Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Texas Ribs At Altozano Morelia

Costillas Tequila-Serrano, image from Texas Ribs web site
It was with gleeful anticipation that I recently read of the opening of the Texas Ribs restaurant at Paseo Altozano in Morelia. In fact, with the nearly concurrent opening of the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) in the same vast shopping center in its mountain top aerie, preceded by a Carl's Jr. restaurant; the American presence truly has more than a foothold in the Michoacán capital city. Some expats exult at these developments while others recoil in horror. Imagine your shame when your expat friends see smears of bbq sauce on your face or pancake syrup stains on your shirt!

I replied to all that cultural angst with the comment that IHOP does not send out press gangs to roam the streets, seizing unwilling persons and carrying them to its lair in order to force feed them pancakes.  Neither does Texas Ribs stretch its captives on a rack of ribs. You go there only if you want to.

As I am 100% free of encumbering cultural prejudices, I wanted to visit both the IHOP and the Texas Ribs (but not in the same day, thanks). We'd eaten at Carl's Jr at an earlier date, and were not pleased with the food, especially considering the prices. I am not a worshipper of the Goddess of Fast Food.

Santa Hamburguesa
Let it be understood that although I'm a real bbq aficionado, but I'm still quite willing to degrade myself in an orgy of hands on rib gnawing and finger licking, even in a non-authentic venue in a modern shopping center high on a mountaintop in Michoacán. The mall appears to be pet friendly.

Where're the pickup trucks?
Here's a photo of a real BBQ shack:
Add caption

We three, Jennifer Rose, Sra. Cuevas and myself easily found a seat in a booth at the back of the large restaurant. At 2:30 p.m. on a Thursday, the dining room was empty of customers. A glass door leads to a smoker's area, which was deserted at the time, with large windows offering a spectacular view of Morelia and several saucy posters of Jane Russell in "The Outlaw". The windows were admitting strong blasts of cold air and the staff eventually closed then all.

View over Morelia 
I always respond to the statement, "nice view": "You can't eat the view." So let's turn now to the food.

Our young, earnest but rather unpolished waiter inquired if we wanted to order an appetizer. We'd scarcely opened the menus. When we had a moment, we decided we had to have Aros de Cebolla— Onion Rings. As some of you may recall, I have extensive experience with onion rings. While we waited for our onion rings, we got our drinks. The beers are served in frosted mugs. They ought to be, as they are $42 pesos each.

The onion rings are presented in a Nouvelle Drive-In style: a vertical tower on a platter squizzled decoratively with bbq sauce. These rings are pretty good, if more than a little greasy, and not quite brown enough. $109 pesos!

Aros de Cebolla
The condiments arrayed on the table were extensive and varied. A caddy of six bottles of bbq sauces offered different tastes but in reality not dissimilar.

Your choice of sauce, as long as it's sweet
Both Sra. Cuevas and Ms Rose decided to have the signature Baby Back Ribs ($189 pesos) and I las Costillas de Res Brontosáuricas ($209). (Available in larger portions. I can't imagine it.)

Each plato fuerte is accompanied by your choice of two sides. Ms Rose had steamed mixed vegetables and fried mixed sweet and white potatoes. Sra. Cuevas the mixed potatoes and some frijoles bbq style. In a continued effort to be authentic, I had French Fries and a dish of frijoles bbq. I'm not sure if I saw cole slaw on the menu.

Baby Back Rips with healthy sides
The ribs were excellent; the baby back ribs came with a light coating of sauce. I ordered my beef ribs without sauce. They were massive and they looked good. Unfortunately, they were not hot. I asked that they be taken back and heated. It was only 5 or so minutes that they returned, beautifully charred and willing to be seized, nibbled, devoured and licked. The French Fries were crisp and delicious. The frijoles were pretty good. I liked it all, but especially the ribs.

Costillas de Res. From Texas Ribs website
We looked at the dessert and coffees menu but were not tempted. The color photos of the desserts made them appear industrially manufactured, average cost $89. We went instead to Starbucks for coffee and a light dessert.

An unexpected touch of luxury was when our waiter came with warm, moist towels for us to clean our faces and hands.

Ms Rose and I later exchanged emails discussing the positives as well as the negatives of the restaurant. We agreed that the dessert menu needed serious revamping. As to the composition of the clientele, that was more difficult. I hope that we can continue that discussion here.

We got our check; $850 pesos. There was a dollar conversion below the peso total. $70 USD. Oiga, Señor; estamos en México. Aquí pagamos en pesos.

The Ratings:

Food: *** 1/2

Service: *** (Earnest, tried hard, needs polish)

Costs: $$$ 1/2 Drinks, apps and desserts greatly drive up the cost.

Restrooms: Super sparkling clean and modern. Multiple recipients.

Bottom line #1: I would return, but not frequently. Very enjoyable experience overall.
Bottom line #2: Remember, we are not really in Texas, or any other United State.

Location: Av Montaña Monarca Norte 1000,
Jesus del Monte Altozano
Morelia (Paseo Altozano)

LUN-JUE 13:00 hrs. a 00:00 hrs.
VIE-SAB 13:00 hrs. a 1:00 hrs.
DOM 12:00 hrs. a 22:00 hrs

(01) 443 2041302
(01) 443 2040744


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John Calypso said...

$8 for those onion rings seems high; and a bit high priced overall (from a Mexico perspective ;-)

I really like your reports - they are entertaining and packed with good info. You are a credit to our little group amigo - thank you.

DonCuevas said...

Sure, it's pricey, but when you need a set of onion rings, you don't mind paying a premium. However, I probably would not order them again there. I would definitely have ribs there again.

Thanks for the compliments. I try to keep my posts entertaining, but above all, to not take myself too seriously.

Don Cuevas

jennifer rose said...

Here’s what authentic BBQ requires that was missing at Texas

Fried okra

Pralines and pecan pie

Peach cobbler

Apple pie

People of races which we’re

Old men missing teeth

Sweat and grit. You’ve got
to have someone slaving over the ribs, smoking them since the night before

Honkey-tonk and
shitkicking music

The potential for a bar

No sissy beers and fancy
drinks. A limited selection of libations, maybe only PBR and Miller and
Coke. And iced tea.

Pan Bimbo. Or cornbread.

Aroma. The smell of
charred flesh and bone, mixed in with the scent of sweat.

The sauces were tasty enough, all with undertones of high fructose corn syrup, distinguished only by varying amounts of Red Dye #2 and modest flavoring agents. The potatoes and vegetables entered the premises in a frozen state and had been microwaved. The bread was an afterthought and seemed to be have been aged for a week.

The portions were hearty enough, but on the whole, the place evoked the memory of an airport dining experience. The platter of hot,moistened washcloths at the conclusion of the meal instead of a tiny packet of
Wash’n’Dry was welcomed, making me feel like I was sitting in 3B on a jet

Would I go back? Only to be sociable and polite. I don’t think I’m the one to initiate a visit there.

Just the same, it’ll do as well as Chili’s and Sirloin Stockade. There are people who love those places in this town.

DonCuevas said...

Thanks for the great reply. This was a favorite line:
"A sense of connecting with your inner redneck."

But what happened to Goo Goo Clusters and Moon Pies at the checkout? (Oh, there was no checkout.)

They probably have iced tea, but it might be that awful Fuze stuff.

I can do without the bar fight. Security would be on it in a flash.

O.k. We're agreed that it's not authentic nor perfect barbecue. But apart from that, we enjoyed most of it, I believe.

Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

Thanks for your sacrificing yourself to get covered in bbq sauce to tell us about another new joint of their interpretation of what is and should be Texas BBQ.
How were the ribs prepared? Did they actually have a smoker or do they just parboil and then glop massive amounts of sauce to make it BBQ?
We will venture up to the center on our next trip, not making it a special trip especially since making ribs at home is so easy, getting the right cut is usually not a problem with a fall back to Costco if you really need a rib fix.
Where their fries premade frozen food service style or is that something they made in house? We appreciate your venture to let us know of another place now attempting to Americanize a food experience. Pricy, but I am sure they will find plenty of takers, especially when you consider how many people are willing to pay for a McD meal in Morelia that in my mind never makes the mark exactly like the NOB establishments. $850 , imagine the amount of ribs that would fetch at a local carneceria....

DonCuevas said...

Tancho, I can't really say how the ribs were prepared. Nor the fries, but the fries were unusually good. Note Jennifer's comment that there was no aroma of charred flesh and bone. For all we know, they might be prepared in a commissary in outer Tlalnepantla. But if you go there knowing it won't be an "authentic" bbq experience, and just sit back and go along with it, it can be very tasty and satisfying and even fun.

Another thought: it would be more fun if they replaced their male servers with pretty señoritas dressed in short Dallas Cowboy cheerleader skirts.


But they won't.

Don Cuevas

jennifer rose said...

The ribs were tasty, and we did have a good time. But it was still a little too danty to be Texas, too clean for a respectable rib joint. You gotta have a dose of danger to fully appreciate BBQ.

Felipe Zapata said...

From the photos, the grub looks grand, but those prices are beyond outrageous.

Felipe Zapata said...

A sense of connecting with your inner redneck. I don't have to reach far to do that.

DonCuevas said...

Maybe we should bring you along next time, to lend "authenticity".

Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

I can just see the bbq stained prints on the white costumes....if it is going to happen anywhere it would be here!

DonCuevas said...

They are outrageous. It's another world experience and you pay dearly for it.


Felipe Zapata said...

You pick up the ridiculous check, and I'm your man. Of course, my wife would come too. I think the price of those onion rings startles me more than anything. I mean, really.

DonCuevas said...

We can put on a bake sale to raise money for your attendance.


Steve Cotton said...

I often ea at the places you recommend. But not this time. I have never understood the allure of ribs. Far too tedious to deal with all that bone. No complicated foods for me.

Steve Cotton said...

Hey. You just described My People.

Andean said...

Onion rings need to be crunchy to be good. I favor them over fries any day, if battered and fryed correctly.

DonCuevas said...

They have other foods. Have a look at the menu on their website.

Right now, they are pushing The Giant Pork Chop. It's only $269 pesos.
(I forgot to mention that earlier.)

Don Cuevas

DonCuevas said...

Give us a break, Steve. That requires such a stretch of the imagination.

Redneck? I hardly think so.
Missing teeth? Well, could be.


DonCuevas said...

Andean, I totally agree. But the TR onion ribs were good, if alas, imperfect.

I thought of Lockhart earlier, but it's more of a bbq brisket kind of area, isn't it?

I will, although unasked, now direct your attention to the bbaq brisket we cooked at home a few years ago. It was a real, serious work. But in the end, very worthwhile, http://mexkitchen.blogspot.mx/2010/09/texas-bbq-brisket-feast.html


Steve Cotton said...

$269 (Mx) for a pork chop. The price would induce a heart attack before the pork fat even had an opportunity to contribute.

Andean said...

They serve all kinds of BBQ. Kreuz, from a rellable source comes to mind for ribs.

Thanks for the brisket site, looks absolutely delicious! Even though I like ribs, I prefer brisket.

Steve Cotton said...

I think of myself as being from the Ron White clan of Rednecks.

Texas Ribs said...

Thanks for the great and entertaining review, for the awesome pictures, but mostly for your suggestions. We'll be sure to work on them.

Cheers from you friends at Texas Ribs. :)

DonCuevas said...

Hola, me da mucho gusto en leer su comentario. No es común recibir comentarios de la gerencia ni de los empleados de un restaurante. Muchas gracias.

I certainly did enjoy our meal at the Texas Ribs Altozano. With your cheerful and positive attitude, and more hard work, you wil come closer to being Rib Heaven.

Don Cuevas

Texas Ribs said...

Al contrario, gracias por la buena reseña. We can use more of that good word of mouth, Altozano has yet to perform to expectations.

Luis Perezcano, CEO

DonCuevas said...

El problema es que Altozano aún está bastante lejos de las concentraciones de poblacíon en Morelia. Las calles entre el valle y la cumbre son estrechas y sinuousas. Los cliente s tienen que pagar una tarifa para estacionamiento, (pequeña, admito, pero es una lata.)

Además, (en mi opiníon), la administracíon de Altozano deben proveer algún sistema de transporte fácil y económico (mejor que sea gratis.) dentro de los pasillos. Las distancias son tan largas para personas de mayor edad o sean incapacitados, I am thinking of those motorized conveyances that shuttle people to and from point to point within airports.

Maybe we will come to eat at Texas Ribs again before long, in spite of the many disincentives provided by the management of Altozano. :-)

Don Cuevas