La Norteña–Pecos, TX

La Norteña
211 E. 3rd St.
Pecos, TX
(432) 445-3273

Update 2016: Since my review the business has moved across the street into a larger building. It appears, though, that the tamales are still for takeout (I am not sure if they have tables available to eat them on site).

La Norteña has found success by making items that are staples in many Mexican meals, tortillas and tamales, but which few families have time to prepare when they cook. The food is served fresh and hot, but La Norteña is take-out only. If you wish to eat it in your car or take it to a city park for a picnic, though, the owners will make accommodation by providing napkins, plastic forks, and other useful items.

Having a widespread following for their Tamales, many travelers stop by for a dozen or so while diving through on Interstate 20. I had heard that these spicy, New Mexico style tamales were good, and they lived up to their billing. The standard tamales sold are made with red chile and shredded pork, and honestly seemed as if they could be served by the best restaurants in Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Around Christmas other types of tamales are available as well.

Open throughout the day, the tamales here would make a good breakfast or lunch if you wish to try them fresh (which I recommend).


Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $
Hours: Open daily (breakfast & lunch only)
Special Features: Takeout Only

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 6, 2004
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Tamales


Special Ratings
star 5 Tamales

King And I–Midland, TX

King and I Thai Cuisine
801 N. Big Spring St.
Midland, TX
(432) 682-0988
King and I Thai Cuisine

King and I in Midland

This Thai restaurant near downtown Midland may seem out of place in the land of steaks and barbecue, but the large number of patrons who frequent King and I testify that there is a hunger for Asian food in West Texas that goes beyond the typical Chinese buffet.

King and I Thai Cuisine was recommended by a West Texan I met through my webpage, and I can well understand why this restaurant would command a strong loyalty from its fans. I sensed the same kind of loyalty from the customers who were there, many of whom seemed to be regular visitors and knew exactly what they wanted to order upon being seated.

King and I occupies a small building that looks like a converted fast food restaurant, and it was completely full at lunch time with cars lined up at the take-out window outside. The tables were close together but not cramped. It was not what I would call an upscale restaurant, but ads were placed on the tables indicating that a rather elaborate dinner would be available as a special on Valentine’s Day. I suspect that if guys wanted to wear jeans to the special dinner it would be just fine.

The good thing about having a lot of regular customers is that they seemed to come in and out fairly quickly, opening up tables at a rapid rate. The service was prompt and the waitresses were willing to make suggestions for those who were not already familiar with the food.The waitress I talked to seemed quite knowledgeable, and not only told me what was popular, but also what she considered to be representative of typical Thai food.

Thai Tea
I started out ordering Thai Tea, a creamy blend of tea that is served in almost all Thai restaurants, but not all are as good as at King and I. The glass was filled with enough ice to keep the tea cold, and the ingredients were in the correct proportions so that it did not end up with anything floating on top or settling to the bottom. My only complaint was that I wish there had been more of the tea once I started eating some extremely hot chiles with the meal, but the serving was actually the same size I normally find at Thai restaurants.

Main Dishes
The next step was to choose from among the varied types of food that were available, from salads to curries to noodles. Some lunch specials were being served but since I recognized most of the items on the regular menu as being the dishes I find at most of the better Thai restaurants, I wanted to get one of these.

Pad thai

Pad thai

The waitress recommended the Pad Thai as being one of the better noodle dishes, and one that she liked. My insider information had also recommended the pad thai, so this was enough to overcome my normal reluctance to order a dish that is many times modified for American tastes in too many of the Thai restaurants I have visited. This was a grayish-brown version that might have been as bland as many others I have tried, but turned out to have the full rich flavors of the spices Thais use to make their noodle dishes interesting. It had a “sweet spot” on top where sugar had been added, and a lime was supplied for a citrus flavor. I ordered the one with chicken, and it was of good quality. It came with cabbage on the side, something that I am pretty sure is a Thai tradition rather than being based on popular request by American customers (I happened to like the cabbage).

Side Dishes

Panang curry

Panang curry

In an effort to get a more complete sample of the restaurant’s food, I ordered a small bowl of Panang Curry with white rice. In terms of quantity the pad thai would have been plenty, but I am glad I got the extra flavor of this side dish. First, I was quite impressed that they were even willing to serve me a small portion of curry without charging a price that would have been close to ordering a second meal. Additionally, I was impressed with the curry itself. It was thin and runny (my only complaint), but the flavor was rich and smooth. I am not prone to heartburn, but this seemed to be the type of curry that would not bother people with sensitive stomachs. Many of the rather bad curries I have experienced have been in various cities throughout Texas, and I was surprised to find such a good one in the rather small city of Midland.

Overall Impressions
The Thai chiles I got as a condiment for the pad thai were serious in terms of both heat and flavor. The curry was only medium hot, and the pad thai itself was quite mild without the chiles being added. I know eating Thai food in West Texas is not the same as being in Bangkok, and I believe the restaurant has made an accommodation by making the food less spicy than is normally found in Thai restaurants. After I got the extra condiments, though, I was quite happy with the result. I believe if I were to order a curry dish I would ask them to make it more spicy, though.

I was impressed by what is on the menu, and I believe there are many good things to try here.

Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Most Recent Visit: Feb. 12, 2008
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Pad Thai, Thai Tea


Asian Food Details
Tea: Jasmine/ Thai Tea
Buffet: No


Special Ratings
star 5 Pad Thai
star 4 Panang Curry
star 5 Thai Tea

Blue Donkey–Oklahoma City, OK

Blue Donkey
Food Truck
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 434-5172
Blue Donkey

Blue Donkey food truck

I am somewhat new to the food truck craze, mainly because I do not often make snap decisions to have a meal as I pass by something that looks interesting, but rather I am already going to a predetermined location.

Food trucks in Oklahoma City seem to travel quite a bit, although the ones I think are luckiest find a home location and only occasionally have to travel to other spots. In examining Blue Donkey’s Facebook page it lists a number of locations where the truck will be located at certain times. Its home base is the Arts District in downtown Oklahoma City (near the Oklahoma City Museum of Art). There is quite a bit of downtown traffic at lunch on weekdays, but the down times at evening and weekends afford Blue Donkey ample opportunities to travel elsewhere in the Metro where likely customers can be found.

One of these excursions was at N.W. 122nd Street and Rockwell, where the Blue Donkey truck showed up several weeks in a row, establishing enough of a pattern that I could predict when and where I could find it. This afforded me the opportunity to try all three of its menu items (tacos and two side dishes), and also gave me the desire to go back and try it again (which I did until I no longer found the truck at that location).

The Food

Tacos and side dishes

Tacos with donkey poo and black beans

Information on the truck indicated that this is Guatemalan food. I have been to Guatemala and did not really recognize the food they were serving as being from that country, especially considering the very high spice levels of the food that somewhat approached those of Hatch, New Mexico, the “chile capital” of the United States.

There are two types of Tacos, chicken and beef (I only ordered the chicken ones). These were quite good and whether they are actually Guatemalan or Mexican does not matter very much because I enjoyed the end result.

One of the side dishes is called “Donkey Poo” and consists of guacamole and cucumbers. Also in abundance is a very spicy chile that I was not expecting in a Guatemalan food truck, but it was good.

I thought the Black Beans were more flavorful than the guacamole, and would be my preference except for the fact that they were even more spicy. The problem with this is that it is in a food truck setting where the selection of drinks is limited, and I cannot get my usual iced tea to quench my mouth with this type of spicy food (as I recall Blue Donkey did not have iced tea, much less the refills that I would have required). I was able to take the food home and provide my own drinks, but absent this I am not sure Blue Donkey would have been an enjoyable experience.

Black bean soup

Black bean soup

The Black Beans also come as a large side order that is in the form of a soup (but these are the same beans served as a side dish on taco orders).

Additional Comments
I am still at somewhat of a preliminary stage in evaluating the food because there were a lot of factors that entered into my experience, the main one being that this is not a regular restaurant where they could serve the drinks I would want to have with spicy food.

The tacos were certainly good, and probably better than at Big Truck Tacos (another food truck which was formerly located at this intersection). Big Truck had a much larger selection of tacos, though, so I am not sure how the two trucks really compare to each other.


Cuisine: Guatemalan
Cost: $
Hours: N/A
Accessible: N/A
Smoking: N/A
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Oct. 4, 2016

Number of Visits: 2

Best Item: Tacos


Special Ratings
star 5 Chicken Tacos
star 4 Donkey Poo (Guacamole)
star 4 Black Bean Soup