Fudge Factory–Clines Corners, NM

Fudge Factory
1 Yacht Club Dr.
Clines Corners, NM
Cuisine: Candy
 

I think the people at Clines Corners have a sense of humor. The “town” consists of one building (the travel center/ gas station) with an address of 1 Yacht Club Drive (you would try in vain to find the Yacht Club here). One of the attractions of Clines Corners is that it is so isolated, yet being on the old Route 66 and now Interstate 40 it never lacks customers at its one-stop gas station and travel center (which is open 24 hours).

The fudge factory is one of the more popular attractions at the Travel Center, selling its own brand of fudge for a devoted clientele (including my cousins who brought me a sample of the Clines Corners candy). The candy here is travel worthy, apparently being well able to withstand high temperatures and long distances without melting or losing its original flavor.

Butter pecan fudge

Butter pecan fudge

My idea of fudge did not include Butter Pecan, but I am always surprised what I can learn about food. This is a very rich candy that has the consistency of fudge but with the flavor of butter. For me it brought back memories of when I was in Wisconsin and first encountered the local butter which looked good enough that you could cut off a piece and eat it like a piece of cheese (and it was that good). The difference with the “fudge” version, of course, is that it is sweet and made for you to eat it as it is.

In any case, I was not only pleasantly surprised by the butter pecan, but I hope to try the regular fudge as well.


RATING: *

Cuisine: Candy
Cost: $

Most Recent Visit: *

Number of Visits: *

Best Items: Candy

Special Ratings

star 5 Butter Pecan Fudge

Monteleone’s–El Paso, TX

Monteleone’s Ristorante Italiano
3023 Gateway West
El Paso, TX
(915) 566-4320
Monteleone's

Monteleone’s


If you have driven along Interstate 10 near downtown El Paso and wondered how a Mack truck ended up in a neighborhood next to the freeway, it is actually part of the art work that gives Monteleone’s Ristorante Italiano its unique style. This applies not only to the décor, but I have found the food to be different from anything else served in the city.

Monteleone’s recipes come from the owner’s grandmother from the Calabria region of Italy (via Pittsburgh). Everything is handmade from scratch, and the quality shows. Unlike the “red sauce” Italian restaurants, Monteleone’s uses light and healthy oils with fresh tomatoes that are served in chunks rather than a puréed sauce. I do not have firsthand knowledge of authentic Italian food, but I suspect the food here comes pretty close.

The Mob Room

Beware of people watching you when you eat in the Mob Room

Inside the restaurant there is a gangster theme with several busts of Hollywood figures such as Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. With the restaurant being an old converted house, there are several small dining areas that used to be rooms in the house. The “Mob Room” looks like what used to be a small bedroom that now contains some of the more interesting art work as well as a real craps table and roulette wheel from Las Vegas that are now used as dining tables. I consider it a great honor to be able to eat in the Mob Room, as it is quite small with limited space. However, the food tastes just as good anywhere else within the restaurant or outside on the patio.

During the summer of 2007 the restaurant was serving what I think were Italian style hamburgers on the outdoor patio on Fridays and Saturdays (I have not tried the hamburgers, though). This is one of several promotions Monteleone’s has used to create a “fun” atmosphere, including entertainment on weekends when the restaurant first opened. I used to hear Frank Sinatra music played inside the restaurant but I do not know if this is still the practice. Anyway, I do not think Monteleone’s wants to be the type of Italian restaurant with dark lighting where you are paying for the atmosphere more than the food. Instead, it is a good place to enjoy yourself, talk to other patrons if you feel like it, and most of all to enjoy some very good Italian food.

The food seems to be enjoyable in its simplicity. I really do not know how difficult it is to prepare this type of food, but it seems to be just basic ingredients put together in a combination you would expect to find in Italian food. Judging from how few other restaurants match the flavor found at Monteleone’s, though, it must be more difficult to prepare this type of food than it seems. Everything tastes as if it is freshly prepared, with top quality cheese, vegetables, and other ingredients being used.

The restaurant has a small menu with limited vegetarian choices, and for a while this led me to make infrequent visits. However, Gary the owner says other dishes can be made with advanced notice (if you call him several hours ahead of time) such as spinach lasagna or chicken cacciatore. Chicken parmigiana, one of my favorite meat dishes, can also be prepared. I think it would probably be worth the effort to call ahead for one of your favorite dishes, although I have yet to have had the foresight to do so.

Salads and Appetizers

Salad

Salad

A fresh romaine lettuce Salad comes with the dinners, and is a welcome change from the ones at other restaurants that are made with iceberg lettuce. Italian dressing is not made in the restaurant, but I was told it was “special ordered.” In quality I thought it was equal to any I have tried in El Paso.

Italian wedding soup

Italian wedding soup

Italian Wedding Soup is another appetizer option, and this was good as well. I thought the soup was a little salty, but it tasted home made.

Pasta Dishes

Tortiglioni

Tortiglioni with zucchini

Tortiglioni with Zucchini, the only vegetarian entrée on the menu, is definitely something that has not been disappointing. This penne pasta dish has a light sauce with fresh tomatoes, as opposed to a puréed tomato sauce found in the “red sauce” restaurants. The cheese has been excellent, and I have enjoyed everything about it except that it is the only vegetarian dish on the menu. I do like meat dishes, but it is so hard to find vegetarian meals of the quality served at Monteleone’s that I like to take advantage of the opportunity whenever possible. The tortiglioni even passed my “refrigerator” test when I took home some leftovers and they did not smell up the refrigerator with a garlic odor. I would have to say that not overwhelming the dish with garlic is probably one of its secrets.

Fresh rolls used to be served with olive oil, but now come with butter. They are still good, though.

Pizza
The Pizza is a great bargain– it contains very fresh ingredients on a thin crust, and is more than enough for two people. I did not think it was as flavorful as the one at Hello Pizza, but its freshness was a definite plus.

Dessert

Spumoni

Spumoni

The Spumoni surprised me because it was as good as the one I remember from Sorrento’s (which I have not had in a long time but I assume it is still available). To me this is another sign of the overall excellence of Monteleone’s

A Summary
The hours have changed over time but currently the restaurant is closed Sun., Mon., and Tue. (lunch is not served on Sat.). It is now open later than it used to be, but with this type of small restaurant I suspect the hours will ultimately depend on what time customers want to come.

You do have the option of calling ahead for special orders, and this somewhat offsets the problem of the small menu. I do not mind, though, because the quality is excellent to the point that I wish I could find restaurants like this in other cities.

Prices used to be insanely cheap compared to other Italian restaurants, and now I just consider it to be competitive (especially when considering the type of ingredients they use). I do not know where they get vegetables that are fresh enough to make the food taste the way it does, since I usually do not find the same quality food in the local grocery stores.

The rear entrance

The rear entrance is located off the alley

The best bet for finding parking is in back of the building off of the alley, but there is additional parking on nearby San Marcial Street. A handicapped space is located behind the building in the alley. The front door is on Gateway West, the frontage road for Interstate 10, located two blocks east of the Piedras exit.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$
Hours: Wed.-Sat. only
Accessible: Yes (parking is in back off of the alley)
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Wine

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 11, 2018
Number of Visits: 7
Best Items: Tortiglioni, Salad, Spumoni

Special Ratings
star 5 Tortiglioni with Zucchini
star 4 Pizza
star 5 Salad
star 4 Italian Wedding Soup
star 5 Spumoni

Delicious–El Paso, TX

Delicious Mexican Eatery
11335 Montwood Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 857-1396
Delicious Mexican Eatery

Delicious Mexican Eatery on the east side


I count Delicious Mexican Eatery as one of the restaurants where everything is good, and you really can’t go wrong with anything you order. Having said that, though, I thought the enchilada was the best item on the combination plate I ordered, with everything else serving as a very good compliment to it.

For years I have thought of Delicious as being on Fort Boulevard in central El Paso (where it is still operating). It turns out that for a while they had a branch on the west side which is now closed, along with another branch in east El Paso which is still open (and is the subject of this review). From my experiences at the Fort Boulevard restaurant I always thought of Delicious as being a taco and meat item restaurant, but I have now discovered that there is a larger choice of items that are their specialties (which I like and my friends recommend as well).

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Like most restaurants in the area, Delicious has fresh chips and salsa. I thought the salsa was notable for having a fresh green chile flavor and for being spicy enough but not overly so.

Combination Plate

Combination plate

Combination plate

Delicious lists several choices for combination plates on the menu, but this is just a starting point. You can substitute just about anything and build your own plate. The choice is made easier because all items are visible through a glass and they serve the food on your plate buffet style (although it is not all you can eat). With the quantity they give, though, it really is all that almost anybody can eat.

I thought the best thing about the combination plate was the variety, but the best single item was the Enchilada. This was a red enchilada as is the custom at most El Paso restaurants. The sauce was bright red and more flavorful than most (to me it looked to be cumin free, as the taste demonstrated as well).

The Chile Relleno had no sauce on top and was very good except for the fact that the cheese inside was really not memorable compared to some of the others.

The Beef Flauta was very good except for the fact that I rated the guacamole as four stars.

The Chile Verde was my least favorite main item, although I still put it as five stars (showing an overall consistency in flavor and quality of the food).

The Beans were some of the best anywhere.

Other Notes
Orders are placed at the counter, and because all the food is visible through the glass this makes for a very good build-your-own combination plate.

I did not find the iced tea to be the same quality as the food, which I think was just a fluke and they were having a bad day with the tea.

They have quite a few items which I did not try, and from the Fort Boulevard location I know that they are good on tacos and other meat items.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open daily except Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 9, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Enchilada, Beans

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: N/A

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Enchilada
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Flautas
star 5 Chile Verde
star 5 Beans
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa