Austin’s Jack Allen Kitchens utilize locally sourced foods

Our son and his family introduced us to Jack Allen Kitchens restaurants. This local chain of 4 establishments in the Austin area has really set a very high standard for reasons beyond high quality menu items. We went to the Anderson Lane version of the restaurant.

A portion of the interior of the Anderson Lane location

The base concept behind this eatery is a combination of local sourcing and local involvement. By utilizing local sources nearly entirely, you can be assured of fresh ingredients in every dish served. The company is very much involved in local charities as well.

The menu? Folks, you can’t get any better than the culinary delights found at Jack Allen Kitchens. The atmosphere is one of the most relaxed that you will ever find. You never feel rushed. The service is 5 star provided by truly professional wait staff.

Wedgies Salad

All of the cocktails are superb. The appetizers are great. (Try the house made pimento cheese and flat crackers. Yummy) But let’s talk the entrees! Sher had the “Wedgies salad”. It was huge, and as she said, the best ever. Garnished with onions, grape tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles, this salad was topped with green goddess dressing.

Chicken fried chicken, mashed ‘taters and veggies

I fell in love with the menu listing the “Chicken Fried Anything”. I went with the chicken breast, instead of the pork chop, ribs or meatloaf. (Yes, meatloaf.) The chicken fried chicken breast came smothered in gravy, resting on a portion of the large helping of mashed potatoes and accompanied by a squash medley veggie. Our son had the chicken fried meatloaf. He let me have a taste, and it was good too.

The dessert

And at the end of our meal, we were tempted with the dessert offerings. Biff (our waiter) offered to bring us 5 spoons and plates so we could share the decadent chocolate/pecan/ala mode you see in the picture. It was twice as good as it looks.

In or near Austin? Go to the Jack Allen Kitchen website here. Find the facility handy to you, and by all means go and enjoy a unique and memorable dining experience.

Roadtirement’s 2019 revisited

My gosh has this year gone fast, or what?  We started the year traveling from Indiana to Harlingen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. Park Place RV Resort was our home for two months.  Some pure tourist type stuff was of course a requirement in the new to us area. The border with Mexico, those daunting US Border Patrol SUV’s and the fence/wall were eye openers for us. We enjoyed the sights of Port Isabel and the beaches of South Padre Island. That 55+ RV resort living helped us realize that we liked being “Winter Texans”!

Nice concrete patio at our site in Harlingen.

One day we went to the border wall in Brownsville.

The Port Isabel lighthouse

We spent some time in March with family in Austin, then back to Indiana. It took a bit to get back into being in the Midwest again, but there was lots we did over the summer. We try to go to as many musicals as we can at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis. An excellent buffet and even better show make for a great evening out. In May we also set up at the US Highway 40 Yard sale in Dunreith, a small town  between Greenfield and Richmond, Indiana. For four days folks travel the highway looking for treasures and bargains.

Musical “Hairspray” at Beef and Boards

Our set up for the Highway 40 Yard Sale

 

 

 

 

 

Camping with kids and grand kids became a fun past time this summer. We took our RV and our kids brought their tent(s) for themselves and any of the grand kids that could come along. An Ohio State Park, US Forest Service Recreation Area, and a Jellystone Park RV resort served us well. Never a dull moment when camping, especially in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest after a toad strangler of a rain which flooded a tent. Yes, we were able to sleep 6 fairly comfortably in our 24′ Class C Four Winds. We had to use an alternate route to leave the area as the main road was washed out.

Spacious campsite in the Monongahela National Forest

West Virginia’s Horseshoe Rec Area

Our campsite, tent is out of site on the left

Entrance to the Ohio State park, lake in the background

Gorgeous end to the day at Ohio’s Kaiser Lake State Park

Another summer highlight was our trip to Niagara Falls. The guided tour was definitely worth the cost. The small Gray Line tour bus picked us up at our RV campground. The tour was all inclusive, including of course the famous Maid of the Mist boat ride taking you into the soaking up close view of the falls. If you have not been to Niagara Falls, go!

Here we are after our Maid of the Mist adventure. That is the American Falls barely visible between us.

Restaurant view of the Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls. The food was good, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sher and I were pretty busy during the summer, including some additional selling at several town festivals. By the time the end of October came around we were ready to head back out on the road and head south once again. We had talked before about visiting the Diamond Mine State Park in Arkansas. The weather had been rather wet, but we decided that it would be a great time to check this place out on our way back to Texas. We went and had a ball. No diamonds found, and the muddy ground was hard to traverse. But, we have a bucket of neat rocks for our rock garden.

Getting ready to head to the muddy field and begin our search for diamonds

Here I am shovel ready to find one of those huge diamonds shown in the picture next to me

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to Texas with a quick stop in Texarkana. There the courthouse is positioned literally on the Arkansas/Texas State line. Interesting to say the least. We stopped at our family’s place in Austin for a couple of days before we went to our spot at the La Hacienda RV Resort in Austin. The La Hacienda is a Sun Resort property, complete with all the expected facilities. We have been here since the first of November. The past two months have given us a chance to explore the Austin area. The Hill Country is filled with wineries, breweries and distilleries. Yep, we have enjoyed more than one of these establishments.

A beautiful Saturday at the Bull Creek Park in Austin

Los Pinos restaurant is only 1/4 mile from our RV Park!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 has been quite the adventure for Roadtirement! We can’t list everything, but know that we have had a great year. In figuring up where were have been, we discovered that in 2019 we actually lived 5 out of 12 months as Winter Texans. This could get to be habit forming! We are going to start 2020 by going to Seattle to visit our daughter and her family in January. Stay tuned, we’ll fill you in!

Wishing you and yours and all our friends a safe and prosperous New Years!

Maj and Sher

Los Pinos offers real authentic interior Mexican cuisine

Just down the Hudson Bend Road from our RV Park (La Hacienda) is the Los Pinos restaurant. Sher and I have been looking at the place as we have been driving by, but never yet stopped to check it out. As it worked out, our family was coming to see us, so we decided to meet at the Los Pinos.

Interesting decor and comfortable seating

What a treat our visit turned out to be! The place is decorated in typical Mexican style. I was pleased with the prompt service we received. The menu is quite varied, and each dish is hand crafted by chef. Our waiter told us the tortillas are made fresh daily, and all the ingredients are fresh as well.

Top: Tacos and fixings. Bottom: Burrito and fixings

Long story short, we all had a great meal and a good time at Los Pinos. The food was very very good, portion sizes were large, and the service and ambiance of the restaurant was most comfortable. I noticed that they serve breakfast. I think a return visit is in the cards. Here is the Los Pinos Website.

Gloria’s at the Domain in Austin

Let me explain: The Domain is a large upscale shopping, dining and residential complex in Austin, Texas. Our daughter recently flew in from the WestCoast for a business meeting in the Westin Hotel at the Domain. She had a few hours before her flight back  so we took advantage of the opportunity and met her at Gloria’s.

My two best girls enjoying time together

Gloria’s is a sophisticated and upscale restaurant a block or two from the Westin. We were seated immediately after we got there. Sher and I had a delightful visit with our daughter, catching up on all the news of her husband and our 5 year old grandson.

Good food at a decent price

Gloria’s offers a great menu. We all found items we liked, portion sizes were fine and everything tasted great. The service was attentive but not overbearing. For a nice, quiet and private place for a family get together, I don’t think we could have found a better place.

 

The Oasis Restaurant on Austin’s Lake Travis

The Oasis has a wide spread reputation in the Austin area. We wanted to check this restaurant out as the sunset views were reported to be spectacular over Lake Travis.

We really enjoyed the view of Lake Travis from one of the Oasis Terraces

The pretty drive to the Oasis winds through the hill country west of Austin. When you arrive at the facility there is parking and a short walk to the entrance to the restaurant. The exterior is interesting and covered with neat metal sculptures.  We arrived around 2 1/2 hours before sunset and were immediately taken to a semi-private room that would seat our party of ten. Our room had a good view out over the lake.

The plentiful veggie fajitas

Two Oasis signature drinks in souvenir glasses

 

 

 

 

 

We started our evening with a couple of signature cocktails in take home Hurricane glasses. Our meals were, in my opinion, very good. Sher and I both ordered fajitas, me the beef and Sher the vegetarian. The portions were large and the food very tasty. The kid’s menu was well received by our youngsters who also appreciated the portion sizes.

Outdoor seating on the many terraces

The Oasis restaurant has seating both inside and outside on a series of terraces built into the side of the hill. All of the terrace tables have a great view of the lake and the horizon where the sun sets. A running photo contest is one part of the Oasis tradition. The evening we went was, to say the least, not very good for an artistic sunset photo.

The Oasis Restaurant has a 35 year history in the same location. Over the years there have been several changes in services offered. Some reviewers have panned the food, however our party was pleased with the quality of our meals. A series of steps was required to get to our tables, but ground level tables are available.

Corner restaurant offers “Flavors of Texas” in Austin

Our group found the Corner restaurant pretty much by accident. We had just parked our car after our trip from San Antonio, I needed a restroom and I saw the Corner sign a block north of Caesar Chavez Street. The rest of our family in the second car had parked south of the Congress Avenue Bridge and walked across to join us for supper.

The Old Fashioned Burger served with fries

The Corner is one of the newest restaurants in Austin.  It is in the J.W. Marriott hotel and offers both a sit down dining area and quite a lively bar as well. We all enjoyed a delicious and reasonably priced meal. The kid’s menu satisfied both youngsters in our family, no easy feat these days!

Roasted watermelon and tomato vegetarian plate

The staff was most helpful in assisting us with our plans to see the famous bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Timing is important when seeing the 1.5 million bats leaving their roost for the night’s bug catching. Location of viewing is of course vital, and the Corner staff helped us with that  too. Here is our bat watching adventure.

Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill is a near perfect casual dining experience

The Austin, Texas area is home to many great restaurants. Cedar Park is home to the Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill. This causual dining restaurant offers both inside and, weather permitting, outside dining under the canopy of beautiful trees. Using local sourced ingredients whenever possible, the menu features varied items with a definite Southwestern flair.

Casual and comfortable dining room.

We dined with our family at the Cedar Park location. (A second location is in Georgetown, Texas.) Between the five of us we enjoyed a nice variety of menu items. All of the entrees were delicious, and portion sizes were larger than your average restaurant. Of note was the chicken fried chicken which I enjoyed. What a large portion, with delicious veggies and terrific mashed potatoes! Corn bread muffins, moist and sweet, were kept on the table at all times.

ROASTED VEGGIE SANDWICH
Grilled farm fresh vegetables and New Mexico cilantro cilantro pesto.

BLUE CRAB STUFFED CHICKEN
Grilled chicken breast stuffed with crab meat, jack cheese and sweet roasted peppers with Cajun cream sauce, cheddar seared potato cake and farm fresh vegetables.

CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN
Chicken with peppered gravy, mashed potatoes and farm fresh vegetables.

The service was excellent, and our meals were delivered in a very short time. This is most definitely a must dine spot in the Austin area for anyone who wants to enjoy a great meal at a great price. The quality of the food is really superb and the presentation is great. Get there early or make reservations. We were lucky and arrived before the evening crowd and were seated immediately, and shortly thereafter there was a considerable wait for other patrons arriving after us. Five stars for Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill. Here is the website for you to check out.

This First Watch restaurant in Austin gets a big thumbs up

There are First Watch restaurants all over the country. Tagged as “The Daytime Cafe” these upscale eateries are open for breakfast and brunch only, with the Northcross location in Austin open from 7:00 am until 2:30 pm daily.

CHILLED PEAR CIDER
Red Anjou pear, Fuji apple, organic
ginger, lemon and cinnamon

The service was excellent. We hit the door at a great time, about 9:30 am, and were immediately seated. The coffee was strong and hot. Sher enjoyed a local menu specialty drink: the chilled pear cider was made with Red Anjou pear, Fuji apple, organic ginger, lemon and cinnamon.

CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLE topped with cinnamon syrup, cream cheese frosting, toasted
pecans and cinnamon powdered sugar

The food was served in good time, and was hot when delivered. The pancakes I had were huge, and the eggs cooked to perfection with the fried potatoes. Our son had a Chimichanga with fried potatoes and fruit. Sher had the Cinnamon Roll Waffle, complete with cinnamon syrup, cream cheese frosting and more.

MULTI-GRAIN PANCAKES that were huge, topped with a couple of fried eggs and a side of seasoned potatoes

We highly recommend the Austin Northcross location of First Watch. The staff is great, the ambiance is inviting and the food is excellent! Visit the First Watch local website here for directions and other information.

We discovered why the Hula Hut restaurant is a local favorite

On our way back from San Antonio to Austin we stopped to see the view of Lake Austin and to get a bite to eat. We decided that we’d try a place called the Hula Hut. Because it was so cold, none of the outside eating areas or two of the three bars were open. The five of us gladly took a table inside!

Part of the main dining area

The ambiance was unique with its island themed decorations, including palm trees scattered throughout. The Christmas lights were still up, adding to the festive feel.

The entrance

Large portions

The wide selection of the menu was intriguing, with American, Mexican and even “island” fare offered. The service was excellent and our food was served quickly. Flour tortillas are made on the spot. All of our orders were served hot and fresh.

In the vernacular of restaurant reviews, I’d call the Hula Hut $$ to $$$ on the price scale. I’ll give it a solid 4.5 on the one to five thing. Bottom line is that we recommend the Hula Hut on Lake Austin.