Food & Drink

Eats Beat: Nothing soft about DQ’s sales; also, polka to a kolache contest

DQ cones at the new Keller location.
DQ cones at the new Keller location. Star-Telegram

Blue Bell was not the only ice cream making news this summer.

Dairy Queen returned to its former glory as Texas’ soft-serve of choice, with five locations now open north of Loop 820 and another opening within weeks, plus a new Benbrook DQ.

Michael Clarke, the franchised owner of many but not all of the new stores, has opened new DQs at the rate of one every four months using the slogan “Better Than You Remember.”

“No matter where people are from all over the country, they remember Dairy Queen and they’re glad to see one near their home,” Clarke said.

His newest store will open this fall at 7150 North Freeway (Interstate 35W), near Basswood Boulevard. That follows recent DQs in Euless, Roanoke, Keller and Hurst and on North Beach Street in north Fort Worth.

Minnesota-based Dairy Queen once had the same kind of Texas following as Whataburger, and still ranks atop most polls for the best soft-serve ice cream and “Blizzard.”

“Our opening(s) have caused traffic jams, wrapped around buildings, spilled out into major streets,” Clarke said.

“That’s how excited people are to see DQ come back.”

523 The number of Dairy Queens in Texas.

Something to notice: Clarke’s locations — he also owns the sharp new Grand Prairie location and a second coming soon on Texas 360 — are a bit different from DQs owned by other local franchisees.

Irving-based Vasari owns many stores across the state and will open a new DQ “Grill & Chill” in Benbrook on Sept. 14, at 8636 Benbrook Blvd. (U.S. 377).

For more information, see dfwdq.com, vasarillc.com and the company website, dairyqueen.com.

Argentina in Grapevine

The GrapeFest tastings can start this week.

Grapevine’s annual city wine festival always begins with preview restaurant dinners, and those include Wednesday night at Mac’s on Main (sold out) and Friday at Grand Met in the DFW Airport Grand Hyatt hotel.

The Friday dinner will feature Argentine wines, the showcase at this year’s Sept. 17-20 GrapeFest celebration.

(The festival has shifted to a later week and away from its old Labor Day schedule.)

“This is a way to get ready for GrapeFest and get a taste of the Argentine wines,” said GrapeFest promoter Leigh Lyons of the city tourism bureau.

The Grand Met’s $90 four-course menu Friday features a strip steak asada with chimichurri, along with a corn-chili empanada, scallop crudo and a chocolate panna cotta with dulce de leche ice cream, all with wines. Parking is free; 817-410-3185, GrapevineTexasUSA.com.

(The dinners began last week at the Hilton DFW Lakes’ restaurant and also at Chill Grapevine.)

Kolaches gone wild

This year’s annual Westfest festival includes a first: a kolache-eating contest.

The first contestant to eat eight kolaches Sunday will win the men’s division. Teams must eat two dozen, with other kolache numbers for women and children.

5 minutes to eat the most kolaches and win at Westfest.

Then there’s a grand prize (in Czech, velky vitez) for whoever eats the most kolaches in five minutes.

The kolaches are all provided by Gerik’s Ole Czech Bakery, the insiders’ kolache favorite for travelers venturing off Interstate 35.

Westfest opens with a $15 Friday-night preview party, then opens at 9 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday, staying open until midnight both nights; 1110 S. Main St., West, McLennan County, 254-826-5058; westfest.com.

(If you can’t make the contest or want to practice at Gerik’s, it’s at 511 W. Oak St., 254-826-3327, discoverwest.org/geriks-bakery.php.)

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @EatsBeat. His column appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in DFW.com.

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