Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Marriott Plaza San Antonio - San Antonio, Texas

The Dining Companion and I recently spent a long weekend in San Antonio. It's a city that we both love and one in which we've spent a fair amount of time. A lot of our time there has been spent along the River Walk. It's a vibrant part of the city that is home to many bars, restaurants, various shops and attractions. Lot's to see and do and we always enjoy it. Having spent so much time along the River Walk, we've been branching out and spending time in and around the South Town area of the city. South Town is what feels like a pocket neighborhood that's adjacent to the more well known King William area.

We stayed at the Marriott Plaza San Antonio. It's location is perfect for both exploring in nearby South Town as well as being within walking distance of the Alamo and the River Walk. It's also very near Hemisphere Park and the Tower of the Americas. Just about the perfect location for exploring the area on foot. You can park your car and forget about for the weekend.

The walk-up to the entrance is very inviting.

 A walk across the lobby leads out to a courtyard and the park like setting beyond.

The Marriott Plaza San Antonio is a beautiful hotel. The property sits on six acres of lovely grounds. 

There are many walking paths located on the grounds that are perfect for a leisurely stroll.

The grounds are also home to several peacocks and pheasants.

You may find yourself sharing those very same walking paths with one or more of these feathered residents.

You'll find fountains scattered around the grounds as well...

...and some beautiful wrought iron work.

We didn't get a chance to go for a swim but the pool area looked great.

When the hotel was being built there were some existing structures located on the property. These historic buildings were saved and in some cases incorporated for use by the hotel.

The rooms are well appointed and there is both a bar and a restaurant onsite. If you wished to you could spend a whole weekend here and not have to leave the property.

Lastly, the Marriott Plaza gets a very high recommendation from the 4-Pound Wonder.

A spot of sunshine to lie in, huge grounds to explore and big birds to admire. What more could one small dog ask for.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Round Rock, Texas - Mmmmmm, donuts!

Old school water tower in Round Rock - part of a large WPA project in the 1930's
The Dining Companion and I stayed in Round Rock, Texas during our recent visit to Louie Mueller Barbecue. One of things I wanted to do while we were there was visit Round Rock Donuts.

So, once again, the Dining Companion and I headed out way too early in the morning. I wanted to make sure that we were there for some of the first donuts of the day. 
The line at the drive-thru

There were already people waiting in the parking lot and a line forming at the drive-thru.

A few minutes before the door opened I got in line. Well, not a line really, just me and one other guy. It seems that almost all of the action was happening in the drive-thru line. Fine by me. It gave me a chance to take a look around and decide which donuts to get.


Mmmmm, donuts!
You can't really see it in the pictures but Round Rock Donuts also sells kolaches. I got a couple of those too; sausage and cheese and sausage and jalapeno. For those of you not lucky enough to have had kolaches, they are small savory pastries. These are filled with all kinds of ingredients with sausage, cheese and jalapenos being very popular.

One of Round Rock's claims to fame is their Texas sized glazed donuts...

Picture of Texas sized glazed donut from Round Rock's website

...the other is the famous golden orange color of their donuts. (as seen in the smaller donut above) Once upon a time the color was said to come from the yolks of the very fresh eggs they used. These days it mostly comes from a little color adding cheat. Either way, they sure are pretty.

I got four donuts, two kolaches and a cup of coffee. 

Two kolaches, two glazed donuts, (1) chocolate covered bismark and (1) cherry filled
Hard for donuts not to be good when they're still warm and these were both, warm and good. The kolaches were good too. While I'm not sure that I would make a special trip for the donuts, I wouldn't hesitate to stop back in if I'm in town again.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Louie Mueller Barbecue - Taylor, Texas

After having visited one of the newer houses of smoke in Texas, Franklin Barbecue, we decided to make a pilgrimage (and that's what it is for any barbecue enthusiast) to one of the original temples of Texas style smoked meat, Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, TX.

There is no doubt that Franklin Barbecue in Austin is the current darling of the barbecue world. With good reason, if you ask me. I mention this only to make the point that while there are newer places doing great barbecue, the old school places that blazed the trail for them are still going strong.

Louie Mueller Barbecue has been in its current location in Taylor, Texas since 1959. As I took a look around it was easy to see the history of smoke in this place. The building itself seems nearly as smoked as the brisket.

Each dot represents where a customer came from to eat BBQ at Louie Mueller
We got there early and managed to avoid a line. I think we got lucky...

Once the doors opened we headed in. The problem, and it's always a problem, is that we can only eat so much BBQ. It was difficult, but we managed to narrow down our choices and still have room for dessert.

The menu
Sides, sauce and a sample

The brisket
The turkey

The Sausage and Pork Loin

The Banana Pudding
So what's the verdict? Is Louie Mueller Barbecue worth a journey to Central Texas? The short answer is yes. The long answer is hell yes! Every bite of smoked meat we had at Louie Mueller was pilgrimage worthy. It now holds the number two spot on my list of best barbecue.

Truth be told a thousand words could and have been written about the relationship between Aaron Franklin and the Mueller family (Aaron started out with John Mueller's old pit) about the fact that the Mueller siblings now run some of the best BBQ spots around (La Barbecue and John Mueller Meat Company) with a brother now in charge of the original family business, Louie Mueller Barbecue as well. Suffice to say that barbecue at the top of the of the game is a small community with a colorful and connected past. (A link to an article that covers some of that at the end of this post)

This history and passion is one of the many reasons you should be planning a trip to Texas to try it for yourself. Head to Austin for some great live music and awesome barbecue, then drive out into the country to experience where it all started. Hit the places along the Texas BBQ Trail and you'll see for yourself what drives the devotion to Texas style barbecue and get to enjoy some of the best smoked meats in the country.

Happy dining!

Note: An interesting article about the history of Texas barbecue from Texas Monthly magazine. Worth the read.  Also, if you love good food and a road trip I suggest you check out the Texas BBQ Trail.

We based our trip in Round Rock, Texas. This gave me the chance to try Round Rock donuts and another well known BBQ joint in the area. We also made a detour to Bellville, TX to try the Silver Saddle Smokehouse. Look for those reviews soon.