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Monday, July 29, 2013

Guest Post - Pam Lampson - Hester's Cafe & Coffee Bar - Corpus Christi, TX

Hester's Cafe and Coffee Bar in Corpus Christi, Texas is one of those well known secrets that natives of any given city treasure.

Opened seven years ago by Jason and Hester Rodriquez, the original restaurant is downtown on Alameda and Palmero at 6 Points.  Two years ago they opened a second Hester's Cafe at the Art Museum.  Right on the waterfront at the end of Shoreline Drive, the view is spectacular. Both locations have outside seating. Breakfast and lunch are served from 7 am to 3 pm. There is no dinner service.

This week my husband and I are downtown. You order from the menu board high on the wall behind the glass case "bakery." If I was not here for breakfast, the Texas Turbo Brownie...a 4 inch square praline topped chocolate concoction so rich I cannot eat one in a single sitting, would tempt me. The Spice Island Carrot cake beams you instantly to your favorite tropical isle.

You pay at the counter, take your mug of coffee and your hand-decorated wooden letter which you are given instead of the usual industrial "oh I'm just a number" and choose your table. Before long here comes a waiter with a smile, your food and a "May I get you anything else?"
One day I had a chipped mug and this week I had a dirty mug, but both times a new one made a rapid appearance and the apology was sincere.

Omelettes are all 3 eggs and served with roasted, well seasoned red potatoes, a slice of French baguette and what they call a "garnish" of fresh fruit.  I feel it is really more than a garnish though. The fruit that comes in a little cup is an orange slice, a half strawberry, a spear of pineapple, and a thin wedge of cantaloupe.  I always eat the orange slice at the end because it is such a refreshing palate cleanser.  My husband likes the pineapple spear. 

This week I had the Garden of Eaten. Laden with Portobello mushroom, fresh sautéed spinach, this came piping hot with just the perfect amount of Havarti dill cheese...the kind that strings out so you have to wind it around your fork!

My husband had the Ponderosa. This is a guy's jazzed up omelette for sure. Black Forest Ham, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese. Swiss to be sure, but nuttier and more tasteful than any packaged cheese from the grocery store. He thought the omelette was a tad dry, but overall delicious.

We could have added an "indulgence", to our coffee, but we don't like "stuff" in ours so we passed on the flavors and enjoyed the not-to-strong, but definitely fresh coffee of the day which was Peruvian.

Our bill was slightly over $20.00.

Speaking of jazzed up...The Eggs and All That Jazz section of the menu includes an Ella Fitgerald (big-4 eggs), a two egg Duke Ellington with "Griddle Toast" and apple smoked bacon and down to Bessie Smith, scrambled eggs and a dish of organic oatmeal and vegetarian sausage patties. Breakfast panninis are named after stage plays. Lunch panninis, salads and sandwiches are named after things Texan or beachy. The names have only one thing in common with the ingredients...they are fun!

Patronage runs from families with kids, neighborhood workers in for a quick coffee and muffin, to couples obviously out on a first date.

One day on leaving I was offered a couple of free muffins because it was closing time and they did not want to throw anything away.

My kind of place. Yours, too I imagine if you like fresh, well-prepared food, balanced for whatever taste you bring to the table.

Hester's Cafe's Website

You can also find Pam here:  Pam Lampson's Website

Friday, June 28, 2013

Santa Fe Flats NewMex Grille - Jones Road & 249

If you want a flavor you may have never had before.  You should definitely try Santa Fe Flat's!  It is a nice change from our typical tex-mex food.  It is a New Mexican establishment.  It is located in front of the Home Depot on the North bound feeder of 249 just before Jones Rd.

The flavors they incorporate in their food are robust.  They use a lot of chiles.  Of the red and green varieties.  These wonderful spices dance across your tongue with sensations of an earthiness as old as the world itself. Of course I had to try the Monterey Chicken.  It was just as I said above and also really cheesy, yummy, and good!

My husband tried their regular tacos with a hard shell and was surprised that they actually came in a hard shell cup versus the typical taco shape we are used to.  Another trip he ordered the fajitas and told me he did not really see enough of a difference to pay the little but higher price.

Their queso is unlike any other.  It had so many levels of flavor.  I really liked it a lot, and had a hard time figuring out what exactly the flavor was that I was enjoying so much.

They also have a salsa bar with many different salsas for you to try.  I have not made my way over there, but I will next time so I can update this for you guys.  :o)

We have always had good, attentive service.   They are slightly pricier than your typical Mexican restaurant, but in my opinion it is worth the extra money for the change of pace.

I would recommend enjoying their food, and taking a trip to New Mexico right in you backyard.

Santa Fe Flat's Website

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Woodland, Hey Cupcake!, & Steiner Ranch Steakhouse - Austin, TX Edition

My husband and I were in Austin for a Mumford & Sons concert with some friends, and we had the pleasure to enjoy a few really great places to eat.  So you know of course I have to share my experiences of them with you.  I really hope you are pleased while reading this, because I sure did take pleasure eating at these fine establishments.

After a night of dancing and drinking, a bloody mary sounded phenominal!  Our friends took us to a place called Woodland on South Congress.  The bloody mary's were the perfect amount of spice without being so spicy I could feel my stomach burning.  I enjoyed two of them they were so good.  They were served in smaller frosted glasses, so that could be the reason I had two, who knows?!?  I like to side with the fact that they were so yummy though.

The atmosphere in this restaurant is very relaxing.  There is a giant tree in the center.  One of the walls was covered in differently colored green tiles representing leaves.  The whole restaurant is painted in different shades of green.  My favorite color being green I felt very comfortable surrounded by it.  I also got lost in some of the paintings they had hanging on one of the walls.  They were blurred images of landscape.  It made me feel that I was in the car driving past the scenery depicted.  I have to congratulate and commend them for a very well thought out decor.

Our waiter was beyond nice.  He is definitely well suited for the job.  He also had a smile that made you want to smile back.  Great service!

For our breakfast that my husband and I split we decided on Chicken & Waffles.  This was my first chicken and waffles experience and I have to say that it was the best possible experience I could have had.  It was served with both syrup and white gravy.  I have never had a gravy that I have not had to add at least a little salt and pepper.  This one was absolutely perfect.  There was nothing that needed to be added or taken away.    The flavor combination of a friend chicken breast perfectly cooked over a sweet and vanilla-y Belgian waffle with syrup was something magical.  I have always had a stigma against chicken in sweet breakfast dishes, and that has been forever blown out of the water.  If you have a sweet chicken breakfast dish I now want to try it with all my being.  This dish was so good that for the rest of the day I talked incessantly about it.  Even after eating at the two places listed below.  I just could not seem to get it out of my head.  I definitely suggest next time you are in Austin you go here for your breakfast!!

I was also permitted to try my friends grilled cheese sandwich.  The bread was so soft and tasted like a bread cloud.  The cheese combination tasted similar to brie, but was not.  It was very good. Her boyfriend let me also try a bit of his Quiche Loraine, and it also was delectable.  It was an egg cloud.  Both dishes were light and airy, and you could taste the amount of love and care that was taken in making them.

Woodland Website

The food truck area had been spread out all around South Congress, and not in the nice little neat area it had been before, to my disappointment.  The only food truck I was able to eat at was Hey Cupcake!  I ordered their 'The Standard'. Which is a chocolate butter cream on a vanilla cake.  I have to be honest I was slightly disappointed.  The flavors were on point, but the cake was denser than I would have imagined it should have been.  I should have ordered some milk, because I thought I was going to choke from the dryness.  I do not think I would eat this again without ordering a milk with my cupcake. 

 Hey Cupcake! Website

For an early dinner before the concert we headed out to Steiner Ranch Steakhouse.  We arrived a little bit before they opened so we were able to enjoy the simply amazing view of Lake Travis from their awesome outside balcony.

We then sat at the outside bar to eat.  The group decided to order a bunch of smaller plates to share.  We ordered the Tataki which is a raw beef dish.  I had had a Tataki Roll before at RA Sushi, but this was definitely different.  It is served like a Ceviche.  It had green onions and garlic in it and I ignored the fact that it was raw beef and really liked the dish.  The next thing we ordered was Buffalo Quail Legs which were served with ranch dressing.  I had never eaten quail before, and loved this take on it. They removed all of the bones except one, so it was very easy to dip in the ranch and eat.  The third dish ordered was an order of fried green tomatoes which were also served with ranch.  How can you ever go wrong with fried green tomatoes?  You just can not!  The next dish we shared was a beef tenderloin on top of a crostini topped with a dollop of horseradish and sprinkled with chives.  I personally love the horseradish and beef flavor combination so I really relished in this dish.  The last dish we were served, which was my husband's personal favorite, were the beef tenderloin tips with fried potatoes.  These cuts of beef were quite scrumptious and very tender.

I also enjoyed an alcoholic beverage, but now for the life of me I can not remember what it was called.  (Most likely due to too much food, alcohol, and fun over the weekend)  It was a vodka, orange juice, orange liquor, etc. drink.  It was very yummy.  I made the comment at one point that it was like a, "vacation in a glass".  The waiter over heard me, and really enjoyed my description.  We high-fived over it.  :o) 

Steiner Ranch Steakhouse Website

My time in Austin from a food and non-food related perspective were both awesome.  The energy there was amazing.  Not sure if it was just because I was on a mini-vacation or if it just is like that all the time, but I will take my memories and pour over them with delight for some time in the future.  If you are in Austin I would definitely go to the Woodland.  It is my top pick of a place from the weekend.  Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed reliving it through writing this blog.  Have a great day!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Potbelly's Sandwich Shop - The Vintage Off Louetta Road

Yesterday I enjoyed a sandwich place I've been really wanting to try for a while now.  It is called Potbelly's! The place is not decorated like a regular sandwich shop.  I thought from the look of the outside that it was more of a sit down restaurant.  They fooled me!  Which is not a bad thing. 

I tried to order a meatball sandwich, and I was informed they were out of meat balls.  I have to admit I do not enjoy when I order something, and they tell me they are out of it.  So I tried to order the Pizza sandwich, and I was informed they were out of marinara sauce.  Again disappointed.  Being my positive self I have to say to me, "Maybe their meatball sub is so good that is why they ran out."  I would prefer to believe this instead of someone did not do their job, and that is why I can not have the sandwich I wanted. 

So after a minute staring up at the menu board I decided to choose the Mediterranean sandwich.  I went ahead and added chicken and tomatoes, and their oil and Italian seasoning.  It came with artichoke hearts, feta cheese, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, and hummus.  I chose the white bread, and it was toasted nicely.  The whole sandwich you could tell was made with good, fresh ingredients. 

For my chips I tried the Spicy Cajun Crawtators.  It was kind of amazing how much they tasted like craw fish.  My husband got the barbeque ranch potato chips which were also very good. 

I have to tell you guys I think I have a new favorite sandwich shop even if they did not have my meatballs. 

Potbelly's Website

Friday, May 24, 2013

Del Pueblo Mexican Restaurant - Grant Rd & Jones Rd

Del Pueblo is my current go to Mexican restaurant.  I have enjoyed several things from there over the years. 

Their margaritas are simply divine, and strong.  After having two you absolutely should not drive.  I will not even talk about how you feel after three.  They do not taste like other margaritas, they are way better.  They go down like water.  I am pretty sure there is no margarita mix involved these are homemade scrumptiousness.  Try one, and you will see.  It is as simple as that. 

Now to the food.  My favorite appetizer is the Stuffed Fried Avocados.  I like mine with beef.  I haven't tried the chicken, but I did have the shrimp one time.  It just did not do it for me.  The first time they brought it out it was cold in the middle, and the cheese was not melted.  The second time they brought it out I just was not feeling the flavor combination.  The beef version however is to die for.  Their fajita beef has a very good limey flavor to it.  These things are very filling.  I suggest if you decide to try one to share with the whole table by cutting it up into pieces and letting everyone get how much they want.  It is not an easily shared thing, but if you want to eat your dinner as well you may want to try.

The queso is really good too.  It has chunks of tomatoes, onions, and peppers in it.  This does not come from a can my friends!

I have ordered many different entrees.  My most common meal that I eat is the Fish Tacos.  I think I am addicted to the chipotle sauce they serve it with.  It is spicy and delicious.  My husband thinks it is crazy how much sauce I put on my tacos.  I pour some on it, and then I also dip it.  It's just that good.  They are served with three tacos heaping with fish.  They are also served with lettuce and tomato.  The only improvement to them I would suggest is to use cabbage instead of the lettuce.  It just gives a fish taco that crunch that becomes craveable.  I usually give my husband one of the three.  Due to the fact that they are very filling, and spicy things usually make you fuller anyway.  Call me crazy but I also take off some of the fish of the two tacos I am going to eat and put the excess fish on my husbands one taco.  I am a big ratio person, and it just seems like too much fish to me.  He really likes this situation. 

One of the other entrees I typically get is called the Botana Platter for one.  It is pure amazingness.  I am a big time variety person, and this dish has it all.  It comes with queso, nachos (the kind individually built on each chip), chicken flautas, and quesadillas.  It just hits the spot when you want a lot of different types of food.  It is actually an appetizer, but I order it as a meal. 

I really could go on and on about the food here, but for now I think this is enough.  Eat there you will agree with me I promise.  :o)  It is a busy place, because it is so good.  So, on Friday and Saturday nights be prepared to be patient.  They do have a nice outside area if the weather permits.  The only thing I do not care for out there is the chairs.  I prefer my back to be well supported and those chairs are like lounging chairs.  So if you are worse than me in your pickiness about back support you may want to choose a table on the inside. 

They do have a bar area where smoking is allowed for my smoking readers, and my anti-smoking readers, lol.  There is Karaoke on some of the nights.  I do not know the schedule, so you will have to research that on your own.  If you are being sat near it I would try to tell the hostess you would like to be a little bit further away, because it can get a tad loud.  I swear I heard the reincarnation of Sinatra singing there Monday night.  He has one of those voices that surprise you when it comes out of the person as well.  Shocked me a bit, but in a good way of course!

Well that's all about my most frequented Mexican restaurant.  I hope you guys give them a chance.  You will not be disappointed!

Del Pueblo's Website

Friday, May 17, 2013

Redfish Seafood Grill - Cypresswood Dr. & SH 249

Redfish is the most unassuming place you've ever seen from the outside.  It looks just like all the other fried seafood restaurants such as Captain Tom's and Blue Water Café, but on the inside it is a much different place.  The atmosphere of Redfish makes you want to dress nice. 

They serve sushi along with their other entrée options.  Personally I have only ever had their sushi.  I did go with a friend one time, and she ordered a seafood pasta dish that had different kinds of seafood in it, and I believe either a white wine sauce or an alfredo sauce.  She did not seem to enjoy it very much.  Everyone's tastes are different though, and that is why even if someone says they do not like something I never pass judgment until I try it myself.  Which on this day I did not.  I did enjoy their sushi, and like always it was very yummy. 

On a separate occasion I had sushi there with another friend of mine for a late birthday dinner.  She introduced me to seaweed salad.  This is not for me folks.  I would not necessarily say that it was bad or that it did not taste good, because my problem lies in the texture.  I ate it all, and I did not have trouble eating it.  I just would not call it my favorite.  When there is a choice for a ginger dressing salad I will choose that all day long.  It may be that my salad preference slot is already filled.  :o) 

The rolls we had on this occasion were the Crunchy Roll, my friend's personal favorite, and the White Tuna Roll.  I remember both being very scrumptious.  I did end up having wine with dinner and their house Riesling was very delightful.  We had the pleasure of meeting the owner.  She is a very nice lady.  I talked to her because this restaurant is one of my now ex-boss' (because of selling the company) favorite restaurants.  I had told him I was going there that evening, and he asked me to say hello for him.  He and his wife are actually painted on the wall upstairs with the many other caricatures of customers.  It if fun to walk around the room and see if you see anyone you know. 

I like Redfish a lot, and will continue to enjoy sushi there. 

The first visit's friend's food.  photo 20111216142259.jpg

And it appears that on the first visit I also got the Crunchy Roll. :o)  photo 20111216142313.jpg I apologize for the quality of the pictures.

Here is the caricature of my boss and his wife.  It really does look a lot like them! 
 photo 20110831171422.jpg

Redfish's Website

Friday, May 10, 2013

WAZA Japanese Cuisine - Houston, TX

WAZA is located at FM 1960 (Cypress Creek Parkway - What ever that is!  :op)  and Cutten Road.  I am very lucky that this place is right by my work.  I was very much disappointed when I went to Tenshi last time and it was not so good.  Now that I have found WAZA I do not see myself heading over to Tenshi again anytime soon! 

When you enter WAZA the atmosphere is very aesthetically pleasing.  You hear the sound of rushing water, and there is always a smiling face greeting you at the door.  I go for lunch when my co-worker is not at work for the day, which is not very often to be honest.  I have had the pleasure of meeting a friend there for lunch as well one time, and we took a table more inside the restaurant.  It was very nice.  I however usually enjoy sitting up at the sushi bar.  The sushi chefs there are nice, experienced, and value the relationship between chef and customer. 

I have tried many things at WAZA, but the current thing I enjoy ordering is their Daily Sushi Special which costs $11.  I get a water, and it comes with a soup or salad so for an on occasion lunch it is not too bad.  The special is all chef's choice (which is why you want to make friends with the sushi chefs!).  It comes with 4 pieces of sushi, one roll, and one hand roll. 

I would like to take the time to impart some knowledge about hand rolls for a moment.  I did not know this, because until someone tells you.. how can you?  Basically for future reference a hand roll is to be eaten similarly to a taco, seaweed wrap and all.  They are very yummy, and to me almost like a present.  You are always pleasantly surprised by what is inside! 

Some of the other rolls I have had at WAZA are Fahrenheit 212, WAZA Maki, and I have had others but they were written on the board and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of them.  I will do better in the future I promise! 

If I were to recommend a sushi place on the North side it would be WAZA all day long.  My brother-in-law just texted me a few weeks ago, and asked me the same question.  WAZA was my first suggestion, and I suggested two others after that.  He ended up at WAZA and texted me later that it was very delicious.  Then he texted, "Who needs yelp when I have you."  Way to make a food blogging girls heart sing brother o' mine!  :o)

I hope you try this place, because I do not want to be writing a super sad blog about how they closed due to lack of business.  So... GO THERE AND EAT ALREADY!  :oD

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P. S. - The WAZA Maki has been my favorite roll thus far.

WAZA's Website

Thursday, April 18, 2013

BreWingz - Spring Cypress & 249

Is the same as the Wings N More that was there before, the only difference is they changed the bleu cheese dressing you dip the wings in.  And now you know!  :o)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Napolis Restaurant & Pizza

Napoli's is located at Jones Road and Grant Road.  It is more on Jones set back a bit from Grant on the northern side. 

It is a family Italian restaurant.  They also have a mighty fine pizza.  What I normally get though is the Manicotti.  The cheese inside this tube of delightful taste is so creamy it melts in your mouth. 

However before you even get to that part you are given the choice of house or caeser salad.  My friends do not choose either of these.  While they may be good you would be doing yourself a disservice.  Ask for the small greek salad instead and prepare to have your taste buds tantalized.  With the capers, feta cheese, calamata olives, homemade greek dressing, and the most amazingly sweet red onions.  Seriously I would eat that onion like an apple, and I am here to tell you friends I do have an onion threshold.  These are unlike any I've had before.  Love the salad, can you tell?  They also serve Italian bread with butter.  I like to sprinkle a little sea salt on the situation.  So good. 

Back to the Manicotti.  It is served bathed in sauce and covered with mozarella cheese.  If you ever see me there and are seating near me forgive the noises you hear coming from my table.  I am in heaven for those six to seven bites.  I always have leftovers, because after bread, salad, and one Manicotti I am completely satisfied. 

I am very lucky as well, because they deliver to my house.  I can not tell you how awesome it is to be able to eat that entree when I do not feel so well. 

I would definitely recommend going to Napoli's and enjoying some down home Italian food. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hanks Cajun Grill

A good friend of mine took me to Hanks Cajun Grill.  She said that it is her favorite place to get crawfish, and not only when in season, but all year long.

It was me, my friend, and my husband and we set off on a dreary Sunday afternoon headed to put in our bellies some delicious cajun food.  Hank's is located off of Highway 6 near Clay Road.

First I ordered a few boudin balls, and they hit the spot for my constant boudin craving.  The breading was tasty; the only thing I felt was lacking was in the spice department.  They were served with ranch a simple sprinkle of cajun seasoning in it would have solved the issue.  The crawfish I ordered tasted so good, but I would have ordered the medium spice, because I do enjoy a bit more burn.  My friend had scared me into ordering the mild, because she said that sometimes the mild is even pretty spicy.  Luckily I got to polish off my husband's rest of his medium spice.  My husband also ordered garlic on his, and I am really thinking that is the way to go.

If you order two pounds you should be good, but if you usually put away a lot of crawfish like my friend she ordered four pounds and ate every last bit of it.  She also ordered the Mardi Gras Oysters and let me have one.  Heaven on a half shell I tell ya!

My husband also ordered some fried crab claws, which were yummy, I would like to tried the grilled version. After we had put back a decent amount of crawfish my husband ordered some fried aligator which was pretty good too.  It kind of reminded me of chicken fried steak to be honest, maybe a bit chewier.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Hank's and will return often.