Kaleo Bubble Tea and Coffee is the new boba tea café that opened this past summer off Loop 288 near J Sushi and Buffalo Wild Wings. The Denton boba/bubble tea scene has long been dominated by the oft-wandering Naranja Café. Currently located on Avenue C, Naranja Café was also once on the part of Fry that doesn’t exist anymore. Anyway, they’ve got competition now in Kaleo.
Upon entering Kaleo, you will find a hodgepodge of drink and dessert options which can be a bit overwhelming if you are not an experienced boba tea drinker. Kaleo offers the requisite smoothies and tea mixes. In addition, they have Beth Marie’s ice cream in the mix. While the store was clean and put together like you would expect any new business to be, their actual boba tea was less than stellar. I immediately noticed how shockingly sweet the drink was. There was a layer of sugar hanging out at the bottom. Also, the same drink size at Kaleo is nearly double the price of a drink at Naranja. Luckily at Naranja you also have the option of requesting less sweetener if it is a little too much for your taste buds. The coffee was okay.
I did think it was notable that Kaleo offered a frequent buyers card that fits nicely on your keychain and gives you a free drink after purchasing nine. Maybe this is incentive enough to make a few trips back, but unless I’m on the loop and have a hankering for boba, I’m going to stick to my favorite spot Naranja Café.
Don't let the gas station parking lot and Ecstasy Barber Shop next door lower your expectation for this new Korean joint. In Denton, the exterior of a restaurant holds no value. Take Keiichi, for example. You could easily pass the place by, what with it's crummy-looking parking lot and nondescript frontage, but inside, you'll find some of the best food in North Texas. While Czen might not be at Keiichi levels, it definitely warrants a visit or two.
The staff were friendly and courteous, even when my date took 20 minutes to decide on the bento box which included a variety of traditional Korean dishes such as seaweed, kimchi and tempura chicken. After ordering the much anticipated bibimbap, we were surprised by the authenticity and presentation of the meal. It sizzled, but did not fizzle. If you aren't a stone bowl pro, make sure you go with the egg, let the bowl cook the rice until crispy and don't be stingy with the sauce. While the bulgogi not quite as eye opening an experience as the bipimbap, it, too, was quite stellar and among the best we've had.
Bulgogi Bento Box at Czen
The friendly staff did an excellent job communicating every detail of the layout for us newcomers, and we left feeling like we had experienced a rich and satisfying meal. I don't think you can go wrong ordering anything from Czen, because they give you a little taste of all things Korean. Everything from the miso soup to the noodles and eggplant was delicious and fresh. The price was surprisingly fair at $7-$10 for meals that are easily sharable. We'll be walking over to this little place many times since its conveniently located on UNT's campus. Czen is a worthy replacement for Bulgogi House and a pretty high competition to Denton's other Korean restaurants, Royal East included.
Czen is located at 408 N. Texas Blvd.
- Naomi Wood
We worked together with Denton Food Trucks, to highlight a few of our future lunch providers. On Monday we took an in depth look at The Pickled Carrot, purveyors of delicious sandwiches (catch them at the Denton Community Market this Saturday). Today, we get some more info from one of the other interesting food trucks that will be rolling the streets in the weeks to come, Shiitake Swerve. Read it and get hungry!
On their menu...
The original taco will be our go-to item. It is a grilled shiitake mushroom taco dressed with a cabbage slaw, scallions, homemade vegan garlic aioli on two street taco tortillas. Sandwich suggestion will be the Texas oyster mushroom po-boy made with homemade BBQ sauce and dressed with cabbage slaw, scallions, homemade vegan garlic aioli.
What sets them apart...
I hope all trucks can make a lasting impression of class and diversity. I believe our project is unique in regard to the menu and the concept. We are a vegetarian truck that is focusing on healthy, organic, and affordable foods. We will not be using any highly processed foods in our menu. We will also be making a strong effort at limiting soy products to edamame and soy type sauces. We may at some point use tofu in appropriate dishes, but soy products will not have a permanent home on our menu. We are also doing our best to source local food and services.
We are planning on 11 am to 8 pm to have the strongest presence. We are also planning on being open for breakfast Saturdays and Sundays in the beginning, with a plan of expanding to weekdays.
On ordinance changes...
As little regulation as possible with safety still being as efficient as possible. Anything I perceive as unconstitutional I will challenge in court.
I hope to service offices and the business crowd during the week for lunch. In the late afternoons I hope to serve the college, stay-at-home moms and kids, the unemployed or anyone available and hungry.
On their favorite food trucks...
Zombie's served me up a good sandwich and Lee's grilled cheese tastes great.
You can follow Shiitake Swerve’s goings on by liking them on Facebook. Or just keep up with the Denton Food Trucks Twitter account. We'll be taking a look at a few others in a few weeks and hopefully we'll be able to have a review of some up very soon. If you're a Dentonite food truck hopeful and want to be featured here, email us! Also, we're hearing that there may be a food truck festival at the DCTA station later in October. We'll let you know when we hear anything.
The City of Denton recently lifted the ordinance that kept mobile food vendors from staying in any given location for more than 15 minutes. It was the single-most rule that had been keeping food trucks/trailers/etc... out of Denton during what is arguably their heyday. We were late enough on the whole cupcake thing. Do we really wanna miss out on this, too? The lifting of the 15 minute rule is a temporary measure during the indefinite amount of time it will take the city to draw up a new ordinance. In the interim, the city will hopefully see many interesting Denton-based trucks pop-up and bring an even bigger draw to town. Hopefully, that will cause the powers that be to be a little nicer to vendors when they actually get to rewriting the ordinance.
It’s now been about two months since this happened, and we’ve still yet to see many trucks out and about (UNT campus, withstanding). This is soon about to change. Many people are putting the finishing touches on their businesses and should be hitting the streets very soon.
We worked together with Denton Food Trucks, to highlight a few of our future lunch providers. First up, a truck centered around the most delicious sandwich known to man, the Vietnamese bahn mi. The Pickled Carrot have been operating out of the Denton Community Market for some Saturdays this summer, selling their sandwiches, Vietnamese iced coffee, and cucumber limeaid to the masses. We can’t wait to be able to purchase one any day of the week. Below is an interview with The Pickled Carrot. Read it and get hungry.
What sets your food/service apart from other trucks?
As we grow, one of our main goals is to be a strong supporter of the Denton Community. We will source as many of our vegetables as we can from local farmers. We have current UNT students working on our images and logos for our concept. We would also like to be part of charities and fundraisers around Denton. So that is kind of our vision which will set us apart from the others.
What’s the foremost menu item you will be recommending people order the most?
Grilled pork sandwich and a cup of our fresh squeezed cucumber limeade.
What are some of your favorite food truck grub?
We enjoy Ssahm BBQ's Korean tacos. Angry Friar has good fish and chips. And the double Decker? AWESOME! Visually, its my favorite. Reminds of my trip to London. Haha.
What are you planning for your operating hours to be?
Once we go mobile, our plans are to open from 10AM-2PM/5PM-9PM on weekdays and extend the hours on the weekends for the bar/nightlife crowd. Hours of operation, however, are subject to change depending on many variables.
What are you hoping for in the city ordinance changes regarding food trucks?
After reviewing the proposed ordinance, we are fairly happy with it. We would like to see less restrictions on places we can and cannot set up to serve food.
Do you have any locations in mind?
Denton is our location! We want the fans to choose where we will be on certain days, but we also plan on being near UNT and TWU as well as Fry St. and the Square.
What are you hoping for in the ordinance changes?
We are hoping for changes that will make serving the community easier and more efficient.
Next up, Shiitake Swerve, the truck that will have Dentonites on ‘shrooms.
They're the winner of UNT s Cake Decorating Contest and have received awards in March 2012 for Taste of North Texas and April 2012 for Best of Denton. They're NV Cupcakes and they re taking Denton by sugar storm.
Located in Corinth since November 2010, NV Cupcakes are soon to open their Denton location at the corner of McKinney and Austin Street.
While a spot on the square is absolutely desirable, Van and Ngoc are more stoked about their presence east of the square where shop-side parking is always guaranteed, so you can transfer your cupcakes to your car with ease. Their cupcakes are contained in trademark chocolate brown boxes: People see the brown boxes and they know what s coming, says Van with a grin.
Van and Ngoc began their endeavors with cupcakes through birthday parties among friends word spread about their delicious little treats, and a few parties on the weekend soon turned into making up to 500 cupcakes every weekend for parties, weddings, and other occasions. We have to agree with Van when she says that cupcakes are awesome because they are convenient and you have choices. Mmm, mmm. Many choices, indeed.
Sisters Van and Ngoc Nguyen are UNT graduates (Go Mean Green!) and are two incredibly skilled cupcake craftswomen. Their cupcakes are super fluffy and made with real buttercream frosting. Van and Ngoc make them in small batches to control the quality, and all ingredients are fresh-- you can even find chunks of fruit in some recipes. They feature unique flavors like Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti, New York Cheesecake (yes, it involves graham cracker crumbs), and seasonal flavors of Pumpkin Spice and Peppermint.
Here's some awesome news:
NV Cupcakes will have a booth at the Arts and Jazz Festival, which begins TODAY! Van and Ngoc will be selling their fabulous cupcakes and lemonade. So delicious! So cute! You won't be able to pass up these heavenly morsels.
NV Cupcakes' Denton location will open in early May at 118 East McKinney Street, Denton, TX 76201.
Denton is in a sort of bar renaissance at the moment. 2011 brought us Paschall and right around the corner (not to mention down the street) was Oak Street Draft House (full name Oak St. Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor). So far both have proven to be popular establishments. The latter has been open since the beginning of March. We've learned quite a few things about the Oak St. Drafthouse during that time. Below are a few of those things.
Inside Oak St. Drafthouse.
- The Oak Street Draft House & Cocktail Parlor features 48 beers on tap.
- Half of those are from Texas: Deep Ellum, Franconia, Rahr, Live Oak out of ATX, Shiner, No Label out of Katy, Southern Star out of Conroe, and a few from Houston. The rest are all high-end rarities.
- A third of the beers rotate seasonally.
- The thought behind the place seems enormous and subdued all at once. John Williams, the owner of this fine establishment, certainly has an eye for comfort and aesthetics.
- The place used to be the late vintage clothing store Time Bandits. Nostalgia alert: may evoke a bittersweet sentiment.
- If you’re keen on things anachronistic, you’ll like this place. It’s like going back to a time you only know through books.
- The walls and mantles are decked with creepy photos, fascinating photos, lovely photos, family photos, old men in top hats photos, sports teams photos, old cowboys photos....
- With the trophies, barber chair, tractor stools, and cozy lounge space, the OSDH&CP has a very masculine tone to it...
- While number 8 is very true, one could also say the place is feminine, as well, with curvy, ornate sofas covered in velvet and floral patterns, and soft colors all around.
- The house (dare I say home?) has gardens in the front, and inside are wood floors and high ceilings.
- John had a buddy of his blow and shape beautiful and unique glass handles instead of using large tap handles with perhaps, say, the brew name-- and instead of the usual, and downright unappealing little black tap handles.
- They use small glass tap handles as to not hide the bartender from the patrons, and to keep that open feel, which compliments the rest of the house's atmosphere fantastically.
- THEY HAVE A PATIO LIKE YOU NEVA SEEN IN DENTON. Trust me, it’s huge.
- Inside is non-smoking.
- Bring your own food and have a picnic on the patio.
- They have both evening happy hour specials from 4-7pm daily and late night specials from 9-11pm.
- It has the potential to have some great outdoor concerts/events.
- It’s just off the square and nearby the Industrial Street developments-- new restaurants, favorite restaurants, new apartments.
- The OSDH&CP puts on honky tonk/bluegrass Sunday Fundays with the best mimosas and bloody marys around.
- People now have a reason to travel eastward on Oak St. past the square.
What do you think is the best about the Oak Street Draft House & Cocktail Parlor?
By Kates McCann
The Chestnut Tree has made some incredible strides in the way of science, or magic, or maybe both—they’ve figured out a way to fill your eyes, ears, nose and mouth full of charm. I’ve always been a big fan of charm, the charming, being charmed, lucky charms, Charmin toilet paper… Okay, so that one was a stretch, but you get the point—The place is Charm City, and I can’t wait to go back.
For those of you not-so-familiar with this veteran establishment, it’s located on Denton’s Historic Square. A “garden tea room” traditionally open for brunch and lunch, the Chestnut Tree is now offering an extended menu and hours to include dinnertime. The new evening meal offerings will be based on a revolving menu. Each weekend, diners will be presented with a fresh set of dinner options. Opening weekend, I was given a menu that included the following main course dishes:
- · Peppered Pork Loin Medallions with Champagne Dijon Cream Sauce
- · Asian Glazed Salmon
- · Italian Stuffed Portobello with Pasta Arabbiata
Woof, right? I partook of the Asian Glazed Salmon, and my date ordered the N.Y. Strip. Beyond the incredible entrées, the menu includes an excellent selection of vegetable sides to complete your meal. I ordered the Haricot Verts Amandine and Sweet Glazed Baby Carrots to go with my meal, and my date ordered the Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Sautéed Asparagus with Red Peppers to go with his. Between the two of us, we were able to sample almost all of the available side dishes, except the Green Onion Risotto, which I am at this moment experiencing regret about not having tried with our meal, as I am certain I would have enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed all of the others.
Before our meal, we dined on the Pan Con Tomate appetizer, which consists of fire-roasted tomatoes on slices of toasted bread. I was also adamant about trying the Tomato Basil soup, which is a menu staple at the Chestnut Tree—a stationary component of the revolving menu.
The appetizer, soup, main course, and side dishes all shared in consistently delivering simple and well-executed flavor. While many of the dishes sound complex in name, their tastes were straightforward and distinctive. My date and I found ourselves more than pleased with our meal—very full and satisfied. Honestly, it was just like having a home cooked meal, if every night was “fancy food” night at your house.
Beyond the charm of their unique spins on familiar meals, the Chestnut Tree’s ambiance—the shabby-chic décor, starry sky lighting, eclectic soundtrack, and charismatic staff also adds to the delightfully alluring experience you’ll find there at dinnertime.
The extended menu and hours occur every Thursday thru Saturday from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. For updates on the revolving dinner menu, check out The Chestnut Tree’s Facebook page here or head to their website and click on Revolving Dinner Menu when you get there.
NOTE: The Chestnut Tree dinner menu includes a selection of appetizers, soups, salads, main course dishes, vegetable side dishes, adult beverages, and desserts. While I wish I could tell you about all the available options, it is physically impossible. My stomach is the same size of that of most other human beings… the size of my fist, and let me tell you, folks, I got small hands
Seven Mile Cafe opened on the corner of Bolivar and Congress last week. We talked to the owners a week or two before and finally ate there this past weekend. Get caught up below.
We had originally intended for our interview with Kevin and Josi of the Seven Mile Cafe to run before the restaurant actually opened; however, busyness on our part prevented that from happening. That said, at this point we have already eaten at Seven Mile Cafe and thought it pertinent to write a review to accompany the video above.
Actually, read the last sentence in the above paragraph again and replace the word “pertinent” with “necessary.” Our experience at the new partially-vegan cafe was less than stellar to say the least. We arrived mid-morning on a Saturday (the first Saturday they happened to be open) and were promptly seated in the half-filled space. The waitress was nice enough, the menu read well (although it was missing a few choice items that were mentioned in our interview above) and the smell from the coffee bar was pleasant. Everything from that point on, however, was like the first half of any show with Gordon Ramsay’s name in the title.
Looking around the restaurant, we started to notice frowns on people’s faces. “Maybe those are Brave-Combo-polka-dancing-hangover frowns and they just need caffeine,” we thought to ourselves. We were wrong.
About fifteen minutes after ordering, our waitress stopped by our table to inform us that our food was almost ready and would be right out. We quickly figured out that this was the beginning of a pattern. She stopped by every ten to fifteen minutes to tell us the same thing for the next hour or so. Once we caught on to the pattern and the rumbling in our bellies got down to a D-flat, we decided it was time to leave. We put enough cash on the table to cover the cost of our coffee and made our way to the door.
Now hold on. Let me assure you, we aren’t a bunch of jerks. This is not a common occurrence. I checked at our table and none of us had ever left a restaurant before. In fact, I was most likely the biggest jerk of the table and the only thing I’ve ever walked out of was the Carrot Top movie, Chairman of the Board, when I was 12.
On our way to the door, Kevin, the co-owner of Seven Mile Cafe, stopped to ask us how our food was. We informed him that we had waited a long time for our food and that our younger counterpart needed sustenance promptly (he was fine, I was the hungry one, but he will forever be my excuse). He ensured us that the food was soon-to-come, that some of the meal would be comped and went to check in the back things out. We heard some arguing in the kitchen and then our waitress arrived with about 2/3rds of our meals in hand and convinced us to sit back down. If you’ve ever wondered what the most-awkward thing you can do in a restaurant is, let me assure you that it isn’t breaking up with your significant other. Nor is it falling out of your chair and spilling soup on an elderly woman. No, the most awkward thing that can happen to you in a restaurant is attempting to leave when you’ve had a bad experience and then be convinced to sit back down and eat what you had originally ordered.
Eventually the rest of the meals came out, and lo-and-behold the food was good. Not necessarily worth the wait, mind you, but what would be? The scramble was well thought out and the raspberry cake that accompanied it was muffin like in a good way. The fruit was fresh, the eggs were cooked just as requested and the order-er of the blueberry pancakes enjoyed them enough to not want to share with the rest of the table (either that or they might be an avid Miss Manners follower). A few small things were wrong with our order, but at this point, causing any more of a scene was out of the question.
At some point during our meal, a popular local band came in with a local coffee roaster. They ordered their food, sat down and eventually got frowns and caught on to the patten. They managed to successfully leave the restaurant upon realization that they wouldn’t be eating anytime soon. They’re a nice bunch of dudes, so that’s saying something.
Our awkwardness must have been palpable because the check arrived long before we had finished eating. And low-and-behold, nothing was comped even after being assured two times that it would be. We ended up paying full price and promptly exiting to our cars.
I really want Seven Mile Cafe to succeed. In two or three months Kevin and Josi should have this down and I will don a disguise and give them another shot. We need more interesting, local eateries in town and the ambition this duo has shouldn’t be written off easily. That said, give these guys a while to work out the kinks before giving this place a shot. In the meantime, let the people who don’t read scantily updated blogs go and wait a long time to be fed while Kevin and Josi figure things out.
1. Sprouts in Flower Mound. Did Denton seriously need another Walmart? Even though Sprouts is a drive, it's got the best prices and selection of vegan / gluten free items.
2. Too lazy to drive to Flo Mo? "Fancy" Kroger on Teasley is a 15 minute drive from "cool" Denton, but their organic and produce section is stronger than anywhere else within the city limits.
3. Cupboard Cafe has the best Jerk Tempeh sandwich in Denton and the vegan banana smoothie is too good to pass up vegan or not.
5. Vitamin World section of Drug Emporium
6. Vegetarian Menu at the Greenhouse Restaurant namely the Southwest Avocado Tacos or the Black Bean Burger.
7. The Mean Green dining hall in Maple Hall on UNT campus is a welcome addition to Denton's herbivore scene. If you don't mind sitting around a bunch of UNT students, members of the public can also visit this cafeteria. Mean Green is open from Monday through Thursday from 7am until 7pm (and 7am - 6pm on Fridays!). Prices range from $5.50 to $7.50 depending on the meal you're eatin'.
8. Mr. Chopstix and Andaman are ready and willing to accommodate your vegan needs. Just ask. Andaman's Drunken Veggie is simply delectable... just specify vegan and anything fishy will be omitted. Keep in mind that the fry batter Mr. Chopstix uses contains egg, though!
9. Dan's Meat Market on North Elm has the best avocados. Dan's wife will help you find the good ones at the register.
10. Vegan Freak. While the name might conjure up images of a healthy grocery store, this place ain't The Cupboard. Instead, Vegan Freak focuses on selling other vegan lifestyle items (vegan bath and body products and other vegan items). Vegan Freak is open from Monday through Saturday from 10am until 7pm and again on Sundays from 10am until 5pm. These are actually really good hours for a small, local business. Patronize this place and give them reason to keep them!
11. The Denton Vegan Cooperative has vegan baked goods available at both Jupiter House locations (Yes, there's another Jupiter House. Travel north of the square, much?) and the Community Market on Saturdays.
Side Note: Denton, you should be ashamed of yourselves! For housing such a plenty of vegan, vegetarian, local eating, health conscious bunch of people we should open fewer fry and dines and something a little more likened to Spiral Diner (Dallas, Fort Worth). Tisk Tisk. Now you may have your tofutti.
From the people who brought us Denton favorite The Greenhouse Restaurant, Loco Café offers a casual dining breakfast and lunch menu with drink options to compete with the many coffee joints around town. I step up to the counter and place my order, have a seat and take in the local vibes as I wait for my food to be delivered (I don’t have to wait for long, though; service is quick). The décor is streamlined, minimalist and diner-chic, with photos of local sites and delights hung about for nostalgic enjoyment. A compass on the wall compels me to think I’ve been guided to just the right place for a Monday morning brunch.
The menu offers a unique selection of breakfast and lunch dishes. The produce is local (hell yeah!) and all the food is prepared in-house. For breakfast you’ll find choices ranging from huevos rancheros, to Johnnycakes (a solid stack of cornmeal pancakes soaked with maple butter), to the Loco Café signature, Loco Moco. Inspired by the popular Hawaiian dish, but with an all-American breakfast twist, the Loco Moco is a stack of biscuit, hash browns, eggs cooked-as-you-like, cheese, and their exceptional 603 salsa. I kept it simple and ordered the “Kid’s Meal”, which comes with an egg, savory hash browns, and a hearty honey butter-drizzled biscuit that was simultaneously doughy and flaky and left me perplexed and amazed and wholly satisfied. At only $4, I thought I’d died and gone to Americana breakfast heaven. For lunch the highlight is red snapper—you can get it in a sandwich or in some tacos; both are topped with carrot slaw and served with a side of black beans. Not big on fish? Get yourself a grilled three-cheese sandwich or a B.L.T. Sounds simple enough, but I’m sure the Loco Café has found a way to make their sandwiches distinctive. And for all you vegetarians out there, this place will surely please with its many veg-head options.
With my brunch, I ordered one of their shaken iced teas. Best. Idea. Ever. Iced tea and homemade fresh flavors like hibiscus and blueberry, tossed into a cocktail shaker with ice, then poured into a frosty glass… it was the perfect post-bike excursion tonic. I had the fresh mint flavor and learned the mint was picked from just across the street on Greenhouse property. I was ecstatic—local-food fanatic ecstatic. Their coffee is local, too; it comes from the Ruta Maya Coffee Company in Austin, TX. All fruit juices are fresh-squeezed and their wide variety of tea is all loose-leaf. Get creative with any drink and add one of their fresh flavors to your coffee, tea, juice or soda; the flavors are just too good to pass up.
You can book your next company luncheon, book club meeting, or motorcycle gang reunion in their private room. A special group menu is available. If you like fresh, local food that mixes the traditional with the unique, be sure to check out Loco Café. Hangovers welcome.
-- by Liz Hopper
603 N Locust
Denton, TX76201(940) 387-1413
Mon-Fri 6 am - 2 pm
Sat-Sun 7 am - 3 pm