Joyce & Gigi's | Dallas, Tx

Back in March, Hoyoung photographed some of the chefs nominated for CultureMap's Dallas Tastemakers 2014. Gigliola Aguilera of Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen was one of those.

Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen is a modern South-American restaurant on the East side of Dallas. I know absolutely nothing about South American cuisine so I was a little worried that I would feel intimidated by the menu and not know what to order. However, I was delightfully surprised. When you walk in, the atmosphere is bright and comfortable, like you've stepped into a home kitchen.

The interior is unpretentious and so is the menu. The selection is well curated with a variety of beef, pork, chicken, and fish dishes for appetizers and main courses, plus a vegetarian entree that I need to come back for.

We visited the restaurant on Wednesday a little after they opened at 5pm. We are so glad that we came at an hour where it was not so busy so that we could take our time and enjoy all of the food. We also took advantage of the happy hour prices - half off all cocktails and all appetizers.

As we drooled over the menu, our lovely waitress, Arelli, brought us two slices of warm buttery bread with Chimichurri butter to start. The slightly sweet bread and the subtly spicy butter was so good.

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We ordered the Empanada Trio to start.

Each one is filled differently; all are very good.

Later in the kitchen, we got to see one of the sous chefs rolling out dough for the Empanadas. Everything here is homemade, from scratch, by loving hands.

I also ordered a G's Punch, a cocktail with whiskey, peaches and orange zest bitters. By far, this is my favorite mixed drink with whiskey I've ever had! It was generous in size, too, so I was able to sip on it throughout my entire meal.

After we were finished with the Empanadas, Arelli recommended that we try the Pâté next. Hoyoung and I were unsure about it because it was made of beef heart, which neither of us have ever tried. She reassured us that it was very good, that it would be on her if we did not like it. Any doubts we had about the Pâté went away with the delicious first bite. Texturally, the Pâté is not creamy like I expected but more crumbly. It was rich and full of flavor - the sweet pickled onions on top ever so slightly offset the richness of the Pâté. 

Chef Gigi herself later greeted us at our table and asked us if we'd like to try the Escabeche next. "It is a light and refreshing contrast to the richness of the Pâté."

And it was.

Citrus Chilean Sea Bass is served with an apple cider vinegar broth, surrounded by currants and fennel, topped off with julienned fried plantains.  It was my favorite appetizer out of the three.

After consuming bread and butter plus three different appetizers, we were ready for the main course. Hoyoung and I decided that we would be "responsible" and just order one entree.

We chose the Pescado Sudado.

This dish also had Chilean Sea Bass, but seared and over a Yuka Root Cake with asparagus. The textural combination of the flaky fish and the creamy potato-like Yuka Root with the dried chili broth was delicious.

For dessert, we ordered the Manjar - caramelized bananas topped off with meringue. My stomach was feeling very full by the time dessert came out, but once I caught a whiff of the sweet smells of the caramelized bananas, I was ready to eat. The soft and gooey bananas were very good and the meringue just so sweet.

While we waited for dessert, we snapped portraits of each other - the light that spills into the restaurant is spectacular.

Overall, we had such a great time at Joyce & Gigi's. We will definitely be coming back again for the great atmosphere and the delicious food.

Learn more about them on the Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen website.

All photos were taken with a Fuji X-T1 camera.