I’ve seen this restaurant meme going around all over the place and I kind of filed it away as something I might do at some point, but I’ve been so busy, what with all the fish death and cake baking, that I forgot about it. But then, Tracey at More than a Minivan Mom actually tagged me, so here it is. I go back and forth on whether or not I like doing memes, but today? I like them.
Let me also state that I’m breaking all the rules and changing the meme to suit my own purposes, because I can’t be confined by the man and his rules. Since I live in a city that has, at last count 852 Mexican food restaurants, we eat a lot of Mexican food, and if I were to write about my 5 favorite local restaurants, it would look like this.
1. Taco Taco Cafe
2. Taco Garage
3. Patty’s Taco House
4. Taco Taco Cafe #2
5. Taco Taco Cafe #3
That would just be boring and, in spite of what y’all may think, I try to not be boring.
So, with apologies to Julio Iglesias, this is a post to all the restaurants I’ve loved before.
1. Casa Ole’ – There was a time in my life when my idea of great Mexican food was Casa Ole’. Back in high school, when I was in posession of a 16 year old metabolism, I would eat here at least three times a week. I always ordered the Dinner El Paso, which consisted of two cheese enchiladas covered in queso with a crispy beef taco on the side.
And they had green sauce. Love the green sauce. Pledge my undying love to the green sauce.
Throughout high school and college, Casa Ole’ was my answer to any of life’s events; heartaches, hangovers, girls’ night out. But sadly, now that I’ve experienced real Mexican food, the love affair is over.
2. The Grapevine – My sophomore year at Texas A&M, I discovered The Grapevine. College Station had about three restaurants at the time, Lubys, The Blackeyed Pea, and Fajita Ritas. Grapevine was an oasis in the desert of restaurants.
Gulley, Jen, Tiff and I ate at Grapevine multiple times a week. They made the best twice baked potatoes EVER and their salads were the best. They had these perfect cubes of cheese and tomato and served it with Parmesan Pepper dressing. And because I was so healthy, I would ask for a whole bottle of Parmesan Pepper dressing and dip Club Crackers in it.
My arteries are still feeling the effects.
Sadly, The Grapevine is no longer with us. It closed down sometime after I left A&M and this saddens me to no end. In fact, when the restaurant went up for sale, we talked about buying it but since the price was like $3 million dollars, it seemed like an excessive amount to spend just so I could keep eating Parmesan Pepper dressing. I still dream about the Parmesan Pepper dressing.
When Gulley and I were in College Station last month, we drove by in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, someone had resurrected Grapevine. But in an ironic twist, the property is now home to Lighthouse Christian Church, which makes sense given the religious experience that was Parmesan Pepper dressing.
3. Carrabbas – Once upon a time, Carrabbas was a family owned restaurant on Kirby Drive in Houston. Now, it’s a chain and that makes me sad. It’s not that chain restaurants can’t be good, but the chain factor sucks the soul out of a place.
Gulley and I used to drive to Houston to visit our dads during college and one of the big events was getting to go to Carrabbas. I always ordered the Pollo Rosa Maria with a side of fettucine alfredo, otherwise known as Heart Disease On A Plate.
And I don’t know why I feel the need to tell y’all this, but I once ate so much there one night that I had to change my pajama bottoms during the night because the elastic was too tight.
That’s just shameful.
Anyway, now Carrabbas is a chain and it’s lost its charm and appeal, but on the bright side, I don’t have to worry about my pajama bottoms anymore.
4. The Gristmill – We don’t eat here too often because it’s in Gruene, Texas, which is about 45 minutes away, but I love it. It’s right on the Guadalupe River and next to Gruene Hall, the oldest dancehall in Texas.
There is nothing better than spending a day floating on the river and then heading to The Gristmill to eat a chicken fried steak while listening to the sounds of Texas music coming from the dancehall. I haven’t done it in years, about 4 1/2 to be exact, but it’s a great way to spend the day.
Not to mention, eating chicken fried steak while wearing a swimsuit? Awesome.
5. Rosarios – It’s hard name just one favorite Mexican restaurant, so I’ll pick Rosarios. It’s located downtown and has some of the best Mexican food in the city, which is saying something in a city of 852 Mexican restaurants. It’s more upscale than your average taco house and the guacamole is unbelievably good.
P took me to Rosarios for our first night out after Caroline was born and when I took a sip of my first margarita in a year, I started crying. Granted, there could have been some hormones responsible for the tears along with “Raising Arizona” declarations of “I just looove that baby”, but I like to believe it was just the pure, top shelf goodness of the perfect margarita accompanied with chips and guacamole.
And there it is, the restaurants that have meant the most to me over the years. I have eaten at nicer places. I’ve eaten at gourmet restaurants where the food is perfectly presented and oh-so-arty and trendy, but these are the places that are close to my heart. When it comes down to it, I will always take a good chicken fried steak or chili con queso over slow roasted wild salmon on dilled cucumbers and avocado served with hydroponic baby lettuces.
I’m just sophisticated like that, not to mention, I think it’s cruel to eat the baby lettuces.