Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dinner -- 9/26/08

Clay Pot
920 Jack Kultgen Hwy (I-35) & 10th Street
Waco, TX 76706



Ramona: Clay Pot (Chicken with garlic served with rice, steamed vegetables)

Jim: Cha Ca (chicken, vermicelli noodles, and a medley of herbs and vegetables)

Shared: Imperial rolls

Wine (BYOB): Iron Horse (California) Bdx-3

We haven't been to this charming little restaurant since we started the blog. We had dinner with some friends, one of whom is a vegetarian. All their dishes can include tofu, chicken, beef, or pork. Fish dishes are also available.

Clay Pot is an underrated dining spot in Waco. The food is unusual, and we have never had a dish there that was not satisfying and delicious.

The decor is also interesting, Asian musical instruments, calligraphy, carvings, and statues. The adventurous can sit on the floor, Japanese-style, in several tables located in the corners. The service was also great.

The wine we brought from home was my favorite California wine. Extremely hard to find in Texas, River Bend Liquor on Lake Shore Drive at 19th street in Waco was able to locate three bottles for us. Alas, this was the last of the three, but we were happy to share with some good friends. We all agreed the wine was sublime.

We are going to add Clay Pot to our list of favorites.


Dinner -- 9/25/08

900 N. Valley Mills
Waco, TX 76710



Jim & Ramona: Small chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich, iced tea

We had book club tonight, so there was not enough time to cook. Incredibly, this was our first visit to Schlotszky's since we started the blog.

Their sandwiches are serious as they say, but we were not overly impressed with these. The connection to "Cordon Bleu" was vague at best. We were also not sure how the bacon came to make an appearance. The sliced chicken was okay. Cheese? Missing in action. False advertising? Won't stop us going here for lunch, however.


Dinner -- 9/24/08

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


5:50 - 6:35 PM


Ramona: Chicken tortilla soup, tuna skroodle, Tropical Mango Berry salad, cheese biscuit, breadstick, strawberry shortcake, iced tea

Jim: Mexican corn chowder, salad, tuna skroodle, baked potato, ginger bread, frozen yogurt, iced tea

We both like Soup 'R Salad, so it is hard to resist the Wednesday night special of $4.99 for each buffet, not including the drink. Jim was not excited about the soup choices this time. The Mexican corn chowder was good, just not good enough for a second bowl. Ramona's soup was good. The baked potatoes were small this time. Let's hope that is not a trend.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dinner -- 9/20/08

Cotton Patch Cafe
5501 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710


6:15 - 7:30 PM


Ramona: Catfish basket with fries, hushpuppies, and tartar sauce, iced tea

Jim: Fish and chips, tartar sauce, iced tea

Shared: fried mushrooms with ranch and honey mustard dipping sauces, blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream

We wanted to take my son out to dinner, so we let him pick. He choose CP, because he loves the chicken fried chicken. Our fish baskets were also excellent, although Ramona always laments that CP doesn't serve cole slaw. Patty was a good server; she never hovered, but kept us in iced tea and lemons. The fried 'shrooms were hot and delicious. The dessert was a good way to start off our 295th Saturday night together.


Restaurant Alert!!

Recently, we have lost a couple of dining spots in Waco -- Beatnix's, Smokey Bones, Rib Crib, Vito's (to name a few), and rumors have been swirling around about another of our favorites: El Siete Mares.

An article in today's Waco Tribune-Herald squashes those rumors, but they do note the economy has hurt this fine Mexican seafood house. ESM is a unique restaurant in Waco, and we urge our readers to support them as often as possible to help keep them open.

Next weekend, we have a museum trip planned to Dallas, but the first opportunity after that, we will pay a return visit.

-Jim & Ramona

Dinner -- 9/19/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


4:50 -- 6:00 PM


Ramona: Caesar salad, 8 oz filet, loaded baked potato (butter, cheese, sour cream), iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, 11 oz filet, loaded baked potato (butter, cheese, sour cream), iced tea

In the mood for our weekly red meat feast, we decided on Cheddar's because of the quality of the steaks and the price. Both steaks were perfect. Ramona felt we could have both ordered the 8oz, and she would have shared part of hers with me. I was unwilling to risk it, especially since we are trying to cut down on red meat. Previously, I would have ordered the largest one available (14 oz.).

One thing missing from Cheddar's -- bread. True, a flaky, soft, warm, buttery, honey croissant came with our Caesar salad, but we wish they also served some rolls with dinner. The croissant is one reason we always get a Caesar salad.

We have talked about not writing up every visit to places like Cheddar's, unless we get something different or we have an unusual experience. What do our readers think?


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dinner -- 09/18/08

Ryan's of Waco (#2253)
301 S. Valley Mills Dr.
Waco, TX 76710



5:30 - 6:15 p.m.

Jim: Buffet (Turkey breast, cranberry sauce, candied yams, corn on the cob, salad bar), cantaloupe, chocolate pudding, banana pudding, jello, iced tea

Ramona: Buffet (Turkey breast, cranberry sauce, candied yams, lima beans, fried okra, cole slaw), carrot cake, iced tea

Shared: rolls, a tasting of fried chicken, grilled salmon, beef and chicken fajitas meat, potato wedge

Both of us had been to Ryan's at least once before, but not since we started doing the blog, so we thought a return visit was in order. For someone with a large appetite, an all you can eat buffet is a good deal. The fare at Ryan's offered lots of options and for the sake of the blog, we tried lots of things.

We were both excited to have turkey, since it's one of our favorite foods and there are few places in Waco that serve it. The turkey was fine and, after asking, we were brought a bowl of cranberry sauce from the kitchen. However, the absence of gravy and stuffing/dressing/filling (we have a family feud going on about the correct term) disqualifies Ryan's as a place to go for a true turkey dinner. Cracker Barrel on Thursday nights is perhaps the only place to go for that (maybe Luby's if I can talk Jim into going there!). Jim wasn't crazy about them but I liked the candied yams; they're made with a marshmallow topping similar to the way my mother used to make them years ago.

After the turkey, we got another plate and sampled a few of the other meat items. We both thought the fried chicken was good, but we didn't care for the salmon or the fajita meat. Jim had a salad from the salad bar and I tried the cole slaw; those were nice and fresh. The yeast rolls were good but we could have used more. I'm sure we could have gotten them if we had asked.

There were several desserts to choose from: bread pudding, apple cobbler, several cakes and pies, puddings and fruit. I chose the carrot cake and Jim got a sample of puddings, jello and fruit.

Over all, we thought the food at Ryan's was good. There was nothing really outstanding, although we did leave with our stomachs full. The price is comparable to other buffets; dinner for two was less than $25.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dinner -- 9/17/08

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



5:45 - 6:45 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, chicken Gorgonzola penne pasta, amaretto cherry cheese cake miniature dessert, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, Eggplant parmigiana with spaghetti and marinara sauce, tiramisu miniature dessert, iced tea

We are on a roll with Carino's! This was a third great meal in a row. The eggplant was not mushy, but rather crisp and tasty. We both decided on something different this visit, and we were both pleased.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Dinner -- 9/14/08

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


6:15 - 7:20 PM


Ramona & Jim shared: Combo fajitas (chicken and steak, peppers, onions, rice, beans, with sour cream, cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo, cheesecake, iced tea

We had a wonderful, leisurely weekend, and decided at the last minute not to cook. We haven't been to Chili's in a couple of months, so we headed there.

It seems as if every time we go to Chili's they have a new menu. It doesn't seem to change much, just the graphics.

This dish was especially good this time. It was the perfect amount for sharing. We each had four tortillas, but did not need all of them.

The service was good, even though we had to endure a 15 minute birthday celebration by the wait staff in our room. There were clowns, jugglers, a giant chili pepper on stilts, a magician, and a fire eater. I exaggerate. Oh, well, I guess they had a good time.

The dessert was a large slice of cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

It was the 234th weekly anniversary of our wedding, so we had to celebrate!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Breakfast -- 9/13/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710


9:45 - 10:45 AM

Ramona: OJ, banana nut French toast, bacon, coffee

Jim: V8 juice, sour cream, avocado, mozarella cheese omelet, link sausage, rye toast, decaf latte


With Hurricane Ike bearing down on Texas, we were afraid our favorite breakfast stop might have been closed, but were happy to see they were open. And at 9:45, it was packed!

Ramona tried something she had never had this time. The banana nut French toast was made with Cafe Cappuccino's homemade bread and was delicious. The bacon was a little overcooked, despite the fact that she asked for it light. Everything was okay with Jim's order, except they forgot to bring his toast. We didn't notice it right away, even though the waitress asked a couple of times if everything was okay. When it came, Jim was delighted with the marbled rye, which is hard to find in Waco.

The staff was happy to comply with Ramona's request for a to-go cup to take her coffee refill with her. We were good to face the blustery day!

Jim and Ramona

Dinner -- 9/12/08

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


5:40 - 6:30 PM


Ramona: Caesar salad, 8 oz. filet, baked potato with butter, cheese, and sour cream, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, 12 oz. filet, baked potato with butter, cheese, and sour cream, iced tea

Our favorite dish at LBS was the catfish, but on the recommendation of a faithful reader -- SisterSue -- we tried the steaks. They were good, both our filets were tender and exactly medium rare, our preferred temperature.

SisterSue recognized us, and joined us for the meal. We had a nice time trading dining stories and we got a couple of hints about restaurants we had not heard of in Waco.

The 30th reunion of Waco High was gathering as we were eating, and they were a rowdy crowd, but they sure were having a lot of fun.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


We were interviewed about 3 or 4 weeks before the article about our blog appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald on Monday, September, 1st. We anxiously checked the paper every day, and we were delighted with the results.

However, we were not prepared for the flood of comments and e-mails that poured in from readers all over the area. We sincerely thank all of you, and we are glad you enjoy our journey.

We picked up some interesting recommendations for places to visit, and we will be adding lots of new places in upcoming months.

One thing several readers requested was some sort of price guide. We decided on something simple, and we will not include tips or alcohol in the prices. Here are the symbols and the ranges:

$25 or less -- $
$26-50 -- $$
$51-75 -- $$$
$76-100 -- $$$$
$100+ -- $$$$$

We hope this guide will add to your enjoyment of our journey.

Please keep the e-mails and comments coming -- we love to hear from our readers!

--Jim & Ramona

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dinner -- 9/9/08

Cathay House
825 Wooded Acres
Waco, TX 76710


5:35 - 6:45 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, Lemon chicken, fried rice, iced tea

Jim: Won Ton soup, egg roll, Happy Family (Shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef, roast pork, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, broccoli, baby corn, carrots), steamed rice, iced tea

We both had long days at work, and neither of us felt like cooking, so where better than Cathy House. As always, it was quiet (no more than two other tables occupied) and delicious food. Ramona brought home half of her dish for lunch on Wednesday. I was starved, but not after finishing one of my favorite dishes.

Ramona's truth cookie: "You are a true and sincere friend"

Jim's fortune cookie: "Be prepared to receive something special"

-Jim & Ramona

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lunch -- 9/06/08

Capt. Billy Whizzbangs
901 Lake Air Dr.
Waco, TX 76710


12:50-1:30 p.m.

Jim: Cheeseburger, French fries, iced tea

Ramona: Cheeseburger, French fries, diet Coke

This was our first visit to Capt. Billy Whizzbangs since we started this blog, although not our first visit. We've been trying to cut down on red meat this year, saving up for steak (or some other beef dish) once a week. We may have overdone it a little this week. However, we were in the mood for a hamburger after spending the morning helping out with voter registration and every blog about food in Waco should have an entry for this place, right?

Entering Capt. Billy Whizzbangs is like taking a trip back to the 50s. It reminds me of a diner a la "Happy Days." The menu is pretty limited -- burgers, hot dogs -- but they make a pretty mean burger here. A little too much mustard for my liking, but I need to remember to ask for less next time. Jim made fun of me when I asked what kind of French fries they had, but I wanted to know. They did offer tater tots as an alternative! By the way, the fries were good!


Dinner -- 9/5/08

1424 Washington Ave
Waco, TX 76701


5:15 - 7:05 PM

Ramona: House salad with honey mustard dressing, roast pork tenderloin, sugar snap peas, Alice's potato medley (white, golden, and sweet potatoes diced with onions)

Jim: House salad with red wine vinagrette dressing, lamb chops, sugar snap peas, Alice's potato medley

Shared: Chateau Lamy Corbieres (French, 2005), French chocolate truffle mousse cake with a strawberry and whipped cream

Clearly 1424 remains one of the best restaurants in Waco. The only special occasion this weekend was our 232nd Anniversary on Sunday and we had not been here it quite a while.

The service was perfect, as were the entrees, the dessert, and the wine.

We also noted a great improvement in the bread, which Jim always felt was a weak spot here. This time a warm, crusty french bread was served. Our server told us the bread was new and baked fresh on the premises.

Ramona's pork was delicious with a delicate sauce. Jim's lamb chops were larger than usual, tender and prepared at the right temperature and also with a delicate house sauce.

The wine was a nice surprise. It had a complex flavor -- a bit dry, a hint of fruit, and a little nuttiness in the background. Another improvement: the wine was available at room or cellar temperature, and we went with the cellar version.

The dessert was also great -- one we had not tried before. Usually we get the Austin Creme Pie, but it was absent from the menu this visit.

-Jim & Ramona

Dinner -- 09/04/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


6:00- 7:15 PM

Jim: Chicken tender platter, french fries, baby carrots, Caesar salad, croissant, iced tea

Ramona: Chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, cole slow, Texas toast, iced tea

Thursday night, we started out unsure where we wanted to go to dinner, just driving down Valley Mills. As we passed several places and kept saying, 'nah,' we finally decided on Cheddar's, our stand-by favorite. Usually when we know ahead of time we're going there, we go a little bit earlier to avoid the line. But this time we had to wait about 20 minutes, which gave us plenty of time to decide exactly what we wanted so we were ready to order as soon as we got a table.

The food was great, as it always is at Cheddar's. Our only complaint this time was where we were seated: in the bar area right beside the back door. As wait staff continuously were opening the door to deliver food and drinks to diners on the patio, we were greeted with hot air. One waiter dropped drinks on the floor beside us, not once but twice, as he was opening the door. We didn't get hit with the spill, but the drama associated with the cleaning up was a distraction. If we're ever taken in that direction again for a table, we will ask for another location.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dinner -- 9/2/08

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


5:35 - 6:50 PM

Ramona: Baby back ribs, rice, stir-fry veggies, iced tea, buttermilk pie

Jim: Chicken fajitas, rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, salsa, tortillas, iced tea, white chocolate vanilla custard

This was our second visit, since we awarded them the first of our "Second Chance Visits" and we were once again pleased.

Ramona's pork ribs were juicy and delicious. Jim's fajitas were cooked to perfection, and had a slight hint of spice. However, the beans were way too hot for his Yankee tongue.

Last time we had an issue with bread, but this time it was brought out with our iced teas. The butter had something we had never seen before: coconut flakes spinkled over the top. Jim is allergic to coconut, so the server quickly brought him a cup of plain.

Speaking of our server, Chris was new to Elite and did a fine job. He is also Jim's son, so maybe we are a bit prejudiced!

The desserts were a real treat. Jim's looked like flan, but it was almost the consistency of cheese cake, and it was delicious. Ramona's buttermilk pie was a large slice and was good, but she said it made her miss the Showroom Cafe, another Waco restaurant that no longer exists. They had the best buttermilk pie ever!

Elite has made great strides since it remodelled, and this will be on our list for regular visits. We also get extra miles from American Airlines through their Advantage Dining program.

--Jim & Ramona

Monday, September 1, 2008

Breakfast -- 9/01/08

Harold Waite's Pancake House
941 Lake Air Dr.
Waco, TX 76710


8:15 - 9:10 AM

Ramona: French pancakes, bacon, coffee, orange juice

Jim: Waffle, sausage links, coffee

This is our second posting on this blog for Harold Waite's, which is another Waco regular spot for many people. Ramona went for something different and was delighted by the French pancakes covered in strawberries and whipped cream. Jim ordered the waffle and sausage links, which is the same thing he had last time we were here.

We have two minor complaints with Waite's. The coffee is not as strong as we like and we often don't get what we order. Today was a perfect example of that. We each ordered juice at the same time we ordered the meal; however it didn't come. Ramona mentioned it to the waitress as she was bringing our check; she apologized and took it off the bill. When Ramona said she still wanted hers because she needed it to take some medicine, the waitress brought it promptly and didn't charge us for it. A minor annoyance, but not bad enough to keep us from going back again.


Dinner -- 8/31/08

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


5:00 - 5:55 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, Fire-grilled lobster and shrimp, baked potato, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, New England lobster and crab bake (Lobster tail, scallops, shrimp, crab legs, corn on the cob), french fried, iced tea

Shared: Key lime pie

We celebrated our 231st week of being married by going to dinner. We were in the mood for seafood and having a $4 off coupon helped seal the decision. We went early to beat the crowds and had no trouble finding a parking place or walking right in to get a table without waiting.

We were both happy with our choices of lobster and shrimp. Jim shared his scallops and crab legs with me, so we both got a little of everything. The key lime pie was a tasty treat to top off the day.

-Jim & Ramona

Dinner -- 8/30/08

Olive Garden #1222
5921 W. Waco Dr. at Richland Mall
Waco, TX 76710-6356


Ramona: Salad, bread sticks, Ravioli di Portobello, meatball, iced tea

Jim: Salad, bread sticks, Seafood Portofino (mussels, shrimp, scallops, over linguini with alfredo sauce), iced tea

What better way to celebrate the end of the summer than dinner out. We had a hard time deciding where to go, but an almost-expired coupon from Olive Garden helped make the decision easier. This is another restaurant that was on our questionable list at one time (mostly because we prefer locally owned restaurants over chains), but the last few visits have been great and so we have no qualms about it any more.

Everything was served at the appropriate temperature and was tasty. Our waitress did not hover but brought refills promptly when needed.

Jim and Ramona

Dinner -- 8/29/08

Cotton Patch Cafe
5501 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710


5:50 - 6:40 PM

Ramona: Dixie Belle pot roast, fried okra, mashed potatoes, iced tea

Jim: Chicken fried chicken, broccoli rice casserole, baby carrots, iced tea

Another flawless meal and no complaints on the service.

Jim and Ramona

Dinner -- 8/28/08

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


Ramona: Egg drop soup, fried rice, honey chicken, sesame chicken, shrimp, crab, iced tea

Jim: Wonton soup, sushi, chicken, beef, shrimp, crab, veggies, egg roll, iced tea

We detected a slight drop in the quality of some of the dishes since our last visit. My egg roll was a bit soggy, and Ramona was not impressed with the coconut shrimp. But on the whole, this is still the best Buffet of Asian food in Waco.

Jim's Fortune: "You shouldn't overspend at the moment, frugality is important."

Ramona's Fortune: "An unexpected reward awaits you tonight."

-Jim and Ramona