BY JENNY BOONE
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Be warned Good Eats Foodies – this restaurant update is going to feature some super secret off menu items, so be sure you read this sitting down.
I love Growler USA. Whether it’s after a long day of work, a night out with friends, or a weekend lunch with family, there’s nothing better than unwinding at a place that has something for everyone.
Husband and wife owners Lance and Jessica Mayo frequently host fundraisers for local charities like Graeme’s Superheroes and Logan’s Legacy, so they are definitely known for their big hearts and deep roots in the community.
And they love craft beer. I thought I loved it, and then I met Jessica and the entire Cicerone certified staff at Growler USA. If you’ve never heard of a “Cicerone”, it’s the beer equivalent of a Sommelier, and it is just as incredibly difficult to be certified. Every staff member, from the back of the house to the front are experts, and passionate about beer. As such, they can recommend pairings for each of their menu items, and they are always a winning combination!
This time I was thrilled to get the opportunity to do a full meal pairing, and boy was it spot on.
Starting with the Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip (or as the staff call it “crack dip”), the manager Dee paired it with a Mango Smash IPA from the very talented Three Nations Brewery in Farmers Branch, TX. I’ve had the dip before, and it lives up to the staff’s nickname – the bold spiciness of the chicken and warm gooey melted cheese can’t be beat. The beer was almost as addicting, as the boys from Farmer’s Branch know how to make juicy-citrusy-pucker-up-buddy IPA goodness.
After that Big Bang of an opening, I didn’t think anything could top it. But Growler USA knows how to make amazing pretzel bread, and their homemade beer cheese was the perfect complement. Not only was the bread warm and oh so soft on the inside, but the big chunks of gourmet sea salt on top mixing with the beer cheese really made for an irresistible bite. What elevates the beer cheese here is that it’s made in house every morning from a different freshly tapped keg, so the flavor can fluctuate in fun ways. Some days it can have a subtle fruity undertone from a cider or a spicy note from a rye pale ale. It’s always good, and it’s always good for a nice surprise.
In keeping with their ability to use beer in fun ways, next came the Beef Brisket Sliders with BBQ sauce made in house with a local stout to give the smoky flavor a unique sweetness. The freshly chopped slaw was an excellent topper, as it gave everything a nice spicy kick. This was paired with an excellent imperial IPA with rye from Sigma called Bonesaw, which was rich and dark and spicy and hoppy. A big bold beer for the big bold flavors on the plate.
Next it was time for some lighter fare – and boy did I need it. The Spinach and Brisket salad was more than just a pretty plate. After adding the side of bacon vinaigrette, it was like a deconstructed BBQ sandwich. Paired with the Houston brewed 8th Wonder Bo$$ Beer, it was a nice balance of salty smoky flavors with the citrusy elements of a great pineapple wheat pale ale.
While the next dish was great and featured fresh blackened Mahi Mahi fish tacos, and loaded tator tots, I found out about a super secret menu item that I have been authorized to share with you: Tator Tots covered with crack (aka buffalo chicken dip). Holy cow ladies and gentlemen. Seriously, I asked if I could just live there. While I may have to wait until the next time I go to try it, don’t let that stop any of you dear readers from beating me to the punch. The fish tacos were delicious and light, and the fresh jalapeños on the loaded tator tots really brought it all together. And all of that paired with Brash’s Prestige Worldwide IPA? Get outta here. It was just. so. freakin. great.
So after the phenomenal feast, I was ready to pack it up and call it a day when all of a sudden another secret menu item appeared on my table: an adult root beer float. While I’ve had their amazing skillet cookie before, I’d yet to try this concoction and boy was it worth the wait.
Known for making root beer floats from their keg of Saint Arnold’s root beer for kids (and adults who know what’s what), they decided to up the ante a bit and create “adult floats”. Basically pick any beer you want (I got No Label’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Time) and they’ll create a vanilla ice cream float with it. It was awesome, and now that I’ve divulged info on all their amazing secret menu items, my good deed for the day has been done.
With over 100 craft beers on tap, including rare taps and types like braggots, meads, and sours (over 20!), red and white wines on tap, great food, an upscale and intentionally family friendly atmosphere, it’s no wonder Growler USA is a real community gathering spot. Whether you love beer, or just want a great place to hang out with friends, family, or your kids, you won’t find anything else like Growler USA.
PHOTOGRAPHY: JENNY BOONE