Cowboy Chow from Deep Ellum to Lower Greenville

Mockup of Food Truck Trailer Park Lower Greenville

Photo by Sarah Blaskovich

After recently closing the Deep Ellum location, Cowboy Chow is the restaurant leading the way in the development of a food truck trailer park is planned for Lower Greenville, which will start construction late this summer.

First announced by Madison Partners in November 2010, Arcadia Food Park is nearly ready to break ground for a tentative opening in early 2012. The concept is to have 6 semi-permanent trailers where the old Arcadia Theater (destroyed by a fire in 2006) used to be. Most of the trailers will emulate silver Airstreams and there may be variations of cool or funky Winnebagos. Because the trailers will be bolted down and considered to be buildings, Jonathon Hetzel and his team have secured the appropriate city and building permits.

The Food Truck Trailer Park or Arcadia Food Park will have seating for 150 to 200 people in an outdoor space of 6,300 square feet. PLlans are to have parking for approximately 60 cars, a common bathroom building (there will be a beer and wine trailer with taps coming out of the side!), a playground for kids and dog park.

Do you think this new project will thrive in Lower Greenville?
With the renovation and reinvention of the Historic Granada Theater (constructed in 1946 as a Movie House) in recent years as a major music venue (hosting many music acts that would have performed at the now defunct Gypsy Tea Room in Deep Ellum), the project is positioned near one of the, if not the most popular live music venue in Dallas.

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Cowboy Chow in Deep Ellum Closing

Cowboy Chow’s Deep Ellum location on Commerce St is being taken over by breakfast restaurant, Buzzbrews.


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Shootin’ Straight About Cowboy Chow in Roanoke,Texas

The Weekend Entertainer
March 15, 2011

First let me preface this review with the fact that I have never been someone who craves bar-b-cue. If we are going out to eat, bar-b-cue is the very last thing that crosses my mind. It isn’t that I don’t like it, in fact nothing says summer to me more than ribs and chicken on the grill, coated in a sugary, spicy sauce. I just prefer homemade bar-b-cue on a grill that’s all.

Since bar-b-cue restaurants are prevalent in the state of Texas, when one stands out and becomes the talk of the town, I put it on my radar for a place to try. After a Saturday of chores, errands and a wedding shower, Bryan and I needed a relaxing evening and meal to ourselves. We decided to head north to Roanoke, Texas and Cowboy Chow, which was been named one of the top 3 restaurants to watch in 2009 by D Magazine. Roanoke has been busy developing excitement around a main street of new restaurants and entertainment. Walking up to Cowboy Chow, we noticed that everything about this place screamed Texas. In fact, the name and décor of the restaurant is a tribute to open range dining and chuck wagon cooking used by the cowboys in the old west. An outdoor, stone fire pit welcomed us on the patio before we hit the front door. The upper half of the restaurant walls were opened up to reveal the tables and bar stools inside the restaurant on the other side of the wall. A unique set up allowed patrons to sit inside while facing their dining companions on bar stools on the outside of the restaurant and table. It is a great arrangement for parents who want to sit inside and kiddos who want to sit outside!

Since the restaurant opened up to the patio, the feel of outside dining carried into the bar and main dining room. We chose to sit in the bar at the highball tables because they provided a great view of the entire place. Large blackboard menus and turquoise longhorn heads covered the rustic, wood walls. Cactus and multicolored string lights hung whimsically over the windows and old saloon wallpaper framed the bar. It was the little touches that added a western warmth; booth seats were covered with cow hide printed material, lanterns flickered on the tables and a stone fireplace provided a hearth in the corner for the kids to sit on.

The menu wasn’t complicated. In fact it was refreshingly simple and easy on the pocketbook. The buzz I heard on the streets was that they are known for their brisket tacos and mashed tater parfait. Neither one sounded appealing to Bryan and me so we studied the menu while our server got our drinks. To snack on while we decided, we ordered some Cowboy Nachos made up of homemade potato chips covered with pico de gallo and cheese, served with Southwestern ranch dressing. We both agreed that this was the best dish of the entire meal. The chips were crispy and salty with the perfect thickness. They were served on an iron skillet like most of the other menu items. That made me feel like I was sitting on the ground around a campfire on the prairie! One dollar bought a fried green tomato lollipop on a stick. The idea and presentation is adorable but the flavor wasn’t quite there.

For dinner, Bryan ordered the ribs with root beer bar-b-cue sauce, oven roasted green beans and cheesy corn mashed potatoes. I ordered the Cowboy Grilled Cheese; brisket, sauteed onions, cheese and horseradish on grilled bread with a side of macaroni and cheese to share with Bry. I was really disappointed with the lack of flavor in my sandwich. I was looking forward to the horseradish and brisket combo but I honestly couldn’t taste much of the horseradish. I could see it but it might as well have been non-existent. The macaroni and cheese was served in a tiny cast iron pot which I think made it taste better. It was warm and creamy. I ended up eating it with some of the green beans. The meat on the ribs fell off the bone like ribs are supposed to do but the root beer sauce was an odd combination of sour and sweet. It was a little too trendy for us.

We decided to skip dessert but watched as their signature s’more sundae come out of the kitchen one by one. They weren’t giant as desserts have been upgraded to lately. It was the perfect size to share after a filling meal.

We sat for a while and enjoyed the ambiance. Bryan nursed his beer and I sipped on my Texas Claret. Our server, Melissa, was wonderful and never let us go without anything we needed. It was proof that great surroundings and service could make up for the ordinary food. We both agreed that we probably won’t go back, not because the experience was terrible, but because it just wasn’t our cup of tea, or cattle-drive coffee, I should say!

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Mardi Gras Revelry & Free Beer

Dallas Observer Blogs
By Elizabeth Bair, Fri., Mar. 4 2011 @ 11:58AM

It’s a good thing Ash Wednesday is next week, because you’re going to need to do a lot of repenting after this weekend. You’ve got an excuse to indulge in gumbo, King Cake and plenty of beer because it’s Mardi Gras, so go ahead and sin a little. You can ask for forgiveness next week, if you’re into that kind of thing.

That better be apple juice in that cup.

We’re used to talking about chili cook-offs, but it’s not often we see a gumbo battle go down in these parts. Tomorrow night, five local restaurants and catering companies will be cooking up the traditional Cajun stew at KNON’s Tenth Annual Mardi Gras Gumbo Party.The competitors– including Alligator Cafe, Offshore’s Nextdoor and Crawdad’s! of Dallas catering company–will vye for the title of best gumbo. While you’re getting a taste of the competition, enjoy Zydeco stylings from Lil Jimmie and the Feedback Gang. Put on your jester hat or masquerade mask and head to Poor David’s Pub (1313 South Lamar) to party at 7 p.m.

In Oak Cliff, Mardi Gras is serious business; that’s why it takes two days to celebrate. Runners will be draped in beads and boas at tomorrow morning’s Dash for the Beads 5k and Costume Contest, and guests will be decked out in extravagant costumes at the Masquerade Ball at Kessler Theatre tomorrow night. On Sunday afternoon, floats — including an Alice in Wonderland themed entry and one dedicated to Harry Potter — will take to the streets for the annual parade, and at 3 p.m. Bishop Arts will transform into a Creole block party for the first-ever Oak Cliff Mardi Gras Crawfish Boil. As Hanna reported on Tuesday, Michelle Carpenter of Zen is planning on boiling 500 pounds of the buggers, so guests better be ready to peel quite a few crustaceans. You can purchase tickets for $15 here or $20 at the event, and part of the proceeds benefit Go Oak Cliff’s community projects. Your ticket gets you one pound of crawfish, but you can buy an additional pound for $8. Wash down your Cajun feast with a few cold beers (for an additional cost). We said a few. This isn’t the French Quarter.

Speaking of cold beer, we see a free pitcher in your future. Seriously. The good people at Cowboy Chow (2801 Commerce St.) love Texas Independence Day so much that they want to keep the celebration going just a little longer. Today and tomorrow, they’re offering a free pitcher of Franconia Lager with the purchase of an entrée. CFS and locally crafted lager for lunch? Those guys at the Alamo would approve.

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Cowboy Chow’s Jason Boso: Bringing the Chef in the White Coat to the Sloppy Joes of the World

By Jenny Block, Wed., Feb. 2 2011, Dallas Observer Blogs

Chef Jason BosoJason Boso is wearing jeans, a battered SMU hat, and a mechanic’s shirt with the name “Easy” on the name patch. He’s cute. Really cute and he’s at the bar having a beer when I get to Cowboy Chow. The hostess introduces us and he gives me the “hey” head nod. I have to remind myself for a minute that I’m here for an interview and not a date. And, for a second, I’m a little disappointed it’s the former.

Country music (the good kind) drifts from the speakers and behind the bar, the staff is tending to some tequila that Boso infuses with 10 different chiles: “Serranos, habaneros, poblanos, a bunch of things that end in os,” he explains.

They make bacon bourbon too, and when I ask where he got the idea for such a thing, he explains, “I perused the Internet and stole it from some bar up north and put my own twist on it. If I have an original idea, it’s because I forgot where I stole it from.”

If you’re wondering how one drinks bacon bourbon (straight up, mixed in a cocktail, etc.), well, Boso, 38, says, you “get a Pabst and shot of bacon bourbon on the side.” For some reason, at that moment, such a suggestion strikes me as perfectly reasonable.

Cowboy Chow serves the kind of food that one might not expect to be chef inspired — chili, sloppy joes, chicken pot pie, grilled cheese. But Boso inspires it. You might think such an inclination would stem from a lifetime of eating and being exposed to that kind of “home on the range” cooking. But nothing could be further from the truth.

“Did you grow up eating this stuff?” I ask.

“My mom is 100 percent Cuban,” Boso says. “I’m white with red hair because I’m adopted. Growing up in Miami, I was eating arroz con pollo, ropavieja. I thought that was what people ate.”

After getting fired from a corporate gig at the age of 28 — for telling off a customer — Boso decided to pursue his true love — cooking. He attended culinary school where he met Quincy Hart, with whom he would later partner. Boso went on to get a gig at the Four Seasons Resort and Hotel in Las Colinas and Hart got a job with Pappas Brothers.

In 2006, once they got their funding together, the vision they had been working toward since they met in school became a reality, Twisted Root Burger Company, “the only trained chef-driven burger joint in town.” Twisted Root even has its own pastry chef, Steve Thompson, formerly of the Four Seasons, who makes homemade ice cream for the restaurant every day. And, two years later, Cowboy Chow was born.

“I wanted to provide a place that you can come with flip-flops and hat on backwards and still get a good piece of meat. It’s almost better that eating at home.”

Of course, well-cooked basics aren’t all Boso’s interested in. In fact, these days, he’s up for trying almost anything when it comes to food, including the duck tongue tacos at Jose Andres’ restaurant in Vegas. “It’s a little tongue-y. It actually tasted good. But after the second taco it starts to infiltrate your mind. ‘Who’s tasting who here?’ you wonder.” But even though he’s open to any kind of food, there is one kind of people he does not care for. Posers.

“I got my CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) just so I could go and say, ‘You’re an idiot. It’s not at all fruity’ to people acting like they know all about wine but don’t.” It’s no surprise that Boso has no patience for that sort of nonsense. He wants everything he does to be authentic.

Both Cowboy Chow and Twisted Root are grounded in food as well as space. It’s the experience that Boso is after, not just a taste. “As you can see, as important as the food is, the entertainment that comes from the restaurant [is even more important]. I hope you leave with a chuckle and a laugh. I hope you see something interesting on your plate, that you think, ‘Woah, that was cool.'”

The burgers at Twisted Root are ratio rock stars — just the right amount of everything, combined together to give you all the tastes and flavors your mouth is rooting for. But the sides are no slouches either. The “Fried Ride,” for example, although terrible for you, is ridiculously good. Hand-Cut Sweet Potato Chips, Twisted French Fries, Fried Green Beans, Quincy’s Spicy Fried Pickles, Onion Strings served with Peppercorn Ranch and Chipotle Ranch. You can see how it would be tough to go wrong.

The star at Cowboy Chow, on the other hand, is the brisket. Saucy and tangy, sweet and tender, served on tiny slider buns, you can make a meal of those alone. But that would be a shame since the fried green tomato lollipops, Indian Fry Bread, and Cowboy Nachos made with homemade potato chips and cojita cheese are equally drool worthy.

There was just the right amount kitsch and downright good cooking in Cowboy Chow’s food to make it elevated chuck wagon fare instead of themey grub.

Ask Boso how he makes it all work and he makes it sound so easy. “It’s simple: Just a good combo of flavors. The reason Cowboy Chow is different is because we take the time to braise [the meat]. Braising is my favorite way to cook something. I wanted to base a restaurant around braised meat. The secret is seven hours. The secret is patience.”

We talk about the food scene in Dallas and I ask him about something Kent Rathbun said. Are Dallas diners really scared of food? “Yes,” he says. “They have grown up as meat and potatoes kids and they are scared to venture out. I have friends I have to hold down and shove fois gras in their mouths. I wouldn’t be embarrassed of anything [we serve here]. But the ribs and chicken-fried steak are there because people want them. It’s hard to jar people off of what they’ve been eating for 15 years. No chips and salsa. I want everyone to order the fry bread.”

And lest you think Boso believes he’s the only one doing right by food, he greatly admires others who are striving to do the same. “If you go to a Kent [Rathbun] restaurant you should order anything you don’t usually eat because you know it’ll be done right. The same with Dean [Fearing’s] restaurants. People eat too much at Outback Steakhouse and think that’s good,” Boso says with disdain and then adds with a smile, “I’m an opinionated son of a bitch.”

Boso has three restaurants, which spreads him thin, so how does he keep things as he intended? “I hire great people like Andre [my manager] who has been with me for three years. You hire people with passion and keep them on the crazy train. And I set up very simple systems that even a non-food person could understand. Everyone is in charge of one thing and what makes it great is the five different components put together in an interesting way.”

“The culture is harder to keep up with than the food.” And the culture is key to both the Twisted Root and the Cowboy Chow experiences. Cheekiness and plain old “laid-backness” is the order of the day. Everyday.

“I look for personality people as much as people in the food industry. I just hired Dan Glazer, a headliner at Ad Lib, so he can get on the mic and make fun of people [at Twisted Root]. We’re irreverent like that. My philosophy is that if I can embarrass one person and 99 others snicker, then I’m really making 99 percent of the people happy and one percent unhappy.”

Down the line, Boso says he’s “looking into doing a sandwich place with cheese steaks, grilled cheese, Korean barbecue sandwiches. Elevating all that. Not just cheese steaks but cheese steaks with caramelized red onions. All hot sandwiches. Let the New York guys do that [cold deli] stuff. I want to do all iron skillet stuff.”

As I shut down my Macbook Air and get up to go, Boso touches my arm. “You don’t even have to write this down. But I want you to know what I’m really trying to do.” There’s an earnestness that comes over him that makes me settle back into my stool. “I wanted to bring an everyday local place with a chef attitude [to Dallas]. My average ticket is seven bucks. I can do a really damn good brisket Sloppy Joe and a really interesting grilled cheese and a damn good pot pie that you can’t get somewhere else. I’m bringing the chef in the white coat to the everyday guy.”

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