La Fonda — Alamo Heights — It’s Back and It’s Great!!

22 Jul

La Fonda on UrbanspoonI know some folks who actually went into mourning back in April when they heard that La Fonda in Alamo Heights was closing.  But La Fond has risen from the ashes like a phoenix!  The new incarnation is located at 8633 Crownhill, behind the Magic Time Machine. The location has changed, the servers’ outfits have changed, but the menu is much the same and the food is TERRIFIC and familiar.

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The service is nothing short of spectacular.  Our drinks arrived very quickly, along with the chips and the very good salsa.

My friend ordered the combination 1 and I ordered the combination 4. Each came with the excellent guacamole salad.

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A generous serving of really fresh guacamole was presented on a tomato slice nestled on a bed of shredded lettuce. In the center is a small well of thin, flavorful hot sauce. The guacamole salad alone is worth stopping in for!

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The balance of Combination 1 arrived, with a cheese enchilada, rice and beans.  The Combination 4 was completed with a cheese enchilada and a choice of taco, in this case, beef.

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The picadillo on the taco was really good, but the stars of the plates were the cheese enchiladas.  The La Fonda enchilada gravy is in a class by itself — it’s that good!! The plates were accompanied by wonderful corn tortillas; there is a choice of flour tortillas, but those are nothing special. The corn tortillas shine!

And then, of course, there’s the flan.

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The flan is rich and creamy and substantial, and just sweet enough. Overall, the flan is a grand end to a grand meal.

My friend and I visited La Fonda at about 5;30 on Thursday evening.  By the  time we left, the parking lot was PACKED.  And it wil probably stay that way, because the food is that good!

You can find more on La Fonda Alamo Heights at http://www.lafondaalamoheights.com/.

La Fonda on Urbanspoon
 

 

Dreseden Cafe — Handmade sausage & Great German food!

21 Jul

I have always loved German food, and for some reason, good German food is not easy to find in the San Antonio area.  So when I heard about the opening of the Dresden Cafe on Thousand Oaks, I couldn’t wait to go. And I wasn’t disappointed.

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Located in an unpretentious shopping center, the Dresden is small, but the flavors are big. The banner offers “free samples all day,” and upon entering my friend and I were warmly greeted — and then the samples began!  We sampled each of the five homemade sausages — traditional German brat, garlic, slightly spicy Valencia, a good Hungarian, and a spicy Czech.  All were good.  We didn’t sample all of the salads, although we were offered the chance.  We were ready to make our choices and eat!

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I chose the Hungarian sausage, and it seriously tasted like the sausages my Hungarian relatives made when I was a child. The roll was also fresh.  The cold French potato salad was good, but the cold rotkraut (red cabbage) and cold sauerkraut were outstanding!  If you think you don’t like sauerkraut, you need to try the fresh offering here.

And to complement your sausage, you can choose from two homemade mustards — beer ‘n’ brat or habanero — or you can choose from the other variety of condiments on offer.

dresden mustards

And be sure to save room for a slice of the dense, rich orange cake. This European-style, flavorful cake is alone worth the trip.

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Drinks come in cans and bottes, and to the Dresden’s credit, there is a recycling container for empty containers.

dresden drinks

My meal at the Dresden — a sausage and roll, three sides, a soda and a slice of orange cake — was right about $10. It was a real bargain, and I will definitely be back.

You can see the whole menu and hours of operation at http://www.dresden-cafe.com.
Dresden Café on Urbanspoon
 

 

Mama Margie’s

14 Apr

A friend recommended that I try Mama Margie’s in Schertz. When I asked what was so good about the place, my friend said that she loves the bean and cheese tacos, and always adds bacon.

“The strip of bacon is….substantial,” she added.

Substantial bacon? I’m in.  My car almost drove itself to Mama Margie’s, and I wasn’t disappointed — for more reasons than the bacon.

Mama Margie’s was started by a woman who was a cook for the original Taco Cabana at Hildebrand and San Pedro. While in college, I spent a substantial number of nights at the original TC, eating tacos and watching the late night police chases down San Pedro.  Ah, the memories!

So when I first visited Mama Margie’s, I ordered three items: a bean, cheese and bacon taco; a carne guisada taco; and a guacamole chalupa.

All three were really good, but I have to give special attention to the carne guisada.  Even the most devoted TC fan would have to admit that the chain’s carne guisada isn’t what it used to be. Well, if you;re looking for that rich, tomato-infused sauce, Mama has it, and I am thrilled. The chunks of beef were tender and the serving plentiful, but the sauce was the winner. It’s as divine as it used to be back in the early 80′s.

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The bean, cheese and bacon taco didn’t disappoint.

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Yep, that’s a substantial piece of bacon, all right.  The beans are well-seasoned and the tortilla is big enough to hold a nice serving.

And the chalupas are good.  This photo is from a subsequent visit, when I order a guacamole chalupa and a chicken chalupa.

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The guacamole chalupa has a thin layer of beans to support a very generous portion of fresh guacamole. On the other, the shredded chicken was flavorful and plentiful.

On another visit, I ordered the crispy taco plate.

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The beef picadillo was good, the tacos were well-filled with meat, and the two tacos were accompanied by a LOT of beans and rice. Seriously, two people could have shared the portions on this plate. While it was good, it wasn’t strikingly good as the soft tacos or the chalupas.

Mama Margie’s is open 24 hours and always seems to have a crowd.  Customers order at the counter, and I have to give a special mention to the counter folks at the Schertz location. They are invariably energetic, they work as a team to take orders, and they always seem HAPPY to see you when you walk in!

I also have to give props to the drive-thru crews.  The service there has been efficient — and more.On one occasion, when I was placing an order for tacos for several people, I asked for pico, salsa and chopped onion. The young man went and got three condiment containers of onion, showed them to me, and asked if they were enough. I said yes and thanked him, and he replied, “No, thank YOU for coming to Mama Margie’s! We want you to be happy with your food!”  Whoever is training the crew at the Schertz location is doing a great job.

There are a lot of things to like about Mama Margie’s. The prices are reasonable, and counter service means no tipping.  The food comes out quickly. Several brands of beer are also available, as are frozen margaritas, Jack and coke, and pina coladas.

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The seating area is large.  There are tabled and booths, and the booths have high walls for a bit of privacy.

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There is a pretty good salsa bar.

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There is also a place to refill your tea and water, and you can get chips and salsa for your table — as much as you want — gratis with your purchase.

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Mama Margie’s has three locations besides the one in Schertz.  You can get more info, see the menu, and join the e-club at  http://mamamargies.com/.

 

Mama Margie's on Urbanspoon

Whataburger – The Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit

3 Apr

Being from Texas, I love Whataburger, I love biscuits, and I love jalapenos.  So when I was looking through my email this morning and saw that Whataburger was introducing a new jalapeno cheddar biscuit, well — let’s just say it was like a heavenly command:  “Thou shalt go to Whataburger this morning and thou shalt try it.”

I did.  And it was GREAT!!

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For 99 cents ( and 320 calories) each, these biscuits are a great deal.

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Whataburger makes a good plain biscuit — crumbly and moist and substantial.  The jalapeno cheddar version is even better than the original.  The cheddar flavor is strong, and the jalapeno bits add some zing.  This biscuit was clearly a winner. I ate mine plain — nothing extra needed.

The jalapeno cheddar biscuit is also available with egg and either bacon or sausage as a breakfast sandwich.  I’ll probably try one of those some day, but I know I’ll be back for the jalapeno cheddar biscuit again.  Soon. Like tomorrow.

Whataburger on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Pancake Joe’s in the Jefferson / Deco District

1 Apr

Looking for a terrific breakfast?  Some of the best breakfast offerings in town can be found at Pancake Joe’s, located less than a lock from Jefferson HS.  If you get there on a weekend day, be prepared to wait for a table or booth; but the wait will be worth it.

The breakfast menu features a variety of pancakes, waffles, omelets, and frittatas. The food comes out on big, well-filled plates, the service is fast and friendly, and the prices are very reasonable.

The biggest problem at Pancake Joe’s is choosing from it’s menu. Traditional eggs Benedict? Spinach eggs Benedict? Jalisco omelet?  Chorizo omelet?  Or French toast — plain or with bananas and berries? Pancakes — plain or pineapple upside down? Belgian or bacon waffle? A huge plate of hash browns to go with your meal?  You get the idea.  There are the usual and the unusual breakfast offerings, and all are done well.

My choice during my last visit there was the southwestern frittata.

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This was an individual frittata made with fresh eggs and stuffed with jalapenos and peppers, topped with cheese, a spicy sauce, and tortilla strips. I chose sourdough toast to accompany this entree.  It was hot and peppery and spicy and wonderful!  It’s hard to find spicy egg dishes done well, and this one was a winner.

One of my dining companions ordered the French toast Monte Cristo.

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Pancake Joe’s really wonderful French toast is topped with ham and eggs in this breakfast version of the sandwich. Served with fresh fruit and warm maple syrup, this Monte Cristo is a favorite.

Perhaps the most striking dish at the table was the waffle Sundae.

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This photo (taken by a dining companion) shows the decadence of this fun and delicious menu offering.  Children will love it — and adults with a really sweet tooth will too!!

Pancake Joe’s is open daily for breakfast and lunch; the lunch menu features a variety of sandwiches served with fruit or kettle chips. Breakfast is served at all times the restaurant is open.  Located in a strip mall, parking can be an issue here, but the trouble is more than worthwhile. Give yourself a treat and visit Pancake Joe’s!

Pancake Joes on Urbanspoon
 

Kim Tran – Vietnamese Spring Rolls and more

3 Mar

A friend of mine asked me if I’d ever experienced a food that was like “food crack” — instantly addicting. When I said “no,” she invited me to meet her at Kim Tran and try the spring rolls — warning me that we would have to get separate orders of spring rolls, because she couldn’t share hers with anyone.

I was intrigued, so off to Kim Tran we went.  Kim Tran has been in business almost 30 years in the Ft. Sam Houston area, and we dined at their newish location in a strip mall on Rittiman Road, near the intersection with Harry Wurzbach.   We arrived at 5:30 on a Monday evening, and there were already a couple of tables of diners enjoying — yes — the spring rolls, and more.

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So we ordered the spring rolls to start, of course. I have had terrific Vietnamese spring rolls on several occasions, but these rolls were exceptional.

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Crisp wrappers were stuffed with ground meat and veggies, and served with lettuce, cilantro and traditional Vietnamese fish dipping sauce.

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These spring rolls were absolutely wonderful. Crunchy, flavorful, and perfect — maybe not “addicting” — but pretty darn close.

We also each ordered a noodle bowl.

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The first bowl is the sauteed beef noodle bowl, with tender beef and onions; the second is the shish-ka-bob beef bowl, To my eye, the main difference was the lack of onions with the beef.  The noodles were perfectly cooked, and the chopped veggies and peanuts — with the aid of the fish sauce — made the bowls a real treat.

I plan to visit Kim Tran’s again very soon.  The menu is a blend of Chinese and Vietnamese offerings, but I agree with my friend — the spring rolls are the star dish.

Kim Tran is located at 1015 Rittiman Rd, Ste 107.

(And thanks to Rosie for the spring rolls pictures — I was so busy eating mine that I forgot to take a photo!)
Kim Tran on Urbanspoon

Guillermo’s — Downtown San Antonio

10 Feb

In an old house on the corner of McCullough and St. Mary’s, you’ll find terrific Italian food at Guillermo’s, one of the best places in San Antonio for a fairly fast, really good lunch.

I met a friend there for lunch on a recent Friday, just after 1 pm. There is ample parking in a lot behind the restaurant, so no time is wasted hunting for a place to leave your car.

Enter from the front door or walk up the ramp from the back parking lot, which leads into the rear dining area. Head to the ordering area near the front door and peruse the menu while checking out the desserts in the glass case – the red velvet cake is my favorite.

Then make your tea or soft drink at the nearby drink bar and find a table. Guillermo’s reminds me of a number of little Italian places in Boston; the tables are placed closely together and you sit pretty close to your neighbors. Since the food is so good, this means you’re near other happy eaters.

One of the many good things about eating at Guillermo’s is the salad that accompanies most of the entrees.
The spinach bowtie pasta salad has the titular pasta and greens, and also toppings of tomato, pineapple, almond, black olives, dried cranberries, purple onion and sliced sweet peppers. The light but robust dressing pulls the salad together. This salad may be the best meal starter of its type in town.

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On this visit I had the shrimp Alfredo, which cost $12.99.  The pasta was perfectly cooked and the Alfredo sauce was rich and creamy. The grilled jumbo shrimp were juicy and tender. Served with fresh focaccia bread points, this dish is a winner.

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My friend ordered the $10.99 shrimp insalata, which she described as rich and creamy. Her dish was served with Guillermo’s onion and olive bread, which she loved.

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In addition, I ordered a ham and pepperoni sandwich, again on that wonderful fresh focaccia, for a friend. At $9.99, it was a good value. It smelled so good that I had a hard time releasing the to-go box to him, and it tasted so good that he ate it before I could click a picture.

If you haven’t visited Guillermo’s, you should. It’s located at 618 McCullough. You’ll leave happy!

Guillermo's on Urbanspoon

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