Our Last Night in Cancun
Don and I usually avoid Touristy Mexico, but we got a good deal for a "resort" in the Hotel Zone of Cancun. Why not?
On our last night we chose a restaurant with good reviews, within walking distance. We put on comfy shoes and headed off. When we arrived, I had to grin at the sign. First of all, there was a giant lobster, which meant we could say, We dined, 2 times in one day, at a restaurant with a giant lobster on the roof. (see previous post) I also had to grin at the words, under the name. "Since 1683" Hmmm? Is that a joke?
Built Over Water
To the left of the sign was the giant palapa restaurant, sitting over the water.
Lorenzillo's brags that their palapa is the largest in the Americas. Of course they also claim a history going back to 1683. I was ready to find out.
First Things First
Before entering the main dining area, we paused to peek into the open air bar. It was on the early side, but still... How could this breezy bar with fabulous wood & canvas chairs and curious, striped wood floors, not be filled with people?
We didn't need an answer. We just took a seat by the water and sighed.
Martinis and Sunset
We sat at our little barrel table and watched the sun sink.
The April temps were balmy, not sticky.
While sipping, I studied the words on the side of the building. I assumed Lorenzillo was the name of the owner. But later I learned that a man named Salvador, opened this restaurant and then others.
He even opened a furniture factory, to make the tables and chairs that fill his restaurants.
Main Dining Room
After our drinks we headed inside.
The interior wasn't full, but it was still bustling and festive. The blue and white, nautical theme was inviting.
The Wine Vault
We took a moment to take it all in, before we were seated.
The thick blue door leading to the wine vault, looked like something out of a James Bond movie.
Lorenzillo's has its own lobster and crab farm. They're known for their lobster, so we probably should have thought about ordering some.
But the boat filled with Lorenzillo's Girls, made me think twice. I've always been a wimp about seeing live food before eating it. So, how could I eat one of the Girls? That's like naming your pet chicken, that you plan on eventually eating.
The display case made the fresh fish tempting, even to someone who doesn't adore seafood.
I loved the artistically carved veggies, making pretty designs with the seafood.
I love a theme and this place did a mighty fine job. Even the bar looked like a boat.
The waiters wore blue and white shirts, accented with red lobsters. One of the men wearing a lobster shirt, welcomed us and had us follow him to our table.
We passed beautifully set tables. The white over blue tablecloths, plus blue & white china with a golden ships, looked very classy!
He took us to a perfectly fine table, except for one thing. It was not by a window and there seemed to be quite a few available.
It never hurts to ask and sure enough, we were moved to a better table, beside a window. I tried not to wonder why they didn't take us to a better table first. Better to not over-think it.
Our new table was lovely. A purse stand suddenly appeared next to me. My unworthy travel bag really wanted to hide under the table, but I used the stand anyway. Then a standing ice bucket arrived to hold our wine and then a basket with an amazing assortment of fresh breads and garlic butter.
Complimentary empanadas came next, with two kinds of sauce.
I was happy.
There was a door nearby, that lead to the deck tables. After a couple sips of wine, I took a quick step outside to catch the sunset.
There was one more giant lobster that needed to be photographed! In my picture, it looks like he's keeping an eye on Don, who can be spotted in the first window.
Then, I took a photo of the sun just before it slipped behind low clouds.
If we had been vacationing during peak season, then we could have enjoyed lots of people watching, along with our sunset. The palapa and decks were mostly empty.
It was silly to order chicken at a place known for seafood, but I was in heaven with my crispy coated chicken, oozing with spinach and goat cheese. I enjoyed bites of pasta and asparagus between decadent mouthfuls of cheesy meat.
Don loves his seafood and he was more than pleased with the Veracruz-style Grouper, served with onions, peppers and olives. He can be picky, but he raved.
We had no room for dessert, but we worked off a couple calories by hiking the stairs to the second level, for a view of the wonderful "striped" floors.
I think there's a story about those floors...?
Flags and a View
The upstairs dining was closed for the evening, but our waiter invited us to go up and peek around. Instead of a window view, these tables could look down on the diners below, or up at the international flags hanging from the beams.
Best of all the upper level walls were covered with framed clippings and photos. We learned about past famous diners, like Jacques Cousteau and Omar Sharif. We learned about the two hurricanes that nearly destroyed the restaurant. I also finally learned the real age of Lorenzillo's.
It was no surprise to learn that our restaurant had not been around since 1693. Lorenzillo's really opened in 1979. The restaurant was named for a legendary pirate. The story claims that in 1693, Lorenzillo was a hungry pirate when his ship arrived at the port in Veracruz, Mexico. He became enraged to find no good food available. That pirate story inspired Salvador Vidal, when he opened his restaurant nearly 4 decades ago.
He could have just named the Lobster House after himself, since he has a pretty good name. Instead he used the legend and a little humor to create a restaurant with a reputation for delicious food, that could please a fierce and picky pirate, like Lorenzillo. Luckily all customers seemed content on the night we dined. I saw no outraged pirates or diners yelling and smashing the beautiful blue plates.
Happy Tourists and Happy Pirates!
Isla Mujeres in Mexico
This was just about the first restaurant Don and I spotted when our ferry arrived on the island.
It was early morning and we were starved. Any restaurant with a lobster on the roof, had to be good!
Under the Roof
Don and I paused to check the menu on the little carved stands in front. No staff rushed to greet, because they were all under the roof, eating their own breakfasts. But we were spotted and encouraged to come in and find a seat.
Don and I headed into the shaded restaurant and noticed more creatures hanging from the ceiling. All the tables were sitting in beach sand, which was pretty fun. But we headed down the wooden walkway, towards the water.
Table on the Deck
We picked one of two wooden tables, on the deck, where we had a little shade, plus a nice view of the water and dock.
The other ferry tourists all seemed eager to get to beaches or golf cart tours.
We seemed to have the place to ourselves and that was perfect.
Coffee at Last
Our waiter eventually arrived with menus. I asked if they served coffee. He answered no... and then laughed. Some diners in need of caffeine, might not have found that funny. I was just happy he was teasing.
Once I had a sip of coffee, I could enjoy the atmosphere. Our little, polished table had some character. There was a glass covered hole in the center, with a flower and shell display.
The chairs that went with the table were even more exciting. Don and I both had carved seahorses behind our backs, but there were chairs with dolphins and turtles and lobsters.
I think families with young kids would find these chairs pretty nifty. I can also imagine some bickering siblings, tired from a day at the beach... fighting over the octopus chair.
Eye on the Dock
This was the perfect little spot to start our day on the island. Don and I (and the overhead shark) kept an eye on the water and boats. Not
only was the setting peaceful, but the music that played softly was quite pleasant. A nice change from some of the places that cater to young tourists!
The food part of the dining adventure was decent and priced well.
Our orders of Ranchero Eggs and Mexican Eggs were pretty similar and I can't even remember which we liked better.
Lobster Next Time
Our memories of Miramar will be about the curious decor and the view and our friendly pelican. I wish we had a lobster memory.
After we excited I noticed the glass window facing the street, with the lobster tank. Next time, we'll need to go at night for a real feast, with lobster memories!
Birthday Lunch in Fredericksburg, Texas
It's time for another throwback write-up. It's been over a year since the day we went to Hondo's. I turned 60 on that Sunday and we spent the day wandering, in historic Fredericksburg.
Hondo's wasn't a big destination restaurant. I pretty much picked it because I was intrigued by the old building.
I liked the idea of the place being a whole lot older than me... like about 55 years older.
Self Help Restaurant/Bar
It was a beautiful day, when we arrived. A band was gearing up out on the patio and we had a feeling the place would be getting packed soon.
We stepped inside the bar area to figure out how this place worked. Luckily, some other diners filled us in. "Order at the inside bar. Find yourself a seat. Pick up your food at the kitchen window."
Who is Hondo?
On past visits to Fredericksburg, I had always been curious about the old building. Stepping inside for the first time, it was nice to see the interior had just as much charm as the exterior.
There were thick stucco walls, wooden beams, a stone fireplace and lots of photos of Hondo. I obviously needed to learn about who this Hondo person was.
Hondo by the Stage
The cute little stage with twinkle lights and stacks of beer boxes, was surrounded with more Hondo images.
I felt a little bad that I've lived in Texas nearly 20 years and didn't know about Hondo Crouch. I quickly learned that Hondo was the writer and humorist, who became the self-proclaimed mayor of Luckenbach, Texas.
Luckenbach in 2015
Here is Luckenbach in 2015, when Don and I stopped by on July 4th weekend. We knew about the Texas Hill Country "town" made famous by Waylon Jennings in 1977.
But we didn't know about Hondo Crouch, who bought the town for $30,000 in 1970.
Hondo died in 1976, before the song. But his daughter and her husband decided to bring a little of Hondo's spirit to life, when they opened the Fredericksburg bar/restaurant and music venue.
Don and I managed to find an open table outside and settled in to enjoy the music and people watching. It wasn't exactly like the dance hall at Luckenbach, with its daily live music. But it was relaxed and entertaining.
There was lots of good people watching.
I was sorry I hadn't worn my cowboy hat. I guess that's because I don't have one. But I could have worn boots.
Don and I toasted to the day...
... with margarita and beer and waited for our order.
Burgers and Soup
Our food didn't take long. I recall Don's burger was extra yummy, topped with crispy onion strings, bacon and cheese.
I'm afraid I have totally failed to remember what kind of soup and salad I had. I think I had some kind of Cobb Salad or something.
I do remember liking the soup, even though the photo doesn't look so good.
Rating the Restroom
Worst of all I can't remember what was amusing about the restroom and why I took the photo. Was it just that there was a hole in the shape of a star on the door?
Or was there something unusual about the Ladies Room? (I often find old restrooms can be part of the dining adventure) I can't remember for the life of me what the significance was. Thats the problem with a throw-back write-up... when you don't take notes. I'll just have to go back and enjoy again!
It's not every day that you get a chance to dine in what was once a power plant.
A while back, Don and I made a lunch stop, to have a dam-view, restaurant experience!
I loved the idea of eating inside the impressive brick structure.
This building operated as a gristmill in the early 1900's and was converted into a hydroelectric plant in 1940.
We could have eaten some burgers, right beside the Busch-Sulzer Diesel Engine!
We could have nibbled on fries, while studying hefty pieces of machinery.
Evidently it took some creative engineering to get this place reopened after years of sitting vacant. There was leveling and bridge building... kitchen and deck construction and all sorts of things I don't understand.
I also know nothing about all cool machinery inside the engine room. I do know it fascinated my engineer husband, who wandered and studied, while I saw about getting a table.
Food with a View!
It was hard to give up the idea of dining within those brick walls, where we could have imagined the noise and activity 100 years ago.
But the weather was too lovely on a spring day.
Eye on the Dam
Even without the history, this view was pretty ideal. It was fun imagining the scene through the years. It may have been a beaver dam that inspired the first original mill dam, way over 100 years ago.
By the late 1800's, Henry Troell was the owner and the mill evolved into a power plant with the installation of electro-hydraulic generators.
I guess the bend of the Guadalupe River had something to do with this "S" shaped curve. It was so pleasing to the eye.
The trees were just beginning to get green and the warm spring temps made the breeze feel just right. We ordered and hoped our food didn't come too fast.
I couldn't turn down the meatloaf, since it was featured as their in house daily special. The dark gravy was tasty on the mashed potatoes and meatloaf.
The roll took me back to my hot lunches in grade school. And that is a good thing. Don got the Power Burger and it was quite decent.
The Turbine Room
Our waiter encouraged us to cross the bridge and take a peek at the Turbine Room.
I'm guessing the space is used for private gatherings or overflow. What a dramatic view, looking straight down on the water!
The Turbine Wheel
In 1886, Henry Troell was given permission by Seguin Waterworks Company to install a 54-inch turbine wheel at his power dam.
This is the wheel that allowed water to be pumped to the Seguin area. Troell must have been a pretty big man on Seguin's campus, back in the day. No one took power for granted back then.
We need to get back to Seguin and do a little Power Dining in the evening. I'm not sure where the sun sets or what kind of crowd fills the place at night. But it might be worth a visit!
Sugar Land, Texas
I love sushi and I love a little fun with my dining.
So when this unique sushi bar moved to a new shopping area near our home, I was pretty excited.
I had no clue about "revolving sushi" until my daughter filled me in. Heidi has enjoyed food on a conveyor belt, in Japan and she's also had the "Kura" experience in Austin, where she lives.
We're lucky we don't have to travel to find a Kura. There are a number of them in Texas and California... and one in Georgia. When Heidi visited Sugar Land in February, we gave it a try, arriving on a busy Sunday night.
Heidi, showed us how to check in on the electronic tablet. We could keep an eye on our progress by watching the numbers, as they lit up on the screen. We also got a warning text, to let us know we'd be seated soon.
That was helpful, in case we wanted to wander outside a bit. But we stayed inside with the crowd, standing patiently. We chuckled with a few others nearby. We agreed that we did not want to end up at the table near the door, surrounded by the waiting crowd.
Eating at the Counter?
There were table options as well as counter seating.
It was tempting to sit facing the parade of food, like these folks. But I wasn't sure we would get the full experience.
Food and Toys
I learned a little something by watching a nearby table. The kids seemed pretty delighted with the table-side contraption that offered up prizes. But I watched other tables and realized it was not just for kids.
In the past, you had to be a kid to get a toy with your food. There were no Happy Meals when I was a kid. However the Flaming Pit had a treasure box, where kids got to choose a prize, after dining with their parents. More on prizes later...
Yay! We got a corner table.
I sat with the food prep behind me and the conveyor belt beside me. I could also see some little eyes, peering at the moving food.
There were a few helpful signs, like this one.
But even with this explanation about the special serving dish, called Mr. Fresh, I was still glad to have Heidi along to keep me from make a beginner mistake, like grabbing the whole container off the belt.
It was very exciting and slightly intimidating.
You Like, You Grab
Heidi let Don and me sit by the exciting revolving belt that wound around the restaurant.
Don skillfully grabbed a plate of Soy Sake Marinated Salmon Nigiri. The lid popped up properly and he neatly placed the little $2.25-dish right on our table.
Not everything was available on the moving belt. Sake, Udon, Ramen, Tempura and desserts could all be ordered from a food screen.
A waiter initially greeted our table for any special requests.
Quick and Fresh
After our 25 minute wait, it was nice not having to wait for food. We saw what we liked and grabbed.
It was also nice to learn that Kura serves all organic foods, free of additives and MSG. I also was pleased to find out that there's a system for automatically disposing of the uneaten food plates, that for some reason don't get picked. So no worries about picking a food that's been lingering.
Eating with Pros
I was the only one at our table who has not eaten sushi in Japan. Don used to travel on business. Heidi and her husband Jamie, were engaged in Japan.
Also, Don and Heidi share an odd college experience, 30+ years apart. Both spent a period of time at University of Michigan, eating dorm food only with chopsticks. I love dining with pros.
It's hard to pass up some bright salmon and fresh tuna, when it rolls on by. We ended up eating lots of basic nigiri, but the rolls were tasty as well.
The green plates were all $2.25, which seemed like such a bargain, but it's also easy to get carried away with the fun. That's kind of how I remember cafeterias as a kid. It's so easy to grab a lot!
A Giddy Diner
I obviously loved the little box that held my food. I was pretty excited about the whole concept of this place. I also seemed to be the only one looking around and snapping pics, like a tourist.
In fact I felt like I was a tourist on a trip. We live in Fort Bend County, which is ranked the most diverse U.S. county, in many studies. When I looked around, I could easily imagine that I was actually eating a meal in Japan. None of the other diners seemed to make a fuss over the exciting vibe. No one else seemed to be "learning the ropes".
I turned around in my booth to peek at the "sushi makers" now and then. They seemed pretty laid back in the festive atmosphere.
I should have paid closer attention to observe the system for adding and removing plates from the belt. For a moment, I amused myself with a thought of the iconic I Love Lucy episode. Except I pictured Lucy, stuffing her mouth full of salmon and shrimp, instead of chocolate!
This was my first dining experience that involved a little game-like fun, at the table.
Above our table and the belt, we had our own colorful screen. There was a little animation first and then some words, encouraging us to "defeat him" by inserting more plates. Below the moving belt was the slot, where we inserted our empty green plates. Our plates became tokens to keep the story moving on the screen.
Above the animation screen, was a clear box that held the round prize holders. I was glad we had 3 people since it took 15 plates to earn a prize.
I felt like I was in Vegas when we inserted the 15th plate and the Bikurra-Pon released a red & green ball! Down the slide it came, landing in the plastic tray! Oh boy, a little stamper. It was pretty lame for over 35 dollars worth of sushi. But I didn't care. I was the kid that bought Cracker Jacks, just for the prize.
Share the Prize
What a fun food outing! It wasn't the absolute best sushi I've had, but it was the quickest and most entertaining!
Maybe next time I go, I can ride my bike.
It's close enough and that would add to the playful dining theme. I could also leave the prize behind, like one person did. I pity the families with kids, begging the parents to purchase 15 more plates for another prize! Yikes.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.