Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breakfast -- 7/27/08

IHOP #3001
4109 S. Jack Kultgen Freeway
Waco, TX 76711



8:00- 8:45 AM

Ramona: Senior Sampler (1 pancake, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, ham), coffee, orange juice

Jim: Senior Rise 'N Shine (2 eggs sunny side up, hash browns, sausage patties), coffee, tomato juice

We had several errands to run and we wanted to beat the church crowd to IHOP and HEB, so this was perfect timing. We walked right in, sat down and ordered. Good breakfast, but one minor problem with the service. We were given a carafe of coffee that said "DECAF" on the lid, but we were told it was not decaf. Lots of room for errors there, so if you are in IHOP, double check the coffee. The server told us they were short on carafes without the decaf on the lid!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dinner -- 7/25/08

Texas Roadhouse
2815 LaSalle Ave
Waco, TX 76705



5:15 - 6:10 PM

Ramona: Texas Tea (2 -- woo-who!!), Caesar salad, 10 oz. Prime rib with creamy horseradish and au jus, loaded baked potato

Jim: Caesar salad, 12 oz. Prime rib with creamy horseradish, loaded baked sweet potato, iced tea

I couldn't believe we have not dined here since we began the blog. We used to eat here all the time, so this was a good time for a return visit.

We were happy to see that not much had changed. We arrived at exactly the right time, because we were seated immediately. By the time we left, there was a large crowd waiting for tables.

Let's start with the rolls and butter, these fresh, hot yeasty rolls are among the best in Waco. The cinnamon honey butter is also fantastic.

The meat was perfectly cooked and tender as anything anywhere. These steaks are not quite as good as 135 Prime, but then no one else's are either.

The salads were good, but I could swear they were smaller than last time. A lot of restaurants seem to be cutting costs by giving out smaller portions on sides. That is okay, much better for the notorious waist/waste problems America has!

However, one thing did not change, the horrible, screeching, country western music is way too loud. We could do without that. It won't stop us from eating there, but it does cut our meal short -- no dessert and no leisurely coffee or after dinner drink when we are done.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dinner -- 7/23/08

614 N. Valley Mills Rd.
Waco, TX 76710



5:50 - 6:30 PM

Ramona: Riblets platter with fries, cole slaw, iced tea

Jim: Sizzling fajitas, iced tea

I ordered the chicken fajitas, but I got the steak and chicken combo. The chicken was good, but the beef was really tough. We also asked for extra lemons for the tea (You've got to kill the taste of Waco water!), but we did not get any. We also didn't get any when the server refilled our glasses. Why is it servers think a single slice of lemon is enough for three large glasses of ice tea? Don't get me started on the seedy, thin slices we did get!

Ramona enjoyed her riblets, which she gets quite often, and they seemed tasty to me, but I wonder if they are worth the effort.


Lunch -- 7/20/08

Camille's Sidewalk Cafe
2804 West Loop 340
(at Central Texas Market Place)
Waco, TX 76711



12:45 - 1:40 PM

Ramona: Chicken salad on rye with tomato and lettuce, iced tea

Jim: Camille's club on rye (ham, turkey, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo), iced tea

With another hard afternoon ahead of us at the bookstore, we decided to fortify ourselves with some lunch. This was our first visit to Camille's in quite some time.

The sandwiches are thick and fresh, but I think Panera Bread has better bread. The marbled rye we had here was good and fresh, but Camille's doesn't have that crusty rye or the sourdough as options. In fact, we were only offered "white, wheat, or rye."

We are bread fanatics, so most people probably wouldn't notice. They also have a variety of wraps and salads.

One thing we both decided we did not like was the corn chips. These red, blue and white triangles were tasteless, and the sauce (which couldn't decide if it was salsa or marinara), did not help at all.

All in all a nice lunch, but next time we will skip the chips.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dinner -- 7/19/08

Cathay House
825 Wooded Acres
Waco, TX 76710


6:45 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, chicken with snow peas and water chestnuts, fried rice, iced tea

Jim: Egg drop soup, egg roll, chicken with snow peas, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots, steamed rice, iced tea

Another perfect little meal. We never mentioned the chips and sweet dip, but those chips are always fresh and the sauce is wonderful. My fortune cookie seemed a bit limp, but Ramona's was fresh and crisp. 4-7/8 stars this visit.

Ramona's fortune: "You will always be surrounded by true friends"

Jim's fortune: "Act with kindness. People return good will to the place that has done them well."


Dinner -- 7/18/08

Se Cocina
608 Austin Ave.
Waco, TX 76701


6:30 -7:45 PM

Jim & Ramona: Marisa's Platter (bean burrito, chicken enchilada, soft beef taco (requested substitution of crispy taco)

Shared: Paso Robles Cabernet (California) 2005, creme brulee/bread pudding & cinnamon chips with ice cream and strawberries

I am not a big fan of Tex-Mex, but there are certain things I like. This platter contains most of my favorites, and they were all very good. I am beginning to believe that there is only a limited amount of things a chef can do with beans, tortillas, chicken, beef, rice, and guacamole, so all these restaurants tend to be about the same. This particular version of these dishes was well-worth the reasonable price.

The desserts were wonderful. We can't complain about the wine this time. Se Cocina does not yet have a liquor license, so we had to bring our own. There was no corking fee.

I was pleased with the freshly-renovated decor, but Ramona thought it was incongruent with a Mexican restaurant.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dinner -- 7/14/08

Logan's Roadhouse
(at Central Texas Marketplace)
2806 West Loop 340
Waco, TX 76711



5:45 - 7:00 PM

Ramona: Pork chops, baked sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, grilled salmon, french fries, iced tea

Shared: Appetizer combo (Mozzarella sticks, wings, potato skins)

Logan's is always reliable, and instead of steaks, Ramona and I opted for something different. Both dishes were very good. No complaints. My fish was large and perfectly prepared. I wish the Caesar salad had been a little larger, but it was good at any size.

The parking lot was crowded, and we were afraid of a long wait, but only about 15 minutes went by and we were seated.


Dinner -- 7/13/08

. Mama Baris
904 N Valley Mills Dr
Waco, TX 76710

6:00 -6:50 PM

Ramona: Meatball parmigiana sub, iced tea

Jim: Chicken parmigiana with spaghetti, iced tea

Shared: Small Baris salad

As we revisit this local favorite restaurants, we try and sample something new. Ramona did an admirable job picking this good sized meatball sub. I have had it before, and we both love it.

The key ingredient here is the roll. These are as good as any I can get in Philly for steak sandwiches and hoagies.

I didn't do so well. I simply felt like one of my old favorites. Next time, I am going to try the "Philly cheese steak." But I will offer a stern warning now to all Waco restaurants that claim to offer this delicacy -- NO BELL PEPPERS! No self respecting "Faluffian" puts bell peppers on a cheese steak.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dinner -- 7/12/08

Lake Brazos Steakhouse
1620 N. Lake Brazos Parkway
(Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd)
Waco, TX 76704



6:15 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Fried catfish, fries, Cole slaw, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, Fried catfish, fries, iced tea

Shared: Shrimp cocktail

We had a slight family emergency -- neither of us felt like cooking after an exhaustive day going through the treasures which had all finally arrived from our trip to ALA in Anaheim. Then we were also forced to visit a couple of bookstores and add to our collection. So, there was no way we could cook.

This family restaurant on the Brazos River lacks atmosphere, but it more than makes up for the quality of the food. Bother our dinners were nicely cooked and presented. The portions were great, and so was the service.

The last time we visited, we mentioned the hush puppies, which we thought were seriously inferior. The management did not listen to us, and we got the same golf balls; however, this time we mentioned it to the server, and we were told they came frozen and had to be fried to death to cook them all the way through. Now come on! How hard can they be to make fresh? Some savings would have to be realized in shipping and electricity for a couple of hours of frying the frozen version. This little detail can improve an already fine meal.


Breakfast -- 7/12/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710



10:50 AM -- Noon

Ramona: OJ, French toast, sausage links, coffee

Jim: Tomato juice, French toast, sausage patties, latte

Despite our problem with my coffee last time, we can not stay away, especially on the anniversary of our 284th Saturday together. The breakfast was perfect, although Ramona thought her links were a bit undercooked. They were not pink inside, and she is still with us, so no harm, no foul.


Dinner -- 7/11/08

Elite Circle Grille
2132 S. Valley Hills Dr.
Waco, TX 76706



5:45 - 7:05 PM

Ramona: Tanqueray & tonic, Caesar salad, filet mignon, loaded baked potato, glass of Penfolds Koonumgo Hills Cabernet-Shiraz (Australia), Tootie buttermilk pie with strawberry sauce

Jim: Tanqueray & tonic, Caesar salad, 14 oz. rib eye, loaded baked potato, glass of Penfolds Koonumgo Hills Cabernet-Shiraz (Australia), Tootie buttermilk pie

Shared Appetizer sample (potato skins, wings, chicken tenders, fried mushrooms, onion rings) with three sauces (ranch, honey mustard, barbecue)

When I lived near Baylor back in the early '90s, I ate here frequently, then it closed for a couple of years, then new owners bought and renovated it. We ate here a couple of years ago when it first re-opened, and we were definitely not impressed. However, we have gone over our list of disappointments, and we have decided to give them all a second chance. This is the first in that series.

The appetizer sample plate was huge -- we couldn't finish it all, and every item was hot and tasty. I especially liked the fried mushrooms. We ended up bring some home, along with our pie, which made a great late-night snack. The pie slice was generous and tasty. I skipped the strawberry sauce, because I prefer to taste the actual pie by itself.

The beef is advertised as "Nolan Ryan Guaranteed Tender All-Natural," and that sounded promising. Promise kept! This was definitely better beef than last time. My rib eye was tender, but I thought there was a little too much pepper in the seasoning. It interfered with that first contact with the taste buds, but it did not entirely kill the taste. After the first couple of bites, I scraped some of that off, and I would consider it perfect.

The baked potatoes were also good.

Two minor sour notes: we were not offered bread, because the server assumed that since we had an appetizer, we would not want it. Wrong! Bread is key to any meal, and while it is probably a good thing for our waist lines we didn't have it, and we probably might have said no, maybe, it would have been nice to have been offered.

The second note of souricity concerned the wine. Once gain, my old complaint -- nothing at all from France. In fact, I thought the wine list was boring -- with only one or two exceptions. I chose the Penfolds, because we have had that before and liked it. It has a spicy flavor, but our mistake was getting a glass. I think this bottle may have been opened a day or two before and not properly re-corked. It seemed bitter to me and on the verge of going to vinegar. Neither of us finished the glass.

The bottom line is, we are taking this off our list of "no return." We will be back, albeit with a more careful wine selection -- and a weather eye out for that bread!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Dinner -- 7/9/08

Soup 'R Salad #3
5006 W. Waco Dr.
Waco, TX 76710

5:55 - 6:45 PM


Ramona: Beef noodle soup, baked potato, tuna skroodle, Asian salad, corn cake, strawberry shortcake, iced tea

Jim: Beef stroganoff, cobb salad, tuna skroodle, baked potato, fruit, fat-free frozen yogurt with Oreo crumbles, iced tea

Wow! Soup 'R Salad is now $4.99 on Wednesday nights. We might make this a bit more regular when we want to go out on hump day! The food here is really terrific -- lots of good fresh salads, and the soup is always great. The baked potatoes are hot and good toppings are available. I also like the fat free yogurt and the fresh fruit.

Service was a bit slow tonight, we had to ask for iced tea refills, but it was crowded because of the new price, so, I am sure they will get used to that.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dinner -- 7/7/08

Tomatoes Mexican and Italian Restaurant
704 N. Hewitt Drive
Hewitt, TX 76643


6:15 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Chicken Cachota (Chicken sauteed with artichokes, mushrooms, in a white wine sauce over angel hair pasta), cannoli, iced tea

Jim: Chicken Francaise (Egg-battered chicken with mushrooms, lemon butter and white wine sauce over spaghetti), black forest cheese cake, iced tea

First of all, let me say this new restaurant has only bee open about a month. They are planning a grand opening for some time in late July, so, by all means take advantage of that opportunity!

The food was absolutely delicious. It was all home made and cooked to order. The pasta was steaming, and we were given a spoon for twirling -- the sign of a real Italian restaurant in my book. The chicken in both our dishes was tasty, juicy, and a generous sized portion. The sauce was also great on both dishes.

The bread was wonderful. Again, home made and baked to order. The large rolls were steaming and had the best taste of any rolls we have eaten in Waco. Bread is key to my way of thinking. I used my second roll to sop up the sauce -- none of that was going to waste!

The cannoli was the best I had tasted since the last ones I had at the Italian Market in South Philadelphia. The cheese cake was good, but it could have benefited from just a tad more cherries in the mix.

One minor problem that sometimes occurs when a new restaurant opens, our server forgot the salad that the menu indicated came with the entree. Kim, the manager, apologized profusely, and admitted that sometimes there is confusion over the Mexican dishes (which come with salsa and chips) and the Italian dishes which come with a salad.

However, the wonderful food trumps that small gaff, and we will be going back again soon.


Lunch -- 7/6/08

Cotton Patch Cafe
5501 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710



11:30 AM - 12:45 PM

Ramona: Salmon Caesar salad, iced tea

Jim: Chicken tenders basket, french fries, iced tea

Cotton Patch is one of our favorite places, and this visit allowed us to see their new menu. The prices did not seem to have been raised much, if at all, and there were some new additions. We were planning on a big dinner at home, so we had a light lunch with some close family members.

If nothing else, Cotton Patch is consistent, and we only wish they would add a roast turkey, with filling, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. Then it would be perfect!


Dinner -- 7/4/08

McAlister's Deli
4551 W. Waco Dr.
Suite A
Waco, TX 76710



7:55 -8:40 PM

Jim & Ramona: Reuben sandwich, potato salad, iced tea

These sandwiches were good, but McAllister's does not have that real crusty, Jewish rye bread, which is difficult to find in this part of the country. However, there was another problem they could easily fix -- there was barely any sauerkraut on the sandwich. The corned beef was super lean and very tasty. We spoke to the manager, Israel, and he assured us this problem would be fixed.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Lunch -- 7/4/08

Long John Silvers #31293
1801 N. Valley Mills Drive
Waco, TX 76710



Ramona: Fish basket, (2 fish fries, hush puppies), diet Pepsi

Jim: Combo basket, (1 fish, 1 chicken, fries, hush puppies), iced tea

We were on our way to do food shopping, in a hurry, and needed something light for a late lunch. We are trying a new restaurant for dinner tonight, so we didn't want to eat too much for lunch. These lunch baskets are just right.

The food here is good, but it can not be good to make a habit of eating fast food.


Dinner -- 7/3/08

Chili's Grill & Bar
5804 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710



5:15 - 6:40 PM

Ramona: Top-shelf, giant, double margarita, Rack of ribs

Jim: Mushroom Swiss burger and fries, iced tea (some ribs).

Great place for a quick meal when we don't feel like cooking. I have not had an actual hamburger in ages, so I got one here. It was a good size, but not so big I could not hold and eat. Some burgers in this town are HUGE -- Chili's is the perfect size for me. I also helped Ramona with her ribs. The meet was tender and juicy, but Sticky Fingers in Charleston, SC has ruined me for anyone else's ribs. Ramona thought they were great. We will be going to Charleston in November, so we are looking forward to SF and two other restaurants there we like.

One problem this visit to Chili's. Twice I asked for mustard for my french fries. Yes, I know, it's weird, but I love mustard, and I love it on fries. Not a big deal, just a minor annoyance. We made a small deduction from the tip.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dinner -- 7/2/08

Best Asian Buffet
565 Westview Village Shopping Center
(Between Waco Drive and New Road on N. Valley Mills Dr.)
Waco, TX 76710


Ramona & Jim: Soup, Sushi, chicken, beef, shrimp, crab, veggies, egg roll, iced tea

This is definitely the best Chinese buffet in Waco. For a quick, tasty, filling dinner, they cannot be beat. Between the two of us, we have tasted almost everything on the buffet, and it is ALL good. There always seems to be something new, as well. This time it was "cheese crab" -- large chunks of crab meat with a delicate cheese sauce. The lobster rolls were excellent, as was the sushi.

Ramona's fortune: "You are entering a time of great promise and overdue rewards."

Jim's fortune: "Next full moon brings enchanting evening."


Dinner -- 7/1/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710



8:20- 9:10 PM

Ramona: Chicken tenders, fries, cole slaw, iced tea

Jim: Chicken tenders and fried shrimp, fries, carrots, broccoli rice casserole, iced tea

Landed safely in Waco after a very bumpy ride from DFW, and, as is our custom when we arrive late, we headed straight to Cheddar's for a late dinner.

There is not much we can add. This is the most consistently good restaurants in Waco in terms of quality of food and service. It was surprisingly crowded this late, but we were seated in about 10 minutes. Still near the top of our favorite restaurant.


Breakfast -- 7/1/08

Chaparral Restaurant
Holiday Inn and Suites
1240 S. Walnut St.
Anaheim, CA 92802



7:15 -- 7:45 AM

Ramona: OJ, Cheese omelet, English Muffin, coffee

Jim: OJ, eggs, sunny side up, sausage, home fries, English muffin, coffee

Last meal in Anaheim as we wait for the shuttle pick up to the airport. Even though this hotel was old (we think it may have been built at about the time of Disneyland itself), the food and the service in this small restaurant was great. I will have to wait until DFW for a Starbucks.

Off to the airport!