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 wet...it 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.