Thursday, December 31, 2009

So HERE'S my blog...

Apologies, apologies, apologies. From what I understand, the death of a blog is for the blog host to do the unthinkable...stop blogging. Sometime back in November I fell off my horse (not literally, I don't own a horse). The holidays have a way of doing this to me, this year was no exception (think Linda Blair in the Exocist with her head spinning 360).

I don't multi-task well as most of the younger people but I'm working at it. Rich and I got a Wii for Christmas and 2 days later we added the Wii Fit Plus to the menagerie around our TV. I now know what I've suspected all along...I'm unbalanced, says my Wii Fit trainer. But never fear, good news is on the horizon. After 3 days, I'm now just unbalanced vs REALLY/SEVERELY unbalanced. So hope dawns with each new day. I actually found a balance game which I did absolutely perfect! My squeal scared the sh*% out of the cats and Rich heard me all the way outside as he was taking down Christmas stuff.

Okay, back to the Texas Triple D. I left off in November with my visit to Canyon Lake and I've got some real interesting places to report about, especially one of my new favorite places, Lucky's. I went to the Oakridge Smokehouse in Schulenberg, Schobel's in Columbus and this past week Rich and I visited T-Bone Tom's in Kemah.

So I've found my mind (I think it was wrapped with a pretty bow under the tree) and my fingers have found their way back to the keyboard. I'm just checking in to see who's still out there and to pass on my New Year's wish which I have borrowed from one of my Facebook friends. This past decade has gotten a pretty bad rap, and for a lot of valid reasons. But it hasn't all been bad. So my wish is for all of us to take time to find the good that has happened in the last decade and make a wish for more of the same for next year and the next ten.

Have a safe and peaceful 2010 New Year's Eve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Canyon Lake

I'm hanging out at Canyon Lake this week. I'm currently at the itty-bitty library in Sattler, TX (south of Canyon dam) checking emails. Have my computer but no internet access where I'm staying.

So far I've eaten at the Grist Mill in Gruene, which can't exactly be categorized as a diner, drive-in or dive, but is one of my favorite places to eat (beef tenderloin sandwich with a half-order of onion rings makes me smile everytime), Lucky's and their sister location, Lucky Sailor, right down at the marina. More to come.

Will stay in touch but I'll have to make my formal posts later. The weather is beautiful today, windy as hell but so least it feels like fall. Actually I don't picture hell as being windy...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blessing - American Legion Hall

Another email I received:

Terry: One place we were introduced to is the American Legion Hall in Blessing, TX, just north of FM 616 and west of Hwy. 35. On Friday & Saturday nights they have some of the best seafood I have ever eaten. The fried shrimp & fried oysters are fantastic. The prices for the food, beer, and cocktails are very reasonable. The most expensive item is the fried flounder, but it is not always available. The price will vary a bit depending on its size. The entire flounder is deep fried and served that way. It is huge and can easily feed 2 or 3 people. I highly recommend this place.

Port A - Marcel's

This was an email I received:

I just noticed your post suggesting a place on Texas Triple D. We'll have to try that place ourselves sometimes. If you're in Port A you might try Marcel's, our favorite. His regular menu includes traditional German dishes, which are okay, and the specials blend Texas fare with Continental style, usually outstandingly good!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pacific NW - Road Trip

Okay, so we deviated off the Texas path a bit. Took us 2 planes and almost 8 hrs, but there we were in Portland, Oregon. I was so excited about my first trip to the Pacific Northwest, I failed to do my homework on good places to eat. We got in around 9:30 on a Friday night, drove through an Arby's around 11:00 (I know, but we were starved and it was 1 AM Houston time) and crashed at a nearby motel.

What a treat the next morning when I walked outside and saw all the colors of a true fall. Our reservations at the Marriott Downtown didn't start until Sunday for Rich's conference so our plan was to head north to Cannon Beach. The plane from Houston to Denver had been delayed leaving Houston, causing us to RUN through the Denver airport to make our connecting flight to Portland, which was held for us. Full plane, so Rich and I had to grab a seat where we could. I took a seat between 2 guys who were from Portland and gave me 2 pages of suggestions of places to go. That's how we came to head up to Cannon Beach on the northern part of the Oregon coast.

Our first meal was at Miller's Homestead, right off I-5 and the first place we saw. Real log-cabin, flannel-shirt(ish) type place and very crowded. Service was great. I think the waitresses have been there quite a while. The word "hun" and "sweetie" were thrown around a bit, but in a good way. Being on vacation and therefore not too particular about watching what I ate, I ordered the 1/2 order of biscuits and gravy. I'm a big biscuits and gravy person so I feel pretty confident in giving it an A+. Wonderful. Gravy just the right consistency with the right amount of sausage and biscuits that were to die for. Rich had pancakes and said they were probably the best he'd ever had.

We happily finished off meal #1 in the Pacific NW (can't count Arby' food stuff) and off we went. The lady at the information center in Cannon Beach suggested the Wayfarer's Inn for lunch if we wanted something with a view of the ocean. Yes, I'm in the Pacific NW, I want a view of the big water, thank you very much. Wayfarer's Inn was a great find.

Gale-force winds were blowing outside but we were nestled in a booth looking out over the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock, a monolithic thing sticking straight up out of the water. We split a wonderful bowl of clam chowder. I could have sworn the chowder had a hint of fresh thyme running through it but the waitress insisted the only seasonings beside S/P were paprika and parsley. Didn't care to argue, I was having too good of a time and busy buttering a piece of the fresh hot French baguette that came to the table. We decided on fish and chips and had a choice of fresh halibut or fresh salmon. I'd never even considered using salmon for fish and chips and was tempted to try it. I asked the nice waitress about the two choices and she said the salmon was a heavier lunch so we opted for the halibut. Fresh halibut from the Pacific NW Coast was outstanding. The breading lighter than any I'd ever had. I questioned the waitress about it (I'm getting good at pulling information out of wait-staff) and she said they do what many restaurants don't...they change the oil daily, which makes a HUGE difference.

I finished my glass of Chardonnay (did I mention they have an excellent house Chardonnay? and yes, I know it's lunch but I'm on vacation) and headed out into the gale-force winds to walk on the beach.

Our dining choices for the rest of the trip left a lot to be desired so I'll stop with Miller's Homestead in Portland and Wayfarer's Restaurant (www.wayfarer-restaurant-com) in Cannon Beach, OR.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

North Padre Island - Padre Island Burger Company

I'd say I'm saving the best for last but in the blogging world, the best shows up first. Sunday morning our long weekend on North Padre was coming to an end. It was rainy and we could have packed up early and got on the road or be lazy, take our time packing and squeeze one more eating experience in before heading back to Houston. Geez, what to do...

We'd passed by the Padre Island Burger Company a couple of times and I really wanted to stop. The building sits close to the intersection of Hwy. 361 (to Port A) and SPID (South Padre Island Drive). A sign "Hippies use the back door" is posted right outside the door which is pretty funny because the back door is the front door, or should I say the main door to the joint.

Two things caught my attention as we entered the building: the menu and the Solara Internet Jukebox. The appetizers list interesting things like sweet potato fries, garlic fries and Dr. Pepper wings to name a few. The burgers were divided into 2 categories: boring (or boring with cheese) and not. The not boring burgers all had unusual names and gourmet ingredients (Rockefeller, First Date, Dr. Pepper, Corpus Cold Front, The Hang Over, Mr. Beckham, etc.) I've got to give a few examples here. The Rockefeller burger has spinach, artichoke, bacon & Parmesan. The Corpus Cold Front is a burger with cream cheese, roasted red peppers & cucumber. And all burger plates (which include either garlic or sweet potato fries) offer 1/2 lb. fresh ground beef, marinated chilled chicken breast or marinated portobello cap.

We split a boring 1/2 lb. beef burger with cheese and got both kinds of fries. It was excellent. Excellent. Excellent (even if it was boring). On the back of the sheet of bright stock paper that is used as a menu is the story of Padre Island Burger Company and the picture and a story about a guy named Kory. He was killed in a traffic accident in 2008 and was project manager of the PIBC. The story said he is largely responsible for the hand-crafted bar, most of the unique, high-quality furnishings and also the beaming white hood of a VW that is mounted on the ceiling, covered with heart-felt messages from many of his friends.

I've never seen an internet jukebox (over 1,000 selections) which looked real space-age (think Jetson). This is a place not to miss. They have drink specials all day and a kids menu which adds "of all ages," which I like. The owner (Jason Johnson) completed his culinary externship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and seems to be a really cool dude, seeing how he's away from the fancy-pantsy scene and now back on the Island. Padre Island Burger Co. is also part of a restaurant delivery service ( So check it out the next time you're down at North Padre.

North Padre Island - Padre Pizzeria

A small little place in a small strip center that also serves Italian food. Rich and I always refer to this place as "the pizza place" because we love the thin crust. The atmosphere is friendly and I'm particularly fond of their house wine (Sycamore Lane) which I've only been able to find at Gaido's in Galveston and The Gristmill in Gruene. There's a salad bar which doesn't do much for me but that sure doesn't stop us from dropping in when we're down south.

They have a rather large take-out crowd and delivery is available with a minimum order. One of the quirkest things about this place is that it's housed in a section of this small strip center with The Fredericksburg Fudge Co. So, to the left as you enter is a fudge counter (and not just any fudge, I might add), straight ahead is the take-0ut counter and to the right is a small eating section. Quaint, friendly, good pizza and good service. Always a pleasure to eat there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Port Aransas - Side Note

On our next trip to Port A, we'll definitely make a stop at Oceans of Seafood. The brief notes I jotted down as we drove by were: Oceans of Seafood; psychedelic orange; Cotter St. The outside appearance would lend itself to being more of a dive, but on Port A, where anything goes, it might just very well be the finest in dining, which by island standards has nothing at all to do with the stability of the structure.

The building was painted neon, extremely psychedelic orange with big black letters splashed on the front. If you're on Cotter St. there's no way you can miss it. Thinking back, I think the word "Market" was painted somewhere which may indicate fresh seafood for sale, which would be a cool find.

It caught our attention and is on our list for "the next time."

And I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Sharkeys on Hwy. 361. It sort of reminds me of a pirate's version of Gilley's. I can only describe Sharkeys as not for the faint of heart but definitely reserved for renegades, those who like to live on the edge, bikers and of course, spring breakers. Tattoos may not be required, but you might have one before you leave.

I've been in Sharkeys once. For lunch. During daylight hours. It was dark inside, and a bit scary when I remembered my daughter had mentioned hanging out at Sharkeys during one of her spring breaks from SWT (a memory that sent a huge gulp down my throat). You know, kind of like one of those stories you hear about years later when your kids think enough time has past to let go of a particular tidbit...

Actually Sharkeys is a pretty cool and I'm sure crazy-fun place, especially at night. Even though we whizzed past early afternoon on a Saturday, the parking lot (again, think Gilley's) was packed with trucks, people, BBQ pits and lots of banners which read "South Texas Harvest Moon Regatta." From what I understand, the downstairs opens after dark for the live entertainment. I haven't been downstairs yet...

Monday, October 12, 2009

North Padre Island - Island Italian Restaurant

As is everything on North Padre, the Island Italian Restaurant is a casual place to dine with concrete floors, red checkered table cloths, wine cork wreaths for decoration and really good Italian food. Baked lasagna is their house specialty and you have the choice of a "full" or "lighter" entree in the pasta section of the menu. And unless you're splitting the lasagna (which we did), I'd recommend the "lighter". The full order came to the table in an individual casserole dish with a slab of lasagna that probably registered at least 4 1/2" high.

The menu is extensive, it doesn't stop with just pasta and if you're staying on the island, delivery is free after 5 PM (no minimum). On weekends the Island Italian (I always want to call it the Italian Islander) has live entertainment. A guy with a guitar was singing Eagles, Buffett & Neil Diamond. His voice was good but what was really cool was his attire. Cargo shorts, Hawaiian shirt, baseball cap and flip flops. Doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Port Aransas - FINS Grill and Icehouse

On another suggestion from my best friend, we drove down Mustang Island to Port A. FINS Grill and Icehouse is located next to the ferry landing (which is usually a long wait for a short ferry ride). Once again the fried oysters (can you tell I love oysters?) was recommended. Our food arrived in tin pie plates lined with checkered tissue paper. My friend must have had a better cook or better seafood because the oyster/shrimp po-boy was not something I'd order again. I found the seafood to be heavily breaded and overcooked. I couldn't tell the shrimp from the oysters until I took a bite and by the time the breading was pulled away, there wasn't much seafood there.

Rich ordered the mushroom Swiss burger which he said was okay, stating the best part were the sauteed onions, mushrooms & melted cheese. Fries came with both our orders and they were the real thing, scoring an A+.

The view is really beautiful whether you're sitting inside or out. We chose inside because it was that really humid hot weekend at the beginning of October and mosquitoes were on my mind, especially with the cans of insect repellent perched on a ledge near the door. We had arrived at FINS a little before noon and by the time our lunch was over, the place was packed and very loud. I walked outside before we left and wished I had done so sooner. Although hot and humid, a pleasant breeze was blowing off the water and the ambiance was much more soothing.

Now that it sounds like I'm giving FINS a bad review, let me say a few things. I found the inside charming and friendly, except for the Jaws poster mounted on the wall between the restrooms (just kidding, it really was there but it didn't detract from the atmosphere). They also offer a unique service, U-Hook Em, We Cook Em. You can pull up to the marina after a good day's fishing, hand over the cleaned seafood and relax out on the deck while your meal is cooked (fried, grilled or blackened). They also have a decent assortment of cool t-shirts, koozies, hats and other FINS merchandise. I thought the t-shirts were a bit high(kids - $13, adults - $20, tie-dye $21), but then again, we paid $9.95 each for the burger and po-boy.

At first I didn't think I'd go back, but now I believe I'd give it another go. Any cook can have a bad day (just ask me). My friend said she had the largest fried oysters she'd ever seen (the size of 3 silver dollars) and there is a diverse menu from burgers, chicken & steaks, salads, starters and FINS catch of the day. When I'm back down at Port A, I'll grab a can of insect repellent (just in case), relax out on the outside covered deck, enjoy the scenery and study the menu a little closer. I find it's always interesting to walk around and see what the majority of people are eating (I've learned to be very discreet with this technique).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why the Blog

Mr. Websters gives the following definitions:

Diner - a restaurant usually resembling a dining car in shape
Dive - a disreputable entertainment establishment
Drive-In - an establishment so laid out that patrons can be accommodated while remaining in their automobiles

Mr. Webster needs to move into the 21st century to give diners, drive-ins & dives their due. Today they are considered more of a rough gem in a pile of fast food establishments, chains and high-dollar restaurants. They are the pearl in the oyster bed, the four-leaf clover in a field of spring growth, the proverbial needle in a haystack. I don't know if the "mom-and-pop" places sequestered in nooks and crannies of this great state are a dying breed, but I do know these gems can easily be overlooked with the scenery of neon, concrete and steel in most of the larger cities. And as for the diners, drive-ins & dives in the small towns and rural areas, well, all I can say is it just really helps to know what you're looking for.

That's my intent of Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. To bring to light the small eateries around the state of Texas that are well worth a stop when traveling by car. I use Houston as a "hub" only because I'm a native Houstonian and travel usually takes me down Hwy. 59 South, I-45 South (sometimes north) or I-10 West.

There's a lot of land to cover and this is where you, my blog followers come in. Post a comment for your recommendation of Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. Help give us all an opportunity to seek out the small eateries on our road trips from Houston to New Braunfels, Austin to Waco, Dallas to College Station, Midland to Marble Falls, Temple to San Antonio and beyond.

Don't feel like you have to be an articulate writer (I'm not) to make a suggestion. A name and location will do. Then as readers seek out the blog suggestions they can report back. Anything from a thumbs up/down to a full-fledged review will work.

Rich and I were in North Padre for a long weekend and all I can say is I had more eating places to check out than there are meals in a day. I've been working out and walking on alternate days and have bitched a time or two about not losing any weight. Ashley (my daughter) nonchalantly asked the other day if it may have something to do with all the places I've been writing about. Shut-up! I thought to myself in my Ouiser (Steel Magnolias) tone of voice. I. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. HEAR. THAT. Which of course, is because it's the truth.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

North Padre Island - Snoopy's Pier

Snoopy's Pier is located on the east bank of the Laguna Madre close to the SPID (South Padre Island Drive) bridge. The building looks pretty solid but I wouldn't bet on it still being around after a hurricane. The weathered planks on the floor match the guy's face behind the counter who had a box of Marlboro reds tucked in his front pocket. He was courteous but without so much as a smile anywhere around. Rich and I have eaten there for years and have always had the fish and chips, a Snoopy's specialty. However recently my best friend and her husband spent a long weekend down in the area and reported the fried oysters were really good.

Rich stuck with his fish and chips and I ordered the fried oyster sandwich as did the people in front and also behind me. Wow. I was impressed. The oysters were lightly breaded and fried to perfection. The bun (just a nice fresh hamburger bun) was warm and it was served with lettuce and tomatoes. I had to assume the fish and chips were as good as always because there wasn't much conversation between the two of us once our food got to the table.

The inside dining area has a free standing round fireplace and garage doors separate the two outside eating areas. The "outside" part of the outside eating area is open to the elements which include sea gulls perched on nearby pilings. Highways of fishing line are strung around the area to hopefully deter the sky pirates from helping themselves to a piece of fish or a French fry.

The walls of the "inside" outside eating area are worthy of more than just a casual glance. There is a chipped and faded wooden sign that reads "African Queen," small antiquated 3 HP outboard motors (actually at least a dozen or so are mounted on the walls), two huge old fiberglass surfboards (look big enough to be sidewalks), and pictures of sun-burned, happy faces of people after a successful fishing trip with smiles mostly likely tainted with salt-water, grit and possibly a beer or two.

Snoopy's Pier has a Jimmy Buffett feel to the place which invites all sorts of people. It's easy to spot the locals from the tourists or weekenders, but that's a whole other entry I'll save for later.

An ice cream shop is parked next door, appropriately called "Scoopy's" and feel free to arrive by boat to either place. Oh, and one last checks or credit cards accepted. Cash only but not to worry, a free-standing ATM is perched in the inside dining area for your convenience.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Houston - The 59 Diner

Rich and I went to the Stafford location on Saturday for lunch and it was packed. After being seated at a booth and scanning the menu, I walked the perimeter of the diner, being a casual snoop, to see what looked good. Although it was almost 1:00 in the afternoon, I'd say at least 40% of the people were eating breakfast. I did see some eye-catching onion rings on a burger plate which I did feel compelled to order.
The decor is cool, especially if you were actually around in the 50's to remember the laminate, chrome-edged tables surrounded by chairs with Naugahyde vinyl, the Wurlitzer Bubbler jukebox (which now holds CDs and actually doesn't cost anything to play), the chrome backing on some of the walls or the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Large framed black and white photos I found particularly interesting. Especially a picture of the old Texas National Bank building downtown with the globe on top that turned different colors when the weather changed (white=getting cold; red=getting warm; green=good weather; blinking=rain). Time and weather predictions seemed to be a bit simpler in those days. To kids (excuse me...people) of the younger generation would probably find this weather announcement as barbaric as the caveman who looked outside and if the rock was was raining.
Although "Blue Plate Specials" are offered, I found most people stuck with the breakfast menu (offered all day) or the burgers, which I wish I had ordered, although my chicken tender basket with a side of onion rings was excellent. The milkshakes and malts have been voted the best in Houston, according to a sign posted on the counter and I believe a huge draw is that the 59 Diner is open 24/7.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Houston - Bubba's Texas Burger Shack

There is a lot to say about this little dive. First its location. This small building is literally (and I mean literally) sandwiched between the Westpark Tollway and Hwy. 59. Think 2 pieces of white bread (Westpark Tollway & Hwy. 59) and a single slice of Buddig lunchmeat (Bubba's). Sitting outside is preferable since they're only about 3 tables inside but it has you speaking a little louder than usual to be heard over the traffic on the feeder roads. There's an outside window for pickup orders with a tip jar sitting on the window ledge hosting a sign that reads "tipping is good karma". Take out seems to be a good part of their business, especially on Saturdays.

Waiting in line to order is tricky, trying to maneuver around people sitting at the 3 inside tables. And if you need a refill for your ice tea you might have to stand in the order line for awhile to clear one of the tables that blocks a bee-line to the tea container.

There were a lot of buffalo meat options on the menu but I stuck with the beef cheeseburger on a wheat bun. I don't think Bubba was there but a nice woman was taking orders. I glanced behind her to a young man tossing saucer-size patties on the grill. He then threw on some salt & pepper and generously sprinkled a red-colored (paprika/chili powder?) seasoning on the meat from a large shaker container.

Our burgers were delivered to us outside, wrapped in white paper with an American flag toothpick stuck in it. Silverware is plastic but that's okay, I only needed a knife to cut the huge burger in half. The wheat bun was probably the best wheat bun I've ever had. And the meat had a kick to it (the seasoning?) and was juicy without being greasy. The meat/bun/cheese/condiments ratio was perfect.

Now, I need to explain something here. My intent as we were heading to Bubba's was to let Rich order a cheeseburger and I'd take a bite (I've got this cholesterol thing going I'm trying to pay attention to). Once we got there I thought, okay, I'll order my own but I'll only eat half. Well, none of those two things happened. I finished my burger on my own, barely speaking between bites except for a hmmmm sound once in a while.

I was curious about the seasoning and after waiting in line to get to the ice tea refill, I was able to grab one of the people delivering the burgers. She told me the seasoning was called Est Bueno (Es Bueno? someone needs to help me out here) and a mix of over 7 spices (at first I thought she said 70). She said I could buy a bottle of it at the counter for $2.99, which I did. And once I run out, if I brought the bottle back, they'd refill it for $2.00.

Music was playing inside and out (Doobie Brothers, Dylan, Bob Marley, that kind of good stuff) and we sat at our table outside for awhile after we had finished eating, just enjoying the ambiance. The building is painted royal blue and white (many times over) and the floor inside might slant a bit. I couldn't be sure whether I was walking lop-sided because of the flooring or my eyes adjusting to the new glasses I'd just picked up yesterday morning.

Cadillacs, Lexus's, SUVs, pickups, Saturns (vehicles from all walks of life) lined the narrow parking area between the two busy roadways. No frills, no fries, onion rings or tater tots. Although there is a variety of chips to choose from and some other side items (I've heard the jalapeno potato salad is excellent). You can get a Lone Star for $2.00 (other beer is served, Lone Star is just their beer special) or a glass of wine for $2.50. Long necks also come in buckets, all brands $15.00, $13.00 for happy hour.

I'd go back again. And again. And again. I want to meet Bubba. I'm sure there's a story there.

Bubba's Texas Burger Shack is located on Westpark between S. Rice and 610 Loop.
Thanks go to Mere for her comment suggestion on Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

PS - tried the seasoning on grilled fish last night. EXCELLENT!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Texas Triple D (diners, drive-ins & dives) and Blogging Things

Thanks to all who have posted their comments on the Texas Triple D. So far we have:
  • Bubba's TX Burger Shack, Houston
  • Lankford Grocery & Market, Houston
  • Alamo Springs Cafe, Fredericksburg
  • Sam's Place, Houston
  • Hopkins Car Hop Diner, Houston (gone)
  • BBQ place on 34th near YMCA, Houston (need help remembering the name, served BBQ in small containers like for Chinese food) (gone)
  • Cedar Lounge, Houston
  • La Kiva, Terlingua
  • Hanging Tree Saloon, Bracken
  • Someburger, Houston
  • Pig Stand, Houston
  • Chuc Wagun, Houston (gone)
  • Prince's Drive-Ins, Houston
  • Pat's Place, New Braunfels
  • Hilltop Cafe, Fredericksburg (which I want to post more about)
I can tell I'm going to have to start exercising more. Rich and I are heading out for lunch today and will probably try either Bubba's TX Burger Shack or Lankford Grocery & Market.

On the blogging front...someone tried to post a comment and got a response that read "illegal post." She broke a blogging law? She's a good Catholic girl (excuse me, woman) so I know it wasn't inappropriate content. Hope she tries again because I know she has some really good info on this stuff. And contrary to what she thinks, she's got a great memory:)

Googled "blogging for dummies" and sure enough, there it was. Who would have thunk? Used my 40% off coupon to Borders and off I went. Now I've just got to find the time to read it. Did thumb through the yellow & black book and found out how to add Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives to all the major search engines, which I consider a good start.

I see myself as a fine wine...blogging moderator experience will (should) improve with age. Off to go exploring. More later.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Buddy (Patrick) Swayze

I had all intentions of posting tonight. However, I just learned Buddy Swayze has died. Buddy was a friend from way back. My heart hurts. I think I'll just go with my feeling tonight and feel the sadness.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

About Blogging

Funny thing about blogs (I compare my learning curve to the Sam Houston Tollway) is that one needs to write, ie blog. I need to see what Webster has to say about the word "blog" or maybe better yet, the origin. I've never been fond of the word, however, it's starting to grow on me.

Since I started Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives I've spent a large chunk of time trying to learn about blogs instead of writing. How do I get Google Blog Search to recognize my blog? How do I get people to follow/read? Where do people go when they can't remember how to find the blog (have already had that question asked). I have few answers to these questions except an inkling to the one about people following/reading the blog. It's a voice that's coming into its own and is speaking louder everyday. Today it yelled, "JUST DO IT!" I thought I heard the word "DUMMY" after the "just do it" but it could have been my imagination.

My husband, Rich, told me several weeks ago to just jump in and see what happens. Rich is a jumper-in-er. Me? Not so much. I want to know how deep's the water, what's the temperature, where's the bottom, what's on the bottom, is there anything in there that might hurt/bite/sting, etc. You get the picture...

Rich has been kind enough to not bug me about it. My alter-ego, on the other hand, has been a total B*^ch lately. So, today is the day I'm going to send out the invite. People can't follow unless they know about it...dummy (my word). I'll keep posting and will still try to find the answers to my questions about the ins and outs of b-l-o-g-g-i-n-g.

Cheers for now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Braunfels - Pat's Place

The second on the list of Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives is Pat's Place in New Braunfels. It is an unassuming wooden building located at 202 S. Union. What used to be a local hang-out is now a popular well-known, yet hard to find, place to eat for those floating the Comal or coming from a day at Schlitterbahn's.

Ice tea, water and soft drinks come to the table in mason jars and it's the first time I ever had cheese enchiladas served with chopped lettuce and tomatoes on top (which is now how I love to eat cheese enchiladas). The nachos are slathered with a good quality cheese which always has me pushing the word cholesterol back to the far corners of my brain. The burgers are great, as are the chicken-fried steak, fried okra & macaroni and cheese, which is a favorite on the kid's menu.

Attire is casual, anything except nudity is acceptable I believe, the prices are low and the parking can be tight at peak hours. So can the wait and the service, therefore I suggest going early for lunch, mid-afternoon or after the 6-7 PM dinner crowd.

Pat's Place has been around since 1977. I started going there in 1982 which means the place was only 5 years old, however the wooden floors and some of the antiques have seen many more years. A distinguished old wooden bar wraps itself around the inner half-circle of the place where food as well as full-serve bar drinks are served.

I believe a majority of the locals have found other places to hang their hats, yet I've been there plenty of times over the years where the same group of people sitting in the corner talking were there when I arrived and still there when I left.

Next time I'm in New Braunfels I think I call Pat and ask her for an interview. Maybe she'll tell me what kind of cheese is used for the nachos. I really want to know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Idea

The idea for Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives came as Terry (Evans) Gilmour and I were driving across Texas on our Thelma and Louise trip after her daughter's wedding in Midland. She handed me the August edition of Texas Monthly. "I want to go there," she said, pointing to the humongous burger on the front cover, #3 of the 50 best burgers in Texas. Okay, why not, I thought. The burger looked at least 10 inches high and could easily feed a family of four. This was Monday, August 10th. We had until somewhere between Thursday and Saturday to make it to Houston for her to catch a Southwest flight back to Midland. "We'll be in San Angelo around lunchtime, look and see if there's anything there," she instructed.
Being the good co-pilot I am, I thumbed through the feature article and sure enough, one of the 50 best burgers in Texas was in San Angelo. It was ranked #27.
After evenly dividing and devouring the "Miss Hattie's" burger, I wiped the chipotle sauce off my hands as the waiter handed us our check. We had told him about the Texas Monthly thing and his response was, "if you're ever back in San Angelo, come back at night and try our steaks. That's really our specialty." Ending up in San Angelo after dark was probably not ever going to happen, but we nodded and thanked him kindly.
"Well, what do you think of the Miss Hattie's?" I asked after the waiter took away our plates.
"I give it a 7," Terry G. said.
Hmm, I thought. "What makes it a 7?"
That, along with the waiter's comment about steaks being their specialty was the beginning of my idea. A Texas version of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

Fredericksburg - Alamo Springs Cafe

The first official entry to Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and the second stop on our burger quest was approximately 15 miles outside of Fredericksburg on a road I could have sworn led to nowhere. That is until we came upon a filled parking lot which appeared on the left at the top of a hill along with a small faded sign that read "Alamo Springs Cafe", with an arrow pointed further back to the left. The cafe was perched next to the "Old Tunnel" which is a Wildlife Management Area, an abandoned railroad tunnel and home to over three million Brazilian bats between the months of May and October. Hence, the filled parking lot of people waiting to see the spiral effect of millions of bats making their way out of the tunnel at sunset.

With the haze of white shale filling the air and sticking to my tires like chalk, we had arrived at the home of the 3rd best ranked burger in the state of Texas (according to Texas Monthly).

The place was crowded and smokey. The grill was in the same area as the indoor seating and the exhaust system had either failed from overuse or never worked in the first place. We couldn't exactly find the burger on the menu described in the magazine but the wait staff knew, without a doubt, what we were asking for.

Terry and I found one of the two outdoor tables available (flies were better than the exhaust fumes...our throats and eyes were burning). As we waited for our burger, I noticed a huge chicken-fried steak being delivered to the other outside table. The "porch" was small and the tables were close enough for me to feel comfortable to comment my "wow" loud enough for the recipient of the chicken-fried steak to hear. "It's their Monday special," the guy said, obviously a local and a regular customer. "I always come here on Mondays because of this," he said, pointing to the steak the size of 3 large fists (can't think what else to compare it to). "This thing will hurt ya," he said with a grin.

About that time, a platter was placed in front of us with a hamburger on a jalapeno cheese bun that was stacked, stacked and stacked every bit as high as the one proudly displayed on the cover of the August Texas Monthly. The only addition was a steak knife (Texas toothpick?) piercing the burger all the way down to the platter.

The burger was excellent and had to be devoured with a knife and fork. But I gotta say, I still wanted a taste of that chicken-fried steak.

Anyone know of a special place (doesn't have to be a hole-in-the-wall) to talk about? I've already started my list.

Gone But Not Forgotten - Houston - Chuc Wagun

This segment of Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives is reserved for places that are long gone but far from forgotten in our memory banks. Therefore, I'll begin with the Chuc Wagun, located on 34th St. in Houston, TX, next to Waltrip High School.

Before if was transformed into the Minute Man, I remember the outside structure was actually built to look like a covered wagon. Don't remember if there was an inside area (did that happen when it became Minute Man?), but I do remember walking up to a window, placing the order, well my dad was "bdl" (before driver's license), and walking around the railing to the street side of the building to pick up our order. My dad used to always order hot dogs (hot dogs?) and root beer. Occasionally we'd get chocolate malts. Can't even remember what else was on the menu besides maybe burgers and fries. Any ideas? Do you remember when it became Minute Man? Adl (after driver's license) any errand I offered to run ALWAYS involved driving by the Chuc Wagun, which would have probably been the Minute Man by then, but I still called it the Chuc Wagun.

What is your gone-but-not-forgotten memory of Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives?