Courtyard Abilene

While attending the CALF in Abilene this year we stayed at the Courtyard Abilene by Marriot.

The hotel is in a good area. It is located right by the Mall of Abilene and there are lots of restaurants nearby as well as other hotels. The hotel’s website said that this hotel was recently renovated. I remember staying there maybe two years or three years ago and I remember it being okay.

Well, after this trip I can say that I would not stay here again. The hotel was well kept on the outside and the lobby looked nice. Check-in was fast and the girl at the front desk was nice. The problem was with the room. When I opened the door and walked in, something just felt strange and there was a weird smell. So, just right from the start of walking in the room I started to have a negative impressoin. We only went in for a second just to see the room and then we left. When we came back the second time it was better, I think the smell wasn’t as strong.

We had a King room with a sofabed. Sometimes I like the extra room for the boys to play and you still get a second bed…of course not as comfortable.

Samsung 040

What I thought was strange about the design of the room was that it had a long hallway.

Samsung 041

I really was not a fan of that long hallway. The next weird thing was that when we opened the mini fridge there was still stuff in there from the last guest. I would think that they would make sure that everything is thrown away before their next guest occupies the room.

The next day when we came back to the hotel after some festival stuff there were a bunch of ants. We had some snacks out (not open) and the ants were crawling all over them and also on the phone book. There were also another few ants on the desk. We’ve always kept snacks with in a hotel room and have never had a problem with ants and I don’t think there should even be any ants at all in the first place. We went down to see if we could switch rooms but we were told that the hotel was completely booked but that they could send maintenance in to spray.

Once the maintenance guy arrived he said that he had sprayed the day before, which was when we checked in. He said the room we were in and the room below had ants and so that is why he needed to spray. I’m guessing that the spray was probably the strange smell when we first walked into the room the day before. The front desk never mentioned that they were having a problem with ants in our room when I asked them to switch. In my opinion they should have maybe not rented out the rooms that had problems with ants until it was all cleared up or at least warned us about it since they knew.

Now moving on to the food at the hotel. The little restaurant they had there was called The Bistro. We only tried breakfast there and didn’t get much really. The boys had cereal. The cereal came with milk and a banana. Then we also got oatmeal which came with pecans, brown sugar, and raisins(?). We also got a side of toast and a smoothie. The hotel also offered free coffee all day long in the lobby. Of course they also had a coffee maker in the rooms or you could purchase coffee.

JT's cereal

JT’s cereal

Connor's cereal

Connor’s cereal

Samsung 016

Samsung 017

I can’t really comment on much about the food since most of it wasn’t cooked but the oatmeal was good and the smoothie was pretty good. I probably wouldn’t have ordered another smoothie though, I’m a big fan of smoothies but I didn’t love it.

Well, I think that the last thing I have to say about this hotel was that I think the staff could be friendlier. The hotel didn’t really make you feel welcome like some others do. The one girl that I mentioned in the beginning at the front desk was nice but everyone else could be friendlier I think.

So, as I said I would not stay here again on my next trip to Abilene.

Bogie’s Downtown Deli

Bogie’s Downtown Deli in downtown Abilene is usually only open for lunch Monday through Friday but for the Abilene CALF they also opened for lunch on Saturday.

The restaurant is not big, there was plenty of tables when we went but I can imagine it might get busy during the week. Bogie’s is themed after Humphrey Bogart movies and the slogan of the deli is “Here’s eating with you, kid”.

This is one of those restaurants where you order up at the counter and then they bring your food out to you.

The boys ordered the kid’s grilled cheese and I shared the Virginia City burger with my mom. The Virginia City burger had avocado, jack cheese, tomatoes, and parmesan peppercorn dressing. It was good. I picked that burger for two reasons…1. I like avocados, 2. I like trying burgers that have different and unique sauces on them rather than just like regular mustard.

Samsung 022

Samsung 020

I actually could have eaten a whole one by myself but oh well. Sometimes burgers are so big and I always think we should’ve shared but this one was a good size for one person. All burgers and sandwiches are served with chips.

So, I liked Bogie’s and I would go there again for a quick lunch while in Abilene.

Hickory Street Cafe & Betty Rose’s Little Brisket

So, I decided to go ahead and combine the reviews for Hickory Street Cafe and Betty Rose’s Little Brisket because I didn’t actually take any pictures from Betty Rose’s.

Let’s start with Hickory Street Cafe.

Samsung 064

Hickory Street Cafe is on none other then Hickory Street and it looks like a house. I had read on reviews that you need to get here early to get a table because otherwise it gets packed and you have to wait. This was true because we got there just before the crowd.

Samsung 065

The boys had just bought their Can You See What I See? books so they wanted to bring them in. The boys ordered the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread from the kids menu. It came with grapes and goldfish.

Samsung 067

Connor was busy but eventually he ended up eating.

Samsung 066

I had also read on reviews that the chicken salad here is really good as is the zucchini bread (which we didn’t get).  I love chicken salad sandwiches but am always afraid to try them because I don’t always like them everywhere but since all the reviews said it was good I decided to try it.  I ordered it on a croissant and it came with potato sticks and pasta salad.

Samsung 069

This is definately big enough to share, half a sandwich was plenty for me.  I’m just now thinking that maybe I should have taken a picture of the inside of the sandwich as well but it’s a little late now.  As a lot of the reviews I read stated, Hickory Street Cafe’s chicken salad really is good.  Like I said before I don’t order it everywhere because I don’t like it from just anywhere but this was a good chicken salad sandwich.  The only complaint I have about it is that the grapes they put in it need to be smaller.  I think they were cut in half but they were still pretty big so I would have liked it better with smaller grape pieces but other then that it was delicious.  As for the other components of the meal, the potato sticks were fine, they are basically like potato chips but in little sticks.  I don’t normally eat potato chips but the boys liked them.  I wasn’t a big fan of the pasta salad but it was okay.  Connor really likes pasta salad but he didn’t really care for this one.  He likes the kind that has italian dressing on it and this one was pretty dry.  I also ordered a cup of potato soup.

Not the greatest picture :(

Not the greatest picture 😦

I was surprised to see that the cup of soup actually was a cup of soup.   Everywhere else a cup of soup is in a small bowl so I liked that this was a cup.  The soup came topped with bacon, green onions, and cheese but I got mine without the bacon.  I’m weird and I don’t like bacon on anything.  Sometimes I will just let them bring my food with the bacon and take it off myself because I feel weird asking for no bacon on a turkey BLT or something.  In this case though I am okay with ordering no bacon.  Also, just so everyone knows it’s not that I don’t like bacon… I love bacon as long as it is not on anything but bacon.  So, anyways, the potato soup was also very good and the boys also loved it but they are big fans of soup so I figured they would.

So my opinion for Hickory Street Cafe is that you should definately go for lunch but be early.  We got there before 11:30am and were just in time.  If we had gotten there just 5 minutes later we probably would have had to wait.  The chicken salad is delicious and the soup is good so I think it is a place worth going to.

Moving right along to Betty Rose’s Little Brisket.

Samsung 093

That was the one and only picture I took. The Betty Rose’s that we went to was right by the hotel and it is in a little strip center. They have a little smokehouse in the parking lot and it smelled really good.

We went in and there was nobody eating in there at the time and we didn’t eat there either, we took it to go. I just ordered chopped bbq sandwiches and a brisket sandwich for the boys to share. When you walk in there is a counter to your left and this is where you order and they cut the meat and make the sandwich for you right there so it only took a few minutes. We also received a little container with barbecue sauce.

I guess I must have been hungry because I just started eating and didn’t remember to take any pictures until after all the food was gone. The sandwiches were good and they had a lot of meat. I was really surprised at how many slices of brisket were on the sandwich. It was the perfect amount for the boys to share. The barbecue sauce was good, it wasn’t too sweet or too spicy.

I’ve read the reviews for Betty Rose’s also and they seem to be mixed but our experience was good so I think it’s worth it shot.

The Blue Taco

We picked up food to go at The Blue Taco in Abilene on Thursday.

Samsung 042

The Blue Taco has a drive-thru but I wanted to go inside to see what it was like. There is a small dining area inside and there are also a few tables outside. The chairs and trashcans and other things were blue.

The Blue Taco is kind of like one of those build your own burrito places except it tacos. So, you go through the line and basically tell them what you want. I ordered two baja taco meals and two kids meals. The baja tacos already specify what comes on them but I’m sure you could add something if you wanted. The kids meal tacos were ground beef and for the other I got grilled steak and grilled chicken. You could pick whether you wanted it on the blue corn shell or a soft flour tortilla. The baja tacos came with lettuce, cheese, and baja sauce and you could get chips and salsa or queso and a drink with the meal. The kids meals came with chips, a drink, and a cookie or brownie. They put it all to go in a big blue bag.

Samsung 044

Kid's meals

Kid’s meals

Baja Taco meal with cihps and queso

Baja Taco meal with cihps and queso

Baja Taco meal with chips and salsa

Baja Taco meal with chips and salsa

First I tasted the baja sauce on my tacos and it reminded me of something that I’ve tasted before but I can’t figure out what it is. I didn’t really like it but when I tasted it with the taco it went together well. I thought the steak had pretty good flavor but I wish it had been warmer. The chips and queso were okay.

Connor seemed to like his taco, he ate it all. JT ate some of his and then he ate some of the chicken taco. He liked the baja sauce, he called it ranch though.

Overall I liked it, it wasn’t great but I was happy with my food. I’m sure it probably would have been better if we had eaten there because then it would have been warmer.

Frontier Texas!

I imagine this is going to be short since I don’t remember it as well since it was almost a year ago.

We visited Frontier Texas! after attending the CALF Hop on Pop picnic last summer. We were able to get in for half off with our CALF passes. You can read about the CALF starting here on day 1 if you haven’t already.

FrontierTexas(1)

FrontierTexas(2)

Frontier Texas! starts you off with a short film before you continue on to the exhibit. I don’t remember many details about Frontier Texas! but what I do remember is that it’s pretty fun and I like the setup. I like that you can walk up to the different areas and instead of just reading the information you encounter a person that starts to tell you a story. I think they were introduced as spirit guides in the film at the beginning.

FrontierTexas(3)

They seem as if they are talking directly to you and actually looks more real then it does in my picture. If I remember correctly the stories flow well throughout the entire exhibit and continue as you move forward. The museum tells the story of Texas. I want to say that it is mainly about this area of Texas. I remember there being a teepee, buffalo, information about Snyder, Texas, the Beehive Saloon, a stagecoach and a community toothbrush.

FrontierTexas(4)

FrontierTexas(5)

FrontierTexas(6)

FrontierTexas(7)

FrontierTexas(8)

After you’re done looking at everything there is another film that has a 360° screen. You sit in the middle of the room on a wooden stool. It does get dark at first and there are some loud noises as wolves and Native Americans attack. Connor was a little scared about this part because it was so loud but it didn’t last long and he was fine.

FrontierTexas(9)

After that we went to look around in the gift shop and then went outside. They have a big buffalo sculpture that kids can crawl in so the boys took pictures in it and also in the picture thing with the face cut-out that I don’t know the word for. I tried to an internet search to figure out what they’re called but it seems that nobody knows.

FrontierTexas(10)

FrontierTexas(11)

I think that Frontier Texas! is definitely a place you need to visit if you go to Abilene. However, I’ve read that they just opened up a new exhibit following a big renovation so I’m sure it’s even better now.

So, I am now update on my blogs about Abilene for the most part…at least until next month.