Saturday, November 27, 2021
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Bobbi and Punch

Genre: 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, gospel and music of today
Specialty: Vocals, comedy, live instrumentation
Website: https://thepunches.org
Tour Dates: https://thepunches.org/tour
Booking: Bruce at (573) 944-0032

Bobbi and PunchBobbi & Punch are an energetic duo that perform a variety of hits from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s as well as gospel and current music of the day. Everything from CCR and Martina McBride to Bob Seger and Alabama is included in their show and features dynamic vocals, live instrumentation, and comedy in a terrific show with a down-home feel.

Bobette grew up singing and playing bass and guitar in a family band, while Bruce has performed all over the country playing fiddle, guitar, and mandolin in many bands over the years. They have been married since 1995 and make their home in the Missouri Ozarks where music abounds. Come check’em out!

Midnight Mustang Band

Genres: Country, Classic Rock & Roll, Blues
Facebook Page: The Midnight Mustang Band
Booking Info: Don McClain (956) 533-2257

MidnightThe Midnight Mustang Band is a very unique and talented group of musicians from The Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and is considered by many to be one of the finest new bands in South Texas.

Band members: Lars (Bass guitar; Vocals), Don (Rhythm guitar; Lead Vocals), Kim (Drums) and Rob (Lead Guitar). All have had years of experience playing and performing, mostly for Winter Texan events.

"We love to entertain our Winter Texan friends", said Don McClain, and we are here to do our very best for them".

For booking information, please call McClain at (956) 533-2257.

Denny's: I could eat it again

IMG 2349 600pxI have to admit, it's hard for me to stray away from the breakfast choices at Denny's.

I've been a fan of “Moons Over My Hammy” since I walked into my first Denny's in the early 1990s in Florence, S.C. I also love the omelets, skillets and slams (grand slam, lumberjack slam.... you get the picture.)

However, recently I stopped in determined to grab some lunch and pry myself away from my breakfast comfort zone. My daughter was in the mood for a burger and I decided on something different.

Camilla ordered the bourbon bacon burger without mushrooms or cheese, and fries. I went for the fried fish, also with fries and some broccoli.

This was almost a challenge-the-restaurant meal. I'm usually disappointed with battered fish. It usually ends up battered minnow – all batter and little fish. I’m also all or nothing with fish - you get one chance only because I’m either gonna love it or loathe it. However, when I broke my first of three decent-sized pieces in half, I was pleased to see the fish-to-batter ratio was much more pleasing. The batter was tasty and crispy, but not overwhelmingly thick, and the fish was cooked perfectly. I was extremely pleased that it met all my criteria, something that I rarely find. Am I too picky? Nah.

My daughter's reaction to the bourbon bacon burger was simply – it was ‘really good. I could eat it again.’ Trust me, that's a roaring endorsement.

Speaking of her reaction, I could eat that fish again. I was impressed.

As I pulled into the Denny's, one of the first things that caught my eye was a drive-thru lane. I rubbed my eyes and looked again – it was still there.IMG 2341

In this COVID-19 age, restaurants are being creative to not only stay afloat, but to also be able to serve their customers in as many ways as possible. The Edinburg Denny's is the second Denny's in the Valley – and the nation – to implement the drive-thru. The first came in Penitas.

“Corporate wondered how we were going to be able to do that,” said David Brambles, franchisee of the Edinburg and Penitas restaurants. “Denny’s are not known for carry out or drive thru so during the lockdown there was an immediate learning curve.

“We realized that drive thrus were very successful and that’s what we had to do. We called corporate for permission and we came up with how to do it. Now they are flying down here to see how we do it and are going to try to get up to 50 of their restaurants across the country to do it.”

Denny’s has always been trendsetters in the food business - especially in the breakfast business. Now they continue to do the same, here in the Valley, with business operations.
For me that just means more ways to get my “Moons Over My Hammy” cravings taken care of.

La Playa: Best Charros Beans in the Valley

La Playa 3The charro beans were amazing.

I do not say this lightly. In fact, the charro beans served to me at La Playa on Sunset Strip in Harlingen were just a precursor of things to come, a great and pleasantly surprising way to start my meal.

Like the ninth batter at the end of a baseball lineup, charro beans are usually overlooked and just something that must happen, usually not given a second glance. This tiny cup of charros was flavor packed beyond any beans I have ever had. I asked a fellow diner what their thoughts were, and they quickly said they are the best beans in the Valley, as he packed pieces of fajita and rice into his and transformed his simple cup into a miniature meal in a bowl.

La Playa’s menu is chock full of goodness. I was especially attracted to the specialty fajitas. I was torn between the Devil’s Backbone fajitas, with a special Diabla sauce and roasted arbol peppers and the Fajitas Las Brasas and after much debate settled on the Las Brasas.

As I waited for my plate, I noticed that the restaurant was at its pandemic-forced capacity, but the way the tables were set up there was plenty of room for servers to maneuver and you did not feel like others were breathing down your neck. (take this out first)

When my sizzling order arrived, smoke billowing from the skillet and sending out a mesmerizing aroma, I already surmised that this was going to be a tantalizing adventure - even then I underestimated it.

The beef and chicken fajitas — long slices, not little chunks — were tender and flavor packed, scrumptiously enhanced by a creamy Pico de Gallo white wine sauce that I imagine would enhance any meat you want to combine it with. Large pieces of perfectly cooked onions and mushrooms mixed in completed the dish. If you order extra tortillas, the dish is large enough to feed two. Luckily, I did not bring anyone - this was all mine.La Playa 2

My server said the plate is very popular and it truly made me want to try other delicious options, but I’m one of those people when I find a menu item that overwhelms me with taste, it’s hard for me to try something else. There were so many great options on the menu and dishes with unique recipes I am going to be hard pressed to make a choice next time I go. I feel that whatever I order it will be a delectable decision.

My daughter asked me to bring an order of street tacos home for her. My server packed my to-go order with an extra cup of charro beans. I was thoroughly excited, especially since my daughter does not like charro beans.

After arriving home on this cold, rainy day, I gave my daughter her food and just told her to leave whatever she didn’t want in the fridge, knowing full well that meant two wonderful and warm cups of those amazing charros for late night or breakfast (yes, breakfast).

Next morning, I went to the fridge - I was horrified - there were no leftovers. I panicked and went to her room, figuring she just did the teen thing and left the food there before passing out for the night.

Nothing there either. (take this out if needed) I was left pondering, so I asked her how dinner was, planning to dig around to find where my beans had been devilishly hidden.

“Amazing,” she replied, wiping the sleep out of her eyes. “And they put two cups of beans in there.

“They were amazing too and I never eat beans.”

Ugh. Told you they were amazing.

Valley Star Awards Postponed

Due to the inclement weather and power outages, the Valley Star Awards have been postponed. Originally scheduled for today, the show will now be held next week, Wednesday, February 24. Event will still be held at Mission Bell RV Resort in Mission. Your tickets will still be valid for the new date.

The event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Lunch will be from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Mission Bell Resort is located at 1711 E. Bus. 83. Tickets are still available.

Wintertainers include Dave and Daphne, Diego and Edith, Mark Staggs Festus Live Comedy Show, Jamie Layton, The Midnight Mustang Band and Redneck Revival. Tickets are $15 per person. Tickets are available for $12.50 per person for groups of 15 or more (although seating is being set up to follow current state and county guidelines). Tickets are available at Winter Texan Times, by phone at (863) 253-2514 or (956) 585-4833, or online at www.wintertexantimes.com

Stefano’s: A ‘Have-to-go-there’ Place

tov stefanos lasagneWhere I grew up in Upstate, New York (in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains), there was a saying – “You're either Italian, or you want to be Italian.”

I was in the “want to be" category.

I lived among friends who were mainly German, Polish or Italian. My mom was French and Italian. I was adopted.

My favorite food is Italian – I spent six weeks in Italy one summer that was absolutely phenomenal. Along the way, I have grown to be a lasagna snob. One time, my then-wife made lasagna for me and asked a couple days later how it was.

“It was ok,” I replied.

“OK?” she asked. My “then” wife, now “ex” wife – I do not think lasagna was the breaking point though.

Rarely will I order lasagna at a restaurant for fear that it will not come close to what I've learned to expect or want. Even more rare is going back to the same restaurant to order it a second time. Only three or four places max have reached that level of greatness in my eyes.

Still, the welcoming ambiance of Stefano's in Harlingen had me thinking about reaching out of my comfort zone and ordering the lasagna, especially after the amazingly delicious crab-meat stuffed mushrooms in a creamy and not overpowering chipotle sauce.tov stefanos stuffed mushrooms

The establishment is situated on land that is comfortable, enticing, and peaceful. It reminds me of a northern lodge in the summer – and by northern, I mean back home in the mountains or somewhere in the northern Minnesota region.

The waiter had no doubt on what he liked and did not really care for on the menu, immediately pointing me to the mushrooms. For the entree, however, I decided to attack the lasagna.
When it arrived, I was happily impressed by the size. Lasagna needs to be thick – and this was. But what makes it thick is the focal point for me. I want mozzarella, ricotta, sausage, beef – I want it loaded. I want the cheese and the meat to battle for supremacy when it comes to taste. That, to me, makes a good lasagna great. This one had all the essentials spot on.

Third is the sauce. This sauce was very good. You could taste the tomato freshness in it. For me, you do not want a sauce to be watery, or weighed down with every spice in your pantry. This one was neither. The sauce was thick, and the freshness was not marred by spices.

It was a meal unto itself to say the least. Between the comfortable interior, the beautiful and calm surroundings, and a menu with a myriad of choices, this is a place you need to put on your “have to go there” lists. It also has a bar, dozens of draught beers, a wide wine selection and a separate building for to-go orders.

I definitely plan on going back. And even though it was a large and varied menu, you may see me there once again with a big ole' square of lasagna and a Cheshire cat-like grin on my face.

Golden Corral

Golden Corral 5Sitting in the confines of the buffet restaurant king brought a sense of normalcy back to my senses as the wide variety of foods – served cafeteria style these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and the multiple aromas wafted through the air. I proudly claimed (to myself, of course) that I was the first customer of the day to see this veritable pot 'o gold (well, buffet) at the end of the rainbow.

I have been a Golden Corral fan for years. I was talking to the manager Danny and reminiscing all the way back to when they added one of their staples to the menu – the bourbon street chicken. It was still there, still amazingly fresh, and absolutely delicious.

The seemingly endless buffet that runs from one end of the establishment to the other, looked extremely fresh, with the reds, greens, and other bright, crisp colors of the salad bar, to the browns of the meat and potatoes section to the bright, cartoon-like tints of the dessert bar. I sat near that end of the restaurant and I must admit, the carrot cake and the cheesecake kept calling my name. There were also a variety of soups to try. There is something here for everyone, even the pickiest of eaters.Golden Corral 1

Before I even attempted a conversation with the sweet sugary section, I had to hit all my favorites – which included the pot roast, an amazingly thick and moist cheeseburger on a soft buttered bun (with grilled onions and jalapenos), green bean casserole (need to get my healthy portion of veggies), barbecued chicken, pulled pork....Whoa, maybe I should stop...pizza, pork chop and macaroni and cheese. If you eat everything, can they all be favorites?

I remember going to Golden Corral with my dad. He thoroughly enjoyed the liver and onions more than anything, barely surpassing his love for the baked potato, and all its fixins'. He could sit there for hours, usually making friends in just a short time. I thought about him as I walked through the stations of food. I am not a liver fan, but I'll go with the onions any day.

Consistency in taste is key to building a following and you undeniably know what you are getting every time you dig into your favorites here. The massive number of tastes fascinated my taste buds and my brain slowly slid into food coma mode.

As I waved goodbye to the multitude of food, Danny asked me what I had for dessert. I told him that I was trying to stay off sugar and sweet.

But, since the cheesecake AND carrot cake knew my name, well....

Valley Star Awards tickets available

Valley Star Awards tickets are now available. Although we are holding a show, there will be no awards portion of this year’s show. Since fewer Wintertainers™ were able to visit this year, and because attendance to concerts was limited, we decided to not do an award ceremony, but we still wanted to bring some great entertainment to the stage.

This year, the show will feature Bobbi and Punch, Diego and Edith, Mark Staggs Festus Live Comedy Show, Jamie Layton, Midnight Mustang Band, and Redneck Revival.

The event will be held on Wednesday, February 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. Lunch will be available from 12 to 1 p.m. It will be held at Mission Bell Resort, 1711 E. Bus. 83, on an outdoor stage. A rain date of February 19 has been scheduled should it be necessary to delay the show.

Tickets are $15 per person and $12.50 for groups of 15 or more. Social distancing will be practiced, and seats will be grouped as guidelines allow.

Tickets can be purchased by phone at (865) 253-2514 or online at www.wintertexantimes.com. You can also pick-up tickets at the Winter Texan Times office, 1217 N. Conway, Mission; or by calling Mission Bell Resort at (956) 585-4833.

“Cabo Grille” An enjoyable, relaxing experience

Cabo 1When I first walked into Cabo Grille in San Benito, comfort washed over me. The worries and struggles of a long and tiring day slowly became a distant memory as I sunk myself into my booth, suddenly already refreshed a bit and looking forward to the task at hand – eating.

The inside ambiance, the Tuscan colors and soft music deepened my comfort and the food spoke to me, telling me to stay for the duration of the evening.

Needless to say (but I will say anyway), it was an enjoyable experience. Add to it the incredible Happy Hour deals, made with Winter Texans in mind, and this former San Antonio establishment has made itself a good home in the Rio Grande Valley.

I asked my server Lexi what she would recommend, and she did not disappoint. Unlike those who say, “Oh, everything is great,” Lexi immediately recommended to me her favorites and what the most popular dishes were.

After a few questions, my mind was set – I went for the calamari as an appetizer and the Camaron (shrimp) Angeles.

The large serving of calamari accompanied by two dipping sauces that complemented the large, battered rings of calamari.

What I especially liked about this plate was that the rings were large, and, unlike onion rings, they were not firm or stiff. Calamari is a flimsy meat – rubber band like – and crammed into batter with no room to breathe takes away from its flavor, leaving the batter taste overwhelming.

Cabo 4Instead, I received calamari the way it should be prepared. The outside was light and flavor-packed and made for a great combination with the large pieces of meat inside. Definitely a winning combination.

Next up was the Camaron Angeles, shrimp stuffed with peppers and white cheese, wrapped in bacon, and nicely placed on top a bed of white rice. A mild splash of an Asian sauce gave the dish an incredible explosion of taste and the shrimp/bacon/cheese combination made the dish exquisite.

Upon finishing my meal, I took in the entire place in. Some Winter Texans sat at the bar and another group sat at a table, adult beverage accompanying each as they perused the menu.

They looked relaxed too – just not as relaxed as me after this wonderful and calming experience. I will definitely be back.

Los Comales: A must when visiting Mercedes

los comales 3 600pxAs I perused the jam-packed menu from Los Comales Restaurant at 151 ½ N. Texas Ave. in Mercedes, one item in particular seemed to capture my attention – Poquito de Todo, or A Little of Everything.

I usually avoid these types of plates because, while I like a whole lot of different food, there's usually something that doesn't quite meet my liking, or when it says A Little, it usually means “A Little Less.”

That certainly wasn't the case in this situation.

The plate consisted of two enchiladas, Panchos with fajita (every chip was loaded with fajita, cheese and a jalapeno slice), one chalupa, one beef quesadilla, rice and beans.

And it covered the plate – completely. What may have been most impressive was how the architects in the kitchen were able to pile so much food on a plate and not turn it into a mismatch of everything where you just dug your fork in and played guess what's in my next mouthful?

Each item had its own section on the plate, it didn't mix with any other item (well, a couple pieces of rice and a runaway strand of lettuce may have found their way into something else) but it was structured and organized and full, similar to how my mom would pack a suitcase, as opposed to me or my dad.

The overall amount of food was great, the variety greater and the comfort I felt from digging into each item may have been the best of all. I was ready to nap even before I reached for my heavily filled beef quesadilla inside a homemade flour tortilla.

I asked for some salsa other than the mild pico de gallo they brought with my chips and what they delivered was a highly flavorful red sauce, with just a touch of heat.los comales 1 450px

You could also tell that this town heavily supports the Mercedes Tigers football program and other athletics. I arrived about 10:50 a.m. (the restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily) and there were several customers – ranging from around five years old to somewhere in the 70s age range) wearing their Tigers orange, from lanyards to facemasks to T-shirts and more. It truly gave it a hometown feeling.

I ordered the milanesa de pollo to take home to my daughter, a junior at McHi who was “in class.” When she opened her take home box, her eyes lit up at a large piece of deliciously battered milanesa. “Quick dad, get the ketchup please!”

Usually I can go back to her room, knowing that there was going to be some leftovers for me. When I opened her door to peer in, the box lay on the floor next to her bed. When I opened it, ready to try even the smallest leftover piece I was saddened – all I saw was the bottom of the box. She ate it all.

We both had large plates of delicious food at Los Comales and we both ended up finishing not a little, but all, of everything. Next time I'm in Mercedes for a sporting event, I'll definitely stop here.

Taste of the Valley
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Wintertainters™

Click the Read More link below each Wintertainer™Booking Information, Music Samples, Images, Videos and more!

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Valley Star Awards
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