Food

Restaurant Review: Melis Taqueria

I never was a fan of fast food, and with the recent “pink slime” controversy, I am even less of one now. That said, sometimes, time constraints being what they are in the fast paced world, we need to grab something quick, as we’re headed off in the thirty different directions in which life calls you. It was one of those such times that I discovered Melis Taqueria on Vickery (between Montgomery and Hulen Sts.)

The taqueria itself is a scant step up from a shed, which only adds to the ambiance, in my humble opinion. The emphasis is on the food — plentiful portions, fast service and maximum taste. It has now become a weekly addiction.

It all started off with an order of pork carnitas on a handmade tortilla. Flavorful enough on its own, but enhanced greatly with the verde sauce, fresh lime slice and pico de gallo provided.  I can also heartily recommend their tortas, which is basically a Mexican sandwich. In our case the filling was a thin, breaded piece of beef, with ample lettuce and tomatoes on an oblong telera (bun), which found big enough for two to share for a noon day meal.

What keeps me going back however, are their breakfast burritos. They’ve  become a Sunday morning tradition. They have all the regular fillings such as chorzio, egg and beans to choose from. We go for the bacon, potato and egg combo and are never disappointed. They offer both a red (hot/his) and verde (milder/hers) sauce on the side. A fresh, warm tortilla filled with freshly made ingredients equals my kind of fast food.

In addition to being a quick, authentic option to your standard fast food fare, Melis also beats the competition down with extremely affordable prices. You can have franchise food anywhere, anytime on the planet — let’s support the small independents in our culinary community that give our region a unique flavor of its own, and something to write home about. Help keep the tradition alive.

Melis Taqueria is located at 4304 W Vickery Blvd, in Fort Worth.

Melis' carnitas, my kind of fast food...

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RECIPE: Peach Cobbler

I mentioned making peach cobbler as a way of diverting my attention from the last severe storm warning we had here in the Metroplex and I’ve had a few requests for the recipe. Since there’s a small chance of stormy weather on  Friday, I figured now was the time to oblige. This can be made with any fruit. I love peaches, but the next time around I’ll be using fresh blackberries. In a pinch, canned fruit (drained) will do as well.

Here we go…

Stormy Weather Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

1/2 cup of butter
1 cup regular flour
2 cups of sugar, divided in half
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
2 cups of fresh peaches, sliced (or 2 cans, drained if out of season)

Method

Melt butter in an 8×8 casserole dish.
In a bowl combine: flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder and milk.
Mix and then pour batter on top of butter in the casserole dish.
*Do not stir!

In separate bowl mix the fruit with the remaining cup of sugar.
Pour the fruit mixture on top of batter.
*Do not stir!

Batter will seep up around the fruit while cooking.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until the top is browned.

Ready for the oven...

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Daytrippin’ – To The Ennis Bluebonnet Trail

If you love wildflowers, a trip to Ennis' Bluebonnet Trail is a mustThis year, Texas has been blessed with an abundance of tiny, blue-purple flower heads lining its highways and byways.

This year, unlike the drought-ridden Spring of 2011, Texas has been blessed with an abundance of tiny blue and purple flower heads lining its highways and byways. We’d been itching to get a better look at they yearly event first hand, so this past weekend, we gassed up the car, and headed out of the city on 287, to Ennis, the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas.

Our first stop was to the Ennis Visitor’s Bureau, where we were greeted warmly and after signing their guest book we were given a map and detailed instructions on where to find the best locations for bluebonnet viewing along the town’s back roads. Armed with our new found knowledge, it didn’t take long to see what all of the hoopla was about. The vistas along the Bluebonnet trail were breathtaking. The map took us on three separate trail routes through farmlands and small, almost forgotten towns before landing us right where we began.

Although there was plenty to see and photograph this past weekend, we were assured that the best was yet to come. The Visitor’s bureau estimates that the peak of the season will be somewhere between the first and second weekend of April.

The city’s annual bluebonnet festival is scheduled for April 21st and more details can be found on the city’s website.  Don’t be mistaken, however, into thinking that bluebonnets are all that Ennis has to offer. The quaint, picturesque town is a great getaway for those looking for a day trip away from the city.

In May, Ennis will host it’s 46th annual National Polka Festival,  and in the Fall and Winter months they keep the celebrations happening with their Autumn Days (October), a Holiday Celebration of Lights at Christmas time, and in February the town proudly shows its roots, with its annual Czech Music Festival.

Ennis offers views of bluebonnets for as far as the eye can see

Sadly, however, while travelling the backroads we were not  only greeted by a profusion of blue and red from the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes, but also a wide spread sea of yellow. The effect was stunning for the camera, but upon arriving home we saw a news report about the invasive bastard cabbage that is threatening the future of Texas’ most treasured flower. I am not a botanist, so I’m not absolutely sure that what we saw, was the dreaded plant shown on the newscast, or a less-threatening variant, but its similar enough that it made me take notice. It was an eye-opening reminder as to just how fragile our eco-system is, and how something so treasured as Texas’ state flower, could be gone so quickly, if we aren’t diligent.

Are the dotted yellow landscapes of Texas a threat to the future of the state's most beloved flower?

After we’d exhausted every back road we could find, and filled up the memory card in the camera, we were famished, and we knew exactly where to go.

The Firehouse Grill had caught our eye when we arrived in town earlier that morning, looking for the visitor’s bureau. Located in the city’s historic fire-hall, the restaurant offers its patrons to soak in visually, while their meal is being prepared. The venue’s ambiance and design is meant to honor the civil servants who place their lives on the line to protect the community and its citizens. Local police and fire departments donated various items on display.

We ordered the chicken fried steak sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries, and even though its been three days, we’re still talking about how great the food was. The service was friendly and prompt and the food, outstanding. We can’t recommend this place enough.

You can find the Firehouse Grill at 219 SW Main in Ennis.

The Firehouse Grill in Ennis is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner.

The Firehouse Grill serves up a appetite satisfying chicken fried steak sandwich, with sweet potato fries for a budget pleasing price

Categories: Day Trips, Food, Places to Visit and Explore, Restaurant Reviews, The Great Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

RECIPE: Jalapeno Cornbread

Served warm from the oven, this flavorful cornbread is the perfect sidekick for your favorite Tex-Mex chili recipe

I promised to include some great southern cooking recipes when I started this blog, so today I’m making good on my word and sharing this quick and easy cornbread. Great as a side for those Tex-Mex bowls of chili.

Jalapeño Cornbread 

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1/2 c all-purpose flour
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 c olive oil
3 jalapeno peppers (seeded, finely chopped)

Method:

1) Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

2) In a separate bowl mix eggs, buttermilk, olive oil and chopped jalapenos. Stir until blended and then add to the dry mixture. Beat until well blended.

3) Pour into 8X8 greased baking pan.

4) Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

5) Serve warm.

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Restaurant Review: Tres Joses

Tex-Mex restaurants are everywhere in Texas, and it is my personal mission to visit as many of them as I can.  They come in all shapes and sizes and aside from the fast food versions, I love them all. I particularly love the roadside taquerias, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a sit down and be served kind of meal.  One night last week it was simply too hot for this Northern girl to cook, so we rooted through the coupons that came in our monthly ValPak envelope, and found a ‘buy one get one free entree’ at Tres Joses. Perfect. Out the door we went.

Pulling up in the parking lot, I had a suspicion we’d made the right choice judging by the numerous cars, although I was bit concerned about not finding a table during the peak hours of evening dining. Worries were gone the moment we walked through the brightly painted front door. The dining area was vast and although there were many people already enjoying their meal, we were escorted to a table immediately.

Our waiter appeared moments after we were seated, took our drink orders and noticed the coupon on the table. He asked us to sign it, and then disappeared.  I have to admit I had concerns about getting less than prime service after that, but I couldn’t have been more wrong, because he quickly appeared with a large basket of warm tortilla chips, and a bowl of salsa and another of a black bean dip. Honestly – I could have made a meal of this alone. The chips were sprinkled with what we suspect might have been paprika, giving them a great spiced up flavor that didn’t compete, but complimented the salsa and amazingly flavorful bean dip.

Our meals were delivered within a very reasonable time, and lived up to our expectations and then some. I had ordered a chicken enchilada entree, Carlitos and my companion had decided to try the Chile Renello de la Casa.  Both were excellent.

Chile Renello de la Casa

Carlitos (Chicken Enchiladas)

Our first visit to Tres Joses will not be our last. The service was not only efficient, but friendly and the food was superb. The prices on the menu were extremely reasonable and even without the coupon our meal would have been well within our working man budget. We will be back.

Tres Joses is located at 4004 White Settlement Rd, Fort Worth, TX

Phone: 817-763-0456
http://www.tresjosestexmex.com/

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A Little Slice of Heaven and Home – Montgomery Cafe

There is much to love and celebrate about Texas, and with my recent reintroduction to the Lone Star state I was a woman on a mission when deciding where to head first when my feet hit the ground. It was a no-brainer, really. After a day of resting up from the full day trip it took to get here, there was only one thing on my mind; breakfast at the Montgomery Cafe.


Although I’d never been graced to eat here before, walking into the the tiny corner cafe, located at the paradoxical junction of a sleepy side street and a busy main drag, was like coming home. I’d been hearing about this place for years. We arrived ten minutes before their 7 a.m. opening, to ensure we got ‘our’ table in front of the picture window that overlooked the cafe’s name sake street, with its view of the stock-show grounds and Fort Worth city skyline.

The sun was just creeping up over the horizon, as we sat ourselves down on the red-checkered clothed table. We were smiling at each other, pleased with being able to snag what we considered to be the best table, despite the rush of early risers from the annual stockyard show in search of a home-cooked meal to start their day. While the steady stream of cowboy hats and boots swaggered in, we were placing our order with the friendly waitress who seemed to refer to everyone as “Hon”. I’d have been hard pressed to identify the out-of-towners from the regulars, because everyone that walked through the door was greeted as if they ate there every morning.

Placing our order was easy.   Two-eggs over easy, hash-browns, a pork chop and biscuits and gravy. Ordering anything less would have seemed not right. This is Texas after the land of hearty breakfasts for hearty souls and hard workers; starting the day with yogurt or half a melon would have seem sacrilegious.


While waiting the short time it took for our food to arrive, I soaked up the ambiance. And trust me, there was no shortage of things to look at. Dining at the cafe is akin to taking a step back in time.  From the checkerboard floor and tables, the stools lining the counter and the memorabilia hung on the walls, everything takes you back to a simpler place and time, and and as some would successfully argue — a better place and time.

Do yourself a favor and make time to visit this cafe, especially if you’ve got a hankering for the way things used to be.

The Montgomery Cafe is open six days a week for breakfast and lunch.  Mon – Fri 6 a.m. til 2 p.m. and Saturdays for breakfast only from 7 a.m. until noon.  It is located on the corner of Montgomery Street and Dexter in the Cultural District of Fort Worth.

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