Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Spicy India in Abilene--New Flavors

If you are looking for something different, something spicy, and you are not in too big of a rush head over to Spicy India. My husband loved the food. He has had Indian food only twice before and neither time knocked his socks off. He ordered a variety of chicken kebabs, garlic naan to share, and a mango lasse (black tea with cream and mango flavor). I had the chicken Korma. I enjoyed it but the portion was too big for me to finish so my husband finished it as well. The naan hot was delicious. It is meant to be eaten with meal to sop up some of the delicious sauces. Next time we will try some of the appetizers as well. The serve a few Indo-Chinese dishes, such as noodles and fried rice, and they have a breakfast menu but no traditional U.S. breakfast foods are listed. 
Garlic naan
Indian food has deep flavors and not everyone enjoys that complexity but we find it refreshing. A great change of pace from the usual fare in Abilene. That being said, the place is family run and service can be slow, particularly if they have several customers or take-out orders going.
We found the owner and servers to be very friendly and willing to offer advice on what to order and to answer questions. Don't let the location scare you away, as the hotel where the restaurant is located is pretty run-down. The restaurant was clean, portions were a nice size, and the food was delicious.

Chicken kebabs, Basmati rice, and chicken Korma

Spicy India Restaurant
505 Pine Street (inside the Civic Plaza hotel)

Daily from 8am-2:30pm, 5pm-9pm

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Shed Market--Outstanding BBQ in Abilene

For those of you who remember, there used to be a restaurant outside of Wingate, Texas, called The Shed. People drove from miles around for steaks and BBQ from them. They shut down a few years ago but were still missed by many.
Menu--not sure if they had run out of chicken or ham that day

The next generation has brought The Shed back and moved it to Abilene! This incarnation is primarily a lunch spot and meat market. They are open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am until 6pm or until they run out. They are located on Buffalo Gap Road just south of Antilley Road in a shopping center.

We arrived at 11:55am and there was already a line almost to the door which grew to out the door as we waited to place our order at the counter. Service was friendly and efficient. They make your plate right in front of you.

I had the best chopped brisket sandwich that I can remember for lunch from them the other day and a great value at $8! The serving was quite generous. The meat was not too fat and not too lean, smoked to perfection with a hint of saltiness. No sauce is put on the sandwich and it didn't need it.
Brisket sandwich and mac & cheese side

Chopped brisket sandwich
My husband got the moist sliced brisket plate (versus the lean brisket) for $9.99 which comes with two sides. We both got the green chili macaroni and cheese as a side and he also got pinto beans with his plate. My mac and cheese was an up-charge since the sandwich comes with chips. The sides were tasty but the real star was the brisket. The only slight quibble I had was that the bun for the sandwich could have been a little softer but it had been grilled. I didn't really eat much of the bread anyway.

Sliced moist brisket with sides. Sauce added at the table.
The had pickles, peppers (fresh and pickled) and onions, with the sauce and sliced bread on the tables. Seating was family style and included indoor and outdoor options. We were sitting by a friendly couple from Hamlin that had ordered ribs and we swapped some samples of our lunches. The ribs got an A+ as well from my husband and our neighbors. I liked the sauce which was sweet and tangy. It complimented the meat quite well.

The Shed is going to be our go-to place for BBQ in Abilene. Wish it wasn't clear across town since that makes it hard to get over there during the week for lunch. :-)

Go there as fast as you can!

The Shed Market
6382 Buffalo Gap Rd Ste D
Abilene, Texas
325) 692-7433

Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm (or until out of meat)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Best Reuben in the World at the Wenzel Lonestar Meat Company in Hamilton, TX

My husband and I have to travel to Waco several times a year. On our most recent trip back to Abilene, we stopped at the Wenzel Lonestar Meat Company right off the square in Hamilton, TX. I had read some reviews that made me want to check out this small town butcher shop and deli.

We arrived a little after 1pm on a Monday and 3 of the 4 tables in the place were occupied. Both of us decided to order the Reuben sandwich. It seemed to be the specialty of the house. They have homemade chicken salad and a "create-your-own" sandwich as daily options. Certain days of the week, they also serve pork butt  sandwiches, stuffed potatoes, and a smoked rib plate.

Reuben at Wenzel's in Hamilton, TX
The Reuben was luscious corned beef warmed up, served on toasted homemade rye bread, with melted cheese, sauerkraut and brown mustard. My husband also ordered a couple of the house-made deviled eggs. We got some bagged chips and a soda to complete the meal. I can confidently state that the Reuben sandwich at Wenzel's was the best I have ever eaten, including the one I once had at Katz's Deli in NYC. It took a while to make them but the wait was well worth it. The corned beef was hot and not too fatty. The cheese held everything together well and the rye was toasted perfectly. The sandwich came wrapped in paper with a dill pickle on the side.

In addition to our meal, we left the place with two rib-eye steaks, jalapeno sausage and salsa. If we had a bigger cooler with us, I'm sure we would have left with more items. When you find yourself in or near Hamilton, stop in. You won't regret it. They are closed on Sunday but open 8am-6pm the rest of the week.

Wenzel Lonestar Meat Company
209 N Bell St
Hamilton, TX 76531
(254) 386-8242
FB @wenzellonestar

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CLOSED The (new) Towne Crier Steakhouse

This CFS took up the whole plate
New owners, new menu, freshened up atmosphere. This iteration of the long time Abilene restaurant, the Towne Crier Steakhouse, is different...and that isn't a bad thing. Yes, the prices are a little higher. Yes, they now have table service. Yes, the salad bar is no longer free with your meal. However, the soup and salad bar still has most of the same items (minus picked watermelon rind and two kinds of soup--sorry, Mother) and isn't much more expensive then it was before at $8.99 if that is what you want for your meal. There is still a big chicken fried steak and rolls. They also serve beer and wine now which has never been the case in the past.

A huge plus is how much better the interior looks! I was almost embarrassed to take anyone from out of town to eat there before this remodel as it had gotten really raggedly-looking despite the redone floor.

Last week, it was girls night as three friends and myself went to the Towne Crier for dinner. It was my first trip there since the relaunch. Service was very attentive, friendly and quick. Drinks were always topped off.

Fried Brussels sprouts
For a starter, we tried the fried Brussels sprouts. I really enjoyed them and the bacon bits were a tasty addition. A dipping sauce for them would be a good. The menu just says "sprouts" so to ward off confusion, they weren't fried bean or alfalfa sprouts. The sprouts are also a side dish option as were  sweet potato fries. My friends ordered grilled chicken, chicken fried steak, and chopped steak. I had the London broil (marinated steak topped with sauce). It was cooked perfectly and was very tender and flavorful. Delicious! The price was good as well at $13.99 for six ounces of sirloin. Instead of the two sides that came with my entree, I substituted the soup and salad bar and had way more food than I expected for less than $15. The burgers also looked intriguing since they are made with brisket and short ribs.

London broil sirloin

I plan to return and bring the husband. This could be our new place for a reasonably priced steak or upscale burger. The salad bar alone is a great lunch option.

Have an open mind about the changes and give the place a shot. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It more than competes with some of the chain steak (roadhouses) restaurants in town. Everything changes and though there are some things I miss about the original, this new version definitley has something to offer Abilene.

Update: Upon the second visit the service was not up to par but the food was still very good.

Towne Crier Steakhouse
1 (325) 704-4290
818 E Hwy 80
Abilene, TX 79601

11am – 2pm
5pm – 9pm

11am – 2pm

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cajun/Creole Cuisine in Lampasas, TX at Toupsie's

Toupsie's is a restaurant, bar and live music venue located on the north side of Lampasas, Texas. On a trip returning to Abilene from a meeting in Austin, myself and a friend decided to stop for lunch there. I heard that it was a pretty good spot to get some Cajun food. Granted one would not normally think of Lampasas as a place that would have a restaurant that specialized in cuisine from Louisiana but why not give it a try since we were passing through and hungry! Also, I read that one of the owners grew up in Thibodaux, Lousiana.

Fried shrimp and crawfish basket with fries and red beans/rice
Shrimp salad
We hit Lampasas on a Tuesday around 1:45pm. It was their first Tuesday to be open and it was also pouring rain outside so the place did not have many customers. They had a decent-sized selection of items on the menu. My choice was the combo basket of fried shrimp and fried crawdads ($14.99). Sides were battered fries and red beans and rice (a must-have at any Cajun/Creole restaurant).  My friend got a shrimp remoulade salad and a cup of seafood gumbo...much healthier choices than mine. I asked if they also had etouffee and the answer was in the affirmative though I didn't spot it on the menu. For dessert we split a piece of French silk pie.

Service was friendly and fairly quick. Since there were only two other customers the attentiveness is to be expected. The food came out fast as well. I was quite pleased with my fried entree. The breading on the seafood was crispy and well-spiced. The shrimp were a nice size and the crawfish were small but I take that as a sign that they were not imported. The fries were not quite warm enough, probably sat out too long. Ask to have them cooked fresh. At first, I thought the meal seemed small for the price but it was plenty of food, too much for me to finish. The beans were very tasty. My friend really enjoyed the gumbo. I'm not a fan of stewed okra in any form. Her salad was just fine and had plenty of remoulade sauce on the side. The shrimp were dusted with spices. Our dessert pie from a local bakery was scrumptious! We dug in before thinking of taking a picture.


There are daily specials and other items on the menu such as burgers and a steak night on Saturday. I have a feeling the place is hopping on weekend nights with live music and adult beverages. Toupsie's is worth the stop if you find yourself in and around Lampasas.

904 N Key Ave
Lampasas, Texas
(512) 556-5862
Closed Sunday night and Monday

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jennie's Smoked Burgers and Tornado Fries--Fredericksburg, TX

Half of a stick of tornado fries

If you find yourself in Fredericksburg, Texas, and you aren't in the mood for German food, I highly recommend going to Jennie's for a scrumptious burger and some "tornado" fries. Tornado fries are spiral sliced potatoes served on a wooden skewer that have been crisped up like potato chips. To locate them you have to walk back from Main Street a bit to find Jennie's hidden away in a side court a couple of stores over from the Auslander restaurant in the block before you turn right to go to San Antonio. They are more than worth the effort.

The menu is simple--hamburgers, cheeseburgers (single or double), hot dogs (regular or foot long), or a grilled cheese. You can get tornado fries, regular fries or onion rings. Ice cream floats are also available, along with the usual sodas. They even sell beer and wine.

We walked in at 11:45am on a Monday and were the third and forth customers in the place. As noon approached, the traffic picked up considerably and included locals as well as tourists.

Cheeseburger $6
I ordered a cheeseburger ($6) and my husband got the double cheeseburger ($8). The patties were not thick but they had a definite smokey taste and were so juicy. I think there might have been some brisket in the meat mix. The buns were super fresh and toasted to perfection. The vegetable toppings crisp and delicious. They sauce the burger with a mixture of mustard and mayo. We shared an order of tornado fries ($2) but we should have each had our own order...they are addictive! 

The seating is both indoor and outside. It isn't a very big place, so I bet they get jammed on the weekends. The restaurant is family-run and was spotlessly clean inside. The service was super-friendly. All in all, Jennie's is going to be a regular stop when I'm passing through Fredericksburg from here on out.


Jennie's Smoked Burgers and Tornado Fries
319 E Main St #B
Fredericksburg TX 78624
Phone: (830) 990-4000
Closed on Tuesday

Monday, July 17, 2017

Threadgill's on Riverside in Austin, TX--Home Cookin' in the Capitol of Texas

King Ranch Chicken Casserole, spinach casserole, and San Antonio squash
Chicken fried steak (gravy on the side), mashed sweet potatoes, and green beans
On a recent trip to Austin I had occasion to go to eat with a friend at the south side location of Threadgill's. They are a long time Austin institution for home-style cooking and live music. I had long heard of it but had never eaten there.

After arriving around 12:45pm, we were seated after a short wait. The server did a decent job for us but looked less than enthusiastic to be at work. He was on top of my drink refills so no complaints that he was not in an extra jolly mood. Overall, the efficient and quick service for those folks that need to get back to work is appreciated.

I ordered the Friday lunch special of King Ranch Chicken, though I was very tempted to just get a veggie plate due to the plethora of options. Particularly items that I haven't had the frequent chance to eat since Sunday dinners as a kid at my grandparent's house. My companion went with the tried and true CFS, which Threadgill's is well-known for serving. A basket of jalapeno cornbread muffins and bread was on the table very quickly. We both chose the cornbread and it was yummy, not dry at all.

My lunch was filling and perfectly fine but not "blow me out of the water" delicious. I tasted my friend's chicken fry and the flavor of the meat came through the rather heavy breading. I admit that I prefer pan frying over deep frying when it comes to CFS due to the fact that the breading/meat ratio tends to be higher on the meat side when pan fried. It was a nice-sized portion without question. She doesn't like cream gravy so I don't know if that would have added to the experience. My friend commented on how much she liked that the sweet potatoes didn't have marshmallow or cinnamon added to them, letting the natural sweetness of the potato shine through. My favorite part of lunch was the San Antonio squash side dish on my plate. The squash still had some firmness to it and wasn't cooked into mush. I enjoyed the green chili flavor and the creamy sauce. The spinach was just fine but in retrospect I should have gone for something else, such as the butter beans or the okra.
Buttermilk pie

For dessert, I could not resist the buttermilk pie which is my absolute favorite pie of all time. The little dabs of whipped cream that were served on top added to the presentation. The pie had a thicker floury texture than other's I've tasted that tend toward a more custard-like filling. It was good pie but not as good as I've ever had in the past. My standards are sky high in this regard due to the superior baking skills of my grandma.

I think the fact that there are probably a fewer number of "comfort" or "Southern" food restaurants in Austin (in comparison to my neck of the woods) or people's nostalgia for the past are what  keep people coming back to Threadgill's. The meal was perfectly fine but the restaurant is not somewhere I would make a special trip to patronize. I do wish I had gotten those butter beans and some extra cornbread though. 

301 West Riverside Dr.
Austin, TX  78704
(512) 472-9304

Mon-Thurs 11a-10p
Fri 11a-10:30p
Sat: 11a-10:30p
Sun: 10a-9:30p
Sunday Breakfast Buffet: 10a-1p