Sunday, August 24, 2008

Breakfast -- 8/24/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710


9:00 - 9:50AM

Ramona: Cafe Scramble (eggs, sausage, cheese, hash browns), English muffin, orange juice, coffee
Jim: Cassies (egg-white omelet w/ ham, cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes), rye toast, V8, latte

Back to one of our weekend favorites for breakfast. I was in the mood for sausage and chose the cafe scramble which I've had before. It's the perfect mix of sausage, eggs, cheese and hash browns all scrambled up, as the name implies. Jim went for something different -- the ham and cheese omelet made with egg whites and smothered in cheese. We both were satisfied with our choices.


Dinner -- 08/23/08

1115 N. Valley Mills Rd.
Waco, TX 76710

6:00 - 6:50 p.m.

Ramona: Chicken burrito with all the fixings, diet coke

Jim: Chicken burrito with all the fixings, iced tea

This was our first visit to this restaurant that recently opened in Waco, though I had visited one elsewhere. The crowd has died down a little, but it was still very busy. A small restaurant with little sitting room leads one to eat quickly and get out so others waiting for a table can get a seat. This is probably a restaurant best suited for lunch for this reason.

Chipotle prides itself on using meats from animals that are raised naturally, without hormones or antibiotics and are fed a vegetarian diet. It's a simple menu: burritos, bowl, soft tacos, crispy tacos, or salad. You just tell them which meat you want (chicken, steak, carnitas, barbacoa -- or make it vegetarian) and which fixings to include (4 kinds of salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, pinto or black beans, cilantro-lime rice). You follow along the brief line as their staff load it up to your liking. Chips and salsa or guacamole are extras if you wish. We were filled up by the chicken burritos alone.

Are we seeing a new trend in the McKeown household? Jim is starting to enjoy Mexican food, which is just fine with me!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dinner -- 8/22/08

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


6:15 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, Chicken Madonia (chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, ziti), cannoli, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, Chicken parmigiana with spaghetti, cannoli, iced tea

Shared: Shrimp cocktail

Our second visit to this fine, new restaurant. Every table was filled, and quickly refilled as people left. The manager Kim reported that business has been brisk with about equal orders for the Italian and Mexican dishes.

Jim's chicken parmigiana was unusual. The chicken was very lightly breaded, and the thin sauce was tasty. The peppers and onions mixed in gave the dish a pleasing appearance and a most delightful taste. Ramona's dish was also tasty, and so large, she ended up bringing half of it home.

The shrimp cocktail featured four large shrimp and several cut up and mixed in with the sauce in the Mexican style. Chunks of tomato, avocado, onions, peppers, and cilantro made this an unusual and excellent appetizer.

As on our first visit, the bread was warm and wonderful! We both agreed this was among the best examples of bread in Waco. The cannolis were also excellent - the cheese filling was thick and very tasty. Ramona's only complaint was the chocolate syrup dribbled over the top -- it was obviously not homemade -- but Jim says that is minor since the important thing about the cannoli is the pastry itself and the cheese filling. No complaints on that !

We both agreed that another weak spot was the salad. Their version of Caesar salad is less than ordinary. Iceberg lettuce, a thin slice of tomato (that has no business in a Caesar salad!), and a tasteless dressing were disappointing. We would like to elevate Tomatoes to our list of bests, but this important element of the meal needs to be addressed before we can do that!

-Jim and Ramona

Lunch -- 8/22/08

Bangkok Royal Restaurant
215 S. University Parks Dr.
Waco, TX 76701


12:15 -1:15 PM

Ramona: egg roll, miso soup, Bangkok Noodle (pork with stir-fried thin rice noodles, egg, onion, carrots, snow peas, cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, with house jasmine rice), iced tea
Jim: egg roll, miso soup, Pad Thai (chicken, with stir fried rice noodles, sweet and tangy sauce, egg, tofu, bean sprouts, ground peanuts), Thai iced tea

This was the latest in a long line of visits to Bangkok Royal dating back to its location on the Baylor Campus. We have elevated this to the list of our favorite restaurants in Waco.

The food is delicious, well-presented, and plentiful. We have had most of the dishes on the menu, and we have never had a less than perfect meal here. It seems to get more crowded on every visit, so Waco has discovered this fine restaurant.


Dinner -- 8/21/08

D's Mediteranean Grill
1503 Colcord Ave
Waco, TX 76707


5:30 - 6:20 PM

Ramona: Gyro schawarma plate, rice, stuffed grape leaves, yoghurt and cucumber salad, iced tea

Jim: Katya plate (lamb kabob with onions and peppers), wild rice, Lebanese salad (tomatoes and cucumbers), stuffed grape leaves, iced tea

Another Waco eatery we do not visit often enough. The food again was perfect -- tasty, wonderfully seasoned, made to order, and plentiful. The stuffed grape leaves are especially good. Ramona usually gets this same plate, but I am still sampling a wide variety of dishes.

Now open for dinner until 8:00 PM, D's is a good a slow, relaxed, aroma-filled restaurant with outstanding food at the end. We passed up the delicious baklava because we were so satisfied with the meal. Next time!

Don't miss D's for lunch or dinner!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dinner -- 8/18/08

Carino's Italian Grill
1411 N. Valley Mills Dr
Waco, TX 76710


5:35 - 6:40 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, Bowtie Festival, Italian chocolate cake with chocolate sauce, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, chicken Gorgonzola penne pasta, amaretto cherry cheese cake, iced tea

We are always nervous about eating at Carino's, because they have been uneven in the past, but this dinner was very good. Ramona had enough left over for lunch on Tuesday.

We took advantage of the "two can dine for $19.99" and both dishes were excellent.

Bread, which is always key, is especially good here. The dish with baked garlic, oregano, and olive oil for dipping is also a nice treat.

The dinner included two mini-desserts and they were enough for us. Mine was a 1-1/2 inch square piece of cheese cake with two cherries soaked in Amaretto. Ramona's was about the same size.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Dinner -- 8/17/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


4:00- 5:15 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad and croissant, 8 oz. steak, loaded baked potato, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad and croissant, 11 oz. steak, loaded baked potato, iced tea

Sunday night, away for the weekend, traveling all day, so this must be Cheddar's. We have decided to make this a tradition. When we are traveling, the first place we stop in Waco is Cheddar's.

We both felt like steaks, so this was a perfect meal. The only problem was a hovering waitress. She kept asking us if we wanted anything, and our iced tea glasses were right there, in full view, needing refilling! She lost some of her tip for that.

That did not detract from the meal however, the steaks were exactly as we requested -- medium rare, and the salads were delicious. The baked potatoes were a bit small, but good nonetheless.

As soon as we get all the servers at Cheddar's trained, it will be a perfect dining experience.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dinner -- 8/16/08

Los Comales
431 Hwy 35 South
Rockport, TX 78382


8:15 - 10:00 PM

Ramona: Gin & tonic, frozen margarita (2!), Mexican platter (beef chalupa, 2 chicken enchiladas, rice, refried beans, pico, and guacomole.

Jim: Gin & tonic, steamed snapper in a foil bag with mushrooms, onions, peppers, shrimp in spices, white wine, and garlic, rice, steamed vegtables, salsa, pico de gallo, warm flour tortillas, iced tea with lime.

Shared: warm chips with salsa a guacamole sauce, shrimp cocktail

This was a fabulous meal to top off the weekend. Ramona and I both agreed this was the best Mexican food we have ever had. These authentic dishes far outshine the tex-mex versions we get in Waco.

My steamed snapper was fresh and absolutely delicious with a completely unique taste. I could barely finish the platter. The rice was not the yellow stuff we are used to, but this was a tasty and fluffy version of this important side.

Ramona's platter was also of generous portions, and also with a unique taste.

The shrimp cocktail was loaded with shrimp, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and peppers.

Sorry, Waco, but all Mexican food there will now have to be compared to Los Camales. A five star dinner, and definitely a must stop location for any trip to this area.


Lunch -- 8/16/08

Virginia's on the Bay
815 Trout Street
Port Aransas, TX 78737


1:30 -- 2:30 PM

Ramona: New England style clam chowder, Shrimp Louie salad, frozen strawberry daiquiri

Jim: New England style clam chowder, fried fish platter, french fries, iced tea with lime

Another terrific meal on this little weekend getaway to the Texas Gulf coast. We were guests of friends were visiting, so this was a nice treat.

The soup was thick, hot, and not overly spiced -- exactly the way i like it. I got the children's fried fish platter, and it was plenty for me.

Ramona's salad was impressively displayed. With lots of shrimp, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, scallions, and lettuce, she could not finish it. She also felt the salad dressing was something special.

Our waitress was not as attentive as she could have been. We had to ask several times for extra limes and drink refills.

Overall, a good experience right on the Gulf, with a nice breeze blowing through on a humid afternoon.


Dinner -- 8/15/08

Crab N
210 Gulfgate Blvd.
Aransas Pass, TX 783


6:00 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Tanqueray & tonic, salad, Crab and Shrimp Bisque, Fried Seafood Platter (crab cake, shrimp, oysters, fish) long grain wild rice with pecans

Jim: Tanqueray & tonic, salad, Crab and Shrimp Bisque, Grilled mahi-mahi with shrimp in a cream butter sauce, baked potato with butter and sour cream, iced tea

Shared: New York style cheesecake with strawberries

A terrific dinner! The star of the meal was the shrimp and crab bisque. Ramona's platter was huge, and we had to help her get close to finishing it.

My mahi-mahi was perfect. There was a generous portion of shrimp and fish was perfectly broiled. The dessert was enormous, and it took four of us to finish that. A truly great meal.


Lunch -- 8/15/08

Floyd's Ranch House
2144 Hwy 381
Ingleside, TX 78362


1:05 - 1:40 PM

Ramona: Chicken fried chicken, fried okra, mashed potatoes, iced tea with lime

Jim: Chicken fried chicken, french fries, pickled beets, iced tea with lime

Chicken fried chicken is one of my favorite dishes, but this was not even close to the quality of the dish at Cotton Patch in Waco. The size of the meat was smaller, the oil it was fried in desperately needed changing, and it was my turn to get a hair on my beets.

The waiter was not at all attentive -- we never did get a refill on iced tea -- so this was pretty unsatisfactory. We were hungry and it was a random choice, but we can't win them all.


Breakfast -- 8/15/08

Restaurant La Fe
401 A Lake Air Drive
Waco, TX 76710


8:15 - 8:55 AM

Ramona: OJ, scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, coffee

Jim: Breakfast burrito (egg, cheese, potato, sausage), coffee

We are sorry to say this new restaurant (open about six weeks) has a long way to go. My burrito was good, but the OJ was served in a plastic bottle, and the coffee was simply okay.

Ramona's meal, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. The bacon was crumbled, the pancakes were burned around the edges, the scrambled eggs were flat -- even salt and pepper did not help -- and, to top things off, there was a hair on her pancake. They also provided creamer in powdered packets.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dinner -- 8/13/08

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

5:50 - 6:35 PM

Ramona: Vegetable lentil, baked potato, tuna skroodle, Tropical Mango Berry salad, corn cake, strawberry shortcake, cheese drop biscuit, iced tea

Jim: Pasta e fagioli, salad, tuna skroodle, mustard potato salad, baked potato, ginger bread, fruit, iced tea

This was Soup 'R Salad, so it must be Wednesday. Great buffet, but I continue to wonder how they can serve so many, so much, for such a low price. Within a few minutes of our arrival, the place filled up, so 6:00 PM must be the magic hour.

There was a smaller selection of fruit and soup this time, but my pasta e fagioli was great.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Breakfast -- 8/9/08

Kim's Diner
2600 W. Waco Dr.
Waco, TX 76710


9:15 - 10:00 AM

Ramona: OJ, ham and cheese omelet, grits, pancake, coffee

Jim: tomato juice, egg, cheese, potato, and sausage burrito, coffee

The food was ordinary, the coffee was weak and tasteless, no equal, powdered creamer in a bowl at the table, ordering at a counter then self-seating, no receipt, and no atmosphere.

The sign advertises "since 1956," but we are not sure how. Maybe we are spoiled by the diners all over Philadelphia, which are famous for their breakfasts. Some people might like this set up -- the prices were very low -- but we will not be going back here for breakfast any time soon.

The sign also advertises "the best Philly cheese steaks in Waco." That was intriguing, and I might stop in for lunch one day to try that out.


Dinner -- 8/8/08

El Siete Mares
1915 Dutton Ave.
Waco, TX 76706


6:20 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Tostada de Jaiba (flat, crispy tortilla with crab, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, & lime juice), Shrimp Gabrielle (Shrimp cooked in olive oil, white wine, butter, spices, & lime juice), rice, steamed vegetables (red & green peppers, squash, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms), chips and salsa, tres leches cake, iced tea with lime.

Jim: Tostada de Jaiba, 1/2 Plato Siete Mares (baked oysters with cheese and bacon, shrimp, octopus, crab, crayfish, squid, frog leg, & mussels in garlic butter), rice and steamed vegetables, chips and salsa, tres leches cake, iced tea with lime.

As I said last time, El Siete Mares has improved on every visit. I am not sure why we have not been there for so long, but the restaurant seemed cheerier with more decorations and better, softer lighting.

We both opted for something different this visit, and we were more than pleased. The dishes are unlike anything available in Waco. My dinner was hot and fresh, and the baked oysters were especially good. Ramona also liked the oysters, so next time, we might just go ahead and get the Plato for two.

The service was great, and we especially enjoyed the bowl of extra limes, which have two distinct advantages over lemons: a different taste and no seeds.

Lots of Wacoans do not know about this restaurant, and that is a shame. It really is a hidden treasure of Waco. If you have never tried Mexican seafood, this is the place. I only wish I could have a repeat offering of marlin. It was on the daily fish menu -- I only saw it once -- and it was the best tasting fish I ever ate.

Ramona and I have decided we are going to visit El Siete Mares much more often.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Lunch -- 8/6/08

La Fiesta
3615 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


Ramona: Chicken, spinach and mushroom enchiladas, black beans, rice, iced tea

Jim: Chicken enchilada, soft chicken taco, pork tamale, beans, roasted corn on the cob, iced tea

Shared: chips and salsa

I am not overly fond of Mexican food, but I do enjoy this particular annual visit to La Fiesta with a large group of friends after a morning of volunteer work for 5th to 9th graders from McLennan County, Texas.

The food here is undeniably good -- consistently so. Ramona always gets the same thing, and I tried her this time. It was excellent, and instead of my usual plate, I will get hers next time.

The best Mexican food in Waco.


Dinner -- 8/4/08

Poppa Rollo's Pizza
703 N. Valley Mills Drive
Waco, TX 76710


7:45 - 8:45 PM

Ramona: Sausage and mushroom pizza, iced tea

Jim: Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza, iced tea

One word of advice: if you are ever in a hurry, don't go to Poppa Rollo's for sit down dining. The pizzas are the absolute best in town, it is always crowded, and they make each pizza fresh, so the service is slow. However, nobody complains, because it is more than worth the wait. The time does no go idly by, because a large screen TV plays an unending series of Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy comedy shorts, as well as cartoons -- not the new stiff ones, the old Looney Toons.

Poppa is almost always there, and he will stop by the table to regale diners with tales of the old days, current politics, or simply some funny story.

We knew we would have complimentary pizza at a meeting on Tuesday night, and we knew it would be Poppa's, but we didn't care. These pizza are completely covered with what ever topping is order. Only the smallest sliver of crust is visible around the edges. Neither Ramona nor I could finish our "small" individual pies, and we had plenty to take home for lunch the next day.

A must for all diners in Waco.


Lunch -- 8/4/08

Harrington House
[Faculty/Staff Dining Hall of Baylor University]
On the Baylor Campus

12:45 - 1:40 PM

Ramona: Mediterranean chicken, mashed potatoes, sauteed egg plant, apple cobbler, iced tea

Jim: Mediterranean chicken, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, fruit, choc late pudding, iced tea

Another great lunch for an incredible price at Harrington House. We ate a large lunch, because we knew we had an interview at 5:30 in regard to this blog, and a political meeting at 6:30, so dinner was out of the question until late. Harrington House will soon move to new digs on the Baylor Campus, so we are looking forward to the new venue.


Lunch -- 8/3/08

Dickey's Barbecue Pit
621 North Valley Mills
Waco, TX 76711


2:10 - 3:00 PM

Ramona: Pulled pork sandwich, cole slaw, potato salad, iced tea, frozen yogurt

Jim: Chopped Beef sandwich, potato salad, roasted corn on the cob, iced tea, frozen yogurt

Waco is inundated with barbecue restaurants, and I was growing tired of them, until Dickey's came along. Every on in Waco has their own favorite, and since Dickey's came, it is slowly becoming mine. For one thing, it does not have that intense barbecue smell that many restaurants have. The meat was fresh and a generous portion was on the fresh rolls.

The condiments bar was also well-stocked with this lime-green banana peppers I like, as well as onions, pickles, and nice sized lemon slices without too many seeds.

The meat server also gave us a nice pile of fat and discards for our beloved dog, Raji. She is getting use to us coming home with a white container. That usually signals a treat for her!

A great place for a quick lunch that does not feel like fast-food.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Breakfast -- 8/2/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710


8:00 - 9:00 AM

Ramona: OJ, blueberry pancake, bacon, coffee

Jim: Tomato juice, gingerbread waffle, sausage patties, latte

We never tire of CC -- this is our 13th visit. The memories of our wedding day breakfast come back every time we eat here. The food is always good, the service is also good considering the crowds we always find there.

This was my first taste of the gingerbread waffle, and I was pleased. The waffle was hot -- the melted butter proved that! Ramona's bacon was just the way she likes it: a bit this side of crispy. My latte was perfect this time. I had almost forgotten the mix up last time, but when Ramona asked how it was, I remembered.


Dinner -- 8/01/08

Red Lobster
5925 W. Waco Dr.
(at Richland Mall)
Waco, TX 76710-6356


6:00 - 7:15 PM

Ramona: Strawberry margarita, Caesar salad, New England lobster and crab bake

Jim: Caesar salad, cup of New England clam chowder, Lobster seafood grill (Lobster tail, scallops, shrimp, fries, broccoli), iced tea

Shared: Lobster and crab stuffed mushrooms

This was a simply wonderful meal to kick of the weekend and the month of August. Everything was hot, fresh, and plentiful. My son, who had the Admiral's feast (fried shrimp, flounder, claw strips) could not even finish his platter.

Ramona and I had no trouble, since we usually skip lunch on Fridays as to be plenty hungry by dinner time. Her strawberry margarita was also delicious.

Kelso did a great job of serving us. She kept our glasses full without hovering. We also had a nice bowl of lemon slices. We also arrived at just the right time -- we only waited about ten minutes for a table.

All-in-all an excellent experience.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Anniversary comments

Happy Anniversary to Jim & Ramona's Restaurant Journey!

We are 8 months old today, and we think some general comments about restaurants are in order.

First of all six things we hate about restaurants:

6. Restaurants which allegedly serve "Philly Cheese Steaks" then insist on adding bell peppers. Hello? This is our last notice: Philly Cheese Steaks do NOT ever, ever, have bell peppers. Some will add sweet peppers on the top, but never mixed in with the meat. This is your final warning! Knock it off!

5. Birthday songs by a crowd of servers who clap and cheer. Very annoying! Why aren't they taking care of their tables?

4. Servers who stop by every five minutes to ask if everything is okay, followed by a manager, a regional manager, the company president, the hostess on the way out, and the young person who holds the door. I exaggerate, but only a little. Keep your eye on the table, our glasses full, and we will let you know if something is amiss.

3. Screaming, unruly, misbehaving children. Now in some family restaurants this may be okay, but not anything above fast food. If your children can not behave in public, leave them home, or better yet, stay home with them until they can behave like civilized individuals.

2. Loud country western music. Yes, I know it is no longer "country western," but then again it is no longer music either.

1. Lemons. Restaurants and food establishments that do not have lemon to go with the tea, or bring one flimsy piece and keep refilling the glass thinking that small slice will last for the weekend, and lemons full of big, thick, ugly seeds that get trapped in the straw. YUCK!

Second of all, five things we love about restaurants:

5. Soft music in the background, and we do mean background. There is nothing more annoying than have to talk over some caterwauling fool. Jazz, classical, soft pop, all are great and really help relax diners.

4. Attentive waiters who neither hover over the table, nor ask us every five minutes if they can get anything for us. Likewise we love it when the chef and/or owner visit our table.

3. A menu that changes from time to time. A variety of food keeps us going back. Sometimes a stable constant menu is a good thing (Cheddar's for example), but a fine restaurant needs to vary its selections.

2. A varied wine list that has a good representative selection of French, Italian, South African, South American wines. Can't somebody in this town get Iron Horse Cabernet from California?

1. A bowl with several nice, fresh, seed-free lemon quarters for our iced tea.

-Jim & Ramona

Dinner -- 7/30/08

Magic China
221 Jack Kultgen Fwy (I-35)
Waco, TX 76710


5:00 - 6:10 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, egg roll, Happy Family (chicken, pork, shrimp, scallops, Chinese vegetables), fried rice, iced tea

Jim: Won ton soup, egg roll, Mini-bird's nest (shrimp, scallops, chicken, Chinese vegetables), fried rice, iced tea

Another excellent dinner. I was downtown helping to register people to vote, and I finished at five. Ramona left work at five and we met at one of our favorite sit-down Chinese restaurants. We talked about which was our favorite (Magic China or Cathay House), and we couldn't decide. The decor here is much nicer, but we came to the conclusion it is really a dead heat. The only real difference is in the menu. I think Magic has a slightly larger selection.

I guess the only fair thing is to alternate between the two!

Ramona's fortune: You love a good challenge.

Jim's fortune: Something wonderful is about to happen to you.


Dinner -- 7/29/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


6:20- 7:15 PM

Ramona: Long Island Tea, Crab stuffed shrimp, cole slaw, broccoli cheese casserole

Jim: Crab stuffed shrimp, fries, Caesar salad, iced tea

Another great meal at one of our favorite places. My son joined us, and he had a Cheddar Club sandwich and fries. This was our eleventh visit since starting this blog, and again the food was consistently good all around.

Cheddar's of Waco must win the award for most consistent quality food. We have never had a bad meal there.


Dinner -- 7/28/08

Bush's Chicken
4024 N. Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710


5:45 - 6:20 PM

Ramona: Chicken livers, cole slaw, rolls, iced tea

Jim: 6 tender platter, breast, fries, iced tea

A friend of ours once said that Bush's adds something to its chicken to make it so addictive. I agree. Unquestionably the best fried chicken in Waco. I always "add-a-breast" to my plate. Those are unbelievably tasty and juicy.