Monday, February 24, 2014

Bandana's (Arnold)

1220 Big Bill Rd.Arnold, Mo. (Map)
On the Wide World of Web.

My pen-pal, Suzi will probably huff at this choice. She knows I don't get up to Arnold much and there are lots of restaurants there that she would probably rather me try. But this wasn't my choice, it was Angel's. The dear wife wanted Bandana's, regardless of where it was. The one in Festus burned down a year or so ago.
The reason I don't go to Arnold much is because it is more like a busy suburb than the smaller towns further south in Jefferson County. It is always bustling and busy, lots of stoplights, lots of traffic, and places we've headed to there in the past have typically had lines at the door. We don't do 'wait' well.
We like the food at Bandana's though, a lot. They smoke meat.
The Place:
Just off one of the many very busy streets, next to one of the many shopping centers, within sight of an Applebees. The parking lot wasn't completely full, but only because it was quite a large lot.
When we went in there were some people waiting, but fortunately for us they were waiting for a large table. Our needs weren't quite so demanding. The young, petite, yet capable hostess sent us to a booth, one of very few empty ones, that was still moist from being wiped down.
Bandana's is fairly large, I didn't get get a square footage estimate, but certainly bigger than a Waffle House. More like a Cracker Barrel.
Speaking of Cracker Barrel, that's what Bandana's smells like. Cracker Barrels usually have a big fireplace and in certain weather keep a fire roaring. Bandana's keeps their smokers burning 24 hours a day. It's a very nice, cozy, comfy, mouth watering aroma.
Bandana's has locations in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.They also have one in Indiana, in Evansville. Mostly though this is a Missouri chain, the first one, built in 1986, was in Arnold.
We sat at our booth, the din of the filled place drowned out any overhead music, if there was any.
Missy brought our menus and asked about drinks. Tea for me, sweet tea, no ice, for Angel, Adam opted for Pepsi.
The Food:
The menus are simple. They don't have  a ton of different food, If you want seafood, pasta, burgers, you're in the wrong place. Pork, beef, chicken, turkey, ribs and smoked sausage is what they serve, platters or sandwiches. They also have a fair, but uncomplicated list of sides and starters, including some sleepers, things you might not have guessed. Boiled peanuts, fried corn on the cob, breaded and fried green beans and what Angel says is pretty good, Bar-B-Q chicken nachos.
So the decision is which meat would you like, and yes, you can mix and match. It's all pretty good. Some will find smoked meat tasty, but a little dry, don't worry though, each table has the full compliment of Bandana's own sauces, six of them.
For those of you pretending to be watching your weight, I noticed that under each menu item listed was the calorie count for that dish. They are not ashamed of their food, at all, this place is for carnivores.
I finally decided, as did Angel and Adam. Missy brought our drinks and started writing.
Me: Pulled pork sandwich with baked beans.
Angel: Chicken platter plus one rib ($2.00 option) fried corn on the cob and, wanting to try something new, fried green beans.
Adam: 'Pick 2', chicken and beef with fries and corn.
Missy scribbled it all down without comment, then turned away and left us alone. Out came the electronic devices. Adam played a game, Angel looked up something or another, I played with my tablet's two cameras.
The wait grew, people came and went. The evening went south. A family was seated in the both behind us, their small boy spotted them and ran towards them squealing loudly all the way. Like in that old classic movie, '39 Steps' where a cleaning lady discovers a body, opens her mouth to scream, then an immediate cutaway to a high speed steam locomotive tearing down the track with a heavy hand on the shrill, angry whistle. He roared past us, the hair on my neck spiked up like the fur on the arched back of a hissing cat.
He jumped into the bench seat behind us and started rocking, bucking us from behind with every bounce. Angel didn't say anything at the time, but she had to know that this would be a certain mood changer for me. It was, I soured. He finally settled, but the problem with that group did not go away. The patriarch of the family had a deep, booming voice, like a seasoned Baptist minister and from it came knowledge of all things. He never asked a question, he already knew everything about everything and was sure to confirm this on every subject. The man talked loudly and confidently for the full course of their stay.
This was not Bandana's fault, it won't affect my review other than to point out that this is a problem in larger populated, really busy places. There's bound to be a bloviating ass and/or a shrill, undisciplined child in the mix at any given time.
The food took a while which I  thought odd. The main course, the meats, are prepared constantly and well ahead of time in big batches and there weren't that many sides offered. Why it took so long, I'm not sure.
But the food did arrive. It was gorgeous. My sandwich was served in a plastic basket on paper, the beans were separated in a shallow ramekin. The sandwich was topped with fresh coleslaw. I grabbed a bottle of Chicago sauce, my favorite, flipped the sandwich over and slathered on a generous portion.
The beans were sweet, sweeter than you might be accustomed to, but very good. This was no one's canned baked beans.
Angel's plate looked massive. A spice rubbed thigh, breast and leg. A handsome rib also looked pretty good as well. The fried green beans were breaded and deep fried. The corn, still on the cob, had scorch marks. The garlic bread looked beautiful. Golden, bright, like the pigtails of a country girl on a sunny day. Adam's corn was more conventional, the fries looked like fries. On his plate you could see the 'stick to the basics' style of Bandana's. Just lovely, simple smoked meat. No fancy garnishes or toppings. If you want sauce, it's on the table.
Also on the table, every table, is a roll of paper towels. They are not just there for the ribs.
Pulled meat usually means shredded. Not necessarily so here. There were sizable chunks on my bun that when bitten, came out fully intact. A couple of these were big enough that the next couple of bites came out with only slaw and bun. Of course, this also meant splatter and spillage. The flimsy napkin that was wrapped around the bargain basement silverware didn't last halfway through the meal.
I strongly advise not wearing your best Sunday-go-to-meetings to Bandana's. The chances of splatter and drip is quite high. So mechanically my sandwich was a bit messy, but that's not a criticism. The taste, oh the wonderful taste, more than made up for that.
My meal was smaller than my family's so I finished first. I picked at a couple of Angel's green beans. They were pretty good, though very heavy for a bean.
Angel tore through her corn like an industrial shredding machine. She left the chicken skin on the plate but the meat had disappeared, the bones appeared acid soaked so devoid of meat they had been rendered.
Missy came by and checked on us, a single takeout box please. Angel was saving the bread. We've always loved the bread, even though Angel said "I think it's probably my changing tastes, but the bread seemed a little oily." This did not stop her from putting it into the box for later though.
"Good, as usual." Adam said. That about says it. The food is good. it is of much better quality than many places, simply, but expertly prepared. Bandana's has been around for nearly thirty years, the recipes and techniques have not changed. They don't need to. This is not reprocessed, cookie cutter, industrial food. It's the real thing.
Busy as it was, except for the longer than expected wait time, the service was professional and solid. Missy didn't chat us up unnecessarily, but she was attentive, patient and thorough.
The price was good, but not dirt cheap, $49.01
The tea? Sorry, but not very good. It was fresh, not cloudy and bitter, but it was pretty weak. I'll give it a minus two and a half. It worked okay to wash the meat down, but tasted only mildly stronger than water.
Will we be back? Not for a while. Location, location, location. Should they build anew in Festus/Crystal City though, you bet. But I simply hate navigating the traffic and crowds in Arnold.

Bandana's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Siam Express

10308 Business 21
Hillsboro, Mo

First things first. It was a three day weekend for me, Presidents Day. I like this holiday since not everyone shuts down for it like they do for the big ones, 4th of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Boxing Day. So that means I can actually get something done other than just sitting around the house. I celebrated January's MLK day by getting my car inspected, something that takes a few hours and is best done during the week. This time, I pretty much just sat around the house and watched the History Channel. I could have done something else though.
Saturday and Sunday Adam and Angel traveled to Springfield, Mo. to celebrate somebody's birthday or something, I forget the details. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself and tending to our own dogs in situations like this. I can feed myself and generally manage the house. Especially since I know Angel's cell phone number. I only had to call her twice this time. Besides, Diana, Angel's able assistant, was going to be stopping by several times to tend to the client dogs and the fosters that I was not familiar with. Diana's great, very good with the dogs and a superb photographer as well.
I could have eaten anything, made something myself, but hey, why not party like a bachelor? So I ordered a pizza. The plan, order a large one and graze on it all weekend. So I did. On Thursday, I handed my order to Adam to take to Pizza Junction with him on Friday. He works there. I spent nearly a half hour listing toppings, tweaking, adding, deleting, until I decided I had designed the perfect multi-meal pizza.
 14 inch, traditional crust, Junction pizza sauce, mozzarella and provolone cheese,  pepperoni, pork sausage, Italian sausage, bell peppers, onions and a half-dose of bacon. I wanted a little bacon but I did not want it to overpower the other toppings. When I got home from work on Friday night, there it was. "I brushed garlic butter around the edge of the crust." Adam said. He'd made it himself, bless his little heart.
It was phenomenal, perfect, awesome. It was even better than you are imagining it was. I noticed the garlic butter, subtle, but just the right classy touch. I actually do love PJ's pizza. I don't care for their tea much, but this weekend I made my own. However, by post-breakfast Sunday I took the remaining pieces, wrapped them in wax paper and stuck them into a freezer bag. It was indeed very, very good, but even I can get too much of a good thing. By that afternoon I was craving soup and salad. We still want them to name our family's absolute favorite, a chicken, steak and Alfredo sauce pizza, after us. 'The Bentley' See, it sings! I don't think that's too much to ask.*

The Place:
Just off business 21 and Pioneer in Hillsboro. A small place sharing a building with a tax firm and maybe something else.
Siam refers to the old name for Thailand. That's a country in Asia, I think. Its capital is of course, Bangkok, made famous by the song 'One Night in Bangkok' from the concept musical 'Chess' written by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. I don't know who Tim Rice is, but Björn and Benny are the two guys from ABBA, which is, without dispute, the greatest musical group of all time. The Bangkok song, which might be Thailand's national anthem, I'm not sure,  was sung most prominently by Murray Head. "Who?" You ask? Head's the guy famous for singing the theme from 'Jesus Christ Superstar' That guy.
Siam itself,  Thailand, is probably most famous for creepy cats. I'm sure there's other interesting stuff to know about the country, but I've noticed that most of you have really short attention spans, so I'll not bother you with actual research. Look it up for yourself.
We've been wanting to try this place for a while, but that's been tough since they are only open Monday through Friday. However, President's Day. I drove by it earlier in the day Monday and took the sign picture, went inside and asked for a take-out menu. The plan was to do it take-out, family style; order three or four main courses, add some rice and egg rolls, then mix and match as we feel like it. It's the kind of thing we do when a Chinese place is not a buffet.
The place is small, only five or six tables. It looked clean though and not over-decorated.
Everything we'd heard about it, including online reviews were quite positive.
It is not, as the name might suggest, a Thai restaurant. It is much more like a traditional Americanized Chinese place.
 So we called in our order. Sesame Chicken, Cashew Chicken, Beef and Broccoli, Pepper Steak, one egg roll, one order of three Crab Rangoons, two small fried rice, one small steamed rice. The lady on the phone said it would be ready in about forty minutes. Angel had a dog coming in, so I volunteered to make the run. I went in and waited behind the only other customer as he scanned the overhead menu. The proprietor had the phone squeezed into her neck while writing. I looked around. Six four-tops, one booster chair and exactly one Asian themed print on one wall. No gaudy bric-a-brac, no Chinese lanterns. It was decorated in what I can only describe as 'generic'. They could be a pizza place or a sandwich shop without changing a thing. The kitchen was behind a wall. Only a sliding glass window, behind which was where the proprietor stood, perforated the wall.
There were a couple of bookshelf speakers mounted on that wall, out of which poured a lively gospel song. That's different, I thought to myself. That's right, I'm not a gospel/contemporary Christian music fan. It's right up there with country on my long list of music that I will avoid listening to if at all possible. I don't mean to say that it's objectively awful, only that it is well outside my taste zone. I was glad that this was take-out though. Another similar song came on, after some radio station ID break. I'm pretty sure whatever that station was is not one of my car's radio buttons. It's not about the message, it's just something I do not enjoy.
I could smell the food, this pleased me. While waiting, I counted the floor tiles. They were 12" inchers. I measured the dining room to be twelve by fourteen feet. A small place indeed.
The gentleman gave his order and took a seat at one of the tables. I stepped up and announced my order. She smiled and said she'd check on it. She disappeared for a minute, then returned saying they were bagging it at that moment. I checked my watch, it had been precisely forty minutes. I greatly appreciated the timeliness.
As she tapped in the ticket I asked her how long they'd been open.
"Twenty years."
"Yeah, this year it will be twenty."
I must have looked perplexed. She smiled and asked "How long you been here?"
"Seven years."
"This is your first time here?" She looked a little concerned.
"Yeah, I'm very sorry about that, for not coming in sooner."
She smiled. "That's okay, we've been pretty much word of mouth. The landlord finally let us put up a better sign though."
The whole order fit into one grocery sized bag, expertly packed, orderly and tight. Like it was packed by someone who had been doing it for twenty years.
I found out somewhere in our chat/settling up that this was a family owned place, her and her husband.
I paid up, forty two dollars and change. I signed the slip and asked for a receipt.

The Food:
When I arrived back at the compound, there was a Mini-Cooper in the drive, the training building and pens were all lit up. The client had arrived on time.
I emptied the bag of the little cartons, those ubiquitous wire-handled boxes that are uniquely Chinese. Well, except that they aren't. Like fortune cookies and General Tsao, they are almost completely foreign toChina. NPR did a piece on that this week, how some ex-pats, missing their Americanized Chinese food while living in China decided to open up restaurants that made and served the stuff. Turns out the Chinese people are mostly quite receptive to the strange, foreign delights served up there, including those funny little boxes.
Adam and I popped open the cartons, they'd been labeled with initials indicating what was what.
I pulled one of my Asian plates out of the cupboard and loaded it up. Two Rangoons, a portion of rice, sesame chicken, some of the pepper steak and one chunk of the Cashew chicken. The first thing I noticed, delighted in, were the big thick veggies in the steak. Onions, peppers and celery, wok'ed perfectly.The second thing I liked with my eyes was the rice. It was the proper color, not yellow or orange as is common in many places in the area. The third thing was the size of the chicken chunks, not too big.
Adam loaded up his plate with his favorites, the steamed rice, some sesame and cashew chicken and the beef and broccoli (blech!).
About the time we were finished plating we heard the Mini fire up and leave.
Angel joined us within a few minutes.
I headed to the table, propped open my book, and jumped in.
The sesame chicken was perfect, sweet, but not too sweet, and as I said, the nugget size was dead on.
The rice was pretty good, nothing fancy, not heavily flavored. The beef strips were thin and tender, the veggies, excellent indeed. The cashew chicken was not what I expected, it was definitely not Springfield Cashew Chicken. I knew Angel would say something about that. She did. It wasn't bad, but she was in Springfield the day before, and well, you know, that town is the Mecca of Americanized Chinese food.  Later she added that the egg roll was a bit doughy and too  heavy on the carrots for her tastes. The broccoli (blech!) however, she said was perfect. I'll take her word for that. Adam enjoyed it all very well. He'd been in Springfield too, so that's a high grade.
I did not go for a second plate, I still had some pizza to work off.
Not bad at all. A couple of little issues, but nothing terrible. Compared to other Chinese options in Hillsboro, this was hands-down the better of them. There's one other Chinese place in Hillsboro that I have never reviewed and vowed I never will. I ate there once, or maybe twice, didn't care for it at all. That's all I''m going to say about it. Siam Express beats them on every single note.
We've had better Chinese, but like I've said, we're from Springfield. Having a place this good in Hillsboro is quite a treat. To get better we'd have to drive for a half hour or more.
The price? It may seem steep, but we were building a buffet that will last at least one more full meal and some evening grazing. If we were to zoom in on specific combination plates it would have been only  eight or nine bucks each. We went deliberately overboard  to give it a solid tasting. We were not disappointed. We got our money's worth, easy.
I shouldn't even have to say it was good. The fact that they've been open for twenty years in this small town already screams that it is a pretty good place to eat. But take my word for it, now that you know about the  place, you really need to try it.

* Apologies for the gratuitous plug. I have it on good authority that there are certain members of the PJ management team that read this blog regularly. If I can't use this soapbox for a little gentle coercion from time to time what kind of lily-livered soul would I be?

SIAM Express on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 10, 2014

Jack In The Box

899 Veterans Blvd
Festus, Mo

Still waiting for the new Hibachi Buffet to open, we had a plan B. Jack has been running an ad for a few weeks now for their 'Bacon Insider' burger.  Bacon on the burger as is traditional, but also with bacon mixed inside the patty, and it is topped with a bacon mayo. That's a lot of bacon, but we're mid-westerners. So this trip wasn't so much about the place as it was about a specific item.
The Place:

Clustered amongst a dozen or so fast food franchises just off I-55 on Highway A, or Veterans Blvd. as it is locally signed. It doesn't stand out very much, but if you are looking for it, just head to Burger King, Fazoli's or Taco Bell.
It is more nicely decorated than BK or McD's but it's still a fast-food burger joint. The floors and tables were mostly clean, unlike the last couple of times we'd been there. It wasn't very busy and there didn't seem to be a large crew working. As we stepped up to the counter I could see one young lady mass-producing tacos. The mature gentleman that waited on us seemed manager-like, yet he handled the drive-thru headset like a pro.
The Food:  We all ordered the same burger. I got mine as a medium combo with curly fries, so did Adam. Angel nixed the fries and got two tacos instead. Angel and Adam like Jack's tacos, I do not. We settled up, twenty five bucks and change.
We grabbed straws, ketchup packets and napkins and followed Angel to a booth near the front. Out came the electronic devices, two smart phones and a tablet. I use my tablet to take notes and photos for this review. Angel and Adam use theirs to goof off.
I told them about a study I'd heard about on the radio earlier in the day. A team of Japanese scientists, presumably not the same scientists that should have been figuring out what to do with that nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima, did a four month study to find the best way to hold a hamburger. I knew the result and told my family that I would be demonstrating the technique. Granted this was a study conducted by a group culturally more accustomed to eating with sticks than a fork, and the study is a little suspect in that it took a group of scientists four months to conduct a study that most American kids figure out in a few minutes by the time they're teenagers. But anyway, it was an official study, so it must be important.
They called our name, Adam popped up to grab the tray.
The burgers were diapered in paper inside boxes, another part of a tree died to produce the paper product to transport food the fifteen feet to the booth and the fifteen feet to the trash bin, unnecessarily wasteful. But that's an argument for another day.
They looked like regular burgers, Angel's tacos looked flat and dead, like Mexican road kill.
Jack boasts in its commercial about this treat being served on brioche, a bread with a higher butter and egg content than good old America white bread. I appreciate up-scaling bread, usually, but to me, on a sandwich, it's more important what is between the bun. My curly fries looked fine, crispy looking, though not actually crispy. I took a bite or two of the burger, it tasted like a bacon cheeseburger, with mayonnaise.  I don't usually put mayo on a burger, I'm an old fashioned mustard and ketchup guy. I found the mayo to be distracting, too loud a note for a savory burger. Angel and Adam shared the tacos, ate them like they were good. I found nothing appetizing about them at all the time I'd tried one. Some people really like them though, one couple came in to pick up their phoned in order of seventy tacos. Yeah, seventy. Blech.
As I ate the burger I realized I was fantasizing about burgers and bacon, but not at Jacks. For the same price as my combo, a little over seven bucks, I'd had a breakfast that very morning at Huddle House in DeSoto. Two eggs, over medium, hash browns, wheat toast and two slices of bacon. That's how to enjoy bacon, plus, HH served up a continuous set of refills for my delicious coffee for the full hour I had sat there and read my book.
Unlike the tea at Jack's. The tea was floral, weak and a bit bitter, I only took a few sips.
At Jack's, as I ate the mediocre burger, flaccid curly fries and sipped that terrible tea, I was dreaming of breakfast at HH and the burgers, just down the road at Gordon's stop light.
The brioche bun was more of a complication than a bonus. It was tougher, chewier than the burger itself. It even made my newly discovered technique for holding a burger more difficult.

The 'right' way.
The 'wrong' way.
The study explained that by using the pinky finger to support the bottom of the bun along with the thumb, this provides more stability for the burger so the innards don't slip out as badly. This is an awkward hand position though, and is probably best suited for a flimsy bun. The brioche was closer to the consistency and density of pizza crust, structurally more rigid. So my findings with the technique were inconclusive.
Bottom line, the burger tasted like a mediocre fast food burger. I probably won't make this a destination meal. It wasn't awful, but there are so many other things available nearby that this new burger just didn't stand out as anything special. The tea was not good at all, I threw most of it away on our way out. Angel said the burger seemed overcooked, perhaps because of the bacon inside it. No one applauded, no one moaned in ecstasy or delight and the conversation at the table and in the car was about nearly every other
subject other than the meal. I think that's like a C-. Passing, but not noteworthy. It was indeed more bacon-y than a traditional bacon cheeseburger, but unnecessarily so. I'm sure it sounded good in the development meetings, but the fact is, it really wasn't terribly interesting or delicious.
The tea?  -4. The price? Like I said I could have spent that same money in the area and received a much better meal. Sorry Jack, a swing and a miss.

Jack in the Box on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 3, 2014

Los Portales

201 Main St.
Hillsboro, Mo

My choice, a last minute decision. Once again, we'd put off making the choice, then the weather got iffy, so Angel said she didn't want to risk going too far in case it started getting icy again. On Friday I had slid the car into the front yard as she happened to be outside watching. She didn't know at the time that this was, though less than ideal, a fairly well controlled situation. The car had lost traction on the glazed pavement, but I'd already slowed it down to next to zero and I sort of leaned it toward the yard where it would regain grip immediately as opposed to the various stands of oak trees that were my only other option. I've actually done this before. Adam was watching the first time. The look on their faces, priceless.
So she didn't want to go to far, which meant Hillsboro, which seriously limited our choices. I just up and answered. "Mexican." That won immediate approval.
Los Portales can be described as a margarita joint that happens to serve food. Their fruity tequila drinks are quite popular. They come in various sizes, the larger version looks like a cereal bowl on a stem. I don't care for fruity mixed drinks much, ever since I discovered the satanic 'hurricanes' that I drank way too many of in New Orleans several years back. I loved those things, really sweet and fruity and you couldn't even taste the alcohol, and then next thing I know I'm stuffing my torn shirt into my pocket and swearing at some enormous trumpet players and my knees are bleeding and I'm pretty sure I just set fire to a dumpster . . .  well, not exactly. It wasn't really that bad, but I have learned to really, really limit the drinks I consume that mask or delay the alcohol or its effects.
Nearly every occupied table at LP held a big goblet of margarita. There were signs posted about offering special ones on certain evenings.
The Place:
LP is sort of a dive. An old building that certainly used to be something else entirely, uneven floors, low ceilings, dark. It has character though and is a very popular local watering hole and they make really good 'authentic' Mexican food. The people that work there are pretty much all Hispanic, Latino, or whatever you choose to call people from Central or South America. A recent study I heard on NPR said that the preference as to what to be called varies quite a bit among that population, though they'd mostly rather be referred to as being from the country they came from, Nicaraguan, Mexican, Bolivian, Canadian, etc. But the problem for us not from there is that all those places seem a lot more alike than the vast differences that there really are, so we tend to lump them all together as if they were one people. I didn't ask the people at LP where they were from, so I really don't know for sure. I apologize to them for my blatant ignorance.
The bottom line though is they make good food. I air quoted around 'authentic' again. I don't know how authentically Mexican the food is since I've never been to Mexico, but they are certainly, if there is a God, more authentic than Taco Bell.
We sat at a booth in the second-hand-only smoking section. Hillsboro hasn't banned smoking in restaurants, so in an old, low ceiling-ed place, the acrid, stale odor is palpable throughout.
We sat beneath a red serape and sombrero, a theme on several of the walls. The booths there are well worn and kind of low to the table.
Along the front wall most of the tables were full, with families, with more often than not, Mom sipping on a big, bright green drink.
Overhead were the happy guitars, trumpets and soulful, mostly male voices of songs sung in Spanish. It fit nicely.
The Food:
The gentleman who waited on us was polite and professional. He had brought the chips and salsa, which caused me to salivate openly. We perused the menus as we downed the drenched chips. The chips were thin and crispy, the salsa spicy and rich, though not too hot. We responded to his query with Tea, sweet tea (raspberry) and Coke.
It's easy, for me at least, to overdo it at LP. A couple of times I've ordered the big special platters that they drag through a little of everything they make. I've never been able to finish one, so I decided to be more surgical about my choice.
#1 Enchiladas
Enchiladas, mmmm. There it is known as Combination #1. Two enchiladas, rice and refried beans. Perfect.
Angel asked for the Enchiladas Del Mar, which she said contained shrimp. Adam split his order between Nachos Supreme and a chicken taco.
LP serves pretty quick, most of the stuff is batch made and assembled onto a plate when ordered. So it doesn't take a long time to dine there.
The plates arrived, exactly as ordered.
Enchilada Del Mar
White, molten cheese floating in a dark, muddy river of beans. Lightly tomato-sauced rice, tender and well cooked. I didn't recall specifying I wanted beef enchiladas, but that's what I got. After I took the picture I chopped it all up and stirred it all together. A piggish thing to do, but I like the depth of flavors and textures in every bite. Pretty much the same way I eat my eggs, hash browns and bacon at Huddle House. Angel's plate looked prettier than mine, it included a small lettuce, tomato and guac salad. She dug out and devoured the small shrimp.
Taco, Nachos Supreme
Adam excavated and discarded the tomato chunks from his nacho plate. The Taco went pretty quick. For some reason I finished before everyone else, this rarely happens what with me taking time out to make copious notes for these reviews. The flavors got the best of me though. I was hungry, lusted for Mexican and was being satisfied.  It's hard to slow down under pressure like that.
Angel said hers was quite good, Adam nodded his head. Yeah the food was good. The service was mostly good. We ran out of chips and were never offered a refill. Which is odd since the chips serve to make the customers thirsty and this place easily makes more from their drinks than from the food. Speaking of drinks, my tea was not very good, a minus 2 on the PJTea scale, Angel said the raspbery in hers tasted like raspberry Kool-Aid, she rated it a 'fail'.
Los Portales is pretty good, at least locally good. It's consistent, inexpensive (our bill came in under $30.) and very close to home. There are a few other Mexican places a little further out and most of them are pretty good, but why bother when this one is so close?
If you find yourself in Hillsboro, for courthouse reasons or to bail your idiot friend or spouse out of jail again, you really should stop in and give the place a try. Either for a tall green tequila drink, one of the many fine Mexican beers they serve, or maybe just a sloppy pile of enchiladas. It's good food, bargain priced, and nobody cares if you dribble sauce on your shirt.

Los Portales‎ on Urbanspoon