show that he ate enough to convince me otherwise.)

For a Christmas dinner Friday night I made chocolate-dipped strawberries and pretzel sticks. Chocolate + sweet + salty = love.

For a surprise birthday party Sunday night we made SIX DOZEN cupcakes – half iced in vanilla cream cheese icing, and the other half with Mr. Right’s super secret banana chocolate frosting recipe. It’s so good it’ll change your life.

We were smart and only left ourselves a few at the house, and left the rest of the leftovers at the party, except for a handful which we dropped off at Andrea’s house because (a) she has become like an extended member of our family and (b) she loves Mr. Right’s cooking as much as I do, so we always try to swing her some goodies whenever possible.
Now that we’re just a few days away from the big day, I’m trying hard to stay laid-back and stress-free about my long to-do list, which includes wrapping presents (we haven’t wrapped a single one yet) and finishing a quilt (I see some hand-binding while watching Christmas movies in my plans for this week). The unimportant things, like vacuuming, will just have to wait until next week when I’m off of work for one whole glorious week.
Or maybe I’ll save it for my New Year’s resolutions… I’ve got to leave something for 2012.