Monday, June 1, 2009

Marty's Taxi Report: Hula Hotties Cafe and Bakery

Nobody knows this city like Marty.  He’s been driving a big yellow cab around the Metroplex for going on 30 years, and in addition to knowing all the best rush hour routes and hidden city landmarks, he’s always up on the latest and greatest in coffee shops, diners and cafés.  In fact, one of the best parts of growing up with the guy (did I mention he’s my Dad?) was being introduced to out-of-the-way restaurants and new and exciting foods on a regular basis.

Today, we’re proud to announce Marty’s brand new restaurant beat for DallasEats: Marty’s Taxi Report.  This regular feature will focus on interesting spots that may or may not have registered on your radar, and they’ll give you the lowdown from a very unique perspective.  You see, Marty doesn’t fall for the usual dog-and-pony show when it comes to eating out; he knows good food and he knows what he likes.

For his inaugural review, we sent our adventurous new reporter to Hula Hotties Café and Bakery, a two-month-old Hawaiian-themed eatery in Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District.  And what did Marty make of it?  Did he enjoy this little tropical stay-cation, or did Hula Hotties leave him longing for the mainland?  Read on and find out:

Marty’s Taxi Report

Hula Hotties Café and Bakery
244 West Davis St.

First Impressions:

I made two visits to Hula Hotties: one trip alone for lunch and a return with my fiancée, Claudia, for Saturday brunch.  I noted the small restaurant’s pretty plain décor right off the bat, which was quite a surprise judging from its colorful exterior.  Frankly, I was a little afraid of winding up in a “ladies lunch” kind of joint, so this point is actually a “plus” in my book.  Nothing rubs me the wrong way like having to fight for table space with vases of pink flowers or frilly placemats.  They do have kitchy little salt and pepper shakers, but aside from that, the place isn’t all tiki’d up.

Also noted: very clean restroom.  That’s right, restroom is singular.  There is one unisex facility at Hula Hotties, which is fine by me.  You should always check out the bathroom when you visit a new place.  Clean bathroom = clean kitchen, kids.

The Food:

Lunch choices on the Asian-influenced menu included the Kona Brisket Sandwich, a Teriyaki Burger and a Thai Chicken Sandwich with Peanut Sauce.   I had the Saigon Sub, a Banh Mi-style Vietnamese sandwich.   (Menu description: Marinated Ground Pork, Thinly Sliced Ham, Spicy Mayonnaise, Mixed Greens, Assorted Pickled Veggies, Cilantro, Garnished with Peanuts, Mint, Basil. $7.95)  It was unlike other Banh Mi I’d had, in that it was served warm and almost over-stuffed with fillings.  The ground pork tasted fresh and was mildly spiced so as not to compete with the plentiful topping of herbs.  The sliced ham was also a very high-quality deli ham with a nice smoky flavor.  Though I had to ask for extra napkins (paper napkins – another “plus”), it was worth every drip.  The Saigon Sub was sloppy-good!

The Saigon Sub with Asian Cole Slaw:
There's good meat under all that rabbit food.

Brunch at Hula Hotties was really cool.  Claudia thoroughly enjoyed her Baked Monte Cristo Sandwich (Menu description: Crescent [sic] Filled with Slices of Ham, Roasted Turkey, Muenster Cheese & Raspberry-Orange Preserves.  $10.95, with sides).  I had the Loco Moco, billed as a “Hawaiian-Style Eggs Benedict”.  It was made up of steamed rice topped with a hamburger patty and poached eggs, covered in brown gravy.  To be honest, the patty was pretty dry; they might have better luck using meat with a higher fat content.  The eggs were poached just right, however, and the basic brown gravy was rich and well-seasoned.  I didn’t feel like the dish really had that much in common with Eggs Benedict, though, unless you count the “stacked” presentation.  No matter – I’d order it again.

Side dishes on both visits were a mixed bag.  Hula Hotties' Asian Cole Slaw is nothing particularly special, however, the brunch-time Rosemary Fried Potatoes were great.  Believe it or not, it's easy to mess up a fried potato, but they didn't.  They were crisp on the outside and warm and moist on the inside and the rosemary was fresh.  Also, I could make a meal of that PotatoMac Salad.  A light touch with the mayo and finely diced onion and celery are just the way to make me happy with a picnic-type salad like this one – it wasn’t heavy or gloppy or bland.

Finally, if you visit this place, you have to take something home from the bakery case on your way out.  I was happy with my choice of a gingerbread cookie (of the soft, cakey variety), which was good to eat in the car.  It didn’t crumble all over the place, and when you’ve got clients to keep in mind, that’s a good thing.  There’s nothing worse than a crumby cab.  You can also order whole cakes for birthdays and other occasions.

The Service:

Service at Hula Hotties was slow – really slow.  That Saigon Sub took 20 minutes.   I got the impression, though, that the delays were due to the kitchen and not the servers.  Everyone who waited on me was very nice, and since the restaurant is still new, I have reason to believe that things will speed up in time.

Final Fare:

Hula Hotties is worth a trip if you’re gonna be in the neighborhood or if you’re looking for something new.  It’s a little pricier than I would normally go for a weekday lunch (around $10, plus tip), but if you’ve had a productive day and feel like taking your time with the crossword, this would be a good choice.


Anonymous said...

I love the addition of Marty's Taxi Report!! Talk about fun!!

HeatherBakes said...

I was so excited to see the taxi report!! Great idea. And that sandwich looks fabulous (under all the rabbit food- haha).

Food Czar said...

Great report, Marty! Glad you liked the Loco Moco. It's a locals favorite dish in Hawaii, and one that Mainlanders like ourselves don't always understand. I happen to love it!

Anonymous said...

Great review! Can't wait to hear more!

Anonymous said...

I was so excited to see the taxi report!! Great idea.

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