Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ramirez Hamburger - since 1944 in the EastEnd

Located at the heart of San Miguel de EastEnd is the old Ramirez Hamburgers store. Sadly, I found out this morning that Ramirez Hamburgers is no longer serving. They had simple griddle cooked commerical patty hamburgers, with those crinkly cut fries. The grandkids were running the place, and used no advertising. Just walkins from the neighborhood. Kids ate here after the game at the basketball courts across the street, mothers who were too tired to cook, came from the immediate neighborhood from behind that rises gently for about 6 blocks until it meets Navigation Blvd and the Houston Ship Channel.
Glad I got to eat there. Just for the history.
Looks like they're still renting out the apartments upstairs, though.'d make a great location for a BBQ place. Maybe Longhorn Smokehouse or something.
located at 912 76th Street, north of Harrisburg Rd near Ave H.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tender is the Morning Tortilla: Best Breakfast

La Victoria Bakery: 7138 Lawndale.
La Victoria Bakery - just south of the intersection of 75th and Lawndale. That's a photo of this taco/lunch plate/bakery this morning at 6 am. Just opening up. They'd already had their first customer. A young man with a red and white plastic molded igloo walked over from the neighboring Encanto Apartments to buy a pastry from the extra long bakery counter. But I'm here to talk about the food, not the pastries. What's unique about La Victoria is you can see who's preparing your food. And it's not a high school dropout with a cellphone in one ear. You walk in, under the awning, and immediately on your left is the order counter. And immediately behind that counter is the cooking line and there's a couple of tiny, energetic 60+ years old women, hopping to fill that order. Energetic, but not cloyingly sweet. They obviously love their, they're not so sure, yet. Not alot of chitchat. Younger girls are the helpers and order takers. The women do not appear to be the owners. Just dedicated and experienced. I think I'm commenting on this because it's like in a fabrication have the "maestros" and you have the younger guys who are learning and they're the welders, but not the Fitters. So for me, it has that feel, and I like it but for someone else maybe they wouldn't feel this. So basically the small kitchen has a center work island, with washing at one end, prep at the other. There's a large gas burner mounted on a low steel frame and on it sits a metal pot, big enough to hide a child inside of, and it's obviously today's charro beans. Off to the right in the back, I see small balls of fresh dough, piled on the stainless steel, so I know fresh made tortillas are coming. The lady already has my eggs in the pan before I turn and walk to the pastry counter to pay and get my ticket. The bakery area is also very clean, very organized, with shiny tiled walls all the way to the ceiling. There's a magazine cover on which their wedding cakes have been featured propped up behind the cashier. It's been blown up to the size of a soccer field and is obviously a source of pride. I can relate. When our ironwork was featured in Beautiful Home, we ran out and had those photos mounted like safari souvenirs. Back to the tacos. 2 minutes later, my potato and egg tacos are ready. The tortillas are al dente like a good pasta, and with charred spots from a gas flame. The eggs...not overcooked. Do you know how hard it is to find a place that won't cook an egg to death? And the potatoes browned and plenty of them. Sauce comes with the tacos...the green sauce seems housemade or maybe just a good brand like La Costena in the can, not too spicy but the red sauce is harsh and to me, tastes like Valentina's with bitter red pepper flakes floating in it. But this can't come close to ruining those 2 perfect tacos. I had (2) small tacos...each for $1.95, and they weren't small. Large ones are $2.50 each. No need for large unless you're a linebacker. Daily specials are available for lunch along with the taco menu. Today's special is Picadillo Plate. They had a plate on display under plastic wrap. Ground beef sauteed with chunks of potato, and also with chunks of carrot, and bits of onion, tortillas, rice, beans and a bit of lettuce and tomato and 3 slices of fresh avocado. $6.50. That's an okay price. I usually just go for tacos. On Sunday, the breakfast crowd starts early....but it's not a gentrified crowd. It's church goers, and kids from the apts., and couples from the neighborhood. During the week, it's more a working man's place. Martini's Hardware is across the street...full service and still standing up to Home Depot's invasion. At La Victoria, there's no funky charm factor, but remember....clean! They serve straight thru the day until 7pm. But not for dinner...catch 'em early because after 7pm, gray rolling hurricane doors are pulled over those charming french doors and it closes for the day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

High Class Graffitti

Good looking Murals in Public places abound in the EastEnd.
This is one very good example.
Another memorable mural at the intersection of Lockwood and Harrisburg has recently been painted over. It was on the
side of a pawn shop. The scene was of a peasant woman,
a migrant farm worker...with a hopeful scene of the future
surrounding her. A neighbor, a 25 yr old woman is the daughter
of migrant farm workers. Backbreaking work, unbelievably hard she said. Did not want to ever come close to a farm again. Worked each spring and summer with her parents, in the southwest, northwest, Calif, New Mexico...moving around. Returning each fall to Houston, just in time for school. Graduated from Milby High. Married with 2 kids. And when I met her, she was trying to figure out how to collect unemployment even tho she had quit her job, and not been fired. Also, she was trying to divorce her husband on paper, and continue to be happily together, so that her Earned Income Credit at tax time would be heftier. No joke.