When I'm making that drive from Austin to Houston, I'm focused on one thing and one thing only - making it in the best time possible. I turn on my cruise control, start my playlist, and pray that there's nothing to slow or impede my progress. I've made the drive countless times now and rarely does it deviate from the routine. But somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, a question has always lingered..."What culinary adventures are hiding in these little roadside towns?"
As MJ mentioned in an earlier post, we finally found the time to get away. Much needed time away. And by away, I'm talking 30 whole minutes outside of Austin in the quaint town of Bastrop. Now that might sound a little sad, but the resort was so hidden, it really felt like we were nowhere close to home. It also gave us the opportunity to linger along the road we had so frequently traveled and finally answer that little voice in my head...
For our first meal, we headed east on 71 to La Grange and dined at Las Fuentes Mexican Restaurant at the recommendation of a friend. MJ and I easily came to decide on the fajitas for two (quick decision...quite unusual for us, I know). Being as famished as I was, you can only imagine how incredibly thankful I was to see that huge platter of sizzling fajitas. A meal for two? There was enough food to feed a small army and at such a great price. I just don't know enough superlatives to describe how thoroughly we enjoyed our dining experience. But of note, that salsa though... BOTH of them! The warm red salsa and the chilled tomatillo salsa were two of the best I've ever had. Before we had even finished the meal, MJ and I were trying to figure out how we could come here on a regular basis.
Las Fuentes was going to be a tough act to follow, for sure, but there was still good food to be had on this trip. Next stop - Maxine's on Main. Recognized by Texas Monthly for having one of the best breakfasts in the state, Maxine's menu is filled with local favorites and diner classics, like migas, chicken fried steak and eggs, fried green tomatoes, chili, and on and on. I'm a late-riser in general, but when I'm on vacation, might as well just put a perpetual "do not disturb" sign on my face because I love to sleep. It took me such a long time to get going on this particular morning that we made it with only about ten minutes left of breakfast service. No joke. We even got a five minute warning from our waitress. MJ ordered the breakfast tacos with eggs, spinach, and avocado, while I chose the Texas Scramble - 2 eggs scrambled with bacon, home fried potatoes, onion, jalapeños, and topped with cheddar cheese. It was the perfect hearty meal to get our day started.
And since no road trip is complete without a burger, on our last night, we stopped by the Roadhouse Bastrop.
The little standalone was lit up like a neon beacon beckoning us to pull in. The smell of grilled meat wafting through the air was absolutely intoxicating as we walked across the parking lot. I had a feeling I was in for a treat. A member of Texas Monthly's famed "Best Burgers in Texas" list, Roadhouse has also been voted the best in Bastrop County 10 years in a row. As was the case with breakfast, we arrived in just the nick of time. Shortly after we put our names down on the wait list, a line quickly formed and would eventually spill out the door.
In all honesty, the award-winning Jalapeño Cream Cheese Burger did not call out to me initially. Just when I was about to order a standard cheeseburger, the voice of reason (aka MJ) convinced me that I HAD to try the burger from the list. To sum up my experience - a contender for my best burger of 2014. Sadly the photos don't do our meal justice. I had to contort my arm in all different angles to try to get the best light possible, and clearly that wasn't enough.
The patty had a crisp char on the outside that was filled with tremendous flavor. The cream cheese was refreshing and tangy. It also helped cool off some of the heat from the slices of fresh jalapeño which provided a vibrant pop of their own. All this sandwiched between a sweet sourdough bun...I really couldn't ask for more. I was a little concerned regarding MJ's meal options, but was pleasantly surprised to find a vegetarian section, an assortment of chicken sandwiches as well as salad options on the menu. She went with Ann's Garden Salad - a mixture of romaine lettuce and baby spinach, fresh avocados, tomatoes, green bell peppers and onions, mixed cheeses topped with homemade croutons and served with a bold honey mustard dressing. It really was an impressive-sized salad filled with remarkably fresh vegetables. I think it surpassed even her expectations.
With our bellies full (and happy) we made our way back to the resort just in time to enjoy s'mores by the fire pit. Rest, relaxation, and good food with my best friend...now that's what I call a vacation.