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Denton and Far North Dallas Restaurants

These are our reviews of places to eat near our new home in Krugervile, Texas.

Favorites: Joey's Ristorante | Independent Burger Co. | The BBQ Joint | Thai Ocha

Joey's Ristorante Italiano (Aubrey, TX) (web site | map)
Our stop here was random chance while looking for a place to meet our Dallas real estate agent, just after the restaurant's grand opening. It turned out to be a wonderful surprise! Their menu is extensive. All their pastas are home made and always fresh. Their ravioli and tortellini are especially good! All in all, the best Italian restaurant that we have found anywhere in Texas. They're pizza is also excellent. This is the one restaurant that we take all our visiting guest to. Be sure to try the Tortellini Della Nonna and the Ravioli Di Aragosta (lobster ravioli).

The BBQ Joint (Aubrey, TX) (web site | map)
My first visit here was coming home from work early one afternoon, while still commuting from Texoma to Carrollton every day. I ordered a chopped beef, and a slab of ribs for Anna and I to try later that day. The chopped beef was tender, with a good smoky flavor. The ribs turned out to be above average for pork ribs in Texas (but not quite as good at the joint in Sherman). So far this is the best barbecue stop that we've found anywhere near our new home. Anna just wishes that they did smoked chicken or turkey. My current favorite is the pulled pork sandwich (who would have guessed that ).

Betty's Cafe (Aubrey, TX) (web site | map)
Your basic home town country cafe. Built on a fairly large scale. We've stopped here several times. They run a large breakfast buffet that always has the parking lot full when I pass in the mornings. The also have a lunch buffet every day that changes regularly depending on what day of the week it is. Be sure to try their seafood buffet on Friday night! Everything is quite good, and the catfish turned out to be surprisingly good. Their buffet is a little on the pricey side, with $10 normally, and $12 on Fridays. But it's all you can eat. They also do a pretty good burger and patty melt, ordered off their menu.

Miss Lizzy's Hamburgers (Aubrey, TX) (web site | map)
Fast food hamburgers and such. But not a chain. And no pre-made, frozen, and reheated meat patties here. Everything seems to be cooked fresh when ordered, and because of that they can be a little slow. I think the burgers here are pretty good. Anna is less impressed. But we continue to stop here, as it is one of the better burgers in Aubrey. The one complaint we both agree on is that they put a little sugar on their french fries along with the salt.

Villa Grande Mexican Restaurant (Little Elm, TX) (web site | map)
This is one of two local Mexican restaurants. It used to be run out of large old build that looked ready to be condemned. But has moved to a nearby small strip mall. It does seem to be more Tex-Mex than Mexican, but that's true for most of the places we have stopped in north Texas. The food was good, but a little bland I thought (and I don't mean spicy heat). We only stopped once so far. I am sure that we will go back. The parking lot is always full. More comments to come.

Rapheal's Restaurante Mexicano (Little Elm, TX) (web site | map)
The other of the two local Mexican restaurants. We have heard several people comment on the good food here, but so far our experience has been mediocre. The service is good, but the food is lacking. What we've ordered has just seemed a little lacking on the depth of flavor that I have come to expect from Mexican food. On our last stop I ordered the Tacos El Carbon, and while they were full of flavor, that flavor was almost like Asian teriyaki. Very heavy on soy sauce and sweeteners, but nothing Mexican or Tex-Mex in flavor. I didn't finish them, but the dog was happy when we got home. We'll keep looking for better Mexican close to home.

Independent Hamburger Company (Denton, TX) (web site | map)
The menu is limited here. But they don't need anything other than their delicious burgers to draw in their many customers. You stand in line to order, grab your burger, then sit and enjoy. In our opinion this little place ranks up in the top five burger place that we have tried in our travels around the US. The burgers are flame broiled, not fried or griddled. Choose your favorite toppings, or one of their specials. You'll probably need a knife and fork for some of the messier ones.

Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant (Denton, TX) (web site | map)
More of the normal Mexican food that we are used to in south Texas. Like most place here, we've just stopped here once (we're busy trying a little of everything). The food was probably the best Mexican food that we've had in the area (my opinion anyway). We will definitely be stopping here for dinner or take-put again soon. More comments then.

Thai Ocha (Denton, TX) (web site | map)
This was our first try for Thai food since moving here, and I don't think we'll have to look for another one. We've only eaten here twice, but so far we have sampled six dishes. Each one was excellent! Some were not what we were expecting from past experiences, but all were delicious. The sauces tend to be a little thinner than we are used to, but they lack nothing in flavor. We've finished every last bite of everything that we've ordered here so far. This is definitely in the top five of all the Thai restaurants that we've tried.


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North Dallas Suburbs Restaurants

This includes McKinney, Frisco, Carrollton, and Little Elm Areas.

Favorites: Angelo and Vito's |

Fish City Grill (Carrollton, TX) (web site | map)
This is kind of bar and grill in a strip mall. Not far from Cliff's work. The best fried fish that I have found in the North Dallas area so far. Good portions, and a nice light breading. The fish is all that I have tried, but there are many other very good looking items on their menu. And the place is always busy for lunch.

MooYah Burger (Carrollton, TX) (web site | map)
Burgers and nothing but burgers. They operate kind of like a fast food joint, and they are part of a small chain. They specialize in the freshness of their hamburger and add-ons (there are a lot to choose from). Burgers are served with hand cut fries. But don't expect a 1/2" thick gormet burger. They stilll serve the thinner patties. They have use better quality, and pile up the patties to make a thick burger. All and all, if I want a burger for lunch this is one of my stops.

Angelo and Vito's Pizzeria (Addison, TX) (web site | map)
This isn't too far for work. I stopped here one day because the advertise "Brooklyn style pizza", which is our preferred type of pizza. While I'm not sure how truly Brooklyn style it is, it is very good pizza. The best we've found in the DFW area yet anyway (we are quite picky about our pizza). The only complaint I have is that they tend to go a little too light on the sauce. But, all and all, they serve a good pizza pie. The ingredients are in the right proportions (in other words they don't completely cover and over-power the whole pizza), and everything seems to be relatively fresh.


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Lake Texoma Area Restaurants

These are our reviews of places to eat when staying at our house on Lake Texoma.

Favorites: Sofia's Taqueria | Pelicans Landing | Crackle & Oink BBQ | Gene's

Sofia's Taqueria (Gainesville, TX) (web site | map)
This is the stop that we make for Mexican taqueria style food in lake Texoma area. We stopped here for the first time soon after they opened. I almost always have the tacos (beef on corn, and chicken on flour). We have also eaten and enjoyed their gorditas, burritos, sopas, and tosadas. Their grilled chicken, that they use to fill these items, is probably the best I have had in a taqueria. It is always tender and moist, and full of flavor. The carne asada filling is also wonderful! And don't forget their barbacoa or carnitas. Their salsa seems to get hotter every time we go in. Both the red and green sauce for the food is very good too.

Pelicans Landing Restaurant (Gordonville, TX) (web site | map)
This restaurant is the closest one to our lake house, being at the Cedar Mills Marina about 1 mile south on County Road. Anna and I only got to eat here once after we moved in, before it was flooded in the spring. But that one time, both our meals were very good. They have a full somewhat up-scale menu here, that does include burgers and sandwiches, and the prices are reasonable. Our neighbors highly recommended their pizza, but we didn't get down their soon enough to try. The restaurant has also won a couple people choice awards for their food in the lake area. They also have a small sports bar here, with a full wet bar (dry county). They should have this place back up and going in the spring of 2008 (the place was completely destoyed during the 2007 floods on the lake). We plan to try it again as soon as they are open.

Gene's Hamburger Harbor (Gordonville, TX) (web site | map)
This was the first restaurant that we tried in the lake area. We stopped here on the day we were first moving in. The name pretty much describes the fare here. It's heavy on burgers and sandwiches. So far that is all that we have ordered. The burgers are good here. Thick and juices. Gene's is also a private club, and as such, can serve beer and liquor (you'll need to buy a membership for $5). On night during the warmer months there is often live music outside on their patio on the weekends. We definitely recommend Gene's in you're in the Gordonvile area, and looking for a good burger.

Track's (Sherman, TX) (web site | map)
We were recommended to this place while shopping in Sherman one day. The menu here is basically burgers and sandwiches, with some home-cooking dishes thrown in. We just had the burgers. They were definitely hand made, and pure beef patties. The burgers were quite good. Our only negative comment was on the lack of salt in the batter for the onion rings. There were a number of other good sounding sandwiches and dishes on the menu. But the menu isn't that large (I think Anna was disappointed in this). This is good choice for a quick lunch if you're in Sherman.

Old World Meat Market (Whitesboro, TX) (web site | map)
We stopped here to pick up some steaks and a roast. The place turned out to be packed with people ordering burgers and sandwiches. They serve a number a burger and sandwiches here. All seem to be quite tasty. Of course the ground beef is fresh, as they are a meat market and grind it themselves. They also serve barbecue, but we have not tried that yet. If you're in Whitesboro and looking for a good fresh burger be sure to stop here.

Don's Barbeque (Whitesboro, TX) (web site | map)
This is the closest and first stop for barbeque in the Lake Texoma area. Don's has a lunch buffet, and always seems to be packed during the middle of the day. I talked to the owners, and they have been in the barbeque business for over 20 years. The day I stopped, it was for a take-out order of brisket and ribs in the middle of the afternoon. On that day the brisket was just okay. The ribs were very over-cooked, and as dry as a charcoal briquette. Maybe everything had just been sitting on the buffet too long, and then reheated for us. Anna thought the ribs were pretty much inedible. The side dishes were good. And we are willing to give them one more try, probably for the buffet while it is still fresh.

Crackle & Oink Bar-B-Que (Sherman, TX) (web site | map)
This was our last stop, and best, for barbeque in the lake area. This place advertises that it has won a number of national barbeque cook-offs. And the have a pig on the sign. So I wanted to give them a try. They are also well recommended by many people locally, and usually win "Best BBQ on the Lake" award most years. We ordered brisket, a pulled pork sandwich, and ribs. The brisket and pork were both excellent! Moist, tender, and flavorful. The ribs were also quite good. This is one of the top 2 or 3 places in all of Texas that I would recommend as having the best ribs in the state. All the sides were tasty too. We have continued to eat here when in Sheram. Anna absolutily loves their ribs, and I can get a pulled pork sandwich.

Ben's Barbeque (Mead/Durant, OK) (web site | map)
Ben's was our second barbeque stop around the lake. We were coming back from visiting Anna's parents, and stopped for take-out. Ben's wasn't bad. Definitely better than Don's in Whitesboro. But we can't say that it was great. Everything had a nice smoke flavor. But the over-all flavor and moisture was just okay. The ribs were actually pretty dry, and Anna didn't finish hers Of everything the brisket was best. We will keep up our search for better barbeque around the lake.

BG's Catch (Kingston, OK) (web site | map)
This is one of the many catfish houses around Lake Texoma. This lake is famous for it's catfish, and the area around the lake for its catfish restaurants. BG's seems to always be listed in the top 5 of these restaurants. They, like most of these places, are only open on the weekends (sometimes starting on Thursday). Anna's uncle Jerry recommended this place, and took us out to dinner here during a visit. The food is mainly served on a huge buffet, although there are menus for other items. The buffet was covered in food, including large piles of fresh fried catfish, hushpuppies, and boiled shrimp. The fish was absolutely cooked to perfection. Light and crispy, with no fishy taste. Everything else was also quite good. From our experience BG's deserves its high ranking as a fish house in the lake area.

Catfish Platter (Willis, OK) (web site | map)
Anna and I stopped here to take our niece, Kristen, out for dinner during one of her visits. We had been wanting to try this place. The parking lot is always full when they are open (weedends only), and I had also read some good reviews. The menu is short on selections. Mainly catfish, burgers, chicken tenders, and chicken fried steak. Kristen and I order the fish, and Anna got the chicken fried steak. The food was all good. Everything was tasty, and Anna really enjoyed her steak. But no one raved that it was execlent. Most comments were about how small the protions were for the prices. Particularly the fish. For $9 you got 2 very small fillets cut into four pieces, and 2 skimpily protioned side dishes. I wasn't every that hungry going in, and was still hungry after leaving. Again, the food here is good. But we will take the extra time to drive further for better catfish houses next time.

Catfish Haven (Whitesboro, TX) (web site | map)
This restaurant is the one catfish house between Gordonville and Whitesboro. They are open everyday, and serve a lunch buffet. They are often crowded for lunch. But on the one day that I tried them, later in the day, the food was definitely below par. I ordered a fish basket (it is a catfish house after all). The fish was cooked too dark, and it was very over cooked and dry. After another stop I think I have found out why. They seem to cook to much of some of their fried items (fish and fries) during their busy times. Then later, when you order they put the already cooked and left-over food back in the fryers to reheat them (I watched them do this twice, including my fries). However, my fish on this second stop was battered and fried when I ordered it, and was quite excellent. So, my advice for the Catfish Haven is that if they are busy, by all means stop and eat. But if there are very few cars or customers, definitely find somewhere else to go. On the positive side, I have heard good things about their pies and desserts, which win customer awards in the lake area.

Hacienda Mexican Grill (Whitesboro, TX) (web site | map)
This is the restaurant Mexican restaurant east of Whitesboro on Hwy 82. This was also our first stop for Mexican food in the lake area. We would classify the food here as general American fare, with some Tex-Mex thrown in. The food is okay, but that's about it. We wouldn't recommend this place for someone looking for a good Mexican food experience. Anna and I probably won't return here. There are just better places to eat in the area.

The Burger Shoppe (Kingston, OK) (web site | map)
This seems to be the stop for lunch in Kingston. At least for a sandwich. The parking lot is always full in the middle of the day, and sometime the drive through backs up into the street. I finally did stop here one day for lunch. Good basic drive-in food, with burgers cooked fresh when you order. The staff here is very helpful and friendly (carry free drinks to the cars waiting in line on a hot summer day).

Bar-B-Q Shack (Kingston, OK) (web site | map)
This is a little hole-in-wall shack with outside benches and a couple of tables inside, near Kingston's downtown stop light. They are quite busy when they're open. We've only stopped here once when they were open (on weekends only, it seems). I had a sliced brisket sandwich, and Anna went for the chopped beef. The brisket had a nice smoky flavors, but a fairly dry. Anna's sandwich had some un-edible pieces mixed in. The que here is okay, but not great. The shack is still worth a stop if you're hungry in Kingston. OK.

Country Kitchen (Kingston, OK) (web site | map)
No personal experience. But I wanted to comment This place seems to be the stop for Breakfast in Kingston. Just as the Burger Shoppe is for lunch. It looks like it would be hard to even find parking near this place in the mornings, there are so many people here. So, if you up early and hungry, this would seem to be a very good place to go for Breakfast. I am not even sure that they are open for lunch.

Cindi's Place (Gordonville, TX) (web site | map)
No personal experience. I don't have much to say about this place. Except that it's close to the lake house. The parking lot is often busy during lunch hour times. But one of our neighbors told us that the food can be inconsistent here. So, we have always passed it up for somewhere else. We will try it one day so that we can make a personal comment.

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Houston Area Restaurants and Eateries

The restaurant reviewed below are some of our favorties from our time living in the Houston area. We, of course, ate at many many others. But these are the ones that we returned to again and again. Our favorites. We will not be covering any that we didn't like, or found just average.

Thai Ocha Restaurant - Out of Business
This restaurant became one of our favorite places for take out Thai food, and for dinning in. It was close to home, and also on the way home from work for me. Their fried calimari, with a sweet chili sauce for dipping, is an absolute must! It not the little rings and tenticle like most places, but big thick ribbons of calimari breaded in panko bread crumbs. I often made a meal out of the calimari alone. Their steamed dumpling appetizers were also very good. Anna's favorite was one of their house specials. Beef Prig Pad Pao, I believe. It is a beef dish with a sweet red curry sauce. She really loves this dish. Many of their other dishes were also wonderful, including their triple taste fish.

Thep Thai (web site | map)
This is the restaurant that replaced our Thai Ocha that we raved about above. The good news is that it maybe as good, if not better than the restaurant it replaced (without the special calamari). We have eaten here twice now, and Anna absolutely loves it! We have had four different dishes so far, and all were great. They do have a good calamari, but it's more of the standard style. I think that as time goes by we will find many dishes here that we really enjoy, because we will be back often.

Nit Noi Thai Restaurant (web site | map)
This is our other favorite local Thai place. At one time this restaurant was on the way home for Anna. Her favorite here was the Pad Thai (I think this is where Anna first fell in love with this particlar dish). We also have freinds and family that enjoyed eating here. I never found an all time favorite for me. But everything I tried was quite good, including several of the pan fried noodle dishes. This is a small local chain of restaurnats, so I am sure that the food is up to this standard at all the locations. Be sure to check the small "off the menu" section of the menu for speciality items.

Chef Chan's Restaurant (web site | map)
No buffet here. Just an excellent place for Chinese food. Our favorite in north Houston. The food here is not classic chinese because it has been "americanized" quite a bit. But it is always very very good! There are two Chef Chan's. One in the Woodlands and one in Spring. The food is almost the same, with the main difference being that the Woodlands location leaves the meat in larger bit-sized pieces, and the Spring location kind of minces the meat into smaller piece. Anna and I preferred the style of the Woodlands location, but would eat at either location in a heart beat. Our favorites are the Orange Chicken, Sesame Orange Chicken, Hunan Beef, and the Garlic Chicken. Be sure to try their Crab Rangoon appetizer, as they are good enough to be the standard that Anna judges all other crab puffs by. They also have wonderful spicy dim-sum dumplings.

Pit Masters Barbeque (web site | map)
It took a long time to find a good barbeque place close to home (there are other good, and some famous, BBQ joints in Houston, but they are not really worth the drive through Houston traffic). Pit Masters opened 2 or 3 years ago, and I was very happy after my first stop. Their menu advertised "Memphis style slow cooked pork". When I asked the girl taking the order what this really meant (I was born in Memphis, and most of my family is from that area). She couldn't answer, so she got the owner to talk to me. The owner, and pit master, is from Memphis where he and his father were both pit masters. This sounded like heaven to a someone raised on southern barbeque, who has been living in Texas more than a decade. But, don't think that the slow smoked pork is the only reason to stop here. They really use a different cooking method for each type of meat. The brisket is done "Texas style", and is smoky, tender, and juicy. Their ribs are a St. Louis cut, and are quite excellent (probably the best I've found in Texas). The sausage is also very good. When you stop don't forget the sweet beans or coleslaw either.

Mo's Barbeque (web site | map)
Here's the other good barbeque place in north Houston. We found this one early, while we were still living in Humble, and it is probably still Anna's favorite. She loves the Barbeque Stuffed Potato here. The brisket and chopped beef sandwiches are also very good here. Their sauce is sweeter than many Texas sauces, and that's another reason Anna likes it so much. When we first started going here Mo's was a basically a trailer with an adjoining eating room built on. Since then the rebuilt into a larger more modern building, and openned a second location, but the food remained the same good quality.

Aldine Westfield Taqueria (web site | map)
This little place started as one of the mobile taco carts or vans that you see all over the Houston area. I usually make it a point to try these little taco carts whenever I find one near home. The food is simple, inexpensive, and often very good. That was the case with the cart that set up on Aldine Westfield (north of 1960, beside the Blockbuster video). Their grilled beef (carne asada) filling is wonderful. Which make their beef tacos, gorditas, and burrito wonderful too. They also usually give you a free small coffee cup full of beans (very good) or soup while you are waiting on your order. About a year ago they moved into a small permanent restaurant building next door. I was very glad to see, as it prevented them from moving the van to a new location. They expanded their menu a little bit after moving. Stop by and order anything. I am sure that it will be good. Oh, and beware of their homemade hot sauces. They'll peel the hide off your tongue if you're not careful. ( Note - The last time I stop here the food was not only different, but of poorer quality. I think this place has new owners and cooks. Very disappointing, if so.)

Carlos Mexican Restaurant (web site | map)
Here is Anna's favorite stop for Mexican food in the Spring and north Houston area. Carlos has two locations. The one near home is on Aldine Westfield, and the other is on Kuykendahl. Anna and her work buddies often ate lunch at the Kuykendahl location. Her favorite dish is the chulupas(sp?). My favorite at Carlos is the Carne Guisada, which is smothered in a thick spicy read gravy (this is now my standard to judge all other guisada dishes against). The only dish I didn't really like at these restaurants was their basic enchiladas, which had a red sauce that seemed just out-right sweet to me.

The Casa Mexican Restaurant (web site | map)
Another favorite of Anna's during our long time stay in Houston. She had many things that she liked here, but what she always talked about was the salsa that they serve with their chips. The salsa had to be in her top two favorite restaurant salsa. We stopped here after moving back to Houston, and I finally got to try the place too. The salsa is very tasty, as was my chicken enchiladas. A number of the menu items looked very good, and Anna was very content with two huge plates of delicious food for $10 (one whole plate became a take-home meal). I am sure we will eat here often during this stay in Houston. Especially since the local Carlos' has closed.

Pappasito's Cantina Chain (web site | map)
I won't go into any great detail about the Pappasito's chain, as they are very well known. This is mainly for people not from the Houston area. If you're from the Houston area you already know that this is the Mexican side of the Papa's restaurant corporation. One thing to say about the Papa's restaurants is that they are all clean, the service is usually good considering the sometimes large crowds, and the food is consistent. If you're looking for good quality basic Mexican and Tex-Mex then the local Pappasito's would be a good choice. Just don't expect anything really special.

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen Chain (web site | map)
The Cajun side of the Papa's restaurants. Out of all the Papa's eateries Pappadeaux's is probably Anna and I's favorite. Out of the many cajun and creole restaurants in Houston, this is the one that we kept going back to. Their fried calamari is always crisp and tender, as is the fried crawfish tails. The andouille and seafood gumbo is very good with a different and delicious black pepper spiciness. The crab cakes as an appetizer ar a meal is always a good choice (Anna even likes them and she's not that fond of crab). We have found very few items at Pappadeaux's that we were disappointed in.

Pappas Seafood House Chain (web site | map)
This is obviously another of the Papa's restaurants. This is really my review, as Anna doesn't eat much fish. The times I have eaten at Pappas Seafood locations the food was always consistently good, and the prices are reasonable compared to some of the other seafood restaurants. One of their specials I ordered one time is a meal I still remember after several years. It was a grilled swordfish in some kind of browned butter crab sauce (YUM...).

Brother's Pizza Express (web site | map)
We searched for years for a good local, non national chain, pizza place. We found Brother the last year that we lived in town. We had tried this place years before, but found that pizza to have been very salty (maybe it was just the toppings we ordered), so we didn't go back. That was really breaking my rule of judging a restaurant on just a single visit. But we were finally convinced to try them again by friends. After that they, in their new location, quickly became our pizza of choice. It's a thin crust New York style of pie, and full of flavor.

Donnelly's Pizza (web site | map)
This was our other choice for a local pizza joint. We found Donnelly's not too long after it opened, and tried one of the Donnelly Special pizza. It was very garlicky, with lots a veggies to go with the meats, and was very good. They also have wonderful pizza rolls that are only $1.50 each, and their big enough that I'm stuffed after three. Also try their calzones. The only negatives for Donnelly's is that their pizza are a little on the pricey side, compared to many of the chain places, and times to get your order can be long.

Pizza Zone (web site | map)
This was a new pizza place to try after we moved back to Houston. It is close enough to our new apartment to deliver, and I read several good reviews for their food. So we ordered delivery a couple of weeks after moving in. The pizza was good, and the ingredients fresh. But it is not really the type of pizza we prefer now. It's a little to thick, and the crust too bread like. Sometime like a very high end Papa John's style pizza. It reminded me of a pizza from my college days, call )Pizza Shuttle. Don't get me wrong the pizza is good here, and I would recommend it, but we will continue to look at other places near home.

Alpenhaus Restaurant - Out of Business
This is our one entry for a German restaurant, and it a good one! All of the entree' dishes here are very good. In a number of visits we've never found something we ordered to be anything other than delicious. Be sure to try the Rouladen with a side order of Spaetzle. The Sauerbraten, Jägerschnitzel, Cabbage Rolls, and Roast Pork Loin are also very good. Almost all of these are also available as a lunch special in smaller portions. This is without a doubt the best German restaurant that I ever tried.

Gugliani's Italian Grill (web site | map)
Here's our neighborhood Italian restaurant. The best one anyway. Gugliani's opened a couple of years ago in what had been a gourmet burger joint. I stopped to get take-out for dinner on a whim one night, and we were pleasantly surprised. Their pizzas are good; both the custom orders and their specialty pizzas. Try their specialty pizzas by ordering an 8" appetizer pizza with your normal order. For Anna we usually ordered the Fettuccini Alfredo and added grilled chicken. My favorite was probably the Chicken Marsala, which is without a doubt the best chicken marsala that I have ever had (and I order that often). The piccata is also great no matter which meat you choose. On the negative side, I would say to skip their fried calamari if they are still serving it. Their wait staff seem to be made up of mostly students, but there always seems to be a steady stream of Italian language coming out of the kitchen area.

Amerigo's Grille (web site | map)
We lived fairly close to both of the Amerigo's restaurant, so we could take our pick. We like the Louetta Road location for the quite romantic dinning, and The Woodlands location for eating outside. Both are excellent. I wont go into a lot of detail, as these restaurant are well covered in many reviews on the internet. But we were both very fond of these restaurants. Be sure to ask the waiter if there is something that you would like and it's not on the menu. They do a lot of custom cooking to order.

Potato Patch Restaurant (web site | map)
This was our stop for basic American home cooking, and our favorite place to take guest because of the diversity of their menu. The Potato Patch also offers its own entertainment, as in the hot roll serving method. A long time employee walks around the restaurant yelling "Hot rolls, hot rolls here, anybody want hot rolls". All you have to do is raise your hand, or get eye contact and nod, then get ready catch your hot roll. Because the server will be throwing the roll to you from where ever he is standing (if your new to this wait until he is pretty close). These rolls are part of their free "pass arounds". These free items include the rolls, several types of muffins, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and fried vegetable fritters. Eat as much and you want of the pass arounds, and skip ordering any of the appetizers on the menu (the one possible exception is their Fried Zucchini). As for the other menu items, most everything is good quality tasty food. A stop here was often the choice when I wanted a thick cut prime rib at a reasonable price. Consistency could use a little work, but it's not a big problem. They also have some specialty nights with all-you-can-eat dinners.

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San Antonio & Hill Country Restaurants

Favorites: Picante Grill | El Callejon | Black's BBQ | Indian Oven | Orchid Thai

Uncle Barney's Old Fashion Hamburgers (web site | map)
A small basic burger and sandwich shop, located in back of larger cafe. The burgers are made by hand, and are large and juicy. They have an outdoor covered deck that is very nice on cooler days, and there is live entertainment on the deck some nights. This is close to home for us, and the place we run to for a quick homestyle delicious hamburger when we don't want to cook.

Hungry Farmer Steak House (web site | map)
A "steak house" with a cafe setting. The menu is really limited to steaks and a few other items. The service was very good, and many at our table really liked their chopped sirloin steaks. But the regular steaks lacked flavor and were somewhat tough. Anna and I still plan to try their liver and onions.

Longhorn Cafe (web site | map)
Basic American food and hamburgers. We weren't looking for burgers when we went in, but everyone was happily devouring great looking hamburgers, so we changed our minds and "went with the flow". The hamburgers were thick and juicy. The only compliant was from Anna, was due to an excess of mayonnaise. The onion rings did need a little more salt. Elsewhere in the restaurant the chili cheese fries, hot wings, fried mushrooms, and the fish basket looked wonderful. This was a very very busy place while we were there, even in the outdoor section during August.

Ruthies Mexican Restaurant (web site | map)
The first place we stopped to eat in San Antonio. As I have said in other parts of this web site, we where starving for real Mexican or Tex-Mex after months in Kansas. At Ruthies we've tried the beef fajita tacos, their Mexican plate, beef goditas, and beef enchilada plate. The beef fajita meat had a wonderful flavor. The seasoned ground beef stuffing less so. Their tortillas are a little thicker than Anna and I like. All in all an okay place to eat, but we never found a great or favorite dish.

Taqueria Jalisco (web site | map)
Our second try for Mexican food close to the new home. We normally look for a good sit-down mexican place and a good taqueria close to home. I usually like the Jalisco style taquerias. This one was, again, okay but nothing special and not what we were looking for. The grilled beef in the tacos and burrito was a little dry, and the Carne Guisada really was plain old beef stew.

Mi Tierra Cafe (web site | map)
This is the well know Mexican restaurant in the downtown Market Square. Well actually, it's one of two restaurants in the Square. But both are owned and run by the same family (there is also a third a few block west that will be less crowded). Mi Tierra does have large and wonderful mexican bakery, and they're open 24 hours a day. Anna especially like the huge pastry counter at the bakery while we were waiting in line. I ordered enchiladas and Anna got a combo plate. All the food was good standard Mexican, but I don't think either deserved raving about it or the restaurant. But don't let that comment stop anyone from eating here. It is worth the stop and the wait.

Taco Rey (web site | map)
Next try for a local taqueria. The best so far. Anna finally found a crispy taco, and I found their special Tacos ala Parrilla to really hit the spot. The grilled beef was tender and flavorful. Anna was a little disappointed that her crispy taco was made with ground beef (a little under seasoned). We will be going back for breakfast and lunch. Only open until 2:00pm.

Picante Grill (web site | map)
Further away from home. Down by the Whitte museum and Breckenridge Park. They advertise the "best enchiladas in town". I decided to try a little more upscale enchilada. They had a chicken chipotle casserole that sounded good. I was not disappointed! This was one of the best mexican dishes that I have had in a long time! I am even trying to duplicate the recipe, and plan to go get a couple of take out orders to use as a tasting sample. Anna was also very pleased with her meal. We would eat here often if it was closer to home.

El Callejon Traditional Mexican Cuisine (web site | map)
According to their web site this is a multi-location restaurant, with two other locations in California. This location is just about 1/2 a mile from the apartment. We took some friends from Houston out for dinner here. All the food we had for dinner was very good! The prices here are a little high. But the food is wonderful, and Anna and I can't wait to go back. We shared a bowl of their Cream of Chipotle soup, and it was a big winner with us (we are trying to duplicate the recipe too). I had their Chicken Enchiladas Benito (enchiladas in a red chipotle sauce), and it was good enough that I am having trouble deciding on something else to try. This restaurant will definitely be a stop for us anytime we are in San Antonio.

Black's Barbeque (Lockhart, TX) (web site | map)
I stopped by here on the way back from Houston to pick up some take out barbeque for dinner. It was only a short side trip, and the barbeque places in Lockhart are famous. It was Sunday, so I couldn't try Kruez Market too. I picked up some brisket, ribs, and sausage to go. The brisket was probably the best that we have every had. But the sausage was too loosely packed and, for our taste, lacked flavors other than smoke. The ribs had been cooked with so much salt that they kind of tasted a little bit like ham, but were still very good (just different). But the brisket would be worth another trip all by itself, and probably will be before we leave San Antonio.

Tom's Ribs (web site | map)
More take out for dinner. This place is between Anna's work and the apartment, so we wanted to give it a try. Tom's isn't just a BBQ joint, as it has a fair sized menu with steaks, burgers, chicken, fish, and sandwiches. But it was barbeque that I was there for. A pound of brisket and a slab of ribs to be specific, plus a few sides ( a lady there before me was ordering nothing but side dishes to go with their at-home family cookout). Both meats were good, and I would say they were above average. They were both tender and moist, with plenty of smoke flavor. The baked beans and slaw were also good, as was their own barbeque sauce.

Rudy's Barbeque (the original location in Lyon Springs, TX) (web site | map)
Still waiting to try this one, but it's on our list (if we don't run out of time first). We've eaten at a Rudy's before, but the place here is the original location.

Grady's Barbeque (web site | map)
Pretty close to home, so we wanted to give them a try. There are, I think, 7 or 8 Grady's in town. Again, this place also has a full menu of non-barbeque items. However, we ordered the brisket, ribs, and sausage (starting to see a pattern here?). Everything here was average, tender but a little dry. The sausage was probably the best. We would eat here again, but there are better places.

Casey's Barbeque (Hwy 281, North of San Antonio) (web site | map)
We stopped by here while driving back into San Antonio. The smoky aromas in the air around the place smelled wonderful. Well, smell's can be deceiving. We ordered their Sampler's Platter, with brisket, pork loin, ribs, turkey and sausage. We added an extra half chicken to round out our tasting experience. Almost all the meat was dry, and had little smoke flavor. The smoked turkey was by far the best, and the sausage was passable. Everything included, this was the least appealing barbecue that we have had since returning to Texas.

Naples Pizza and Italiano Ristorante (web site | map)
Our first stop for pizza in San Antonio. Recently Anna and I have been preferring the thinner crust "New York Style" pizza. So Naples sounded like the place. There pizza wasn't bad, but it wasn't a favorite of ours either. The crust tasted scorched. I like a good crispy crust, and don't mind some black from the pizza oven's bricks. But I don't want a scorched taste. We may go back to Naples to give them another chance on the pizza. I'm not sure, but many other items looked good.

Goomba's Pizza (web site | map)
The name sounds like a New York style pizza, and I read a couple of good reviews for this place. It was also a pretty busy place. But Anna and I only have one thing to say about our pizza. I was surely the worst pizza that we have ever tried to eat. I say "tried", because we just couldn't eat more than a piece or two each. The rest was thrown out. It was bland, made with a poor quality cheese, and kind of soggy.

Rome's Pizza & Greek Food (web site | map)
Strike three for a good pizza in San Antonio. But is was better than the previous two. This time I think that it was only what, or when, we ordered. Maybe too many toppings, or when they were too busy. But I saw many tasty looking pizzas and pasta dishes in the restaurant while waiting on our order. As with Naples, I am not sure if we will try their pizza again (unless it's some speciality gourmet pizza), but maybe for some of the other dishes.

Trilogy Pizza and Wine Bistro (web site | map)
We tried again after all. This place is close to Anna's hospital, and she picked it up on the way home. Here we found the best pizza, so far, during our stay here. They do the New York style, an authentic Chicago style (we lived there for a while), and California style pizzas. Unless we find better, this will be our pizza stop while we are still in town. My only complaint was that the pizza did not reheat well.

Phoenix Chinese Cafe (web site | map)
We were really wanting a Chinese buffet, but after a search it looked like all the buffets near the apartment had gone out of business. We chose the Phoenix Cafe because it is close enough for delivery, and I read a couple of good reports about it. Anna had the Lemon Chicken and I ordered the Orange Peel Beef. Neither dish was anything special, and the beef was over cooked and a little tough. We might stop here again, but we are still looking for better.

Thai Orchid Restaurant (web site | map)
We were out running around one day not far from the house, saw their buffet sign, and decided to stop for lunch. We missed the buffet by about 15 minutes. So we ordered off the lunch menu instead. The food here is very authentic. Anna really enjoyed her Chicken Pad Thai, and my Thai Orchid Beef was also good. We plan to go back for their buffet and also to try their dinner specials.

Thai Kitchen (web site | map)
This was our next stop for Asian food. I had read some really wonderful review for the place after finding the restaurant not to far from the apartment. We found out that the place had recently changed management, but decided to try it anyway. Again, this place serves some very authentic Thai food. Although there are some standard Chiness/American style dishes. My Pad See Ew (w/ chicken) was very tasty. Anna's beef Panang Nuah was almost too hot to eat, but she said that it was also good. The Thai Kitchen is sill worth a stop, and the service was very friendly.

Orchid Thai Restaurant (Killeen, TX) (web site | map)
We went out to dinner here while visiting a cousin of Anna's in Killeen, while on our way to Oklahoma. This is a favorite dinning place for Anna's cousin and her best friend. We all put everything in the middle and ate family style. Everything that all four of us ordered, including the appetizers, was very good. Anna's Chicken Pad Thai was probably the best that I ever tasted. There was a sweet brown dipping sauce served with the dumplings that was a pleasant and delicious surprise.

Taste of China (Wichita Falls, TX) (web site | map)
We ordered delivery from here on our way back to San Antonio from Oklahoma, mainly because we were tried and the hotel had a menu. I wanted to include this report because the Orange Chicken the Anna ordered was excellent! My Chicken Lo Mien was also good, if a little lacking on flavor.

Taste of China Buffet (San Antonio) (web site | map)
We were still looking for a Chinese buffet, and this is one of the closest to home. After the restaurant in Wichita Falls we were hoping for the best. What we got was average. The food was hot and had not been on the buffet long. But the selection was a little small, and we only rated the food as average. We left several dishes unfinished. There was one good non-breaded chicken dish that was good, but I forget what it was called

Frenchy's Cajun Boiling Pot (Corpus Christi) (web site | map)
While staying in Corpus I wanted seafood. More specifically, I wanted gumbo. So we walked to the restaurant and got some take out to carry back to the hotel. We wanted to sit and watch the ocean while we ate. I had planned to order their cajun specialty platter, but at the at the last minute I decided that fried food sounded better. So I ordered their Fried Seafood Combo Platter, and Anna ordered her standard Fried Shrimp Po'Boy. We both ordered a cup of the Seafood Gumbo. The fried fish and shrimp were very good, spicier than I was really looking for then, but very good. The gumbo was a let down. Almost black with a very dark roux, but still lacking a real depth of flavor. I would like to try more of their dishes. I sure their fish and their cajun specialties are very good.

Indian Oven (web site | map)
We are trying to expand our knownledge of India cuisine, and I found many good reports on this place. And it's less than 5 minutes from home. They have a very wonderful buffet. Anna and I thought that almost everything on the buffet was great! The few exceptions were mostly some of the vegitarian dishes. They serve a onion nan that is very good, and was new to both of us. The Indian Oven may end up being our favorite restaurant in San Antonio, buffet or dinner (which we still have to try). In the end this place was one of our top two favorites.

Indian Palace (web site | map)
Still waiting to try this one, but it's the next new Indian food stop on our list.


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South Texas and Mexico Restaurants

Before these reviews I would like point out that we intentionally, due to medical reasons, did not eat out much while we were living in Brownsville. Also, we were only there together for two months.

Favorites: Captain Bob's Restaurant

Antonio's Mexican , Brownsville (web site | map)
Anna and I ate here soon after I arrived in Brownsville. We both agreed that our meals were very good, and we decided to come back again. We especially wanted to try their Saturday seafood buffet, but never managed to make it back on a Saturday night.

Captain Bob's Restaurant, Brownsville (web site | map)
We ate here a couple of time, and would have eaten here more often given the chance. Their fried shrimp was about the best that I have ever had, and the fried fish is very good too. Their rice side dish is absolutily wonderful. Anna and I discussed several time how we might dupicate it (no luck yet). Pretty much everything we tried here, including the gumbo, was very good. (P.S. - This is also a small local chain restaurant.)

Amberjacks Restaurant , South Padre Island (web site | map)
My sister, Cay Jones, was visiting us and we were touring South Padre. We tried for a "locals" looking place in Port Isabel, but the prices and the crowd made us move on. We ended up at Amberjacks mainly because of advertisements. Besides, we were hungry and tired of looking. We ate outside on the deck. The bay side view was great. The food was average. Anna ordered the shrimp poorboy, as normal for a new seafood restaurant. Cay and I ordered a daily special. The prices narrowed what we order somewhat, as they were higher than we wanted for a casual lunch. And, although good, the food did not live up to the prices. We seems paid as much for the view as the food.

Fisherman's Inn Cafe, Port Isabel (web site | map)
This was a stop for me alone one day, when I was out shooting pictures on South Padre. Anna, my sister, and I had tried one of the touristy bayside restaurants on the Island before. It was okay. But, like most times, I was looking for a small place that the locals all come to. From what I could find out, the Fisherman's Inn fit that description. I wasn't that hungry when I stop (more tired and thirsty), so I just ordered a 1/2 lb of boiled shrimp and a couple of beers. It was mid afternoon so the crown was gone. The shrimp were delicious. A couple of other dishes I saw also look really good. A few people stopped in just to visit with the staff and have coffee. Definitely a local's place! Skip the other high priced touristy place and stop here! Parking was the only problem.

El Camino Bakery, Brownsville (web site | map)
Okay, this isn't a restaurant, but I wanted to comment on their food. For those of you not familiar with Mexican style pastries and baked goods, they are usually light and less over-all sweet than their American counterparts. However, I find them just perfectly sweet for my taste. I liked the empanada here and Anna like their pastries, while my sister absolutely loved a small sugar and cinnamon treat sold here. We stopped by often. (They also had excellent fresh and warm corn tortilla.) One note about stopping here; All the signs describing the baked goods for sale are in spanish, with no english subtitles, so if you don't read spanish you're guessing.

Las Palmas Cafe, Weslaco (web site | map)
We stopped here after visiting the Golden Raintree Citrus Gardens to order some fruit deliveries for Christmas. It was packed with locals (we had to circle the lot a couple of times to find parking), so we thought this would be a good lunch place. Their menu is, of course, heavily tex-mex fare. But also offers the standard american burgers and other meals. Our food was served promptly, and was over all good eating. We can't brag that it was a meal to remember, but the food was good and filling.

Arturo's Restaurant , Nuevo Progresso, Mexico (web site | map)
Anna, Cay, and I ate our Thanksgiving Day lunch here. The service we excellent. This restaurant has been called the "student union" of this border town for gringos, and I guess that kinda fits. If you spend $10 (US) in the restaurant you can leave your vehicle in their parking lot while you are in the town (it has a guard). I have also heard this place described as the "Deny's of Nuevo Progresso", and that also seems to fit. It has a very american dinner or cafe feel to it. The biggest difference is the attention of the service staff, which is phenomenal. They were even serving huge amounts of turkey and dressing to the "winter texans" that were there for there Thanksgiving dinner, and I believe that is a normal thing. I headed in a different direction, and had a roasted goat platter for my turkey-day meal (goat tacos...yumm.). Everything here was very good, but a little to touristy and "americanized" for me to go back. Anna and Cay loved it, so we may be back.

Garcia's Restaurant, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico (web site | map)
Some of the Garcia's restaurants in the Mexico/Texas border towns have gotten really good review, so I wanted to try this one on one of our later trips to Nuevo Progresso. While the service, as with almost all restaurants in this town, was exceptional. The food was not. I can't remember exactly what we ordered, but I do remember that we left at least half of it on our plates. I would recommend skipping Garcia's and stopping at Arturo's or La Fogata's instead.

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Tucson and Arizona Restaurants

Favorites: Brooklyn Pizza Compnay | El Charro Cafe

This Tucson section will be shorter than usual. We didn't eat out much in Tucson. Not for lack of good restaurants. We were just in a cooking mood for a few months. When we did eat out we quickly found a big difference between Soronan Mexican food and the Tex-Mex that we are both familiar with. We also found that Tucson is the true home of the chimichanga. It was invented here.

Teresa's Mosaic Cafe (web site | map)
Our first stop for Mexican food. Teresa's was fairly close to our apartment, and it had some good reviews on the Internet. The service was good, even though the restaurant was quite crowded. I ordered Carne con Chile Colorado and a bowl of Albondigas soup (both a first for me), Anna ordered the Carne Asada Chimichanga with a tostada on the side. My dish was beef smothered in a red chile sauce. I was very surprised when I first tasted this. The sauce was bright red, but had absolutely no heat to it at all. It was good and an interesting flavor, but I was expecting some spice from the red chile sauce. The meatballs in the Albondigas soup were good, and again, an interesting flavor. Anna enjoyed her chimichanga and tostada, but she thought they were nothing very special. We plan to come back to try some other dishes. Their sonoran cheese crisp looked especially good.

Papagayo Cantina (web site | map)
We stopped here for a late lunch after spending the morning hiking in Sabino Canyon Rec Area. We were very hungry, and had asked a employee at the park for a good place to eat in the area. At this time of the day we almost had the place to ourselves. This was the first place, and first time, that I tried Carne Seca. It was also the first time that I found out about a Tucson specialty for the chimichangas, and that is to have them served "enchilada style". That is smothered in red chile sauce and melted cheese. So I had the carne seca chimichanga served enchilada style, and Anna ordered a beef burrito. I thought the carne seca here was a little too dry, but it was very tasty never-the-less, and it worked well with the enchilada sauce. Anna was disappointed in her burrito, but mainly because they added rice to the stuffing (this is very common in Tucson, and the reason the Anna pretty much stopped ordering burritos here). We would both stop here again if we were in the area.

El Charro Cafe (web site | map)
This is the true home of the chimichanga, as it was invented here. El Charro's is the nation's oldest Mexican restaurant to be in continual use, having been founded in 1922. Other than the chimichanga, the specialty here is the Carne Seca which they use to make Carne Machaca. The carne seca is beef marinated in garlic, lime juice, and spices. Then dried on the roof of their downtown restaurant. It is then stewed with tomatoes, onions, and chiles. This is a delicious and intensely flavored meat filling for any kind of Mexican dish. We stopped for a early dinner one day in the original downtown location. I combined the two specialty items, and ordered a carne seca chimichanga. Anna had a combo platter with a tamale, beef taco, and cheese enchilada. The chimichanga was huge and very very good. Anna agreed that everything on her platter was also very good. If we get back to Tucson, I plan to stop for a more complete meal.

La Herradura (web site | map)
This is almost a fast food type of restaurant. Not a taqueria, just fast food. Drive through and all. They have all the normal Mexican food items on the menu behind the ordering counter. I can't remember what we ordered. I think I just had tacos and Anna tried another burrito. The food was okay, but pretty bland and lacking in flavor. The burrito had rice in it again. We do not plan to stop here again. It not bad, not worth the stop either.

Brooklyn Pizza Company (web site | map)
No matter where we go, we have to find a good pizza place. In the last few years our taste in pizza leans more toward the New York style pizzas. Thin crust, and only one to three ingredients on top (usually only one meat). In Tucson this was Brooklyn Pizza, on 4th Ave. You can order a whole pie, or by the slice. It is also very affordable, and almost always packed with college students. We go back often since we found this place, and only regret that we didn't find it earlier in our stay. Their pizza, in any flavor or combination, is delicious. We took a co-work of Anna's that is a native New Yorker. She said it was the best pizza she had had since leaving the east coast. They also serve calzones, pasta, and sandwiches, and they all looked quite tasty.

Mei Mei Chinese Restaurant (web site | map)
This was our first stop for Chinese food. It was close to home and Anna's work. We ordered a couple of chicken dishes, lemon chicken and sesame chicken, I think. The sesame chicken was supposed to be spicy, but had no heat at all. Both dishes were too sweet in our option, and actually they both tasted very much alike. With the leftovers, we couldn't tell which was which. The one positive here was that the chicken was only lightly breaded, so you got a lot of meat and not a lot a breading in each bite. We both agreed that we would stop here again, but that we would keep looking for a better Chinese place to eat.

Bamboo Terrace (web site | map)
We stopped here just days before leaving. Still looking for good Chinese food. No buffet when we stopped. It was late afternoon and there weren't many people there. Service was okay. We ordered a couple of our standards. The food was average. The search for really good Chinese in Tucson continues.

Longhorn Grill (Amado, AZ) (web site | map)
This was a planned stop, as much for a picture of the restaurant, as to eat here. The Longhorn is kind of roadside attraction, since the whole front looks like a longhorn's skull. We were expecting a steak house type restaurant, but the menu here is more general. More of a standard american cafe style restaurant. The menu is heavy on burgers and steaks. But we weren't in the mood for either of these, so we order some different. The food we did order was good, but not worth driving from Tucson again. Maybe is we are ever here again I will try one of their specialty burgers or a steak.

Daisy Mae's Steak House (web site | map)
I can't write much of a review here, as we did not stay to eat. We had been recommended to this place, and told of a couple of dishes that we should try. But when we stopped, niether item was on the menu. Their menu is very limited. Basically burgers and steaks, and nothing else. This was not what we were hungry for. So we left without ordering. We would try back if a steak was what we wanted. But this is also a pricy place to eat.

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Restaurants of North and South Carolina

Favorites: Royal Buffet & Grill | Si's Pizzeria | Mr. Sub

Fatz Cafe (web site | map)
This was our first restaurant stop in Rock Hill, other than McDonalds. We were looking for more of a cafeteria style place, but decided to try here. Fatz serves up your standard American style cafe fare. Very generic, with a plain menu and atmosphere. This also pretty much describes the food that we were served. It was average quality. Nothing was bad, but nothing stood out either. Anna I and I both agreed that the food was bland and lacked flavor.

Jackson's Cafeteria (web site | map)
We stopped at Jackson's still look for a cafeteria. It being about 2 minutes from the house also looked good. Jackson's was really what we had been looking for. Anna was hungry for liver and onions, and it sounded pretty good to me too. We struck out on the liver, as they only serve it on Mondays. I went for meatloaf and Anna had their chicken. The food was good, basic cafeteria food (like Luby's). What ruined the meal for us was a big nasty looking thing in the bottom of Anna's tea glass that we didn't find until she had already had several refills. After this Anna wouldn't touch another bite, and we left soon after. I don't think Anna will go back for anything.

Bennett's Calabash Seafood (Myrtle Beach) (web site | map)
We were out for seafood, and had planned to stop at another recommended restaurant, but it was not open during the afternoon. So we looked around and found Bennett's. This is one of the many many "all you can eat" seafood buffets all over Myrtle Beach, and like most is in the Calabash style of cooking. It also included Alaskan snow crab legs. These places are a little expensive, at $20 plus per person, but almost everything was wonderful. The crab legs were cooked perfectly, and maybe the best that we ever had anywhere. The small fried shrimp were also excellent. As were a couple of baked fish dishes and the fried bay scallops. We skipped the pre-cut prime rib, as it looked dry and over cooked (some of the buffets here carve the prime rib when you order it). We would definitely return here, but would probably try one of the other buffets given the chance again just for a comparison.

The Lake House (web site | map)
This is a seafood restaurant just north of Rock Hill. Our main interest here was in their all-u-can eat snow crab legs on Tuesday night. However, after pigging out on crab leg a few days before in Myrtle Beach, we changed our mind at the last minute. Anna going for a platter with shrimp three ways, and I chose a fried fish platter with different types of fish. Everything was fresh, breaded just right, and cooked perfectly. We saw many people enjoying their crab legs, and I am sure that they would have been wonderful. If we get the chance we will go back and try them ourselves.

Speckled Trout Grille (Blowing Rock, NC) (web site | map)
While staying over night in this small town we went looking for a place to eat downtown, within walking distance of our hotel. It was a little late and several places were already closed. We didn't want to eat in a smoky bar and grill, nor did Mexican sound good, so we wind up at the Speckled Trout Grille. Their house specialty was freshwater trout, sauteed or broiled. So I had to give it a try, selecting the broiled trout. Anna chose an Italian style chicken dish. Both were very good. The food was a little expensive, but not too bad. For anyone staying in Blowing Rock we would recommend this place for dinner or lunch, and Sonny's Dinner for a big breakfast.

Royal Buffet & Grill (web site | map)
Despite the name this is Chinese buffet, and a pretty good one. Not outstanding, but good. They have a good variety of the basic Chinese buffet items, with a few specialty items, and a large section of more American style food. Heavy on chicken dishes, with only 2 of 3 beef dishes, and one pork that I remember. We will go back here, if in the area, or if we don't find a better buffet in Rock Hill.

Chopstix (web site | map)
This was a lunch stop to check out the new Chinese place. Lunch was orange chicken, fried rice, an egg roll, and a spring roll. The fried rice may be the best that I ever had. But the chicken was over-cooked to the point of battered and fired chicken jerky. The orange sauce was very good, and a little spicy. But the chicken was almost inedible. Both the egg and spring rolls were good (the egg roll was a surprising orange color for some reason). I am sure we will stop again to see if the over-cooked chicken was an accident. Or for take out fried rice if nothing else. They also serve a number of Vietnamese style noodle dishes that looked good.

Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q (web site | map)
This was my first stop for Carolina barbecue, and that means pulled or chopped pork. Even after more than a decade in Texas, being a born and breed Southern, I still crave good slow-cooked barbecue pork. I ordered a pulled pork plate with slaw and beans (that's sweet beans for those of you in Texas). The pork was good. Still fairly moist, and tender. The slaw was average, and the beans were very good. All in all, it was a good meal. But I am still looking for better Carolina barbecue. Sonny's appears to be a small chain in the area.

Mr. Sub (Myrtle Beach) (web site | map)
We were looking for a sandwich for a light lunch on our first full day in Myrtle Beach. We chose Mr. Sub, as that advertised "the best on the beach". We thought we would put them to the test. The Itailian sub and oven baked Pizza Sub looked really good. But Anna and I both decided to try their Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Mine with mushrooms and Anna's with green peppers. We were both very happy with the sandwiches. They were excelent! The most notible thing was the bread. It was different from any sub sandwich bun that I've ever had, light and still crusty, and was wonderfull on the sandwich. They made the perfect lunch.

Ouzo Pizza (web site | map)
Now it was time to find a pizza place, and Ouzo's was recommended. We stopped for lunch and ordered our standard pizza (a mushroom and single meat pie). The pizza is the thin crust style that we prefer most of the time. Some call it New York style. The pizza was very good. Better than we ever found anywhere in San Antonio. But we will keep looking for better. My main criticism of Ouzo's pizza was the fact that there was almost no sauce on the pizza. Anna also didn't like the fact that they used canned mushrooms. There are 2 or 3 other places we have been recommend to try, and we will go there next.

Si's Pizzeria (web site | map)
This was a new place that opened up not too far up the street from the apartment. It's now a three location chain, and our second stop for pizza in Rock Hill. It was a good one too! We got their combo pizza instead of our normal order. It was a thin crust, with plenty of sauce and cheese, and the other toppings. Anna loved it! I thought it was very good, but would still like to find better (we have a pretty high standard for pizza). I am sure was will have Si's pizza again (they deliver to us too).

Vocelli Pizza (Georgetown) (web site | map)
While staying in a hotel in Georgetown, near the coast, we ordered in pizza from Vocelli's. We ordered an old simple standard of ours, canadian bacon and mushroom. The pizza here turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, and was very good. The crust, sauce, and toppings were in just the right proportions. There were no leftovers. We would definitly stop here anytime we happen to be in Georgetown. I would also like to try their stromboli and bruschetta. It turns out that this is a chain along the east coast, and we will look for them as we travel.

La Unica Taqueria (web site | map)
Okay, we're in South Carolina. But we still have to find a good Mexican restaurant and hopefully a taqueria. After all our time in Texas this is a must. This place is close to the new apartment, so it was our first place to try. While their basic beef taco was good, and served traditionally on a corn tortilla with only onion and cilantro, everything else was marginal. I ordered my standard to judge a Mexican restaurant by, which is the chicken enchiladas, and Anna ordered a Chimichanga. Nether of us finished our food. I may stop back by for a taco, since their close to home, but I doubt we will stop for a full meal again. There are a number of other places to try, and even a traveling taqueria truck.

El Cerro Grande (Myrtle Beach) (web site | map)
Our last night of our vacation I wanted something spicy. Mexican or Cajun, I didn't care, I just wanted sometime rich and spicy. We didn't see any ads for real cajun restaurants, so we went looking for Mexican. We found El Cerro's just up Hwy 17 (Kings Hwy). Their menu didn't look very authentic for Northern Mexican or Tex-Mex food, but we didn't really expect it to be. They only had a couple of items on the menu that looked spicy, so that's what I looked over first. Anna had a chimichanga and I ordered the Green Enchiladas (enchiladas verde). We found both to be very good. The best Mexican style food we've had since coming to the Carolinas. The enchiladas were not fixed in a traditional manner. The chicken had been briefly cooked in their house salsa, making the filling spicy as well as the salsa verde covering. Traditional or not, the food really hit the spot for Anna and I. The chips and red salsa were also quite tasty.

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Wichita and Kansas Restaurants

Favorites: Bob & Luigi's Pizzeria | Sweet Basils | Nu Way Cafe

Hog Wild Barbeque (web site | map)
A very consistent barbeque place. But what would you expect from a chain of restaurants, even if it's small local one. We ate here a couple of times, and work ordered-in (different location) for a couple of meetings. Having said that; the brisket, pulled pork, and sausage were quite good. All the meat was tender, moist, and had a decent smoke flavor. After being in Texas for a decade the juicy pull pork was especially welcome. The sauce and beans were also very good. The slaw is good, but a little dry. Out of the BBQ places we tried in Wichita this would be my pick for a pulled or chopped pork sandwich. (FYI - There were two real local pits that we never got to try.)

Two Brothers Barbeque (web site | map)
Another small chain restaurant, and also a good and consistent stop for barbeque. About a block from the local Hog Wild (above). Here you could find a lunch buffet for a good price, not including ribs. Anna and I found all the meats tasty and most of the side good (we added ribs to our buffet experience to try them (just ask and they will add them to your buffet plate). We both went back for seconds on our first buffet trip. The chopped beef sandwich, which is often a special, is also good.

Bob & Luigi's Pizzeria (web site | map)
Here, we only ordered the pizza. Partly because it was the best local pizza that we found, and the menu was a little limited. We wanted to try more dishes during their lunch buffet, but we never managed to get there when the buffet was out. As I said, the pizza was very good. It reminded me of one of my all-time favorite pizzas from collage (The Hideaway in Stillwater, OK). I think it's the crust dough that make the difference. Anna was so so about their pizza, but I rank it in my top five all time best.

Sweet Basil (web site | map)
This restaurant had good food reviews, and was voted Wichita's most romantic restaurant one year. We wanted to try the food here, and as we often do, Anna and I decided to try their buffet since they had one during lunch. Between us I think we tried almost everything on the buffet. We both agreed the everything was very good, excellent even. I wish I could remember all the dishes that we tried, but I waited to long to write this review. Basically, just remember that we both recommend this restaurant for Italian food if you're in Wichita.

Abuelo's Mexican Food (web site | map)
Anna and I asked everyone we knew in Wichita where we could get good mexican or tex-mex food. This was the most recommenced place. We took another of Anna's cousins and his wife here when they came to visit. The food here was good, but it definitely wasn't the mexican food that we were hoping for. The food was so "americanized" that, other than the names, some of the ingredients, and look of the dishes, it could have come out any one of a dozen cafe kitchens in the mid-west. It wasn't worth the wait that we had to get in.

Nu Way Cafe (web site | map)
Okay, this is really a fast food joint, which normally would not be included in the reviews. But it's a local specialty. Their main claim to fame is their loose meat sandwiches and their homemade root beer. They also have a reportedly very good pork loin sandwich, but I never got a chance to try one. I always went for the loose meat sandwiches (there was a special for getting two medium sandwiches). I would recommend not get anything larger than the medium, as they get too messy. I ordered Anna a large her first time there, and her only complaint was that it kept falling apart. No matter the size I really enjoyed the taste. It was heavy on the beef flavor, and was a very moist sandwich. In taste they kinda remind me of a large Whitecastle's or Krystal's burger (without the extra grease). The fries and onion rings were also good. However, the root beer was not to my taste. It was a kind of cross between root beer and a cream soda (which I don't like). I have been trying to make a duplicate of their sandwiches, without success, now that we have moved away.

Jimmie's Dinner (web site | map)
This is a real old style dinner. It even looks like a road side dinner from the 1950's. It was originally built as one of the dinners that started what became the Whitecastle burger chain. It has also been featured on a TV food program or two. We went there with high hopes of a good classic American dinner or cafe meal. What we found in three stops was average quality food and average service (with one exception). We did notice that most people were ordering breakfast, while we were ordering lunch and dinner items. On one trip we took Anna's parents, and they ordered breakfast. They report their food was good.

Kyoto Steakhouse Of Japan (web site | map)
This was where Anna took me for my birthday dinner. The idea was for a Japanese steak house, and it took us three tries to find one open. Kyoto was it. The chef's performance and the food were okay. About what you would expect, but nothing to brag about. We did have an extremely long wait for the chef after being seated, as they waited to fill the whole table.

Deshi Curry Indian Restaurant (web site | map)
We are making it a point to try more Indian restaurants and food. This place had a buffet, so we thought that we would stop and sample all their dishes available. I must say that we were disappointed. Not only was the food mostly unappetizing, and somewhat dried out and old from being on the buffet too long. But almost all the dish had the same spicing. It all tasted almost the same, whether it was chicken or vegetable. We never went back.

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Other Places in Texas

The restaurant reviewed here are some of our favorties from the other places that traveled to in Texas. These are the ones that we really like and will remember. Our favorites. We will not be covering any that we didn't like (except for the The Three Amigos in Rockport. It was so bad as to deserve a warning).

Blue Sky Cafe (Amarillo, TX) (web site | map)
While in Amarillo we had lunch at the Blue Sky for what was reported to be a very good hamburger. We were not disappointed! They turned out to be some of the best burgers that we have had anywhere in the US. Definitely in the top 3 or 4. Anna had a plain burger, and commented several times on how good it was. I went for my first ever green chile cheeseburger. The cooked green chiles had an excellent flavor, and the combination on a cheese burger works better than I expected.

El Tejavan (Amarillo, TX) (web site | map)
Staying in Amarillo dinner one night was at El Tejavan. It was reported to be more strongly Mexican food, and not Tex-Mex. This is proving to be more difficult to find in northern Texas than in Houston where we are used to living. The reports turned out to be very true. Just a glance at their menu proved that. Everything was excellent! We ate way to much. Especially me; as I ate everything on my plate including the crumbs, and that much food would have normally made two whole meals for me. I would definitely recommend El Tejavan to anyone traveling through Amarillo that wants a true taste of northern Mexican food.

Highway 105 Taqueria (Cut-n-Shoot, TX) - Out of Business
We actually don't remember what this taqueria is really named. We have always just called it the "105 taqueria", as that's where it's located (on hwy 105 east of Conroe and Cut-n-Shoot). After our first stop we became regulars. Sometimes I think we went to the Hwy 105 flea market just as an excuse to go to here for lunch. We often picked up a dozen or more tamales to take home and freeze. Their menu is quite limited, but everything is very very good. If you can stop here, be sure to try their beef tacos, chicken tortas, and the tamales. Everything here is spiced with just the right amount of heat to leave a good mouth burn without searing your taste buds (this includes their red salsa which is great on the tacos). Not only now out of business, but the building was gone when we tried to go back last time!

Bar-B-Que Hut (Magnolia, TX) (web site | map)
We found this place by accident (it's a little out of the way), and since we were hungry we stopped. Unlike most Texas BBQ places they mix their sauce in with the chopped beef for their sandwiches. This was a surprise, but they were a very tasty sandwich. We managed to make back here for another stop or two, but that's about all. Every time we always went for the chopped beef sandwich. Stop again in 2008, and still as good as ever.

The Boiling Pot (Rockport, TX) (web site | map)
The restaurant's name attracted Anna and I on our first visit to the Rockport/Fulton area. We were looking for seafood, and we were driving along the bayfront road so that I could look for photo opportunities. The atmosphere here is very bay front casual, with customer-created art work covering the walls. I have eaten here several times with Anna and/or my sister. The food, as the name implies is boiled. No frying, grilling, or baking here. What they do serve has always been very good. The service is okay. This place is a bit pricey for what you get, but the food has always been fresh, well cooked, and seasoned.

Mac's Pit Barbecue (Rockport, TX) (web site | map)
My sister and I stopped here during our visit see the whooping cranes (Cay, is a real birder). The main reason for listing a review of this restaurant is what they call their "Poor Boy Sandwich". This barbeque sandwich starts with chopped beef, next a layer of sliced brisket on top of that, then topped off by sliced sausage, and covered with some bbq sauce. The sandwich was very good, although Cay and I thought that the sauce was a little watery and weak. But the idea for the sandwich and the flavor were very good.

Rusty Jeep Hickory Pit Barbeque (Port Aransas, TX) (web site | map)
This just a quick note, because we only stopped here once (I have tried a couple of other time but they were closed every other time). Basically this is another barbeque restaurant in Texas run by true Southerners (from Mississippi or Alabama if I remember right). The one time I was lucky enough for them to be open, I ordered their pork sandwich (only after learning their barbeque heritage). It was made of a slow cooked and smoked pork loin. Very moist and tender! The sauce was on the side. I must say that I ate this sandwich very slowly so that I could savor each and and every bite. It was that good! Please stop by if you are on the Port A. island, and make sure they stay in business.

The Three Amigos Restaurant (Rockport/Fulton, TX) (web site | map)
I only list this restaurant for one reason. To warn people to stay away!! Our stop here was one of the nastiest dinning experiences that we could remember. We could eat no more than a couple of bites of anything on our plate before we had all we wanted. The menu here is very general, all over the place really, and apparently none of it is good. I was telling a co-worker, in Houston, about a bad restaurant in Rockport and was overheard by someone else. Without hearing anything about the exact location or name, they asked me if it was The Three Amigos. So Anna and I were not alone in our experience.


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