Food Trucks at SMU

FoodMood is all about finding the best restaurants in Dallas that cater to your ever-changing food cravings.  Whether you’re looking for something green or greasy, fried or frosted, FoodMood is on the hunt to provide readers with different food options to satisfy their everyday “food mood.”

I’ve spent the last 4 years walking past the delicious sights and smells of the food trucks parked on SMU’s Hilltop. In a quest to diversify my lunchtime cuisine, I finally decided to take a tour of three different trucks parked on the campus one day. After a small sample of what each truck had to offer, I finally understood all the hubbub about food truck grub-ub. There are a variety of trucks that roll through SMU each semester, and the chefs inside are cooking up huge flavors in tiny kitchens that can satisfy any kind of passing-period food mood.

Gaucho Empanadas: The first stop on my Hilltop food truck tour was at Gaucho Empanadas. I was a little nervous to try this truck because I’ve never had an empanada, but like I said, I was on a quest to diversify my cuisine. I stayed within my comfort level, though, and ordered the brisket and chicken BBQ empanadas. What shocked me the most was the size of these meat-stuffed pastries! Each empanada was about the size of my palm, completely contradicting the bite-sized ones I had envisioned. The outer pastry was crispy and flaky, and the perfect accent to the tender meat packed inside. I was mucho impressed with Gaucho. Hannah Rogers, a graduate student at SMU, also loves the unique taste Gaucho brings to SMU.

“I’ve stopped here probably more times than I should have this semester,” Rogers chuckled. “I’m just a huge fan of these empanadas and I really like the variation it adds to on-campus dining.”

For those who are more adventurous in their first-time empanada endeavors, you can try the salmon empanada with tomatoes and cheese. The truck also serves fresh-pressed juices for the perfect sweet and savory meal. This restaurant on wheels has mastered the combination of big Texas flavor with a South American twist.

Egg Stand: The next stop on my food truck tour was at Egg Stand. Eggs are one of my top five favorite foods, making additional charges completely egg-ceptable to add an egg to any meal. So, when I looked over the Egg Stand menu and realized every sandwich is served with an egg, I knew I was in for a juicy meal and deal. I ordered the CB, which is a ground angus beef patty served with caramelized onions, butter pickles, cheddar cheese, chipotle ketchup and topped with, you guessed it, an egg! The sandwich was hot, fresh, bursting with flavor and just as good as any high-priced burger at a fancy restaurant (that probably makes you pay extra for the egg). Overall, it was an egg-cellent first-time experience. Egg Stand meals are only served on wheels, so visit the Egg Stand weekly schedule to see where the truck will crack its windows open for business each week.

Ruthie’s Rolling Café: To top off my tasty tour of food trucks on the Hilltop, I stopped at Ruthie’s Rolling Café to get my hands on one of the best grilled cheeses in Dallas. Grilled cheese sandwiches were one of my go-to dinners as a kid, so I held the standard pretty high for Ruthie’s. I decided to combine my Texas roots with my pure love for grilled cheese sandwiches and order The Boss: BBQ brisket and cheddar cheese on sourdough bread.


I didn’t even need to swallow my first bite to understand why Ruthie’s is named one of 15 essential Dallas-Fort Worth food trucks by Dallas Eater. Sorry mom, but there’s a new Boss in town and your homemade grilled cheese sandwiches are fired! Another popular item is the Italian Hippy (grilled chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto on whole grain wheat), but you can also get a sweet twist with the Nutella Nirvana (Nutella and frosting on sourdough topped with cinnamon sugar). Since Ruthie’s is always on the go, you can check out Ruthie’s Rolling Café schedule to find out where Ruthie will be rolling next.


Photos by Janelle Giordano. Infographic by Janelle Giordano. Map by Janelle Giordano. 


Sweet Treats: Best Ice Cream, Cupcake and Donut Shops in Dallas

FoodMood is all about finding the best restaurants in Dallas that cater to your ever-changing food cravings.  Whether you’re looking for something green or greasy, fried or frosted, FoodMood is on the hunt to provide readers with different food options to satisfy their everyday “food mood.”

I don’t eat sweets very often, so when I do, I want the best. Not a cup of frozen yogurt or a handful of M&Ms … I want to indulge in a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece of sugar. This week, I found three must-try sweet spots in Dallas that specialize in sweet treats and are sure to satisfy your sugary food mood.

Pokey O’s: For SMU students looking for a sweet escape from schoolwork, this one’s for you. Named one of the 10 best ice cream shops in Dallas by Thrillist, Pokey O’s is serving up a must-try cookie and ice cream sandwich. This double dessert combination guarantees double the sweet-tooth satisfaction. You can choose from 13 kinds of cookies and 15 flavors of ice cream to build your dream sandwich. Oh, and to make it even sweeter, the ice cream is a Texas favorite — Blue Bell! So, the next time you get bombarded with projects and tests, remember that stressed spelled backwards is desserts and Pokey O’s is your dessert destination for a stress-relieving sweet treat!

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The Original Cupcakery: It takes a lot of prestige to be the official cupcake of anything. So when I learned this Uptown cupcake shop was the “Official Cupcake” of SEVERAL performing arts organizations in DFW, I knew I had to give it a try. I decided to order six different cupcakes to get a true taste of these celebrated treats. My favorite was the Banana Cream cupcake: a vanilla cupcake filled with banana pudding and topped with a Nilla wafer … it was like an entire dessert baked into one cupcake! With over 30 unique flavors, it’s no surprise that this shop is named one of the 15 best places for cupcakes in Dallas. And if the plethora of options isn’t enough to peak your interest, you can also enjoy a bit of “Decadence with Elegance,” pairing your favorite cupcake with a glass of wine or champagne. Located in the heart of Uptown, The Original Cupcakery offers an elegant ending to a nice dinner or sweet start to a night out.

Hypnotic Donuts: If you’re wondering where to stuff your face with Dallas’ finest donuts, look no further than Hypnotic Donuts. I took one glance at the donuts they were dishing out and immediately understood where the name came from. I spent more time mesmerized by the pure artistry and creativity of these donuts than I did eating them. While you can order the traditional glazed and chocolate iced donuts, it’s the Hypnotic originals like “Evil Elvis” (donut topped with peanut butter, banana, bacon and honey) and “Canadian Healthcare” (long john donut topped with maple icing, a strip of bacon and syrup) that give this place well-deserved recognition as one of the 15 best places for donuts in Dallas by Foursquare.


Eugene Massad, a Dallas local, visits Hypnotic Donuts regularly for a sweet start to his day.

“Donuts are one of my favorite breakfast foods and I love being able to choose from a really crazy variety,” said Massad. “To me, this is definitely the best donut shop in Dallas.”

I decided to “Expresso [My]self” and order the chocolate donut covered in coffee icing and topped with fresh ground coffee. Talk about the perfect combination of my favorite breakfast treat and drink. If you need a pick-me-up to endure the inevitable Dallas traffic on your way to work, Hypnotic Donuts is the best place to turn an ordinary rush hour into a sugar-rush hour.

Photos by Janelle Giordano. Infographic by Janelle Giordano. Map by Janelle Giordano.

A True Taste of Texas: Best Burger, Tacos and Barbecue in Dallas

FoodMood is all about finding the best restaurants in Dallas that cater to your ever-changing food cravings.  Whether you’re looking for something green or greasy, fried or frosted, FoodMood is on the hunt to provide readers with different food options to satisfy their everyday “food mood.”

The saying is true for me that “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” Living in a major city like Dallas, I quickly found out that there are as many food choices as there are miles across the state. This week, however, I wanted to feature some of the most popular foods in Texas. Whether you’re craving a juicy burger, traditional tacos, or old-fashioned barbecue, these three stops offer the best flavors of the Lone Star State and are sure to satisfy any Texas-style food mood.

Keller’s Drive-In: Nothing screams Texas quite like a double meat burger topped with cheese, onions, and the official dish of Texas…chili. Add a side of tater tots and a large Dr. Pepper, and you’ll know what they mean by everything is bigger in Texas. Named one of Dallas’ 15 essential burger destinations by Dallas Eater, Keller’s Drive-In is dishing out all the big tastes of Texas without the big price tag. I ordered this true Texas-tasting meal for less than $7! That price tag alone had me hootin’ and hollerin’! The burger was hot, greasy, covered in chili and full of Texas-sized satisfaction for my Texas-sized appetite. Keller’s has a classic drive-in atmosphere with covered parking and car-hop trays for the ultimate dine-in experience under the bright Texas skies.

Fuel City: If you’re visiting Dallas for the first time, a trip to Fuel City may be just another pit stop. But for locals, this mega gas station is the tac-o of the town. Voted one of the 15 best places for tacos in Dallas by Foursquare, you can fill up while you fuel up. Customers line up in front of the small ordering window to get their hands on some of the best street tacos in Dallas, including the picadillo taco, which was named one of 10 must-try tacos in Dallas by Zagat. Lauren Mills, a DFW local, has been a fan of Fuel City tacos for years.

“I first tried them when I was 16 and now, four years later, every time I’m in Dallas I come here just for the tacos.”

For only $1.62 per taco, I decided to order a combination of beef fajita, chicken fajita and of course, the award winning picadillo taco. The meat was perfectly tender and spiced with just the right amount of seasoning to give you a true taste of Texas. And if that’s not enough, you can enjoy your tacos on the patio where a perfect view of the longhorns and donkeys next door will give you the total Texas ambiance.

Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse: If you’re not drooling just thinking about true Texas barbecue, take one step into Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. The savory smell of chicken, brisket and ribs being cooked to perfection behind the counter will just about knock you off your feet.


This well-known barbecue restaurant opened its doors in 1958 at the original location on Inwood Road in Dallas. Sonny Bryan’s family history coupled with vintage school desks gives local pitmasters a good reason to give it honorable mention recognition on the list of Dallas’ 12 best BBQ joints according to Thrillist. I decided to venture away from my typical barbecue order of pork and brisket, deciding on the large rib dinner with French fries. The ribs were perfectly tender, smothered in sauce and the best representation of good ‘ole Texas ‘cue that had me wanting to boot scootin’ boogie ‘til dusk!

Photos by Janelle Giordano. Infographic by Janelle Giordano. Map by Janelle Giordano. 

Best Happy Hour Deals in Dallas


FoodMood is all about finding the best restaurants in Dallas that cater to your ever-changing food cravings.  Whether you’re looking for something green or greasy, fried or frosted, FoodMood is on the hunt to provide readers with different food options to satisfy their everyday “food mood.”


This week, I was on the hunt for the best food deals in Dallas. While discounts on drinks always make for a “happy hour,” any discount on food is, to me, the happiest hour. After some research into the best deals in Dallas, I’ve compiled a list of three restaurants with unbeatable happy hour deals on food that will satisfy both your wallet and your food mood.

img_4217Kona Grill: If you love sushi, then you’ll love the amazing deals Kona Grill has to offer. Voted one of the 21 best happy hours in Dallas by D Magazine, you can get discounted food and drinks every day of the week. Yes, every single day! Happy hour deals at Kona Grill include half-priced sushi and appetizers, as well as a variety of discounted beer, wine, cocktails and sake.



I decided to take full advantage of this money-saving sushi deal and ordered an appetizer and 5 rolls, all of which were just as delicious as any full-priced roll at an authentic sushi restaurant. Katherine Hegarty, a Dallas local, was enjoying her first happy hour at Kona Grill when I spoke to her.

“This is actually my first time here, but it definitely won’t be my last,” said Hegarty. “The food is fantastic and the prices are even better.”

The bar and outdoor patio have open-seating for all happy hour guests. Located inside NorthPark Center in Dallas, Kona Grill is the perfect way to end an afternoon of shopping.




Paul Martin’s American Grill: At this upscale restaurant in Turtle Creek, you can get your hands on one of the best burger deals in Dallas. Also named one of the 21 best happy hours in Dallas by D Magazine, Paul Martin’s American Grill has an incredible deal on their bistro cheeseburger. For just $13, you get the burger, fries, and your choice of any handcrafted draft beer.


I paired this juicy deal with the grilled maple cider chicken skewers, another happy hour menu item, satisfying both my palate and my wallet. Paul Martin’s happy hour specials are offered every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. This restaurant also offers open-seating at the bar for happy hour guests. The elegant interior makes it a great place to end a long day at the office or kick-start a night out with friends.



img_4229High Fives: I took the name of this restaurant and bar literally when I found out about the happy hour deals offered here…high fives all around! Named one of 13 Dallas happy hours with deliciously cheap food by Dallas Eater, High Fives offers $5 sandwiches, beer, wine and cocktails Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and all day Tuesday.

While $5 drinks are a great bargain, what got my attention were the discounted sandwiches! The High Fives menu offers a wide variety from seared tuna to prime roast beef and even a winter squash for veggie lovers.


Guests can enjoy their discounted food and drinks on the outdoor, dog-friendly patio. High Fives also offers live music on Thursdays and a DJ on Fridays, making it a great hangout spot for a fun-filled evening.


All photos by Janelle Giordano. Infographics by Janelle Giordano. Map by Janelle Giordano.

Best Breakfast Stops in Dallas


FoodMood is all about finding the best restaurants in Dallas that cater to your ever-changing food cravings.  Whether you’re looking for something green or greasy, fried or frosted, FoodMood is on the hunt to provide readers with different food options to satisfy their everyday “food mood.”


Aside from being recognized as “the most important meal of the day,” breakfast can offer a wide variety of food choices to start your day off right.  Whether you prefer a sweet or savory start to your day, I’ve found three must-try breakfast stops in Dallas that are sure to satisfy your food mood.

Cafe Brazil:  For the all-day breakfast lovers, this one’s for you.  Voted one of Dallas’ best breakfasts by Dallas Eater, Cafe Brazil is a must-try for locals and tourists.

The restaurant might not look like much from the outside, but inside the chefs are serving up an authentic Brazilian breakfast that keeps the weekend brunch crowds piling in.  There are several locations around the metroplex, but this one is open 24/7, making breakfast an option at any hour.  If you’re looking for a taste of South America with the traditional migas, or your sweet tooth is calling for a tall stack of peanut butter cup pancakes, this is your place for any kind of breakfast food mood .

And of course, you can’t indulge in one of the best breakfasts in Dallas without a bottomless coffee bar full of unconventional flavors!  For just $2.79, you can enjoy an endless cup of coffee, choosing from seven different flavors daily.

This small but mighty restaurant caters to all kinds of clientele throughout the day.  Whether you’re a business professional starting your day at 6 a.m. or a college student needing a pick-me-up after a late night out, Cafe Brazil has your breakfast cravings any time, any day.

Start:  As a recent collegiate athlete, I think a lot about nutrition when it comes to food.  I’m pretty picky and always on the lookout for the healthiest restaurants in Dallas, which is why Start has become one of my go-to breakfast stops.

Known for their service of “real food fast,” the restaurant offers a variety of healthy meals, made from locally grown organic ingredients.  My favorite item on the breakfast menu is the egg white and veggie burrito.  It’s packed with fresh ingredients that not only make me feel good, but keep me satisfied all morning.

And for the days when your alarm clock isn’t the best at convincing you to get out of bed on time,  you can order at the drive-thru without having to sacrifice nutrition from lack of time.  Talk about a great START to your day.

Rusty Taco:  If you’re in the mood for a true Texas breakfast, look no further than Rusty Taco.  Voted the best breakfast tacos in Dallas by D Magazine, this taco shop serves their famous breakfast tacos all day.

You can find the usual bacon, egg and cheese taco, but for a real taste of Texas, you have to try the brisket and beef fajita breakfast tacos.  img_4156For only $2.50 each, you can mix and match a variety of combinations to satisfy your palate.  I spoke with Colin Gilbert, an Arizona native spending the weekend in Dallas, who said that the breakfast tacos were his ideal meal for a Texas breakfast.

“Nothing says Texas quite like a barbecue brisket breakfast taco,” said Gilbert.

Converted into a restaurant from an old gas station, Rusty Taco offers a nice outdoor patio space, giving customers both the taste and feel of all that Texas has to offer.

All photos taken by Janelle Giordano.  Map created by Janelle Giordano.