105 Cafe – Conroe, TX

Conveniently located on Highway 105 in Conroe, Texas,  the 105 Cafe has been a popular spot for a number of years. They have been turning out homestyle American breakfast and lunch dishes made with local and organic ingredients to an increasingly loyal bunch of customers. Once you taste the offerings, you’ll be a convert, too.

From brown eggs fresh off the farm, to locally grown organic produce, this place has a refreshing blend of homestyle and slightly offbeat items on their menu.

Our latest visit was for breakfast, and we found some very satisfying meals awaiting us.

61678369_291936134854916_6036171652255973376_n

Buffalo Chicken Omelette with Black Beans

 

61262599_400611784120569_5865527589359058944_n

The Irishman Skillet – corned beef with eggs, potatoes, onions, peppers and cheese.

Stop by and give them a try. It wounds trite to say but you will be glad you did.

On the 1-5 scale, 105 Cafe has earned:

Cleanliness – 5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 4
Overall experience – 4.8
105 Cafe
3010 W Davis Street
Conroe, TX 77304
(936) 539-3447
105cafe.com
Enjoy! We certainly did!

– Ann Cathey

Simple spot turning out homestyle American breakfast & lunch dishes made with organic ingredients.

Koji Ramen Bar – Spring TX

We are all likely well acquainted with the ubiquitous ramen noodle packs found in most grocery stores. College students live on them, moms keep them available as quick lunches for their children on weekend and vacations, and writers seem to thrive on them. We eat them straight out of the package, cooked up according to the directions (noodles in broth), and we eat them dry (broth drained off and spice pack added directly to the noodles). Some of even get creative with ramen by adding broken meats, veggies, and other items that we have on hand at the time.

30652497_10214338562551705_2564535374852390912_n

Put what you think you know about ramen out of your mind. Koji Ramen Bar offers a whole new perspective on the ramen noodle and how it should be served, offering deep bowls of broth with perfectly cooked noodles, and the sort of things on top that appear to be pretty traditional and/or local favorites.

The décor is trim, neat, with wall art that is splashy and fun. We had the fortune to sit beneath a six foot tall mineki-neko – the Good Luck Cat.

30530497_10214338558231597_8540169347107127296_n

 

We started with gyoza (Japanese pork potstickers) and takoyaki (octopus balls), both of which were outstanding in flavor and texture. The gyoza were tender and fresh, with a firmness to the filling that was not hard or difficult to chew as at some restaurants. The takoyaki were rich and crunchy; very much a new and delightful experience for us.

30629504_10214338555311524_2507264361077145600_n

Gyoza – Japanese pork potstickers

 

I ordered the chicken version, and was not disappointed. In addition to the chicken, noodles and broth, there were green onion, leaf spinach, bamboo shoots, carrots, corn, nori strips, tea egg and a sprinkled topping of sesame seeds and spices. I topped bites with dried garlic flakes, and the various tasty sauces offered on the table. Delicious!

30594688_10214338560591656_3470683894175498240_n

Koji Chicken Ramen

 

The full menu is available online and makes me want to revisit the establishment every time I peruse it. There is so much to look forward to trying!

 

On the 1-5 scale, Koji Ramen Bar has earned:
Cleanliness – 4
Service – 4
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 4.25

Koji Ramen Bar
25403 Interstate 45, Suite A
Spring TX 77380
832-823-5197

Enjoy! We certainly did!30531185_10214338556871563_6198082934243590144_n

– Ann Cathey

Smokey Mo’s – Austin, TX

On a recent trip to Austin, Texas, we rediscovered a BBQ joint that we first tried in Conroe: Smokey Mo’s. While I may have been enjoying them for a while and somehow never managed to blog about them, they are still producing very appetising and satisfying meals in multiple locations around Texas.

The run of side dishes is pretty standard, and everything is complimentary to BBQ meats, of course. Fries, potato salad, beans, fried okra, corn on the cob, right down to the self-serve bread, onions, pickles and jalapenos.

Trust me, I helped myself to the pickles.

DSC_0868

Two trays of pickles, just like this!

 

My partner helped himself to not one, but two chop sandwiches. The chop is loaded with sauce and chopped bits and pieces of meat. It’s mostly beef with the occasional turkey or sausage bits mixed in.

DSC_0869

Chop Sandwich before any fixin’s were added.

 

The three meat plate is an indulgent sampler of meats and sides. There’s plenty to choose from, too. I picked the turkey-sausage-sliced brisket combination with a double side of slaw. The second slaw was really for Christopher, but it sure makes the plate look as full as my belly got after eating all this.

DSC_0870

Three meat combo plate with two sides.

 

It’s always pleasant to find a bit of the familiar when travelling that’s not your run of the mill fast food. Visiting Smokey Mo’s was definitely a fit of comfort food in a weekend full of exploration.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

 

Pho Lee Vietnamese – Austin, TX

 

On a recent trip to Austin, some friends directed us to a little strip center restaurant to appease my partner’s craving for a traditional Vietnamese dish: pho.

Pho Lee Vietnamese Restaurant is a small, strip center restaurant. It is immaculately clean,t eh staff is friendly and the jasmine tea is always fresh. In spite of it’s seemingly small size, the menu is full of delights from pho, bun, mi, com chien, and Thai offerings to a small number of Chinese dishes. A little something for everyone who enjoys the savory, good-for-the-soul nature of Vietnamese foods.

We took it easy on our carb intake on this trip, sticking to spring rolls and pho. There’s so much more to try that we will just have to visit again, such as the Cafe Sua (Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk, served hot or cold).

Shrimp Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Spring rolls with shrimp.

The spring rolls were unexpectedly well done, with a thin and tender rice membrane containing lettuce, cilantro, bean sprouts, boiled shrimp, and served with a light peanut sauce.

 

Pho Tai Nam Gau

Pho Tai, Nam, Gau

Pho Tai, Nam, Gau
Pho noodle soup with thin slices of eye of round steak, well-done flank steak, and marble brisket.

Marble brisket has thin layers of fat like bacon, making it quite tasty.

 

Pho Ga

Pho Ga

Pho Ga
Pho noodle soup with thin slices of white meat chicken, and thinly sliced onion that melts in your mouth.

 

Side VeggiesCilantro, basil, lime, jalapeno and bean sprouts on the side, giving you the options of adding flavor and texture to your pho.

Hoisin, sriracha, a hot chili sauce and soy sauce were available at the table. By adding a bit to each spoonful, rather than the entire bowl, splendid combinations of flavors will keep your pho from homogenization on the palate.

When you are next in Austin and have some time for lunch or needs a hearty, satisfying supper, stop by Pho Lee and indulge your senses.

On the 1-5 scale, Pho Lee has earned:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 4
Quality of food – 4
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3.5
Overall experience – 4.5

Pho Lee Vietnamese Restaurant
2601 N Interstate 35 Frontage Road
Round Rock, TX 78664
(512) 310-8585

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

Food Porn – Jason’s Deli

Jason’s Deli is fairly widespread, and the food has been consistent and delicious for me over many years and many locations. I’d like to share the most recent visit.

24172571_10213214041359378_988680477_n

Broccoli Cheese Soup

 

24203581_10213214043079421_930924089_n

Chicken Alfredo
Penne pasta topped with grilled, 100% antibiotic-free chicken breast, creamy Alfredo sauce, Asiago. Served with toasted herb focaccia bread.

24204870_10213214042079396_489324488_n

The Plain Jane® Potato
Baked potato stuffed with cheddar, sour cream, butter, bacon, green onions.

24203858_10213214041999394_1548220108_n

Beefeater
1/2 pound of hot roast beef, provolone, mayo, toasted on New Orleans French bread. Served with a cup of au jus.

24203520_10213214042839415_1435209123_n

Reuben THE Great
1/2 pound of hot corned beef or pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, grilled on rye.

24172311_10213214042599409_1914031436_n

What can I say? It’s Great Rueben!

 

Be sure to check out their full menu, including some seasonal favorites!

–Ann Cathey

 

Joe’s Italian – Conroe TX

A true delight hidden in Conroe! Joe’s Italian Restaurant  is a casual eatery with New York-style brick-oven pizza, pasta & subs in a quaint, family-friendly setting. Even the
music fits the bill, with tunes crooned by Sinatra and a lot of slow jazz.

We don’t live far from Joe’s, though somehow we don’t make it in as often as we would like. We know the pizza is amazing, the red sauce on everything comes from a vat of slightly sweet house sauce, the pasta is always al dente, and the wine selection is a firm foundation for the menu.

IMG_2109

Chicken Parmigiana – Breaded chicken breast drowning in the house marinara and Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Pasta of choice: ziti.

IMG_2108

Calzone – stuffed with Ricotta, Mozzarella, and sausage.

 

Catering is for all occasions. All major credit cards accepted.
Pick up and to go orders ready in 20 minutes.

“We know you have a choice,
the owners and staff thank you for choosing
Joe’s.”

On the 1-5 scale, Joe’s Italian has earned:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 4
Quality of food – 4
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3.5
Overall experience – 4.5

Joe’s Italian Restaurant
1604 N Frazier Street
Conroe, TX 77301
(936) 760-9002

–Ann Cathey

More GypsyJoynt – Galveston, TX

We covered a little place called GypsyJoynt in Galveston previously. We enjoyed it so much, we have gone again a few times.

It turns out they add new things to the menu all the time, usually in the form of specials. They also still have hidden gems for us to discover and rediscover all over the regular menu. We’d like to share a few we recently ran across.

IMG_1903

Muffeletta Pizza – olive oil base, olive relish, mozzarella, salami, ham, mortadella, Provalone and Parmesan. We thought it sounded good and decided that it tasted better than it sounded!

 

IMG_1902

Big & Sloppy – burger smothered in housemade chili, and cheddar, sweet potato tots and housemade pickles on the side. Normally this is on a beautiful bun, but it was ordered bunless for a lower carb experience.

 

IMG_1904

Nola Rays – Cajun BBQ shrimp and crawfish tails on Focaccia, mixed greens, tomato, and avocado sauce, with house fries on the side. The lid was lifted for this photo to give you an idea of the stuffing inside.

 

IMG_1905

Vita Viva – Focaccia burger with bacon, cheddar, mixed greens, tomato, onion, housemade pickles and mayo, with house mac-n-cheese on the side.

 

On the 1-5 scale, Gypsy Joynt still gets:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 3
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3.5
Overall experience – 4.2

Gypsy Joynt
2711 Market Street
Galveston, Texas 77550
409-497-2069

— Ann Cathey

China Delight – Conroe TX

China Delight is delightfully not a buffet! Everything is cooked to order, not sitting around in vats awaiting your attention. In this world of fast-food-this and on-hand-that, sitting down to some freshly made Americanized Chinese food is both charming and relaxing.

The portions are large enough for one really hungry person, or for two to share. You might also order three or four things and table them family style. All of the usual favorites are on the menu, such as fried rice, sweet and sour dishes, chow mien and lo mien. Recognizable names like Kung Pau, General Tso’s, Happy Family, and Po Po are all present, as well as some combinations one might not expect.

For our first real visit (some of us have had their take-away before), we settled for some old standby’s to give us an idea of what the kitchen would produce for us. We were not disappointed.

IMG_1940

Shrimp Fried Rice

IMG_1939

Almond Chicken

IMG_1941

General Tso’s Chicken

On the 1-5 scale, China Delight has earned:
Cleanliness – 3
Service – 3
Quality of food – 4
Flavor – 4.5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 3.5

China Delight
1108 A North Loop 336 W
Conroe TX 77301
936-756-8686

–Ann Cathey

Mighty Fine Burgers – Austin, TX

We’re doing a repeat this week. It’s been three years since we first visited a Mighty Fine Burgers location, and we figured it might be time to go back and check up on them.

With five Austin locations, now, it’s not hard to “Keep Austin Mighty” by visiting this place when in town. We’ve only been to the University Oaks location, but it has been consistent every time, over a period of several years. that counts for a lot in our dining considerations.

There are three dining areas at this location – indoors, indoor patio, or outdoor patio (dog friendly). The indoor areas are filled with long trestle tables, benches and chairs, family style. The outdoor patio has picnic tables with umbrellas, presided over by a monstrous spreading oak. There’s also a play area for the kids beneath that ancient tree.

A refresher on the simplicity of the menu:

Not counting the kids’ menu, the burgers only come in two patty sizes – 1/2 pound and 1/4 pound. You may, of course, double up, but that’s up to you and your stomach. There’s also a crispy chicken breast available to grace your bun if you prefer.

DSC_0481

Half Pound Cheeseburger

Burgers are alternately available on a gluten free bun for a dollar more, or in a bowl without a bun at all at no extra charge. The place can get a bit noisy around the lunch and dinner rush times, so be sure they hear you if you ask for these options.

Burgers or chicken come with your choice of shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced onion, crinkle cut dill pickles, and grilled onions. Condiments are known simply as Red (ketchup), Yeller (mustard), or White (mayo) so don’t get confused when the person taking your order uses those terms. For a little extra you can have cheese, jalapenos, bacon, chili, or avocado added.

They offer crinkle cut fries and light and crispy onion rings deep fried in 100% trans-fat free peanut oil. Either may be ordered with cheese or chili.

 

DSC_0476Hand-dipped shakes come in the standard vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. The lemonade is fresh squeezed on site either original or strawberry. Specialty bottled sodas and beer are available. Fountain drinks and tea have unlimited refills, and depending on what you order you may need them.

 

DSC_0483

Half Pound Chili Cheeseburger with extra pickles.

Don’t forget the napkins. Lots of napkins.

If you are wanting some nutritional information, I suggest checking it out after you’ve tasted their food. A PDF containing the relevant statistics is available online.

About those pickles? My money is on them being the fat cut kosher dills from the Mt. Olive line.

On the 1-5 scale, Mighty Fine gets:
Cleanliness – 5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – Moderate
Overall experience – 5
Mighty Fine Burgers
201 University Oaks Blvd
Suite 1380
Round Rock, TX 78664
(512) 381-3310

–Ann Cathey

Something New from Denny’s

Denny’s is a southern US institution, and like a lot of institutions, it has great pancakes, but everything else can be a gamble. In this case, that gamble paid off. After the cruise aboard the Carnival Breeze, I figured anything set before me might be a bit of a letdown. I was happily proven wrong.

I hadn’t been into a Denny’s for a while, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a new “skillet” on the menu: Smoky Gouda Chicken & Broccoli.

“Roasted seasoned chicken with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and broccoli served atop whole grain rice. Topped with Italian cheeses and Gouda cheese sauce.”
– Denny’s Menu

img_1696-dennys-smoked-gouda-skillet

Smokey Gouda chicken & Broccoli Skillet

 

The dish you receive never looks quite like the advertising photos, but this one was tasty enough that I really didn’t care. the chicken was tender and not overcooked. the broccoli was firm, but not super crunchy. The mushrooms and onions were done to a turn rather than partially raw or blackened. The Gouda sauce, while supported by other cheeses, was well flavored and had just the right thickness to it.

I recommend this dish and it’s companion, the Smoky Gouda Prime Rib & Broccoli Skillet, to anyone who has a liking for cheese!

— Ann Cathey