Taco Tuesday (Big Block Brewery)

Big Block2Big Block Brewery is a nano-brewery about fifteen miles east of Seattle. When I first visited on a Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t crowded, but it was busy enough. Parking was plentiful and close.

About a dozen customers were either sitting at the bar or around tables. Big Block1 (2)Another twelve were seated in a spacious outdoor courtyard area while a few more played a game that involved the tossing small bean bags into a hole in a wooden target. Several other games were available outside.

The on-tap beer menu was neatly listed on a large, black chalk-board over the bar. Of the four columns, three listed house brews. The fourth column listed several beers from other places. They post this menu on-line so customers can see what is being served.

Big Block 3

I thought the atmosphere pleasant. 1970’s soft-rock music was playing low enough for customers to converse in normal voice, but loud enough to be clearly heard. I have tried taking a book and reading — worked fine when I did it. Who needs Starbucks? Restrooms were clean.

The name Big Block refers to big, powerful muscle-car engines. The industrial décor, which was based on cars, engines, and tools was comfortable and consistently themed. The service was good, but I had to go to the bar to order my second beer and to pay my tab.

The porter and black ale that I sampled were good; the stout was better. One customer told me that he liked the IPA. He mentioned that you need to like the taste of hoppy beer for that (I don’t).

Beer samples served in red tool box.

Beer samples served in red tool box.

The sampler package is cleverly presented encased in a small, red, metal tool box containing five small, four or five-ounce glasses of a variety of the brew on tap. A big part of the business appeared to be filling growlers (one gallon bottles) with beer. Several customers left carrying one or two full growlers.

Big Block1 (6)I am a beer drinker and a bit of a beer snob. I don’t pretend to be a beer aficionado. But based on what I could see, the beer is good—if you drink beer. If you do not, there is an issue. I asked what they serve for people who don’t drink beer (like my dear wife). They have a limited supply of wine, water, and nothing else.

Big Block Brewery doesn’t have food service and offers virtually no snacks. However, customers may bring in anything they want to eat or drink. Making a trip to the convenience store next door seems inconvenient (pun, sorry), but reasonable. So bringing in a sack lunch (open for lunch on weekends only) is acceptable.

Pizza delivery is also okay and Uncle Si’s Pizza is only about 40-paces south. I’m okay with that. I suppose that they have a good reason for the limit (or the freedom, depending upon your point of view). If it works for the owner, I am good with beer and pizza anytime. But there is no in-house point-of-sale for munchies. I think I saw a couple of bags of something on one shelf.

The web page is passable. It has a good backstory about the business and description of beers. It is not as useful as their other sites. The web page beer menu was outdated when I looked at it. The Instagram link from their web page takes you to some great pictures of the establishment. Click the Twitter link from the web page for an updated list of beer on tap. I couldn’t find a link for their Facebook page, but it is useful and has a current menu (Facebook page link).

Big Block4In my opinion, Yelp also does a good job providing information. The reviews were very positive (4.5 stars). There’s a nice review and announcement on Washington Beer Blog.

Anyway, I will be going back and I hope to see you there. Do you have any favorite places like this near you?

Big Block Brewery:
3310 East Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE,
Sammamish, WA 98075

Operating Hours (49 hours per week):
Closed on Mondays.
Open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (3:00 pm – 9:00 pm),
Friday, Saturday (11:00 am – 10:00 pm), & Sunday (11:00 am – 8:00 pm)

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Taco Tuesday (Mexican Food)

When we lived in San Antonio, Texas, we had Mexican food often. We seldom changed for variety. If you visit San Antonio, visit the River Walk and the Alamo, because that is what you do there. But please don’t rate the food by eating Mexican at the River Walk restaurants. I have tried them all and they all pass. While some are better than others (in my Tex-Mex opinion), there are much better places. Wherever you chose to dine, in South Texas you should eat all the Mexican food you can find.

What you might find in other states may also be good Mexican food. But it is not necessarily Tex-Mex. A lot of what is called Tex-Mex, simply isn’t. It may be good, but it ain’t Tex-Mex. Fish tacos are good, but they aren’t Tex-Mex. Ask locals, if you can.

On the northeast side of town, my personal favorite is La Pasadita Restaurante Mexicano, in Schertz. My family and friends agree. This guy makes his own tortilla chips (he tried the bagged ones and his customers rebelled) and salsa. Honestly, if no pizza is available, this place would do for my last meal. As with most of these places, Negra Modelo is the darkest beer they have (it’s a lager), but it works. So, what happens if you’re in Lincoln City, Oregon and you want Mexican food?

Both tables and booths

Both tables and booths

There are a few. The answer is that you pick one, which is what we did. Puerto Vallarta Mexican Restaurant is at 3001 NW U.S. 101, Lincoln City, OR 97367. Right up front, this place has two drawbacks. The parking is insufficient on a dirt lot. The building is too small for its popularity. But if you get past those minor items (as I did), you’re in for a treat.

Presentation is great

Presentation is great

The food is good. But for me, all Mexican food is good, as indeed all pizza is good, and all beer is good. It is only a question of how good it was. These folks had laid a claim to some interesting things I liked. The atmosphere is great – you know immediately what kind of place you’re in (the atmosphere of the place in Schertz can use help like this). The staff is friendly and laughed at this gringo’s humor. When we walked in, we were told it would be a ten-minute wait. It was more like two. We were seated at a table with a Mexican mural on the table top and a matching one behind me.

Art is on table tops and over booth back rests

Art is on table tops and over booth back rests

When the waiter came to take our drink orders, he and my wife struck-up an in-depth conversation about Tex-Mex food. It turned out he has a daughter living in Houston. But he agreed, the food in this place was not like that. Now, most menus in Mexican restaurants tend to be long. This is because (in most cases) it is a matter of packaging and presentation, as opposed to the details of varied ingredients. If you eat vegetarian, you should ask questions. A lot of animal products are used in Mexican cuisine.

True Mexican Décor

True Mexican Décor

I had a pork dish and my wife had enchiladas. No complaints. The portion sizes are large, but that is the norm these days. Prices are very reasonable and the total cost was less than half of the previous night’s dinner in the same city. One lady on Yelp commented that the food was not salty (as she believed most Mexican food is) and I agree. Yelp gives them 4.5 out of 5.

Refried beans with chips and salsa

Refried beans with chips and salsa

Two special touches included good chips that were not from a bag. I didn’t ask if Mamacita made them. The other was the inclusion of a small plate of refried beans in addition to the dipping salsa with the tortilla chips. That is a nice touch.

If you are on trek up (or down) the Oregon Pacific Coast, and you want a good place to eat in Lincoln City, give Puerto Vallarta Mexican Restaurant a try. I bet you enjoy it.