One of my favorite restaurants is a small local Mexican place called Casa Del Rio. The look of the place does not imply the deliciousness of the food. The restaurant is set back behind a gas station in a busted up parking lot just off the entrance to a highway. Walking up to and into the building, you will not be highly impressed with the cleanliness or upkeep. The floors are dirty and the traditional Mexican curtains covering the stucco walls are faded and dusty. Walking into the front door, you will need to dodge other customers as there are usually quite a few, and the entranceway is a narrow hallway that doubles as the checkout counter. You never need to wait long, though, because hostesses and servers are always available.
The host or hostess leads you to your table carving a path between tables. Once you are seated the menus full of traditional Mexican food are handed to you and the palate pleasing begins.
I love to start with a “cherry” coke. I order Coca-Cola with a generous splash of grenadine from the bar. My partner likes the salty Margaritas. I am pretty basic when I order. Tacos with pork or chicken are my favorite, but it’s the homemade refried beans and fresh herbs that give them their delicious flavor. My partner loves the fish tacos. She used to live in Arizona where the Mexican food abounds, and she knows real Mexican when she tastes it. The server will bring hot and freshly fried, crisp tortilla chips along with a fresh made salsa to enjoy while we wait for our main course. I prefer a mild salsa, while my partner enjoys burning her mouth with the fiery type. We both love the cherry cokes to wash it down.
The servers are always friendly and accommodating. They refill your drinks promptly and don’t hesitate when asked for extra sour cream or guacamole.
Checking out is easy and friendly. Just take your receipt when you are ready to the front desk in narrow entranceway. Do your best to make room for the steady stream of new customers squeezing in behind you. The narrow galley kitchen is just behind the cash register bar open to view. The last time I was there the owner’s twelve year old son was helping carry food. The owner was friendly and conversational when we asked about his son. He explained that his son was working off a large cell phone bill that he had racked up recently.
I love the atmosphere and the food at Casa Del Rio. I can’t wait to go back.
There are few things in life more fun than giving a dog a bath. Unless, of course, you add that the dog, Bingo, is 100 pounds plus with approximately 20 pounds of fur that she refuses to allow you to brush. She is sporting dreadlocks and it is very warm here so unfortunately for all involved it was that time. Now, I would never think of trying this at home. She’s a tad on the crazy side and doesn’t like water. So we set out to the doggy spa with myself, my 100 pound dog trying her best to sit with me in the driver’s seat, and my 4 year old son, Aden, squealing in delight in the backseat after a futile attempt to leave him home.
After a rather long 10 minute car ride we, thankfully, arrive. I am now sporting a coat of golden red fur and smell oddly like the backyard. Aden gets out of the car relatively easily and then it is Bingo’s turn. Did I mention Bingo is eight, but still has not mastered walking with a leash? The leash that my 40 pound son seems determined to hold on to, while knocking my hand off of it, because that is sure to result in my breaking a sweat, cussing my son out in my head, and screaming various threats regarding the dog’s life as she gallivants across the parking lot in a game of chase only she and Aden want to participate in.
Thankfully, my little lady is fat, lazy, and is not fond of the heat (ask her about her doghouse fan) and sits down pretty quickly. I grab the leash, grab Aden, and attempt to get her to walk back to the spa, but she refuses and I end up dragging her while she acts likes choking (She’s a bit of a drama queen.) and I am threatening both her and Aden in front of all that have stopped to watch. Finally, we arrive at the door for the real fun, but that is a whole different experience in itself.
A few years back I had one really good friend who introduced me to a couple other people who I soon started to hang out with, but didn’t really know that well. One week my friend went out of town, and I decided to have two of his friends over just as a sort of ice-breaker and get to know each other type of event. None of us had eaten dinner so I offered to cook, but had no idea what to make. Looking in the cabinet for any source of inspiration, I suddenly found it, a box of pancake mix. We were going to have breakfast for dinner.
The idea was positively received and quickly we had our tools for what would be the best dinner party ever. As we heated up the stove, we grabbed some food and drink to tide us over, and assembled our selection. Pancake mix, chocolate chips, eggs, bread, bacon, cereal, and a whole lot of butter and milk. We used all four burners on the stove, laughing and chatting the entire time, and reaching a level of friendship in the span of a few minutes that take many people years to achieve. We talked of our lives and love and our own special family recipes for each dish and why it was so special, arguing and typically splitting the ingredients whenever these ideas clashed.
Eventually it was done. Five plate fulls of breakfast food with everything from french toast to chocolate chip pancakes and scrambled eggs. We sat and reminisced about how awesome it was to cook breakfast so late at night, and the not quite as awesome pile of dishes that barely fit in the sink. Everything was delicious, and maybe not the best, but there sure was plenty of it. The eating itself wasn’t the focus though. The talk, the laughter, the cooperation and teamwork during the cooking, and the unusual choice of food itself all made it an amazing night. To this day, the night of “brinner” that is, breakfast for dinner, is talked about by our friends, and will be for years to come.