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Showing posts from September, 2015

Benito's ~ Fort Worth, Texas

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Benito's is a legendary Mexican restaurant in Fort Worth, having come around before such establishments were commonplace. We'd never actually been, until very recently. I see places such as this as a good barometer to see where the RJG fits in the local dining culture. Because of its institution status, much ink has been spilled over the years on the pluses - and minuses - of the food and ambiance. Some say it's the ultimate late night dive to cure a hangover (or conversely to tie one on), while others say they have the best breakfast around. One aspect you will constantly read about Benito's is that it's not Tex-Mex, but rather more authentic south of the border fare. Mrs. RJG, born and raised in Sonora, agrees that it certainly feels like a place from the homeland. The food, on the hand, isn't quite as convincing, but it's definitely not Tex-Mex, this she agrees with. This foreshadows our entire experience I'm afraid. They can't all be good right…

Gloria's ~ Colleyville, Texas

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You may recall recently that the RJG's official boss was in town from New Jersey and we went to Trulucks in Uptown. Well that same week my former boss, and now good friend, from Phoenix was also in downtown Dallas (I sense a conference here). He's been in these pages before, but I'll rename him Danny Huston since he's a spitting image of the actor. And my friend and peer The Garland Troublemaker (who is also in a few of these posts) was on hand as well. We decided to meet at the Gloria's in Dallas (on Lemmon near Oak Lawn). I had intended on writing about that experience, when I recalled that we have a Gloria's here in Northeast Tarrant as well. The RJG's Official Mom was wanting to take me out someplace nice for my belated birthday dinner, so I suggested Gloria's. We haven't been to this location since 2006, and quite frankly, I just forgot about it. So off the 3 of us went for a recent dinner....

Food: Gloria's is in reality a Salvadoran rest…

Second Street Brewery ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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And we have arrived at our final destination for our 2015 week long visit to Santa Fe, which as I write this, was over a week ago itself. This is our third trip to Second Street in as many years, and it appears I may have ordered the wrong thing this time, but we're still bullish on the brewpub.

Food: On our first visit back in 2013, Mrs. RJG and I just stopped by to try one of their handcrafted beers before dining elsewhere. While there, we noticed they had a special on green chile chicken noodle soup. I can honestly say it was the best chicken noodle soup we've ever had! And very spicy! It's too bad it's not a menu item. They offer a similar green chile chicken stew, but it's a bit different (still very good though). In any case, we vowed to come back for a full meal on our next visit to Santa Fe (we were wrapping up our trip at that point). In 2014, we decided to have a mid-week lunch here. I tried their grinder, which was outstanding. And I want to say they had…

Shake Foundation ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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If you spend enough time in Santa Fe, you'll learn that another local favorite meal is a green chile cheeseburger. Shake Foundation has a good rep in town, and it was lunch, so let's check it out!

Food: It's burgers and fries, and all made with strictly fresh ingredients. They also have burgers beyond the usual beef, including lamb, turkey, and portobello mushroom.We each went with the traditional "Junior Foundation" which is a simple cheeseburger (and good size for lunch) and jack cheese with... green chile. The chile is added similar to a condiment, so it's not overly sloppy. The buns are buttered (a Midwest tradition) and lightly toasted which is another differentiator. Just a superb tasting burger, and the chile is very hot (spicier than the norm for Santa Fe). Which works for the RJG! And that spiciness continues to penetrate, and thus opens up the flavor of the burger that much more. Also, special mention goes to the fries, which are of the super thin s…

Casa Chimayo ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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OK, time for another new-to-us restaurant. Casa Chimayo has a solid reputation in dining circles and we were ready for some more New Mexican food. Did it live up to the "hype" as they say? Oh yes, and even more so! We'll be back.

Food: Casa Chimayo's fare is solidly in the New Mexican camp. Perhaps a bit more upscale than the usual New Mexican breakfast/lunch hybrid house. Casa Chimayo offers complimentary chips and salsa, which isn't always a given in New Mexico. The chips were very thick and crisp, clearly homemade, and taste fantastic on their own. The salsa is a thick and smooth red, with garlic and chiles, and very satisfying. For entrees, we both settled in on the Blue Corn Enchiladas, which they proudly state were featured on Fiori's DDD. We weren't feeling diverse this evening, so we both went with the chicken and Christmas chile and it comes with whole beans and rice. WINNER! Without a doubt, Casa Chimayo holds its own against the formidable loca…

The Pantry ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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We've driven many times past The Pantry as we go up and down Cerrillos, and it is a rare time of the day when there isn't a line around the building. The Pantry is one of the big names for breakfast and lunch in Santa Fe (they also serve dinner until 8:30). It's time for the RJG to venture in. We took a chance on a mid-week brunch hour of 10:30 and got seated immediately. Woohoo! Planning wins again.

Food: Traditional American and New Mexican breakfast is the primary draw at The Pantry. They also have a full menu of burgers, sandwiches, Mexican entrees, and comfort foods. There was no question at all what the RJG was going to have: A smothered breakfast burrito with Christmas chile. And it comes with "pantry fries" (potatoes in the vernacular). Out comes this wonderful and large skillet, with a steaming fat burrito and incredible looking cheese and chile staring me in the face. I always start with the green chile side first (rarely do I mix the two). First bite i…

Cowgirl BBQ ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Here's another new restaurant for the RJG. And our first experience was a thumbs up!

Food: Though BBQ is in the name, barbeque is only one portion of their rather large menu. They also have steaks, burgers, seafood, and yes, New Mexican cuisine. We went here to add a bit of diversity to our diet, and so I settled on the Pulled Pork BBQ sandwich. Apparently the smothered in Salsa Diablo was featured on the "Heat Seekers" show. They brought mine on the side, and it's definitely a sizzling red chile blend. But nothing overwhelming. In fact we thought it was quite tasty, and I dipped my wonderfully cooked fries into it throughout the meal. Couldn't really tell you if the Pulled Pork was any good on its own, because it was completely drenched in the chipotle barbeque sauce - just as advertised. The brioche bun is perfect for handling the moist sandwich, and managed to stay firm. Overall, an excellent barbeque sandwich. Mrs. RJG, despite the premise of why we were ther…

La Choza ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Last visit: April 2017

Unlike the other restaurants we've reported on so far in Santa Fe, La Choza is consistently rated as one of the top dining spots in the area, and is very well known. Is it tourist hype and group think? Not at all. In fact, the RJG is close to rating La Choza as our favorite restaurant in Santa Fe as well. We've only been 4 times in a three year period, but we're almost at the point of awarding it 5 stars.

La Choza has to be considered one of the gold standards for New Mexican cooking. We've smothered a few items in their famous chile's, and never have we left without huge smiles of happiness. In general, regarding the chile, I've stuck with the Christmas standard. Their green is slightly spicy and I would consider it good to very good in flavor. Their red chile is quite simply the best I've ever had - and one of the best food items I've ever had. It's so velvety in texture with flavors that continue to explode as time goes on.…

New York Deli Southside ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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One doesn't normally associate Jewish deli's with Santa Fe, New Mexico, and yet the New York Deli is one of the finest the RJG has been to outside of New York City itself. This is our 3rd year in a row to go, and sometimes we visit twice on the same trip. Especially since it's right around the corner from our chosen hotel (the Doubletree - which we highly recommend primarily because they have balconies to enjoy the beautiful cool weather. And maybe with a beer or three...)

Food: New York Deli is an old fashioned Jewish delicatessen, with a strong Italian slant. Well that just about covers the Mob of the 1940's eh? Whether it's fat kosher deli meat sandwiches, Italian hot subs, or a traditional breakfast with the best homemade bagels you've ever had, New York Deli is the elixir to the New Mexican food hangover. And since we overindulge on the local cuisine, we welcome the diversion. As I presume the locals do as well. Their portions are hearty, at a fair price. …

Fire & Hops ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Each time we visit Santa Fe, we like to try a few new places (for us) as well as our favorites. This was the first one on this particular visit. And the conclusion? We will be back again next time!

Food: Fire & Hops is a classic Craft Tavern (fka Gastropub), with focus on locally grown ingredients, small and large plates, and of course, craft beer. Seems as if these places were designed specifically with the RJG in mind! The definition of "small plate" wildly varies from place to place. In San Francisco, it means a small appetizer, whereas at Fire & Hops it means a full meal. And a large plate means we couldn't finish it. And what was my massive dinner? A Cubano sandwich. It was giant! I was expected a regular size sandwich with a handful of homemade potatoes. Well I got a bushel full of those as well. And they were delicious! The sandwich was almost perfect, especially the bread, but the pork was unfortunately a bit tough for a sandwich, and I ultimately pulled …

Horseman's Haven Cafe ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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We first visited Horseman's Haven Cafe back in 2006, as we were on the lookout for the spiciest chile in town. And we found it. We've been regular visitors ever since. And this trip was no exception.

Food: One aspect of New Mexican cuisine you will discover if spending much time in Santa Fe, is an almost apologetic approach to spicy chile heat. You cannot read more than one page of any local restaurant guide without running into the familiar words "it's not about the heat, it's about the flavor". And while the RJG wholeheartedly agrees with that sentiment, what if we really do want the heat and the flavor? Answer: Horseman's Haven. This unassuming diner on the way out of town was once a local secret. Today it's found its way onto one of the many food TV shows that proliferate. And yet you would never know that by walking in. It still seems a secret, even with the notoriety. The menu is a mix of breakfast and lunch/dinner entrees. The recipes have more…

Pho Kim ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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As much as we'd like to eat New Mexican food the entire time we're in Santa Fe, sometimes we need a break. And for something relatively light and tasty, we've added Pho Kim to our regular routine of restaurants. This is our 3rd visit in the row, and we always leave happy.

Food: No surprises here, but Pho Kim features Vietnamese cuisine. In general, we've gravitated to their famous soups, and I generally like the meat ball and Mrs. RJG enjoys the chicken. The broth and noodles are cooked to perfection, and the side jalapeno slices are extra hot. While most Vietnamese restaurants provide an admirable pho, we do think Pho Kim is a cut above the rest. However, on this visit, I decided to venture into their chicken and rice dish, which used to be my staple, having been spoiled by the all-time great Kim Ba in Denver. And I'm glad I did, as this was a unique slant on a traditional dish. At least to me it was - as I've not encountered the type of marinate applied. When…

Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

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We first went to the Blue Corn Cafe in downtown Santa Fe in 1997 (not long after they first opened), only about 6 months after Mrs. RJG and I were first married. And we've been regular visitors ever since. Regular in the sense of when we visit Santa Fe of course. Though in recent years we moved to the south location off of Cerrillos near the Santa Fe Place Mall. It remains one of our favorite places to eat when we go to Santa Fe, which lately has been an annual event (but that's not always been the case).

Food: Blue Corn is at first a New Mexican restaurant, followed by traditional brewpub fare (burgers, sandwiches) and Mexican (fajitas, etc...). Of course, we come for the New Mexican food, and while Blue Corn's reputation isn't the highest in Santa Fe (regarding their food that is), we've always thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, it's one of the RJG's favorite restaurants ever. From 1997 to 2014, I dutifully ordered the Carne Adovada, which was heavily marina…

Del's Restaurant ~ Tucumcari, New Mexico

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Del's has become our go-to dinner stop when on the drive from DFW to Santa Fe. This is our 3rd year in a row to visit, and it never disappoints. Well worth stopping in town if you're on I-40 and hungry. There's not much else around between Albuquerque and Amarillo, other than Tucumcari (or Santa Rosa), so it's a wise move to go into town and try them out! Word on the street says the Santa Rosa restaurants aren't up to snuff, though we haven't tried them (yet).

Food: Del's menu is a mix of roadside Americana (chicken, fish, steak) and New Mexican specialties. Given that the primary purpose for us being in New Mexico in the first place is to eat the local cuisine, we haven't ventured beyond the native offerings. It would be tempting to declare there's no way a place such as Del's can compete with Santa Fe's finest (which we will cover shortly on the RJG), but that's not really the case at all. When talking New Mexican food, chile is going …

Memo's Tacos ~ Roanoke, Texas

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Mrs. RJG and I are always on the lookout for good street tacos, and we thought it would be a good time to try Memo's up in Roanoke, as we were on our way out of town (more on that soon!).

Food: The sign says "Authentic Mexican Food", and that's what you get here. You see places like this more in the barrios than in the suburbs, though that trend is fortunately changing. While they have a full menu of Mexican staples (tortas, gorditas, quesadillas, burritos, breakfast items, etc...), we went right for the street tacos ($1.99 each). And, as if to prove we've been married 18 years, we each ordered the same thing: (1) pollo asado, (1) carne asada, and (1) al pastor. So we have the same test dishes it appears. Immediately after ordering, out came some homemade chips and two squirt bottles of hot sauce. That's a nice touch, and not always something you can count on from taqueria's (unlike a restaurant where it is expected). The chips were excellent, with a good…

Truluck's ~ Dallas, Texas

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The RJG recently had his official boss in town from New Jersey and he wanted to meet for dinner. Since he was staying in downtown Dallas sans a car, I recommended we meet just north of there at Truluck's, which has in recent years become my go-to place for business meetings when they (yea, they) are staying downtown without wheels. It's only a $5 Uber ride according to The Boss. And the RJG has a place to park (valet though), so that's always a plus.

And speaking of which, I was completely disoriented when I arrived. This isn't where the restaurant used to be is it? And the answer is no - there's a new structure they built at the other end of the parking lot, and the old building along McKinney has since been torn down. I thought I was having a Mr. Robot moment there (yea, that's right, the RJG is hip, mannn).

Food: High end steak and seafood. I recommended we both start with the Lobster Bisque, one of Truluck's signature items, and it once again was delici…