Save me a pupusa: Original Gloria’s to close

The Bronx has closed and there are no plans for it to be a restaurant ever again, but another dining institution popular in the gay community is shutting its doors for good … sort of.

The original Gloria’s in Oak Cliff has been around for 25 years, and spawned several branch locations (among them two on Lemmon Avenue, one just six months ago), but the flagship has always been on Davis Avenue at Lllewellyn. Well, after tonight, it won’t be. Tonight is the final night of service there.

Fret not, however. It’s moving to a new space on Davis, much larger than the oddly mutli-level space that has been its home for more than two decades, with the first day of operation Thursday. Go there opening day and enjoy 25-cent margaritas. And those delicious pupusas.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Drive-by Tasting: Rock N Taco

SCENE OF THE CRIME | Carne asada and carnitas tacos lacked punch, but still had more than the watery margaritas. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

One visit. One meal. One shot to get it right

Direct marketing works. But it can backfire, as it did with Rock N Taco.

After a long, hard week at work, I needed to unwind. As if the World Wide Web sensed my stress, an e-mail popped into my in-box: $2 margaritas at Rock N Taco for happy hour, it said. Free appetizers. I had my plans.

Problem was, when I arrived at the nearly deserted McKinney Avenue restaurant, there were no apps set out, no reminder from the waitress of the great happy hour prices on tequila drinks. In fact, she told me they were three dollars.

Strike one. But it’s only a buck, right? Might as well. I ordered one on the rocks.

Strike two.

When the margarita finally arrived, it had about as much punch let in it as a boxer in round 9. Flat and favorless, it was a watery waste of agave nectar. I ordered a second, frozen, to see if the volume provided by the ice improved things. It did, slightly. Now you couldn’t tell so much that the alcohol content tasted on par with the basement brunch at the local Baptist church. At least it left me free that evening to operate heavy machinery.

I still don’t know what the appetizers taste like at Rock N Taco, as they were never set out and I didn’t bother ordering any. I stuck with the “rock your own” taco plate.

Let’s discuss the name for a second, too: Taquerias are as common in Dallas as vowels at the end of names in the barrio. Adding the word “rock” to one doesn’t, alone, justify charging three bucks per. (The best tacos in town are from the little lady inside the Fiesta on Ross Avenue. One dollar and she smiles at you.) You wanna rock me? Rock me! That doesn’t happen here, despite the zebra-print upholstery, signature drink called a “pink thing” (please, guys — grow up) and TVs blaring sports from every peripheral angle.

The tacos are the style I prefer: Small and packed densely with protein. But the carne asada taco, while flavorful, was as tough as a calculus midterm; by contrast, the juicy carnitas seemed like they hadn’t been seasoned at all. Of course, you can add some salsa (the tomatillo version is actually quite delicious, with lots of heat) and some a la carte sides: I tried the sliced avocado (good, but how can you mess that up?) and a chile-lime corn relish that was gummy but engaging.

Service didn’t impress me. Not at all. The margaritas took forever to arrive, and my water remained un-refilled as if they were rationing it in deference to Japanese tsunami victims. The waitress made me tab out early because her shift was ending and spent most of her time chatting with the only other person in the place (not a customer, it seemed, but a friend). I skipped dessert as I didn’t have another hour to wait for it to arrive.

Overall impression: Lacks buzz, lacks service, lacks consistent flavor in the food. Some of the items might actually deserve props (that salsa!), only it would require a repeat visit to get them.

Recommended: No.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Meet every candidate and their brother at Ojeda’s tonight

With midterm elections exactly two weeks away, and early voting already in full swing, you can bet it’ll be standing room only at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ monthly general meeting at Ojeda’s tonight. SDD is the largest LGBT political group based in North Texas, and many of its endorsed candidates will undoubtedly be on hand for the last meeting before the Nov. 2 vote. One who’ll definitely be there is Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who’s scheduled to speak. Also addressing the group will be the Dallas Police Deparmtent’s LGBT liaison officer, Laura Martin, and Youth First Texas’ Sam Wilkes. Besides, it’s worth it just for the margaritas.

DEETS: Ojeda’s, 4617 Maple Ave. Dallas. Free. StonewallDemocratsofDallas.com

—  John Wright

Diego all the way

San Diego’s Hillcrest gayborhood gives off major charm and hot charisma

Tenille Taggert and  Josh San Julian Contributing Travel Writers | gaytravel.com

Hilcrest
HARD TO MISS | Hillcrest is home to a bustling LGBT community in San Diego.

Homo is where the heart is, and for San Diego’s gay and lesbian community that means Hillcrest. Spanning less than a mile’s walking distance, this easygoing neighborhood makes a perfect triangle appropriately enough. Three points and one magical means of transportation will get visitors from point A to B, and then C. Genius? We say yes. This is dubbed San Diego’s Gay Triangle, and unlike the Bermuda Triangle, you will not get lost.

Urban Mo’s, a well-known gay restaurant and bar in San Diego, offers rides on their Mo’s-Mobile to their sister locations Baja Betty’s and Gossip Grill. This comes in handy for extra exploring of the neighborhood. The Mo’s-Mobile is an open-air golf cart capable of seating six and ideal for some major bar hopping. Travelers will be in luck to get Nino as a driver. He plays classic Madonna via his iPod as the cart cruises down the avenues.

Adventures should be started at Urban Mo’s mostly for the frozen black lemonade — basically a Slurpee with booze.  Happy hour can’t come soon enough, and Baja Betty’s has figured that out. They have created the “Papi Hour” where 2 p.m. is the new 4 p.m. Affordable drinks and nibbles this early in the afternoon and the kind of deal that will assure Hillcrest newbies and visitors they will never go hungry or sober again. Betty’s is famous for their margaritas, welcoming atmosphere and cheese queso dip that has earned the not-so-attractive nickname “cheese crack” because it’s just as addictive. Just don’t smoke it.

The newest addition to Hillcrest is the Gossip Grill. This lesbian hot spot is gender friendly, but the ladies have called it home. For the obligatory cup of coffee outside, Filter Coffee House is  a must. Aside from shooting up espresso beans, a cup of joe from Filter turns out to be just as invigorating and potent and the best part — it’s open 24 hours a day every day of the year. Geared with free WI-FI and European-style seating outdoors, any homework assignment or break-up coffee date can be vanquished here.

If the dance floor is beckoning, make your way to Rich’s, the gay dance club of Hillcrest. DJs make love to their turntables, which is a good thing. The spot has an outdoor dance floor, beer garden and VIP booths. Thursdays at Rich’s is Repent night which translates into ladies night. Bacchus House caters mostly to the Latino crowd with Bear Night every Saturday. For a simple speakeasy environment, cruise the gents at Pecs bar, which was named one of the top 50 gay bars in the U.S. by Logo. Bourbon Street offers many options for men and women with club nights, live music and even dining options.

Much more than cereal at the Lei Lounge is on tap for Sunday brunch where the menu  includes petit filet mignon and eggs, stuffed French toast, an omelet bar and smoked salmon quesadillas to name a few. Also on hand will be an assortment of recovering gays from heavy weekend activities.

………………………..

LITTLE BLACK BOOK

NIGHTLIFE
Rich’s San Diego, 1051 University Ave. RichsSanDiego.com. Bourbon Street, 4612 Park Blvd. BourbonStreetSD.com. Pecs Bar, 2046 University Ave. PecsBar.com. Bacchus House, 3054 University Ave. BacchusHouse.com.

DINING
Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill, 308 University Ave.
UrbanMos.com. Baja Betty’s, 1421 University Ave. BajaBettysD.com. The Gossip Grill, 1440 University Ave. TheGossipGrill.com. Filter Coffee House, pictured, 4096 30th St. MySpace.com/FilterCoffeeHouse. Lei Lounge, 4622 Park Blvd. LeiLounge.com.

RESOURCES
San Diego Gay and Lesbian Travel Guide, SanDiego.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens