Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Smokehouse SMA Texas BBQ



Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and plenty of it these days in the back of a 1960 GMC pickup truck in the parking lot of Mercado del Carmen, where you’ll find two of our favorite chefs, J.j. Castaneda and Adrian Gorton, preparing to launch their new BBQ restaurant, The Smokehouse SMA Texas BBQ – Casa de Humo. 

As remarkable as the meats will be - Brisket, Pork Ribs and sausage with a rotating smoked meat special every month -  suckling pig, salmon, chicken or beef ribs - it’s the sides that allow the chefs to show off their creative side and they’ll be plenty of of that with Castaneda and Gorton style Mac and Cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, Southern baked beans, honey cornbread, house made pickles, chiles torreados and two types of BBQ sauce: their signature sauce and a classic Carolina sauce with secret spices. 

BBQ is nothing new to Chef JJ Castaneda; he grew up with it. Born in El Paso, Texas, he says Texas is the capital of the BBQ world, where BBQ is beef based and brisket reigns supreme. He made regular rounds to Meuller’s, Salt Lick and Franklin’s. As a chef, he was influenced by another great Texas Q chef, Aaron Franklin, the owner of Franklin’s BBQ, who elevated the art of BBQ when he published a best-selling cookbook, Franklin Barbecue, A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, and won a James Beard award for the best chef in the region; the first for a Pitmaster. 

Chef Adrian Gorton lives BBQ; traveling to its capitals - Memphis, South Carolina and Texas – just to eat it. His specialty is BBQ ribs; a rite of passage food when we were growing up.

The Smokehouse SMA Texas BBQ – Casa de Humo will open soon; holding my breath, tagging all you BBQ fans and lining up for what will be the first authentic Texas BBQ in Centro SMA. 


We’re busy plotting on how we’re going to beat our good friend, Adrian Garcia-Evans, to the head of the line when it opens in a matter of weeks. Stay tuned.  


The Smokehouse SMA Texas BBQ – Casa de Humo

Mercado del Carmen

Calle Pila Seca #19

Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Atrio: One of SMA’s Best Restaurants


When someone asks us for a restaurant recommendation, Atrio is one of the first places we send them to. Eat Well Travel Often is our motto and we love table #2, where you’ll get an in-your-face view of the Parroquia - the iconic symbol of SMA. Atrio was our pick for the best, new restaurant opening and chef in 2017 and it still reigns as one of the best four years later.


The staying power of a restaurant comes down to just one thing, the food. In the case of Atrio, the fabulous service, incredible ambiance and the spectacular view of the Parroquia have as much to do with the restaurant’s success as the food does; it’s another total package. 

And then there's the view...I remember the first time I climbed an unfinished stairway, holding on to the back of nephew, Eduardo Pérez Calvo, for a peek at what was to be Atrio in a few months. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t the restaurant I looked at first but the spectacular view of the Parroquia. I was totally captivated then and continue to see it in a different way every time I’m here.


We’ve eaten nearly everything on the menu since they opened; each dish perfectly prepared, flawlessly seasoned and executed by the Master himself, Chef Arturo Sandoval. We think the chef has got a whole lot of magic going on because he has the most amazing sense of flavors. The menu at Atrio is always a work in progress - the best dish is likely to be the one that Chef Arturo Sandoval recently created, like these two new dishes: 


a Beef Cannelloni with Foie Gras: beef stew sautéed with fresh truffle and foie gras, topped with a cheese and truffle sauce, accompanied with an arugula, tata and almond salad and the Unagui Roll, stuffed with eel and foie gras tempura, wrapped in avocado, bathed with eel sauce and smoked. You’ll be totally amazed by what the smoke does to sushi. It was served with a glass lid; the rolls still smoking when manager, Luis Vela, removed the dome. The presentation was one of the best we’ve had but with many others coming close. 


One of the more obvious differences in sushi is the quality of the fish. Chef Arturo Sandoval uses only the best quality in each and every dish; a skill he perfected when he worked for Chef Moma at Restaurant Osaka Pedregal in Mexico City specializing in Peruvian-Japanese cuisine. He also worked for him in Lima, Peru and at KO Asían Cuisine with Chef Gianfranco. 


In addition to the new dishes, we shared two others - a pan of their famous Rib Rice, perfectly cooked in the Josper charcoal oven and the Oriental Bao Bun with Pork Belly. Both dishes have been on the menu since they opened and remain two of our favorites. 

My favorite thing in the world is to share great food and long time friends, Pepe Martinez, Jay Jones, Michael Moore, Craig Wilson and Jere Halligan were enthusiastically along for the ride. We also sent a friend over this past week to taste the crunchy red snapper marinated with spicy oriental red chilies, chipotle and citric sauce. We’re not surprised when he reported back that it was the best he’d ever had. We claimed it as our favorite dish back in 2019 and it’s still at the top of our list two years later.


Atrio owners, Chema and Chus, recently celebrated another successful restaurant opening with Aquila, right around the corner from Atrio at Jesus #3. 

Atrio

Cuna de Allende #3, Centro

Chef: Arturo Sandoval

Reservations suggested - Call: 415 688 1405

Opens 1:00 PM Daily

Masks required/removed for photographs and consumption

Health First certified by the city of SMA

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Getting Your Fill of Southern Comfort Food in Tulsa


I’ll be the first to admit, when I'm in Oklahoma, all I think about is food. I love southern cooking and there’s nothing like Oklahoma BBQ, biscuits and gravy or a chicken fried steak with white sausage gravy to get you thinking about your next meal. True to Southern tradition, if there’s one thing I do when I come back to Tulsa, it’s that I always eat well.


Eating in is always a pleasure when you’re surrounded by a family of great cooks, including Olivia, who at age four, has gained experience with many dishes, including a few she’s created herself just by being in the kitchen every day with mom and dad.

New wines and champagnes, along with meats cooked in the Sous Vide and finished off on the BBQ were all on our A-list. There were wonderful holiday meals, meats off Tommy’s BBQ (my first meal back is always one of his steaks) and recipes that Jessica cooked from Pinterest and old family favorites.

In a send off to the city I’ve grown to love (we’re back in San Miguel de Allende as of March 9th) half the fun of eating in Tulsa is the adventure of finding a new favorite restaurant, including these everyday spots that hit the high mark with some of the best food in the city.

Buen Provecho!


Antoinette Baking Company

Formerly on Brookside, this wonderful bakery relocated to the Brady Arts District in Tulsa. It’s owned by Molly Martin and Andrea Mohn; childhood best friends that have a full-blown passion for baking.

 

Everything we ate at Antoinette’s was top-quality. We loved the Croissant, Coffee Cake pastry, Cheddar scone and the Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie - one of their signature dishes. The Rice Crispy bars were out of this world, using vanilla and butter to pump up the flavors. The Bread Pudding is some of the best we’ve had; eggier than most of the ones we’ve eaten and topped with a rich, caramel sauce.

 

The bomb of everything was a cookie made with brown butter, pecans and caramelized white chocolate filled with duck fat caramel. It was the BEST COOKIE WE’VE EVER EATEN so far and we’ve had plenty to compare. They don’t make them every day so call to ask when they’ll have them next. 

On our list to try: the Sausage roll with croissant dough wrapped around a Burn Co smoked sausage and cheddar link. On our return trip, we grabbed a different version of the Rice Crispy treat that was covered in caramel and dark chocolate with salt sprinkled on top; a favorite we’d order again. We were also delighted with the shortbread topped with marshmallow, caramel and nuts. 

Don’t miss Canale night on Thursday from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM and Pie Night on Friday and Saturday from 5:00 PM – closing. Brunch is served every Friday and Saturday from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. 

When it comes to a number one bakery in Tulsa, Antoinette Baking Company wins - hands down!

Antoinette Baking Company / 207 N Main Street, Tulsa, OK 74103/ Phone: 918-764-8404/ Monday – Thurday 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM/ Friday- Saturday 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM/ Sunday 9:00 AM 3:00 PM - Dine in, Pick-up and Delivery


Lone Wolf Banh Mi

To find authentic Vietnamese food in a town that has limited ethnic restaurants was a total delight. Owned by Philip and Danielle Phillips, the couple began with a food truck back in 2012 and now have 2 locations - one at 11th street and the other on E Archer - and Chicken and the Wolf in Mother Road Market, specializing in Nashville hot chicken.

Lone Wolf Banh Mi has some of the best Vietnamese food we’ve eaten anywhere; it even beat some of the places we use to go on Argyle Street, the Vietnamese section of Chicago.

Our favorite indulgence was the insanely popular Kimchi Fries - fresh cut fries that are smothered in jack and cheddar cheese, onion, jalapeño, cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, Thai chili aioli, cilantro, candied bacon and Korean chili peanuts. We also loved the Kung Pao Pork Banh Mi with Thai chili aioli and Korean chili peanuts and a Shrimp Rice Bowl with roasted jalapeno aioli. I would love to see some of these dishes in the kitchens of SMA, they were that good!

In my top five favorite restaurants in Tulsa, the dessert was another one-of-a-kind cookie: a salted caramel toffee, white chocolate chip cookie made by Sweet Street, who supplies many of the restaurants in the city.

Lone Wolf Banh Mi/ French – Vietnamese fusion/ 3136 E 11th Street, Tulsa, OK/ Phone: 918-861-4232/ Open 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM / Delivery and Pick Up


Mad Eats

There’s just one word for Chef Erik Reynolds food: whimsical. From Tots to epic shakes that are rimmed with cotton candy, cookies or M&M’s, grown-ups follow suit to make this diner the one you have to eat at before you even think about leaving town.

There are plenty of perfectly executed American dishes on the menu but when it comes to Mexican, try the Street Corn Queso; one of the restaurants most popular dishes.

When it came to dessert, Olivia wanted it all. My dessert was a “Goonies Never Say Die” shake:  a Chocolate and peanut butter mix with an M&M rim, peanut butter cups, chocolate pretzel rod and whipped cream. Also try one of the boozy shakes; my eye was on the Pony Boy Bourbon with Bourbon, salted caramel and candied bacon.

From Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese to hash browns stuffed with sausage, bacon and cheese, we pitched the calorie book the minute we looked at the menu.  

Mad Eats/ 201 S Main St, Owasso, OK 74055/ Phone: 918-401-4353/ Open: Sunday – Thursday 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM / Friday – Saturday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM - Dine in, delivery and take out.



Burn Co

Living in Mexico is testimony to the fact that you can eat anything for breakfast - Chilaquiles, Carnitas, Menudo, or even Barbacoa - but when I'm headed north to Oklahoma, there is only one breakfast food I crave: authentic, Oklahoma BBQ.

At Burn Co, the kitchens are lined with eleven Hasty Bake Charcoal ovens; manufactured in Tulsa since 1948. It's all about controlling the inside temperature and the Q-chefs who use the Tasty Bake ovens swear by them, including Adam Myers, one of Burn Co's owners, who worked for Hasty Bake for 12 years.


The menu includes a list of BBQ classics, like the ribs and chicken, a Mac and Cheese that’s covered with so much cheese it’s addictive and the Fatty: bacon wrapped around sausage and finely minced hot links.
The sides are mouth watering as well, especially the smoked potato salad: a hot bowl of grilled potatoes with chopped bell peppers and onions. Also worth mentioning are the sauces. The hot is sweet with just a touch of heat and the mild has a mustard flavor - a combination of sweet, sour and tangy.

Inside the restaurant, you’ll find a store and meat market to purchase seasonings, sauces and your favorite cuts to go. The best part of the meal is the just-made BBQ they pass out while you’re waiting in line to order. 

There’s nothing like a pile of burnt ends to get your appetite up for the best BBQ in Tulsa.

Burn Co./ 1738 S Boston Ave, Tulsa, OK 74119/ Phone: 918-574-2777/ Open: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM - Dine in, delivery and pick up available 

Burn Co./ 500 Riverwalk Terrace #135, Jenks, OK 74037/ Phone: 918-528-6847/ Open: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:30 AM – 3:00 PM - Dine in, delivery and pick up available

Mother Road Market

Tulsa's first ever food hall has a delicious variety of eats, including an authentic, Korean kitchen.


Umami Fries 
uses 1/4 inch cut fries that are fried twice with house made batter and crown with bulgogi beef, chicken and/or kimchi, along with a wide range of other toppings and seasonings. Brought to you by the folks behind Gogi Gui Korean Grill, Samon and his brother, Chef Saya Xiong, opened in Tulsa in 2012 and introduced a fusion menu before developing the Umami Fries concept that’s now in Mother Road Market. 

Chicken and the Wolf, owned by the same people who own Lone Wolf Banh Mi (above), serve a whopping, chicken sandwich that’s pretty hard to beat. Be careful when you’re ordering the sauce; with Nashville hot chicken, even the extra mild is fiery. 

Mother Road Market - Umami Fries and Chicken and the Wolf/ 1124 S Lewis, Tulsa, OK 74104/ Phone: 918-984-9001/ Hours: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM Daily except closed Monday - Curbside pick up and outside, patio dining


The Tavern

Saving the best for last, this is one of our favorite taverns in Tulsa. The place is all dark wood and peppered with sunlight; you feel at home the minute you walk in the door. 

The Tavern Burger is a winner - a grind of 5 cuts of meat: short rib, brisket, sirloin, chuck and cheek that’s grilled to medium-rare and topped with Stilton blue cheese, mushroom Cognac cream sauce and served on a fresh-made-daily challah bun ($15) with a huge pile of shoestring fries. It gets our vote for the best burger in town. Also try the spicy chicken sandwich; a step up from the usual chicken sandwich with a triple dose of spice served with habanero aioli. 

Looking back, one of our favorite meals in Tulsa was at the chefs table in the kitchen at The Tavern; a feast that paired each delightful course with a different wine.

The Tavern/ 201 N Main Street, Tulsa, OK 74103/ Phone: 918-949-9801/ Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM/ Friday – Saturday 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM - Dine in and curbside pickup


Coney I-Lander

This is one restaurant where a $5 bill will get you lunch. A long time Tulsa tradition, Coney I-Lander opened in 1926 with a grilled hot dog, steamed bun and the family’s secret chili recipe sprinkled with onions and cheese. Hungry Tulsans devour them year round, even in the heat of summer and they’re still a deal after all these years - $1.99 each.

Now on the menu: loaded baked potatoes’ and Frito Chili pie, a popular, local specialty.   

Coney I-Lander/ 2838 East 11th Street, Tulsa, OK 74104/ Phone: 918 592-3113/ Daily: 11:00am - 9:00pm


Delta Café

Food is at the heart of almost every great memory that Southerners hold dear  - from Chicken Fried Steak and a Catfish feast to Chicken and Dumplings or a Chicken Pot Pie. You can get good food anywhere, if you know where to look and what to order but if it’s authentic, Southern cooking you’re after, Delta Cafe is your place to eat.

It’s not fancy but the food is good and sometimes it takes a simple kitchen to remind us why we love this food in the first place.

Delta Café Scratch Kitchen/ 4515 E 51st St, Tulsa, OK 74135 / Phone: 918-932-8840

Daily: 8:00AM to 9:00PM


Waldo’s Chicken
 

I LOVE chicken and my search for the perfect bird stopped here. Take your pick - from Southern Fried Chicken that’s brined in pickle juice to the Fire Roasted chicken brined overnight in brown sugar to give it that exceptional taste. Get a double order of Cheddar biscuits with honey butter; six are just a tease. Their salads are overly generous; loaded with fire roasted chicken and blue cheese; more than a meal in a candy red bowl.

When you taste the made-from-scratch difference, you’ll wonder why this Nashville chain waited so long to enter a market where food is defined as anything fried and too big to fit on your plate.  

Waldo’s Chicken/ 4923 E 71st St, Tulsa, OK 74136/ Phone: 918-340-7997 Hours: 1030 AM – 9:30 PM. Open Friday and Saturday until 10:00 PM