The experience

We were off to cut down a Christmas tree this year north of Terrell today. During that planning, I said we should try to go try PD’s, a Mexican restaurant that my family frequented when I was younger.  So we had already planned this one out well in advance.  As the day grew closer, I researched the location and discovered PD’s closed and in its place was El Nogalito.  Uh-oh.  I was hoping to have the whole family enjoy the best sopapillas ever made.  But we decided to give it a shot after I read it had kept some of the menu.

El Nogalito

Dr. Mom was initially not going to join us as she was on call.  So I ended up inviting Oma and Grandpoo along for the adventure.  No way I could pull this one off solo with the kids.  Last minute, Grace decided she would risk the drive and meet us there from the hospital.  Great!  Everyone was excited to hear it.  Wouldn’t have been the same without her.

Although we left at the same time and had about the same distance to drive, we arrived at the restaurant well behind Grace.  There was ridiculous construction through Rockwall on our route.  We all got inside and headed over to the table where Grace had been waiting.  Not acceptable for Grandpoo.  The smoking section wasn’t very divided and so there was some light smoke.  Big no-no in Grandpoo’s book. He went to have a word with the hostess.  We were soon located to a back room separated from the rest of the restaurant.  The sight of the booth in the room made me think of great story I’ve been retelling about the “incident” in this place for years (see The Rest).

We all got seated and Mommy began to fix up Mina’s hair in braids.  She had been waiting the whole ride here to get it done.  She had picked this cute outfit and was having trouble getting dressed and I came in her closet to help her and she got very upset that I ruined the surprise.  I promised her it was a surprise and she looked very cute but had to commit to bring the hairstyling equipment to cheer her up.  So, yeah, I committed Mommy to actually do it.

getting her hair done

Our waiter arrived quickly and got our drink orders and we also placed an order for some queso at Mina’s request and Oma ordered some guacamole.  That would work perfectly for Mina’s vegetable.  Of course, Mina didn’t find the idea perfect:

Ewww

In reality, this is a prime example of Mina’s bad attitude towards food.  We are constantly working to get her to try new food or even eat her food.  Until she was maybe 3.5 she LOVED guacamole which I found great because Grace does not like it. I was looking forward to being able to order it more frequently now that we could out vote Grace on the appetizer. I have some hope, though.  A few times the old Mina comes out and she says she likes the guacamole.  Maybe she just has a very refined palate.

We placed our orders and chatted about the “incident” for some time.  Benji busied himself eating the queso and was being quite good today.  Mina was also now very happy and she quickly finished her guacamole before the food arrived.  Off to a good start.

Our food arrived a bit later and we all dug in.  Grace’s enchilada was accidentally made as cheese rather than chicken so the waiter promptly replaced it with another, letting her keep what she already had.

I attempted to order something I remembered from when this place was PD’s but to be honest I really couldn’t recall.  I don’t recall being the type to order the same thing every time.  My brother, on the other hand, was very predictable.  So I just ordered what he used to: The Beef Rayford.  My dad did the same.  Oma had ordered the Soft Cheese Tacos and Mina had gone with a Chicken Burrito.  I looked over and found her surprisingly making short work of the burrito.  I think she was hurrying so she could go play with Grandpoo.  Me and Mommy are too boring.

So when she was done eating very well, she headed over to Grandpoo and began to tickle him and play “Smack Face” or whatever it is Grandpoo call’s his little game where he makes the kids hit him by tapping their hands against his face.  Mina found this hilarious when she was younger.  This occasion she was also “hitting herself” as well as tickling Grandpoo.

Mina tickling Grandpoo

Benji meanwhile was wanting my iced tea which he has ever since I let him taste the stuff back at Dickey’s BBQ.  I caved today and gave him what was mostly melted ice. He was pleased with himself.  He also enjoyed watching his Tata play with Grandpoo and even laughed at her a bit.

Benji loves Tea

It came time for the moment of truth: dessert.  Everyone was supposed to have the sopapillas when suddenly I hear Grace is ordering flan!  What?!  She was still looking for that flan she’s been craving.  Oh well, she could taste mine.  We were all hoping these would be the same as they used to.  PD’s would serve them up floating in honey, butter and cinnamon on a sizzling hot fajita plate. Amazing.  We were, unfortunately, greeted with regular sopapillas.  Everyone liked them anyhow but Mina was wanted the flan, too.Mina stuffing her mouth with Flan

Mina and Grandpoo continued to spread the blame around while we finished up dessert.

He did it! No she did it!

We got the bill and paid up front.  Great lunch, great company, and great memories. Time to go make some more great memories getting a fresh Christmas tree at the Wells Family Farm.

The food

Chile con QuesoSmall Guacamole SaladWe started with Chile Con Queso and a Small Guacamole Salad.  We thought they made a mistake and brought a large there was so much guacamole.  It was excellent. Everyone enjoyed the above average queso.  It was thick and creamy with good flavor and very light on spice.  Benji was especially enthralled.

Beef RayfordGrandpoo and I ordered The Beef Rayford.  This is a notable hold over from the days when this was PD’s.  My brother would only ever eat this dish.  I don’t recall if I had ever eaten this before but it was most certainly excellent.  Both of us throughly enjoyed this dish.  The fajita meat is well cooked and seasoned and goes great with the tender white corn tortillas wrapped around refried beans made with lard (the best way).  Both plates were cleaned.

Soft Cheese TacoOma ordered Soft Cheese Tacos and commented on how tasty they were.  There was no lack of queso here.  It was completely covered.  Beyond the several highly complementary comments I can’t say much.  I didn’t dig much further.

Green Chicken EnchiladaGrace ordered the Green Chicken Enchilada and thought it to be average.  This is what I like to call the Mi Tierra Syndrome.  Grace likes to set benchmarks to the most exceptional restaurant of a certain food and then proceed to torture herself by ordering the dish elsewhere again and again when we both know she will never find better.  That being said, I liked how it was a cross between poblano and tomatillo giving it a unique creamy texture and flavor but also making it less tangy.  If you search on “tangy enchilada” you will see three other Mexican restaurants Grace has posted on with about the same review: “not the best I’ve had”.  In other words, when in San Antonio visit Mi Tierra’s and order the Green Chicken Enchiladas.  You won’t regret it.

Chicken Burrito Child's PlateMina ordered the Chicken Burrito and wow did it disappear!  I have not seen her eat so quick or so much in weeks.  Very good job Princess Mina.  The chicken in her burrito and Grace’s meal was the shredded kind simmered in ranchero sauce (also the best way).  It gives it a great flavor and keeps the meat very juicy and tender.  She was also kind enough to share her beans and rice with Benji.

FlanAlong the lines of the Mi Tierra Syndrome, we come to the newly acquired Mario’s Chiquita Syndrome.  Grace ordered the flan to subject herself to the nearly forgone conclusion that it was ”not the best I’ve had”.  I’ll have to agree with her on the flan. Mario’s had a most outstanding flan that we have attempted to replicate and numerous restaurants in the short time since.  I’ve given up.  Grace apparently hasn’t.

SopapillasThe rest of Team Phipps and family ordered the Sopapillas in the hopes it would be the same as they were in the Golden Age of PD’s.  It was not to be, however.  They came the usual way as just sweet breads with butter and honey.  I never was a big sopapilla fan save for PD’s.  These however were quite tasty.  So besides everyone’s disappointment that they weren’t THE sopapillas, they were above average.

The service

The service was average to above average.  He started out above average for sure. Prompt to take our drink orders after our move to the back room and brought out the queso WITH the extra bowls at the same time!  I think that may be a first.  It usually you order the appetizer and ask for an extra dish and you have to ask again once the thing arrives.  There was a brief downturn after we ordered our entrees where my drink and the the chips went dry or wet if you were talking about the chips on Benji’s side of the table that he had taken a bite of each of.  Either way they needed replacing.  Once I asked the first time for a refill of chips and tea he was spot on the rest of the meal.  A slight mixup with Grace’s enchilada was promptly corrected. Also, when we ordered dessert, he made a point to clear the entire table.  Big brownie points from Grace. I’ll cut him some slack since we moved ourselves halfway across the restaurant and he had to go back and forth between tables so I’ll go with above average here.

The kids

They atmosphere is relaxed here and they have a decent kids menu.  The don’t supply activities so bring your own.  They have a small back room you can request that keeps you separated from the entire restaurant if you think you kids might get rowdy.  Could be useful on those days.  Just hide the knives before dessert.  The room has been cursed by the Phipps Family :)

Total Cost: $64 and some change (4 adults)

The rest

So about the “incident”.  As mentioned, the Phipps family frequented this place many years past when it was PD’s.  We’d drive for miles to eat the sopapillas.  My dad claims that this occurred in the spin off restaurant they opened in Rockwall, but that is definately not the case.  The rest of the family agrees this was the spot and in fact it was the very room we were dining in today.  The booth even looked the same.  I could see the events unfolding in my memory.

THE table

 

So on one of our many visits, we finished up our meal and ordered our usual sopapillas.  They came 5 to an order back then and there were 4 of us.  Someone always got an extra and it was a snooze you lose kind of eating in my family.  So we were all racing through ours when my dad moved to pick up the last one with his fork.  My mom, not even done with her’s, was having none of this.  With cat-like reflexes she struck.  The fork flew with lighting speed into my dad’s hand.  She had just stabbed him with a fork over dessert AND drew blood!  The Phipps kids were laughing hysterically.  Probably good that we were to defuse the situation.  I don’t recall who got the last laugh and the last sopapilla.  Never been the point of the conversation when we are reminiscing on dessert violence past.  Maybe Oma or Grandpoo can chime in.  Though, not sure I’d trust Grandpoo’s memory on the incident.

This post is dedicated to Grandpoo who spilled blood for a most excellent dessert.

A faithful recreation

A Faithful Recreation of the Events

Related Fiascos