365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
The plan was perfect. Grace was working overnight at the hospital and we were trying to get more restaurants from Dallas into the mix. So not only would I add another Dallas restaurant, I would get some husband brownie points for delivery dinner to my overworked wife. So, first, me and the kids would go to Big D’s Dogs on Greenville for a tasty hot dog (and maybe a shake). Then, we’d head literally a few doors down to Izmir Deli to deliver the goods to the wife.
I was beaming with pride from the idea as I drove down to lower Greenville. Being Tuesday night, there was some lack of parking due to $2 Tuesdays at Cafe Izmir. Aside: It’s the same owners but this one doesn’t count as the same restaurant in case you we wondering. We WILL be reviewing that one sooner or later. In any event, this required I circle the block. As I drove past what should have been the location of what the Dallas Observer called the “Best Hot Dogs” the sign did not appear to be there. At first, I brushed this off. I wasn’t paying THAT much attention. Mina had just mentioned that her new kindergarten teacher said, “If your mommy or daddy is driving and on the phone or not looking forward you’ll go BOOM!” So I was paying attention to the road for the most part.
I found parking on a side street and we loaded up. I had to carry Benji and keep a short leash on Mina as walking in this area isn’t the safest for a child due to the traffic and not so hot or non-existent sidewalks in places. I opted to leave Benji’s seat because I recalled it didn’t fit on the table at Big D’s and I was short a third hand.
Mina remembered this place and went straight to the right door, but, apparently my eyes did not decieve me. Big D’s was no more. Mina said, “Is the hot dog place gone?” Yes, Mina. A real shame. Their hot dogs were quite good and the garlic fries were outstanding. ”Maybe they have another place?” Mina said. I don’t think so Mina. And now I am certain they don’t after a bit of Googling. What luck! This is the second time since we started this a few weeks back that I went solo to a restaurant we had previously enjoyed and it turned out to be closed permanently. At least my plan to deliver food to Grace provided me with a backup.
So we fast forwarded the plan to the part where we walked a few door down to Izmir Deli. As luck would have it they had expanded their menu to include a Frankfurter which I ordered for the kids. I opted for a Gyro with a small Greek Salad. I had to add the obligatory Turkish Coffee (more on that later). I went ahead and ordered Grace’s food so we could get to the hospital and back home at a reasonable hour. She’d be getting the Gyro as well but with a side of Hummus and some warm pita bread to go with it. I got ziziki sauce on mine but you can get the Gyro with hummus as well. Grace got the hummus (more on the hummus later too). The lady behind the counter suggested a cookie for the kids. Why not? A “carrot” to get Mina to eat her veggies, which tonight would be part of my salad (much like last night). I was also betting Benji would be done eating long before Mina and the cookie would buy me some additional time.
Mina picked a table while I ordered and gave her teddy bear a seat. She happens to be obsessing about this one, in particular, this week. I’d been here before and never noted a high chair but the lady behind the counter asked one of the guys behind the counter to go fetch one before I asked. I had just assumed I would be eating with Benji in my lap tonight.
I sat down and grabbed the IQ Test. You know the thing; the wooden triangle with pegs in it. Mina was intrigued and so was Benji. Mina wanted to know how to play and Benji just wanted to keep pulling out and putting back in the pegs. Too bad there was only one. I had to promise to show her how to play once Benji was preoccupied with food. A verbal explanation didn’t get me too far. As luck was have it, our food wasn’t far behind this conversation.
Mina’s frankfurter arrived sandwich style; split into quarters on bread. I selected some leaves of lettuce from my salad for Mina and took half of the sandwich for Benji. I broke it into very small pieces as I was properly trained by Dr. Mommy. Benji threw aside the bread and went for the frankfurter. ”mo-mo” was his immediate response. Must be pretty good. I tried a bite just to make sure. Mina was busy fretting over her salad and had only taken 2 bites of her sandwich by the time Benji had devoured the entire other half of the hot dog. Uh-oh! I am going to need more than the cookie. I give him some potato chips which only briefly keeps him entertained. I finish my meal and attempt to get him to eat the bread again as my Turkish coffee arrives. Benji wants some but he won’t be getting any.
The toast trick doesn’t last long and I have to go get the cookie when I finish the coffee. I break off some chunks and hand it over to Benji. I prod Mina to eat her meal before the cookie is gone. She does a great job with the salad and finishes off most of her hot dog, if a bit slowly. I give her the other half of the cookie and Benji is already done with his. He wants Mina’s half bad. As luck would have it, Mina apparently does not like Greek butter cookies so she gave hers to Benji. This worked out great. Now we had Benji preoccupied while we waited for Grace’s food and I’d have some time to teach Mina the IQ Test.
Grace’s food arrived just as Benji was beginning to scream, “dow”. Mina finished up her first try ever at the IQ Test with 3 pegs left. Not bad at all considering my highly rudimentary training. Sometimes I don’t do that well. So I appease Benji and get him down with the last of his cookie. It’s the same routine back to the car except this time Mina had to put her hand in my pocket as we walked (Grace’s food was in the other).
End result: mission accommplished!
Total cost: $32.58
Izmir Deli is a great, small, casual eating spot. I used to get this to-go all the time when I lived a block off Greenville. They have some of the items from Cafe Izmir, such as the always fantastic hummus. I promise you’ve never had hummus this good. Their Gyro is also fantastic. They add either hummus or ziziki along with tomato, lettuce, and a pickle. You probably never expected a pickle wrapped in you Gyro, but it works. Their Greek salad is fresh with some great feta. Even Mina liked it. Their pita bread is great here, as well. Their is a wide selection of items that can easily feed your kids, but the quarters are cramped if you are eating in (might call this a plus since your kids will have few, if any, guests to bother). They’ll have to pull the high chair out of storage for you so I don’t think they get much toddler traffic. Everything can be made to go except the Turkish coffee and they even deliver, if you live somewhere nearby.
This is a walkup counter deli. They’ll bring your food out and get you a refill as time permits but pretty much a do-it-yourself experience.
OK, I promised more on the Turkish coffee and hummus. We’ll start with the hummus. My friend, David Sheehan, originally introduced me to Cafe Izmir probably 10 years ago now. There are now quite a few of our favorites that I can attribute to him, which we will be reviewing in the coming weeks. He’s got good taste. Anyhow, I had gone there with friends and it was outstanding. Most notable was the hummus. It is the creamiest hummus you have ever tasted. Now, I liked hummus to begin with, but Grace did not at all. I opted to take her here one evening and told her we had to get hummus. ”I don’t like hummus,” was the expected response. ”You haven’t had THIS hummus.” Sure enough, she was hooked from the first dip. To this day, it is the one and only hummus she likes. And she LOVES it. I just brought her 8 oz. of it with her Gyro to snack on at work.
And now the coffee. I am a coffee snob. I love good coffee. The Turkish coffee here is not for your average coffee drinker. This is raw unfiltered coffee. It comes in a two ounce espresso cup and it is THICK. You have to swirl it a bit to keep the coffee grounds from settling or you last sip will be all coffee grounds. It may sound like this would not be very tasty, but this cup of coffee is creamy and just lightly sweet enough. In short order, Izmir Deli became my coffee savior from the Starbucks down the street I had been relegated to while living off Greenville. I went daily. Eventually, one of the owners gave me the recipe. He was more than happy to. I wondered why. It seemed simple enough. Just coffee and whole milk (strangely no sugar). I went home and tried to make it. My version was nasty. I tried again and again. Every time was a strike. My friends tried and failed. No one could make it right. A few attempts were passable but eventually we all gave up and now the recipe is lost to time. I leave it to the professionals now.
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!