Coronavirus

Summer 2020 Round-Up: The Foods, Drinks and Treats That Sustained Us

The No. 5 at Keller's Drive-In was a perfect meal during this strange summer of social distancing.
The No. 5 at Keller's Drive-In was a perfect meal during this strange summer of social distancing. Lauren Drewes Daniels
With summer rounding third base, we wanted to take a look at some of our favorite hot, lazy day treats before we’re all formally impaled with fall flavors. If you stress-eat, there's been plenty of opportunities over the past few months. Dallas chefs, bakers, restaurateurs and sno-ball shavers have been good to us.

Here’s a look back at some of our favorite finds, discoveries and old favorites.

click to enlarge CocoAndré's concha ice cream kit from July. Check their social media pages for each week's new offering. - COURTESY OF COCOANDRÉ CHOCOLATIER
CocoAndré's concha ice cream kit from July. Check their social media pages for each week's new offering.
courtesy of CocoAndré Chocolatier
Ice Cream Sandwich Kits
CocoAndré Chocolatier (508 W. 7th St. in North Oak Cliff) usually sees a dip in business during the summer. So Cindy Pedraza and her mom, Andrea, started churning house-made ice cream. Then, they paired up with local panaderias to make concha ice cream sandwich meal kits. It's a beautiful pairing and one of the best summer treats out there. More recently, they added a churro flavored ice cream. You can preorder kits through their site. This is a seasonal treat, so hustle.

Keller’s Drive-In
When eating out is tricky, but eating at home feels suffocating, Keller’s Drive-In hits the spot (10554 Harry Hines Blvd. in Northwest Dallas). Not only is it a delicious step back in time, but it's an affordable option. Their menu hasn’t changed since they originally opened in 1950. The most popular menu item, the No. 5 (double meat and cheese with Thousand Island dressing), fries and a drink, is only $6.50. And, don’t forget they’re strictly a cash-only operation.


click to enlarge Mango sticky rice is a perfect end to a spicy meal (or any meal, if you truly love the mango, firm rice and coconut combo). - TAYLOR ADAMS
Mango sticky rice is a perfect end to a spicy meal (or any meal, if you truly love the mango, firm rice and coconut combo).
Taylor Adams
Si Lom’s Mango Sticky Rice
Based on a suggestion from chef Uno Immanivong, food editor Taylor Adams tried this warm Thai dessert at Si Lom Thai Asian Fusion (3300 Oak Lawn Ave. in Oak Lawn) and had this to report:

“Coconut cream and sugar mixed with this steamed rice create a sticky, firm texture to complement the soft tartness of the ripe mango, all of which is topped with more sweet coconut and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.”

There's enough for two, but why would you want to share this beautiful summertime reprieve?

click to enlarge The Jackie platter from Sushi Dojo - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
The Jackie platter from Sushi Dojo
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Sushi Dojo Delivery
Yes, it felt odd when I was messaged to meet in a parking lot and look for a black car with the driver’s side window down. But when I was handed a huge platter of cold sushi, any reluctance quickly faded away. For a hot summer day, this was a light and beautiful meal (for six people).

Sushi Dojo had just purchased a food truck prior to the pandemic, which has been parked since March. They collect orders through Facebook during the week, assemble the sushi in their rented kitchen at a Kroger and make bulk deliveries at different locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth. There are a variety of platters, rolls and dumplings, which is updated each week on their Facebook page. 

click to enlarge Freshly picked blackberries, which are soon to be jam. - TAYLOR ADAMS
Freshly picked blackberries, which are soon to be jam.
Taylor Adams
Fresh Pickin’s
Let me start by saying that this window of opportunity has since closed. But, the blackberries at Pure Land Farm, a father-daughter managed business, were inspiring. They’ll reopen in 2021 when the new crop of fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready to be harvested. Visitors can reserve times to get to pickin’. Be sure to watch their Facebook or Instagram pages.
 

click to enlarge The Kahuna burger at the Peak Inn has a slaw, under good crinkle-cut pickles, tossed in a house-made Thousand Island for $7. - NICK RALLO
The Kahuna burger at the Peak Inn has a slaw, under good crinkle-cut pickles, tossed in a house-made Thousand Island for $7.
Nick Rallo
The Li’l Kahuna Burger at The Peak Inn
In July, Nick Rallo discovered a house-ground brisket and bacon-infused chuck burgers at the newly opened (then closed, then opened again) restaurant and bar The Peak Inn (132 N Peak St. in Old East Dallas).

From Rallo: “The 5-ounce patty gets a sear on the blazing griddle — a crust embroiders the ends of the patty — a classic American cheese blanket, chopped lettuce, onion and pickle. Burger grease is a condiment to be wielded, not discardable fodder for an absorbent paper plate.” 

The Li’l Kahuna is topped with a slice of American cheese, slaw and a house-made Thousand Island dressing and is highly recommended. The Peak Inn is open until 1:30 a.m. daily for dine-in and delivery. 

click to enlarge A socially distanced frozen margarita tastes even better. - TAYLOR ADAMS
A socially distanced frozen margarita tastes even better.
Taylor Adams
Cold Cocktails
Susie Oszustowicz knows her way around all things shaken and stirred. Her favorite summer remedy is the Bikini Bottoms cocktail at Bowen House. It’s a mix of Plantation Xaymaca special dry, Luxardo Maraschino, pineapple shrub, coconut, jalapeño, mint and lime. 

Taylor Adams has been found at the patio at Jose imbibing their margaritas; they've been going through various specials of the frozen beverage, and each has been balanced and refreshing.


click to enlarge The spicy bird in full fighting form - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
The spicy bird in full fighting form
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Chicken Sandwich 
Nashville hot chicken sandwiches have certainly found their way to Dallas, and chef Tiffany Derry has a darling of one at Roots Chicken Shak inside Legacy Hall in Plano (7800 Windrose Ave.). This sandwich is the belle of the ball here among the many other eateries, which is just like the food court of a mall but high-end. There's a steady stream of customers in front of the small counter at Roots; consider ordering ahead through Toast. 

This sandwich, which is fried in duck fat, is actually light, not an overwhelming gut bomb. The mix of greens and relish add a robust array of flavors and textures. The sweet potato bun is just dense enough to hold it all together.


click to enlarge A Vietnamese coffee-flavored sno-ball - TAYLOR ADAMS
A Vietnamese coffee-flavored sno-ball
Taylor Adams

Snow Cones

Ruby’s Sno-Balls (1605 N Haskell Ave. in Old East Dallas) has the grown-up version of snow cones. Flavors are made from fresh, seasonal ingredients and pure cane sugar. The ice is soft as snow. Ruby's even got a mention in Bon Appetit a few years ago. Still the small spot named after the owner's beloved dog remains a low-key, East Dallas gem. Food editor Taylor Adams praised the Vietnamese coffee flavor, which she recommends pairing with coconut. 


click to enlarge A box of stress-free pastries from La Casita Bakeshop. - LAUREN DREWESS DANIELS
A box of stress-free pastries from La Casita Bakeshop.
Lauren Drewess Daniels
Pre-Ordering Online Versus Sweating It Out in a Hot Line for a Pastry 
One of my favorite moments of the summer happened in front of La Casita Bakeshop (580 W. Arapaho Road, Suite 230, in Richardson). I had just put the wagon in park and the lady next to me rolled her window down and waved to get my attention. She had a huge smile on her face. 

“Isn’t this great? I even bought a T-shirt,” she yelled and pointed to a light blue shirt in her backseat.

That’s all this total stranger wanted to tell me. She was awash in excitement after picking up her box of goodies at La Casita; no standing in a long line, waiting, hoping, praying that there’s enough left when she got to the front. (Just before the pandemic, La Casita Bakeshop had opened for Saturday mornings only, and the lines were super long). 

Being able to place an order ahead of time online means we avoid Mario Carting it across the city in full pastry-anxiety, hoping there is one more kouign-amann left in the case when we get there. 

And for that, thank you, 2020.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.