Friday, November 20, 2009

Top Rock Band Endorses Abilene Restaurant

Four-piece rock band Papa Roach has sold more than 10 million copies of it music worldwide. When the group visited Abilene for a concert Friday, members could obviously have gone anywhere...or requested anything. So what did they dine on? La Popular.

Papa Roach guitarist Jerry Horton posted the following message on his Twitter page:

"La Popular Bakery & Cafe in Abilene. Some of the best Mexican food!"

Not a bad endorsement, huh? I'm guessing Horton has had some of the best Mexican food in the country.

If you're interested, you can get all sorts of behind-the-scene details on the Papa Roach concert and trip to the Big Country from the band, crew, etc. by searching "abilene" on Twitter.

The picture you see with this blog entry was a twitterpic posted from the sound check earlier in the day Friday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Free Whataburgers on Tuesday


Anyone who comes dressed in orange to any Big Country Whataburger will get a free Whataburger. Free. Just the way you like it.

There are a couple catches. You must wear an orange piece of clothing. Hats and accessories don't count, a press release from the company specified. You also have to be a dine-in customer. No blazing through the drive through in your jail jumpsuit.

"Orange Night Out" is part of a new company initiative called "Whataburger Serves," geared at helping customers, employees and their families. In fact, employees' family members got to eat for half price on Sunday.

Orange you glad I read through all my press releases?

Check this out, too! Great coupons from your favorite Abilene restaurants -- sit down and fast food included.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Luigi's Replaced after 5 Months...

Out with the tomato sauce, in with the sour cream.

Luigi's In-and-Out, a five-month-old pizza joint with wings and a drive-thru option, has shut down.

The old nail salon building at 3280 South 14th was remodeled and opened in June as Luigi's. The restaurant offered tasty yet inexpensive pizza, but less atmosphere than a church cafeteria. I only went there once, but my husband got Luigi's pizza to go at least once a month.

We've discovered that it's being turned into a place called Little Joe's Fajitas. The new owners applied for a certificate of occupancy last Thursday.

We'll see how this one does!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cypress Street Brewery Open for Business

The wife and I had a chance to stop by Cypress Street Station on Halloween before "The Shining" played at Paramount. To our surprise, the Cypress Street Brewery was already open for business. They listed three brews on the menu: a blonde or pilsner, wheat, and boch-style.

When we lived in Fort Worth, Laura and I were fortunate enough to visit the Rahr Brewery for Saturday tastings. The Rahr crew has brewed numerous award-winning beers, and that made us more adventurous in always trying new beers, so we like to think we're "experts." What we discovered at Cypress wasn't amazing. It definitely wasn't bad either.

We ordered a beer flight that showcases their three brews and a fourth which was a combination of the dark and wheat beers. Each glass was probably 3 ounces and the flight ran $4.50: comprable to the price of a single beer. Here were our thoughts:
Pilsner: a little hoppy with a slightly bitter after taste. It seems like the flavor is okay but needs refining.

Wheat: I hate wheat beer, so I was ready for this to be bad...and it really wasn't. It tasted like a richer version of some other wheat beers I've had. I've had bad wheat beers with unpleasant aftertastes and this was not one of them.

Boch/Dark: not a lot of taste but what it has is good. This brew has some chocolate tones and was a little bitter in aftertaste.

Mixture (random fourth beer): not bad, not great. It didn't have the bitterness of some of the other beers.
Bottom line: I like having this new option in Abilene. I don't think I could drink this beer on a regular basis, but it's definitely worth the ocassional visit. If you'd like to check it out for yourself, I'd recommend the wheat or mixture.

Cypress also offers some unique beers you won't find anywhere else in town (except for H&H). My favorite choice is the Dog Fish IPA about a hops party in your mouth!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Salad Bar Battle

When I have that "it's a salad day" feeling, three great salad bars in Abilene come to mind.

Jason's Deli, Zoo Kini's and United Supermarket on S.14th.

After filling up today at Zoo Kini's I decided to do a little comparison. But that's hard, because all three serve very different lunchtime purposes.

1. Jason's – I have to say, my best tasting salads come from Jason's because I love their dressing, the spinach and field greens are always fresh, and they have a huge variety of crunchy toppings, raisin/nut trail mix being my favorite. My taste buds are definitely most satisfied after a trip to Jason's. Breads, crackers, puddings, etc. are included in the price. However, it's often extremely crowded, and fighting a salad bar crowd is never fun. It's also extremely cold in there. Which makes me reluctant to award bonus points for free ice cream! $6.99, all you can eat.

2. Zoo Kini's – I can get the most full at the Zoo Kini's salad bar. There's a great selection of veggies that aren't necessarily just salad toppings, and you get a large variety of fruit to choose from. Try the red grapes with a bleu cheese crumble for a healthy dessert that's to die for! Bread is not included in the price (unless I'm totally missing something) but being able to make as many trips as you want, and get great service, means I always leave happy and satisfied. Of course, you don't have to tip at Jason's... oh well. $6.99, all you can eat.

3. United – Here you pay per ounce, which is handy, but can add up fast. I always get this to go, since it's not far from my office and is a much healthier "quick grab" than fast food. It also has fruit, but only one choice. It's also difficult to compartmentalize your food here. The to-go boxes aren't sectioned, so you get cottage cheese on your lettuce, ranch on your melon... You get the picture. This salad bar has the smallest selection, but I'm loyal to it because it's always fresh, tasty, and super convenient! $4.99/pound.

Please let me know which other salad bars I can try out in town!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Restaurants Lowering Prices

Many local restaurants are lowering there prices to increase business these days, particularly on lunch specials.

Chili's, for example, is offering a deal where two people can have an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert for $20. Chili's manager Curtis Johnson said he's already seeing results, with increased foot traffic.

"We were down in sales and company wide and in the last three weeks we have seen an increase in business," he said.

Many of the local establishments are seeing positive feedback and will continue the meal deals as long as the tables keep filling up.

Reported by: Kailey Franz

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Papa Roosters offers free samples

Papa Rooster's Grill, one of Abilene's newest restaurants, is giving away free food on Friday!

Maybe folks here at the stations are excited about the new Papa Rooster's restaurant because it's right across the street. Maybe we just think it has a cool name. In any case, you can probably find a few of us moseying over there tomorrow for free samples of the food.

The owners have a pretty interesting story, which they emailed to us. I will post it here:

Abe Delgado and his wife Rubi had an idea and business plan. The only thing missing was a name. After plenty of research for available business names, family and friends voted for the favorite name via email and online. Ultimately, the name Papa Roosters Grill was picked and available. The name fit perfectly considering the house specialty is Mesquite grilled Achiote Rub chickens or ribs. What is achiote rub you ask? It is our special rub.

Being Abilene natives Abe and Tony Delgado knew the Papa Roosters concept would be new to Abilene. Abilene is filled with all the traditional Bar-b-Que and traditional Mexican food Restaurants. They wanted to bring something new. What they brought was a Mexican style Bar-B-Que. A little of both in one. The difference is the special Achiote rub used on all mesquite grilled chicken and ribs. The rub recipe includes traditional Mexican spices and additional family secret recipes. This is a unique flavor only found at Papa Roosters! The sides included ranchero beans, rice, and a mesquite grilled onion.

Free samples will be available on Friday July 23, 2009. We will be drawing for free grills, Office Party and other prizes. Several radio stations will also be there.

Papa Roosters Grill, LLC. Specializes in Mexican style BBQ. It is located at 4621 South 14th and is open weekdays and weekends from 11am to 9pm. Dine-n, call-in, and takeout available.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Free McDonalds Monday!

For three Mondays, starting today, McDonalds is offering any of its hot or cold mocha drinks for free! With a purchase of course.

This only lasts through August 3rd. The deal is good from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Let's let the Big Country know how we like them!

Here's what we want you to do: go get the free drinks and leave comments here, reviewing them. Compare them to Starbucks drinks, if you'd like.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spano's Specials Shine

I should begin by saying I come from an Italian family. I love Italian food. I grew up eating grandma's homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. It takes a lot to impress my Italian taste buds.

I've been to Spano's a few times now. On my first few visits, I had either spaghetti or chicken parmesan. They were good -- but nothing to call home to mom about.

This past weekend, I received an e-mail stating their special would be a flank steak, Gorgonzola, balsamic pizza. I'm the kind of guy who thinks a great pizza consists of marinara sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. However, this special sounded spectacular.

The wife and I decided to split the pizza and Spano's homemade manicotti. The menu made it sound like a house special, so I figured I needed to venture beyond the "spaghetti and chicken parm safe zone." Come to think of it: is there anything unsafe about manicotti?

Anyway, this meal completely changed the way I think about Spano's. The pizza was one of the best I've ever had -- and the manicotti was melt-in-your-mouth delightful. Everything tasted exceptional. Now, I'm anxious to try additional dishes on the menu.

Spano's sends out a weekly e-mail highlighting weekend specials. I've received this now for a few months and the specials always impress me....I just haven't had a chance to stop in and try them. If you enjoy adventurous meals you won't often find anywhere else in Abilene, I suggest you sign up. Food in Abilene can often be "meat and potatoes." Spano's specials stand out from the pack!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

All Aboard the Perini Burger Bandwagon

I'm a bandwagon kind of guy. The Dallas Mavericks start to win games...I become a fan again. Everyone starts to talk about a movie...I go see it. Michael Jackson dies...I listen to Jackson music all day. Perini's Ranch wins a burger battle on "The Today Show"...I want to eat the winning burger. In fact, I might be driving the bandwagon.

With family in town for the weekend, the wife and I traveled to Buffalo Gap to enjoy the winning recipe. My wife has had it before and enjoyed it. My brother ate it when he came through town and said it was overcooked and decent. Enough of everyone else's opinion. I needed to try it out for myself.

Because of a business boom related to the NBC appearance, it took about an hour to get our food. No problem. It turned out to be worth it! The burger was beautifully season and cooked to perfection. I loved the sourdough bun. The fixins' were great -- although I wasn't a big fan of the green chiles. It was definitely one of the best burger's I've had.

On top of the great food and atmosphere, a visit to Perini's doesn't have to be expensive. The three of us ate for less than $30.

I'd recommend everyone to head down the Gap and try the burger for yourself (although many of you probably already have!)...just learn from me and wait until the bandwagon moves out of town.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Copper Creek Gets a Menu Makeover

The wife and I visited Copper Creek last night and were pleasantly surprised to see a menu makeover. Many of the dishes are still the same, but you’ll find some new offerings as well. The most notables: more steak and fish options. It looked like they were offering a few new sides as well.

My wife ordered a salmon salad that’s no longer on the menu but was one of her favorite. Our waiter said they can still make anything on the old menu. As always, the salmon was cooked well and she enjoyed the salad.

I ordered one of their new steaks: an $18 sirloin. Now, one could argue that’s a little steep for a sirloin steak. You can get a pretty decent one around town for around $10-$12 with sides, etc. However, this one was worth a few extra bucks if you happen to have it sitting around. The season was extremely flavorful…maybe a little too much.

I was most impressed with the fact that I ordered it medium…and it was actually medium! I don’t order steaks that often. However, they always seem to be well done no matter what. This sucker was cooked beautifully. Very tasty!

I’d suggest checking out the new menu when you get a chance. The service is always great! Copper Creek may easily be Abilene’s best restaurant. I’m going to have to visit The Turtle in Brownwood again (I went for lunch) to see if Cooper Creek is also the Big Country’s best.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

$2.50 Pizza!!!!!!!!!!

$2.50 for fresh pizza?!? You have to be kidding me, right? Not so...
The brand-new Luigi's In-and-Out is offering any one topping, 10-inch pizza for 1/2 off. That means $2.50!

I was driving down South 14th toward Subway when I spotted the half off sign. After doing what's likely an illegal u-turn, I had to try it out. The atmosphere inside Luigi's isn't much of an atmosphere. But who cares when you're about to get a $2.50 pizza, right?

After waiting about 10 minutes, I got a freshly made canadian bacon pizza. It was fantastic! It's not the best pizza I ever had, but it's pretty darn good. Did I mention it was only $2.50?

I'm not sure how long this special will last, but it's certainly a better deal than a $5.55 pizza, pizza. Try it while you can!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Big Boy's BBQ in Sweetwater

If you've read my past post, you know I DO NOT like hole-in-the-wall restaurants. But I read great things about Big Boy's so I figured, why not!

We drove up to the tiny tin shack, located next to an abandoned bowling alley and I felt the butterflies in my stomach. This is NOT my joint, I thought. But my husband was really excited so I sucked it up. This is a picture I took from Google because I can't find the memory card from my camera.

We drove over a couple massive potholes, passed the seven huge pickup trucks, and went in.

The restaurant was decorated in really a cute southwestern/sunflower motif. There are no more than 12 tables inside. Once we ordered, my food came out on a white paper plate and my husband's came out on a Valentine's Day plate or something. Looks like they use whatever they have on hand. Ok, I'll get to the point.

The chopped beef sandwich I had was GREAT. The bread was super soft and had a sweet taste and I just loved it. The sauce was great, too. My potato salad left something to be desired, but the sandwich more than made up for it. I've heard their cole slaw is good, so I should have gotten that.

Anyway, two thumbs up for Big Boy's! Sorry I judged the book by its cover.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dos Amigos vs. Dos Primos

The time has come for the final verdict on this tasty little blog that's been a few weeks in the making.

...Dos Amigos vs. Dos Primos...

Dos Primos...
This joint's exterior is a little questionable looking but once you get inside, that's soon forgotten. It's a colorful place with a cute little bar and dining area... Small but it was quite the happening place when we went a few weeks ago. The whole gang joined - Katherine, Tyler, Michelle, Mark our producer and my date Jordan. We all ordered different things and the general consensus was all thumbs up. Chips and salsa were great. Service was friendly but a tad slow. I ordered an enchilada and a cup of tortilla soup. Both were great. The enchilada was especially delish! Chicken with Ranchero sauce.. Great! The tortilla soup was good - not the best I'd ever had but a great deal and a healthy portion for the price.

...Overall, my opinion is it's a good spot! The price is just a fraction higher than most mexican joints of it's kind in town but I think it was worth it. Another bonus: Nice bar with clearly posted daily drink specials and some really good mouth-watering tecate on tap... Not to mention the fab looking margaritas! I'll have to go another night to test the drinks.

Dos Amigos...
It's a cute place. I like the authentic mexican style of the sitting area in the entry and the general feel of the place. There is a little bar tucked away in there that looked pretty nice but I didn't make it through the saloon doors to check it out. Chips and salsa were sub-par to my taste buds. I'm not a fan of sweet salsa and this salsa was on the sweet side. The enchiladas were OK but the rest of the meal was uneventful for me. I'm not hard to please so I was a little disappointed but I like to give a place the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was an off night... It comes highly recommended to me so I may have to give it another shot.

DOS PRIMOS wins in my opinion! I want to go back and try a margarita and their chile rellenos, which are all the talk in KTAB's weather center. I was left with a great impression from the upbeat environment and fantastic flavor. Dos Amigos deserves a second chance for me but this battle has been fought and Dos Primos didn't need a second round.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fugi's Japanese Steakhouse

A group of reporters and I headed to Fugi's for lunch today. A little shabby on the outside and a in a strange location but inside it's a cute little place. Great lunch specials for a hibachi joint. Today was my second visit and as such is a testament that the following story did not deter from returning to Fugi's but there was certainly a recovery period...

My first visit to Fugi's was a few months ago. The boss, some others from the station and I went out together to welcome me to the station. It was a fun lunch and everything was going just fine until Andrew's order was wrong. He ordered chicken, they cooked steak - no big deal. They bring out some fresh chicken (raw) in a bowl and the chef dumps it on the grill and sets the bowl aside. Meanwhile he is cooking tons of other things on the grill... steak, rice, veggies and shrimp. He realizes that he has cooked too many shrimp and offers shrimp to everyone at the table. A few accept and he tosses some shrimp into the bowl the chicken came in........... RAW chicken JUICE and all... I guess the rest of the table didn't realize it was raw chicken juice... He serves the shrimp and some eat them... Luckily no cases of salmonella turned up in the station but a few of us were certainly perturbed by the incident. I'm not saying Fugi's has flawed health standards or should be shut down or anything of that sort... Maybe that server/chef should just be a little more careful.

So I returned today for the first time... Ironically, we received the same chef! He did a great job this time. The food was great.

My recommendation... try it I guess...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chaotic Night at Carino's

I'll always have a little connection to Carino's Italian. When I met my wife, she worked at the location in Denton, TX. I spent a few night's there eating and try to impress her.

We've been a few times since moving to Abilene. Most of the visits have been good. Our latest trip would be characterized as maybe, a little bit, kind of good?
First and foremost, the menu has changed! Some of the changes are great. They now offer "mini" versions of appetizers, so you don't have to spoil your meal. They also have a number of new dishes that looked great ( On the downside, the prices seemed higher than the last time I went. I wouldn't be surprised if most plates increased by a buck or so.
On this night, I ordered the new Grilled Italian Sirloin. It's a steak doused in a mushroom marsala sauce. It comes with a side of green beans and your choice of pasta or potatoes. I decided to be difficult and asked for pasta and potatoes instead of green beans. What can I say? Waiters tend to hate me. Compared to most other meals, it's not too bad of a deal at $13.99.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, I was told the kitchen was out of potatoes. No biggie, I decided to get a double side of pasta.
After another 20 minutes, we asked our waiter if I food would be coming anytime soon. He looked confused and didn't respond. A little strange...
A few minutes later, we checked with a manager who said he'd go hunting for our meals.

After about an hour of waiting, our food arrived! Needless to say, we were ready to down some grub. Unfortunately, my meal didn't come quite as advertised. My "medium" steak was well done to the second power...and where was the fancy mushroom sauce on top of my steak? Nowhere to be found. I could've made this meal at home!
In the end, the meal wasn't just took all evening to get it! The manager was kind enough to offer us dessert for free, but we had somewhere else to be and declined. He still took care of us -- giving us 10 dollars off.

In the end, no real harm done. Next time, we may be more inclined to head to Spano's or Olive Garden when we have a hunch for Italian.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Trip to the Tavern

Since I'm Catholic, eating out on Fridays can be a challenge; I have to go meatless.
As a lover of all things meat, I basically have a few options: Italian, Mexican, or the dreaded seafood!

I've been to the Seafood Tavern a few times but only eaten there once. In fact, I had a steak during my previous visit.

When I checked out the menu, I was a little surprised by the prices. Warning: this place isn't cheap! It's tough to find a meal for below 10 bucks.

During this trip, I decided to go with the Shinerbock Fried Shrimp with a side of fries and salad with blue cheese dressing. The salad and bread were great -- the shrimp was pretty darn good -- the fries very well could've come out of a freezer. I was satisfied with the meal, but I wouldn't have it again because of the $12 pricetag.

My wife had the stuffed salmon. Her meal started with lobster bisque which she said was pretty good. Her salmon wasn't anything particularly special. She said the stuffing didn't have much of a taste. However, she absolutely loved her side of mixed veggies. The side was well prepared and seasoned! I believe this meal was a little more expensive...somewhere around $15.

The place is pretty good, but you better go on payday!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hungry Girl Seeks Good Recommendation

My husband and I recently drove from Abilene down to Austin for a wedding. On the way back, we really wanted to taste some Big Country cuisine!

Always looking for good local flare, Austin (the husband, not the city) tried to scout out a good place when we approached Brownwood. We saw Underwood's Cafeteria, which was packed, but we weren't quite hungry enough.

Then, we passed Lone Star Steakhouse in Santa Anna. Looked great from the outside. I can't remember why we didn't stop there. If I'm wrong about the name, please correct me!

So, up to Coleman we headed. Austin sent a text to Randy Turner to see what he would recommend, since he calls Coleman home. No response. At least not quickly enough. We didn't have a map of Coleman and didn't know where to go from Hwy 84 and didn't want to get lost.

So the point of my rambling is that I'd love someone to recommend a great place to eat between Brownwood and Abilene!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

JOE'S Pizza, Pasta and Subs!

Joe's is a great little italian place behind the mall off of Buffalo Gap. They serve fast italian but great stuff in the genres of pizza, pasta and subs. I'm a long-time fan of the Joe's movement. They have tons of these located all across the Dallas-Fort-Worth area where I'm from and I was pleased to find out there was one here in Abilene. It was the first place I dined at when I moved to town and I'd consider myself a regular these days.

Katherine Lane and I paid the little place a visit last night. We both got the house salad (you have to get it with the house dressing) which is my favorite salad in town and it comes with this garlic bread that makes a great compliment while you wait on your food. Everything is made fresh and it has a very New York feel and flavor to it. Last night I ordered the meatball sub and Katherine ordered the baked ziti... both were absolutely scrumptious! It was too much food for us girls but it was hard to stop because it was so good! We recovered from our full stomachs with newsroom coffee a slow night at the station.

My recommendation... GO! It's great, affordable and has the best house salad in town!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sharon's BBQ

Sharon's BBQ, I've found out is pretty well known in the Abilene area. Michelle Dapper and I had a few minutes while we were on our way to a live shot at the expo center on friday night and we were STARVING so we made a pit stop at Sharon's. It was my first time but Michelle had been before. We decided to get two different things and spit them both. Michelle got the chopped brisket and I got the sliced sausage sandwich and a variety of sides between the two of us. The BBQ was great! Some of the sides were really to die for as well. They have a corn side... it's creamy with corn and jalapeno chunks and who knows what else but the flavor was great. Also their potato salad was interesting - different but top notch as well.

From what I understand, Sharon's serves fantastic bread. We were a tad in a rush so somehow this little detail was overlooked but the bread comes so highly recommended that I'll have to make a return trip.

Overall, great BBQ joint. I'm not the biggest fan of BBQ normally but this place surpassed my expectations. Check it out if you're not already a fan.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Brick Oven Pizza Company

So conveniently located at the intersection of S. 14th and Winters Freeway, Brick Oven Pizza Company is a little Italian place that shares a shopping center with Hobby Lobby and Abuelos. I'm not sure what my affinity is to these little hole-in-the-wall joints but this was quite good as well. They have an entire selection of different pizzas that range from adventurous to standard. I went for a pizza called "The Favorite" with cheese, artichokes, peppers, onions, tomatoes and more - a delish combination of flavors. The little restaurant appears to be one of those come order your food at the counter and sit down with it kind of places but it's not. They have servers in matching uniforms and a salad bar that is small but has everything you need.

Overall, great food with a mediocre atmosphere. Great for an affordable lunch date and Oh yes - they had a small selection of beer and an even smaller selection of wine but they had it nonetheless so with that combination of things, they win my vote. Check them out!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spano's: 30 Minutes or It's Free!

Spano's launched a new business lunch guarantee today.

Here's the message we received:
"At Spano's we know your busy thats why we are offering a 30 minute lunch guarantee! In and out in 30 Minutes or I'll buy your lunch!!
Were just 3 minutes from downtown, and 8 minutes from the mall area!!!"

Sounds like it may be worth a try for a free lunch, huh?

Monday, January 19, 2009

La Popular...

I had lunch today and La Popular. They have 2 branches here in Abilene. I drive past one frequently over off of S. 14th near the station. However, their main branch appears to be the one off of Pine on the north side (another hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint on the north side - beware Laura!). This one was a little different - more of a fast-food place. The location on S 14th has a drive through for your convenience in case you are on the go. We went to the one on the north side which has a pretty large area to sit down in. I ordered a "supreme burrito" - I had been hearing how incredible their burritos are and admired one that a friend was eating one day so I thought I'd give it a whirl. It was great. lettuce, tomatoes - all fresh tasting. I enjoyed it. If you like spicy salsa this place would be great for you and apparently they sell it by the pint if you're interested. One questionable note that could make some skeptical it their use of some questionable meat... I've indulged in the Mexican culture a tad myself so I sort of know better than to order a meat whose name is not familiar to me but some may not feel so discerning. Well La Popular is pretty true to it's Mexican roots and a friend found out the hard way that his favorite meat there actually comes from the head of a goat... So it may taste delicious but I wouldn't highly recommend being adventurous with your order unless you know what you are getting into.

OVERALL... Burrito was great. Service was speedy and they make fresh lemonade and sweet tea that is to die for.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Why do hole-in-the walls scare me?

I'm sure I'm in the minority here but I absolutely dread going to little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, especially if I've never been there before and most especially if none of my dining companions have been there. My husband will drive up to a little Mexican restaurant in a strip center and I will literally sit in the car and mildly panic. Sometimes I convince him to drive off.

We had friends come visit from Dallas and they'd heard rave reviews about Harold's. When we drove up, I had to force myself out of the car. I stood in line with my heart beating quickly and ordered the first thing I saw. Turned out to be delicious, of course, but that didn't matter.

Hole-in-the-walls make me so nervous! I have no idea what scares me so much. It has nothing to do with health or food safety. I don't really notice cleanliness. I just don't like a place that doesn't have more than one (preferably dozens) of locations! Even though I'm a total cheapskate, I would rather eat the cost of the professional sign outside and matching uniforms for the waiters.

Maybe it's because I spent five years of my life serving up entrees that looked exactly the same at my restaurant in Denton (or Arlington or Grand Prairie) as they do here in Abilene. When I go to Spaghetti Warehouse, the Turin Trio might have gone through a few name changes in the last 10 years, but it's still a hunk of lasagne, a splatter of fett alf and a big ol' piece of chicken parm. (When you work at a restaurant you never say the entire word. It's so not cool.)

Theoretically, I would support a small business over a big one any day. I think it's great when people have the vision and the guts to open their own place and it's even greater when they're successful. But I still can't convince myself that I want to eat at a place like that!

Is anybody with me?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Los Arcos

Tonight was my first experience at Los Arcos, a very small little mexican restaurant on the north side. It's all the rave around the station so I was encouraged to check it out. Our director Russel and reporter Megan Dobbs joined me for the experience. Russel is a long time fan of the joint but for Meg and I it was our maiden voyage into what turned out to be a very tasty evening. Our meal started with chips and salsa. Salsa is a tricky thing for everyone - I'm not going to say it was fantastic because I believe that is strictly left in the eye of the beholder. However, to my taste buds it was delightful. Not a chunky salsa, spicy (but not too spicy) and had a great tomato/cilantro mix...overall a pleasing product for me. Another plus on the salsa - everyone got their own bowl so it was germ friendly and you could double dip to your heart's desire.

I ordered a combination platter with a chile relleno, a chicken enchilada and a taco, served with rice and beans. The whole thing was only six bucks and I couldn't finish it all. The relleno was great - seemed to me it was made fresh- very tasty. The chicken enchilada, however, was fantastic! The red enchilada sauce was a flavor I've never had before but it was great and combined perfectly with the flavor of the chicken - which was also great.

Overall, my review is... affordable... fresh... delish... and they serve beer which is always a plus. I'm going back for sure.

Check it out - it's off of ambler on the north side.