Everyone's going locavore these days, which in layman's terms means eating food grown within a hundred-mile-or-so radius from your homestead, if not from your actual foodshed. When it comes to restaurants, I'm all about "local-vore"; in other words, where do the locals like to dine? Fortunately, a few months back, D Magazine made the process much easier when they came up with their extensive list of the Best Neighborhood Restaurants. You can rest assured that your most knowledgeable food critics dine at these places. I'm referring to the bus drivers, local constabulary, and hotel personnel who don't have the time or money to waste on mediocre food.
When planning my Grapevine road trips, I first consulted this learned missive, then made my selections appropriately. Speaking of which, I still refer to these lengthy, twenty-minute drives as roadtrips because as my lovely wife the Rock Star so succiently put it, "Every time we go to Grapevine, I feel like we're on vacation!" So true. And so, by her special request, we once again made the grueling trip to historic Main Street Downtown Grapevine.
SU VINO WINERY
Yes, it is possible to visit Grapevine without stopping by a winery. But, in my view, it is as unthinkable to do so as to travel to Boston or Seattle and not eat seafood. Parking can sometimes be an issue when visiting downtowns; not so at Su Vino, which has a smallish lot behind its historic-strip-mall location. When we walked inside, we immediately noticed the dim lighting. As it turns out, this was not mere ambience, the power was out. (It was restored about twenty minutes into our visit, much to our chagrin.) After waiting a bit for spots to open up at the bar, we perused the "Five wines for $5" tasting menu and began making our selections. Su vino means "your wine" and they advertise themselves as the first custom winery in the Southwest. They are set up on the D'Vine Wine concept, which allows patrons to make their own, if they are so interested. If this sounds too time-consuming and labor-intensive to you, do not fret, as they have a number of ready-made, award-winning selections as well. My wife and I tried five wines each, everything from an almond champagne (What a tasty idea!) to a ruby port, and each selection was delightful for both of us. (Well, almost: My bride thought that Su Vino's malbec "smelled and tasted like feet" whereas I thought the nose was merely a little musty, but the taste was rather light and spicy for this usually-intense varietal.) Our favorites were the Island Paradise, a fruity-but-dry sauvignon blanc infused with kiwi, and a fabulous syrah, which will be dealt with in an upcoming review. The tag-team service was very knowledgeable and friendly, and we bought a bottle of the Island Paradise for leisurely consumption on the premises, a practice I really enjoy and highly encourage, as it's a most pleasant way to spend an hour or two. Website is http://www.suvinowinery.com/.
Both relaxed and energized from our tasting, my wife and I took a leisurely walk down Main Street, watching the people and gawking at all the buildings with historical markers. Soon enough, we were ready for dinner.
BIG FISH SEAFOOD GRILL & BAR
Even though I prefer to judge a place as unique and standing on its own merits, it's hard not to notice the similarities between Big Fish and the Rockfish/Fish City Grill chains, from the narrow storefronts right down to the ubiquitous waffle fries. When we entered, there was plenty of space available, but the place quickly filled up with both tourists and locals as we dined. We started with crab cakes and they were the standouts of our repast: Plenty of crab with little filler, and a truly flavorful olive aioli to accompany it; the remoulade which was also offered was merely very good, not spicy enough in my opinion. The Rock Star selected a combo dinner with very good grilled shrimp (plus the usual cocktail-and-tartar accompaniments) and excellent, tempura-tasting fried catfish which was delightfully light and crunchy. She was less enamoured of the jalapeno hushpuppies, preferring the old-school plain variety, and enjoyed her waffle fries.
I selected the shrimp marinara, which was also light and full of fresh zucchini, squash, and peppers, as well as shrimp and linguini. It was very good, however I found the marinara a little watery for my taste. Service was efficient, and I boxed up my leftovers for later consumption; my bride had not left anything on her plate worth boxing. Website is http://www.bigfishonmain.com/.
Overall, a marvelous day, and of course we vowed to visit Grapevine again, as there are wineries, restaurants, and charm enough to warrant furthur roadtrips. Have your own local vacation soon, and remember:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!