Iâ€™m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is atÂ Hacienda Real inÂ Fort Collins, Colorado.
Greetings from Fort Collins, Colorado
N 40Â° 34.819â€™Â W 106Â° 00.509â€™ Elev. 4951â€™
The hold of the SS Me So Hungry is rather pungent today. A skid (pallet) of beer (5% Chelada Bud Lite) fell over. As a result, weâ€™re docked (read: beached) in Fort Collins until the good folks at Anheuser-Busch sort it out.
So what is Chelada? I have no idea. The can says itâ€™s crap beer mixed with ClamatoÂ®. I do know that when the cans are punctured, they spew like little rose-colored geysers. Very festive-looking but very smelly when it gets on you. I also know that in 12 years of hauling stuff around Iâ€™ve never hauled a beer I would drink. This is no exception â€” and I like red beer.Â Am I bitter? Yes.
Fortunately I found a place to park across the street from Hacienda Real (CO 14 & I-25), which bills itself as a Family Mexican Restaurant. Iâ€™m suspicious of Mexican restaurants that feel the need to tag â€œfamilyâ€ or â€œcuisineâ€ or, worse, â€œgrilleâ€ onto its name. Another thing that makes a place suspect is decor thatâ€™s too thematic, too clean. Itâ€™s usually a tip-off that the food is going to be a step up from Taco Bell in authenticity.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food here is actually pretty good. It was a pleasant evening so I dined on their patio, even after being warned about the mosquitoes. Having just walked across the highway and not encountering a single skeeter, I toughed it out through my mosquito-less meal.
I ordered a Chile Relleno and Tamale plate. I ate the Relleno and was pretty full, so ended up with a Tamale meal out of the deal. Although the chips were commercial as opposed to homemade, the salsa was pretty good, which is always an indication of how the foods going to be. Another pleasant surprise was that they served the chips with bean dip (actually refried beans). The tamale turned out to be surprisingly meaty, though I canâ€™t tell if itâ€™s beef or pork.
All in all I was pretty happy with the food. Turned out to be a good $10 meal for what couldâ€™ve been a real disappointment.
I was also able to snag a couple of treats during my forced hiatus that are hard to find, especially at a reasonable price. The first was Swiss brand Southern Style Sweet Tea. If Iâ€™m lucky enough to find sweet tea in a half-gallon size itâ€™s usually full of citric acid. I hate citric acid. I donâ€™t want lemon â€” especially phony lemon â€” in my sweet tea. I found it for 87Â¢ at the Merchant of Death aka WalMart; more about them later.
The big score, however, was Odwalla Carrot Juice. I found it at Safeway for $5.10 â€œclub price.â€ Another really good carrot juice is Bolthouse, but itâ€™s really pricey. Curiously, the carrot-juice concentrate in Odwallaâ€™s is from Bolthouse Farms in Bakersfield, California. I know this because Iâ€™ve seen their trucks being loaded when I picked up there. The 55-gallon drums of concentrate I dragged away went to some subsidiary of Campbellâ€™s for making V-8 Juice, among other things.
And so we roll.
Hacienda Real – 421 Centro Way (CO14 & I-25) Fort Collins, CO 80524-9283
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.