Tag Archives: Eateries

Lunch at El Bracero in Kingsland, Texas

El Bracero Mexican Restaurant in Kingsland, Texas
El Bracero Mexican Restaurant in Kingsland, Texas.

El Brasero Mexican Restaurant on Foodio54

El Bracero Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Last week, we visited El Bracero in Kingsland for lunch. El Bracero Mexican Restaurant has been around for about four or five years, and within the last two years, ownership has changed. I hadn’t been to the restaurant since the new owners took over, so I was eager to find out how the food tasted.

Prior experiences with El Bracero were excellent. Not only did we eat in several times, but we also called for take out. What I loved the most about El Bracero was an interior Mexican taste as opposed to Tex-Mex.

El Bracero is situated almost at the intersection of RR 1431 and RR 2900, smack dab in the heart of Kingsland. The building is unassuming. Long ago, this building housed a furniture and appliance store. Not much has evolved since. The interior is little more than a cleared out room with tables and booths scattered around. If you’re looking for decoration, glamour, or a sparkling clean eatery, you’re at the wrong restaurant.

But if you’re looking for fabuloso food and a great group of people who are eager to serve you, El Bracero is the place to be.

Interior of El Bracero Mexican Restaurant in Kingsland, Texas
Interior.
Entrance and front area - El Bracero Mexican Restaurant in Kingsland, Texas
Entrance and front area.

Here’s the deal: Focus on what works at El Bracero. You have to overlook the dirty floors and dining booths. And the oh-so ugly ceiling tiles.

This visit my daughter chose…drum roll…enchiladas! (Enchiladas are her fave so it’s no big surprise.) We arrived during El Bracero’s lunch special, so the Texas plate (two enchiladas, carne guisada, rice, beans, and guacamole salad for $6.99) was a great choice. I chose a lengua torta ($3.99) and the rajas with cheese ($6.99). This entree features tiny strips of beef cooked with slices of jalapeno and topped with Mexican cheese. The sides include beans, rice, and guacamole salad.

I ordered the rajas with cheese due to our server’s recommendation. I asked her what would be yummy to try and without hesitation, she began an animated discussion about how the dish was prepared and cooked.

She sold me on the dish, that’s for sure. I love it when servers know their menus. Kudos, El Bracero!

Fresh red salsa and chips come gratis with each meal. The salsa is good – not the best I’ve had – but certainly many steps above the Alamo Cafe. The chef cooks the tomatoes each morning, cools the mixture, then adds fresh onion, jalapeno, tomato chunks, and spice. The taste is a good blend and worth going back for.

We did not enjoy the chips. They were stale, and the worst part of our meal.

After digging into our food, which was served promptly, I offer the following comments.

Rajas with Cheese - El Bracero Mexican Restaurant in Kingsland, Texas
Rajas with cheese.

The rajas with cheese were excellent. I’m not a big red meat fan, but the combination of beef strips grilled with jalapenos and topped with creamy, white cheese won me over. Don’t be afraid of too much spice with the jalapenos. The chilies were mild enough that my daughter could have eaten them.

We couldn’t have asked for better sides of refried beans and rice. Both were subtle in taste and exactly what you’d expect to find at a decent Tex-Mex restaurant. The guacamole was fresh, garlic-y, and sat atop fresh iceberg lettuce and chopped tomatoes. Good stuff!

I found the rajas to be best wrapped in a bit of corn tortilla and dipped in salsa.

Rajas with Cheese - El Bracero Mexican Restaurant - Kingsland, Texas

Fresh veggies and well-cooked beef tongue made for a decent lengua torta. However, I prefer the lengua as a taco. The beef tongue was chewy and tough as opposed to soft and buttery. That said, I need to try the new owners’ tacos. I haven’t had a lengua taco since the new owners bought El Bracero.

Lengua Torta at El Bracero in Kingsland, Texas

Texas plate with chicken enchiladas.

Texas Plate at El Bracero in Kingsland, Texas

El Bracero in Kingsland will see me again. I’ll try new things and pick the servers’ brains. And maybe I’ll get an interview with the elusive owners. I’ve tried to speak to them each time I’ve come, mentioning that I’m a writer/blogger, to no avail. Nonetheless, El Bracero Mexican Restaurant is good. Especially if you take the food home.

Chow, ya’ll!

Takeaway

 El Bracero Mexican Restaurant is located at 1516 RR 1431 in Kingsland, Texas 78639. The phone number is (325)388-0022. Hours are Monday through Sunday, 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Takeout is available.

This restaurant is something to explore. There are a wide variety of dishes available and while the choices are extensive, it works. You’re getting a taste of interior Mexico – this isn’t standard Tex-Mex fare.

Breakfast is served daily from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. You can order from the breakfast menu after 11 a.m. for an additional $1 surcharge.

During breakfast hours, order three breakfast tacos or one breakfast burrito for $2.99.

Lunch specials are served Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. For $6.99 you get a plate with sides and a glass of iced tea.

Children’s plates are available for $3.99.

Takeout Sushi at Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas

Koy Restaurant on Foodio54

Koy on Urbanspoon
I gambled the the other day. I decided to get takeout sushi from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls. Normally I revel in the sushi bar experience: Eat at the restaurant, fill myself with sushi goodness, and drown in overall luxury with the people I love the most. This time I decided to see how Koy’s sushi would stand up as a takeaway.

Takeaway Sushi Dinner from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
My sushi dinner from Koy Restaurant. Yum!

I ordered maki sushi rolls and nigiri sushi. Putting Koy to the test, I wanted to see if the flavor combination was as fresh and good as if I were sitting in front of the Itamae.

If you’ve read Big Grey Horse Media, you know I’m a stickler for customer service. Gotta say I was disappointed by Rhiannon’s tone when I called to place my order. Granted, I had no idea what was going on at the restaurant (Were they busy? Was she distracted?) but she didn’t seem happy that I was calling. That didn’t leave a good first impression but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

When we arrived to collect the food, I wasn’t surprised to see the parking lot empty save two vehicles. Highway 281 by the Lake Marble Falls bridge is under construction and access to Koy’s parking lot is tricky.

I ordered the sushi appetizer (tuna, salmon, sea bass, and shrimp for $8.50), two regular sushi rolls (yellowtail and tuna rolls each $6.50), the New York roll (tuna, salmon, hamachi, and masago topped with spicy mayonnaise sauce for $9.50), an egg roll ($1.25), and crab rangoons ($4.95 for six).

Egg Roll from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Egg roll.

Somehow I ended up with two egg rolls instead of one, but that would explain why my tab was a bit higher than I expected. I ate half of one egg roll and left the rest for later. The wrapper was crispy and flavorful, but the filling was pretty bland. (Although it’s fair to say that when I nibbled on the leftovers the following day, the egg roll tasted better. There was a distinct, pepper-type spice that I liked. I think you have to eat more than one bite to appreciate Koy’s egg rolls!)

I ordered the crab rangoons for my daughter.

Crab Rangoon from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Crab rangoon dipped in duck sauce.

I wasn’t impressed by the way-too-crispy rangoon tops. It seems that few Chinese restaurants get crab rangoons right. Typically the tops are so crusty they are inedible but the crab filling makes up for it. In this case that wasn’t true. These rangoons need more filling and less frying. I think you can easily see there’s no oomph to this sorry little rangoon. Unfortunately, after one bite, the crab rangoons went in the trash. Thumbs down, Koy!

The main ambition for this meal was to experiment with takeout sushi, and I wasn’t let down. I tried the New York roll first. This roll looked appetizing and it was love at first bite. The fish blend (tuna, salmon, and hamachi) was excellent. The spicy mayo topping was perfect and the masago added that special bit only fish roe can. (I really dig masago – it’s got that salty, ocean taste with a crunchy pop of texture.) The New York roll was perfect.

Salmon nigiri and two pieces of the New York roll - Koy Restaurant, Marble Falls, Texas
Salmon nigiri and the New York roll.

The four-piece sushi appetizer was also delicious. Each piece of fish (tuna, salmon, sea bass) was delicate, fresh, and buttery in taste. Exactly what you’d expect from a great sushi bar. The shrimp nigiri was cooked, of course, but also sweet in taste. The rice was excellent in size and proportion to its accompanying sushi.

Sushi Appetizer Dish from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Top to bottom: Sea bass, tuna, shrimp, and salmon nigiri.

The yellowtail and tuna rolls had a funny smell that I couldn’t identify.  Upon opening the packet, I detected an off-putting, smokey smell. I can’t say what the smell was or what caused it, but after taking the rolls apart to smell the fish, it wasn’t old fish. It was either the rice or the seaweed. However, I wasn’t able to eat the rolls due to the smell.

Yellowtail and Tuna Rolls from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Yellowtail and tuna rolls.

Despite crappy appetizers and two rolls that smelled weird, I will go back to Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls. I know better than to order Chinese appetizers at a sushi bar (although the restaurant touts its Chinese menu, typically sushi bars are known for what they do best: raw fish). I also know working in the restaurant industry is a thankless, unforgiving job. In Rhiannon’s defense, she was pleasant once I spoke to her face-to-face and squared up my bill.

I should note that when I arrived to a mostly empty restaurant, no one was at the front desk and it took several minutes for Rhiannon to appear and wave me back to the bar to pick up my food.

All in all, my prior experiences at Koy have been positive, and I’m intrigued to see what happens during my next visit.

Chow, ya’ll! (That’s how we say “ciao” in the Lone Star State.)

Takeaway

Update February 2013: Koy is permanently closed at the Marble Falls, Texas, location.

Koy Restaurant is located at 101 North Hwy 281, Suite 102, in Marble Falls, Texas 78654. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

The original Koy Restaurant location is in Kyle, Texas.

Koy’s mission is to provide affordable Chinese and sushi dishes to the casual dining patron. Both restaurants purposely do business outside Austin, Texas, with the ambition to introduce more people to authentic Asian food.

Happy hour happens Monday through Friday, 2:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. Ladies Drink Special hours are Monday through Friday, 2:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

Koy Restaurant is family-friendly, offers takeout, and holds banquets by reservation. Delivery is available in the Marble Falls area.

Email info.MarbleFalls@koyrestaurant.com or call (830)798-8389 for additional information.

Alamo Cafe, San Antonio, Texas, Pictorial Review

Alamo Cafe on Foodio54

Alamo Cafe on Urbanspoon

This is a pictorial review of our visit to Alamo Cafe, San Antonio, Texas.

Warm, multicolored chips and red salsa are served with each meal at Alamo Cafe. The salsa is decent, but if you’re used to traditional Mexican salsas, this one won’t knock your socks off.

Chips and red salsa served with each meal at Alamo Cafe, San Antonio, Texas.

The menu at Alamo Cafe is extensive. Probably too extensive! This restaurant would do best to focus the dishes the chef does best. Forget about the rest (like the seafood flautas).

Alamo Cafe, San Antonio, Texas menu

Alamo Cafe, San Antonio, Texas menu inner page

Alamo Cafe, San Antonio, Texas menu inner page

Our drinks. I ordered ice water with lemon and my daughter had pink lemonade.

Ice Water with Lemon at Alamo Cafe

Pink Lemonade at Alamo Cafe

The fresh, homemade flour tortillas were the stars of our lunch. We couldn’t find one thing to fault about these Mexican delights. The tortillas are the perfect size, perfect taste, perfect temperature, and hot off the tortilla press!

Fresh Flour Tortillas at Alamo Cafe

Flour Tortilla at Alamo Cafe

Tortilla Factory at Alamo Cafe, San Antonio, Texas

My daughter’s chicken enchilada plate #3 with rice, beans, and a cheese tostada.

Enchilada dinner #3 chicken at Alamo Cafe

Chicken Enchilada Dinner #3 at Alamo Cafe

I kick myself now for ordering a meal that was iffy. While my daughter’s had far better Tex-Mex food, she enjoyed the chicken enchiladas. They do look yummy!

Chicken Enchilada Dinner #3 Alamo Cafe Close Up

Seafood flautas with jalapeno green sauce and sides of rice and grilled vegetables. Unfortunately, the seafood flautas were pretty nasty, the grilled vegetables tasted like frozen veggies as opposed to fresh, and the rice was bland. I also wasn’t digging the jalapeno green sauce that “smothered” my plate.

Seafood Flautas at Alamo Cafe

Seafood Flautas at Alamo Cafe Partially Eaten

Alamo Cafe in San Antonio, Texas: A Recipe for Disaster

Entrance to the Alamo Cafe in San Antonio, Texas
The entrance to the Alamo Cafe. Overflow seating areas are on the patio and situated around a waterfall and stream.

Alamo Cafe on Foodio54

Alamo Cafe on Urbanspoon
Spurred on by my mother’s great experiences at Alamo Cafe in San Antonio, Texas, my daughter and I decided to have a late lunch at the restaurant.

Alamo Cafe has two locations in San Antonio. We visited the restaurant at 14250 Hwy 281 North. Arriving after the lunch rush, I figured we would be seated quickly and served just as fast.

Our hostess took us to a booth. As we walked past the tortilla factory, my mouth began to water. The smells swirling through the area were almost too much for a ravenous Texan.

The menu is extensive at the Alamo Cafe. I had a hard time choosing from several pages of meals. I’ve also watched too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey chastising failing restaurateurs for putting everything and the kitchen sink on a menu. Nevertheless, the seafood flautas sounded interesting so I asked for our waitress’ recommendation. Kristen, our waitress, confirmed that the flautas were an excellent choice.

Seafood flautas ($9.50) are filled with shrimp, crab, and minced squash and smothered in a jalapeno green sauce topped off with feta cheese. Grilled vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, and broccoli) and rice accompany the flautas. My daughter chose the #3 enchilada plate. For $7.50, you get two enchiladas (choice of beef, chicken, cheese, green chicken, or sour cream chicken) and your choice of red, green, cheese, or chili sauce. Three sides accompany the meal: rice, beans, and a cheese tostada.

My daughter drank pink lemonade ($2.25) and I had ice water with lemon.

Enchilada Plate #3 Chicken
Enchilada Plate #3 Chicken

I gotta say, I had high expectations of my meal and the general experience at the Alamo Cafe. Maybe it’s because my mom loves going there with her friends. Maybe it’s because my daughter and I were having a fun “girl day.” We definitely were in good spirits and expecting the best.

The best is certainly not what we got.

Seafood flautas were a stretch for me. There’s something about fish and shellfish in a Tex-Mex restaurant that seems off. However, I thought I’d throw caution to the wind. That wasn’t a wise choice this time.

I ate part of my meal before putting my fork down permanently. Honestly, it was some of the worst Tex-Mex food I’ve had, but I suppose if you’re not well-versed in authentic Mexican food or just dipping your toes into the world of Tex-Mex, you might be fooled. The blend of shrimp, crab, and squash didn’t mix well. The seafood didn’t taste fresh and the flautas, overall, were bland. The fried tortillas were too crisp and burnt on the ends. The jalapeno green sauce certainly smothered the seafood flautas, and practically everything else on my plate. What I came away with? An overwhelming sense of what Alamo Cafe’s jalapeno green sauce tastes like. It’s also worth noting that feta cheese and Tex-Mex don’t mix.

Seafood Flautas with grilled vegetables and rice
Seafood Flautas

The side of grilled veggies were okay, but they tasted frozen, not fresh. Yuck.

It’s sad to say that the rice was the overall winner on my plate. However, this rice couldn’t hold a candle to the Tex-Mex rice sides I’m used to.

My daughter enjoyed her food more than I did, but wasn’t impressed enough to frequent the Alamo Cafe a second time. Her thoughts were, “The enchilada sauce was really tasty. This food is a good medium between Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food. But there are far better Tex-Mex restaurants out there, like Tamale King, which is not saying much considering Tamale King is in Buchanan Dam and we’re eating at what should be an amazing restaurant in a big city.”

The chips and salsa, served when we were seated, were nice. The chips were warm, multicolored, and crisp. The red salsa was okay. Personally, I make better fresh salsa at home, and I can get authentic, interior Mexican salsa that’s far tastier at the taco trucks in Kingsland, Texas.

The flour tortillas were the best items that I ate. Fresh, hot, and perfectly cooked, these homemade tortillas are to die for. I can see why the staff in the tortilla factory are smiling. It’s a slice of heaven in there!

All in all, I felt Alamo Cafe’s prices were unreasonable for the quality of food served.

If my story ended here, we’d be good. I’d simply say the Alamo Cafe’s food sucks and I’m not going back. But there’s more.

Tortilla press at the Alamo Cafe in San Antonio, Texas
Mmm…fresh, hot tortillas off the press!

Beyond feeding your patrons quality food, you should give your customers quality service, too.

I rarely complain about waitstaff because I know how hard servers work. It’s a thankless, demanding job. Hell, I’m easily impressed by even mediocre service. Our waitress, Kristen, seemed nice enough in the beginning. She smiled, helped me look through the vast menu for dishes I’d like, made eye contact, and seemed interested in my daughter and me as customers. After the initial greeting and handing out our menus, taking our drink orders, and offering meal suggestions, she disappeared.

Keep in mind the time we arrived. It was after the lunch rush. Alamo Cafe was not busy and Kristen’s section had only our table to serve.

About fifteen minutes after we ordered our drinks, Kristen returned with the water and lemonade and asked if we were ready to order, which we did. Shortly after that, two young men were seated in the booth in front of us. For whatever reason, Kristen couldn’t tear herself away from flirting and talking with these men.

It bears adding that throughout our meal, which ended quicker than usual because we weren’t keen on the food, Kristen was present at the booth in front of us and eagerly helping those customers with anything they wanted.

All this while my daughter’s lemonade needed refilling and I wanted the tab so I could pay and we could hit the road. I waved to Kristen several times and she ignored me. What? Not appropriate. Not cool at all.

Would I recommend the Alamo Cafe? Nope. Truly, having a better waitress would have made a mundane meal more pleasing. I’m big on customer service and Kristen annoyed me to no end. Disappearing acts and ignoring customers when they depend on your services is unprofessional.

Takeaway

The Alamo Cafe is located 14250 Hwy 281 North, San Antonio, Texas 78232. The phone number is 210/495-2233. A second location is at 10060 IH-10 West in San Antonio, Texas 78230. The phone number is 210/691-8827.

The establishment has been in business since 1981. Both locations are family-friendly and casual dress. Banquets and catering services are available.

The restaurants are open every day of the week and hours are as follows: Sunday-Thursday 10:45 a.m-11 p.m, Friday-Saturday 10:45 a.m. until midnight. Alamo Cafe is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Easter Sunday.

 

 

 

Thai Niyom Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas

Enter Thai Niyom Restaurant on the right side.
Enter Thai Niyom Restaurant on the right side.

Thai Niyom Restaurant on Foodio54

Thai Niyom on Urbanspoon
Long ago and far away, a small, yellow gas station located on Hwy 281 in Marble Falls, Texas, began serving Thai food to hungry patrons. I moved to Sunrise Beach in late 1996, and sorely missed the opportunities city living afforded. It had been so easy, so convenient, to pick up any ethnic food I wanted on the way home from work. I was on the hunt for something I could sink my teeth into, an ethnic food that would satisfy my yearnings for the extraordinary.

Not too long after I moved to the Highland Lakes area, LBJ Food Mart, the yellow, unassuming gas station, started making magic in a small, hot kitchen. Was this the answer to my prayers?

I made my way over to try give this dive a whirl. To my surprise, the food was some of the best Thai food I’d ever eaten…just as authentic as the good Thai restaurants in Austin. For years, I spread the word about the yellow gas station and its marvelous dishes, encouraging others to try it out.

Mind you, this happened at a time when most folks in the Highland Lakes area were happy to eat Americanized Chinese food at China Kitchen. Not many people were interested in something as exotic as Thai food, much less from a gas station. In small towns, however, word spreads fast. And if you’re good, well, you’re a rock star.

Earlier this spring, I called the gas station to see if the cook was in town and serving  hungry patrons (she makes trips back to her native country at least once a year). I was told that she was opening her own restaurant. Lucky me!

This month, my daughter and I made the journey to Thai Niyom. The restaurant is not so conveniently located next door to the Texaco gas station at the intersection of FM 1431 and Hwy 281. You enter by a side door as the front door is not accessible. However, there are small parking areas on the right side of the building and in the back.

We went to Thai Niyom restaurant on two separate occasions. Unfortunately, both the owner and the cook were not available for an interview. Also, both the owner and infamous “mama” who cooks did not want their last names used for this piece. However, I was told that Orathai is the cook, and her daughter, Khanittha, is the owner of Thai Niyom.

Geow Teow Gai with Shrimp
Geow Teow Gai with Shrimp

My long-time, favorite dish by Orathai is the geuw teow gai. I’ve tried like hell to find a recipe for this dish, exactly as Orathai cooks it, and have come up empty handed. I order my geuw teow gai as medium spicy, and sometimes I forgo the bean sprouts. You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken. This flat noodle dish is to die for!

Phad Thai is my daughter’s favorite, and she prefers it cooked by Orathai over any other Thai restaurant we’ve frequented. Orathai makes it about as authentic as it comes. There’s no greasy residue or red coating like you’ll find on some Phad Thai. We’ve had this dish with both chicken and shrimp, and I’ve ventured to have it vegetarian, too.

You cannot visit Thai Niyom without having an order (or two) of the baby rolls. These bite-sized, tiny rolls are the epitome of Thai heaven, I think. This is another recipe I’ve search high and low for, without avail. What I do know is each roll is about three inches long and is packed with ground meat and carrots. The rolls come with a slightly spicy, sweet sauce that’s great for dipping. Top off the baby rolls with a few drops of Rooster (as my family lovingly calls Sriracha hot chili sauce), and you’re good to go.

Cheese rolls and baby rolls with a spicy, sweet sauce.
Cheese rolls and baby rolls with a spicy, sweet sauce.

The cheese rolls are very good, too. This is a two-roll appetizer filled with a warm cream cheese and carrot mixture. I detect hints of garlic and perhaps a bit of onion in this roll, which is wrapped in rice paper and fried to a crispy, golden brown. The same dipping sauce you get with the baby rolls accompanies the cheese rolls.

Our waitress, Jessica, suggested on our second visit that we try the egg rolls. She quickly explained that these were not ordinary Chinese rolls. Evidently Orathai used to serve a more traditional Chinese egg roll, the type filled with cabbage, meat, and veggies. Since I adore egg rolls, I was game to try them out, and I wasn’t disappointed. Instead of cabbage, Orathai uses glass noodles. The rolls are wrapped in rice paper and deep fried to a crispy, delicate texture and served with the spicy, sweet sauce.

We also gave the kaw-phad pineapple fried rice a go. My daughter was interested in trying out a fried rice with pineapple chunks. Among a sea of well-seasoned rice, pineapple chunks, shrimp, and pieces of chicken, you found chunks of ham. This is a dish we could have shared by itself and been perfectly happy with.

Just to top off the order, my daughter wanted an entree of cashew chicken. Although my daughter ended up not eating many of the bamboo shoots, the dish was very good. It had a rich, smoky flavor reminiscent of the toasted cashews with a bit of sesame thrown in. A thin, brown sauce flowed into the mound of steamed rice next to the chicken. Yum!

If you love Thai food, give Thai Niyom restaurant a go. Staff are friendly and helpful, and service is prompt. The restaurant is clean and comfortable. I await the day when I can meet Orathai! That’s my new goal, as well as re-visiting some of her curry dishes. I’ve smiled and thanked her through the ordering window at LBJ Food Mart, and I hope to see her again someday soon.

You rock, Orathai!

A separate pictorial post will soon be posted with photos of the various dishes we sampled.

Takeaway

Thai Niyom Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and features six entrees served with an egg roll, soup, and steamed or fried rice. Dinner is served Monday thru Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Alcohol is not served by the restaurant, but you can BYOB. Thai Niyom Restaurant is located at 909 Hwy 281, Marble Falls, Texas 78654. The phone number is (830) 693-1526.

Pie Happy Hour at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, Texas

A tempting, delicious slice of cherry pie.
A tempting, delicious slice of cherry pie.

Blue Bonnet Cafe on Foodio54

Blue Bonnet Cafe on Urbanspoon
Most Texans know what Happy Hour means — a few cold ones with friends after work and if you’re lucky, stale peanuts as a snack. Looking for a new twist? Blue Bonnet Cafe’s Pie Happy Hour in Marble Falls, Texas, offers a slice of pie and a drink for $3.50. Held Monday through Friday, it’s not just the locals who line up for a treat.

That’s what the Cafe is all about: Community. Wonderful things happen at the Blue Bonnet. Locals buy meals for active duty personnel, wait staff check up on regular customers and people come from all over to enjoy homemade pie. Hostess Terry Daughtry says, “The tourists, the outsiders, changed the look of the restaurant. People were coming in specifically for the pie.”

What might a hungry traveler find on the pie menu? Fruit, nut, creme and meringue pies including apple, cherry, pecan, coconut, banana and lemon. For chocolate lovers, the Cafe offers fudge, chocolate and German chocolate. If you love peanut butter, Blue Bonnet has that, too.

Maura Dominguez
Maura Dominguez

Pie Happy Hour’s secret weapon is Maura Dominguez. She’s baked the Cafe’s pies for 18 years. Since the inception of Pie Happy Hour, Dominguez produces 75 to 100 pies daily and double that amount on weekends. The mother of five proudly discloses, “This is my first job, and I like it so much, it will be my only job.”

Dominguez makes the pies from scratch without the help of measuring utensils. Brent Klett, Blue Bonnet Cafe’s manager, says, “She does everything by touch.” Dominguez is also responsible for making donuts, biscuits and breads.

Small in stature with a shy smile, Dominguez easily manages the Cafe’s bakery. Her work day begins at 5 a.m. and ends between 2 to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Dominguez admits she doesn’t cook at home and allows family members to spoil her.

During Thanksgiving and Christmas, Dominguez stays busy making pre-ordered pies. In addition to the regular pie menu, Blue Bonnet Cafe offers a seasonal pumpkin pie. “Thanksgiving is our biggest, busiest time for pies. Typically we cut off all pre-sales on pies 4 to 5 days before Thanksgiving. We’ll have pie boxes stacked everywhere,” owner John Kemper says.

Blue Bonnet Cafe was built in 1929 on Main Street and moved to its present location on Hwy 281 in 1946. Kemper bought the establishment in

Blue Bonnet Cafe - Marble Falls, Texas
Blue Bonnet Cafe – Marble Falls, Texas

1981. About four years ago, Kemper and his wife, Brenda, brainstormed new ways to bring in customers during weekday afternoons.

“We thought, why not a Pie Happy Hour? It’s brought us a lot of attention, because I don’t know anybody else that has Pie Happy Hour,” Kemper explains.

Kemper recalls some funny pie stories. “I’ve seen lots of different people come in and they’ll order pie before their meal. I had one guy that ordered a whole coconut creme pie and sat there and ate the whole thing. That was his meal. He said, ‘Bring me a coconut creme pie.’ And he ate it right out of the pie shell.”

The Cafe’s success is due to Kemper’s fine-tuned people sense coupled with business savvy. “I enjoy my customers and my employees. The thing about [the Cafe] is we’re lucky that we have so much business, and that we’re always geared up for business. These waitresses and cooks, they’ll work six, eight hours straight. That’s pretty amazing. To this day, every day, I’m amazed at this place.”

Serving Pie Happy Hour
Serving Pie Happy Hour

Kemper adds, “It’s not a reflection of me, it’s a reflection of the employees. It’s very touching, because they work so hard.”

The good feelings and vibes are mutual. A waitress who wished to remain anonymous left a short, handwritten note, expressing that everyone who worked for Kemper felt the same way.

“John is a true hometown hero. He genuinely cares about all his employees, and the community as well. He has a heart as big as the history of Blue Bonnet.”

The next time the urge to eat pie hits or your sweet tooth calls, the Blue Bonnet Cafe awaits you. Instead of the typical Happy Hour, try some pie with good friends. Feeding customers and nurturing souls is what the Blue Bonnet Cafe excels at.

Takeaway

The Blue Bonnet Cafe is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Friday and Saturday (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and Sunday (6 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.). The Cafe is located at 211 Highway 281, Marble Falls, Texas 78654, with parking behind the establishment. Checks and cash (no credit cards) are accepted with an ATM on site for customers’ convenience. Pie Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the Cafe, visit www.bluebonnetcafe.net or call (830) 693-2344.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the Rapture Is Coming, Get Some Tonight At Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar

Mosca's Restaurant & Bar on Foodio54

Drive into Sunrise Beach Village, and you’ll see the main areas of commerce. Real estate offices, a general store, a small strip mall called The Corner, and the local eatery. Today, as I drove home from a quick shopping trip in a neighboring town, Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar caught my eye.

“The end is near. Get some tonight.”

Mosca's "Get Some Tonight"
Mosca’s “Get Some Tonight”

There’s a lot to like about Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar, but the sign never factored in. I dig the owners, and I’ve had some good foodie experiences with the restaurant. Coolest thing of all? They deliver. That’s just what a working writer needs when she’s hungry and doesn’t want to cook for herself and her daughter. Service with a smile, every darn time. Fresh, tasty sandwiches, soups, and groovy pasta. It really doesn’t get much better, or easier, when you’re looking for a bite while you write.

Perhaps Mosca’s is using their sign to lure locals in for a Rapture celebration. Maybe everyone in the restaurant will ascend together as they dine. Maybe Mosca’s just wants folks to get some of the menu in a pre-Memorial Day feast. Whatever the intention, I like Mosca’s style.

I’m not going into the whole Rapture debate. I will, however, be sucking down a Dos Equis seasoned with a squeeze of lime, sprinkled with sea salt, and a couple of jalapeno-stuffed olives dunked in, for good measure.

Overlooking Lake LBJ
Overlooking Lake LBJ

Get some tonight!

We hadn’t planned on bringing local Texas news to Big Grey Horse Media…well, not just yet. But with the Rapture snapping at our heels and the end of the world supposedly heralding in at 5 p.m. CDT this afternoon, this is the time to flavor the Horse with some Texas love.

And if the Rapture strikes in a few hours, you bet we will be rejoicing, Mosca’s style. Thanks for the shout-out, Mosca’s!

Visit Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar at 106 Sunrise Drive, Sunrise Beach, Texas 78643. Phone number: 325/388-4774. The owners don’t have a website or Twitter account (yet), but they have plenty of hospitality. During warm weather, customers fill the outdoor deck. Enjoy pure bliss as you dine under the Central Texas moon. (Maybe even the Rapture!)

Mosca's Restaurant & Bar Outdoor Deck
Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar Outdoor Deck

Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Enjoy Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.