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Southeast Texas Trek and King's Ranch

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My husband and I are about to take a trip through southeast Texas (leaving on the 16th) -- starting from New Orleans, where we live, to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Laredo, along and across the border, Brownsville, and back up the coast through or past Corpus Christi, Galveston, and passing through Houston again on the way home. I've gathered a lot of ideas from the board and other sources about the barbecue area around Austin, and apart from that we will be zeroing in on the most authentic Mexican we can find, since there is a total lack of that in New Orleans and we are in dire need of some Vitamin M. We have pretty good antennae for Mexican food joints, but would appreciate suggestions for anything we shouldn't miss. I have posted before on this board about our adoration of the Arandas chain in the Houston area, and I'm sure there are lots of others all along the route.

My mother tells me that she and my father used to visit that area around 20 years ago and they used to like a restaurant in or near Kingsville that was run by the King's Ranch. Is it still there? Is it worth a visit?

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  1. If you are looking for some great Mexican food to start your trip, make a run for the border... the Texas border that is. Elena's in Beaumont is a fantastic must have. It is easy to get to. Exit College off of I-10 and take a left headed east for 2 miles. Elena's is on the right. There is no such thing as a bad meal there. It'll make for a great start, and end, to your trip!
    Elena's Mexican Restaurant (409) 832-1203
    1865 College St, Beaumont, TX 77701

    1. Try El Jardin in Kingsville. Breakfast at the Hi-Ho in Corpus Christi is a must. The Hi-Ho is a Tex-Mex restaurant and something of a well-kept secret. It's really hard to find on any of those restaurant searches.

      Joe Cottons has a big rep for BBQ near Corpus Christi. It's really good.

      In Corpus Christi, just look for a converted Dairy Queen with hand-painted signs that say things like "TAQUITOS" or "SUNDAY-BARBACOA" and I'm sure you've found the right place. You did say you were good at finding good Mexican, right?

      I've never been to any of the Arandas restaurants you mention, but you might try one of the Taqueria Jalisco's around town.

      (By the way, I'm writing from Boston, but I was born and raised in CC,TX.)

      If you're going to be in Austin, try Fonda San Miguel which is really authentic Mexican food. Interior Mexican food. The dishes are really revelatory. Diane Kenedy is a consultant there from what I understand. You won't find chips and salsa at this restaurant. They have a knock-out Sunday brunch for $30.

      1 Reply
      1. re: raj1

        Thanks! I found a web site for El Jardin. If the food is as good as the menu looks, I want to move in! Sweetbread tacos, oh my gosh!! I also found an article about the Hi Ho, which looks promising. Also thanks for the other Chowhound's suggestion below for Mexican in Beaumont -- we will try to work that one in on our way to Houston.

        Link: http://www.eljardinkingsville.com/

      2. Don't forget El Rincon de Viello (sp?) in Nuevo Laredo, John Mueller's 'cue in Austin, Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Enchiladas y Mas on Anderson Lane (MAJOR vitamin M), pass on Fonda San Miguel (pricing is ridiculous), Gaido's in Galveston, and check out the Texas Monthly reviews for South Texas. I know Carter catches heck for mentioning these, but for South Texas, they're dead on.

        1. The Taqueria Jalisco chain of restaurants in this area is HORRIBLE, so if you see one (which im sure you will), keep on driving,... trust me, you'll find something better a few more miles down the road.

          1. The King's Inn in Kingsville is excellent. It has absolutely fresh gulf seafood served family style. Get the shrimp, oysters, and Bombay salad. The avocado salad is super, too. Get both! The last time we were there, we asked for the fried black drum. We were told they had just run out. Ten minutes later, our waitress told us some had just been delivered, right off the boat. It was, with question, the finest fried fish I have ever eaten, and I've eaten a lot. Get it. Also, the restaurant is famous for its tartar sauce. It is unique, and delicious.