The stars at night are big & bright...

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buffetbuster
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2008/04/21 09:27:12 (permalink)

The stars at night are big & bright...

..Deep in the heart of Texas!!!

My cousin Johnny (aka Big Tex) and I will be spending the week driving around the Lone Star state. We will be doing plenty of sightseeing and eating, with the trip culminating with the Roadfood bus tour in Austin next Saturday. This should be a lot of fun!

Friday April 18

Our plane landed at Hobby Airport in Houston around 10:30PM, so the dining options were limited once we got out on the road. We spotted a Whataburger (open 24 hrs) and pulled in there. Johnny has never been to one and I have only ever been to the Feltner's Whataburger in Russellville, Arkansas. Anyway, the food was fine for under the circumstances, with the best being the greasy onion rings. I didn't care for my burger at all, but the strawberry shake was huge and extra thick. The service was friendly, but real slow and it took us much longer to eat than we had hoped.

Unfortunately, our hotel was new and our GPS wouldn't accept the address. We made a navigational error and ended up on the wrong side of the city. Whoops! We didn't get to our room until after 1:00AM.
No big deal.....we know better things are ahead!

Much more to come.....
#1

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    buffetbuster
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 09:51:04 (permalink)
    Saturday April 19

    Even though we didn't get a lot of sleep, we arrived at La Mexicana at 7:00AM when they opened.

    We liked this place as soon as we walked in the door. Beautifully decorated, ultra-friendly staff and a huge menu. We were anticipating a really good meal and we weren't disappointed. It started off with chips and salsa.

    Neither the red or green salsa were overly hot, but both still had a strong flavor. I could have eaten a lot of these!

    Being the brave one, Johnny went for the menudo, which is only available on weekends.

    While we were both glad to have tried it once, I don't think either one of us will be ordering it again anytime soon! Johnny was much happier with his delicious migas.


    It is hard for me to pass up Huevos Rancheros for breakfast and the version here was especially good.

    I sopped up the leftover salsa with the extra tortillas we were given. Also, as an ala carte item, I ordered a tasty taco chorizo con huevo, which looked like:


    Despite the beautiful baked goods by the check out counter we were quite full and passed on them. Now, I do wish we had grabbed something for the road.

    http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=2691&RefID=2700

    Just a few blocks from La Mexicana, we spotted a donut/kolache place.

    It was packed, which we took as a good sign. We bought some kolaches to take back to the room, but unfortunately, we didn't like anything we tried.

    Much more to come.....
    #2
    leethebard
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 10:20:51 (permalink)
    Thanks for sharing. Great mexican food,freshly prepared is a real treat. Now I'm hungry!!!
    #3
    kland01s
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 11:00:21 (permalink)
    Looking forward to you taking us around Texas! Food looks great so far!
    #4
    ScreamingChicken
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 11:12:13 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by buffetbuster

    Saturday April 19

    Even though we didn't get a lot of sleep, we arrived at La Mexicana at 7:00AM when they opened.

    Apparently your reputation preceded you...

    No menudo for me, but I'd be happy with that plate of huevos.

    Brad
    #5
    blinky193
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 14:48:33 (permalink)
    Hey Big Kolache! How's it going? Looks like you guys are having a great time so far...

    I am just curious though, didn't you wonder why all those police cars were in the parking lot at La Mexicana? Or was it too early to notice?? I guess you figured a crime wasn't taking place, at 7:00 in the morning! They must have good donuts in there!
    Hope you have a nice week. See ya later........... Ok, i'm going back to work now.......lol

    Ps. You are not going to believe this, but the Bay City Rollers are playing on the radio right now!
    #6
    buffetbuster
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 18:03:35 (permalink)
    The reason there are so many cars outside of La Mexicana is that I took my photo on the way out. But just like what I saw at Goody Goody Diner in St. Louis a few months ago, this place apparently let the police in a few minutes early. Since spotting police cars in the parking lot is usually a good Roadfood sign, I always like to see that. Of course, if I pull up and see the sirens on and the police have their guns drawn, I would generally consider that a BAD Roadfood sign.

    Blinky193-
    Thanks for the nice comments. Now get back to work!!!
    #7
    uncledaveyo
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 18:19:07 (permalink)
    That food looks pretty killer, thanks BuffBus!
    #8
    wanderingjew
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 19:22:38 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster
    Great Report so far-

    I've never had Menudo before- and truthfuly I don't know if I'd want to- but
    La Mexicana looks like my kinda place!
    #9
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 19:51:02 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by buffetbuster
    Saturday April 19 Even though we didn't get a lot of sleep, we arrived at La Mexicana at 7:00AM when they opened. Being the brave one, Johnny went for the menudo, which is only available on weekends.


    Buffetbuster,
    That sure looks gooood. It's been too long since I had a decent bowl of menudo. I'm going to check out as many Mexican eateries here to see just who serves it and who doesn't, and visit each one in turn.
    It's probably an easy parallel to see that if I like livermush, I would also go for menudo. Why, I've even got a couple of 45s by them.
    Tripically Balefully Bowllessly, Ort. Carlton in Spicy Athens, Georgia.
    #10
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 19:54:07 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster,
    While I'm at it, thanks for a great report! Am I correct in assuming that there is more to come? I'll be back to see.
    Momentarily Unhungrily, Ort. Carlton in Well-Fed Athens, Georgia.
    #11
    buffetbuster
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/21 23:44:06 (permalink)
    wanderingjew-
    I think menudo was one of those things that Johnny wanted to say he tried once in his life and now he can say it. I did have one bite of it and although the taste wasn't bad, it was the texture more than anything else that seemed so foreign.

    Ort-
    I'm not the least surprised that you enjoy menudo. And there is plenty more to come!
    #12
    buffetbuster
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 00:14:47 (permalink)
    Saturday April 19 cont.

    After going back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the day, we drove to east of the city and the San Jacinto Monument. This is a 570 foot structure, with 220 ton star on the top.

    This is to commemerate the battle that won Texas its independence from Mexico. They had a very well done movie about the history of the war and the battle and had a nice little museum. Still, the highlight was taking the elevator to the top for the view.

    To the right, you can see the USS Texas and to the top left, you can barely see the Houston skyline in the distance. But what I will probably most remember from my trip out here is driving past the miles and miles of chemical plants and oil refineries in the area. I have never seen anything like it!

    Time for lunch and we arrived at the Avalon Diner at a few minutes before noon and snagged two precious seats at the counter. Shortly, there was a considerable wait for a seat, so we got here just in time.

    There is nothing about the strip mall exterior that says good Roadfood,

    but the inside definitely says small town lunch counter.

    Both Johnny and I got lemonades and we watched our waitress fresh squeeze the lemons. This is excellent lemonade!

    We both also ordered malts, with me getting the banana and Johnny getting the butterscotch, which was especially good.

    Here is our waitress using the milkshake mixer right in front of us, which is always a good sign!


    We were both in the mood for burgers. Johnny got the bacon cheeseburger

    with a side of thin, lightly battered onion rings. Loved them!


    For me, I got the mushroom swiss burger

    along with the lunch counter classic grilled cheese.


    All of the food we had here was well above average. The guy sitting next to Johnny was by himself and spent a good portion of the time eavesdropping in on our conversation. He finally inquired about our trip, so we told him about our plans. What was odd was he said he ate at Avalon Diner every weekend. Yet, he asked us about the malts/shakes, onion rings and lemonade, because he had never tried them. Very strange!

    http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=2973&RefID=2995

    After stopping at the University of Houston bookstore where I bought a t-shirt, we had one more place to visit before going back to the hotel.

    Much more to come.....
    #13
    signman
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 01:45:57 (permalink)
    Great looking onion rings from Avalon. Can't wait for the next installment.
    #14
    John A
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 07:36:38 (permalink)
    You guys are doing it again BB, off and running on another of your terrific trip reports.
    #15
    ann peeples
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 09:06:02 (permalink)
    As usual,BB,a pleasure to follow you along on your trip...
    #16
    billyboy
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 16:03:19 (permalink)
    BB, Col. Steve Austin doesn't have a thing on you and your cousin! You guys make it happen! Bigger, Stronger, Faster!! I love that view from the San Jacinto monument and those lemonades and burgers from the pharmacy looked fantastic.
    #17
    CajunKing
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 16:34:24 (permalink)
    BB

    Good Looking food and surroundings, those malts look really good.

    Have a great week+ in TX

    #18
    joerogo
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 19:30:02 (permalink)
    BB, Love the Huevos Rancheros for breakfast. Then again I could eat breakfast three times a day.

    Looking forward too more.
    #19
    uncledaveyo
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/22 19:58:12 (permalink)
    I second the "great looking O-ringz"
    #20
    buffetbuster
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/23 17:04:00 (permalink)
    Saturday April 19 cont.

    We headed downtown to stop at James Coney Island.

    Since there was no parking available near by, Johnny circled the block a few times, while I got in line.

    Here is what we ended up with: two with chili, mustard and onion and two more with cheese added. Since Johnny loves onion rings, I grabbed him an order of that, too.

    These were firm little wieners in a really tasty chili sauce. Good fresh onions, too. And although I usually like cheese on coneys, in this instance, I preferred the ones without. The onion rings were darker and crunchier than the ones from the Avalon Diner, but we still gave them a thumbs up.

    http://www.jamesconeyisland.com/

    After catching up on the sleep we missed the night before, we set out for dinner. We made the hour long drive up to Huntsville and visited the New Zion Baptist Missionary Church and their bbq.

    Not only is this place reviewed here on Roadfood, I had someone tell me about this place in Toledo a few months ago. We were expecting the place to be quite busy, but when we arrived around 5:15 in the afternoon, we were the only customers. The building is low-slung with uneven floors and half of the only room being an open kitchen. Service is ultra-friendly and beautiful gospel music plays in the background. I went for the two meat plate, with sausage and brisket. Johnny got the three meat plate and added ribs.

    The sausage had a crusty outside and a snap when you bit into it and the brisket was nice and tender. But the ribs were too tough, so says Johnny. We both got the yummy mustardy potato salad, but neither one of us cared for the bland beans.

    For dessert, they had either pecan pie or buttermilk pie. Here is my buttermilk

    and Johnny's supersweet pecan.

    They originally gave me the pecan and when I corrected them, they told us to keep the extra piece of pecan for free. Since I don't like pecan pie, this made Johnny VERY happy.

    This place has terrific Roadfood atmosphere, but frankly, the food was just a bit above average. If you are passing though Huntsville, it is worth a stop. But, I wouldn't drive out of my way again.

    http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=4157

    Though we were tempted to go out later that night, we were both still tired and decided the rest was more necessary.

    Much more to come.....

    #21
    Nancypalooza
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/23 17:16:50 (permalink)
    Oh my stomach started growling at the picture of the dogs and rings. Dayum. And I would have such a hard time deciding between lemonade and a shake that I would also have to get both, I believe.
    #22
    The Travelin Man
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/23 18:31:32 (permalink)
    Excellent report on Houston - one of my favorite cities. I am a fan of Avalon Diner - good burgers and the homemade shakes. I am told that the fresh-squeezed lime-aid is even better than the lemonade. Somewhere I have a photo of the diner, which is neatly decorated that I would gladly post - but, it doesn't seem to be in my flickr account.

    I have always wanted to go to Huntsville for the church barbecue and it just never fit into my travel plans. Now, it appears that it need not be the necessity I thought.

    Houston is a great burger town, Buddy...I hope there are some more burger photos coming soon!

    ETA: Duhhh....you had burgers at Avalon.
    #23
    buffetbuster
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/23 21:37:29 (permalink)
    Travelin Man-
    We have had some really good burgers on this trip so far, but the big prize got away. I feel I let you down, but we never could make it up to Ponder.

    Johnny and I just returned from a dinner with ChiTownDiner at Hoover's. As good as the food was, the company was even better. He is a real pleasure to be around!
    #24
    plb
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/23 21:43:28 (permalink)
    Small world. I happened to be in Houston last week and ate at: La Mexicana, Avalon Diner (had the grilled cheese), New Zion Baptist Missionary Church (I agree, great atmosphere but so-so food), and visited the San Jacinto Monument (and the battleship Texas nearby). Also ate at Goode (too dry brisket and OK sausage), Otto's (very good burger), Lankford Grocery, Taste of Texas, and House of Pies. Sorry no pictures, my wife took the camera on her trip to Egypt that week (she get to go to the other side of the world and I got to go down the road to Houston).
    #25
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/23 21:54:58 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster,
    Thanks a gazillion for another glowing report. At least you didn't get that way by going on a tour of a leaking nuclear reactor....
    With Atommyfull Of Late Lunch, Ort. Carlton in Ionic-Columned Athens, Georgia.
    #26
    The Travelin Man
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/24 10:23:45 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by buffetbuster

    Travelin Man-
    We have had some really good burgers on this trip so far, but the big prize got away. I feel I let you down, but we never could make it up to Ponder.

    Johnny and I just returned from a dinner with ChiTownDiner at Hoover's. As good as the food was, the company was even better. He is a real pleasure to be around!


    No worries, Amigo. It is you who should feel let down! Besides, I was a little bummed when you added Penn Drug to your list of accomplishments. I was pretty sure that I was the only who tracks the places they've been who had that one! I can still hold on to Ponder!

    Besides, I am not sure which place you "missed" out on more - Ponder Steakhouse or Williams Smokehouse? When I first read your report, I remembered you saying something about wanting to go there - and it made me reminisce about the place. IMHO, Williams had the preeminent BBQ in the Houston area.

    I will politely wait for the photos, but can I assume that you had the chicken fried steak at Hoover's?
    #27
    mr chips
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/25 00:57:36 (permalink)
    As always, a great report. Wish i were with you. See you sometime.
    #28
    Nancypalooza
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/25 06:56:03 (permalink)
    chips I have a feeling most of us who are at home this weekend will be wishing we were with bb and the others. :)
    #29
    Sundancer7
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    RE: The stars at night are big & bright... 2008/04/25 08:33:35 (permalink)
    BB, I spent six months in Houston and I had a chance to visit the tower out on the east end and I also did the elevator thing. Great view of the harbor. I never knew that so many oil places existed until I drove out there. Miles of them.

    My Houston experience was difficult but I had a chance to enjoy many of their taco and kolache places. Some good doughnut places around also.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #30
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