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.

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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.

 

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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

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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

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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

Book Sale! – Conroe, Texas

The Library Friends of Conroe is a volunteer organization benefiting the Montgomery County Library System. Among the many projects they organize and run, they host a twice yearly Book Sale at the Central Library in Conroe, Texas. All of the books, dvds, VHS tapes, puzzles, music cds and other goodies available at the Book Sale have been donated by members of the community in the hopes that they will recirculate and bring needed funds to the local library system.

If you have never been to one of these extravaganzas, it is an experience. There are three large rooms and an entire hallway filled with tables that are covered in books of all types. I have been able to find the most remarkable cookbooks dating back into the 40’s at these tables, as well as out of print books, hard-to-find items, and am always willing to go back and check for more.

Beginning on Thursday, February 23rd, from 4:30pm to 8:00pm, is First Choice Night. There is no entry free and everyone is welcome. This is the first view of the items for sale and your chance not only to preview, but to make some awesome purchases for your own reading enjoyment and edification.

Please note that accepted payment methods are by cash or check only!

Continuing on Friday, February 24th, from 9:00am to 4:30pm, and Saturday, February 25th, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, the sale continues in all sale areas.

The famous $2 Bag Sale is on Saturday from 9:00am to 12:30pm in the large meeting room only. The Library Friends will provide you with a bag that you are allowed to pile as many books into as you wish – for only $2. All other areas remain at regular price.

Join us at 104 I-45 North, Conroe, Texas 77301, February 23rd thru 25th, for a Texas-sized Book Sale!

If you happen to miss the Spring Book Sale this year, remember that here is another one in the Fall, and Vicki’s Book Nook at the Central Library which is open whenever the library is.

For more information, please call 936-788-3888 or email lov2read@consolidated.net. You may also visit the MCLS website.

Clean and gently used donations are accepted all year at the  Book Nook at the Central Library.

–Ann Cathey

Barcenas – Houston, TX

At first glance, Barcenas Mexican Restaurant looks like just another up and coming strip mall eatery. There area ctually three locations currently, serving Houston and Friendswood as well as the LaMarque location we were introduced to.

We happened to be there with some friends for a small wedding reception in the back room. Their Christmas finery was up and was fairly understated except for the whopper of a Christmas tree in the front entry. The rest of the decor was fairly laid back, but typical of the venue with broad swatches of earthtones highlighted by bright red and green accents.

Sadly I was unable to take photos of our food or the venue itself due to the occasion, but
rest assured it was very comfortable and the staff was on point.

When checking out a new restaurant, my partner and I usually have a specific dish that we
order as a litmus test. For Mexican food, that test dish is Queso Flameado. For those not
experienced with this excellent appetizer, it’s a hot dish of melted white cheese topped with chorizo. A lot of establishments will call it flameado, yet offer fajita chicken, beef or
grilled onions and peppers to top it off. Those variations actually have other names, but you get the idea.

The Queso Parrilla, as they call it, with fajita chicken was outstanding. The flour tortillas
served with it were a little small, and there were only three of them, but they were obviously made on site with a lovely flavor that complimented the buttery richness of the cheese.

While some of the rest of the party was much more adventurous, we stuck to known quantities for this visit. I ordered the flautas, while he chose a burrito plate. The portions were generous and very tasty.

Flautas – Three corn tortillas wrapped around Ranch chicken and deep fried, served with
Spanish rice and refried beans, a small bed of lettuce topped with sour cream and guacamole.

Burrito Azteca – A large flour tortilla stuffed with fajita chicken and white cheese, topped
with moderately spicy chipotle sauce. Served with Spanish rice and refried beans.

“Big, warm, and flavorful. Definitely a $10 burrito plate.”
— Christopher

A bar is available , specializing in margaritas, cocktails, and a small list of beer and wine. Check out their full menu  for the wide variety of entrees and appetizers they offer, then go give them a try when you are in the area.

Barcenas offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as banquet and party services, with three locations to serve you.

On the 1-5 scale, Barcenas gets:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 4.5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 4.4

Barcenas Mexican Restaurant
11013 Delaney Road
La Marque, TX 77568
(409) 908-9801

Let us know if you go, and what you think about Barcenas.

— Ann Cathey

MOD Pizza – Conroe TX

Welcome to another review of a chain pizza place. Another pizza place, you say doubtfully? Definitely not JUST another pizza place, we proclaim!

We stopped by the newly opened MOD loction in Conroe, Texas, to give it a try. We had heard good things from several foodie friends and figured, “Why not?” We were very pleasantly surprised!

MOD Pizza is spreading like wildfire, offering personal sized thin crust brick oven pizza. One price, with as many ingredients selection as you wish, from the sauce to
the drizzle. Cheeses, meats, veggies (and technically fruits) make a super list to choose from. They also offer salads with all the same toppings. Everything is fresh and made to order. The salad dressings may be requested as drizzles, though you may surprise the staff swhen asking for this. We did, and found the honey-lime dressing to make a tasty sweet-tart counterpoint to our savoury pies!

To give you an idea of what they will hand-build for you, here are The pizzas we ordered on our first visit:

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White sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and Asiago cheeses, mushrooms, black olives, and grilled chicken. This is the pizza the honey-lime drizzle was ordered for.

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Pesto for the sauce, mozzarella, feta, Parmesan, Gorgonzola and Asiago cheeses, mushrooms, black olives, garlic, grilled chicken, bacon and beef with a pesto drizzle.

 

If the photos aren’t mouthwatering enough, you will have to see (and smell) these pies in
person.

On the 1-5 scale, MOD Pizza gets:
Cleanliness – 5
Service – 4
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 4.4

MOD Pizza
1240 N Loop 336 W #500
Conroe, TX 77301
(936) 441-0054

“Holy cats! This is tasty! This place will be bad for my diet and wallet,
but good for the
soul.”    –Christopher

Visit a MOD location near you and let us know what you think!

–Ann Cathey

Gypsy Joynt – Galveston, Texas

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In a building that has survived multiple hurricanes, a little hippie restaurant opened that’s a definite winner. Gypsy Joynt is an eclectic mix of atmosphere, food, coffees, and desserts that’s sure to grab your attention. Don’t be fooled by the exterior where the flagpoles proudly bear bandannas, t-shirts and jeans, this place rocks.

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From the time we walked in to the time we left, we were treated to an array of Rolling Stones music. Seemed to be the sound of the day and we didn’t mind in the slightest. The dj booth is built of what looks like scavenged wood, with racks of LPs, and a command station presided over by a computer that rules the sound system. I didn’t get too good a look at the rest of the goodies in the booth, as there was so much more to see.

There’s a lot of dark wood, including the tables and mismatched chairs, that helps to give a comfortably cave-like feel to the interior, Shawls hung over the windows, scarves and beads from the ceiling, with a scattered mix of period posters, toys, and other implementada ranging from the late 50’s to the mid 70’s along the walls. The bar top (they do serve beer) where you place your order, is cut from an old pool table. The slab still has it’s felt jacket, and the pockets their leather baskets.

Pick up a menu and be prepared for a wild ride!

From pizza to focacia sandwiches and wraps, to salads to a truly decadent dessert bar, this place seems to have a little bit of everything.

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Smoretella – Nutella, toasted marshmallow, Graham cracker.

Autumn Cocoa – fudge, pumpkin spice, homemade pumpkin marshmallow.

 

 

Rocco Rocks – mac-n-cheese and brisket pizza. Think what you will, but one of our tablemates called it “possibly the perfect pizza”.

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dsc_0021Big & Sloppy – a chili cheeseburger that might best be served on a plate instead of a burger basket! I ordered bunless and was not disappointed. The grilled sirloin patty was served up beneath sliced cheddar and a ton of house-made chili. The chili wasn’t hot, which was a very pleasant change from today’s trend toward scorching your face off, though it usually comes with hot onions and jalapenos. Yes, those are sweet potato waffle fries.

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I Love Lucy – This lovely combo sandwich was ordered as a wrap. Stuffed with ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, house-made pickles and mustard, it was a tasty and filling meal when coupled with the sweet potato waffle fries.

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House-made pickles – What a pleasant surprise! With a firm crunch, these thick wavy slices come in somewhere between hamburger dills and kosher, with a sweet afterglow on the back of the tongue.

 

When next you are on Galveston Island and feeling a bit peckish, skip the Strand and give this Joynt a try.

On the 1-5 scale, Gypsy Joynt 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