Friday, September 08, 2006

Winging It

I had seen Buffalo Wild Wings in Dallas and its suburbs but had never ventured into one. I was not very excited when they bought the Tony Roma’s location and transformed it into another wing joint. Their Internet location proclaims that they seek to be more that just another New York chicken wing purveyor. They do this by using the unique concept of combining their food with a dozen TV’s showing many sports events. The chain is based in Kent, Ohio. There are over 400 locations in 36 states – mostly in the east.

I have visited BWW twice and both times I have been pleased with the service and atmosphere of the place. They have a large selection of sauces for the wings that are carefully graded for hotness. I found the Honey Barbeque and the Asian Zing to be very tasty. I had some of the wing with the HOTcoating that live up to the name. They were much to warm for my companion and did make my lips burn after just two wings. Unless you are taking a bet of showing off it is probably wise to stick with the mid-range choices. The ranch and blue cheese side dips were thick and tasty as well.

They have several sandwiches and salads to compliment the wings. This is good because not everyone wants to make a meal of chicken parts. Quite by accident I stopped in on a Tuesday and found that the wings are only $.35 each that day. This is a nice bargain. 10 wings cost only $3.50 combined with some blue cheese, fries and a drink for about $6.00. Not bad.

I have eaten at other wing places in Waco including Wing Stop (I like the fries) but I think BWW is a cut above the rest. Frozen potatoes and no Diet Dr Pepper keep BWW from getting a higher rating but I thought I got some tasty food with decent value for my dollars.

Authentic Is Our Middle Name

Surveying some fairly new additions to the Waco food scene might be fun. I visited Rosa’s Café and (the not really) Tortilla Factory for the third time. After three trips, you should be able to sum up the strengths and weaknesses of just about any chain restaurant.

Rosa's Cafe is a growing Mexican food restaurant chain with beginnings in San Angelo. Back then it was probably an interesting local place that had its own personality. The original and its concept were bought in 1995 and now 21 additions later we have our very own Rosa’s clone.

There are some positives. The salsa bar is clean and fresh. Several tasty choices of condiments like the Pico de Gallo and Chile Arbol had real heat. This is good because liberal use of these condiments will enable your enjoyment of the rather undistinguished food. The staff should be complimented for keeping the self-serve bar clean and filled. They did this twice during the 45 minutes I was in the restaurant last week. At 12:45, I had no problem parking, waiting in a line, or finding a clean table.

I guess the real star of the menu is the made-before-your-very-eyes flour tortilla that comes from a stainless steel baking machine that has been used at several other chains like this one. They are good. You can take home 12 for $1.99. So end the positives.

My lunch this time was a modest plate of two tacos (al carbon) with decent rice and soupy runny refried beans. I added a small order of corn chips and a small drink. Total $10.70 for lunch at this quick serve place. This is too expensive for this type of food. I should have learned from my previous visits to go ala carte order a large basket of chips and use the condiments.

Unfortunately corn tortilla chips were as bad as the flour tortillas were good. They are just plain ordinary.

I settled for tea because they have no Diet Dr Pepper. I keep a mental list of places that carry Dr Pepper but refuse to offer its popular sibling. Waco is the Home of Dr Pepper. If you come here from out of town to do business – Try to act like you belong here. I was not impressed by their selection of Fanta flavors.

The tables and chairs were comfortable enough. The décor, while colorful, had that manufactured feel – no spontaneity. I’m sure they had an exact layout from the designer so that every object and graphic was placed just so. If you have ever been to a real border café that has a wonderful haphazard feel to it, a designed environment like this can’t fool you. I doubt there is much difference in #19, #20, or #21.

I can’t see any reason to eat here when we have at least 6 home grown places that are just as good. I would place it equal to or above some of the other chains but it seemed to me that this was not a great value.