People’s Last Stand

A few weeks ago I was invited to a menu release party for local foodies gastrophiles and bloggers at People’s Last Stand in Mockingbird Station.  Now, I wouldn’t say that I am a Mockingbird Station regular (mainly due to the HORRIFIC parking situation) but I do go there often enough to have a decent lay of the land.  Even though I was aware that People’s Last Stand had opened in October I was yet to a) go there and b) know where exactly it was.  Several sources describe the location as “overlooking Urban,” but apparently I took that a little too literally when I stood looking at the roof of Urban Outfitters for about 5 minutes which actually happens to be an apartment.  Who knew.

After my awkward wandering about and several text messages to my blogger friends inquiring about the location, I finally arrived!  People’s Last Stand, otherwise known just as People’s, is actually right above The Pretty Kitty…no wonder they describe their location as “overlooking Urban.”  After I walked in I was promptly greeted by a bubbly girl who handed me a cocktail.  Trying to sort out whether she was a friend of mine or if I was being roofied, I soon figured out that she was actually a cocktail waitress.  Oh.  In that case, can you make mine a double?

Shortly after we finished our cocktails we were ushered to sit down ta long table that the staff had created in a U-shape for us so that they could sit down and explain what all we were eating and the thoughts behind it.  Already resting at the table were several bowls of Maple Glazed Peanuts with Bacon.  As we all know, I don’t touch pig face with a 10 foot pole so as much as the maple glazing intrigued me I couldn’t devour them like I would have liked.  I did manage to fish out a few non-bacon pieces for Food Bitch and I.  These peanuts were effin’ nuts, no pun intended.  The glaze was perfectly flavored to the point where Food Bitch and I brainstormed on them making a non-oinking version.  Order these!

When our first appetizer arrived I wasn’t expecting much.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some hummus but rarely does it taste all that different at a restaurant (unless you are Common Table) than it does out of a package from Tom Thumb.  After the hummus was placed in front of me, a trio of shot-glass sized cocktail samples did as well. OHHHH sure, get me wasted so everything will taste better!  Let me tell you, one does not have to be wasted to enjoy the hummus or any of the other food at People’s Last Stand to enjoy it.  In fact, I would almost prefer to be dead sober so I could enjoy the wonderful flavors that they draft up in their uber-tiny kitchen.  Mixed with green chili paste this hummus has an outstanding “oomph” of flavor and proved that golden rule of not judging something based on its appearance.  Served with cucumbers, carrots and pita bread this hummus is so delicious that People’s could make a killing by selling it. *Side Note: if Kartik, the owner, decides at some point to do that I demand 5%

Our second course was the Cuban Ropa Vieja Taco.  Never in my life have I heard Food Bitch “mmmm” at something edible, I mean she is a bitch after all, and she wasn’t the only one making questionable sounds.  After the ropa vieja tacos were served the room was dead silent.  These tacos blow almost every taco I’ve ever had before it out of the water. YES, they are that good.  This is the kind of dish that I would drive specifically to the parking lot hell we know as Mockingbird Station just to eat these.  Served with jicima slaw and guacamole that is surprisingly spicy, these tacos have everything I could hope for and more.  As if I wasn’t already in love with these, we were informed that they are thinking about rolling out a chicken version at some point. 

Next up was the stuffed avocado.  Being a born and bred Southern California-er I like avocado anything.  Mash it, slice it, freeze it, fry it – I could give a shit as long as it is avocado.  Needless to say, I was pumped to try the stuffed version at People’s Last Stand.  Sigh.  Quite frankly it was disappointing.  Baked and stuffed with chicken, cheese and peppers it would be hard to imagine that anything could go wrong with this dish.  I won’t go so far to say that it was bad it just wasn’t great.  There was none of that distinct avocado flavor I adore so much and I definitely didn’t pick up any flavorings from the chicken, cheese or peppers that stuffed it.  Ok, before you assholes who like to nit pick every aspect of my blog say anything, I am very aware that it’s not avocado season. Thanks.  However, if you are bold enough to put avocado on your menu in January then they need to be legit.  Perhaps this dish would be better smothered in homemade salsa or something of the like.

Our next adventure led us to sandwiches.  People’s Last Stand gets their bread from Empire Baking Company, something that I adore and also appreciate.  It’s clear that these guys did their research of the Dallas market and luckily for their customers – we reap the benefits.  I assume it would be hard to make anything that lies between two slices of Empire’s delicious bread suck and People’s definitely doesn’t disappoint.  The sandwiches, although rather pig-facey, were solid in flavor and freshness.  My only critique is that there be a bit more variety when it comes to the meat selections.  Something to note is that each sandwich is accompanied with a horseradish pickle which blew most of my fellow gastrophiles and myself away.  The team at People’s said they searched high and low for the perfect pickle and they sure found it.  All of us who were able to experience the menu release party agreed that every home in Dallas should be stocked with a jar of these.  Not too spicy, surprisingly sweet and crisp – the horseradish pickles are reason alone to order a sandwich.

All in all, the food at People’s impressed me which as we know is pretty difficult to do.  This is a bar that I would specifically drive to Mockingbird Station just to eat at.  For having no oven and no grill, People’s does a fantastic job of conjuring up some wonderful flavors while staying true to their idea.  As Kartik put it, “We could have a lot or we could have a few very good items.”  At this point they are headed in the right direction with more items that I liked than I disliked and as they continue to tweek their menu they have the potential to be outstanding.

Let’s not forget about the cocktails…oh, the cocktails.  Too bad I write about food instead of things that get you sloshed!  That’s what my girl Susie Drinks Dallas does best.  If you haven’t given People’s Last Stand a try yet, whether it be for cocktails or food, you should.  Those tacos STILL have me daydreaming…

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share the good AND the bad?  This past week I happened to be with some friends who weren’t lucky enough to be invited to media night so I suggested that we go over to People’s Last Stand so they could see just how awesome it was.  Well, I now look like a liar.  My second visit to People’s didn’t even come close to comparing to the first which was beyond disappointing.  The anticipation of craft cocktails and ropa vieja tacos had me feeling as giddy as a 26 year old 5 year old on Christmas morning.

I was happy to see that People’s had a decent crowd considering the location and as we sat down I immediately started suggesting some of the delicious cocktails that I was able to sample previously.  To make a long story short:  I was with 2 other people and therefore we ordered 3 drinks.  One drink came out 20 minutes, T.W.E.N.T.Y., before the other two.  Ok, what the fuck?  Isn’t the whole point of drinking alcohol to get shitfaced socialize?  It is pretty difficult to enjoy casual drunken conversation when one person is done with their drink entirely while the other people at the table nurse water.

Another disappointing aspect was the fact that we had to remind our server twice about our food order.  Now, I don’t mind waiting for my food but that food better be those damn tacos and not the hummus we ordered.  Hummus.  Any restaurant or bar that takes longer than 5 minutes to pour some hummus in a bowl and arrange some stale pita around it has an issue.

I hate that I have to rant given the fact that media night was just.so.awesome. but I would feel like a total asshole if y’all went to People’s expecting the glory that I mention in the main post and end up with the shit that I talk about down here.  Sure, some days restaurants just aren’t “on” and that is OK, but not when there is such a drastic change in experience.  Something that I personally think separates the men from the boys in the service industry is consistency.  If patrons have a hell of an experience one time and a horrible one the next, that’s an issue.  Sorry ‘ bout it.  I do suggest hitting up ol’ People’s to establish your own opinion.  My second visit clearly didn’t deter me too much considering I am armed with a Groupon and ready for round 3!

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