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Pollo Feliz

I wonder how it compares to Pollo Loco. I think they're very similar - at least they are as I recall it from living in Tucson and Southern California lo these many years ago.

But it's been so long. And memory grows hazy.

1 day ago
Jaymes in Houston

sedona v flagstaff

Seconding this. I'd even go so far as to say that, unless you're specifically going in order to explore the red rocks of Sedona - hiking, jeeping, etc. - you're probably better off to stay at Flag, and take daytrips elsewhere.

2 days ago
Jaymes in Southwest

sedona v flagstaff

Let me second this. It's a wonderful area for day trips from wherever you decide to stay. Flag is certainly the largest town, and it's definitely got its charms. But wherever you stay, you definitely should see the rest of the region. Assuming you're not going in winter, the roads are good and well-marked and you can travel around easily.

We've been going to that area of the state for decades. Particularly remember the days when House of Joy in Jerome was one of the best restaurants in the country and you had to make reservations months in advance to get in. It's still a charming little building, now a boutique, and I'd suggest visitors poke their heads in to see it:

http://jeromesfinest.com/

As for Sedona - I've stayed there many, many times over the last forty years. Hiked and jeeped the red rocks, slid down the creek, prayed a bit at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, fell in love with the charming cottages and absolutely fabulous food at La Auberge...

But I never felt the "mystical cosmic vortex" until somebody told me I was supposed to.

So my advice to travelers is that Sedona is a great place to visit even if you're not planning to construct your spirit wheel in search of cosmic revelation and enlightenment.

2 days ago
Jaymes in Southwest

New Mexican Chili Powder

I've bought it from these folks and been very pleased:
http://www.newmexicanconnection.com/g...

Also Fiesta/Bolner's sells it.
https://www.fiestaspices.com

As does RanchoGordo.com.

Apr 24, 2015
Jaymes in Southwest

Federicksburg and Texas Hill Country

Much of what I'd recommend depends upon how long you're going to be "exploring the hill country." Are you going to be there for several days, of which two will be in Fredericksburg, or are the two nights in Fredericksburg the only time you've got?

Currently all the rage in Fredericksburg is the Supper Club at the Vaudeville. It's a special dinner, not served every night, and reservations are definitely required.

http://www.vaudeville-living.com/gour...

Fredericksburg has long been well-known for its bakeries. The one I used to go to the most relocated, and I haven't tried any of the others, so I'd suggest you do some research to find out which one is the current "fave" and pick up some sweet treats to take along your journey.

We also always go to the Hill Top Café. http://hilltopcafe.com/ We really like it but, if you're only "exploring the Hill Country" for two nights, there are more interesting options that better define this area of the state.

Such as the Blue Bonnet Café (named after the hat and not the flower) in Marble Falls. This is arguably the most-famous eatery in the Hill Country, having been dishing out old-school home-style meals since 1929. The farthest thing from trendy and cutting-edge, this is the place to get meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, or homemade cobblers and pies.

http://www.bluebonnetcafe.net/

If you only have time for two or three places during your stay, I'd recommend the Blue Bonnet, the Vaudeville Supper Club, and Cooper's BBQ in Llano:

Cooper's is another famous Hill Country institution. When you arrive, walk up to the large smoker that's closest to the door. The pitmaster will open the lid and you'll point to what you want. What I always want is some fatty brisket "off the high side," and a couple of chickens to take home (assuming they're not sold out of chickens, something that invariably happens pretty early in the day). You might watch what's happening for a short time so you get the hang of how to "order." After you get your meat at the smoker, you go inside to pay for it.

http://www.coopersbbqllano.com/

As far as what to do when the sun goes down, maybe you'll be lucky enough to get to Bandera, "The Cowboy Capital of the World." There are dude ranches there and chuckwagon dinners. http://www.banderacowboycapital.com/

If you don't have time for going all in at Bandera, maybe you might have at least one free evening for Gruene Hall, the oldest dancehall in Texas. http://gruenehall.com/ Before doing a little bootscooting at Gruene Hall, eat at Gruene River Grill. http://gruenerivergrill.com/

I'd also very strongly recommend a visit to the LBJ Ranch. You don't have to be a big fan of LBJ, or politics in general, to find this tour interesting.

Because I'm not. And I do.

KC ~ did all the posters move?

I've been to several of the special farm dinners at Green Dirt Farm.

They're fabulous.

http://www.greendirtfarm.com/

Apr 15, 2015
Jaymes in Great Plains

SW Houston Chow - Lo Nuestro - Guatemalan

May be an old thread but still very interesting discussion of Guatemalan cuisine. I have two friends that are Guatemalan. Think I'll ask them if they patronize any local restaurants.

Apr 13, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1

Closeby small town places where you like to eat for a mini roadie

This is a setting you can change.

Although, unfortunately, I don't remember how.

Apr 10, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Spring Water Cafe

I'm taking a roadtrip next Saturday morning, easterly from the provinces, so think I'm going to help this erstwhile fellow earn that living.

Apr 06, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1

QUESO DIP - sub for inferior "new" Velveeta?

Last few times have used the TJ/Aldi brand. Much better. Have yet to try HEB brand but, when I do, will know not to get "white."

Saw where Heinz bought Kraft. Wonder if there's any chance they'll go back to previous Velveeta formula.

Mar 31, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

Dinner in Paris?

Obviously not so many options as dinner in that other Paris, but I'm hoping there's something...

Mar 30, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Love the fact that you can ask to sample the cheese at CM.

At Ikea, I, like you, have figured out how to skitter through the shortcuts and back alleyways. But, unlike you, have not tried their frozen meatballs.

That's something I plan to rectify forthwith. Thanks for the recommendation.

Mar 24, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Polish Festival First Weekend in May

Love to be there but heading north on road trip to Missouri & Kansas for that week. Unfortunate timing for me. Unfortunately.

Otherwise I'd definitely be there.

Mar 24, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Wall Street Journal article

Yep, definitely exciting. And thanks for the post. Otherwise, I wouldn't have seen the article. So the post was a great idea, even with the (very) few "omitted facts."

(And I do feel the need to point out that the Whataburger, Buccee's, and HEB Tamales threads are about Texas as a whole, not just San Antonio, if that makes you feel any better about your fellow San Antonians.)

Mar 17, 2015
Jaymes in Texas
1

Wall Street Journal article

Just to clarify this post a bit...

Here's a link to the WSJ article: "6 Great Small Cities for Food Lovers" http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-next-...

And they chose San Antonio as one.

Along with Columbus, Sacramento, Raleigh-Durham, Spokane and Omaha.

Mar 17, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

Tucson (+ some Phoenix) Report

Do you remember the name of the gin? If you don't remember, 'spose you could find out?

As a fan of gin, I'd love to know. And, honestly, sounds like you liked it well enough that you might want to know the name yourself, no?

Mar 16, 2015
Jaymes in Southwest

Radio Milano at City Centre - Two Thumbs UP

Yes, it is a nice review. In fact, I've been considering giving my son a restaurant gift certificate for his birthday and, after reading your review, think this will be the place. Thanks.

Mar 15, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Closeby small town places where you like to eat for a mini roadie

What a great topic. When we lived in Austin, I had tons of places to go for a mini-roadie, but haven't found many here (although one of my Austin roadtrip faves, Royer's in Round Top, works for Houston as well). I had decided that's because the cool & cutsie kinds of little cafes, restaurants, shops, galleries, etc., were much more keen on locating in the hill country than down here. So I'm going to be following this topic with considerable interest.

To aid in the search, here's a link to a Texas Monthly article: The 40 Best Small-Town Cafes in Texas http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/40-... I've actually been to one, Florida's Kitchen in Livingston, well worth the drive.

JC - Just to be certain nobody has to 'off' me, I'm completely ignoring the suggestion for Dairy Cone in Columbus, so don't you worry. My next time through I definitely will just go back to Schoebel's instead of trying out that fresh hand-made burger with thick bacon which doesn't sound good at all.

(Appreciate the tip about the excellent lunch and less-crowded DMV at Hempstead. Do you have any suggestions for a place where I can eat well and avoid that ghastly crowd and parking ripoff - which ought to be illegal and I'm dead serious; it's deplorable - at the IRS on Clifford?)

Mar 14, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

We Do Not Like and Do Not Get Niko Niko's

To me, "real" Greek food, in Greece, just seems so much more flavorful. Like they kinda "dumb down" the seasonings here. Is that your main complaint as well? Or do you find other issues/deficiencies?

Mar 13, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

We're #1, for food snobs

Well, I'm not sure being called any kind of "snob" is complimentary. To me, "food snobs" would be people that won't lower themselves to eat any sort of food that they consider to be beneath them. I think it goes beyond valuing and appreciating and seeking out and enjoying the best that the culinary world has to offer, to being dismissive and even insulting of "plebian" food. However, I suspect that, in this instance, Travel & Leisure was using the term tongue-in-cheek.

My best example is, years ago, I was at a party where the hostess had made the traditional "queso" with Velveeta and Ro-Tel and one of the guests went on and on about how he wouldn't eat "that stuff" because Velveeta "isn't real food, just a bunch of chemicals from a factory," and espoused his own "real chile con queso dip" that he made from "actual real cheese" following Helen Corbitt's recipe. (As an aside, after this experience, I, too, made Helen Corbitt's recipe just to see what the difference was and the main difference was that Ms. Corbitt's recipe was a hell of a lot of work, in addition to costing considerably more. That all might have been fine, if it tasted better, but it didn't.)

So, in my book anyway, being called a "food snob" isn't necessarily a compliment.

But I think it definitely is a compliment to say that Houston is the best city in the country to which said food snobs should hie.

Mar 12, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

We're #1, for food snobs

I kind of took it to mean that if one were a "food snob," in that you particularly liked to eat exceptionally terrific food, rather than being satisfied with run-of-the-meal mediocrity, Houston is the current number one place to be.

Ergo, a compliment.

No?

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1

We're #1, for food snobs

Um, wait...

Is that a compliment?

Or an insult.

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Sounds pretty good. I'll have to show up around lunchtime some day.

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Thanks, Doobs. Both the "pastrami" and the "corned beef" sandwiches have essentially the same ingredients as a Reuben. Interesting that they don't call it that. And, insofar as I can tell, anyway, they don't say anything about grilling the entire sandwich after it's assembled, which is usually the main difference between the Reubens I see most often, and the original.

I wonder if they'd grill the entire sandwich on request if asked. Of course, if they are of the "how high can we pile the meat" variety, it's next to impossible to properly grill the entire thing. I could ask them, though, to please make me a thinner sandwich and grill it after it's made. I have asked that on several occasions. Sometimes it works but, more often, they say they can't, for one reason or another. Frequently, surprisingly enough (to me anyway), they say it's because they don't have a grill. Which is why they just make the sandwich on toasted bread and call it a day. Or, in this case, a Reuben.

I do sometimes just take the sandwich home, remove about 2/3 of the corned beef, and make myself a couple of Reubens the way I like them.

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Dang, JC. You're right - Yelp link doesn't work. But I'll for sure try out North China, based on your recommendation.

RE Reubens, since you like making them at home (and it sounds like you've never had the thin, grilled version), try this: Brush your rye bread with whichever dressing you prefer - Thousand Island or Russian. Squeeze some sauerkraut as dry as you can between two paper towels, making a "bread-shaped" patty while you're squeezing. Don't make it too thick. This sandwich depends upon having the "right" (ie, not too much) of each ingredient for the exact balance. Now add a slice or two of good Swiss, and several slices (but just a few - definitely not a big pile) of thinly-sliced corned beef. Now put it all together. Butter the outside of the top piece of bread and put the entire sandwich into a hot skillet or grill, with the buttered side down. Now, butter the outside of the other piece of bread. When the bottom piece of bread is nicely grilled, turn it over. Get something heavy and put it on the sandwich to compress it while it finishes cooking. If you've done this right, and it's thin enough, the cheese will melt beautifully and all the ingredients will achieve perfect and beautiful harmony.

I've been told that a George Foreman Grill, or a panini maker works well for this.

You might still prefer the "big pile of meat" sandwich.

But you might not.

And PS - as a "wing-lovin'" guy, I think you're blessed to have a wifeacita that loves them as well. Sounds like you're a lucky guy. Of course, she's pretty lucky too, no?

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Obviously I need to go see it. If, I mean, I wish to have any idea at all what I'm talking about.

Of course, as most of you here can attest, that doesn't usually slow me down one whit.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Well, that's good. I'm not a fan of the rat-maze, either. Most fairly new HEBs do seem to have at least a modified version, rather than the original. That Austin Central Market was extremely difficult to navigate unless you wanted to follow the "suggested" path.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Re - the "bizarre layouts." We were living in Austin when the first Central Market opened (1994). First store I'd ever been in with the rat-maze layout. Had a friend that worked there. She said that the Head High Honchos at HEB thought that funneling customers along a certain path was a good idea, so you went in at produce and wound your way around a predetermined path. Took me several visits to figure out the (intentionally obscured) back ways and shortcuts used by the employees. Whatever HEB/Central Market was trying to accomplish with this must have worked in their view because every HEB I've been in that was built after that seems to be some version of the pattern of that first Central Market.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Been to Chang's a couple of times. Tried it once right after we moved here and thought it was just okay and continued the search for "our" Chinese place. Went back to Chang's to try that fried chicken wing app and certainly agree that it's about as good as food gets. However, as a girl that watches her figure (and by that I mean I've watched my figure expand exponentially over the decades), am concerned that eating all that fried chicken, including every scrap of that utterly delicious crunchy, greasy skin, isn't something I should do regularly. And the other things I usually order were, in my view, while just fine, not as much to my taste and liking as several other Katy Chinese restaurants - Hong Kong's Kitchen and T. Jin's China Café come immediately to mind.

Pho - did go to that restaurant once. Like Pho Saigon considerably better.

Wing Place - I have a theory about wings - primarily a guy food. And I'm a goil. I never go out for wings and can never see myself doing it. Messy and too much work for what you get. It's a standard, of course, in front of TV football games so I have to eat them from time to time but they are never ever my choice and I haven't tried this restaurant.

The Mongolian BBQ place - love Mongolian BBQ and we've been to this one and to the one in La Centerra. It's fine, but I had a bad experience. Was with my daughter and her husband and four kids. Their meals arrived fairly promptly but mine did not. Waited and waited and waited. We kept asking the waiter where mine was and they kept saying something like, "it's coming." It never did. Finally I got up and went to investigate. Turned out they had given it to someone else (a boy of about seven who took a bite of my very spicy combination and immediately started crying loudly enough that we had heard him over at our table but had no idea what had happened). By then, our four kids were reaching the end of the time window during which they were capable of behaving in a public place and there was no way I could start over in gathering my barbecue stuff and waiting for it to be cooked, let alone eating it. Haven't been back. I'm sure it's fine, though, although I'm difficult to please when it comes to Mongolian BBQ, having first eaten it at least once a week back during the several years when I lived in Southeast Asia. Thus far, anyway, haven't found anything here that compares (to cooking it outdoors over a wood fire). Although we do enjoy going out for Mongolian BBQ from time to time and am certain we'll do it again. How good it is does basically depend upon which ingredients you yourself put into it, but it's also true that restaurants differ in the variety and quality of ingredients that they offer, and in the cooking method.

Haven't been to the other restaurants there.

Regarding Mason Jar. Tried it back when we first moved here. I was looking for a traditional "real" Reuben Sandwich and was steered to Mason Jar. I really hate cigarette smoke and unfortunately that smoke permeated the place. Seems to me looking back that the smoking section was in the front of the restaurant, which meant that you had to walk through it to get anywhere else. Probably would have put up with it, though, if their Reubens were like those of my late teens and early twenties when I was living in Omaha and eating the originals at the coffee shop in the Blackstone Hotel, where they were invented. It's a thin sandwich, like a grilled cheese. You put some dressing on the rye bread, then Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a THIN layer of corned beef, and you grill the WHOLE THING. The sandwich should be thin, a bit greasy, a lot crunchy. At Mason Jar, as I recall it anyway, it was today's typical sandwich - big pile of stuff on grilled toast. So, all in all, wrong sandwich and too much smoke. Haven't been back.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

I really like Orleans Seafood Kitchen. Had some of their fried shrimp and hushpuppies just last week. Often pick up some gumbo to go. Nice to have it in the fridge waiting for me on these cool evenings.

Mar 07, 2015
Jaymes in Houston