Taste of Greenville Avenue fattens you up before the Cedar Springs street party

It’s time for a good Halloween TOGA party  — and you don’t have to embarrass yourself to do it.

At last year’s Taste of Greenville Avenue (TOGA), even restaurateurs in the area will tell you, was kinda miserable. It was cold and rainy out, and if you weren’t getting soup or hot coffee, it was hard to wander around thinking of food. But the forecast for this Saturday — along Energy Square at University Boulevard, where it will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — is for a high of 70 and fairly clear skies. It may be one of your last chances to enjoy the sunshine on a weekend before real autumn sets in.

And judging by the selections at a preview tasting yesterday, the food is a good reason to show up.

Nearly 30 restaurants, all with venues along or near Greenville Avenue, from Presbyterian Hospital down to the Lowest Greenville entertainment district, will have booths out, selling bites from $3 to $6 … plus booze. Gotta have the booze. Among the samples I tasted was bacon on a stick from Brian Luscher at The Grape. The Grape is known as Dallas’ most romantic restaurant, but there’s nothing romantic about this intoxicating thick slab of pork belly, glazed in a sweet-and-savory brown sugar concoction that’s addictive. It’s really the perfect Halloween treat: You look like a zombie scavenging for flesh while eating it. It’s that good.

Another favorite were the meat and dessert pies from The Original Fried Pie Shop. Bigger than Goliath’s empanada, these crescent-shaped treats just go to show that, savory or sweet, deep-frying dough makes everything better. The brisket and pulled pork are good, but try the apricot, cherry, vanilla, pecan and chocolate varieties. I did. Seriously. It’s not pretty in my full-length mirror right now.

The Blue Fish’s portable ahi tower, served in a sugar cone, is a spicy mix of tuna tartare and a seafood salad.

Other restaurants include Twisted Root, Rusty Tacos, Pinkberry and I Fratelli Pizza (some of the best pizza in Dallas). You can’t eat it all. But don’t let that stop you from trying.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting notes

Photo-2---Murray's-in-Kroger-Shot
SAY CHEESE | Murray’s Cheese Shop just opened at the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station with a delectable selection.
Murray’s: What a friend we have in cheeses; White Rock holds a picnic

What a friend we have in cheeses, now that Murray’s Cheese Shop has moved out of the ghetto of Greenwich Village in New York City and hit the real center of the cheese world, the hometown of Paula Lambert: Dallas.

At least, that’s how I approach it at my house, where a day without cheese is like a day without sunlight. So to have the celebrated fromagerie inside the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station is a coup for local cheese lovers.

The shop groups its cheeses by use more than style: Melting cheeses, stinky cheeses, spreadable, etc. Even better, there’s a section for this month’s specials, where you can get great deals. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples, or go outside your comfort zone, such as a deliciously crunchy version of two-year gouda called Reypanaer, or the veiny, pungent Smokehaus blue.

White Rock Lake celebrates its centennial with several culinary events this weekend. On Saturday, the beach turns into the Veranda Lounge, with a day-long choice of meals. Culinary couple Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare of Good 2 Go Tacos serve brunch from 10 to 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch and wine at noon, afternoon tea at 2, cocktails at 4:30 and dinner with chef Marc Cassel starting at 7 p.m., followed by music and fireworks.

Then on Sunday, Brian C. Luscher, chef/owner of The Grape, hosts Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake, starting at noon at the Bath House Cultural Center. Cassel will be back, along with Jeff Harris of RedFork, Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava and others. Visit HighlandParkCafeteria.com for more info and to purchase tickets.

Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck recently adopted a dog, which motivated her to hold a benefit for Operation Kindness. (It’s also a mission close to our hearts — Dallas Voice profiles a shelter pet for adoption every week.) On June 30, the restaurant at the Hotel Palomar will hold a VIP Party — that’s Very Important Pet — on the patio, with drink special and all-you-can-eat bites for just $10. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

Dish is back with its drag brunch this Sunday, and will do them twice a month from now on, with bottomless mimosas and a special brunch menu.

Taste of Dallas returns to Fair Park, Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10. The annual festival of food features live music, contests and lots of tastings. Among the chefs on-hand are gay restaurateur Scott Jones of Macho Nacho and Cowtown Diner and Jason Boso of Twisted Root Burger Co. and Cowboy Chow. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the gate. See the full lineup at TasteofDallas.org.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

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NUP_141681_0107TRAVEL DIARY

Josh Flagg, pictured, a star of the Bravo series Million Dollar Listing who came out earlier this year, is letting his Pride flag wave. Flagg will host a four-day dance party in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica next month. It takes place July 21–25 in a gated community on the Latin American nation’s South Coast. To learn more, visit HMCRPride.com/party.

GayTravel.com is reaching out to the queer artistic community to highlight the local arts scenes in destinations for its readers.
LGBT artists and allies who work in any media are invited to submit pieces that would be of interests to gay travelers — pieces promoting events, trends or just themselves that can add to the experience of visiting new locales. You can read more about it on the website, or email sophie.needelman@gaytravel.com for details.
— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas