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This Grapevine restaurant makes a '100 best' list — with tamales

Take a tour of Tommy Tamale

A quick visit to Tommy Tamale Market & Cafe in Grapevine TX
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A quick visit to Tommy Tamale Market & Cafe in Grapevine TX

Little Tommy Tamale Market & Cafe has hit the big time.

The 8-year-old Grapevine tamale cafe, originally a Decatur tamal truck, has been named again as one of the nation's “Top 100 Places to Eat.”

Yes, this is from the dubious website Yelp.com. But it's in part based on Tommy Tamale's five-star rating across 460 reviews.

Customers love Tommy Tamale, and its easy to see why: It's like a Tex-Mex restaurant based entirely on tamales, served as a platter, inside a quesadilla, on top of nachos, inside burritos or as a “tamale bowl.”

The logic is stunningly simple: If tamales are good, and burritos are good, why not put tamales inside a burrito?

It's not exactly the way they do it in San Antonio. But if you want a dish that mixes masa, meat, chili and cheese in glorious excess, the bowl ($6-$8) is a Tex-Mex wonder.

The pork tamales come in a choice of mild, habanero or Hatch green chile. There's also chicken tamales, beef or black bean.

They're sold as a normal platter, of course: $6 with two tamales, rice and beans, or $8 with four tamales.

There's no margarita machine, blaring music, swirly drinks or long, convoluted list of various combination dinners.

Tommy Tamale also serves simple steak, chicken, pork or bean quesadillas and tacos. But maybe more than any other restaurant, this small cafe is a tribute to the tamal.

(Yes, the singular form is tamal, but that doesn't rhyme with “Tommy.”)

JoAnn and Steve Barker expanded the business from a Decatur truck to the Grapevine farmers market and eventually to the current location in the Northwest Plaza shopping center.

The entrance leads first to the takeout counter (tamales to go sell for about $14 a dozen). The counter-service cafe is around the corner.

This is Tommy Tamale's second year on the Yelp top 100.

For the record, Yelpers' other favorite Texas restaurants are Tony's Italian Delicatessenin Montgomery, Le' Pam's House of Creolein Houston, Gino's Deli & Ice House in San Antonio, Yoyo's Hot Dog in Houston, House of Gyros in Mesquite and Boteco in Austin.

Notice they're all small cafes, stands or trucks specializing in a few items.

Tommy Tamale is open for lunch and dinner weekdays and Saturdays; 1689 W. Northwest Highway (Business Texas 114), 817-360-6385, tommytamale.com

Cowboy up for Reata reunion dinner

Since it opened more than 20 years ago, Reata Restaurant has consistently been about the food, not the chef.

But an incredible number of great chefs have come through the cowboy kitchen.

Now, they'll reunite April 5 for a Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival tribute.

Founding chef Grady Spears (Horseshoe Hill Cafe), Tim Love (Lonesome Dove) and Juan Rodriguez (Magdalena's) will be among the returnees, with a special guest appearance by Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse near Abilene, Texas' heartland of cowboy cuisine.

Also in the lineup is Lindsey Lawing of Sweet Lucy's Pies, a former Reata server and bartender.

Tickets cost $140 including wines. Check for tickets beginning March 1 at reata.net.

Return of the 'Wieners Take All' cook

A “New York style” pizza-and-pasta stand has added Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef.

Slavko “Groma” Gromovic, formerly of beloved southwest Fort Worth restaurants Wieners Take All and Sweet Home Chicago, has returned from a couple of years up north and is now in the kitchen at Alfred Georges' little New York Style Pizza & Gyros, at 2707 Race St. in the Race Street urban village.

He's added deep-dish pizza (call ahead), hot dogs and sandwiches, including a Philly. There's also a fried catfish po-boy.

Look for it next to Fuzzy's, just west of the tremendously popular Tributary Cafe.

New York Style Pizza & Gyros is open for lunch and dinner daily; 817-222-2433, facebook.com/nystylepizzagyro.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, @EatsBeat.

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