27 May 2009

Alejandra's Restaurant, Balinger

On my way to Abilene, I've passed through Ballinger. It's a cute town with a courthouse and a downtown. Well actually, "downtown" is the only part of town in Ballinger. There's some quaint looking restaurants that I've seen and I've been dying to stop but work or the time of day has always prevented me. But today was my lucky day! I drove through Ballinger around 7:30pm. I drove down the strip to look at my prospects more closely. There was a restaurant that was packed with cars in its parking lot and on both sides of the street. It was labeled as a mexican/american restaurant. Eh, for once, I was looking for something other than Mexican. I drove past the courthouse to the next block. The café on the corner that was my first pick was closed for lunch. There was another restaurant across the street but it only had five cars at it. It paled in comparison to the Mexican restaurant. I turned around; I figured the residents of Ballinger wouldn't lead me wrong. Boy, was I ever right!

After looking over the extensive menu with options like Mexican Caviar, chicken with grilled onions and queso, stuffed bell peppers, KC steak, chicken fried steak and chicken fried bacon in addition to the traditional Mexican fare, I decided on Steak a la Mexicana. "Steak bits with grilled onions, jalapenos and tomatoes. with a cheese enchilada, guacamole, rice and beans. $10.99" Sounded right up my alley, except for the price tag. After numerous occurrences of being nickled and dimed to death, I couldn't help but notice there were no tortillas on the agenda and I was worried if I would get my money's worth. I placed my order with the waitress, who then asked how I would like my steak cooked. I thought this was an odd questions from a mexican food restaurant but I told her anyways, Medium Rare. Yeah right, I thought to myself, because medium rare NEVER happens for me.

My food came out fairly promptly AND with an order of tortillas (YES!). My first bite was heaven. There it was a medium rare steak chopped into small bite size chunks with grilled onions, jalapenos and tomatoes. Exactly as described. I have never had a steak cooked so properly and seasoned so well. This was enough for two meals. I wish I could say I finished it all but I took over half of the meat home, enough to make two tacos worth later. I talked with the hostess as I was checking out. I told her I had never had a better steak anywhere in Texas and she proceeds to tell me that the cook was the chef at one of the leading steak houses in Abilene or San Angelo (I can't remember which, don't hate me!) and he was tired of the big city so he moved out here.

I would recommend this place to anyone. It's got wonderful atmosphere with old Texas relics on the brick wall inside. Stop in the next time you're in Ballinger, you won't regret it. I might have to go back and just try a steak!

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