Lunch and Antiques in Rosenberg
Rosenberg is a 20 minute drive from our house.
This blue building delighted me! Was it once a house?
We parked on the side, by the mural of fishermen. Don thought they were mermen, but I don't think so.
There were festive lights framing each painted window! These colorful images were actually pretty entertaining.
Friday, Before Noon
We stepped inside and headed through an archway, past some gum machines. It looked like there were maybe 3 eating areas and only 2 tables in use.
The Main Room
The main dining room was bright, with lots of colorful wall and window art.
The tables by the wall reminded me of a fast food restaurant. The window tables looked more like a cozy diner, with their curtains... decorated with tiny roosters.
So Many Choices
We were invited to sit anywhere. The darker dining area near the kitchen, had a table beneath a smiling man, with a thin mustache.
The table beneath the octopus and shrimp, looked quite festive.
We chose Table #2, near the refreshing green mountains and calming waters of Lago de Patzcuaro. Don blended well, with his green shirt.
We did not pull out our Sharpi pens, but it looks like someone did... and added a tiny fish.
Don ordered a few soft tacos on corn tortillas. He seemed pleased with the flavor of the shrimp. The breakfast taco with dried beef and egg, needed a little salsa to moisten it.
Here are the happy diners, with their big plates!
My Chicken Chimichanga was packed with large pieces of moist chicken and more gooey cheese. The beans and rice were decent, as well. I had to get a box for leftovers.
Chatting with Maria
Off to the Antique Stores
We admired the art as we headed off to the car. "This place sure seems familiar." Don said.
In the car I looked on my phone and searched way back, on my dining blog. Oops! We've been to El Guadalajara! What is our excuse besides old brains?
#1 - Road construction changes, have messed with our memories.
#2 - The cute blue building, was once yellow.
But the interior murals and curtains were all the same. Yikes! That's just embarrassing! So... we headed to the antique stores, where our vintage brains felt right at home!
Heading for the Sign, on Cinco de Mayo!
Don and I live only 5 miles from Larry's, so we decided to head over for a festive lunch on Cinco de Mayo. We parked beneath another Larry sign and headed for the front door.
Not much has changed since we moved to Sugar Land and visited Larry's, almost 20 years ago. I'm pretty sure these red lamps were here then and probably when the restaurant opened, in 1960.
We passed by a few more festive lamps, before opening the door. I read the sign above the glass and was glad I did't see the words, "No Costumes" added to the list.
I sort of felt like I was wearing a costume, when I put on my festive Mexican dress with colorful embroidery. "Please don't be embarrassed." I begged Don. "I have to wear this, because it's Cinco de Mayo and when else..."
Not Busy... Yet
It wasn't even noon yet, so there were plenty of open tables with colorful chairs. A little mariachi music made my outfit seem just right. But the serious waiter who motioned for us to be seated, made me suddenly feel self-concious. Clearly this restaurant was open for business as usual. No whooping it up for those Americans who love to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
Our waiter was efficient, delivering our menus, chips and salsa. I never felt rushed, but I could sense that his energy was already geared up, for a crowd. Sure enough, by the time my chicken taco salad and Don's chicken enchiladas and soft tacos arrived, the place was filling up. Our waiter's pace suddenly fit.
Better than before?
I already looked out of place in my silly dress, so I figured I'd just wander around and study some of the artwork and old photos and learn some history. There was a photo of the original Larry, who died over 10 years ago. His son took over for a number of years and now his grandson, Eberardo Guerrero III manages the family owned restaurant. Elenor, the daughter-in-law of the Larry Sr., works the cash register.
Elenor was seated with friends at a table near the candy-covered counter. As I wandered over, she popped up and was happy to answer my questions. I'm not sure when she met her husband, (the son of the first Larry) but she said she first ate at the restaurant when she was about 19. She laughed about how little had changed. "If we try to change anything, people get mad. They like it just the way it is."
Good People Encounters
By the time our waiter brought our check, he had slowed down to laugh with us a bit. He chuckled about Don's name. "Don Don!" Don gets this a lot, since Don is a courtesy title that goes before the name. He was confused by my name Beth, until I said it was short for Elizabeth. He seemed to think that was very royal and told me the Spanish word for crown. I wish I had a photo of our waiter!
Posing with Elenor
After a little more chatting with Elenor at the cash register, I convinced her to pose with me for a photo. She was quite a good sport, saying she doesn't usually do photos.
I had one last people encounter, just as we stepped out the door. A blond woman wearing a purple version of my Mexican dress, was headed inside. "Oh! I like your dress!" I laughed, as I held the door for her. "I like yours, too." She added.
To bad I didn't get her to pose with me!
It wasn't easy getting here, but it was well worth it!
Americans and Mexicans have crossed the Rio Grande in this area of Big Bend National Park for decades. The Texas communities near Big Bend have had a good relationship with the tiny village of Boquillas, across the river in Mexico. But after 9/11, the border was firmly closed.
Since April of 2013, tourists with passports have been allowed to cross the Rio Grande in Big Bend into Mexico by checking in at the new Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry Station. In February, my husband and I had a chance to try out the new crossing. We arrived early morning and chatted with rangers before heading down to the river. It was a beautiful morning and we could hear a couple voices from across the river, "Welcome to Mexico!" Then we heard the voice of Victor, who is the official singing greeter for Boquillas.
Carmello rowed us across the river. We could have waded, but this was all part of the experience. We also wanted to support the community with our 5 dollar tickets.
Yes to Burros!
I was excited that Don was game for the burro experience. It was only 3/4 mile to the village, but he's not a big fan of horsebackriding. Of course these weren't exactly horses. In fact I felt a little silly on mine, but it was fun! Joel followed along, since the burros are a little out of practice. Many were set free when the border was closed and tourists were no longer coming across.
We hadn't asked for a guide, but after tying up the burros and checking in with passports at the visitor center, Joel stayed with us as we wandered the village. This was actually great because we were the first tourists that day and we wouldn't have known where to go. Joel pointed out the school, and the original bar of Boquillas. He took us inside the little yellow church and he greeted the only village doctor in front of an adobe hospital. Joel told us about 180 people were now living in the village, with only one landline phone and no electricity. He pointed out a few solar panels and satellite dishes. He pointed to the building that held the only phone in town. He told us there was no electricity, only solar power
Joel introduced us to some of the locals. Many were selling crafts, from bedspreads to walking sticks. We bought bracelets and wire animals from the children who approached and we bought a patchwork quilt from one family.
We brought along a silly collection of monkey socks from the US and these became handy gifts now and then. Some of the children were eager to pick out a pair. Even some not so little kids liked the socks.
The little town with its dusty main street never got more than a handful of American guests. But after wandering for an hour through the unshaded area, it seemed like all the visitors ended up in the same place.
It was time for a little food and Cerveza at Jose Falcon's. Don and I had a couple beers and visited with a few other travelers from Connecticut, Michigan and Colorado. Sitting on the shady terrace overlooking the spectacular Mexican mountain range, was the absolute highlight of our village visit.
When in Boquillas...
The other diners on the terrace were pretty much like Don and me...in other words, not a Spring Break crowd! So it was a little funny that we all decided it was important to sample the tequilas to complete our experience. "Only one!" Don and I agreed. "We have to be able to ride our burros back!"
And here is the food that inspired a dining blog entry. Obviously the food was just a tiny part of the whole experience. But our simple and authentic beef tacos and chicken enchiladas were mouth watering. You will notice there is a small bear near the tacos. He has his own blog and that's another story.
Soon after lunch, we headed back on our burros for the river. There had been no charge for our "tour" with Joel, but we handed him a gracious tip. Even though he struggled with his English, he made us feel comfortable and welcome. Victor the singing greeter, got a tip as well. We so hope the Village of Boquillas continues to get generous tourists, to keep this tiny village alive. If only the border between Mexico and the US could be like this everywhere!
This wonderful café has been serving Mexican food on this corner since 1916! It is the longest, continuously operating restaurant (at one location) on Galveston Island!
By the Medical Center
The cute building sits on a corner, tucked into a neighborhood close to the Medical Center. That means you are away from the tourists roaming around the seawall. I love a place with locals...and med students.
I hurried to take a picture of the table before we covered it in food. This is one of the original tables with hand painted flowers. I wonder how many layers of shellac-like coating are on this table!
Our meal arrived right at noon, as you can see by that illuminated clock on the wall! Luckily we didn't wait long or I would have eaten even more chips and salsa! I ordered the lunch special for $7.99 and my giant plate of spinach enchiladas verdes arrived piping hot. Luckily I still had room, because it was delicious!
Food always tastes better to me when I'm surrounded by festive colors (walls and woodwork!) and a little history. I found just the right person to fill me in on the cafe's past.
I met Della near the counter when I asked her if I could take a peek upstairs. After I returned from my exploration Della warmed up a bit and began to tell me about the 50 years she has spent working at the café. She said the place has seen a few changes since she started working. She didn't even know how many owners the café has had since she started in 1963. She did however, clearly remember the table where she met her husband. "He used to come and sit at that table over there and have me wait on him." After they married, she continued working, even when she was 9 months pregnant with her first child. "One day I just left work and went to the hospital and had my baby!" She laughed.
As we headed out after our filling meal, Della told us to come back. "Just remind me who you are!" She laughed, telling us she had some medications that didn't help with her memory. "I'm not here all the time, though." She told us, "I've cut back to working just Monday through Friday." I told her that didn't sound like cutting back! We said good-bye just as a trio of young women, (med students probably) entered and greeted Della by name. I was glad to see her pull up a chair and join the guests as we left!
Always an Adventure, at Mi Terra!
Some may think it's a tourist trap, but I find it to be a guaranteed good time at Mi Tierra in San Antonio! Every time we have visited this festive restaurant, exploding with music, color and flavors we have a good time.
Over 10 Years Ago
I brought family to Mi Tierra's in 2000 and my mom was fairly giddy to meet a celebrity. She didn't know who he was, but she noticed him wandering the crowded dining rooms followed by cameras and autograph seekers. My mom was thrilled to pose for a photo.
In 2002, we returned with more family and absorbed more of the curious Mi Tierra vibe.
We were amused to find a colorful flute player in the bar, not far from a very large portrait of President Clinton... jogging. ???
Mom's Mystery Man?
On our return visit, we teased Mom about seeing her mystery man again. I brought the photo we had taken in 2000, so we could finally inquire about the popular stranger. I can't remember his name but we learned he was a well-known Telemundo TV star. After Mom gathered a group of waiters to study the photograph with her, she was just as happy to pose with her 4 new friends as she had been with her TV star.
Last Weekend's Celebration
Last Saturday my husband and I joined our son and his girlfriend's family on a trip to San Antonio. This was their first visit to Texas, so we thought dinner at Mi Tierra would give them quite a festive taste of one of the many cultures that make up this state. We hadn't done our homework or we would have known there was a weekend celebration going on in the Market area for Mexican Independence Day. Outside the restaurant there were food vendors and musical stages, families with lawn chairs and lots of dancing! Inside Mi Tierra, it was business as usual. The restaurant never closes and the decorations never come down!
We didn't eat in this room, but I had to snap a photo of the fluttering silver décor, dripping from the ceiling and yes, those are Christmas trees surrounding the room.
Since they are open 24 hours here, I sure hope they give some of these lights a rest in the wee hours. I kind of like this photo because it captures a bit of the family atmosphere...a little laughing, smiling and a couple of siblings holding hands...or more likely...tugging playfully at each other.
I've enjoyed the music of mariachis in many Mexican restaurants, but I've never enjoyed multiple groups of musicians at once. While our group of 3 performed, another group strummed and crooned across the room and yet another played in a nearby room.
The performers are not employed by the restaurant, so they're quite upfront about being paid. When we requested Maleguena, the man in the sun glasses let us know that would be a $6.00 song. The song requires pretty strong vocal chords to hold the long notes and they ended up earning much more than $6.00 from our table! Bravo!!
I was so busy enjoying the atmosphere, I hardly expected to be delighted by my food. You hardly expect good cuisine from a 24-hour restaurant that serves up to 500 people. But my Poblano Dinner was incredibly good. The pepper was stuffed with spicy beef and just the right amount of cheese. The enchilada, rice, beans and guacamole may look like one big blob of color in my photo, but the flavors and textures were delicious and distinct. Ole' for my meal!
No one had room for dessert. We left feeling pretty stuffed...that's part of the Mi Tierra experience. Stuffed from margaritas and chips and salsa and the meal. Even my brain felt stuffed from all the sights and sounds. There's no way you can absorb it all in one visit.
Next time, I'll have to ask more about the shrine behind our table. Delmar did confirm that the portrait was Selena, the famous singer who died too young. And I needed no help identifying the Virgin Mary. But I'm going to ask about the framed portraits on display. Are they members of the Cruz family, who still own the restaurant today? Or family members who have died. How could I have dined so close to this curious shrine with twinkly lights and a tiny skeleton and not have the full story!
Shame on me. Next time...
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.