Tag Archives: Texas

A Delightful Lunch at the Kingsland Coffee Co. – Kingsland, Texas

Kingsland Coffe Co. in Kingsland, Texas
Kingsland Coffee Company on Foodio54

Kingsland Coffee Company on Urbanspoon

Getting your hair done is stressful. It works up a big appetite, so after our hair appointment last week, Afriel and I headed to the Kingsland Coffee Co. We had a wonderful lunch topped off by an ice cold smoothie and a steaming hot latte. My daughter and I had gorgeous hair, full bellies, and a big dose of satisfaction. Does it get any better than that?

Kingsland Coffee Co. was opened by Rick Gregory and Drew Gerencer. The duo still own the coffee shop although now they’re fortunate enough to have a manager and staff running the business. I remember the days when Drew and Rick were at the cafe 24/7. What I love about the guys is their ability to serve our community’s need for coffee. And good food. And great company.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

This coffee shop is like many others. It’s friendly, has wifi, and the invitation’s open to hang out all day. In less-than-desirable weather, you can sit inside and watch the traffic on Ranch Road 1431. When it’s nice outside, there’s a lovely deck sprawling around the front of the shop. And it’s complete with unique, handmade bird houses.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

We’ve stopped for a cup of coffee, but never have taken the time to eat a meal or lounge around. I wasn’t disappointed – this meal was a wonderful luxury. I can easily recall the days when I first went to Kingsland, Texas. That was oh-so long ago in the 1960s, and Kingsland didn’t have too much going on then. In recent years, I’ve felt that even neighboring Llano, Texas, had surpassed Kingsland in the realm of serving coffee addicts. Let’s face it, Fuel has it all going on. I’ve parked my laptop many times, over the years, at Fuel. It’s an amazing little coffee house, and way ahead of its time for an establishment in Llano.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

What do I love the most about Kingsland Coffee Co.? First and foremost, Drew and Rick. When I met the guys, I mentioned something about riding horses. The guys proceeded to tell me about a woman who rode her horse to Kingsland Coffee Co., tied him in the back, and came in for coffee. How cool is that? So that’s the first thing I love…nice, nice people in our wonderful lake community.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

Second thing I love is the food. This is a great sandwich shop! I had no idea how good the food was. Afriel and I will definitely go back for more lunches and desserts.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

With that said, here’s the scoop about our food and drinks.

I ordered half a turkey sandwich with mayo, provolone cheese, lettuce, and tomato on Jewish rye bread. My side was pasta salad, a pickle, and chips. Let me be the first to say this was a delicious sammie. It was made from fresh ingredients that were put together with love. The pasta salad is also made in-house, and it was good. Huge, square blocks of cheese with black olives and pasta shells. It tasted fresh, which is important to me when I’m eating pasta salad.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

I ordered a honey nut latte, but sadly, did not even start to drink it until we got home. It was very hot that day, and the drink was hot – too hot to even sip while we ate lunch at Kingsland Coffee Co. However, once I was able to dig in, the drink didn’t disappoint. Hazelnut, honey, and espresso. Perfect!

Afriel had half a chicken salad sandwich on white bread with lettuce, tomato, and Swiss cheese. What we loved about her sammie was the chicken salad was thoroughly ground up and mixed into creamy chicken oblivion. While I enjoy a chunky chicken salad with bites of apples, grapes, and nuts, the well-mixed chicken salad versions remind me of my childhood. To accompany her sammie, Afriel also had chips and a pickle. She washed down her meal with an ice cold strawberry smoothie.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

We took a piece of coffee cake home for dessert. Let me tell you, this piece of cake is really big! It is the perfect serving for two people, possibly three. Kingsland Coffee Co. definitely doesn’t scrimp on dessert.

Kingsland Coffee Co. in Kingsland, Texas

 

Takeaway:

Kingsland Coffee Co. is located at 1907 W. Ranch Road 1431, Kingsland, Texas 78639. The phone number is 325/270-0863. The hours of operation are Monday thru Friday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The cafe multitasks with drinks and food: You can get coffee, smoothies, frappes, teas, cocoa, espressos, cappuccinos, and more. Breakfast means pastries, which are served daily (and they look good!). Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. You can have a wonderful sandwich, cold or grilled, quiche, or a fresh salad. And if you’re in the market for coffee, Drew and Rick sell it by the pound and half pound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Food at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

Aranya Restaurant on Foodio54

Aranya Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I’ll be the first to say that Thai food and a gas station is not a combination that makes my appetite rumble. Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas, is the exception, however. In its early stages, there was no restaurant. You ordered Thai food from a small kitchen that was run out of a corner in the gas station’s store.

Recently, we were coming back from the barn Newspaper Taxi is boarded at. Being the hungry, horsey girls that we are, we decided on Thai take out from Aranya Restaurant. I ordered cheese rolls, garlic chicken, and sticky rice with Thai egg custard. I hadn’t had any breakfast that day and it was around noon that we picked up our order. The staff was extremely pleasant (as usual). It took great discipline to not ravish through the entire meal while I photographed our food.

The cheese rolls were savory and creamy with thin shavings of cooked carrot inside. I know the rolls are made with cream cheese, but I can’t place the other seasonings. The sweet and sour sauce that accompanied the rolls had just the right amount of kick at the end.

Cheese Rolls at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

One of the great things about the garlic chicken entree is the perfect portions of meat, vegetables, and rice. There is not too much or too little of the three. Even after the hour I had to wait before I could devour this dish, the meal was still perfectly warm. The chicken was tender and the sauce was savory with a light sweetness.

Garlic chicken with steamed rice at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

I can’t describe in words how amazing the Thai egg custard is. I don’t even understand how it’s humanly possible to get the egg so smooth. It’s a creamy puree that is buttery with brown sugar sweetness. The sticky rice is chewy and the white sauce is a salty, coconut milk mixture that balanced the sweetness from the egg. This is a must if you’re a salty/sweet lover.

Thai egg custard with sticky rice at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

I’ve always been pleased with the food we’ve received, whether dining in or taking out, at Aranya Restaurant. Burnet doesn’t not have much ethnic dining, and Aranya is a little gem in town. When you’re in the mood for more than fast food, Tex-Mex, or the regular country diner, then Aranya Restaurant is the place to go.

Laura’s Perspective

My lunch included a huge serving of Thai fried rice with chicken. The flavors of this dish are subtle, but it has undertones of sweet and smoky, making this a nice mixture. When I’m confused about which dish to choose at a Thai restaurant, I typically go for a fried rice. It’s hard to mess this dish up.

Thai fried rice at Aranya Restaurant in Burnet, Texas

I love the combination of chopped green onion, tomato slices laid around serving platter, chicken strips, white onion, and scrambled egg. Aranya does a good job of not skimping on the chicken pieces. Nor is the dish overwhelmed by large pieces of your meat choice. I hate eating fried rice with meat chunks so large the rice and veggies get lost.

My lunch special came with an egg roll. It was decent, and the crispiness lasted throughout our long ride home. I really dig the sweet and spicy sauce I shared with Afriel…it’s made for cheese rolls but sure tastes good with egg rolls.

Aranya’s Thai tea is divine and offers a nice jolt of caffeine. Typically, I polish off the Thai tea before I get home, but that’s okay. It’s a rare treat that I enjoy.

Takeaway:

I’ve liked and promoted Aranya Restaurant in Burnet since its inception. This is another small but growing business I hope everyone checks out. The customer service is superb and cannot be beat. From taking your order correctly to helping you take large to-go orders to your car, the staff is marvelous.

Aranya Restaurant is located at 1015 E. Polk St. (Hwy 29), Burnet, Texas, 78611. The phone number is 512/756-1927. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Texas Wine Lover Series: Skinny Dipping with Fiesta Winery

Do you skinny dip? I do!

Next time you take off your clothes for a naked, naughty swim, invite a bottle of Skinny Dipping from Fiesta Winery to be your guest of honor. You won’t be sorry.

This is a fruity, light, mildly sweet white wine. Those of you who aren’t keen on a true dessert wine will love Skinny Dipping. However, this gentle white wine would be excellent paired with a bowl of ice cream or jelly toast.

Skinny Dipping with Fiesta Winery

Skinny Dipping has great legs – something I expect from a good white wine. The aroma is light, just like the taste. The wine also has a tiny fizz when it’s first poured.

Skinny Dipping with Fiesta Winery

I discovered Fiesta Wintery through the wine consultant at our local HEB. Gotta love HEB…the Marble Falls store is really growing up and moving with the times. I asked the consultant for a local wine that’s not yet famous. Yet.

Skinny Dipping with Fiesta Winery
The joys of being a woman…and Skinny Dipping with Fiesta Winery.

Takeaway:

Fiesta Winery is family-owned and Texas proud. The vineyard is located at 18727 FM 580, Lometa, TX 76853, with two tasting rooms in Fredericksburg, Texas. You can reach Fiesta Winery at (325) 628-3433. The opening hours for the winery (in Lometa) are Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The price of this wine is affordable at $13.99 (I bought Skinny Dipping at the HEB in Marble Falls). There are other wines made by Fiesta Winery, and I intend to try them all. Look for more in Big Grey Horse Media’s Texas Wine Lover series soon!

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.

Cathay House in Waco, Texas: Good Chinese Food

Cathay House on Foodio54

Cathay House on Urbanspoon

The Cathay House in Waco, Texas, was quaint. If I hadn’t known it was a restaurant, I would have driven right past it. Just by looks alone, it would not be my first choice for an Asian dining experience, but we know not to judge a book by its cover. And overall, this book wasn’t too bad.

We started off with a friendly waitress who was very patient with our large group order. I ordered the cashew nut chicken which came with a choice of soup and either fried or steamed rice. I chose the egg drop soup and the steamed rice.

I’ve never been a soup fan. I’ve never been successful finishing a bowl of soup, even if I like it. There’s a first time for everything, however, because I ate every drop of Cathay House’s egg drop soup! It was eggy, brothy, and not overly salty. I felt the portion size was perfect for the accompanying meal. Some restaurants serve appetizers the size of an entree. This is ridiculous on many levels, and it’s a waste of food unless you’re sharing with someone else. Cathay House did a good job with portion control. The bowl of soup aroused my hunger instead of satiating it.

The cashew nut chicken came with broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and cashews in a brown sauce. The dish would have been perfect if it hadn’t been overrun with water chestnuts. This was disappointing because the amount of water chestnuts overwhelmed the dish. I felt Cathay House’s chef skimped on the chicken to save money. I can’t recall eating a water chestnut, so I’ll give Cathay House kudos for making this vegetable tasty and something I’d want to eat again. The brown sauce was perfectly seasoned and smooth. The rice was fluffy and not too sticky. Our server brought a large bowl of rice for our table of six, but it wasn’t enough. Thankfully my fellow diners were polite and rationed the rice. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been enough.

I try to not be biased when going to Chinese restaurants because I don’t have the greatest impression of them. Granted, the area I live in is just starting to become developed so there aren’t a lot of authentic Chinese restaurants around. My problem with most Chinese restaurants is the food tends to be greasy and salty, which seems to appease most American taste buds. I know this works for some people, but not for me. The only great Chinese food I ever had was when I was nine and Mom took the family to visit a friend in Houston. He took us to a great dim sum restaurant. That was only the true, authentic Chinese food I’ve ever had.

My overall rating of Cathay House is a bit mixed. I liked the service, the soup, and the brown sauce, but not the amount of water chestnuts compared to the rest of the vegetables and chicken. Another bowl of rice for our group would have been nice. I think the owners have a few things to improve, but they are not a bad Chinese restaurant. Maybe it wasn’t their best day and they were a little low on supplies (not a good excuse, but I understand the restaurant biz and it isn’t perfect). I would go back again just to see if the cashew nut chicken dish is a bit better. Next time we are in Waco, Big Grey Horse Media will definitely return for a follow up review.

Laura’s Perspective:

After the first show day of the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II, we (the Coraggio show team) huddled over our smartphones to determine which restaurant we should eat at. I was craving Chinese and suggested Cathay House. I’d never been there before, but the online reviews were strong. Why not give a new place a try?

I’m glad that we did. Cathay House in Waco was a good choice: The food was authentic, the staff was pleasant, and our large group of horsey girls was easily accommodated.

Being the noodle head that I am, I chose the vegetable lo mein with chicken rice soup and an egg roll. The serving was so large (typical at a Chinese restaurant), I took home several leftover servings to eat later. The lo mein was good – I was impressed with the flavor of the overall dish, which was riddled with plenty of fresh veggies to pick through with my chopsticks. It was hard to choose which dish to try as Cathay House’s menu is quite extensive. The egg roll was also good, and a separate order, as my meal only came with a bowl of soup. And speaking of soup, the chicken rice soup was the winner of this meal. The serving portion was perfect, the broth was delicious, and it was mixed with just enough rice to make the soup interesting. I’ve tried other chicken rice soups that tasted like they were made from a seasoning packet. I’ve also had chicken rice soup that was overflowing with rice, which misses the point of this dish. The chicken pieces in the soup were utterly delish, in case you’re wondering.

It’s a shame I was tired and overheated from a day’s worth of showing my horse, seeing old horsey friends, and supporting my equestrian team. I was way too exhausted to explore my egg roll at Cathay House, which means I missed the opportunity to eat it fresh. There’s nothing better than a piping hot egg roll smothered with hot mustard sauce.

Takeaway

Cathay House is located at 825 Wooded Acres Drive in Waco, Texas 76710-4545. The phone number is 254/776-1072. The staff was wonderful at dividing up our group’s order and I paid with my credit card.

La Quinta Inn & Suites Woodway in Waco, Texas

We enjoy a good hotel room when we’re on the road. I’m not too picky about accommodations because when I’m traveling, I spend little time in my hotel room. What I need is a place to lay my head after a long day. This post is a shout-out to the La Quinta Inn & Suites Woodway in Waco, Texas.

We were turned on to La Quinta Inn & Suites by my trainer, Paige Erwin. She stays at La Quinta Inn & Suites exclusively when she’s horse showing. Her reason? The hotels are nice to stay at and they allow dogs (Paige has three furry kids).

The La Quinta Inn & Suites Woodway in Waco is amazing. We came in around lunchtime on a Tuesday to check in. Because there were no rooms clean that I had reserved, we were upgraded to a small suite. I already got the horse show rate for the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II, so this was a deal.

What do I love most about La Quinta Inn & Suites? The hotels are clean, you can pick up fresh fruit, coffee, and yogurt in the morning – complimentary – before heading to the show grounds, and the staff I’ve encountered (Houston and Waco) are professional and helpful. My little dog is always welcome, I make reservations either online or via the phone (to ensure I get the horse show rate), and the rooms are nice. We love the microwave and mini-refrigerator in each room – it’s a must for busy travelers.

Call me a geeky girl, but I dig the “Wake Up on the Bright Side” shower curtains. And the super comfy beds. It really doesn’t get much better than that!

Dinner at On the Border in Waco, Texas

On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina on Foodio54

On The Border on Urbanspoon

Horse shows are fun because you have the chance to eat out and catch up with horsey friends. At the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II, our first night out we chose to eat at On The Border in Waco, Texas.

We started off with some chips and salsa and ordered guacamole as an appetizer. The guacamole tasted fresh with good spices. It was mild enough for anyone to eat.

I ordered the hand-rolled enchiladas suizas. The dish came with three chicken enchiladas topped with a tomatillo cream sauce, with rice and refried beans on the side. The meal was prepared well and had good seasoning. The shining star in this dish was the tomatillo cream sauce. It was tangy, light, and creamy. The cream helped the sauce stay smooth and added another flavor dimension.

We took the Border brownie sundae to go. It came with a walnut brownie, vanilla ice cream, and two containers of chocolate and cinnamon sauces. It was very decadent. The brownie was moist on the inside with a little crinkly crust on top. Both my mother and I enjoyed the cinnamon sauce. I’ve never had a cinnamon ice cream sauce before and will definitely be making one the next time I’m in a mood for a cool, summer treat.

While I’m not a fan of chain restaurants, On the Border is one I would visit again.

Laura’s Perspective:

I’ve eaten at On the Border before, but not in Waco. I’m not a fan of chain restaurants, but it never hurts to try. I was pleasantly surprised by On the Border. The restaurant was clean, well organized, and packed with patrons. Our server rocked – he was prompt, courteous, and friendly.

My entree was the street-style mini tacos. I chose roasted pork, but you can have chicken or fajita steak. I’ve grown very fond of these little bites of goodness and am eager to try street tacos wherever I go for Mexican food. Honestly, this dish was too much for me to eat after a day of schooling at the show. Granted, these tacos are small and there were only three, but it was too much for one meal. I took the sides (rice, beans, avocado slices, pico de gallo, and red chili tomatillo salsa) and two street tacos back to the hotel.

Utilize the lime and extras when you eat street tacos. This type of taco typically comes in a corn tortilla and is served open-faced. Squeeze the lime over the tacos and be generous. The freshness of the lime coupled with savory meat is to die for! If you have a special salsa served with the tacos, use it. The chefs know what they’re doing when the elements of these meals are paired together.

Mentioning the fresh tortillas is necessary. If you’ve read our blog for any length of time, you know how we adore fresh, homemade, hand pressed tortillas. On the Border does not disappoint.

I shared the guacamole with Afriel and it was delightful. Way too much to eat in one sitting, but my hungry daughter had no problem polishing it off. The brownie dessert was enjoyed – very much – in our hotel suite later that night.

Takeaway

On the Border is located at 4320 W. Waco Drive, Waco, TX 76710. The phone number is (254) 227-5040. Prices are reasonable and credit cards are accepted. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II in Waco, Texas

Ribbon Summer Festival II.
Double Jeopardy and Laura Townshend, the 2’6″ Hunter Classic winners, with trainer Paige Erwin.

The life of showing horses can’t be summed up in one word. At least not from my perspective. We recently attended the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II in Waco, Texas. I can put this particular show into three words: It was  GREAT!

David Morse, of Morse & Associates, is the mastermind behind the Blue Ribbon Show Series. The Blue Ribbon Summer Festival is held annually in June. The only downside of this circuit is the terrible Texas heat. The upside? This is the last USEF AA-rated and THJA A-rated show until September. You betcha riders and horses line up to be part of the action. This year’s shows served exhibitors from as far away as Florida.

I must give a personal shout-out to David Morse. When I originally sent in my entry forms, my daughter and I were both planning to show and we were each taking a horse. Within days of submitting our entries, we had my daughter’s show hunter seen by Cliff Honnas, DVM, of Texas Equine Hospital. Our beloved Newspaper Taxi was diagnosed with spinal issues, received back injections, and is awaiting surgery. I emailed David Morse to pull our horse from the show, and David made the process so simple. When we actually arrived at the show and checked in with the show management office, Newspaper Taxi’s entry form had been pulled by David. There was no need for me to present Dr. Honnas’ documentation or explain why our other horse wasn’t there. David, you rock! Thanks!

This was my first rated show with the horse I’m leasing, Double Jeopardy (Monte). He’s an eighteen year old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred cross, and an adult hunter champion. He’s owned by Caren Luckie and trained by Pam Hunt of Hunt Farm. Thanks for allowing me to love, ride, and show your amazing horse!

Double Jeopardy and Laura Townshend at the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II 2013.

I’ve mentioned before that it takes a village to prepare a horse. I want to thank Jaime Zavala, professional show groom, for taking such good care of Monte while we were on the road. Without Jaime’s special care, we would not have achieved the success we found at this show. My daughter, Afriel, was instrumental in keeping me cool and calm between classes. Thanks for all the bottled water and wet towels!

Robin Burgess of Sunset Cliff Farms was also nice enough to give me tips about the ring we rode in. As we were schooling in the early morning on Tuesday, she rode up, said hello and told me the outside lines were a long five. Thanks, Robin!

We had a super show. Great food all week long (we will be posting our reviews shortly) and it was so good to see all my horsey friends.

These videos are Monte and me riding the 2’6″ Hunter Classic rounds. And, of course, our victory gallop!

Authentic Mexican Food at El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas

El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas
El Charro Restaurant on Foodio54

El Charro Restaurant on Urbanspoon
After the disastrous trip to Tamale King, a quick bite at El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas, assured me that good enchiladas are still out there. Every time my mom and I drove by, the restaurant was packed. That’s always a good indication – if the locals love it, I’ll most likely love it, too. And boy, did I!

I ordered the #13 enchiladas de pollo. When my plate arrived, I want to skip over everything else and get to the chicken inside of the enchiladas. It was like heaven in my mouth. I never wanted those enchiladas to end. They were so good, wrapped with freshly made tortillas and smothered in a delicious red sauce. The chicken had been slow cooked for hours and then pulled apart. The meat was so tender and juicy it practically melted in my mouth. The flavor blew the dish out of the ball park!

I want to swim in a pool filled with El Charro’s chicken.

The rice was an authentic, Mexican rice. I’ve found that many Mexican restaurants (whether authentic or Tex-Mex) seem to lack in the rice department. I’ve solved the flavor problem by mixing the rice and refried beans together.  I really liked the rice, however, and for the first time,  I didn’t mix my rice and beans. El Charro’s rice has cubed carrots and a good blend of spices. The beans were great, too. They had a smooth texture and tasted like they were cooked all day long.

Laura’s Perspective:

El Charro Restaurant is unpretentious. Walking in, we weren’t sure if we should seat ourselves or wait for a hostess. There is a menu above the front counter, which I assume is for people placing orders to go or picking up breakfast. This was a bit confusing, but it was only a minor annoyance.

El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas.

I hankered for tacos, a new food I’m exploring. I ordered three tacos: chicharron (pork skin), aguacate (avocado), and pastor (seasoned pork). My plate arrived, steaming hot and smelling divine. Check out the cheese overflowing onto the tortillas.

Tacos at El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas.

What I loved about this dish were the fixings: chopped cilantro, chopped white onion, and lime wedges.

El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas.

I got busy adding the cilantro and onion to my tacos. For the finale, I squeezed the lime over the tortillas. Filled with goodies, these tacos are ready for consumption. Yum!

El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas.

Each of the tacos were tasty. The meat was tender and cooked with great care, and the aguacate was fresh and firm. I especially liked the chicharron taco. I am growing super fond of this meat!

Gotta rave about the salsa and chips while I’m on a roll. Served gratis with your meal, the salsa is spicy and one of the best I’ve had. The chips were warm and lightly salted, which is a very nice touch.

El Charro Restaurant in Johnson City, Texas.

Don’t miss the chicken running around outside in the parking lot. I’m not sure who he belongs to, but he’s cute. Reminded me of our visit to Luckenbach.

Rooster in El Charro Restaurant's parking lot, Johnson City, Texas.

Takeaway

El Charro Restaurant’s menu indicates three locations. We visited 502 S. U.S. 281, Johnson City, Texas 78636. Their phone number is 830/868-7040. Hours of operation are Monday thru Thursday, 6:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., and Sunday 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. The atmosphere is very casual and caters to the locals. When we visited, after school teenagers dropped by to hang out and grab a snack. Every time we’ve passed El Charro en route to San Antonio, the restaurant was busy, no matter the time of day or evening. Orders can be placed to go, and breakfast specials are available – just ask!

Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas

Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas
The famous Tamale King Restaurant “crown” in Buchanan Dam, Texas.

Tamale King Restaurant on Foodio54

Tamale King on Urbanspoon

 As a self-proclaimed enchilada queen,  I’ve had some pretty darn good Mexican food, from authentic to Tex-Mex. When I open a restaurant’s menu, the first place I read is the enchilada section. I’m always in the mood for a good enchilada! When my family invited me to lunch at Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas, I was pumped.

Since I was a little girl, my family has eaten at Tamale King. Heck, we were going there before it was a restaurant. I remember my mother buying tamales for Christmas when Gina Chittim was selling homemade tamales out of a roadside stand. If my family and I wanted good tamales, that was where we went. We were ecstatic when the Chittims expanded and opened the restaurant.

My tamale obsession faded when I discovered the array of Tamale King enchiladas. Every visit I’ve made to the restaurant was a tasty experience.

Keeping my past foodie experiences in mind, I was thrilled when my family treated me to lunch as congratulations for being accepted to college. We were promptly seated and served by a pleasant waiter. Throughout the visit, he was attentive and courteous, serving our drinks and food in a timely manner. He definitely got five stars for his performance.

I ordered the New Mexico enchiladas with chicken and yellow cheese. The food looked delicious when it was delivered. However, I was disappointed that, after cutting the enchiladas into bite size pieces, the chicken chunks were so small that they fell out of the tortilla. While inconvenient, I could live with chasing chicken around my plate. What I couldn’t live with was the chicken tasted like I had licked a dirty, charred grill. It was disgusting! I rarely say that about food. I’m a pretty easy person to please, but this was awful. If that had been my first visit to the restaurant, I would never go back. Having been there before and getting good food that was enjoyable,  I really don’t want to go back. The rice and beans that accompanied the enchiladas were, as usual, very good.

New Mexico Enchilada Plate at Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
New Mexico enchilada plate with chicken and yellow cheese accompanied by rice and beans.
Inside view of the New Mexico enchiladas at Tamale King in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
Inside view of the New Mexico chicken enchiladas.
Charred piece of New Mexico chicken enchilada at Tamale King in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
A charred piece of chicken.

We also ordered Cole’s Carne Queso Flameado. It was cheesey-gooey goodness when it arrived, but as it cooled, the dish became a giant clump that was impossible to eat.

Cole’s Carne Queso Flameado at Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
Freshly delivered Cole’s Carne Queso Flameado. Looks good, right?
Cole’s Carne Queso Flameado at Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
Not so good about five minutes later. There’s no way to eat this mess.

Laura’s Perspective:

For me, Tamale King has always embodied tasty and convenient Tex-Mex food. I’ve met friends at the restaurant for a simple bite or to celebrate a special occasion. It’s also a nice local date spot or quick stop for lunch. There aren’t many restaurants in the Sunrise Beach-Kingsland-Buchanan Dam area, which is about a 20 mile radius for me. This visit I ordered the Hungry Chittim Boys’ tilapia tacos and was pleased.

Hungry Chittim Boys' Tilapia Tacos at Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
Hungry Chittim Boys’ Tilapia Tacos with guacamole, salad, rice, and beans.

This dish comes with a small side of guacamole, a tiny salad, rice, and beans. I have no complaints about the food as it was exactly what I expected. I am highly disappointed with the queso, though. I love me a good queso but who can eat cheese that’s stuck to a spoon?

The complimentary salsa and chips were as expected at an average Tex-Mex restaurant. The flour tortillas, however, were excellent.

Salsa and chips at Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
Complimentary chips and red salsa.
Homemade flour tortillas at Tamale King Restaurant in Buchanan Dam, Texas.
Homemade flour tortillas that are to-die-for-delicious.

I don’t know if I will frequent Tamale King Restaurant in the future. Honestly, I prefer interior Mexican food. My taste for Tex-Mex has dwindled over the years, and I admit that what we consumed at Tamale King didn’t help. If someone else offered to pick up the bill, I’d give the restaurant another chance. On my own? Highly doubtful.

On a positive note, the service was nothing short of amazing. Our waiter was funny, knowledgeable, friendly, and prompt.

Takeaway

If you enjoy Tex-Mex food and live in the Highland Lakes area, Tamale King Restaurant is convenient. Gina Chittim and her family are wonderful folks who’ve worked hard to establish this business. The food is decent – before this review, I’d never had a poor dining experience. The restaurant is popular with the locals. Tamale King serves more than your belly: This restaurant is about friends, family, and community.

Tamale King is located at 15405 E. Hwy 29, Buchanan Dam, Texas, 78611. The phone number is (512) 793-2677. Follow their Facebook fan page here.