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

Ray’s Pizzaria — Pizza by the Slice, and More

4 Feb

In a shopping center on the northeast corner of the Loop 1604 access road, at Kitty Hawk in Universal City, is one of the three local Ray’s Pizzaria locations.  One recent Saturday afternoon, I was driving by and decided to stop in.  I was glad I did.

Ray’s declares itself in every way to be a neighborhood pizza place, patterned on the many small NYC pizza places.  Displays of NYC-themed movie posters and photos of Italian-American movie stars are mixed with New York Yankee signs and jerseys.

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The restaurant itself is small and totally unpretentious. It looks like a place to stop by for a slice and a drink, and that’s what it is. The menu includes whole pizzas, subs, pasta entrees, desserts and more.

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I love a good slice of pizza, and I was happy to see the sign with the combo specials listed.  For $5.95, you can get a salad, slice with choice of topping, and drink. For the same price you can get two slices and a drink.  I know that there are other combo specials, but just then another patron carried a couple of slices past me, and my brain went into slice overload. My friend and I each ordered the slice and salad combo.

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To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the salad. When the counterperson brought it over, I was quite pleasantly surprised.  Fresh greens were garnished with tomato slices, black olives, mozzarella cheese, garbanzo beans and a sweet pepper. A good balsamic vinaigrette accompanied the salad, which was served on a cold plate. Overall, this lunch was off to an impressive start.

And when the pizza slices arrived, I was even more impressed.

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The crust was that famous, NYC thin and “foldable” crust -  substantial and crisp underneath, bubbly at the edges and seriously thin in the middle. The sauce was excellent and the Italian sausage was spicy.

My friend’s pepperoni slice was also good.

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The slices were large and filling.  Overall, the pizza slices were a great choice!

I do have to admit that after finishing my salad and while waiting for my pizza, I was looking at a generous plate of spaghetti and meatballs — featuring three large, luscious looking meatballs — served to a nearby diner. He was originally from the Bronx and he told me that he loved the place, that it reminded him of home, that he couldn’t eat there if they had any Mets stuff displayed, and that the place would be perfect if they showed the Yankees games during the season. He said the spaghetti and meatballs reminded him of home. I made a note to try them one day — if I can get past the pizza, that is.

We had to try the desserts. The cheesecake was a good, basic cheesecake.

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But the cannoli was really good — not Palumbo’s good, but really pretty darn good.

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The creamy cheese was rich and sweet. I would order this again in a heartbeat. Maybe I need one today on the way to run errands — after a slice, of course.

When we were at Ray’s, the service was great. The lady at the counter answered all of our questions, brought us our food, and asked us if we were enjoying it.

With good prices and great food, Ray’s is going to become a regular place for me to stop in.

You can view the menu and more info at http://www.rayspizzaria.com/.

 

Ray's Pizzaria on Urbanspoon

Raising Cane’s and the Chicken Finger (and Sides)

3 Feb

Knowing my love for Bill Miller chicken strips, a friend suggested I try the chicken fingers at Raising Cane’s.

“What else there is good?” I asked.

“Well, there’s a dipping sauce and sides.”

“I mean, what other entrees?”

“None.  All they serve is chicken fingers, but they are good.”

Well, if all a place serves is one entree, it had better be good.  So this past Saturday, I pulled into the Raising Cane’s in Schertz and ordered — well, pretty much everything on the menu, in the form of “The Box Combo.”

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My meal included 4 chicken fingers, crinkly fries, cole slaw, Texas toast, a container of dipping sauce, and a drink.

First, the fingers. These were some really good chicken fingers. They were meaty and the coating was well-seasoned without being salty. Served crispy and hot, these were great. And the crinkly fries were good — nothing special, but good. Same with the Texas toast — perfectly fine. The cole slaw was dressed in a dressing that seemed rather heavy on the mayonaissy side.

And I did not like the sauce. It rather reminded me of the old hushpuppy dressing made of mayo and ketchup and a few other things. I would have preferred cream gravy or ranch dressing.  The “Caniacs” who love this sauce will never understand, but it isn’t for everyone’s taste.

Fortunately, the chicken fingers are so good that no sauce is needed. Next time, I will get the “Three Finger Combo” — three fingers, fries, toast and a drink.

A nice side: this company supports pet rescue groups. On the day I visited, some representatives from Schertz Homes for Pets were out front.

More info on Raising Cane’s is available at  http://www.raisingcanes.com/.  There are 6 in the San Antonio area, including an airport location.

Raising Cane's on Urbanspoon

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