Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Margarita, Anyone?

TaMolly's Mexican restaurant in Abilene is hoping to add booze to its menu.

The restaurant on Ridgemont Drive is in the process of applying for its mixed beverage license which would allow them to sell liquor, wine, and beer on the premises.

The Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission requires interested businesses to post a sign showing their intentions sixty days before they are eligible to apply for the liquor permit.

If TaMolly's meets all TABC requirements, the business could likely start selling alcohol within 75 days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tru Blue Catering Opens "Bonterra Blu" in Clyde

Mushroom ravioli with marscapone creme and duck confit.

Angus beef tenderloin with fig demi and stilton bleu cheese.

[I could go on, but I haven't had lunch yet and my stomach is begging me to stop.]

Chefs Joel Trueblood (left) and Steve Howard have opened a new restaurant on South 1st Street in Clyde called Bonterra Blu, serving "West Texas nouvelle cuisine."

Now, I haven't eaten there, but I can give you the top three reasons why I KNOW it's to die for.

3. I'm a sucker for ambiance. You can serve the best food in the world, but if you're serving it on a paper plate at a rickety table with a cheap-o sign hanging above the door, you can't sell me on it [read more about my fear of hole-in-the-wall restaurants here]. But check out this decor!
2. The menu changes from night to night or weekend to weekend, which I find terribly exciting.

1. I've had Chef Trueblood's food before through True Blu catering at various events in Abilene and it's not only unique, but very true to Texas and leaves you wanting more.

Bonterra Blu is open for dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 5 - 9 p.m. You may want to call and make reservations first, though, because Chef Joel today told me he's booked for several holiday parties.

Bon appetit!

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Frozen Yogurt Shop

Those of you with a sweet tooth can look forward to a new place for dessert in Abilene.

A new business called Nikki's Swirl Shoppe is moving into the former CitiBank location inside the University Hills shopping center on Judge Ely Boulevard.

Frozen yogurt will be served up next to the Sharky's burrito joint. The company says its yogurt is fat-free, gluten-free, and sugar free, and that there are only 25 calories per serving.

Nikki's Swirl Shoppe is expected to open next month.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bye Dos Primo, Hi Papa Jack's

A new Mexican restaurant opened in South Abilene this week in the place of an old one.

Papa Jack's is in the old Dos Primos building at Treadaway and S. 26th.

The owner says the menu is pretty much the same as Dos Primos, and it will be open for lunch and dinner six days a week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Free Tacos at Jack in the Box!

Um, so, basically that's it. Free tacos (two per customer) today from 2 p.m. to midnight.

What else...


You don't have to buy anything else. You do have to ask for them...


Oh, it's not valid in Kansas City or San Antonio for some reason.

Yup, that's about it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Holler if you love the United deli

This is a press release from the company:

LUBBOCK, TX (Nov. 2, 2010) – InStore Buyer magazine, the only national business-to-business magazine covering the in-store bakery, deli and foodservice markets, announced today that United Supermarkets has received the 2010 InStore Deli Operator of the Year award.

InStore Buyer Assistant Editor Anna Comstock presented the award during a special ceremony today at the company’s headquarters in Lubbock, Texas. United’s Diane Earl, director of deli/foodservice, and Corporate Chef Chris Wilson accepted the award on behalf of the company.

United was chosen for the award based on recommendations from in-store bakery/deli executives across the country and the publication’s own panel of supermarket industry experts, Comstock said.

“We are extremely proud to honor United Supermarkets with this award – our highest honor and one that is bestowed upon the recipient by supermarket industry peers,” said John Unrein, executive editor of InStore Buyer magazine, based in Kansas City, Mo.

United was cited for its innovative marketing program, superior merchandising efforts at store level and dynamic multi-faceted approach to offering high-quality, innovative deli products geared for today’s consumers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Schlotzsky's opening brings out the big wigs

The new Schlotzsky's on Judge Ely Blvd. in north Abilene opened today, where the old Burger King used to be.

And the president of Schlotzsky's himself, Kelly Roddy, is there for the big event.

As we first reported in January, it's owned by the same fine folks who own the location on South 14th Street in front of Hobby Lobby.

There is also a Cinnabon located inside the restaurant, so you know it's smellin' good in that neighborhood.

The drive-thru opens at 7:30 a.m. for Cinnabon cookies, coffee and drinks, and the restaurant stays open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is this Heaven? No, it's The Turtle.

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Rahr & Sons beer. We first discovered it when we moved (back) to Fort Worth in 2006 and our friends led us to this dream world where an unmarked brewery in a sketchy urban neighborhood opens its taps every Saturday afternoon and serves free beer to TCU frat boys, bikers, homeless men, gals like me, and the occasional dude dressed like Jesus.

Rahr has come a long way since then, while its grass roots marketing (free beer every weekend creates a fiercely loyal customer) and local sustainability keep it from expanding faster than it can pour.

I could go on, but this blog is called Dining Out in the Big Country, so let's get back to business!

Last night, The Turtle Restaurant in Brownwood hosted an Octoberfest paired beer dinner, featuring German cuisine by Chef Curt Sassak and four of Rahr's brews (my favorite four, mind you!).
I've only been fortunate enough to eat at The Turtle once before, so I'm not sure what the regular Thursday crowd size is, but last night nearly every table in the small, brightly colored, eclectic eatery was filled.
Let's get to the food, shall we? Course #1 (pictured above) was a large portion of a mild Camembert cheese served with a pear and dried cranberry chutney, arugula, and a buttery baguette toast with a sweet balsamic drizzle. This course was paired with a 6 oz. serving of Rahr's Blonde Lager. The Blonde is a very tasty but light golden beer, malty and sweet. It went very well with the likewise mild and sweet first course. The food was delicious, although the portion was too large, considering we had three more courses to go!
Beer No. 2 was what made the 90-minute drive worth it: our only taste of Rahr's delicious Oktoberfest this year. Fritz Rahr (Rahr rhymes with bar) was there and visited our tables during each paired course to talk to us about the beers. We were very familiar with the tastes and with the brewing process, having toured the brewery more than once, but talking to the owner one-on-one was great.

Everyboy's doing an Octoberfest these days, and they're doing it earlier and earlier each year, Fritz said. So Rahr had to ramp up its recipe this year by increasing the alcohol content from 5.5 percent to ?? percent. I can't remember. Ha. The beer was a classic Oktoberfest, not too heavy, with its amber color and sweet, bready taste. Isn't it amazing when you don't know what you're tasting, then someone puts it into words for you, and "Aha..."? That's what happened when Fritz told me he couldn't overemphasize the breadiness of this brew. I got it.

The course was a Pederson-brand bison Polish smoked sausage with a warm, buttery potato salad. It was delish!
Course No. 3: A pork schnitzel served over braised red cabbage with spatzel. New word for me! It was a tender pasta with a bit of a mac-and-cheese nod. If I'm somehow defiling it with that description, please forgive me. And forgive the fact that I kept tearing into the food before remembering to take a photo!

This course was paired with Buffalo Butt, a red beer that compliments meats. "A burger and a Butt is what we always recommend," Fritz told a nearby table. Buffalo Butt is a dark amber, caramel-y beer that I like with spicy foods. The schnitzel, while very tasty, wasn't spicy. I actually don't know that I've ever eaten spicy German food. Oh, the epiphanies.
Hello, Gorgeous. Here, my friends, you have my favorite beer of all time, Ugly Pug. It's dark, somewhat sweet, chocolaty, with a bit of coffee. It's not as heavy as a lot of black lagers, but if I'm not careful I can accidentally make a meal out of this beer. And apparently it's great served over vanilla ice cream. YES, please.

The fourth course here is probably the most beautiful cupcake I've ever eaten, called a Macho Chocolate Cupcake, which is very cute considering a leopard-print chocolate medallion is far from macho. This doozie had a truffle baked inside and was swirled with a layer of buttercream icing. Tiny bites and tiny sips allowed this course to last a good half hour. My mouth said thank you.

And I say thank you to The Turtle and to Rahr & Sons for an amazing paired beer meal, which may have been my first ever! It was definitely my first Rahr pairing.

Turtle, I will return.

PS - Rahr is available at Brookshires grocery stores in the Central Texas area, at many locations in North Texas, and I believe at all Central Markets in the state. And apparently, it may be sold in Abilene and Lubbock sooner than later, but not all distributors live up to the standards Rahr & Sons holds for itself... so for now we'll continue to stop at World Market in west Fort Worth to stock up.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Mexican Restaurant Open for Business

Remember when the restaurant at Sayles and Danville was called Enrique's? Well those owners are back and have opened a new restaurant there called Don Enriques.

They've owned the building all along, and most recently leased it to Amanda's which closed its doors earlier this year.

If you've ever been to Henry's in San Angelo, which gets fantastic reviews, you'll already be familiar with what the same owners are going for here in Abilene.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Subway Drive-Thru

I don't make it down to the Abilene Regional Medical Center area very often, but did today and discovered a brand spankin' new Subway restaurant (with a drive-thru!) on Antilley Road right next to American State Bank and across the street from the hospital.

It opened on Sept. 9 and was sparkling clean and had a very friendly batch of Sandwich Artists. The new location is a stand-alone building and is very spacious with lots of windows.

(Aside: There is no Subway assembly team faster or more efficient than the crew at the Subway on South 14th. Next time I'll take my stop watch. I love them.)

The best part was we discovered the Subway Club Footlong is on sale for $5 right now! Can you say cheap eats?

I like the idea of a drive-thru, but all the options are so specific that I think I'd rather watch it be made.

Would you prefer to order at the drive-thru or at the counter when you go to Subway?

Monday, October 4, 2010

That's Jacked Up!

We received this email from a KRBC viewer named Trish and I thought I'd share. I changed a few parts to make it a little shorter and easier to follow:

I contacted the Jack-n-the-Box manager about 3 months ago and informed him that his price on the drive thru sign ($2.49) didn't match what the register was charging ($2.59) for their Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges.
I visited the restaurant a couple more times that week and spoke with 2 other people that said they were the managers. All three time I refused to pay the higher price and twice they gave me the lower price but the 3rd time they wouldn't honor what the sign said so I left and didn't purchase anything.

I finally sent a letter to the corporate office and received a letter apologizing for the problem and they would notify the store. I went out there again a month ago and the problem was the same.

I again notified the corporate office and as of today I have not heard from them. On Friday evening I was out there again and the problem still has not been fixed.I know 10 cents is a minor problem but I am wondering how many other items they have prices displayed yet are charging a higher price. This is false advertising and with the economy like it is, is this Jack-in-the-Box's way of making people feel they are not paying high prices for food.

So what do you think? Would you keep going back? Would you care if an item was a dime off? Is it customer manipulation or an honest mistake?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Imma be rolling down my windows on Judge Ely from now on.

Everybody and their mother (okay, a handful of people) are buzzing about the new location opening Saturday inside the new Schlotzsky's on Judge Ely.

This will be Abilene's only Cinnabon location. There's one inside the Schlotzsky's in Sweetwater on I-20.

Okay, so what Schlotzsky's on Judge Ely, you ask? It's the old Burger King location next to Rosa's.

The grand opening is scheduled for Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Skeet's coming to Abilene

Skeet's grill is opening up a new location in Abilene, across from the Wal-Mart on Southwest Drive.

This will be Skeet's fifth location, but the first in A-Town. There are two Skeet's Grills in Sweetwater, one in Snyder, and one in Merkel.

Employees say they're hoping to open on October 1.

While they offer a wide variety of food, and we hear the chicken fried steak is to die for, the staff says its ribeye steaks are the customer favorite.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Menu Changes Cause Stir at Starbucks

While going through the Starbucks drive through on Monday, my wife noticed some changes...and apparently she was right (for once)! The cheap drinks have been removed from the menu! Here's more from USA Today:

What a difference a new sign makes.

At Starbucks (SBUX) drive-throughs — one-third of the chain's 11,000 U.S. stores have one — newly redesigned outdoor menu boards advise customers that they can buy Grande (16 oz.) and Venti (20 oz.) sized beverages. Curiously, the signs no longer mention the smaller, cheaper cup size that's still for sale: Tall (12 oz.).

This has set the blogosphere abuzz. Some believe Starbucks is being sneaky — nudging hurried, drive-through customers to spend a tad more than they might have intended.

While Starbucks' same-store sales have grown nicely the past year — following very difficult years in fiscal 2008 and 2009 — the brouhaha comes as the restaurant industry is desperately searching for ways to boost traffic and sales. Some 44% of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales decline in July, the National Restaurant Association says.

But Starbucks officials strongly insist this isn't about nudging sales. They say the change is actually something that drive-through customers have requested — a simplified menu board. Starbucks shrank the number of items on drive-through menus from 70 to about 25. The change was made at all drive-throughs on Aug. 31.

"We are not being sneaky," Starbucks spokeswoman Deb Trevino says. "We did it because our customers were frustrated with the difficulty of reading our drive-through menus."

What's more, she notes, drive-through customers can still order Tall beverages. For that matter, they can even order Short (8 oz.) drinks, which aren't posted on menus inside or out.

But Robert Passikoff doesn't buy it for a minute. The founder of Brand Keys, a brand consulting and research consultancy, says Starbucks is playing fast and loose with its customers.

"It's disingenuous to suggest that how they simplified the menu was to benefit the customer," he says. "I don't know why you'd suddenly drop your cheaper item off the menu."

Click here for the rest of the article

Monday, August 30, 2010

Get Abilene Company on Food Network

Here's an email I received from Tasha DeKarske, who owns ShortBus Hot Dogs with her husband. They are trying to be on Food Network, and want your help in doing so!

We and have been nominated to be on Season 2 of The Great Food Truck race on FoodNetwork. We are the only truck nominated in the Big Country! We're hoping to drum up some community support with your help! To determine the finalist for season 2 there is a voting period and it's open right now until September 10, 2010.
You can go to: and click on the link to VOTE (it's under the video box). On the voting page you can scroll by truck name or click on Texas on the map. The map will show you visually all of the trucks that were nominated in Texas.
We have participated locally with several events including the Balloon Fest last year and this year, 2 years at the Tye celebration, and several other smaller events around the Big Country.

We hope to hopefully put Abilene on the map with the FoodNetwork!

So if any of you have tried the ShortBus hot dogs, you might want to consider giving them a little help with this Food Network thing!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Arrivederci, Tuscany's

Tuscany's Coffee House on South 1st Street will serve its customers for the last time on Friday.

The owner said it's unfortunate, but he needs to focus his time on other opportunities.

Almost everything inside Tuscany's will be on sale Friday, Sept. 3 beginning at 7 a.m.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

All you can eat extravaganza!

I am very excited to announce that Genghis Grill, a Mongolian stir-fry restaurant, will be opening a store here in Abilene in December!

It will open where the old Luby's stands on Clack Street. The restaurant hopes to be open before the end of the fourth quarter.

At Genghis Grill you pick your raw ingredients from a buffet, hand them to the chefs at the grill, and they cook it up for you and bring it to your table. There are 70 choices, with proteins, seasoning, veggies, sauce and starches.

From its website: According to legend, 12th century Mongol warriors, led by the mighty warrior GENGHIS KHAN, heated their shields over open fires to grill food in the fields of battle!

I love it, because you can control your own portion size and nutritional value. And, when you go back for seconds (which I've never done because I'm stuffed) you can cook up something totally different.

Other locations feature a fully-stocked bar, so it becomes a big hangout.

Check out photos of the restaurants on Genghis Grill's Flickr account.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sugar and Spice

I am a big fan of the homemade chips at Alley Cats. In fact, I was on my way there Tuesday for lunch with two other Alley Cats lovers and a new hire who had never been there. We spent the entire car trip telling her how good the home made chips are, describing the thin, salty, seasoned and semi-sweet goodness.

But when we got there, after upgrading our wraps to include chips and a drink, we were told they were out of homemade chips. So, BBQ Lays would have to do. Boo!

Today I needed to run an errand downtown so my date and I decided to head to Alley Cats again, since we were still craving the chips 48 hours later.

Alas, they're still out.

This sounds rude, but we turned around and walked out. Not because I don't like Alley Cats, but because we'd already been there once this week. They did have a delicious looking build-your-own burger bar with all kinds of tasty-looking toppings, but I wasn't in a burger kind of mood. I was in a wrap with salty/sweet chips kind of mood!

So my date and I walked to Cypress Street. They have good homemade chips, right?, we asked ourselves.

C'mon, say it with me in the Twix guy's voice --

I got the blackened chicken wrap and my date got the club. Both came with a heapin' helpin' of homemade chips! I think these are a lot sweeter than Alley Cat's chips, and may actually have enough granulated sugar in the seasoning mix that a diabetic should inquire about it. I should have asked what all is in the seasoning.

So, which restaurant has your favorite homemade potato chips? Alley Cats or Cypress Street? Or maybe you crave homemade tortilla chips and salsa from somewhere?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BBQ Journeyman Reviews Sweetwater's Bucks

A blogger-slash-barbecue lover is tracking his meat-filled journey around Texas and writing about his sticky-fingered experiences, and recently stopped at Buck's Steaks and BBQ in Sweetwater.

Here's an excerpt from

The Brisket was the absolute finest I have had in years. It was perfectly cooked, tasty and "cut with a fork" tender and moist. The Ribs were long, thin and full of meat. The flavor of the Ribs was good and they were cooked well with just the right amount of fat and meat to be pleasing to the eye and easy to eat. Click here to read the rest of the review, which now makes me want to go there!

Graham McFarland tells us: "Texas BBQ Journey is one man's journey to review and report on one of the greatest Texas comfort foods of all time, BBQ. Discover the many BBQ joints around Texas and find out which ones are worth the trip."

McFarland has only reviewed three BBQ joints so far, so we'll see whether Buck's makes the must-visit list.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Free Whataburger on Tuesday!

Found this on Ok, let's be honest, I "found" it on Facebook and "confirmed" it on

Free Whataburger for our 60th Birthday

Pull out your best orange outfits and wear them with pride. We’re celebrating our 60th birthday on August 3rd from 5pm-8pm. Just stop by your neighborhood Whataburger, show off your orange and get a free Whataburger.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Restaurant Opens Shop in Cisco

From the Cisco Chamber of Commerce:

The Cisco Chamber of Commerce welcomes our newest chamber member, Barbwire Grill and Café. Owners Lovey Moore and Danny Foster are cooking up some fine food for the locals and the county. Some of the favorites are Chicken Fried Steak, Hamburger Steak smothered in brown gravy and onions, Lemon Pepper Chicken, and their famous Barbwire Burger. For lighter fare, they have an all you can eat Salad Bar. They are open Monday-Thursday 11 to 8, and Fridays 11to 9. On Saturday and Sunday they are open from 7 to 2 with a Breakfast Menu along with their Full Menu.

Barbwire Grill and Café is located in Cisco at 303 Interstate 20 East. Their phone number is 254-442-2300.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Carino's Launches Low-Cal Kids' Menu

Copied from Carino's news release:
Carino’s Italian restaurants today announced the arrival of its new kid’s menu featuring dishes that are all less than 500 calories. The new kid’s menu illustrates Carino’s Italian restaurants commitment in providing healthy meals to children as the nation continues to combat childhood obesity.

“Since the inception of Carino’s Italian, we have been providing guests with freshly cooked dishes and many healthy choices from our regular menu,” said Creed Ford III, CEO of Carino’s Italian. “With the new kid’s menu, parents can be assured that when they dine at Carino’s their children are served healthy and delicious dishes.”

Created by Chef Chris Peitersen, Executive Chef at Carino’s Italian, the new kid’s menu features the following specialty dishes:

* PIZZA PASTA -- Chopped spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce, topped with sliced grilled chicken, pepperoni and mozzarella

* CHICKEN & BROCCOLI PENNE -- Penne with sliced grilled chicken and broccoli with alfredo sauce

* KIDS PANINI -- Mozzarella and turkey grilled panini sandwich served with mandarin oranges; Also available as plain cheese panini

* PIZZA DIPPERS -- Cheese pizza slices served with tomato sauce for dipping

* GRILLED CHICKEN -- Grilled chicken with spaghetti and tomato sauce or Italian vegetables

* CHEESE STUFFED PASTA -- Cheese stuffed pasta with tomato sauce

“Children’s well-being and their health have always been important to Carino’s Italian,” said Chef Peitersen. “We are excited for our young guests to try the new items on the kid’s menu. This is proof that healthy meals can be tasty meals.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Buffalo Wild Wings is back open

UPDATE: Boneless wings with medium sauce and a side of bleu cheese for everyone! Ok, that's my usual. But you can go get whatever you want now that Buffalo Wild Wings is back open for business after about six weeks of renovations (building and staff alike). Now my Wednesday nights can be complete again!

UPDATE: Buffalo Wild Wings is set to reopen for business on Friday.

It's been closed since June while the owners renovated and redecorated it. A big portion of the staff was also replaced.

Original post: On June 6, Buffalo Wild Wings in Abilene will close for renovations and redecorating. It's expected to open back up for business in mid-July.

I, for one, will be very sad while it's closed! My husband and I go there almost every single Wednesday night. Yes, there's karaoke, but that's not why we go. It just works with our schedules and we love having a place like that to unwind!

I don't know what redecorating will be done, since almost every inch of the place is covered in cool memorabilia and interesting posters, so that'll be something to check out.

If only it was expanding into part of the old Circuit City! That would be awesome. Our old hangout, the BWW in Bossier City, was really huge and that's the first thing we imagined when we read the sign saying there would be remodeling. But marketing manager Larry Sanders says that's not the case.

By the way, we had an awesome time there last night for the Biggest Loser watch party! Yes, there were cheers for Melissa and Lance, but we probably all cheered louder every time a Randy Turner commercial came on. I didn't check to see if Randy was cheering for himself too...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blue Taco Listed for Sale

Abilene's Blue Taco restaurant has been listed for sale on The website lists the price at $110,000 and says the business generates $375,000/year.

The listing says:

"Blue Taco is a fast casual restaurant located in Abilene Texas. The restaurant has a small but very diverse menu. Large burritos, Tacos, and Taco Salads with many topping choices. Very simple operation We also sell Margaritas out the drive thru and inside. Great consept for expantion to other locations."

Blue Taco is located at 4500 Buffalo Gap Road. It opened in 2009.

Click here to read the complete listing

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


When a restaurant shuts down it doesn't just affect regular customers, it affects groups that meet at those locations on a regular basis.

That's the case with Amanda's Restaurant and Cantina.

Keep Abilene Beautiful board members usually met at Amanda's once a month and went dutch. Their meeting last Monday had to be canceled when Amanda's shut down.

The group took its business then to Golden Corral. Of course the manager of Golden Corral hopes it becomes the new permanent KAB meeting location.

Heck, it would make separate checks easier, right?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Squares BBQ Opening New Location

Squares BBQ on Leggett and South 1st has been operating in Abilene for more than thirty years...And the owners are excited about adding another location on Buffalo Gap Road.

Construction is already underway.

The new restaurant is expected to offer more than just BBQ. And the owner says the new food joint might not be called Squares.

The new restaurant is expected to open sometime after the first of the year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cafe Rico in Eastland

Reviewed by Tim Caldwell

With the family a few hours away, we usually try and meet up at least once a month. Sometimes to make it easier on everyone we will just meet in the middle and get something to eat together. Most of these trips are along I-20, making it easy to find somewhere to eat along the Interstate access road. This trip was on a Sunday though...and most restaurants in Eastland were closed. Rather than give up and go with fast food, we decided to drive towards the square and see what we could find. Shortly after passing through the square we came up to Cafe Rico. There weren't many cars in the parking we asked a family who was pulling out of the parking lot if they were open. The family replied "Yes....and the food is fantastic." As they pulled out I saw the "My child attends Eastland ISD" sticker in the rear window...I figured they are either related to the owners of the restaurant, or this really is a good local the beaten path.

When we came in the place was empty, but the smell of grilled fajitas was all I needed to know that the lack of people didn't bother me. Between the 3 of us we had the fajitas, quesadillas, and enchiladas. The fajitas were amazing. They included plenty of sides with nice warm tortillas. My only complaint is that I could have eaten a dozen more of those tortillas...but that wouldn't have left enough room for me to sneak food from the surrounding plates to taste. The quesadillas filled an entire plate, and were almost as good as my fajitas. The tortillas surrounding the shredded chicken cooked just enough to have a crispness to it...without being overdone. There was enough meat on the inside, that a fork was a handy utensil to clean up what you lost in the normal quesadilla eating process. Our waitress was great. There anytime we needed her, but not overanxious.

Overall the food was excellent, the service was great, and it was nice to eat somewhere that I-20 wasn't just outside the window. If you are ever in Eastland I recommend driving into town and checking it out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oil Spill Forcing Oysters off Abilene Menu

An Abilene favorite for seafood won't be serving oysters soon. Here's a snippet from a recent CNBC article:

Red Lobster will soon take oysters off its menu, after its supplier was forced to shut down due to oil spill in the Gulf.

Darden Restaurants' said Red Lobster's supplier, Ameripure Processing Company, in Franklin, Louisiana, shut down late last week, because it was no longer receiving oyster harvests.

The shortage of supply is driven in part by the expanding ban on fishing in the Gulf of Mexico federal waters. The federal ban area this week reached nearly 87,000 square miles, or more than 36 percent of the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mary's Paleteria

Mary's Paleteria. I am ashamed to say that, after passing it for more than two year, I popped into Mary's for the first time the other day. I'll admit, it's hard to go wrong with ice cream when it's scorching outside, no matter who makes it. Still, Mary's seemed to have an edge over store-bought ice cream and even the ice cream truck with its child-like, tinkling chimes (Sorry, Ice Cream Lady. Please still come around!).

I ordered a double scoop ice cream waffle cup--one scoop of raspberry, one scoop of pistachio. It was delicious! I honestly don't know if the ice cream itself was what made the experience so enjoyable or if it was the atmosphere. I did rather enjoy the festive wall art and the fact that I was demographically the minority.

The ice cream isn't all that's offered at Mary's. My husband ordered fruit and cream. It was a bowl of just that--fruit and cream. He thoroughly enjoyed his too.

Whatever the weightiest draw, Mary's has an evident appeal that will give you that mom-and-pop charm and inevitably cool you off on a hot, Summer day.
Reviewed by Megan Dobbs

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New spicy chicken sandwich

Scott Burkhalter was one of the lucky few who got VIP access to Chick-fil-A's new spicy chicken sandwich event yesterday, and wrote this review doe Dining Out in the Big Country.

Some eateries have tried to make a spicy sandwich, which usually involves a spicy sauce, or dry spices being added to their regular chicken sandwich just before serving it. I'd heard good things about the new spicy chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A before my taste buds met the new offering. Yep, its true...Chick-fil-A did it right. They added the spices to the chicken and batter before they cooked it, which made the flavor very even... and woah was it good!? The extra steps they may take more time and money, but it makes a better product. The experience of it was also like no other restaurant I've ever frequented. They had VIP tables set up for those who had reservations to try the new sandwich, and they also had someone come by and ask for our opinions. It was already free, but since they felt they interrupted us during our meal, they gave us each 2 coupons to come by and try the sandwich again for free. So, 3 free sandwiches per person in all. Does any other restaurant do that when they introduce a new menu item?

Thanks for the review Scott! The new sandwich hits stores on June 7.

Monday, May 24, 2010

In-N-Out Coming to Texas...Yeee Ha!

You've seen it on you can experience it firsthand (if you're willing to drive a few hours!).

In-N-Out is coming to Texas..Garland, Texas, specifically.

According to the city of Garland website, the planning commission approved for the first In-N-Out location in Texas east of Lavon Drive and south of Town Center Boulevard.

Last month, In-N-Out's VP of Planning and Development for In-N-Out, told a D Magazine blog, "We are, in fact, working on a few site opportunities in the market," he wrote. "However, it is still very early in the process so it would be premature to comment on any specific sites and very premature to speculate as to if/when we might actually be doing business in the Dallas area."

In-N-Out currently has locations in California, Arizona and Nevada.

It's best known as a celebrity fast-food hotspot...when celebrities actually eat burgers, that is.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another Chick-fil-A Coming to Abilene?

Another Chick-fila-A could be coming soon to Abilene. That's the word on the street, anyway...

As soon as Java City announced it would be closing its doors later this month, people started tweeting and e-mailing us about the possibility of Chick-fil-A taking over the property.

A Chick-fila-A big wig in town, who we'll keep nameless for now, said there's nothing to report quite yet.

While it may not be a done deal, it's certainly the rumor swirling around town....

For those of you who experience the chaos that is the Southwest Drive Chick-fila-A drive-thru around lunchtime, you'll probably join me in saying: we welcome a new location!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So Long, Java City

Correction: It will close on May 25. Apologies for the error.

Java City will be closing its doors next week, we learned this afternoon.

"Thanks for letting us serve you for six great years," management said.

The Ambler coffee shop will close on May 26.

What's your reaction?

Monday, May 10, 2010

New tenant coming to old Furr's Cafeteria

Looks like a new restaurant will be filling the empty void left when Furr's Cafeteria moved out of its building on Clack Street in 2007.

Peterson Realtors says the building is under contract, but declined to say who put the contract in.

Leave a comment with which restaurant you would guess is moving in, and if anybody happens to get it right I'll give you a prize. Could be a hat, could be a coffee mug... TBA.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Taco Casa Open for Business

Abilene has a new option for fast Mexican food: Taco Casa!

The new location opened next to Cracker Barrell along I-20 earlier this week.

So what's the big deal with Taco Casa? I don't know! I haven't had it yet....

However, some people seem to swear by it. Local twitter user Tarah Toney called it "the best thing to happen to Abilene since Starbucks." If you ask me, that's a pretty bold statement!

I'm told from folks who visit Taco Casa locations in Wichita Falls that it's similar to a Taco Bell. However, Casa gives you more food.

Who knows... Have you tried it yet? What do you think?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ronnie Ingle cooks up a mean barbecue!

Reported by Megan Dobbs

This has become my go-to joint here in Abilene. It's at 3919 S. Treadaway Blvd. I had often passed Ronnie Ingle's when traversing through town, and I thought every time, "I should stop in and eat there someday." Finally, several months ago, I popped into Ronnie Ingle's after work one day and ate.

Ronnie's joint is a small, unpretentious one. When I walked in, a sweet-looking, white-haired woman said in a motherly voice, "Come on back, sweetie. What can we gitchya?" I quickly realized the couple in the kitchen--on the only ones in the kitchen, mind you--were Mr. and Mrs. Ronnie Ingle. Mr Ingle seems very jolly and very Texan. I ordered a chopped-beef sandwich. Immediately, Mr. Ingle got out a huge hunk of meat and a big 'ole knife and got to chopping. I liked watching him prepare what I was about to eat. I love a good barbecued meal. Ronnie's is the best barbecue I've had in Abilene so far (though, there is one other highly popular b-b-q place in town that I've yet to try).

So, I love the brisket, and I equally enjoy the atmosphere. As I mentioned, its rather modest, but it feels like home to me. There have never been more than a few people in there when I've had lunch at Ronnie's. And, those few people are always at one table together, chatting and sharing life stories. Even the first time I ate there, the lunch group brought me into their conversation like I was a regular. Every time I'm there now, Ronnie says, "So, yer back for some more of our wisdom? You know you leave here smarter ever time!" I love the lunch groups. Mr. and Mrs. Ingle sit with the lunch group each time, by the way.

Perhaps the reason I like Ronnie's so much is that it really does give me a feeling of home. I grew up in a small town East of Dallas. Every restaurant in the town I grew up in was like Ronnie's--modest and pleasant with home-style cooking. So, maybe I am partial to the atmosphere, but one thing I know is that Ronnie Ingle cooks up a meeeaaaaan barbecue!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Free pretzels at Pretzel Express!

Here's what I spotted on the Mall of Abilene's Facebook page today:Have you ever had a pretzel from there? Here's your chance to try one for free!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Free Stuff on Tax Day

Starbucks is offering free brewed coffee if you bring your own mug.

Cinnabon, with one Big Country location (Sweetwater), is giving away two free bite-sized cupcakes from 6 to 8 p.m.

At IHOP, kids eat free for dinner with the purchase of an adult entree all month.

For more free stuff (in Metroplex locations), go here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Best of the Taste of Abilene

2010 marked my second "Taste of Abilene" event and I wasn't disappointed. I don't think anyone who attended could've been...For $30, it might be the best food investment you can make in town.

Here are my winners and losers from the big night.

Finger Lickin' Good - Famous Dave's Ribs: I had a couple bites of these things, but couldn't finish! When you're trying to load up on food, who has room for all that rib meat? However, everyone around me said they were A+

Best Presentation - Tru Blu Catering: Their table looked almost as good as their dessert. If you noticed they ran out of brownies, you can blame my table. I think some people had a few too many of those!

Most Talked About - Copper Creek's Cheesecake: Everyone was talking about the cake...even today.

Had to Get Thirds - Zookini's Steak: The samples were so good, yet so little. I can't feel bad about getting thirds when they were just tiny samples on toothpicks, right?

Surprisingly Scrumptious - Taco Bell Quesadilla: I didn't expect to get seconds from Taco Bell's quesadilla, but I certainly did! With the addition of some "fire" hot sauce, it was just great. I'll have to make a run for the border sometime.

Fast Food Fave - Arby's Chicken Salad: My wife said she stopped by the Arby's table out of chance and ended up loving what she found. She said their chicken salad is among the very best she's had...and might be a tad better than Chick Fil'A.

Best Sampling - Little Italy/Szechaun/TaMolly's: If my mind serves me, I remember these places each bringing four different things to sample. Now that's service!

Best Steak - Zookini's: How can you bet against Outback Steakhouse? This time, I must. Zookini's had the best of the best on this evening. What I got from Outback was a tad overcooked and Zookini's was mouth-watering tasty!

Most Popular - Lytle Land & Cattle/Sharon's: Theses places may have received more accolades if I could've gotten any closer to the table. These tables had more traffic than a Justin Bieber concert. I was able to walk away with one piece of sausage and that's all...

Too Afraid to Try - Middle East: I had two things from Middle East that I loved....I got their third item (something wrapped in what appeared to be a cooked leaf) but didn't have the heart to actually eat it. Was it good?

A Little Fishy - Perini Ranch: Perini is absolutely my favorite, but it could've been better on this night. The catfish I got was a tad cold...and cold fish isn't very tasty. The nod goes to Red Lobster for best seafood fare.

Cold, Bust Still Tasty - Mr. Gatti's: My pizza looked a few too many hours old, but who's counting?

Best of Show - TSTC Taco: I'm not sure what was inside that miniature shell, but it was greatness. It had to be the most innovative dish of the night. The taco was to die for, but the crab cake was memorable for all the wrong reasons. However, I look forward to much more to come from TSTC's culinary department. Yum!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Subway Serving Up Breakfast

All the buzz at the South 14th Street Subway today was about its new breakfast menu. The restaurant now opens and 7 a.m. and serves up about half-a-dozen early morning options. The menu ranges from a Western & Cheese Omelet Sandwich to a Egg White Muffin Melt.

Basically, Subway added egg and muffins to the menu. They're putting the egg on either the muffin, sandwich bun, or flatbread and making you a delightful breakfast sandwich. They've also added Seattle's Best coffee.

For the time being, you can get a muffin and coffee for mere $2.50. I tried the breakfast a few months ago at a truck stop, and it was quite tasty. It's definitely worth a try!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Free Pastry Day at Starbucks

I love me some Starbucks pastries! And they'll be free Tuesday up until 10:30 a.m.

You have to buy a beverage to get it, but it looks like any drink will count. And, it looks like you get your choice of pastries, so you don't have to get stuck with something free that you don't actually like.

Print this coupon or save it to your mobile device and show it to the barista.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Snow cone mania!

It's no secret around here that Brittany Pelletz is obsessed with snow cones. She even made us put in today's news that snow cone stands are starting to open!

Hard Rock Snow Cones on Judge Ely Blvd. is open for business in the afternoons. We also here there is one on South 14th near the Shell station that's already open.

What's your favorite local snow cone stand?


The fastest lunch in Abilene?

Just from my personal experience, I've found that Red Robin is the place to go for a quick bite that doesn't feel quick.

Each time I go, and that's 2-3 times a month, we're in and out in half an hour, if we choose to be. The service is super fast without feeling rushed... IF you don't go at a busy time of day. We usually get there around 11-11:15 to beat the crowd. If you go on a weekend or right at noon, you'll probably get slower service. But the wait staff is really attentive and the food seems to take very little time to prepare.

Now, my husband and I have dined at Pernini's for dinner for less than we spent on today's lunch at Red Robin, but it's always delicious and fast... and I guess that'll cost ya.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's Back!! Pizza Inn Returns to Abilene

As a youngster growing up in Arlington, Texas, I lived right down the street from a Pizza Inn. I can't remember which night it was, but my mother would take my brother and I once a week to eat the buffet. We didn't go out to eat too often, so I always looked forward to it. The best part: getting a couple spoonfulls of pudding off the salad bar for desert!

Years later, I enjoy pizza buffets -- probably, because of fond childhood memories. My wife, on the other hand, despises them. She says they're "gross" because food is sitting out everywhere and there's only type of food available. Huh?

When I heard the new Pizza Inn was open off Judge Ely in Abilene, I had to check it out for myself. The place was absolutely packed with guests...and with employees. I joked with someone that there was an employee for each pizza on the buffet. They were so busy keeping the pizza's organized that one worker moved the pizza tray out from under me as I tried to put a piece on my plate.

As for the pizza, it was pizza. It wouldn't call it amazing, and I wouldn't call it bad either. It was better than Cici's and not quite Double Dave's.

The atmosphere of the place was decent. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but they did have a couple flat screen televisions showing two of my favorite channels: news and news (Fox News and CNN).

If you're in the area (in front of the old Cisco College), check it out. It's worth a try...

As I was leaving, they placed Buffalo Chicken Pizza on the buffet, and I didn't get to sample it! If you go, have a piece for me!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lunch au naturale

I tried the Natural Foods Center in Abilene (on South 7th near Rose Park) for the first time on Saturday, and I will DEFINITELY return!

The food was so good and was reasonably priced. In fact, my husband just asked me if I'd like to go back for lunch today. (Maybe later in the week.)

I got the special which just said "Salmon and Avocado with Wasabi" or something. I had no idea what it was going to look like, but figured the ingredients sounded good. It turned out to be two types of salad served with chips and lettuce. One salad was salmon with avocado, onion, pineapple and who knows what else. The other was avocado with onion, papaya and maybe cilantro? It was kind of strange to be eating two different salads of the same consistency, but both were tasty.

My husband got a burger, which he really enjoyed. The whole lunch cost $15. Not bad at all!

The Natural Foods Center is really large, but the restaurant portion takes up much more room than the store portion. I was also surprised not to find produce... maybe I missed it or maybe it doesn't sell fast enough or something.

There were dozens of tables set up, and about half of them were full at 1 p.m. on a Saturday.

I'm excited about Thursdays there. They have live music and serve tapas, both a la carte and a la fixed price menu. Sounds great, and can't wait to go back! (Well, I guess I CAN wait a couple of days, at least.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Use Twitter for great dining deals

Do you use twitter?
  • Yes - skip to paragraph 3 (Twitter isn't too popular in the Big Country yet)
  • No - oh, are you missing out on some deals! Keep reading.
First of all, you don't have to sign up to see what people or businesses are writing on twitter, but you do have to sign up to see more than one person at a time. Then, just find who you're looking for and click "follow" and their tweets will show up on your home screen.

Not sold yet? Check out this pretty little micro-example of what deals are out there if you follow the right people. Unfortunately, this is a screen grab, and not an actual feed so you can't click on it. But if you want to be able to interact with these local savings, go to

Do you want @bigcountryhome to follow you? We love finding out about what's going on in the community in 140 words or less. And if your tweets involve me getting something for cheap, all the better. Ha!

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Schlotzsky's in north Abilene

The old Burger King at North 10th and Judge Ely is going to become a Schlotzsky's.

It will be owned by the same people who own the sandwich shop on South 14th. The owners expect to have the new place open in a couple of months!

The building next to Rosa's has been vacant for a while.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zoo-Kini's Offers Lower Price Salad Bar

I was pleasantly surprised at Zoo-Kini's today when the waitress told me I could make one trip to the salad bar and bread station for $5.99.

All-you-can-eat salad bar is normally $6.99 and I think it's $7.99 if you add the bread.

I talked to the manager who said they'd continue the $5.99 deal if enough people say they like it. He made sure to ask our opinion about it. I told him that with the advance warning, I was able to pile up my plate and was stuffed at the end of the meal.

He said with everyone raising their prices these days, they decided to offer a cheaper option to the customers who only make one trip anyway.

Yay for that!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Little Italy Offers Limo Pickup

Has anyone else out there in Blog Land noticed the older, white limo parked outside Little Italy at South 14th and Winters Freeway?

We did a little investigating for this here Dining Out blog, and found that $95 dollars will get you and your date a ride to the restaurant, dinner, and a ride home.

Do you think it's a deal?


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Abilene Gets New Mediterranean Joint

Abilene will soon be home to a new Mediterranean restaurant called "Middle East."

It is located on South 14th Street, right near our studios. It's in that shopping center next to Little Caesar's and Card & Party Factory.

The owner, who recently moved to Abilene from Iraq, will offer traditional Mediterranean cuisine, including felafels and hummus.

The owner says he's hoping to open in the next 4 to 5 days.

The Middle East restaurant will be open seven days a week from 9 am until 10 at night.