Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

SydneytoWaco's Profile

Title Last Reply

New Flat Top Electric Stove

JB, could you please provide some feedback on your GE JB700DNWW? I am considering the same and would like to know your opinions on it having used it for the past few months. Thanks!

May 14, 2011
SydneytoWaco in Cookware

Headed to Waco for 3 months

Just wanted to apologize to you Jaymes, I got busy and lost track of time. I have printed off your list of recommendations and it will be accompanying me each time I dine out now. The least I can do is be fair after the clear effort you put into your posts.

I tried Five Guys today (for the first time) and it's definitely a burger chain worth trying. It's on Valley Mills cross of Waco Drv I believe.

May 23, 2010
SydneytoWaco in Texas

Headed to Waco for 3 months

I should have been more specific, my experience is with TexMex as opposed to straight Mexican cuisine. Having said that, most of the 'home made' Mexican restaurants have been average at best. I think the problem is that food in general is so cheap here in Texas that they have to charge a competitive (and low) amount and thus cut corners.

I don't know where you are in Texas but here in Waco people are generally poor and they eat garbage so that is what most places cater to: food high in fat (since overly sweet wouldn't work with the rustic nature of Mexican). Cheese is high in fat and is tasty. I love cheese, but if I want some beans drowned in cheese then I can do that at home.

And whilst I agree that every item in your list can be served without cheese, the fact is that many of those items are served with cheese.

Let me go through your list:
Carnitas - Best I have had came with a 'mixed' fajita dish, rest have been forgettable (bland or greasy)
Tacos - Not sure that I have often seen these served without cheese here in Waco (though on once occasion I can remember they were ok, but very greasy). I prefer making these myself.
Ceviche - The last time I had ceviche was at Nobu in Las Vegas and it was forgettable. I can drown the flavor of a dish in lemon/lime juice by myself.
Enchiladas Verdes con Pollo & Salsa Tomatillo - I haven't by any means tried every enchilada there is but all the ones I have tried have had cheese.
Camarones en la plancha - Never seen this on the menu, had to look it up online, will eventually try making this myself.
Mojarra - A specific kind of fish that I have never seen on a menu.
Mole - I haven't had the bravery to try this because I hate ordering something just to find out that I don't like it and as I have said with TexMex here (outside of fajitas) it happens often. But I should try it, you're right. Nothing worse than a bad meal when you know there is something good available though.
Carne asada - Had it in tacos and none have impressed, not bad but not good either.
Carne guisada - Stewed meat that has been a let down every time I have tried it.
Chiles rellenos con picadillo en salsa ranchera - Haven't seen this particular variation on a menu but chiles relleno are drowned in cheese here. You're in Austin or some big city aren't you?
Chiles en nogada - Never seen this on a menu but I looked it up and it looks very good. Wish I knew where to find it!
Albondigas - Another interesting dish I will have to look out for.
Seafood tacos - Always disappointed with these, seafood used is pretty much always drowned out by the vibrant flavors used in Mexican food.
Flautas - Yet to see these without cheese.
Tamales - The best I have had were at Mesa Grill (by Bobby Flay) and they were pretty good. The rest have been dry and bland.
Cochinita pibil - Never heard of this let alone seen it on a menu. Would love to try this.
Beans - de olla, charros, borracho, refritos, etc. - I do enjoy good beans (see above) and I enjoy these as a side but to go out to eat just beans; probably not going to happen.
Posole - Mexican stews have always disappointed me.
Cabrito - Never seen this on a menu but would give it a try.

I'm running out of time. I am not slandering the Mexican cuisine, I am simply stating that what is available to eat in a restaurant here isn't all or even much of the above. Let me know where you are because it's clearly not Waco.

Problem with seafood is that I don't know what is local and what is worth eating. I was raised on beef, it wasn't until late in my teens that I had eaten any pork outside of sausages, ham, and bacon. So it may be largely a function of that. I wasn't disparaging Texan seafood. But if you want to stack up Texan seafood to Texan beef there is a clear winner.

Mar 04, 2010
SydneytoWaco in Texas

Headed to Waco for 3 months

To recommend TexMex places I need to hear more from you as to what you like to eat Mexican-wise. Personally the only dish I tend to order (though I taste whatever my wife orders) are the Fajitas (and usually beef or a mixed platter with beef). So my following reviews relate to their Beef Fajitas, as anything else I order usually tends to disappoint. Bare in mind they tend to be large portions and I am a largish guy who does a lot of exercise and thus eats large portions.

My top Fajita place is La Tapatio's as you can order their beef fajitas with a cream chipotle sauce that is great and the beef is well flavored. Portion size is good for one person with a healthy appetite but not ridiculously large. Consistency has been an issue but unfortunately I have found that to be the case at every TexMex restaurant I have visited. Prices are average by Texan standards. The beans that come as a side are superbly done and are the best I have had at any TexMex restaurant period, a hint of bacon and perfectly seasoned. Cannot remember whether or not the flour tortillas are homemade but I don't remember them being bad.

If I want a change then I am also happy to have Beef Fajitas at El Conquistador. The beef is well season and flavorful. Portion size is smaller than most places but still a good size and should be adequate for any but the most obese or hungry of individuals. Prices are average by Texan standards. Sides are solid and I believe the flour tortillas are home made and fresh.

The next place worth recommending (for Fajitas) is La Fiesta. I have heard complaints about the decor being tacky (most TexMex places are, so I don't notice it) but my one decor complaint is that the booth seats are very soft cushions which I sink into and the edge of the table is too far from the seat back so I have to lean forward a fair way. Anyway... portions here are huge, in fact at many TexMex places Fajitas for one are enough for one hungry person and their normal portion eating partner. The mixed Fajitas (beef, chicken and pulled pork in BBQ sauce) are worth trying for the pulled pork alone but consistency has been an issue and then it isn't very 'Mexican' and becomes more 'BBQ'. Beef is flavorful. Prices are above average but portion sizes more than make up for it.

Finally if you are happy to pay more for a 'fine dining' type TexMex restaurant then you can try La Cucina in the downtown portion. They make a rump steak cut Fajita which is very flavorful and perfectly cooked but cost is double your typical TexMex but still reasonable for what you are served.

Before anybody criticizes my lack of adventure in ordering TexMex (i.e. almost solely ordering Fajitas) everything else seems to be heavy on the cheese and light on anything else. A good example are the Spinach Enchiladas at Ninfas, taste great but almost all cheese. I prefer the mix of flavors that is the great beef fajita with all the trimmings.

Diamondbacks and The Green Room are both very very very good fine dining restaurants and I am surprised such a small town has two restaurants of such quality. The former is best known for its steaks, which are divine, and the latter is at least French inspired. Both are of course thus expensive, certainly by Texan standards. Highly recommended. What surprised me is that Diamondbacks serves large portions, odd for fine dining. The Green Room portion sizes are more what I've come to expect from fine dining.

I cannot believe nobody has mentioned this: Bangkok Royal (or Royale). Great Thai food. Not just by Texan standards, as good as anything back home in Sydney (Australia) except for maybe the top Thai restaurant in arguably all of Australia (Sailors Thai). Well sized portions and some interesting twists to dishes I thought I knew. For example their sweet and sour dish (sauce) has a noticeable tomato base that I never tasted in any sweet and sour dish of any Asian cuisine back home, and it works. Highly recommended, average Texan price and highly highly recommended.

Fresh seafood in Central Texas though? Stick to the beef. Seafood is for very well stocked cities like Vegas or seaside towns/cities.

I have eaten at a few TexMex (admittedly none were fine dining) places in Austin (recommended here on CHOW) and none are worth leaving Waco for.

Being foreign I was keen to try BBQ brisket and everything I tasted was frankly crap. Until I tried Snow's in Lexington. Well worth the approximate 1.5 hour drive (each way) from Waco on a Saturday morning. I now love brisket, but only THEIR brisket.

Somebody above mentioned Michna's for BBQ, personally it looked rundown (decor wise) and the food was even worse than the place looked.

Question for anybody: many of the 'simple' american food restaurants leave me with a stomach ache and some bad indigestion. Is there something unique to food here in the US that may be responsible? Elite Circle Grille is a good example, food tastes great and is admittedly rich (burgers, ribs etc) but even with just a small portion (by my standards anyway) I will undoubtedly wind up with indigestion.

Yet I can safely polish off a couple of large steaks that I prepare myself with no trouble, or a large portion from any quality restaurant (diamondbacks say) or any TexMex or Asian. I know I overeat on occasion but even taking that into account I can safely eat a large home cooked meal (even of heavier less healthy food) without a fraction of the discomfort.

Feb 24, 2010
SydneytoWaco in Texas

Tetsuya's - Have a reservation!

Tetsuya's was amazing, probably the best meal I have ever had. Of the 13-14 courses only one was just 'good' (and it was good) and that was the 'Grilled Fillet of Barramundi with Braised Baby Fennel'. Every other course was an eating delight with many a surprise and perfect execution. At the beginning of the meal they asked about allergies and mentioned that the scampi dish would be raw to see if there were any problems with that. My partner didn't appreciate the raw scampi but she was warned so too bad I guess (not for me! I helped her with it).

I had the matching wines which were well paired. The service was probably the best I have ever encountered (recently also dined at Berowra Waters Inn, Quay and Yoshii) with attentive and prompt service but not overwhelmingly so, and they spoke English! (not so at Yoshii).

I took photographs of each course (without a flash) and I wore casual clothing (jeans, polo shirt and brown comfortable but not leather shoes) and there were people dressed both less and more fancily than myself.

I cannot recommend Tetsuya's highly enough if you enjoy great food and are willing to pay for it.

Item Number 458 on the Waiter/Waitress Hate List: The Non'trée

Personally I dine out for an indulgence, to be a little extravagant and probably eat more than I may do otherwise. But I grew up eating good home cooked meals so I don't eat out as much. So I wouldn't go out to just eat an appetizer but if someone else did then that's their choice.

But if you are going to dine out on just an appetizer I would hope you do not linger at your table overly long in a busy restaurant as clearly you are hurting the proprietor.

Dec 10, 2008
SydneytoWaco in Features

Moving to Sydney. Best Place to Live?

Newtown is grungy and thus not lovely to look at, but it is unpretentious and has lots of great places to eat.

Tetsuya's - Have a reservation!

Will do, and thank you!

Tetsuya's - Have a reservation!

What is the acceptable dress code for a Saturday lunch there? I am terrible when it comes to anything more than jeans and a collared shirt, but will make a sacrifice if need be this once.

As for taking pictures of each course? what is the etiquette? I have a great low light lens on my digital SLR but it is hardly a small camera... The last time I had a truly great meal (I was in NYC) the amount of wine consumed left a blissful but blurry memory. I want to remember this :)