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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Weekend Road Trip I Would Recommend Again ... and Again

It's been a while since I've done a travel piece, but a few days ago I got to escape to my favorite weekend getaway — Fort Davis and Marfa, Texas. 

Sitting on the roof of the Indian Lodge, I look out through the valley of the Davis Mountains. It is quiet. The only thing I can hear is my fingers tapping my computer keys. I feel clean, raw, pure and more fully myself out here. I don’t know anybody, and nobody is expecting anything of me.

Wispy, high clouds brush the blue-gray, autumn sky. A cool breeze tickles my bare feet and lifts my hair. The sun slowly sets over the pale gold winter grass and mountains reflecting peach hues off the high clouds.

I love it here in West Texas.

Lunch earlier that day           
For lunch we stopped at the Pizza Foundation in Marfa. It is some of the best pizza I’ve ever had — thin, chewy homemade crust, big slices and even bigger flavor.The cheese has so much flavor that I didn’t want to add salt, ranch or parmesan. I also ordered a Greek salad that was so fresh and not too strong in flavor. Sometimes that happens with Greek salad.

The small, refurbished gas station was packed with European tourists. I think they were all in the same group, and I wonder if they came out of the huge tour bus parked on I-67. The strangeness of this in a tiny West Texas town is part of being in Marfa. Why did 20 Greeks come here?  Surely not to try the Greek salad.

But like everything else in Marfa, the food is only part of the experience. It’s something about being in a town of population 2121, 215 miles from the closest airport where miles of desert mountains and nothing surround you. And the tiny foodie town has two of the best restaurants I’ve ever been anywhere (and New Orleans was my second home as a kid). A writer for the New York Times agrees. Read his article by clicking here.

After Lunch
After lunch we explored the oxymoronic town — a place where highbrow meets unibrow. A shop with $400 imported silk and alpaca sweaters run by a chic German woman in Oliver Peoples glasses faces an old hardware store with products made in the 80s. Art galleries with the finest minimalist paintings juxtapose a tired resale shop.

And new places have opened since we were here a year ago. Two new homes, an art school and a lunch spot are the first new sights we spot. But it’s time to leave because we’ve decided not to stay in Marfa this trip. We are staying in Indian Lodge in the Fort Davis National Park about 20 miles north.

Fort Davis
There isn’t anything posh in Fort Davis except what Mother Nature has designed. The white lodge is fixed against the ash blue ridges of the charred mountains. Six months ago everything here burned in one of the worst wildfires to hit Texas. We come to watch the sun rise and set, hike and sleep.

To be continued ... (the best restaurant in the world for dinner, coolest bar I've been to, and a beautiful sunrise in the mountains)

Restaurant Cochineal

Private wall built with glass chunks

Installation in the back of the Marfa bookstore

between stops

Indian Lodge

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Lesson Learned from Ron Washington

I know the Rangers lost the World Series again, but failure is a part of life. It's especially a part of baseball. But some people can't live with failure. I was reading an article in Atlantic Monthly last week about how the Angels' pitcher, Donnie Moore, committed suicide because he couldn't accept his failure.

Finding this article seemed to confirm that failure was the theme for the week—at a dinner party I had last night, one friend said her New Year's resolution was to "fail more." She said if you don't fail then you aren't trying. Washington's failure got our team to the World Series not once, but twice two years in a row.

I'm posting this article about accepting failure by one of my favorite writers and a friend of mine, Michael Mooney. I think we all have something to learn from Washington and how he faces challenges in his life. After all, "he do what he do."

Ron Washington: He Do What He Do by Michael J. Mooney

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Discussion on the Trinity River Vision Project

This piece was originally written for the eChaser, the monthly newsletter of the Fort Worth chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, Public Relations Society of America and International Association of Business Communicators.

The consensus of about 100 people at the Trinity River Vision panel discussion moderated by Society of Professional Journalists Oct. 12 was that the project is one huge, expensive distraction.

Panelists Jim Lane, former City Councilman and Tarrant Regional Water District Board Member, former City Councilman Clyde Picht, Fort Worth certified public accountant Steve Hollern and meteorologist John Basham added their input for the project. Trinity River Vision executive director J.D. Granger and the representative for the city of Fort Worth’s seat remained empty.

“I don’t really have a big for or against The Trinity River Vision downtown other than that it is a distraction, and what I mean by distraction is we in Texas … don’t get enough rainfall,” Basham said.

Tarrant County’s region C does not have enough water and cannot meet its projected needs without substantial help from surrounding areas, he said.

He said Fort Worth should focus their efforts on the water issues like flood control and water supply, not fancy real estate and using people’s tax dollars to complete the project.

Hollern said as a “business man” he’s looked at the numbers of this project a lot. He also said he’s not opposed to the project itself, but is concerned about who is going to pay for it.

“I am concerned with cost, even more so, who pays for that cost?” Hollern said.

In this project, he said he worries citizens will be asked to pick up the bulk of the developing work even though the Trinity River Vision project shared projections that it will pay for itself.

“I have serious doubts about that,” Hollern said.

Eighty-five percent of the money Lane presented on the spreadsheet he handed out in the beginning of the event is not guaranteed and will probably not come through, he said.

“The City of Fort Worth is over $4 to $5 billion dollars in the red,” he said.

Hollern said the debt is not on the books, but is committed for police and firefighter pensions, healthcare for retired individuals, for rebuilding streets and drainage.

According to Lane’s balance sheet, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide $446 million dollars for the project, but Hollern said the money hasn’t been “appropriated.”

“The question is is it realistic to expect that money is going to come?” Hollern said.
Picht said he was on the Fort Worth City Council when the project came into place. He wasn’t opposed to the project when he saw the initial numbers, but those have changed since 2004.

“It’s going to be a lot more expensive than we had planned, and it’s not going to be a project I can support,” Picht said. “Our expectations are lower and our costs a lot higher.”

He compared the project to an upside down loan on a car because it already costs more than the city will get back. When it started it was a $360 million project with a billion dollar return.

Nobody could provide a final number for the project, but some panelists projected it to cost more than $1 billion.

“Its just not a good project from the public policy standpoint,” Picht said. “For you as a tax paying public, it’s a loser.”

Lane said that he doesn’t think expenses will fall on taxpayers’ shoulders. He said that if the project can’t fund itself, it’s designed to slow itself down.

He also said he does not think the project will soak up federal dollars.

The debate swung from cost back to current water issues.

“There’s no water!” one lady yelled from the audience.

Basham read from chapter 6 of the 2012 Texas Water Plan and said there isn’t any water promised to Fort Worth for a long time — current water projects on the table are a “pie in the sky.”

 “We don’t have the water, and even though the [TRV] paperwork says they’re good through 2035, that’s based on a couple of assumptions,” Basham said. “One of those assumptions is that we’re not in drought and currently we are in drought.”

He said this focus should be flood and water control and “we’re kind of missing it.”
The whole room clapped and whistled.

Gayle Reaves, moderator and Fort Worth Weekly’s managing editor, read from an audience member's card that there is a concern because the project has no elected members making it too insulated from the public.

“It’s a back room deal!” one man yelled from the audience.

Lane told the audience to talk to their congressmen or congresswomen if they wanted something changed. Another audience member asked how he was supposed to do that if he can’t talk to her son, referring to U.S. Rep. Kay Granger’s son, J.D. Granger.

Granger canceled at the last minute when he realized they weren’t going to simply present the project but had to participate in a panel discussion debating policy, Lane said.

Lane said the biggest mistake the city ever made was to showcase a model of the TRV project downtown, because people saw new development on top of their current neighborhoods and businesses. A lot has changed since the original model.

He also said he doesn’t think people have the right facts and he showed up to present the truth.
“We have not done a good job of educating the public,” he said.

Picht said if this plan goes through people won’t be able to drive down the streets but they will have a nice river downtown.

“This project is really moving along. We’re actually moving dirt,” Lane said.

Post on this blog what you think about the TRV project. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Breakfast at Taco Heads is Amazing!

The best breakfast taco I've had is from the Taco Heads food truck on West Seventh and Carroll Street.

I've had a lot of breakfast tacos, but this one reels me back almost every day. It's embarrassing actually. And I don't order one, but two.

The eggs don't taste like they've been sitting under a warmer for hours. They are perfectly scrambled every time and spill out of the warm, grilled flour tortilla (corn tortillas are also available). Taco Heads doesn't skimp on the shredded sharp cheddar cheese that's sprinkled all over the top either.

The bacon isn't rubbery or undercooked; it's thick and crispy. And the fresh, finely chopped pico adds another layer of flavor to finish off my favorite breakfast taco. The tacos come with their light, spicy verde sauce. You must at least try a bite with this tummy concoction.

Taco Heads just started serving breakfast Aug. 6, and I couldn't be happier. The only thing is I need to tack on an extra hour to my workout now because I'm not parting with my new addiction.

Their breakfast hours are 7 a.m. - 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

P.S. The owner that works the window is super sweet and bubbly as well. She will brighten your morning. Oh, and their fresh fruit and coffee are great too!

potato, egg and cheese
bacon, egg and cheese


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sugar Cookies at Harper's Bluebonnet Bakery

Harper's Bluebonnet Bakery
When I was a little girl my mom surprised us with treats.

We would come home from school to find a snickers in the kitchen, some sparkle lip gloss on our pillow or my favorite treat — sugar cookies from the best bakery in town.

Not only did they taste brilliant, but the cookies always highlighted a theme in Fort Worth (like TCU football is here), a holiday or season.

In the fall we would find brown, red and orange autumn leaves, black or purple bats, orange pumpkins and black witches on broomsticks in a white box on our kitchen counter.

Since then my mom has moved away, and now in my late twenties I try not to eat snickers and cookies every afternoon. But the other day she came in for my brother's birthday and brought me a box of these butterflies and T-shirts.

I recommend stopping by Harper's Bluebonnet Bakery's new location and trying one. I have eaten the whole box in a matter of days.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forbes Gives Zeke's a Thumbs Up!

The best fish and chips I've ever had anywhere in the world is right here in Fort Worth at Zeke's on Camp Bowie. I'm serious. I don't know what the secret is in their batter, but it's so light and crispy that I can't get enough.

A blogger for Forbes magazine agrees. In July they published a piece stating Zeke's is one of the top 20 restaurants in the country for value "with food scores no lower than 25 and an average price per head no higher than $27." Translation: the best bang for your buck.

I wasn't aware of this article when I dragged five of my friends there a few Friday nights ago. I had warned them that they will have to shower once finished and their diets must be left at home. They were still intrigued ... after all, you know it's good if you have to shower afterward.

Fried cod and shrimp combo
As we waited in the slow and inefficiently constructed line we overheard an older couple from Fort Worth saying this was their first time to try Zeke's. They were inspired by the Forbes piece (this is how I found out about the article). Another couple behind them said they've been coming here almost every Friday night since the late 70s and that this was a Fort Worth institution. "How could you have lived here and never tried this place?" the fried fish veteran's wrinkled brow spelled out. Another couple in line drove all the way from Denton for some fish.

As I waited I noticed the wall was decorated with food reviews and accolades from decades past. Forty years these people have been slingin' fish. Cod (my favorite), catfish and shrimp to be exact. (Ever since my grad school buddy did an "a-hed" style feature on the bottom-dwelling catfish, I haven't been able to eat them since. I took her to Zeke's for "research.")

But I love the white, flaky cod at Zekes. It comes out so hot and crispy. I actually just got back from Scotland a few days ago. I went to this locally famous hole-in-the-wall bar on the Northwest Highlands coast in search of the renowned fish and chips. It was pretty darn good. The fish was caught that morning, but it still didn't top my Zeke's. I have no explanation, except maybe they put crack in the batter.

Some people say Zeke's is gross. I know a few Fort Worth bloggers disdain this place. I have friends that refuse to eat there. One of them says she breaks out afterward. Others probably hate to leave smelling like they've been dipped in the batter themselves. The dive isn't the cleanest. But I say if it tastes good and the beer is cold, who gives a hoot. (Yes, I said hoot.)

The first-timers we met in line made sure to tell us they loved their first experience at Zeke's as they headed for the door.

Fish & Chips

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fort Worth Gets "Lucky"

Fort Worth just got a little luck. No really, Bailey's Prime Plus in Fort Worth is getting a new cocktail menu created by their bar director Eddie "Lucky" Campbell and creative consultant Michael Martensen.

This is something to look forward to if you're already a fan of The Usual's anomalous and matchless creations.

I met "Lucky" a little more than a year ago when he was a bartender at Bolsa in the Dallas Bishops Arts District. His enthusiasm for his concoctions reminded me of a child with a new magic trick, or like Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail.

He volunteered to make my friend and me samples of his favorites, and the drinks were an experience in themselves. It's great when the drinking is a culinary experience and less of a "how-drunk-can-I-get" experience. They were all unique with fresh and new flavors.

Below is a list of what you will find on the newly available cocktail menu.

The Trophy Wife
Grey Goose, St. Germaine Liqueur, White Cranberry, Lime Juice, Lavender Bitters and Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters

Sloe Gin Fizz
Bombay Gin, Bitter Truth Sloe Gin, Egg White, Lemon Juice, Cane Syrup, and Club Soda

Watermelon Basil Gimlet
Wodka Vodka, Fresh Watermelon, Lime Juice, Cane Syrup and Basil

Rock & Rye Old Fashion
West on 7th
Milagro Silver Tequila, Lime Juice, Muddled Cucumber Mint, Bitter Truth Celery Bitters & Club Soda with a Salt Rim

Makers Mark Whiskey, Lime Juice, Peach Puree, Cane Syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters and Ginger Beer

Rock & Rye Old Fashion
Ri1 Whiskey infused with house spices and citrus, Angostura Bitters and Club Soda

Painkiller no. 2
Flor da Cana 7yr, Falernium, Coco Lopez, Pineapple juice, Orange Juice, and grated nutmeg

Annie Oakley
Apricot infused Deaths Door White Whiskey, Lemon Juice, Cane Syrup, Angostura Bitters and Mint Garnish

Papa Pina’
Portón, Pisco All Spice Dram, Lime Juice, Pineapple Syrup and Fever Tree Ginger Ale

Psst ... "Bailey’s Happy Hour features $5 house wines, $2 off signature cocktails, $2 off domestic beers and half off all items on the Bailey’s bar food menu, Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.," according to a press release.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

UPDATE: Board Gives FW Food Park the OK!

"YES!" Chris Kruger shouted from his seat in the Commercial Board of Adjustment meeting Wednesday morning.

After an intense hour-long debate Aug. 3 at Fort Worth's City Hall, and months of pushing through red tape, the board gave 7 out of 9 votes (the minimum required) in favor of Fort Worth's first food park.

But not without hesitation.

After applicant Chris Kruger made his case,  a long series of concerns verbalized by the opposing side and the Board made things uneasy.

Questions like:Where are people going to park? Should a park be set up in a chemical-heavy industrial neighborhood where large trucks move to and fro? Will the traffic disrupt the existing businesses? Is it safe for kids to be roaming the streets in this area? The three people opposing the food park all represented manufacturing companies in the area.

"My first reaction was, 'what a neat concept.' My second reaction was, 'where is everyone going to park?'" M&M's manufacturing representative said.

Kruger had three minutes to respond to these grievances. He said children will be in the park with their parents. A sandbox sketched into the plans should also keep them busy.

"We have parks in Fort Worth next to major streets such as University Boulevard and there's not a rash of children running out in the street," Kruger said.

He has secured about eight parking spaces in the lot just west of his food park and plans to secure more. Those streets are vacant most of the time, so if people do wish to park on the street it shouldn't be a problem.

(When I was working out at the CrossFit gym next door we ran up and down Weisenberger Street because it was mostly vacant except for the occasional delivery truck. I would be more concerned if this was on 7th because of the crazy traffic.)

After the hour-long ping pong match the board decided to approve the variance limited to a period of two years with several amendments. If Kruger continues to secure more parking, he can continue to operate indefinitely. He will operate between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and after 5 p.m. on weekdays and is open for business all day on weekends.

Fort Worth will now get its gourmet food park this fall. Contact Chris at to get your food truck signed up. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Will Fort Worth Have a Food Park this Fall?

The only things sprouting in this 105-degree desert atmosphere are food trucks. Not the dirty, fried-everything food trucks but creative gourmet trucks that won't have you reaching for the Imodium.

Soon there may be a place where a bundle of these can park and grow their businesses together.

It's not new news. I'm sure you've read on the other Fort Worth blogs there is a potential food truck park moving in behind the Target on West Seventh and Carroll.  I sat down with the man behind the idea, Chris Kruger, to ask him about the park and the upcoming Fort Worth City Council meeting where the park's fate will be decided. 

First, what can we expect to see at this meeting? Nine board members will hear Chris' case, which he has seven minutes to present. The people opposing have seven minutes as well. The board members will vote right then and there.  Chris needs seven out of nine votes to have his food park approved. There will also be time where you can add your two cents at the end of this foodie dance.

What is the current opposition? According to a Star-Telegram article, a local manufacturing company said several businesses in the area don't want the "street clogged with diners." The article also said they worry about children running in the streets.

The proposed food park site is in a "light" industrial area but one that hardly has traffic. In fact, the CrossFit Seven gym next door uses the empty streets as a running course several times a day. I also imagine children will be on the benches eating or in the sandbox ... unless they were raised by wolves and are unsupervised. In that case, you would worry about them anywhere.

Chris said he plans to have parking in the lot next to his 7,250 square-foot space on Weisenberger. With all of that said, I hardly see "people-clogging" as a problem. The manufacturers own their plot, not the street.

I've found in my research that most of the opposition for food parks comes from "bricks-and-mortar" restaurants that say food trucks steal their thunder. There aren't any food service companies within 100 feet of this park that I know of. Others argue they aren't environmentally friendly, creating a lot of trash. Maybe an innovative idea can make this park more green.

Chris said this isn't going to be like most other food parks (or pods), which merely fill up vacant unpaved areas or parking lots and aren't very attractive. He wants it to be a nice outdoor space with park benches, trash cans, and even a sandbox for the little ones to play in. Just look at his rendering. I would enjoy myself here.

Why a food park? While Chris already stays busy as an attorney, he and wife Lacey have always had a passion for food. At one point, they thought about opening a grilled cheese food truck, and his wife has her own food blog with nifty tips on how to prepare a solid meal. He said he's been following the food truck trend since he lived in Austin. He even watched that show "The Great Food Truck Race" on the Food Network. With the trend growing in Fort Worth, he decided to jump in and create a pleasant space for it to grow. But it hasn't come easy. He said it's been a learning curve for him and the city of Fort Worth, because this is the first time either of them have attempted such a project.

If you're interested in getting involved or showing up to support, the hearing is this Wednesday, 10 a.m. Aug. 3 at the City Council downtown on Throckmorton. "Like" them on Facebook by clicking here:

To contact Chris email him at If you have any corrections or questions for me, email me at

If all goes well Wednesday, the park should be open this fall.  Right when the weather gets nice and we all emerge from our air-conditioned caves.

Food Park Photo Gallery (Chris' idea looks more tidy than these)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ray's Prime Steak and Seafood

I'm a picky eater. Don't get me wrong ... I'll eat anything, but I won't eat it cold if it's supposed to be hot and vice versa.

My thing is that a restaurant has a very specific job: food. If that is your specialty, all I ask is that you prepare it well, serve it hot and in a timely manner.  This is like climbing Everest for some restaurants.

I also prefer a suitable atmosphere and service minus the side of attitude. You serve so get over it! This is what you do!

Ray's Prime Steak and Seafood got it right. The service was excellent and the atmosphere was warm and cozy. The carpeted floor absorbed a lot of the noise so I could hear my twin sister, brother-in-law and my husband talk. Most importantly, the food was delicious and just the right temperature.

And the best part was that it isn't crazy expensive for what you're getting. It's hard to find a nice steakhouse that doesn't blow up your wallet. However I was a little thrown off by the woman at the table next to us wearing a baseball cap.

Below are the items we ordered and their descriptions.

Mussels in a tomato broth. So good. Not fishy, mushy or lukewarm. 
The Chop Salad with fried onions, bacon and blue cheese dressing.
Very refreshing and full of flavor. The onions really added something. 

Lobster bisque with chunks of lobster meat at the bottom.
The last time I had lobster bisque this good was at Nine in Dallas' Victory Park.
And trust me, it costs a lot more there. 

Filet with red wine, mushroom reduction and mashed potatoes.
The steak was very tender and cooked to perfection. 

Brandy Alexander is an excellent way to finish a meal if
you want to drink your dessert. It is a strong and rich icy drink
made with dark creme de cacao, brandy, half and half and nutmeg.
My sister is an expert in this concoction and she joyfully approved. It was great.
Ray's would be a nice place for an intimate celebration or a date. They don't have a website, but their address is 3206 Winthrop, Fort Worth 76116. Call 817. 732. 1614.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Park Hill Café

Newsflash: It's hot outside, and sometimes I crave cool foods like sushi, fruit, salad and cold sandwiches. I was on the other side of town helping a friend move and remembered my favorite summer sandwich was close by at Park Hill Café.

The "Veggie"
I first met this sandwich ten years ago and we are still in a healthy relationship. It has mushrooms, red onions, bright red and juicy tomatoes, thinly sliced green apples and lettuce stuffed in soft wheat bread. What makes this sandwich is a cream cheese dijon mustard combo they spread on the bread. (I always stuff my Lay's potato chips inside the sandwich for a salty crunch. It is so good with the apples.)

This lunch even inspired me to go back the next day to help my friend pack.

P.S. The quaint neighborhood hangout recently started serving a fantastic brunch. I recommend the brunch eggs. The homemade breakfast breads and hash brown casserole come with the meal. My only complaint is that the atmosphere isn't amazing, but it's comfortable and fitting.

Pssst ... I hear their new dinner menu is pretty good as well!

Chilled cucumber and dill soup. 

"Tools for Tomorrow"

As I was leaving Starbucks this morning I saw this box. I've noticed it for at least a couple of weeks and it hasn't been filled yet. The small sheet of paper glued to the measuring piece is a list of supplies needed for donation. 

"Tools for Tomorrow"
 So I looked inside surprised to find this.

trash for tomorrow

I immediately thought about the state of our education system in Texas. Have we given up? Or are only those who have children in school paying attention? Because it will affect all of us in some way or another.

I know this doesn't have to do with food or things to do, but it does have to do with Fort Worth. This image was definitely a gadfly for me. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

This blog has a new email!

Feel free to contact me with any concerns, questions, ideas or just to say hi.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Out with the new and back with the old

UPDATE: Hui Chuan sold and has been renamed Little Lilly Sushi. It has an entirely new menu. 

Any time a child gets a new toy they seem to forget about the old one. Nothing is wrong with the old toy, it's just not new. The Toy Story movies are all about this phenomenon.

It's hard to keep the modern human's attention for very long and Fort Worth has received many new and flashy toys lately: bowling alleys, restaurants galore, shops and more. With that we've forgotten about our older friends, like one of Fort Worth's original sushi joints – Hui Chuan on West Camp Bowie.

Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the new places and they have something different to offer. But nothing compares to the friendliness, intimate atmosphere, calming music and fresh fish like Hui Chuan. It is still my favorite place to eat, especially when craving Super White Tuna sashimi. It comes with a light sauce and a jalapeno sliver. The fish never tastes ... well, fishy.

Today I checked out their lunch specials. I went with option A for only $8 (there are 4 options). It included piping hot miso soup, a fresh and colorful house salad and a plump California roll. All was filling and good. The salad had a light vinaigrette dressing, baby field greens, strawberries, green apples, cantaloupe and fresh cracked black pepper. Yum!

I challenge you to pull those old toys out of the closet and let them know you haven't forgotten about them.

I Love Fort Worth's Backyard

The only time I can stand to be outside right now is at 7 a.m. when I hit the trails for a jog or walk. This morning I loved seeing this kayaker. It reminded me that we don't have to live in Colorado to enjoy the outdoors (although it helps).  I like to see people enjoying Fort Worth's backyard.

See him? He's tiny. 

There he is!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pie Five doesn't get a high five from me

I have a small voice, and it embarrasses me when I have to yell to place my order. Not only did I have to scream my order at the loud McPizza joint, but the rude staff at Pie Five on West 7th actually told me to order faster.

"You can order your toppings faster you know," said the man behind the counter who almost received a black eye from moi.

"I bet I can, but I'm figuring out my toppings as I look through your pretty glass case ... you really need to be nicer," I said. I was ticked.

As I waited for my pizza to go through the conveyer belt oven, I noticed the place was louder than loud,  really hot and flies peppered the tables. I had to dine in because I was short on time, but wasn't excited about it.

I tried this place a few weeks ago and the staff was a bit nicer but not patient. There were so many options before you even get to the toppings: the crust thickness, garlic sauce, alfredo sauce or marinara sauce. I needed help figuring out what tasted good with what.

I asked the staff if they normally put garlic butter sauce with alfredo sauce. He told me to do whatever I want and rushed me through (side note: both times nobody was in line behind me).  My order was mushy, too rich and clearly lacked guidance.

I stayed traditional with my second attempt. It was OK. I liked the dough.

Domino's is cheaper, hotter and easier. I think I'll stick with them ... unless I need a pie ASAP.

A tent was set out in front of the pizza place the night before it's grand opening. The first 50 people inside received a free pie. 

The line wrapped around the building. This is moments before the opening of Pie Five.