so long texas, hello iowa

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Yesterday I said farewell to sweet Texan charm, Mexican food  ‘done right,’ and my ever-so hospitable cousins. I enjoyed my stay in the land of the cowboys (and heat), but I am glad to be in familiar Iowa, happy to be home.

A majority of my vacation, before and after Hill Country, was spent in Ft. Worth (the city where my cousins live). Ft. Worth is a bumbling place, and I received the inside scoop on the city from Christina. What was I most interested in? The local restaurant scene, of course!

Paco and John, a small Mexican diner serving fresh, authentic fare, was my favorite restaurant over the course of my vacation. For lunch, with Christina’s recommendation, I ordered two Street Tacos (one chicken + one carnitas, both on soft corn tortillas) with a side of rice and refried black beans. Unfortunately, by the time I remembered to take a photo of my beautiful plate, half of my meal had vanished (It was my goal on this trip to photograph restaurant meals for the blog as to provide a picture for my descriptions, but I always forget!). The tacos were absolutely full of delicious flavor (chicken won over carnitas this time) and the refried black beans were unbelieveable…where have they been all my life?

Since dining at Paco and John, I have learned that “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to restaurants as well.

This past Sunday, Christina and I took the day together. After a ten o’clock Bikram yoga class and a much-needed shower, we had lunch at the Spiral Diner, an entirely vegan restaurant. I ate at the Spiral Diner during last summer’s visit to Texas; I was excited to revisit the diner and try a new vegan creation. The atmosphere of the Spiral Diner is fun, care-free, and a little noisy. Even though it may be a twenty to thirty minute wait before a table is available, the wait can be pleasantly spent “people watching” the customers, as well as the cooks and waiters scurry about the restaurant, or taking time to thoroughly browse the diner’s extensive menu. For lunch, I ordered “Bryan’s Brutal Tacos:” three corn tortillas filled with spicy seitan, corn, red onion and red bell pepper. The tacos were served with black beans, guacamole, jalapeños, and “sour cream.” My brutal tacos were yummy, and I especially enjoyed how the fresh, cool guacamole balanced out the spicy heat. The restaurant vibe, as well as the unique flavors of the food, reminds me of Lou Henri in Iowa City.

On Sunday evenings, dining for dinner at the Flying Fish is a tradition for my cousins. The Flying Fish is a fisherman’s restaurant; it is a restaurant, in my opinion, to be found near a large body of water or in a popular fishing community. The restaurant is low-key and relaxed, with inside or outside seating. The Flying Fish offers by no means health food (mostly fried fare, although they do have a selection of grilled items), but it is a place to sit back, relax, and enjoy some indulgent food. For my dinner, I ordered the grilled salmon plate, which came with sides of grilled vegetables (zucchini and squash) and red beans and rice. I also had a few of Christina’s delish hushpuppies…my favorite! Overall, I enjoyed the experience at the Flying Fish more than the food :)

From my dining experiences in Ft. Worth, as well as being away from my typical “home” foods, I have become even more open to trying new things.

This post wraps up my Texas vacation. Thank you so much to Christina, Kevin, Sadie, and Vivian for having me!

Abby

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