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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, July 30, 2015 5:33 AM

This review was written by Roadfood Correspondent Devin Garza, who also took the pictures.

At Matt’s, you have to try not to have a good time. The bustling south Austin Tex-Mex landmark, founded in 1952, is the perfect place to enjoy dinner, drinks, and the legendary queso with family and friends. Colorful paintings of the Virgen de Guadeloupe and bullfights adorn the walls, along with portraits of the founder, Matt Martinez, in his champion boxing days; and rhythmic conga drums playing in the background add to the festive atmosphere. Even with several spacious dining rooms plus an outdoor patio, Matt’s tends to be crowded and loud, part and parcel of being “famous,” as the restaurant’s familiar sign boasts. If you arrive during peak times, expect at least a twenty-minute wait.

This gives you enough time to enjoy one of Matt’s signature Knockout Martinis at the bar. A twist on the classic margarita, this “martini” is made with reposado tequila, fresh lime juice, and Cointreau, and served in a personal shaker with a chilled martini glass garnished with olives. A word to the conscious consumer (who wants to remain conscious): these drinks live up to their name. They pack a serious punch, justifying their $11 price tag.

Fresh salsa and a basket of thick, crunchy tortilla chips arrive on the table as soon as you sit down. Be sure to order the most popular dish, the Bob Armstrong queso dip, named after the popular former Texas Land Commissioner. This bowl of rich melted cheese is served with savory ground beef and a generous dollop of creamy guacamole. Pro tip: stir some salsa into the queso for an extra kick of dry heat and acidic brightness. This dish is so popular that bumper stickers shouting “GIMME A LARGE BOB!” can be purchased at the restaurant’s merchandise counter, along with t-shirts, mugs, and cookbooks. A small “Bob” can easily be shared between two to three people, and a large is recommended for four or more, but no one’s stopping you from eating one all by yourself. The stuff is addictive!

For a classic entrée, you can’t go wrong with a Matt’s Special: two enchiladas (mix it up with beef and chicken) smothered in green enchilada sauce, melted Monterrey cheese, and queso. Is this overkill? We think not. As a general rule, the more cheese, the better.

Another favorite is the Chile Relleno, a meaty pepper battered, fried, and stuffed with tender al carbon beef (an off-menu selection but highly recommended) and covered with tomatillo sauce and -- you guessed it -- gooey melted cheese. The dish sets itself apart by its garnish of Texas pecans and raisins, which adds a delicious sweetness that balances the tang of the sauce.

If tacos are your thing, don’t miss the Tacos Asadero. House-made corn tortillas wrap around savory beef tenderloin, thick Asadero cheese, sweet caramelized onions and rajas, sliced poblano peppers with cream.

Note: Lunch specials are served Monday through Friday from 11am to 3pm for $7.95 each. Brunch is served on weekends 11am to 3pm, featuring Tex-Mex classics such as huevos rancheros and migas. Matt’s is closed Tuesdays.
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Roadfood of the Day: Hash House - Las Vegas, NV
Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fun With Toast

Would you like some jelly with your toast? Then you'll have some fun selecting your flavors from the kaleidoscopic presentation. All homemeade.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 4:31 AM

With a new owner who vows to make this old Route 7 hash house something special, Wooster Hollow Diner radiates enthusiasm. Two steps in the door and I was greeted by proprietor Ron Herman, who directed me to a table and soon arrived to pour coffee. My cup never went empty; in fact, ten minutes into the meal, Mr. Herman came by with a full, fresh cup, whisking the old one away and explaining that he had just brewed a batch so there was no point in drinking the older stuff. When I praised the pancakes, he explained that just the other day he had turned away the pancake-mix salesman because he prefers to make his own.

The from-scratch pancakes are tender lightweights, available full-size or as silver dollars. My stack with bananas and walnuts at first looked disappointing. All I saw were pancakes. But as I eased my fork down into the top flapjack, I hit paydirt: a tremendous load of just-ripe banana slices and crisp walnut halves cooked right in. They were delicious, even if the syrup wasn't true maple. Among interesting breakfast dishes are eggs with brisket and a breakfast bowl of home fries, eggs, cheese, bacon (or sausage or ham), and sautéed onions and peppers. Virtuous eaters will appreciate a "light and fit platter" that accompanies eggs whites with fruit salad rather than spuds; and there's a breakfast wrap tortilla that holds egg whites along with scallions, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, spinach, and hot sauce.

Breakfast always is available, but starting at 11am, lunch also is served. There are sandwiches and burgers, the latter not all that interesting unless you get it Brazil-style, meaning topped with a fried egg, bacon, and cheese – a lollapalooza of a meal in which the sum is greater than each of its parts. There is pizza, too, cooked in the manner that Northeasterners know as Greek, meaning it bakes in an iron pan and has a crisp, lightweight crust. It's enjoyable pizza, so long as you are not expecting the muscular chew of one from the Neapolitan / New Haven places. I've yet to try dinner, which is served Wednesday through Saturday nights. Mr. Herman told me the menu always includes a steak, a fish, and a chicken.

What I like best about this place is not the food, which is in the pretty-good category. It's the attitude that wins me over. This is a restaurant on a mission that goes beyond food, its website promising, "We are always honest, friendly & appreciative, respectful & trusting, clean & safe, and hard working."

Note: Wooster Hollow Diner is open every day for breakfast and lunch. Dinner is served Wednesday through Friday.
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Roadfood of the Day: Ronald's Donuts - Las Vegas, NV
Posted on Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Variety Tray

The bottom pastry is a buttermilk donut. We'd never seen them made in that shape before. The old-fashioned (that crown-shaped donut that is common out west but we rarely encounter back east) is a classic. The jelly donut is good, but not quite up to the level of the other two.
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Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Item Results
Hamburger 355
Barbecue 181
Hot Dog 121
Fried Chicken 117
Pizza 39
Comments (2)
Roadfood of the Day: Fenton's - Oakland, CA
Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

While there is an even bigger version of the banana split, the junior version is still a daunting dessert for one person.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, July 27, 2015 4:04 AM

Yes, another ice cream story. Being that it's summer, and being that I try to eat ice cream 365 days a year, I offer no apology.

Somewhere in the backwoods of Orange County, Vermont, the rental car was trailing plumes of dust as Jane and I careened along winding unpaved dirt roads hunting for the Strafford Organic Creamery, to which a tipster directed us for what he called "the world's best ice cream." Our location was remote enough that the cell phone showed no bars and even the GPS couldn't find satellites. When we finally came upon it, we were chagrinned to discover that the Strafford Organic Creamery is strictly a working farm: no dairy bar, no colorful roadside stand selling creemees, nothing whatever for a hungry passer-by. Observing our sad confusion, a farm hand took pity on us and said that if we wanted to taste the ice cream made here, we should head back to South Strafford and Coburns' General Store, where it is sold by the pint.

Posted on Monday, July 27, 2015

Great Chops

The fried pork chops have a well-seasoned crunchy crust. These are our single favorite things to eat the the M&M.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, July 26, 2015 4:33 AM

At the side of a country road in the southern foothills of the Berkshires, Hidden Valley Eatery is open every day, but is especially popular among residents and visitors to Litchfield County as a weekend destination. From morning through mid-afternoon, you may have to wait for a table. Once seated in the snug, rustic dining room where the ceiling is covered with canvas like a tent, you get a menu that I find really troublesome. The problem? Do I want breakfast or lunch? Either is served any time, and both feature stand-out dishes.

A few items seem perfectly right for breakfast or lunch or, if you must, brunch. The breakfast pizza, for example, is a thin-crusted flatbread topped with pesto, mozzarella, tomato, and bacon with a couple of eggs on top. Magnificent! There's a breakfast burrito, too; and a crabmeat quiche that I'd be happy to eat any time of day. Ditto the house-made corned beef hash, which is moist and spicy and accompanied by a curiously rectangular English muffin. The muffin has copious nooks to hold butter and is delightfully chewy.

Among lunch fare that I keep coming back for are a thick, juicy hamburger fashioned from locally raised Ox Hollow beef, an aristocratic hot dog (also from Ox Hollow), and very good artisan pizzas available red or white and with just about any topping imaginable. Another essential dish as a main course or as a side is mac 'n' cheese. It is a big deal here, the idea being that you start with the basic formula: elegant unridged rigatoni in a moderately sharp three-cheese sauce. It is delicious as-is, but for 75 cents to $2.50 more, you can add everything from roasted garlic and green chilies to sausage or smoked salmon.

Whatever meal you're here for, do check out the blackboard of daily specials behind the short counter. Here we have found a fabulous meat loaf sandwich made from that good Ox Hollow beef, a splendid whole steamed artichoke perfumed with garlic and adorned with pesto, and seafood dishes that reflect what's good at the market.

Desserts are handcrafted beauties: layer cakes and whoopie pies, macaroons and brownies, apple and pecan pie (a la mode or not), crème caramel and chocolate pot de crème. Plus cookies: seeded chocolate chip, cranberry oatmeal, peanut butter, and trail mix. Many of the desserts are gluten free; and I should mention that much of what precedes them is vegetarian friendly.

Note: Hidden Valley Eatery is open from 7am to 5pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 9pm Friday and Saturday.
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Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mocha Chocolate Blast!

The Mexican Mocha is espresso, Mexican chocolate, and steamed milk.
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Mama's Hot Tamales Café...
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