Monday, November 22, 2010


Anyone besides me having fried turkey on Thursday? It's become a tradition and it's great because Rich does it all outside and gives me a little more room in my itty-bitty kitchen:)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Skinny Bitch

Okay, I'm up in the Hill Country for a few days and picked up the book Skinny Bitch last week because I thought it would be interesting reading. Started out talking about artificial sweeteners (bad), refined sugars (bad), carbs (not all bad), etc.

Then, I got to the chapter on the meat industry. Thought I'd skip past but a caption said, "if the animals have to go through it the least you can do is read this." I did and I was totally (and I mean TOTALLY) disgusted. Had nightmares, the whole bit.

Rich called the next morning on his way to work and I grossed him out so bad he said he was glad he had arrived at work and would be able to click his phone shut. Those weren't his exact words but I got the point.

So, if you're even contemplating becoming a vegan/vegetarian, I suggest getting the book. Otherwise, skip the chapter...or the book altogether.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Waller - Rocky's BBQ

Have learned from a reliable source that the owner of Rocky's has had some financial difficulties. It is highly doubtful it will re-open.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Maine State Law

As I weeded my way through traffic at the crosswalk at Walmart today I was reminded of something I learned while in Maine. The state has established a strictly adhered to law which states all traffic is to yield to pedestrians in all cross-walks. Rich's son had been stationed for a while in Brunswick and had told his dad about the law but I don't think it really sunk in until we experienced it for ourselves.

The rule for the pedestrian is simple. It's the 3 W's. Wait, Walk, Wave...
Wait: make sure the driver has seen you and understands the law (unless they're new to town, say like from Texas and hasn't read ALL the warning signs). Walk: make your way across the street. Wave: acknowledge the driver who has obeyed the law and has allowed you to walk across the street.

Once we got the hang of it, Rich and I decided we really liked this law. It seemed to establish a mindset of courtesy for all concerned. It made us more aware of our surroundings (not like we weren't, for heaven's sake...we were in the beautiful state of Maine!), made us more conscientious of people walking, and more so when we were the one's walking and people stopped to let us cross.

I realize this sort of law would not be feasible for say, a city the size of Houston, but wouldn't it be nice. Nice to not only understand and acknowledge cross-walks are supposed to be safe places for people to walk, but to have drivers to stop at cross-walks instead of barreling through them (either unaware or don't care) as some do. And finally the wave. A simple gesture that says "hey, I appreciate it."

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Flew into Portland, Maine Saturday afternoon. Rented a car and headed north on Highway 1. Ended up in Belfast, a small coastal town between Brunswick & Bar Harbor (were told it's pronounced "bah-hahba"). Stopped at a Lobster Stand in Freeport for lunch. Paid $19.99 for a jumbo, extra-large lobster roll. Guess things are bigger in Texas. Was more comparable to a regular po-boy you could get anywhere in Galveston. Was good though, just a bit pricey.

Stayed Satuday night at the Belfast Manor Inn, with an Atlantic Ocean-view room. These small privately owned inns have a quaint, cozy feel that I don't usually feel at a chain (Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn, Motel 6, etc.). The inn-keeper was wearing a warm pull-over sweater and khaki slacks (not a uniform), leaned forward with his elbows on the counter top to talk about what was in the immediate area as far as grocery/liquor stores or restaurants.

It's chilly here. The low Saturday night was 31 degrees, hence the sweater-wearing inn-keeper. Big shock to my internal thermostat after leaving Houston which boasted a high of 86 yesterday with humidity to match. If it wasn't for this trip, I wouldn't even realize it was fall. Fall in Houston is usually identified by fewer times the yard has to be mowed and not completely drenching in sweat from taking the trash out or feeding the dog.

It's nice to be reminded there are actual places in this country that have true seasons. When I saw pumpkins in yards and fields up here (and there were a lot), they seemed to "fit" in with the back-drop of yellows, oranges and rusts of the turning trees. The majority of Halloween decorations I've seen are tons of scare-crows propped up among a slew of uncarved and carved pumpkins.

Maine to me means lobster. And a lot of it. Saturday evening we drove 7 miles up the road to Searsport to The Anglers Restaurant (recommended by the inn-keeper). Rich went straight for the 1 1/2 lb. boiled lobster. I chose the native Maine fried shrimp which was ear-marked as an "Angler Specialty Choice" on the menu.

Now, I'm a native Houstonian and am no stranger to shrimp. I grew up on eating shrimp. I fry, boil, sautee, grill shrimp every chance I get. What I am used to is Gulf shrimp, which are awesome.

Saturday was my first experience with native Maine shrimp. I ordered the 1/2 lb. size which was $11.99 and came with a salad and a baked potato (salad was actually a true mix of healthy greens, not the typical chopped iceberg). When my platter was place in front of me, I should have counted the number of shrimp before I dug in. I didn't. But if I had to guess, I'd say I had 20-25 shrimp on my plate. Native Maine shrimp are smaller than Gulf shrimp and larger than what we in the South know as popcorn shrimp. These native Maine beauties don't come pre-battered like most orders of popcorn shrimp I've seen in the Houston area. These little jewels were lightly battered and fried to golden perfection. They were tender and had a shrimp "sweetness," if there is such a thing. I was hooked. Turned out the shrimp was much better than the 1 1/2 lb. boiled lobster, which honestly didn't have that much taste. I suggested to Rich a sprinkling of salt to possibly bring out some flavor in the lobster.

I'll comment later on more eating adventures while in Maine but wanted to get this out. It's another deviation from "Texas" Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I know Maine is not a place people from my part of the country might just happen to drive or drop-in on...however, you never know. I wouldn't have ever probably been able to come to Maine if Rich wasn't attending a conference here. Thank goodness for those conferences. I'm knocking items off my bucket list right and left. Last year I was able to visit Portland, OR and the Pacific NW, the year before I payed my first visit to Washington D.C.

I'm gonna have to start a new bucket list...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten - DePaul's Italian Restaurant

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine from high school was kind enough to go back through my blog (back to the very beginning), found one of the original topics (Gone But Not Forgotten) and even left a comment.

I'm not blog-savvy enough to understand why this post did not show up as a "new" comment. Instead, I found it buried back in the August, 2009 archives.

It's an interesting post and bears posting again. So Frankie, I'm putting it at the top. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Frankie Grizzaffi said... did anyone ever eat at DePauls Italian Restaurant on Shepherd Dr. & 16st St.?

Debbie & I spent every weekend eating there at least one night for years (69-?). Great Italian food and pizza. Family owned by the DePaul family. They had a lot of family photos on the walls. Mr. DePaul was a very tall/robust man, Mrs. DePaul was a short, little lady who gave him plenty of hell. They were very miss-matched in size.

The family lived in the large house behind the restaurant. These folks were really great cooks and sometimes their kids would be there working. Their lasagna was the best I have ever eaten. Debbie loved their manicotti. We even got my parents eating there. Daddy loved their spaghetti & meatballs.

The DePauls & Grizzaffi's became very good friends for years even after they closed the business. The building is no longer there. Now it is a used car lot. What a shame.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Waller - Rocky's BBQ

If you find yourself on Hwy. 290 heading out to Hempstead, Brenham, College Station, Austin, etc., you might want to stop at the new Chevron Station/convenient store/BBQ place we found. Rocky's is located on the south side of Hwy. 290 at Field Store Rd. The place is brand new (signs are still being put up) and a hell of long way from Sugar Land (where I live), but I'd certainly stop in again should I find myself in that neck of the woods.

The owner, Ronn Batt (I've known Ronny since high school, and yes I still call him Ronny) is the owner and used to own the Waller Co. Line BBQ/Shell Station nearby. We reconnected at our reunion about 3 weeks ago, that's how I found out about Rocky's. He wasn't there at the time of our visit (darn, should have called first), but we still stopped for lunch. As Rich said, "we've driven out this far, I want some food." So we ate.

Although Rocky's is a BBQ place, I ordered the old-fashioned cheeseburger (which I've been known to do) and Rich ordered the sliced brisket sandwich (which he's known to do). And as everyone is quite aware by now, I like cheeseburgers. This delight took 2 hands to hold and was one of the best so far. A good old-fashioned cheeseburger with a generous, juicy hamburger patty and lots of fresh condiments. I loved it. It was huge and I could have eaten it all except I would have been miserable. Rich said the brisket was really good, had tons of meat on it, but he would have wanted the brisket sliced a bit thinner. Besides that, he called it a winner.

Nice, new, clean, and good food. Stop by sometime and if you see a guy there with a big smile on his face and answers to the name Ronn, tell him Terry Lee said hi...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Texas Triple D Takes a Turn

I've just returned from watching the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I had read the book by Elizabeth Gilbert several years ago and as I sat there alone in the theater (yes, I usually see movies alone & will explain later) remembered for the umpteenth time that I am a visual learner. I need pictures, just like in kindergarten. I need pictures, lots of them, to help with my learning process. I'm not stupid, I say kiddingly, just a slow learner. And by this I mean I keep forgetting that visualization is my greatest teacher.

I NEED PICTURES. I am going to write this message on a colorful piece of paper and post it in obvious places in my life to remind myself I AM A VISUAL LEARNER. The book meant so much more to me after seeing the movie. I don't often feel that way after seeing a movie based on a book I have read. But the story holds a much deeper meaning to me now. I want to buy another copy (can't find my original one) and just hold it to my heart and smile.

Liz (Elizabeth Gilbert, aka Julie Roberts) was asked to come up with "her" word. A word that describes her. For example, when she was asked for a word to describe New York, she came up with "ambition." I don't know what my word is yet but I want to find it.

I sat in a dark theater and made notes on the back of a receipt, using a tiny LED light attached to my key chain. This is a sampling of what I wrote:

We (Americans) understand entertainment but not pleasure
Ocean of regret
When you think of someone, send them love and light. Then drop it.
God dwells in me/within me
Where is Bali? Find it on a map
Sit in silence and your mind, on your face and in your liver
Forgive myself for mistakes and bad choices I've made
Come a little bit closer to hear what I have to say (song from the movie)
Thank you for letting me be myself again (another song)

As the credits began to roll, I sat. Not wanting to particularly stay in the theater but not quite ready to step back into the world, so to speak. Fight the heat, go to Border's, Walgreens, stop by the grocery store...all the things on my "to do" list for after the movie. I didn't want to lose what I was feeling at the moment. It seems so easy these days to have an "a-ha" brief moment and then it's gone. Gone to that place where all good things inside of us reside and are kept neatly filed. Only I rarely remember where I keep the damn file.

There are 3 basic things I immediately took away from the movie (and about a dozen or more to expand on at a later date).

1. I want to go to Rome and learn Italian
2. I want to sit in silence and get back in touch with the God that resides within me
3. I want to unleash passion in my life. Whether it's the love I feel for my husband, my kids and grandkids, myself or my writing.

I had visions of coming home and clearing the table or desk of everything so I could write this. I didn't want to lose my train of thought or the feelings I had. I was able to get to the computer without having to do much except put a bottle of wine in the freezer, setting the timer for 30 minutes (didn't want the wine to freeze..hate when that happens), and let the dog out so her bladder wouldn't burst.

I want to judge less, critique less, accept more and smile more. How that fits into Texas Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I haven't a clue. But right now I'm going to sign off and go spend some time with my 2 adorable grandsons. Then I'm going to write my message to myself (I AM A VISUAL LEARNER). And later I will begin my search for the word that describes me.

Note: I enjoy going to movies alone. Some have a problem with it, I don't. I'm sitting in silence for about 2 hrs. and have never felt the need for someone to sit in silence next to me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Checking In

I know, I know...I've been away from the blogging desk. I've been working on gathering emails for my high school class roster because our 40th (yes, 40th) reunion is coming up this July. And as I've mentioned before, I have just enough OCD to keep me going in that direction.

Summer has finally hit here in Houston. It's May 7th and the temperature outside is 91. That means we had approximately 4 weeks where eating outside was a possibility. With the heat comes the humidity, the flies and the mosquitoes. And it'll probably be in the 90's now until about late September or early October but the flies and mosquitoes won't die off until the first good freeze. The 90's also mean the A/C will be cranking pretty much 24/7 and we can all say good-bye to lower electric bills.

Okay, back to eating. Since I've been "away" I've visited the following:

-Beck's Prime (we went to the Sugar Land location)
-Dry Creek Cafe (Yale St. in the Heights, Houston)
-Lankford Grocery & Market (near downtown Houston)
-Lola's (Yale & 11th Street in the Heights)
-Branch Water Tavern (Montrose/South Shepherd area in Houston)
-Bob's Taco Station (Rosenberg, TX)
-Roznovsky's (near 610 Loop in Houston & my old stomping grounds)
-Barry's Pizza (Sugar Land location)
-Live Oak Grill (Sugar Land)

Have also been to Five Guys (a chain but a darn good burger), BJ's Brewhouse a couple of times (originated in California), Panera's, NY Pizzeria...and I'm sure there's more, much more.

Man, I'm so behind...look at that list! Adios for now. Gotta rest my fingers up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kemah - T-Bone Tom's

My bad. Another unpublished post...

Actually saw this on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives back in December. We headed down to Kemah on a Monday, right after the first of the year. Nice homey place with friendly wait-staff and lots of people waiting for a table. They even have a long narrow additional room for waiting. We were told the wait would probably be about 20-30 minutes but 5 minutes later we were seated at the counter, looking over the menu.

When I go back (not if) I want to order the Armadillo eggs which are jalapenos stuffed with chopped brisket and deep fried. They turn out to be about the size of jumbo eggs. A sign at T-Bone Tom's reads "No armadillos were harmed making our armadillo eggs."

The Monday special was chicken-friend steak (Rich's choice), but I was anxious to try one of the rib-eyes I had seen on Triple D, which are marinated for 24 hrs. All steaks are hand-cut (we actually watched a guy trim and cut a piece of beef that probably weighed at least 20-30 lbs. I thought the rib-eye was a little pricey for a lunch menu ($24.99 I believe), but it was good. Although I took part of it home, I wished it had been a bit thicker for the price.

The chicken-fried steak was excellent as was the cream gravy. (I realize what a good old Southern girl I must sound like with my repetitious mentions of cream gravy and chicken-fried steaks...what can I say?). Each plate was served with to die-for home-made biscuits and 2 sides.

T-Bone Tom's started out as a local country meat market back in the 60's and still prides themselves in their long-standing tradition of making their own smoked sausage and serving good old comfort food.

Live entertainment Friday & Saturday nites. T-Bone Tom's can be found on Facebook. Their website also has a You-Tube clip of Guy Fieri making his stop there.

707 Hwy. 146
Kemah, TX 77565

Salado - Johnny's BBQ

Salado is a pretty small town, settled between Georgetown and Temple on I-35. Johnny's BBQ looks like it has been around since God was a child. The building is rustic (under statement), the wooden floors are slanted and bits of Texas are splattered on the many times painted walls.

Daily specials are served every day, all day long or until they run out. Their specialty is mesquite grilled steaks (hand-cut certified Angus beef) and Texas pit barbecue. No liquor license, just soft drinks, tea, water & coffee to go with their large menu. Besides the steaks and barbecue, Johnny's offers fried chicken, shrimp, chicken-fried steak. There was lots more on the menu but we came to a screeching halt when we read chicken-fried steak (small or large option). We chose the large to split and ended up with 2 nice size chicken-fried steaks served with excellent cream gravy. It came with a baked potato that didn't leave me compelled to write much about (packaged butter, packaged sour cream, packaged bacon bits) but the chicken-fried steak made up for what the potato lacked.

Johnny's doesn't offer a breakfast menu (that I know of), so I'm guessing all the cars (I mean pick-ups) in the parking lot in the early morning hours are locals gathering for coffee. No matter what time of day, the parking seems to be full though, which is a good indicator when I'm trying to decide if this is a good place to try out.

301 Thomas Arnold Rd.
Salado, TX 76571

Spring Break

This post for some reason never got published. Please excuse...

By golly, I think spring has actually sprung. Finally on the back side of an exceptionally cold and wet winter here in Houston, the azaleas are beginning to bloom, the trees are budding and of course, the pollen has hit. Got to endure it if we are really moving toward spring.

Rich will be spending the week up north with his family and my best friend is heading to the big H. I told her I've made a list of things we can do and most of them involve meals. Big surprise. We'll be hitting places from Houston to Galveston to Huntsville to Rosenberg.

I'm not a teacher, but my husband and best friend are, so spring break is still fun for me because I get to play.

Will be blogging next week or the week after about our new discoveries, so check back.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Anybody out there?

Just wondering. I'm gonna keep blogging anyway. Rich and I went to Beck's Prime which wouldn't necessarily have been on our list, however, Texas Monthly rated it among the top 50 in Texas. Will post soon.

PS - let me know if you're out there...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Houston - Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich Shop

Richie finally got his Italian beef sandwich. I opted for the shrimp tacos. His comment was, "good, uh-hmm, okay" and I thought the shrimp tacos were small, light and flavorful (which is what I was looking for.) Served on 2 fresh corn tortillas, shrimp were seasoned well and topped with lettuce and some sort of sauce. I'd order it again. (Shrimp tortilla $1.85)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Houston - Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich Shop

I was watching "The Secret of Pizza" on the Food Network one Saturday after the first of the year and realized I didn't know or ever thought about the difference between thick-crust and Chicago deep-dish pizza. After that episode, I had learned something new.

Thick crust is thick. Period. But Chicago deep-dish pizza starts out with a pizza dough pressed down and up the sides of a round heavy pan with probably a 2-3" raised rim. The segment on television next showed a thick layer of cheese placed right on the dough which then went into the oven. After however many minutes, the pizza was brought out, topped with vegetables, meats, more cheese and then sent back into the oven. Now I knew the difference between thick-crust and deep-dish pizza.

We were going to see the Aeroes play the next day so Rich did some quick internet research and found where we could sample a Chicago-deep dish pizza before the hockey game. Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich Shop is in a small and sort of dilapidated strip center in the 1700 block of Airline between W. Cavalcade & North Main. The restaurant (and the strip center) looked like it had been there since the 60's, if not earlier. The first thing I noticed as we walked in was a chalkboard near the order line which read "Whole Roasted Pig, Order In Advance." No problem, I thought, since I've only experienced a whole roasted pig on one occasion and decided it's not my thing. I love ham, bacon, all kinds of pork, I just can't handle the idea of picking meat off a roasted carcass. I know this is a delicacy and very much a tradition in some cultures which I honor, I just can't eat pork that way.

The restaurant was simple with a friendly wait-staff who informed us the deep dish pizza could take as long as 30-45 minutes, which was okay since there were several mounted plasma TV screens around and the Texans were playing New England for their first play-off spot. The extended time also gave me a chance to study the extensive menu and the memorabilia on the walls, which as expected, was rich in Chicago history.

As I said, the menu was extensive with a wide variety of selections that would take some time to decide what to order unless you already knew, like we did. Otherwise you'd be drumming your fingers against your chin trying to decide between gyros, fish tacos, wings, po-boys, burgers, pizza, hot and cold sandwiches, or hot dogs, etc. I felt a little bad for Rich. He was born and raised northwest of Chicago and adores Italian Beef sandwiches. As much as I know he'd have loved Italian Beef, he was a good sport and stuck to the plan...Chicago deep-dish pizza.

The restaurant wasn't very crowded (cold & rainy mid-Sunday afternoon) and the pizza didn't take as long as was promised. After several bites I realized this pizza was different from the one I had seen made on the "Secret of Pizza" segment. Instead of cheese layered over the dough, this pizza started out with a pizza/tomato sauce, then the vegetables, then the cheese. This pizza was warm, gooey and very filling. Small dollups of the pizza/tomato sauce were dropped on top of the pizza which I think could have been omitted and the cheese layer first over the dough might have kept the bottom crust from being soggy. But all in all, it was a good first Chicago deep-dish pizza experience. Especially since the Texans beat the Patriots which had me on cloud nine until the Jets got the crap kicked out of them later that night. So long playoffs...

Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich Shop warrants another trip for us. I'd like to try either the po-boys or the fish tacos. And I know, without a doubt, Rich will be having the Italian Beef.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Schulenburg - Oak Ridge Smokehouse

This funny looking wooden structure with red-trimmed paned windows hanging at odd angles is situated on the north side of I-10 at Hwy. 77 in Schulenburg. I stop there every year on the way back from one of my Hill Country trips to buy at least 4 packages of their beef jerky (peppered beef is their original flavor) for Christmas favorites for my grown kids and grandkids (not grown).

Last December Rich and I stopped there for lunch on our way to San Antonio for my nephew's wedding. This particular day was the oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-it's-snowing-this-far-south day. We were seated in the back dining room where we were able to have an enjoyable cozy lunch while gazing through the paned windows at the flurry of snowflakes. I know people from up north (which is probably anywhere north of Dallas) would not find this to be any particular phenomenon, but once again, being a native Houstonian, I sat and marveled at the quiet, white beauty of it all.

Now the food. The Smokehouse offers a huge buffet for $10.95 which seemed a bit high until I checked it out. Fried fish, sausage, fried chicken, BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, other vegetables, great salad bar (with good salad greens), biscuits, rolls, a drink, and an entire separate dessert buffet with cakes and several types of hot cobblers.

I scanned the menu and my eyes fell on one particular item....chicken and dumplings. Snowy-cold day outside, cozy setting inside and the chance to have one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. The chicken and dumplings were $5.95 which I assumed would be more like a small bowl and had me thinking I'd be picking at Rich's buffet plate. But when the serving-size bowl was placed in front of me, I settled back and zeroed in on my own food. The dumplings were perfect, the chicken tender and the broth was just the right consistency. I was in heaven. After briefly considering rubbing the remains of my meal I couldn't finish across my face, I heaved a satisfied sigh and pushed back from the table.

Before leaving I had to stroll through the gift shop where I've always been able to pick up a couple of fun things for stocking-stuffers for my grandkids. Not only is the Oak Ridge Smokehouse a restaurant but also a deli, bakery and a truly unique gift shop (toys, books, cards) with tons of what I consider "old-time" candy (gobstoppers, limonheads, bit o'honey, tootsie rolls, sugar daddies, sugar babies, sloe pokes, almond joys, hot tamales, jr. mints, milk duds, tootsie roll pops).

So, on your next trip heading west on I-10 out of Houston, make the Oak Ridge Smokehouse one of your stops, either for a meal, driving break or to pick up some of their home-made jerky (try the jalapeno jerky). Come to think of it they also offer turkey jerky (say that fast 3 times).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Canyon Lake - Lucky Sailor Oyster Bar

Sister to Lucky's Kitchen & Cocktails, the Lucky Sailor Oyster Bar is right down the road at the Canyon Lake Marina (280 Marina Drive, Canyon Lake, TX 78133).

We went for happy hour which turned into dinner for 2 reasons. #1: they have excellent outside seating and it was beautiful sunset over Canyon Lake. #2: we eyed the food being delivered as we enjoyed a glass a wine and became particularly interested in a platter of fried shrimp that passed our table. We found what we were looking for under appetizers which turned out to be 8 (EIGHT) hearty buttermilk battered fried shrimp served with cocktail sauce.

Long, long ago in a land far, far away, I lived in New Braunfels (mid 80's). Friends had suggested the fresh fried shrimp at a local restaurant and it was a meal I suffered through. Being a native Houstonian makes me somewhat of a snob when it comes to fresh seafood. And what was referred to as fresh fried shrimp in the 80's was more accurately categorized right beside Mrs. Paul's in the frozen section of the grocery store.

Having added that tidbit, the fried shrimp at Lucky Sailor's were some of the best I have ever had, and needless to say, fresh. As with Lucky's Kitchen, each appetizer and entree was served on unique-shaped plates with the presentation ever bit as classy.

The next time I'm at the Lucky Sailor I have already decided on the Lucky Sailor platter, which seems to be a Canyon Lake favorite (fried fish, shrimp & oysters served with fries, jalapeno hushpuppies and Shipwreck Sailor slaw).

Note: if traveling in the area, check the hours of operation on the website. During the winter season the Lucky Sailor is open mostly in the late afternoons and evenings.

Additional Note: all the places I write about have more figure-friendly and probably smarter choices, but when I'm on a road trip, the figure-friendly options seem to fly right out the window.

Austin - Cover 3

Came in at #12 on the Texas Monthly's "50 Best Burgers in Texas" list. I found Cover 3 to be a really nice up-scale sports bar (similar to BJ's Brewery, if anyone is familiar with that brewhouse). The tables aren't packed in so you feel like your eating off your neighbor's plate and they have some cool round (horse shoe?) shaped booths with soft leather (or leather-like) cushions.

The Chop House Burger (must add the longhorn cheese and applewood smoked bacon) was what was recommended in Texas Monthly, so that's what we ordered. The burger was served on a square ciabatta bun which wasn't too thick and this hamburger was quickly bumped up to the top of our own Texas Monthly list. The flavor of the meat was excellent (sometimes forget how important that is) and the applewood smoked bacon and the thick slice of longhorn cheese MADE the burger. Another added delight were the french fries which were shoestring in shape and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Food choices can be basic (burgers, sandwiches, salads) or kicked up a notch (grilled Pacific salmon, sauteed shitake mushrooms & scallions with a light soy-ginger broth or the sauteed Gulf snapper with fresh blue crab with lemon caper butter and pistachios). The wine list is extensive and I would also recommend Cover 3 for nice business lunches or dinner.

Cover 3 is located at 2700 Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757 and can be found on Facebook.

Definitely a "thumbs up."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Canyon Lake - Lucky's Kitchen & Cocktails

My new year's resolution to bring my blog back up and running has now fallen about 15 days late. So much for NY's resolutions..

Anyway, back to the good stuff. I have been working though to compile info about the places I've visited over the past couple of months so I've got a lot to report. Back in November I mentioned I had eaten at Lucky's Kitchen & Cocktails, which is now my favorite eating and happy hour spot at Canyon Lake. It's a welcome upscale change with a bit of class from the usual eateries in the area, but not someplace to shy away from if you're in shorts and a t-shirt. Once again it's one of those places I feel Jimmy Buffett could call home (are you picking up a pattern here? I seem to seek out these types of places).

My first visit a couple of years ago was for happy hour. I sat at the bar (really cool bar) and watched the bartender juice about 40-50 limes for the margarita machine. No pre-made mix in this place. Good tequila was added and simple syrup, just the way margaritas were intended to be made. My first drink was a glass of wine...and my second was naturally a frozen margarita. It's been a long time since I've tasted a really good margarita. And none of this watered down stuff either which also made me realize I should have skipped the glass of wine and stuck with just one margarita.

Besides the friendly wait-staff and the kick-back-and-have-fun ambiance of the place, the next impressive point made was the menu. It too had class. Example: Mini Shrimp Rolls (5 fried wontons rolled up with shrimp, ginger, carrots, cabbage and garlic. Served with a mango ginger habenero sauce). See what I mean? I think you'd be hard pressed to find another restaurant in the area that made a fresh mango ginger habenero sauce.

My favorite appetizer was the Texas Caviar (Texas jumbo lump blue crab meat perched on top of crispy crostinis & bathed in a rich browned butter sauce). I know it sounds simple and it is but those little crusted rounds were to die for. All the appetizers and entrees have special touches and are served on unique-shaped plates (usually triangular or rectangle) with iron chef quality presentations. Just a lot of extras that add class to the place.

Happy hour draws a large crowd and Thursday evenings are referred to as Bobcat Thursdays (Texas State University, about 30 min. away). Did I mention the wide variety of beer they have on tap?

Visit the website ( to view the full menu and take a look at the photo gallery. The pictures give you a good idea of just how cool Lucky's really is.

The official address is 18100 FM 306, Canyon Lake, TX 78133 but if you're traveling up FM 306 from I-35 (New Braunfels), Lucky's is past the dam at the top of the hill on the right just past the SilverLeaf Resorts.

And don't feel like you have to wait for summer to stop in. This place draws a crowd year-round. Their sister location is right down the road at the Canyon Lake Marina, Lucky Sailor Oyster Bar (post to follow shortly).