Lupe Tortilla – Es Preeeeetty Gooood!

30 12 2010

The best fajita meat…

[wait for it...]

EVER.

EVER, EVER, EVER!

Think skirt steak marinated in fresh lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper…

The enzymes in the lime juice break down the meat and make it heavenly-tender.

Heavenly…

I got my taste of beef fajita from the beef fajita taco salad I ordered today.

Finely-grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, finely-diced tomatoes, chilled iceberg lettuce, tossed in a light-tasting lime-jalapeno dressing (amazing flavor, and not harsh or spicy), garnished with thin tortilla chips covered in [what else?] cheese!

I’ll say it again…

Heavenly.

And, from how Jake and Chris were raving about Harrison’s chicken quesadilla – I’d guess that was preeeeeeety gooood too!

Where in the world do all these great restaurants come from?

Lupe Tortilla, founded by Stan and Audrey Holt, got its start in 1982 in [where else?] Texas.

Texas.  Have I mentioned lately that I love this place?  ;)

From its meager beginnings (www.lupetortilla.com), the owners knew they had something great going on…

Not to mention, that they have a huge sandbox, equipped with buckets and shovels, for the kiddos to play in (while you wait for a table).

So cool!

Lupe Tortilla expanded, again and again…

My favorite part of their story is from 1992 when they say, “Stan and Audrey stayed focused on what made them successful – fresh food with a casual family-friendly environment lots of smiles in a home like atmosphere.”

Lots of Smiles.

Yep.  You know I fell in love with this place.  :D

Their menu was fun – lots of  “Es Preeeeetty Gooood!” after the dish descriptions.

The interior was quirky and eclectic, Mexican style.

And, boy, was that restaurant packed!  You can tell they’ve got a good thing going.

It surely “es preeeeeeetty gooood!”

And I hear they make a mean margarita…

Oh, yeah.  I could get used to this place.  :)

So, if you’re ever in the area… They’ve got Lupe Tortilla restaurants all over the greater Houston area.

Stop in, and you’ll be saying, “Es preeeeeeetty gooood!”

With a great, big Smile.  :)

Now, where’s my margarita???





Marco’s – Great Food, Friends, Wine and Lots O’ Smiles to Go Around…

29 12 2010

Marco’s in Wimberley, Texas.

If you live around here, you gotta try Marco’s.

It’s a quaint Italian restaurant, nestled inside a converted house right off the main street in Wimberley.

Marco’s doesn’t usually take reservations, but Roxanne worked her magic and managed to get us a table for 7 (plus 3) at 6 pm on a Monday night.

And I thought Marco’s wouldn’t be crowded on a Monday night.

Ummm.  I was wrong.

There was, in fact, a line out the door.

On a Monday!

It was impressive.

As we walked in the door, the aroma of garlic and Italian food greeted us.

My heart nearly melted with that smell.  It was nothing short of heavenly.

[My stomach’s growling just thinking about it!]

The hostess sat us quickly; the whole restaurant was bustling with activity, laughter and conversation.

To make the evening even better, 2 good friends from college, Willie and Phoebe, along with their adorable daughter, Jillian, met us at the restaurant.  I was so excited!  Literally, it had been 12 years since I’d seen either one of them!

So, we skooched our chairs around to make more room, added some place settings, while Roxanne uncorked the delicious red wine we had brought (yep, it’s BYOB, which I loved!)  Note to self – bring your own wine opener or cork screw – it’s just easier [and faster] that way.

While we filled our wine glasses, the waitress took our [non alcoholic] drink orders.  Willie ran across the street to grab two more bottles of red wine.  He came back with a delicious merlot and a stunning pinot noir.

We pored over the menu, and, quite honestly, everything sounded delish.

How to choose?  How to choose?

Jake settled on Chicken Alfredo, and I picked Pasta Napoli (angel hair pasta in a red sauce with fresh herbs).

Then, the warm, soft pizza dough nuggets arrived, complimented by a fresh herbs olive oil blend for dipping.

YUM.

I limited myself to two nuggets (which was an amazing feat); of which I managed to accomplish because I was too busy blabbing and catching up with Willie and Phoebe.

Surprise.  I’m a talker.

I know you’re astounded.  ;)

Our meals arrived quickly and smelled so deeee-licious.

Earlier that afternoon, Roxanne had told me that Marco and his wife (the owners) put their heart and soul into cooking every dish.  From scratch.

She was right.

Roxanne and Chris know good food.  And Jake and I get spoiled every time we visit.

I could get used to this.

We dug into our plates, and the taste (not to mention, the aroma) was phenomenal.

Epic.

Yep, it was that good.

After the plates had been cleared, we laughed and talked more.

But the little old lady peeking through the window brought us back to earth.  And she made us giggle.

Uh, yep, there was still a line to get in, only it was longer now.

And one of the patrons was so craving that delicious Italian food that she began peeking through the open window just behind our table.

It was quite funny.  :)

And demonstrative as to how good that Italian food was.

We gathered our things and headed out the door, laughing and saying our farewells.

And Willie sent his two bottles of red wine with us.  Thank you, Willie and Phoebe – for a wonderful evening of catching up and for the delicious wine.  J

The moral of the story?

Reunite with old friends.

Laugh till your sides hurt.

Drink great red wine.

And if you’re ever in the beautiful Hill Country outside of Austin, Texas, Eat at Marco’s.





Grimaldi’s in Houston, Texas… Think Coal-Fired Pizza…

22 12 2010

One of the reasons that I love this epic city (Houston) is because of the amazing choices in food (think: style, flavor, presentation, uniqueness, varying originating cultures, you name it).  There is truly something for everyone.

Truly.  It is phenomenal.

And I have to do cardio an hour at a time just to keep up!  (Argh!)

And, there was a lot of excitement about Sunday night’s dinner destination: Grimaldi’s.

So, before we headed to dinner, I did a round robin-style interview with my nieces and nephew (Tori, Emily and Harrison)…

I asked ‘em what they thought about Grimaldi’s… What did they think about Grimaldi’s?  What were their fave parts of Grimaldi’s?

Tori’s faves were (of course) the pizza, but she also mentioned that they give out pizza dough to the kids… So, instead of drawing on placemats, the kiddos get to toodle with pizza dough, just like it’s Play-Dough!  Sooooo cool!!!!

Harrison put in his “2 cents” worth… He said: pizza, pizza, pizza.

Guess this stuff has got to be good…  :D

Needless to say, I was so excited to sink my choppers into this delicious-sounding pizza.

Yup.

Grimaldi’s is located in the Woodlands, so our drive from the Memorial area of Houston was about 45 minutes.

And it was so worth the drive.

Holy cow.

We walked in the door, and the aroma of pizza was deeeeeee-licious.

Wow.  I mean, WOW.

We entered the “2nd” story (which was actually the 1st story to us), descended a flight of stairs.

The hustle and bustle of waiters and patrons grew louder as we went down the stairs.  We turned a corner and the dining room opened up… A large room, somewhat dimly lit, with wine bottle (yes, real wine bottles) chandeliers and lights dangling from the ceiling.  (I knew I was in love at that point… :D).  Red and white checkered table cloths over dark wood tables; the dining room was packed (did I mention that we waited 40 minutes for a seat?  Yes, well-worth the wait – I’d do it over and over again).  Laughter and conversations erupting from the tables we passed.  Waiters and chefs bustling by.

As we sat down, I looked toward the kitchen (ya’all know I’m always curious)… A large, glass-enclosed (halfway up, at least) station sat to the right of the swinging kitchen door.  I saw a large, flat round of dough fly into the air.

Yup.  They toss their own pizza dough!

Woo-hoo!!!

Ya’all know what would happen if I ever tried to do that.

A whole lotta dough on the flooooor!!!

I was impressed, as was lil Emily (niece).  We watched as the dough flew up in the air again and the chef caught it, swinging it on his fingers and hands.

And then Jake chimes in, “You know I used to do that too, right?”

Huh?

Okay, that’s just cool.  :D

The service was wonderful – quick, intuitive and responsive, but not hovering.  A breath of fresh air.  :)

We ordered our pizza – the toppings we chose were Italian sausage, pepperoni and fresh basil (basil placed on the pizza after baking).

And think thin crust.

And the hot coal-fired cooking process makes the pizza perfectly crunchy, yet tender and full.

The pizza arrived about 15 minutes later, piping hot and wonderful.

I usually drown my pizza in Ranch.

No need this time.

It was phe-nom-en-al…  WOW.

Perfectly crunchy, hot, saucy and so wonderful!!!

I would highly, highly recommend that you check out Grimaldi’s whenever you see the sign.

You will be impressed.

Smile!  :D  It’s really good pizza!





What in the World is Pljeskavice? And Lepinja?? (And, yes, they’re both food!)

18 12 2010

Pljeskavice.

Say that three times really fast.

Pa-jes-ka-vees-ca.

(Phonetically, now, of course.).

Pljeskavice.  Pljeskavice.  Pljeskavice.

(Phonetically:  Pa-jes-ka-vees-ca.  Pa-jes-ka-vees-ca.  Pa-jes-ka-vees-ca.)

Ha, HA!!!

If you only knew how many times I asked Roxanne to say that word over and over, just so I could type it, then spell it phonetically…

I still can’t say it.  Thank goodness for [control+C] (copy), and [control+V] (paste).

That makes typing it several times so much easier!

But phonetics and typing aside, lemme tell ya… It’s actually a Bosnian dish that I fell in love with today!

And what about:  Lepinja?

Oh, that would be the fantabulous bread (think of a cross between Ciabatta bread and an English muffin)…  The perfect amount of crisp complimented by the perfect amount of “squishiness.”  (only technical terms on this blog)  ;)

Background info:  Houston’s one of the great meccas for amazing food – of all kinds… To say there are a plethora of phenomenal restaurants here would be an understatement…

I love trying new types of food…  Don’t get me wrong, I adore cafe Americana, but to try new spices, textures and treats from other countries is purdy darn cool!

So when Roxanne and I headed out on a girlie jaunt, she decided to take me to one of her fave spots…

Oh, yeah, and she was on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins when they featured this restaurant!!!   (Check out the segment by clicking here!!)

It’s called Cafe Pita Plus.

I know… It’s a tame name to serve such phenomenal Bosnian cuisine!!

So, what in the world is Pljeskavice?  Well, think of it like a big hamburger, stuffed with mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and peppers, then grilled up.  There’s the perfect blend of spice, sass and cheese…  Serve the patty on an oversized “lepinja,” top it with chopped onions and dip it in a red pepper puree…  Oh, wow-to-the-wow!

It’s really almost too big to eat without a fork.  So, ya just dive in!

If you are ever, ever in the Houston area, you gotta try Cafe Pita Plus (10890 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042, phone: 713.953.7237).  It is phe-nom-en-al!!!

Ya’all probably know what my next mission will be.

Yup.  I’m gonna dig around until I can find an amazing recipe (or recipes) that I can share with ya’all!  Food and fun are meant to be shared!

“Nasmiješiti se.”

Yep.  You guessed it.  That means “smile” in Bosnian.   :)








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