Lana Del Rey Brought the Fandom to Grand Prairie, Texas [Review]

Lana Del Rey - West Coast Single

Disclaimer 1: I am a Lana Del Rey fan

Disclaimer 2: I am a singer

When I first heard Lana Del Rey’s breakout single “Video Games” I have to admit…I wasn’t completely sold, but I was definitely intrigued. Her seductive tone and alto range was different and refreshing next to the powerhouse vocal stylings we’ve seemingly come to expect from female pop vocalists. She’s no Beyonce or Ariana Grande, she’s Lana. And the throng of screeching teenage girls at Wednesday night’s show proved that Lana doesn’t need to prove herself to anyone.

Lana Del Rey - Dallas Review

From the time she sauntered onstage in a simple, off the shoulder red dress with no shoes to the first line out of her mouth, “My pussy tastes like pepsi-cola”, the 6,000 sold-out theater erupted as if Harry Styles had taken his shirt off and pledged to make out with one lucky fan in attendance. I don’t even remember Justin Timberlake receiving this kind of response when I saw him in Houston a few months back. One thing is for sure, Lana’s fans could care less about her lackluster SNL performance that sent critics in a frenzy claiming the luscious lipped songstress was done, or that every news outlet in North Texas is criticizing her simplistic, haunting (and yes, somewhat pitchy) vocal abilities. So back to disclaimer 1. Yes, I am a fan, maybe not the shaking-until-I-lose-my-mind-rush-out-and-get-lip-injections type of fan, but a fan nonetheless. I was enthralled. She did what she does best. She drew the audience in with her hypnotic voice and dark songs of love, drugs and freedom.

Lana Del Rey - Dallas Review

The reasoning for disclaimer 2, I have a big voice, and I love big voices. I grew up on the likes of Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and had a choir director mother who sang her guts out on stage from the moment I was conceived. It’s easy to criticize a singer like Lana for not being “big enough” and for not delivering the show stopping performance we’ve come to expect from over the top performers like Lady Gaga and most of her pop predecessors. Yes, Lana comes across as incredibly shy onstage. Almost to the point of awkwardness, but her songs resonate, and to me, there’s nothing more important.

Lana Del Rey - Dallas Review

Getting down into the pit of fans, taking selfies and signing autographs mid-show, it’s obvious Lana loves her supporters, in fact, I would say she feeds off of it. Some would call it self-indulgent, and maybe it is, but it added to Lana’s Old-Hollywood persona that she has so perfectly crafted. From images of Marilyn Monroe to the celebrity images from her “Video Games” video, there’s a charm and mystery to Lana that eludes most artists in today’s celebrity culture.

“I feel really lucky to be singing in front of you,” she said to the thousands of screaming fans, “because there’s a connection, and you get it.”

And a connection there was…more than most shows I see. Lana fans relate and Lana loves to connect with her fans. So in my opinion, she did exactly what she set out to do Wednesday night. Put on an amazing show for her fans.

Dallas Set List:

  • Cola
  • Body Electric
  • Blue Jeans
  • West Coast
  • Born to Die
  • Young and Beautiful
  • Carmin
  • Gods & Monsters
  • Summertime Sadness
  • Video Games
  • Millions Dollar Man
  • Radio
  • National Anthem

Imagine Dragons Ticket Giveaway – South Side Ballroom

Imagine Dragons

A year after their major label release, Night Visions,  Imagine Dragons show no signs of slowing down. With a world tour booked through December the Las Vegas based quartet is having the best year of their career. Coming off the heels of mega hits like “It’s Time”, “Radioactive” and “Demons”, Imagine Dragons is in no hurry to rush into the studio to record their sophomore album.

“I think ‘Night Visions” has a lot of breath and life left in it,” frontman Dan Reynolds tells “I think it’s going to go on for a little while more. And we’re having a problem where we keep saying, ‘Alright, we’re going to take, like, a month off’ and then we get an offer to play throughout South America and wherever else. We know we have all these fans waiting for us to play there, so we can either take that month off or go play for those people, and we just keep saying ‘yes,’ for better or for worse. And it’s probably for better because we get to take our music to more places. There’s no rest, but we’ll save the rest for when we’re old and gray and try to do everything while we’re still young and have the means to be able to do it. We know this is a gift, and we really, really do appreciate it.”

With over 148 million YouTube views and a slew of covers, Imagine Dragons fans are definitely feeling the love. From playing 6-hour sets in casinos on the Las Vegas strip to sold out venues all over the world, Dan Reynolds, D. Wayne Sermon, Daniel “Z” Platzman, and Ben McKee are enjoying their success on the road.

“This is what we live for as a band, playing to an audience that’s never seen us before,” Reynolds says.

The boys will be playing two sold out shows at the South Side Ballroom in Dallas this weekend and I have two tickets to give away for Friday’s show.  All you have to do is leave a comment below with the name of  your favorite Imagine Dragons song. For two additional entries head over to Facebook and follow the band and tweet this post with the hashtag #nightvisionstour. The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!

Cinco de Mayo: A Few of My Favorite Things

For all you history buffs out there Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the “The Day of the Battle of Puebla” and an opportunity to celebrate the pride and freedom of the Hispanic population. Contrary to popular belief it is not Mexico’s Independence Day which is actually celebrated in September. [Thank you Wikipedia for those nuggets of information.]

For me, Cinco de Mayo means a day to celebrate two of my favorite things, Mexican Food and Margaritas, or for anyone…another excuse to spend Saturday afternoon drinking the day away on your favorite patio.

So for today’s post I thought I’d break down what makes Mexican food so amazing. Let’s get to it.

Flavors: I wouldn’t consider myself a Mexican food connoisseur, but merely an obsessed fan of the flavors that make the popular cuisine a favorite down in the south, particularly Texas. The onions, garlic, spices, peppers…it’s a flavor explosion in every bite! Now when I’m talking about Mexican food I’m referring to Tex-Mex. I’ve had my share of “authentic” Mexican cuisine, but not enough to consider myself any kind of an expert.

Authentic Mexican Food vs. Tex-Mex: It’s been my experience that the most differentiating factor in Tex-Mex is our love for cheddar cheese and sour cream. Rarely do I find oodles of cheesy and creamy goodness in authentic Mexican fare. Another difference is our use of meat and chicken as opposed to seafood. Now I’m not saying you won’t find meat and seafood in authentic dishes, you certainly do, but I’ve found a lot more seafood when I’ve eaten Mexican food outside of Texas. Oh and cactus! I’ve never tried it and don’t ever see it on Dallas menus, but I would love to try the prickly treat.

So getting back to the flavors that make my mouth water at every plate of steaming fajitas or spicy salsa, I have to give credit to the mighty pepper! I’m a heat freak. One of those people that will make themselves sweat and practically miserable just to get that rush of heat. A daredevil of sorts…in a culinary sense. So what are my favs…lets jump ahead shall we.

Peppers: Jalapenos, Serrano Chiles, spicy Habanero’s…I love them all. The more heat packed into that gorgeous colorful flesh the better. When I’m cooking Mexican food at home these are my go to peppers along with my new fav, the delicious and sweet Red Bell Pepper.

Red Bell Pepper – the mildest of the four these lovely peppers omit a beautiful sweet flavor whether cooked or uncooked. Whether you’re roasting and stuffing it or simply julienne it for a salad, this versatile pepper is a kitchen staple all year long.

Jalapenos – this chile will give you a much stronger kick then the mild bell pepper, but it’s punch isn’t harsh enough to burn out even the most sensitive heat seeker. Roast it up, saute it with your fajitas, or just bite into it like a pickle – whenever I need my heat fix this is my go to pepper.

Serrano Chiles – I turn to these thin and long ladies for my spicy fire roasted salsa because they offer a bit more kick then their jalapeno brothers, but not quite the hit as a habanero. If I’m making the salsa for myself then I’ll do a mix of serrano, jalapeno, and habanero…apparently I like my mouth to be set on fire!

Habanero – a quick tip: the smaller the pepper, the hotter it will be. Habanero’s aren’t the spiciest peppers, but they definitely rank high on the Scoville Scale. They’re perfect if you want to add a hit of spice that settles warmly in the back of your throat with every bite. Damn I’m getting hungry!

Spices: And now for my favorite part, the spices. Cumin and Chile Powder are the stand-out spices that complete a tasty Mexican dish. Cumin is such a versatile spice. Another popular spice in Indian cuisine, it provides a warmth and flavor element that is truly unique.

I can’t dismiss the most predominant flavor in Mexican food, cilantro. Again, a very versatile herb found in Mexican and Indian dishes, this earthly beauty brightens up any dish whether it’s swimming in a sea of spicy peppers, oil popping in a fajita dish, or the sinfully lard filled refried bean, you can’t go wrong with Cilantro. Side note: I’ve met a few people that despise the leafy green…I don’t understand you.

Recipes: If you follow Sarah’s Musical Kitchen then you are well aware of my obsession with Mexican food. Here are 5 of my favorite blog recipes to date:

Flautas with Adobo Chile Crema

Taco Packets with Avocado Crema

Grilled Avocado with Black Bean Corn Salsa

Spicy Fire Roasted Salsa

Weight Watchers Healthy Beef and Bean Tacos

Restaurants: Back in 2010 I wrote a post about my Top 10 Mexican Food Restaurants in the DFW area. For the most part my list has stayed true, with a few minor changes. Instead of creating another top 10 here’s what I consider the key to a stellar Mexican food joint!

Chips & Salsa: If a restaurant doesn’t have good chips and salsa I won’t be coming back. My favorite thing about going out to eat Mexican food is indulging on the salty and spicy goodness of fried corn and spicy pureed tomatoes. Mi Cocina still holds the torch for best chips and salsa in my book. The chips are the perfect level of thickness and are always served hot and fresh and the salsa steels the show in my opinion. You can still taste the tomato goodness but feel the fiery punch of the peppers. Mi Cocina gets a bad rap for not being “authentic” enough, but compare this salsa next to anyone else in the DFW area and I think it’s no contest!

Tacos: If you would have told me 5 years ago that the best tacos in town were out of a truck stop/gas station, I would have questioned your cleanliness and mocked your culinary prowess. Okay maybe I wouldn’t have taken it that far…the point is, I’m a LOT more opened minded these days. So after all the buzz around DFW’s “Best Taco Spot” I had to drop in and give it a try.

Greasy, flavorful, and small enough to inhale at least 4 in a setting, Fuel City Tacos undoubtedly are the best “street-style” tacos I’ve had! These little tacos topped with onions and cilantro aren’t fussy, aren’t trying to be the most creative tacos in the city, they just revel in their simplicity and amazing flavor!

Try them, love them….and bring plenty of cash because you’ll definitely go back for seconds!

Fajitas: If you want a combination of chicken, beef, and lobster…yes that’s right, lobster, then you have to try the Cadillac Platter from Uncle Julio’s. It’s a bit pricier then most fajita platters but it feeds two easily and the flavor’s are off the charts. Before you stuff your flour tortillas take a heaping fork of chicken, beef, and lobster then dip it in the warm drawn butter…HEAVEN!

Queso: I love discovering new hole in the wall joints, especially when I discover they serve the best queso in Dallas. Apparently queso dip isn’t very wide spread outside of Texas and Oklahoma so let me break it down for you. It’s creamy white or yellow cheese sauteed with a mix of onions and tomatoes and often served with taco meat, sour cream and guacamole. Holy Frijoles keeps it simple yet I walk away wondering everytime…what the hell do they put in their queso. It’s meaty and flavorful, yet there’s no meat in the cheese and it looks relatively simple. It’s perfection actually, and no words will do it the justice it deserves.

Margarita: This is a hot topic and one I’m sure people will disagree with me on. To me the best Margarita in Dallas is the Mambo Taxi at Taco Diner. There’s a reason there’s a 3 drink limit…they will knock you off your bar stool.  The blend of frozen rita and fruity sangria is the perfect thirst quencher in the Texas heat. I’m warning you though, you might think you’re okay and demand another round, but trust me…pace yourself…you’ll thank yourself in the morning.

So Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. If you’re still with me after my outrageously long post, you rock. I’m heading out to wet my whistle with some sizzling fajitas and tangy margaritas before I go see the amazing Sarah Jaffe at the Granada Theater.

What are you Cinco de Mayo plans? Let me know in the comment field below!

Photo Credits: Plastic Jungle Blog, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, That Foodie Girl

Top 10 Mexican Food Restaurants

A few weeks ago I recognized something about myself…okay maybe not recognized, but came to terms with the fact that I am completely OBSESSED with mexican food! I have a few pounds that I’ve been trying to lose and realized that if I would just lay off the carb filled cuisine for a few weeks I just might reach my goal. SO I made the very harsh decision to boycott my favorite food in the entire world for two weeks. When I told Matt (my husband) he responded immediately…”NO WAY…you can’t do it”. Everyone else in my life pretty much agreed that this might be impossible for me to achieve. Thankfully, Matt was there to participate with me on this difficult adventure.

I would say I eat mexican food about 2-3 times a week, go through about 2 bags of chips, and a large container of homemade salsa a week. This is a normal week. There have been times where I’ve eaten it 3-4 days in a row, and when I actually worked in a mexican food restaurant and ate for free…well…you get the point. No other cuisine touches every inch of my taste buds like mexican food does. I absolutely love spicy food, so the more peppers there are…raw, cooked..doesn’t matter to me..the better! Continue reading

A Culinary Masterpiece

Sunday night Matt and I had the pleasure of dining at Stephan Pyles in downtown Dallas and it was absolutely decadent. For those of you who have followed my posts I’m sure it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Southwest and Mexican Cuisine are my absolute favs. So what better way to spend Valentine’s Day then with one of the founding fathers of Southwest Cuisine!

We usually reserve either Valentine’s Day or our Anniversary to spend at an ultra swanky restaurant that we’ve always wanted to try. Stephan Pyles was definitely one of those places. I’ve been to quite a few 5 star steak houses and they have been absolutely delicious, but this was my first true culinary experience. The creativity in the food was so exceptional that I was literally left speechless. Continue reading

Ye Ole’ Boston

My husband and I went to Boston in December and had the most amazing time. It was such a wonderful trip and I can’t say enough good things about the city of Boston. The highlight of the trip was definitely the amazing seafood, most of all, the Lobster!

Living in Dallas the extent of my Lobster feasting is when Central Market or Sprouts has a sale on Lobster tails. I rarely order it out because of the considerable cost. We probably ate it in some capacity every day of the trip, but my favorite were the Lobster Rolls!! I had never had one until Boston and now I’m officially hooked. The only problem is, where can I get a quality Lobster Roll in Dallas?

Well, I’ve heard of a few places that apparently have New England Style quality rolls, but that I will have to judge for myself. The first place Matt and I tried out was Sea Breeze Fish Market and Grill in Plano and I must say, everything was pretty tasty. The store is very charming with a distinct cafe feel. With their selection of fresh fish for purchase, small number of tables for dining, and a nice selection of beer and wine, the atmosphere lends to an enjoyable dining experience.

Sea Breeze was recently voted the Best Clam Chowder in Dallas by D Magazine and I definitely know why. We ordered a bowl to share for an appetizer and it was exceptional. It had that perfect level of creaminess and the clams were not too fishy at all. The ingredients were simple and very very tasty. It was the most authentic New England Clam Chowder we’ve had in Dallas for sure. It is a must try.

Now for the star, the Lobster Roll. I will start off by saying, I know I am not in Boston, so therefore I do not expect a Boston quality roll, but I hope to find one pretty damn close! At first site the amount of Lobster meat was reduced by half of what you get in New England. If there was the same amount of meat the $13.99 price would undoubtedly be doubled making it less attractive for a lunchtime meal. The bun was authentic and toasted to perfection, but my biggest complaint was the amount of butter. I am not one to say, you can never have enough butter. In fact, I prefer butter as a light backdrop of flavor, not the main attraction. It was so intense that at times it’s all I could taste. It felt like the lobster was fighting to push it’s flavor through. The meat itself tasted fresh and thankfully there wasn’t too much mayonnaise added to the mixture. Overall, I would give the Clam Chowder a 5 out of 5 and the Lobster Roll 3.5 stars out of 5. I will definitely go back to Sea Breeze. There were multiple things on the menu that made my mouth water. Now, I must scope out the next spot in my quest to find the best Lobster Roll in Dallas!

Boston Highlights

Hotel Marlowe 4 Stars

Thanks to our friend Eric for this great recommendation. The hotel was beautiful, the room was perfect, and the restaurant was delicious. Oh and the free cocktail happy hour was the icing on the cake. We will definitely stay there again!

Legal Sea Foods  5 Stars

Consumed: Clam Chowder, Lobster Bisque and the Seafood Trio Roll with lobster, crab, and shrimp

Verdict: 5 Stars on everything and the best Clam Chowder of the entire trip

Union Oyster House 4 Stars

Consumed: Fried Oysters, Clam Chowder, Lobster Newburg, Lobster Sampi

Verdict: 5 Stars for the oysters – the most succulent fried oysters I’ve ever had. 4 Stars for the Chowder and Scampi. 3.5 Stars for the Newburg – unfortunately it was so rich I could barely eat it, but don’t worry…no lobster was wasted!

Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub 4.25 Stars

Consumed: Soup of the Day, Clam Chowder, Fish and Chips

Verdict: 4 Stars for the soup – delish! 4.5 Stars for the Fish and Chips – the steak fries were amazing!!

Bambara 5 Stars

Consumed: Spicy Tuna Tartare and Grilled Flatbread with roasted garlic, goat cheese, oven dried cherry tomatoes, arugula, and aged fig vinegar!

Verdict: 5 Stars and unbelievable! We stopped in to have a quick appetizer before we headed in to Boston from Cambridge and it set our palets souring!! Amazing!

Tapeo Restaurant and Tapas Bar 4.5 Stars

Consumed: Scallops in Saffron Cream, delicious Stuffed Chicken with Sherry Cream Sauce, and Red Sangria!!

Verdict: 5 Stars for the Scallops – the Saffron Cream was decident! 4 Stars for the yummy chicken. 10 Stars 🙂 for the Sangria – love love loved the Sangria, so fruity and delicious!

The Blackstone Grill 4 Stars

Consumed: Fried Clams, Clam Chowder, Broiled Fisherman’s Platter with scrod, shrimp, lobster, and quohogs.

Verdict: 4 Stars for everything! Yet again we were not disappointed. The Fried Clams were delish and the broiled seafood was so fresh and succulent. They were out of scallops for the dish and our amazing waitress brought us out a side dish of lobster meat! This was a perfect example of the amazing hospitality we received in Boston the entire trip from waitresses, to our concierge, to people on the street that we asked for directions.

Pagliuca’s Restaurant 4.5 Stars

Consumed: Mussels, Caesar Salad, Traditional Lasagna, and Chicken Verdicchio

Verdict: 4 Stars for the Mussels – delicious but some of them didn’t taste 100 percent fresh. 5 Stars for the entrees – the best Lasagna and Chicken Verdicchio I’ve ever tasted!! The best Italian food I’ve ever had (in the States of course)!

Modern Pastry 5 Stars

Consumed: Ricotta Cannoli

Verdict: AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! 5 Stars a million times. The best cannoli I have ever tasted!! The perfect end to our last dinner of the trip.

Cisco Brew Pub in the Boston Airport 5 Stars

Consumed: Lobster Roll

Verdict: 5 Stars!! Believe it or not this was the best Lobster Roll of the trip…in the airport! God I love Boston!

I can’t forget to mention the pubs that quenched our thirst!

DropKick Murphy’s: Nothing screams Boston more than lobster, chowdah, and DropKick Murphy’s!

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