food

"Six Eats for Your Comedy Appetite" by Jason Hensel

That comedy on stage is making you hungry. Time to order some food. With so many good options, it’s hard to decide what to pick. Here are some suggestions.

Popcorn
Pros: The perfect theater food. It’s light. It’s inexpensive. It hardly makes a sound when you chew it (with your mouth closed, you heathen). Cons: You always grab more than can fit in your hand and half of it falls on the ground.

Tortilla Chips
Pros: Their only purpose in life is to be queso (or salsa or guacamole, if you’re nasty) vessels, just like humans. Cons: Hard to eat them quietly in a timely manner. Tortilla dust.

Quesadilla
Pros: The quiet Tex-Mex food. Full of cheese. Can add steak or chicken to it. Cons: If you’re with someone else, you’ll be asked to share or offer a bite. Don’t. This cheesy goodness is all yours. Make your date or friend order his or her own.  

Wrap
Pros: The sandwich of the Southwest. A step above the pedestrian bread slice. Can save the other half for lunch tomorrow. Cons: Loose wrapping. But then it becomes a salad; so pro, fewer carbs!

Sandwich
Pros: Classic. Food of the people. Not uppity like wraps. Always there for you in a pinch. Cons: You’ll be forced to categorize your friends into those who slice diagonally versus those who slice horizontally.

Queso
Pros: Fulfilling. Magical. Life-changing. Will hold your hand when you're sad. Cons: There are no cons with queso.

Guess what. Yeah, that’s right. The Dallas Comedy House offers a food menu featuring all of these items and more. Bon appetit!  

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.

My Trip to Chicago and That Time I Called a Flight Attendant “Mom”

Chicago River Last week, I took a short trip to Chi-Town for my b-day (because sometimes you just got to treat yo self) and it was amazing. So, for this week’s blog, I decided I would give you cool cats a little recap of my travels and encourage all you comedy lovers to hop a plane and head out to the Windy City sometime, too.

Ah, Chicago: a land of windy days, deep dish pizzas, and awesome Midwestern accents. It’s a magical place where hot dogs live on poppy seed-speckled buns and improv comedy resides on every street corner and seedy back alleyway. Seriously, with iO, The Second City, Zanies, The Annoyance Theatre, and a slew of others, it's no wonder why Chicago is largely considered America’s comedy capital. Thus, I was super pumped to be spending a few days there.

I stared out the window, enthusiastic to catch my first glimpse of the city below. I felt like a little kid that received a ticket to Wonka World (obviously, the Gene Wilder version, not the Johnny Depp travesty that will forever be synonymous with shame). I nearly wet myself out of excitement. In fact, I was so excited and caught up in my own giddy thoughts, that instead of saying, “Yes, ma’am” after the nice flight attendant lady asked if I would like something to drink, I replied with a triumphant, “Yes, mom.” Then, I immediately lowered my head in embarrassment and internally told myself to “calm your tits.”

But who was I kidding; I was fired-up and ready to explore this comedy nerd paradise. From the get go, I could tell this was going to be a grade-A trip, mostly because the O’Hare bathrooms had these lovely automatic cellophane seat covers. For me, that was a sign. A sign that the City of Chicago is a city that  knows how to treat a girl, right down to the health and cleanliness of my own derriere, so clearly I would be in a for a good time.

For the majority of my trip, I spent my time putting one delicious thing in my belly after another. I ate, and ate, and ate some more. I believe I started eating as soon as I stepped off the plane and continued non-stop until I got back home to Texas, or shortly before as I realized I’d have to purchase an extra plane ticket for the massive food baby amassing in my abdomen. I think I might have been carrying food twins.

My first food stop: a place to get top-notch pizza. The original Pizano's on State Street has some of the best pizza and pasta you will ever be fortunate enough to shove in your piehole. If you don’t take my word for it, trust Oprah’s, as she fully endorses Pizano's too. They’ve got everything delicious, and cheesy, and Italian, that will make your tummy very, very happy. If you like seafood, head to Shaw’s Crab House. I had a tuna burger the size of my head there, and I ate the whole thing. No regrets. They have a full oyster bar and live jazz music, and it’s a ton of fun. Plus, there’s a karaoke bar right across the street, so your night is set.  From gelato to cheese fries to gourmet popcorn and to a divine French toast bagel with maple cream cheese (try it at Fabcakes, highly recommend), I think I tasted it all.

The second night, I spent more than four hours laughing my butt off at Howl At The Moon, a dueling piano bar that is my new mental happy place. I was thoroughly content with the piano man’s renditions of my requests for "Don’t You Want Me" and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." Because it was snowy and wet and generally cold out, I opted for more indoor activities. The Art Institute of Chicago is breathtaking and you can spend a full day there. Unfortunately, the Skydeck at the Willis Tower had zero visibility the day I went, but was still pretty cool to check out. It does cost a wazoo to do, but on a sunny day the view may be worth it. Also, it should be noted that the glass doors there are incredibly clean and they do hurt when you walk into them.

The Second CityWithout a doubt, though, the highlight of my trip was seeing a sketch revue at the The Second City Mainstage. As soon as I walked in, I immediately drooled over all the photos of its famous alumni. The faces of Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Alan Arkin, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, John Candy, and so many others adorn the Second City walls. I even touched a picture of Tina Fey’s face in the hopes that maybe it had magical comedy powers that could rub off on me. I also tried uber hard not to break into full fangirl mode and start crying like that one kid did during Sanjaya Malakar’s performance on American Idol (does anyone else remember that?).

The show, Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu, was incredible. Playing with themes of re-occurring events and time out of joint, for the show’s second half the cast revisits its earlier bits with several hilarious callbacks, twisting the gags and reversing points of view to...wait for it...fool you twice. Selfie sticks, bad bitches, the staying power of Papa Roach, and gluten vs. non-gluten free diets are but a few of the many topics I found myself lol-ing over.  The improv set I stayed to watch afterwards was super impressive and inspiring. How they managed to weave bee farms and arsenic-laced pancakes into hysterical scenes, I don’t even know. I bow down to them. I’m not worthy.

I was sad to have to return to Dallas, but alas my trip had to come to an end. No worries, I fully plan on going back in the near future. Chicago, you have my heart and also a pair of my socks, which I’m pretty sure I left on the dresser in the hotel. With that said, until we meet again, friend.

Have you been to Chicago and have cool stories, awesome trip recommendations, or general fun facts/trivia you’d like to share? If so, put them in the comments section below!

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.

Wrap Up Your Work Week

DCH_1_Wrap_2March isn't just about basketball, green beer, and the beginning of spring. It's also the month of the wrap, the wrap sandwich, that is. To celebrate our new 7 p.m. show, you can get two show tickets and TWO WRAPS and chips for $30. What kind of wraps? Glad you asked. We're offering a Cesar Caesar (chicken Caesar wrap) and a club wrap. Those sound delicious.

Come out down to the Dallas Comedy House and wrap up your work week with this special. And that, as they say in the biz, is a wrap.

The Quirky in Dallas: Feeling Fancy

My friends and I have a tradition that we like to call a lot of different names: fancy night, very Dallas night, bougie night, etc. Regardless of what we label it, the evenings always share one consistency—we do something we really can’t afford. Typically this night comes twice a year and never has any real justification. It’s a celebration when we’ve got nothing to celebrate. And so we put on a fancy dress, some high heels, and revel in the fact that our bank accounts are somehow not yet in the negatives.

Americano1This week, The Quirky in Dallas went upscale and we checked out the new restaurant at the Joule Hotel, Americano. This really cool restaurant is located in downtown Dallas, which is surprising to those of us who assume downtown is only home to accounting firms and Neiman Marcus.

Americano proved to be the perfect location for an evening of colorful sophistication.

The first thing you need to know about this place is that they have wine on tap. Wine on tap is basically beer on tap’s fancy cousin. Behind the bar, there is a long wall of faucets but I like to think of them as adult water fountains, miraculously releasing the sweet promise of a wine buzz. We opted for the chardonnay, and I have absolutely no regrets.

A good indication that a restaurant is sufficiently high-brow is if you find yourself reaching for your phone to Google some ingredients. Yes, this happened and sure, I could have just asked the waiter but I chose not to embarrass my fellow diners. Instead, I found myself furiously searching, “What is a sunchoke?” under the table. According to Wikipedia, a sunchoke is also known as a “Jerusalem artichoke” or an “earth apple.” Still confused? Me too, but I do know that at Americano you can order them crispy and with salsa verde!

The restaurant is supposedly “casual attire” but don’t be fooled. You’ll find an eclectic mix of people here and most of them will be dressed pretty dang stylishly. I was glad that I had opted to wear my faux fur jacket when I noticed that a man a few tables over was donning a top hat. I wanted to ask him if he, too, was having a fancy night but hesitated when I realized this was probably just his typical attire and my question could be perceived as rude.

Americano2On one bright, green wall there is an illuminated sign that reads, “It’s all in your head.” I have a penchant for walls featuring vague yet deep quotes and on this front, Americano did not disappoint. Naturally, I insisted we get a picture next to it. If we ever start a band (unlikely given the fact that we all lack any discernible musical talent) this picture will definitely be our album cover.

The dinner was delicious. I had butternut squash ravioli (just like kale and all things farm to table, butternut squash is a very trendy food and therefore an excellent choice) and finished it off with a pine nut tart (think pecan pie but with pine nuts, because pine nuts are FANCIER.) Throughout the meal, the waiter would walk around the table asking, “Sparkling or still?” as he filled our water cups. I appreciated this because that’s a choice that everyone should have the right to make.

If you want to eat delicious food, encounter interesting people, and take a cliché picture that is sure to get a lot of Instagram likes, then I highly recommend Americano for your next birthday, anniversary, or random weekday evening when you’re kinda feeling fancy.

Hayley Waring is a level 5 improv student at the Dallas Comedy House training center. If the world was a perfect place she would spend her days writing poetry with Alexander Hamilton while sharing an ahi tuna tower.

The Quirky in Dallas: Breakfast at Midnight

Metro Diner I’ve always thought of myself as someone who hates breakfast. To be honest with you, this is not a trait that most people seem to appreciate. My heartfelt declarations against eggs and waffles are often met with confusion that borders on judgment.

But recently I’ve come to an important realization: I only hate such foods between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., hours that are known to most humans as breakfast time. My aversion to all things griddle cooked is in actuality a rebellion against the morning. This isn’t about sunny side up verses scrambled; it’s about my resistance to conform to a world that demands I be awake before noon.

And so I concede—I have been wrong for many a year, French toast and cinnamon roles are not my adversaries, they are actually quite delightful when enjoyed in the proper context. My solution? Breakfast at midnight.

Nothing sops up cheap vodka like a stack of buttermilk goodness, nothing aids a late-night study session like a side of cheese grits, and as I’ve recently discovered, nothing improves the most average of Wednesday nights quite like a trip with some friends to an all-night diner in Oak Cliff.

Metro DinerIf you ever happen to find yourself in that area of Dallas, I suggest you stop into Metro Diner. If you do, you’ll be greeted by a gray haired lady with a syrup sweet drawl and she’ll tell you to “sit anywhere you like, baby.” You’ll chose a red vinyl booth, and you’ll be surprised by how many people are there at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday. People from all walks of life will sit dispersed throughout the narrow diner, and you’ll recognize you all share a common bond: hunger.

If you’re anything like us, you’ll try almost everything on the menu—the fluffy pancakes, the crispy hash browns, the greasy bacon, and you’ll wash it all down with a cold glass of whole milk.

Here’s a pro tip: bring change because there are endless things you can do with 50 cents at a diner. You can play a Bob Dylan song on the jukebox, try and grasp a stuffed pink monkey from an old, claw machine, or purchase a miniature rubber ducky from a gumball dispenser.

You’ll leave milk mustached and happy wondering why it took you so long to realize that mornings might suck, but maple syrup sure doesn’t.  

Hayley Waring is a level 5 improv student at the Dallas Comedy House training center. If the world was a perfect place she would spend her days writing poetry with Alexander Hamilton while sharing an ahi tuna tower.

Tommy’s Taco Thursday: We Went to There—Tacolandia

Tacolandia Team Tacolandia the reality – the people were great, the weather was great, the music was a dominating force. I wonder if playing dance music extremely loud aids in digestion, because Team Tacolandia put down at least 15 tacos each, but surely no more than 20. It was amazing. VIPs entered an hour early and enjoyed zero lines (except for the alcohol line – which was just a trap to distract you from tacos). We spent an hour engulfing taco after taco. I’d say the highlights of the day for me was a carrot habanero sauce offered by Iron Cactus and a corn tortilla with cheese crisped on top (before layering on the meat and sauce) from Come Taco.

Alas, in a sea of tacos with cabbage slaw, grilled pineapple, grilled mango, and other gourmet accoutrements, I found two tacos worth noting. Let’s start with the best of the fancy tacos. The Taco Diner tent wins the prize for the best energy. The crew was bumping and grinding with the taco hunters. There were Dos Eques “rosaries” being tossed around and an inter-diner taco competition between a brisket taco that was pretty simple and chewy. This poor brisket taco got CRUSHED by the chicken and waffle taco. We’re talking warm corn tortilla with lightly breaded fried chicken breast pieces and a sweet maple cream sauce. So delicious! Highly recommend. I’m not sure if these mommasitas are on the Taco Diner menu, but if they are, get up on 'em.

Tacolandia VIPHere comes the champ. Most tents had little warmers and crock pots. Some tents had sterno canisters and chaffing dishes. For the most part, the workers would layout little black Styrofoam and carefully build tasty taco towers atop. Not at la tienda de La Banqueta! La Banqueta had a flattop grill. On the left side of the grill, piled high was about 10 pounds of chicken and on the right was about the same of beef. In the center were tortillas. As you approached the tent, the server would bare hand a couple of tortillas and use the tortilla to grab a handful of your choice of meat. These tacos were so hot, so fresh, and they had minced cilantro, onion, and some lime wedges for you. They had creamy, green salsa verde and a red salsa on ice. Boom! La Banqueta: Simple tacos done to perfection. And they had my heart and soul at Tacolandia. Also, their business card looks like an early Snoop Dogg album. Double bonus, turns out, La Banqueta is just a few minutes from my house. (And just like that, my property value doubled.)

Just as they let the general public into Tacolandia, I and my team were stuffed and ready to leave. Lines were forming, and it became clear that going VIP was a great idea. We were riding Ubers into the sunset before the little people had reached the front of their first line. I heard horror stories of people only getting to eat five or six tacos because of the lines. We ruled the day! We ruled Tacolandia!

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.