byninjacoco, September 6, 2011
You know somewhere is a landmark when you mention that you went to college in Waco and they ask if you've stopped at the Czech Stop for kolaches. People I didn't even meet in Waco who never even lived here have told me that they stopped there for delicious snacks. How they found out about it is beyond me, but perhaps there's something about the cutesy building or the need to fill the car up with gas that lures people off I-35.

The Czech Stop's best attribute, of course, is the fact that they're open 24/7. Sometimes they run out of certain kolaches at night, but there's so many tasty options there that it doesn't even matter. The dough used for the kolaches and klobasniks is fluffy and perfect. If you're feeling adventurous, try the fabulously sweet poppyseed kolaches, or perhaps the cottage cheese ones that will make you think twice about writing off cottage cheese as grody white blobs in a tub. The pumpkin cream cheese kolaches had a filling like pumpkin pie which was somehow made better with the dollop of cream cheese on top.

All of the other eats are fabulous as well. Their knock-off version of Red Lobster's fluffy cheddar garlic biscuits are so good that there's no need to ever step foot in a Red Lobster ever again. Their summer sausages and beer bread are fantastic. Most importantly, they have comfort food like pimiento cheese sandwiches and deviled eggs right behind the counter. The sandwiches are piled high with filling, almost making their pimiento cheese an improvement over the ones Mom used to make.

So, skip the Taco C or Subway at 4 AM and head up here. Seriously, I went here so often late at night that it still feels weird to come here in the daytime. When I do, though, I notice that they've got line management down to a science. Czech Stop uses a far better application of the assembly line than Henry Ford could have ever imagined. The line during certain times of the day may look intimidating, but the counter staff goes through everyone's orders so quickly and efficiently that it's hardly an issue.
byninjacoco, September 6, 2011
Baris' pink sauce is the long lost nectar of the gods--a substance so creamy and delectable that it could make just about anything edible. Okay, so maybe not anything per se, but it might stand a chance against the evils of, say, celery. Rumored to be Baris' take on vodka sauce, it's one of my favorite substances in the universe.

Every town needs a Baris--an inexpensive Italian-American eatery full of cheesy goodness. Like many other Waco favorites, it's probably not the most authentic representation of Italian cuisine. They're very heavy on the sauce with their pastas and I've even heard that the delicious spicy tomato house vinaigrette is more Albanian than Italian. Who cares? It tastes good, plus the extra sauce on everything means that there's something to dip those terrific fluffy rolls in.

I have a hard time tearing myself away from the tortellini pink, but when I do, it's all been far better than the prices on the menu would suggest. They definitely make one of the better pizzas in town. Baris shines for quality cheap eats, and it's worth dealing with their cramped nightmare of a parking lot to eat there.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
All right, just to get it out of the way: the beer list at Cricket's is phenomenal. I, like many others, got my first legally-purchased drink at 21 here and still have the mug I bought shortly thereafter.

I like the food, and during the day it's even calm enough to take your parents to lunch there.

The only problem with Cricket's is that I, like the other reviewers, have noticed prices going up and quality going down. That's not good. Almost every time I've been lately, it seems like they're out of at least one or two of the beers I pick. Either I like really popular beers or the big wall is an illusion. I don't seem to get a good foamy head on beers that should have it on a regular basis, like they're not cleaning the glasses well enough or pouring it right.

I *so* wish I could still like Cricket's, but they've made it hard.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I can't think of anything in Waco that's as ridiculously cheesy as the Pop's Four Cheese pizza here. I'm talkin' gooey, wonderful, "does this ever quit stretching out into longer strings of cheese and actually separate itself from the rest of the pizza?" kind of cheesy. It's fantastic. Rollo's has some other good specialty pizzas, but the Pop's Four Cheese is my usual.

The interior is...well, kinda dark and dirty. There's stuff everywhere, and it always looks a tad dusty--enough so that even I notice that it's dusty. But, hey, I'm not eating the decor, so as long as it doesn't fall into my food, I can't complain too much.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
I did a film project on Rosati's and got to try a lot of the menu because of that. The funny thing was, I can't think of anything I tried that wasn't fantastic. Even the hot dogs were great, and I'm usually not a huge dog fan.

The Chicago-style pizzas are like nothing else I've ever had. I don't even like tomatoes, but that chunky sauce that's over the whole pizza is just tangy and wonderful. The Chicago-style pizzas are also HUGE. If I order one just for myself, I have enough left over for lunch for the next week. They're well worth the wait. The regular pizzas are delicious as well. I don't think it's possible to go wrong with anything on the menu, and I'm the pickiest person I know.

The music on Thursday nights is also wonderful. Bruce Carbonara is a talented dude. It's impossible to leave without a big silly grin on your face.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
It's above average chain pizza, but it's not in the same league as Poppa Rollo's or Rosati's. The buffalo chicken pizza is pretty good, though.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
Everything here seems fresh and healthy. The salads, the pizzas, the sandwiches--all of it is simply wonderful. Best of all, they have feta cheese. I love feta on a pizza.

It all tastes like the good stuff, too. I typically hate tomatoes because most of the tomatoes that people use now have had all of the flavor processed out of them somehow. Tomatoes end up being bland, mushy abominations that I want nowhere near my mouth.

I eat tomatoes on Terry and Jo's margherita pizza here. Willingly. They're tart and robust, unlike tomatoes at pretty much every other restaurant out there.

I think the hippies have the right idea on this sort of stuff: the food that's actually good for you tastes better.

Try the flavored ice tea, too. It's spectacular.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
All right, it's a chain, but it's a smaller chain, so somehow I feel less dirty about eating here...and finding it "not bad." I'm an enchilada fan, and the crawfish and spinach enchiladas are my two favorite things here. Ninfaritas are yummy. The kinda warm (physically, not spicy-y) salsa and the different chips (I think they might be flour tortilla based or something?) that come with the queso are a little different than most Tex-Mex places, but still good. Never fear, they still bring out the normal corn tortilla chips with the salsa if you find the flaky ones a bit strange.

Overall, though, Ninfa's never really seems like a place I'd go out of my way to go to, even though it's not bad. Maybe it's the location. It's near Baylor, but it's always stuffed to capacity to the point where I'd almost rather go to a roach coach for my Mexican fix. Because it's usually busy, the service always just seems okay, like I feel for the waiters for having such a huge room to keep happy. It's loud, and the pretty high ceilings and exposed brick walls only exacerbate that. By the time I find a parking spot at prime Ninfa's time, I'm angry with the universe for not quickly pointing out a holy oasis for my car with curbs and grass on all sides that'd prevent it from getting nudged by other Baylor kids.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
BWW has the worst the world. The thicker fried coating reminded me of Whataburger's chicken tenders, which works on a stand-alone tender, but on a sauced wing? Goodness, no. I want to taste more sauce than fry batter, and unfortunately, they scrimped on the sauce, too. I want my hands to burn with sticky, messy, delicious goo when I'm done with my wings, and they didn't here.

The service was painfully slow. The only saving grace of this place is the fact that they've got huge television screens everywhere. That's great for watching games if you can manage to get a spot in front of the right one.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
This little mom and pop joint in West was a pleasant surprise. The dishes looked like they were all homemade and I got to try some tasty Czech food. Win!

It's a tad dark inside, though, so if you're going blind, you might grumble about needing a flashlight for the menu.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
What can I say? It's a Whataburger. It's spectacular among fast food joints and one of the reasons why states that are not Texas are full of fail. It's always open.

But for the love of all things green, gold and inebriated, bring a book, an iPod or something if you attempt to use the drive-thru here after last call. Your butt will inevitably go numb before you can even pull up to pay.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
...when the one at Baylor is slammed at 2 a.m. For some reason, this one always seems less busy. It's not the best Whataburger in Waco. To be honest, I like the one in Hewitt a lot better. If you just want a taquito before you fall asleep, though, Hewitt's a tad far. Drop in here.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
As a picky eater, I love the fact that I can tell them exactly what I want (and only what I want) in my breakfast burrito! They're huge, cheap and made of win.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
Common Grounds
You know somewhere's had an impact on your life when you want to copy their decor in your own house. The second I have a ceiling worthy of adding glittery gold stars, it's ON.

The stars are no longer there and they've had several major remodels and additions since I've started going to CG, but it's still a good local coffeehouse and thus, a place for the friendly geeks of Baylor to gather. I met quite a few friends sitting at CG with my homework. Don't fear the hipsters. CG attracts a little bit of everyone from dear ol' BU.

Shows at CG were usually enjoyable, too--especially if you're into local/indie acts. As much as the backyard stage was an improvement, though, sometimes I miss the intimacy (and heckling opportunities!) of concerts held inside where the creamer stand is now. I know, I know. Fifteen miles, uphill, both ways, etc. Get off my lawn--err, "green space!"

The bad bits about CG? Well, the parking is miserable, but that didn't matter when it was a matter of walking a couple blocks to get there. As an alumna, though, I have nightmares about that gravel lot, which has been shrunken into an awkward L-shape to accommodate the large stage out back. Sometimes it gets a bit overcrowded and the line goes out the door. Freshmen sure tend to hum-haw about with their drink orders before they get familiar with the menu, which can be frustrating if you're in a hurry. Perhaps that's the time to order a simple Cowboy Coffee instead of a more complicated order just for the line's sake. The Cowboy Coffee is quite good.

I must admit that I don't have the sweet tooth that I used to, so instead of a large frozen Irish Stew with no sprinkles, my usual has switched to tea. The good part is that Common Grounds has one of the most expansive coffee shop menus in town, so there's plenty to pick from.
As far as taco trucks go, this one is among the best in Waco. You don't need to suffer through crappy, overpriced fairgrounds food with this gem nearby. Likewise, if you ever get the munchies at Hemingway's, bringing in an order of tacos to share will make you the hero of the day.

The selection of meats at this taco stand would please The Zimmern. Even though the beef and chicken are fabulous, this is the place to try the less common stuff like trompita or campechanos.

Fortunately for those of the gringo persuasion, there's a nice translation up on the side of the trailer of what all the meats are. The person working the window usually knows enough English to understand your "I barely made a C, dude"-level Spanish.

The meat is always tender and flavorful. The tortillas are always warmed to perfection. Con cilantro y cebolla is the way to order 'em. The salsas are decent. They've got the good sugary Mexican Cokes and other soft drinks, too. There's usually a couple tables out, or if you'd rather eat indoors, you can always take it to go. Just don't eat in my car, please?
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
"Pollo entero" might as well be Spanish for "awesome." Get a chicken, split it up and eat it in tortillas with salsa and a little lime. Heaven.
byninjacoco, August 31, 2011
When I recently caught up with one of my friends from Baylor, one of the first things I told her was "we should go to T-Park the next time we're both in Waco!" Teriyaki Park is somehow inseparable from my Baylor experience, partially because large chunks of the film department often ended up there for lunch.

Teriyaki Park quick, tasty and decent. It's leaps and bounds better than the sushi on Baylor's campus and only a short drive away. All the rolls are made to order, so they were able to work with my strong dislike of avocado.

I have been stuck living in the middle of nowhere for a while and the two things I miss the most are taco trucks and quick sushi take-out. Teriyaki Park was the latter, and I never left unhappy there. Try the other things on the menu, too. The tempura and yaki gyoza are quite delicious.