Tag Archives: food review

No Menu. No Speak English. No Problem. A Foodie Review of El Paraiso in Beaumont

I don’t know where to begin today. Kristi and I started our normal “Where do you want to eat?” conversation at about 9 this morning. We bounced around from Cajun to Mexican, then back to Cajun, only to land finally on Mexican.

It’s a tough conversation to have because of the many good places around here to grab some grub.

We saw some Mexican food joints last week after we left Las Salsitas. If you didn’t read about that one, check it out HERE. It’s on College St. in Beaumont. College St. is rich in Mexican food. We passed several that we said we would return to.

We actually started out for Elena’s in Beaumont, hoping to be there just as it opened at 11:00 AM. We didn’t make it. When we got there it just looked too fancy. I’m not against fancy eating, but it wasn’t what I was looking for in today’s lunch. What we were looking for just happened to be right across the street. There is a tiny restaurant called El Paraiso. It’s TINY. But they had room for two TVs playing Mexican soap operas

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We walked in and were greeted by a vice lady behind the counter.

“Buenos Dias,” says the nice lady.

“Do you have a menu?” asks the tall, good looking, gringo who just walked in the door.

“No menu. Habla Espanol?” replies the kind lady.

“Kristi, you’re going to have to take it from here,” says the confused white guy wondering what they were going to do now.

Kristi is great at Spanish. But she speaks it with a strong hick accent. I knew she could pull through for us.

So they didn’t have a menu. So they didn’t speak English. No Problem.

All of the food for the day was right in front of us. It all looked good and fresh. Kristi went first to show me the ropes.

The first thing she ordered was soft taco with ground meet and veggies. It was solid. They had a condiment bar where she piled on the garnishes. I didn’t get a taste of it to verify its goodness, but from the fact that it was gone before I could ask for a bite, we can all assume it was a worthy eat.

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The second taco she ordered we are still trying to determine what it was. It wasn’t muscle tissue from a farm animal. It wasn’t vegetable. There was a definite mix up in the translation because Kristi thought she was getting something to do with shrimp. What she got had nothing to do with shrimp. See for yourself, and if you can identify what it was, please let me know.

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And here it is after a few bites.

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She’s pretty when she’s eating Mexican food.

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When I ordered I just pointed and grunted. I think I made my desires known well enough since I ended up with a plate of food, a taco, and a large drink thing.

Here goes for my order.

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On the left side of the plate is a serving of potatoes and stuff. Don’t ask me what the stuff is. Just trust me that it works together. The greens beside the potatoes are peppers. I believe the white cubes are tofu, but I could be wrong about that. I’ve never eaten tofu on purpose so I don’t have a frame of reference for it. The main protein for the plate is pork in green sauce. It was tasty. And you have to have refried beans. Their beans were as enjoyable as anyone else’s refried beans. It was a good plate. It was made even better by homemade tortillas. I love it when they are thick and warm and fresh. I’d go back just for the tortillas.

The taco was another adventure.

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This is where it gets authentic. I don’t even know where you buy these kinds of ingredients. I’m sure it’s somewhere on College St. since there are multiple Spanish markets in the area. All I have to say is this: don’t shy away from the pig skin. It’s savory and tender and good to eat. I topped it off with some green sauce and veggies and it was amazing.

Since they didn’t have a menu and we couldn’t make heads or tails of all we were getting I didn’t know what to expect when we were checking out. This might have been the best part. Turns out we only ran up a bill of $16.75. Kristi turned out to be a cheap date! Sure made this guy happy.

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So if you’re ever of College St. and you can remember the phrase, “Estoy Hombriento. Quiero Comida,” then stop on by. I’m sure the folks at El Paraiso will be glad to see you. Tell them the good looking hombre with the awesome wife sent you.

A Novice Foodie Blog: Tracy’s Seafood Deli

Kristi and I haven’t had a chance to write a foodie blog in a while, but we’re getting geared up to share a few thoughts about some interesting eating places in 2015. This past week found us at a Port Arthur restaurant: Tracy’s Seafood and Deli.

This a shared blog so we’ll be going back and forth between mine and Kristi’s thoughts.

 KRISTI: Fridays are my favorite day of the week; Jason and I are usually both off work. So we have a thing where we try and find a new eating establishment.  Apparently the extent of our sense of adventure includes nothing more than a fork, but I dig it. Jason posted a picture of yesterday’s day’s eating joint. The picture didn’t do the place justice. Here it is in case you missed it.

Nothing says appealing like a hot pink wave wall painted with primary colored geometric shapes and a nice fake potted palm tree/ivy. That’s why I felt obliged to write a quick post about today’s cuisine.

I’ll let you in on how I found out about this joint. I’ve been in physical therapy for three weeks now because apparently when I behave myself instead of freaking out under stress, the stress just builds up in my neck and shoulders. It makes me wonder if behaving myself is good for my health. The stress had been so built up that I ended up having daily headaches, half of a hand going numb off and on and the feeling of creepy crawlies all over my head, all the time.

Anyway, Dr. Hunt here in Nederland is fixing me up. Part of my therapy is doing these gosh awful exercises for my neck and shoulders, usually three sets of twenty. I have to count for myself so I can’t talk. Others that have been at this a while are pros and can do their exercises and talk at the same time. One guy mentioned last Wednesday that he got the best chicken wings “from the hood” a few nights before. He said the place was named Tracy’s and was on Gulfway. I did my best the rest of my time to count my neck tucks and remember where Jason and I needed to go on our next Heyday Friday.

Friday was wet and cold but there was sunshine in my soul.

 JASON: There are so many great eating spots right here in Nederland that we haven’t ventured out lately. When Kristi overheard some folks talking about this seafood place in Port Arthur that served up some serious chicken wings, I was immediately interested. We had a little time on our hands this past Friday and a few dollars burning a hole in our pockets so we ventured into the heart of Port Arthur to check out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

Where Is It?

I’m not far off when I say Tracy’s is in the heart of Port Arthur. It’s a convenient location to anyone working at the Motiva plant. I’m sure I’d be there as often as I could if I was nearby at lunchtime every day.

 

What’s It Like?

At some point in the past, Tracy’s was a Burger King. They have maintained some of the furnishings, but nothing of the menu. This might be the best repurposing of a fast food place I’ve ever experienced. Don’t come here expecting napkins and silverware on the table. This is a place for hungry people to fill their bellies with fried, boiled or grilled seafood goodness.

 

What We Ate.

I couldn’t just order one thing. I was hungry for seafood and for their chicken wings. I checked out the menu online before going in. I thought the pictures on their website were a little too good to be true. The first image I was really interested in was a platter of jumbo shrimp that were large enough to live up to their oxymoronic name. The shrimp I saw on their website could have been saddled and ridden by small children. I was expecting to be underwhelmed, but I was pleased to find there is still some truth in advertising. Check out this plate of bad-boys I put down.

When I saw the price for the chicken wings, I was a little taken aback. I didn’t scope these out on the web first so I came into Tracy’s expecting the WingStop or Buffalo Wild Wing variety. 6 wings for $10.39 was overcooking my grits, but I didn’t come all this way to turn down a culinary adventure. When they came out of the fryer, my financial frown was turned upside down. When you eat wings at Tracy’s, don’t think about wing pieces. Think about the entire wing, except feathers. This was simple, tasty goodness.

I had leftovers! I brought the box home for the kids to enjoy. They ate everything but the salad. I’m afraid they even ate the bones.

Kristi is an oyster fanatic. If a place has fried oysters, that’s her first stop on the menu. She picked up half a dozen with fries. There are usually pitfalls that we watch out for when ordering fried oysters. The first is over-breading. When a restaurant is serving up the pre-made, stale-off-the-truck, variety of oysters, it shows up first in the breading. The breading can drown out the natural oyster goodness. The next pitfall is the size of the oysters. We’ve been to places where you had to search through the breading to even find an oyster. We don’t go in for the tiny ones. If we can eat an oyster in one bite, it’s No Bueno. Third, it should not be overcooked. These delicate sea goodies cease to be good if they are left in the fryer for too long.

I’m glad to report that Tracy’s gets 5 stars on their oyster prep. Their oysters were HUGE. These were two, or three, bite delights. They were lightly breaded. They were not afraid to let their oysters speak for themselves. The cornbread breading was just enough to make it interesting, but not so much to take away from the oyster experience. Finally, they were cooked just long enough. We like them raw, so undercooking should rarely be a problem. These still contained significant, natural oyster brine, oozing out after every bite.

KRISTI: I had my favorite food cooked just the way I like it. I would say I loved oysters but my grandmother always told us not to say we loved anything besides people. She was THE BOSS and I’m still afraid to not do what she says. Fellow oyster likers can see how big and juicy, and not ruined by too much crust, these oysters are. I hate having to peel off superfluous crust. Fries are usually just a filler in my opinion, but these fries were fresh and well seasoned. They paired well with the homemade tartar sauce which I normally never eat.

Conclusions

If you have a little time on you hand and a hankering for goo seafood, try out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

I’m looking forward to trying the Boiled Crawfish, Crab Legs, and Vietnamese Egg Rolls.

Give them a try and let them know what you think.

Heyday Fridays in May: Abbie’s Specialty Foods

Kristi and I had so much fun sharing our last Friday Food Date with you that we’ve decided to do it again. Get your taste buds ready for some Mediterranean food from your own back yard!


Kristi Says:

Last week a dear friend of mine, Jen, sent me an awesome link to “Five under the radar restaurants in Beaumont”.  I have a short attention span, I know, but the first eating spot sounded so perfectly delightful that I didn’t get any farther on the list.  I shouted across the room to Jason, “Hey, I found our next date”.  And boy, had I.

Today we checked out Abbie’s Specialty Foods and Deli.  It’s a Mediterranean joint on Fannett Rd.  And get this: It’s a RV parts store too. I had to see it to believe it.  This was our best lunch yet. I’m already thinking of an excuse to go back, for say a pound of olives or something this country girl finds exotic, like some coconut cooking oil.

I have a long list of things that impressed me about this place.  Jason’s doing the actual food review, so I won’t double dip on how good the food was or how friendly and kind the employees were. I have to tell you that you walk up to the counter and place your order for a sandwich, pizza, or salad and then they invite you to grab some tea or a cold drink.  They don’t watch you or write down what drinks you get.  They also have baklava you can help yourself to.  When you’re leaving, you just tell the cashier what drinks and desserts you had, and he rings you up.  I know I can’t be the only one who immediately thinks, “Wow, I can have four helpings of baklava, and they’d never know”.  I mean, they actually trust you to be honest without the fear of getting slighted by the customers.  I like that.

As we were leaving, I noticed a copy of the ten commandments and a small poster of the 103 Psalm.  We left and drove half a mile to Tyrell Park to finish off a date for the books.  On a bench we read the 103 Psalm that once again reminded of God’s goodness.

Jason’s Take on Abbie’s:

Service

Abbie’s is as simple as it comes. You walk in, grab a drink out of the cooler, take 5 steps over to the counter and place your order, grab a seat and salivate because of the smell of pita bread in the oven. There was a super nice lady who waited on us and gave us recommendations as to what to get. She didn’t even laugh at me when I tried to order my Gyro. I still don’t think I know how to say that right. (Gy-Ro….Hy-Ro….He-Ro?) She was kind, and also from Nederland, which is always a plus to do business with a neighbor. Since it was out first time to dine with them, she walked us through the process. “Just tell them at the counter what you had to drink and how much Baklava you had.”

They are very trusting. I appreciated the service with a smile. Friendly service makes good food taste even better!

Atmosphere

There’s not much going on here, but that’s OK. There are things you can get here that you can’t get anywhere else.

There is a smattering of tables and chairs inside and a couple of tables outside. We were early to avoid the lunch rush. We arrived right at 11:00 AM. That was a good thing, too. By the time we left, folks were starting to come in and get their fix of Greek goodness. Most of the patrons were grabbing their food to go.

The place was clean and the people were friendly. That goes a long way toward making the ambience what it ought to be. I can do without silverware on the table.

Price

Great Prices. That’s all I can say. I actually ordered two meals worth of food for just myself! Kristi and I shared it all of course. Most everything was under $7.

Selection

Abbie’s serves a good variety of Mediterranean dishes. There were things on the menu I’d never heard of before today. I didn’t try any of those things, but I’ll be going back. The market portion of the store is a cultural cornucopia. I picked up some legit Arabian coffee. There were imported items from many part of the world. AND this is the only place in America, that I know of, that sells a Ginger Beer similar to what I’ve enjoyed in Kenya and South Africa.

Tastiness

I think you’ve been waiting long enough for this part. Let me begin with telling you what we had. I ate a Humus Pizza and a Greek Gyro. Kristi had an Agur (a big meaty sandwich dressed with blue cheese).

First, the Humus Pizza blew us away. Kristi would have eaten the whole thing by herself if I hadn’t threatened here with my fork! Only kidding about the fork thing. I’m dead serious about the part where she would have eaten it herself! Don’t even ask me what Humus is. Just trust me that it’s super terrific and your tongue will beg for more.

The Gyro (however you say it) was tasty in its own right. It’s wrapped up in a Pita (a thick, delicious tortilla looking thing) and garnished with tzatziki sauce. It’s a yogurt thing and it’s great. For the record. I let Kristi have a bite and she liked it.

I ate half of Kristi’s Agur. It’s a big sandwich tasty deli meats and strong blue cheese. Come hungry if you order one of these. I’m not usually a fan of the blue cheese, but it worked with the combination of deli meats stacked high in a ciabatta bun.

If you get a chance, try the Ginger Beer. It’s STRONG root beer.

We finish the meal off with a couple of kinds of Baklava.




We’ll be eating here often in the future. We’re getting ourselves ready for our upcoming Bible study trip to Greece in September.

We enjoyed ourselves to the MAX today. After eating we rolled right over into Tyrell Park and strolled around. This was a great. For all of you SETX folks, Abbie’s is a worthy eating place. Stop by and fill up. Take your date over to the park and smell the roses. And if you forget to pray before your meal, remember the 103rd Psalm when you’ve finished:

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Psalm 103:1

Check out these previous Food Post from our May Excursions:

The Wheelehouse
http://godsgirlies.com/?p=7332

Taqueria Gonzalez
http://godsgirlies.com/?p=7363

Bruce’s Seafood Deli
http://pastorburden.com/?p=1260