Tag Archives: Restaurant

Chili’s in Waco, Texas: Unremarkable & Forgettable

Chili's Bar and Grill on Foodio54

Chili's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

We’ve talked about it – neither my mother, nor I, prefer chain restaurants. Visiting Chili’s in Waco, Texas, is an example of why we feel this way. It’s not that the food is bad, it’s that the company managing the restaurants creates dishes flavored for the American norm (or what is considered to be normal). My mother and I have ventured to the Chili’s in Marble Falls over the years for birthday parties and family outings, and we always knew what to expect. Our meals were nothing special, just plain, old, chain food. I expected to have a similar experience at the Chili’s in Waco, and was extremely disappointed.

I ordered the Monterey Chicken®, a blackberry limeade, and cheesecake. The blackberry limeade was absolutely delicious! Chili’s was smart to create a drink using a berry other than the usual strawberry or cherry. The blackberry added a depth to the drink that neither a strawberry nor cherry could create. Having worked at Sonic my senior year in high school, I made many different drinks. Chili’s limeade blows all the others out of the water! My experience at Sonic allowed me to create just about any Sprite-based drink I desire, and the blackberry limeade is one I will make at home.

The Monterey Chicken® came with a side of broccoli and mashed potatoes. When the waitress asked if I was sure that I wanted to keep those sides I should have taken the hint. It was a big mistake to not listen. The broccoli was cold and the mashed potatoes were dry. I could tell both sides had been sitting out for a while.

The Monterey Chicken®  isn’t what I would normally order, but I wasn’t in the mood for something fried. The chicken wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. It had a sweet, tangy barbeque sauce underneath the Monterey cheese with freshly chopped chives on top. Decent, but not memorable.

The big problem with my food was the inedible sides, which became colder and dryer in a matter of minutes after my entree arrived. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t like to eat cold food. Next time I’ll listen when the waitress gives me a cue. I never thought I’d think this about the Chili’s in Marble Falls, but they do a much better job than the Waco location.

Since I make cheesecake, it’s hard to judge others because there’s nothing like diving into a freshly baked cheesecake. However, Chili’s cheesecake was good. It came with a little container of strawberry sauce for drizzling, and I enjoyed eating the dessert later in my hotel room.

My overall impression of this Chili’s is not good. The fact that my food came cold and dry is extremely unappetizing. The highlight was the blackberry limeade. That said, I will not be visiting Chili’s in the future.

Laura’s Perspective

I’ll be upfront with my feelings: I don’t have brand loyalty to Chili’s, and I only visit the restaurant because someone else wants to go. The Chili’s in Marble Falls is one of the few restaurants in the area that our entire family can eat at without complaining. For many years, Chili’s was one of my mom’s favorite restaurants.

It’s not that Chili’s is bad – it’s that Chili’s is the same, time after time. The seasonings that are used can be found in just about every menu item the restaurant has, and it’s tiresome. However, I’ve become aware of what I can stomach when I eat at Chili’s. A trusty favorite has been the shrimp Alfredo dish. How can anyone mess it up?

Chili’s in Waco did an excellent job of crapping all over this dish. When my order arrived, I was already done with my tall glass of what tasted like sewer water over ice. Having choked one sip down, I looked at the plate of Alfredo in front of me. The first thing that caught my attention was the shrimp: It smelled old. The second attention-grabber was the appearance of the Alfredo sauce. It looked like something out of a packet – thick, dark, and curdled.

Needless to say, I didn’t eat much of the meal. It was disappointing and an experience I will not repeat. However, the company of my horsey friends and wonderful daughter made up for the disaster on my plate.

I’ve read online reviews of the restaurant being dirty, and I can confirm that. Everything – from the menus to the tables to the floor to the chairs – needs a thorough scrubbing. This was one of the most unpleasant dining experiences I’ve ever had.

Avoid the Chili’s in Waco, Texas. Enough said.

Takeaway:

Chili’s is located at 5804 Bosque Blvd in Waco, Texas 76710. The phone number is (254) 776-8330. Major credit cards are accepted. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 10:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and Sunday, 10:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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.

 

 

 

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.