Friday, January 16, 2015

Torchy's Tacos Came to College Station

Whodathunk it?  An Austin taco chain set up shop in Aggieland.  And it's a very good thing for all of us.

Located in what was previously considered a cursed location (numerous restaurants have failed at this location), on Texas Avenue right next door to Layne's and Raising Canes, Torchy's Tacos offers a wide variety of taco creations served with local beer and all kinds of fried goodies.

The menu offers a number of different taco creations for about $3-5 a taco.  All can be ordered with or without certain ingredients. Don't want onions? Ask them to hold them. It's cool.  To wash down the tacos they've got local beers, from New Republic, Karboch, and Saint Arnold.

The Lovely Spouse insisted upon green chile queso. Eating around the evil herb (cilantro) on the top the queso had a good chile flavor.  I don't normally eat or even like queso but this was pretty good.
I ordered the fried avocado and the Democrat tacos. Fried avocado, unsurprisingly, contains avocado that's been fried. It was actually quite delicious. Not a lot of flavor, but I really like the flavor of avocados.  The Democrat is barbacoa with, unsurprisingly, avocado.  The barbacoa was tender and well seasoned enough to each on its own.  Both were served on corn tortillas.  The second tortilla is to catch whatever falls from the first.
The Lovely Spouse got the Tuk Tuk and beef fajita. The Tuk Tuk is Thai marinaded beef with a lot of stuff and the beef fajitas are as described. Both were more than filling enough for TLS and he thoroughly enjoyed them. 
There were other interesting things on the Torchy's menu, but, honestly, we were too full to consider them.  They had deep fried chocolate chip cookie dough, which sounds awesome.  Alas we'll be back.  Torchy's is also well-known for their breakfast tacos.

4-5 of the Torchy's in Austin could probably fit inside this location.

This outdoor bar area looks like it will wonderful once the weather gets nice. The night we went it was around 35 F outside.
Will they finally break the curse of this particular restaurant location?  I hope so. I like them a whole lot better than Fuegos, there are more options for people like me who can't eat certain ingredients, and it's an alternative to the traditional Tex-Mex found elsewhere in town.

Will this signal to other Austin restaurateurs that College Station is a viable satellite location for their businesses?  That would be awesome if it happened.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Home Cooking from Patranella's

It's taken me quite awhile to get to Patranella's just off of the main part of Downtown Bryan, but I finally made my way there for lunch during the holiday break.

I heard about Patranella's from a number of friends who also have raving sweet tooths (or would that be sweet teeth?) who highly recommend their pastries. Turns out they're a restaurant as well and The Lovely Spouse has been there for lunch several times.

The menu was filled with no-nonsense fare, including Italian-American specialities such as spaghetii and meatball and stuffed peppers, in addition to Texas and country standards such as meatloaf and chicken friend steak.

I got the stuffed pepper with fried broccoli and green beans. I've never had fried broccoli before but I like it.  The pepper was stuffed with ground beef, rice, and mixed veggies. It was good. I like my stuffed peppers better, but this was nice for those days I don't feel like cooking or cleaning up afterwards.

The Lovely Spouse got the lasagna because...lasagna. Served with fried broccoli and potato wedges. He's ordered it several times which means he likes it. 
Because Patranella's is known for their pastries, we simply had to buy pastries as well.

The Lovely Spouse wouldn't share his pinwheel. 

The canoli was the best I've had in Bryan or College Station. Yum! 
Lunch was very filling and delicious.  I recommend going to Patranella's with the plan on taking half home to save room for their delectable pastries.  We'll definitely be back.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Revival Market in Houston

Revival Market in the Heights in Houston is part of an on-going trend among foodies to produce the best foods with locally sourced ingredients.  I first learned about them via the Houston Chronicle and foodie circles after spending a weekend in the Heights last year.

Hearing that they make their own house-cured charcuterie would normally be enough for me to visit and check the out. Finding out that they also have a coffee bar, desserts, sandwiches, and market items (including honey so local it came from the same neighborhood as the store) makes them a must-visit for me when I have extra time in Houston.

We had just eaten before this current visit, so everything we purchased was to go.  And it's all been fabulous. I purchased some cookies (gingersnaps and fluffer nutters) that didn't make it home because they were so delicious. The Lovely Spouse purchased some sausage that we've been enjoying for the last week.  It's delicate and savory with a perfect mix of spices and smoke.  I also purchased bitters that have been a wonderful addition to gin martinis and bourbon manhattans.

Revival Market is definitely worth the visit while in Houston.  I haven't tried their restaurant Coltivare, but look forward to doing so in the near future.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Image source.

To celebrate bringing in 2015 here's a link to a post with my favorite Black Eyed Peas recipe of all time.  If you think that black eyed peas are bland, try this recipe. Ham and chili peppers pick up the recipe. Use dry black eyed peas instead of fresh or canned. The peas (which are actually beans) will soak up the flavoring as they rehydrate.  The onion can be replaced with a shallot to improve digestibility in people sensitive to onions. The leftovers are just as delicious as the fresh-made peas.

What's the deal with black eyed peas and New Years? It's considered good luck for a prosperous new year in the US South.  It's believed the practice began during the Civil War when fields had been stripped bare of other food and there was little else to eat (sources: wikipedia, others and others). Any way you look at it, the easy-to-make stewed meal, served with greens and cornbread, is a nice and flavorful way to bring in the new year.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lunch at Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Everyone in the Houston area who drinks craft beer is well aware of the existence of Saint Arnold Brewing Company. They're the oldest continuously operating craft brewery in Texas and they produce some of the beers that are iconic for the Houston area, including Elissa IPA (named after the ship in Galveston), Lawnmower, Santo (one of my year-round favorites, not just because it's inexpensive for craft beer), Divine Reserve (there's a new one each year), Bishop's Barrel (amazing, if you can get your hands on it), and Endeavour (absolutely delicious, with limited distribution).

Saint Arnold is actually Saint Arnulf of Metz, the patron saint of brewing.
Brewery tours are available daily when the brewery is open, however not everyone knows they also have a wonderful lunch most days.  To celebrate The Lovely Spouse's birthday, we visited the brewery or lunch.  Note: make reservations because they usually sell out. There was a line outside the door when we arrived waiting for no-shows.  Lunch is served 11 am - 2 pm.  Show up by 1:15 pm or forfeit your spot.

Brewery reps are easy to find around town by the company cars they drive.

Sorry for the blurry pict. 
As you enter the main hall you get a great view of where the magic happens.  We weren't there for the tour so we just watched through the windows.

They were shut down for cleaning the day we were there. Normally there would be steam on these windows.
The way the lunch works is you show up before 1:15 pm and all the beer you can drink (without public intoxication) is included.  They'll give you a pager for when your lunch is ready.  So go up to the counter and request your drinks.  Tea and water were available for non-drinkers.

Not included are bottled and special beers.  I paid extra for the Divine Reserve '14 because it's hard to find elsewhere.  Lovely all-around body with good citrus characteristics. Smooth finish. Served in a smaller glass because it's around 9% ABV.

Stout, Divine Reserve '14, and The Lovely Spouse's special mug filled with amber.
The lunch menu is fixed each day. Go to the reservations page to see what is offered each day. The ala carte menu on the same page applies to the tours, which happen immediately after lunch.  So if you're still hungry stick around for the tour and order food. Tours include a tasting glass with a limited number of tokens for drinks. 

Lunch the day we went was roasted chicken with biscuits and gravy and a salad. 

Swag was also for sale at the kitchen.
Well-made and very filling roasted chicken with exceptional green beans (I could have eaten a pile of just the beans) and a parsnip and carrot salad.
A surprisingly excellent salad tossed with a light balsamic vinaigrette. 
This was more than enough food for lunch. But it was delicious and I definitely recommend coming back whenever it's convenient to visit and the menu items sound delicious.

The view of Houston from the brewery.

There was even live Christmas music.

The other beers I drank that day were the Boiler Room Berliner Weisse and the Icon Red Sorachi Ace Dubbel.  I don't normally care for sours so I was pleasantly surprised that the Berliner Weisse was mild and fruity.  This makes it much more drinkable, to me, than the funky sours I've tried at other breweries.

The other beer I drank was Icon Red Sorachi Ace Dubbel. Part of the Icon Series, it's a special run for the brewery and only available seasonally. I didn't like the Texas Common Icon Green so I was a bit hesitant, but the Sorachi was a good, well-rounded beer.  Nice blend of malts and a smooth finish.

The year-round beers available.  Lawnmower tastes completely different at the brewery.  I don't care for it in bottles, but it's delicious at the brewery.

Seasonal beer menu. Obviously the Winter Stout was available in December. Whether or not they have any of their special runs (e.g., Bishop's Barrel) depends upon availability.
If you're a craft beer drinker in the Houston area, I absolutely recommend Saint Arnold Brewery for lunch or the tour. Prices are reasonable, the food is good, and so is the beer.

As usual, if you drink, designate a driver and get home safely.