Saturday, October 1, 2022 Oct 1, 2022
61° F Dallas, TX

Restaurant Review: Joyce & Gigi’s Kitchen

A mother-daughter duo offers a warm South American dining experience.
By Todd Johnson |

In the restaurant business, sincerity goes a long way. Mother-and-daughter team Joyce Stenvall and Gigliola Aguilera’s new East Dallas restaurant exudes South American charm in spades. It feels honest, not trendy, as if you’re eating in a slightly polished version of the Bolivian duo’s kitchen. Likewise, the menu is full of hearty South American favorites. Red wine-infused beef-heart pate was a rich and earthy way to start the meal. The empanada trio—stuffed with cheese, beef, and duck—was a flaky, savory hit as well. Entrées included a crisp chicken milanesa served over chicken-skin quinoa grits, a special of chicken thighs with apple slaw and tamarind sauce, and feijoada. The traditional Brazilian dish was a heady stew of pork sirloin, pork shoulder, housemade chorizo, and black beans. Topped with a bit of pickled onion and tomato salad, it was a surprisingly complex melange of flavors—sour and spice with earthy notes—that transformed this peasant dish into something special. My lone criticism is the consistency. Both Chilean sea bass dishes—an escabeche starter and an entrée portion served over a yucca-root cake—suffered from mushy, flaccid fish. For dessert, burnt sweet potato-and-pumpkin fritters were inedible. But when mom and daughter are cooking from the heart—as they often are—the results make you feel like you’re dining with family.