Who doesn’t love a blog post that features food? Today I decided to share three local places that Chris and I have eaten in the past few weeks. We find ourselves having “date nights” and “lunch dates” these days and are trying to explore some of the area eateries that we don’t frequent too often. Today I will share 3 of those little places with you and tempt you with pictures of lovely food in technicolor.
First stop—Pastime Gardens located on S. Madison in Mason City. I had been to this place only once before with local blogger friend, Jeni, from Jeni Eats. We both had read a few reviews prior to our visit and they were accurate. When Chris and I stopped in the place was just beginning to get busy and it is obviously a local hang out. We ran into neighbors and chatted for a bit so it is a great place for folks to get together. The cuisine is Mexican and plenty of it.
The interior of the restaurant is very eclectic with a variety of things hanging from the walls, ceilings, tucked into little window nooks and it would take a long time to be able to take it all in. But it works for this place and is all part of the charm. You can find everything from mounted fish to Christmas decorations to Southwestern art .
A must order item on the menu is a basket of chips with either guacamole or cheese dip. These homemade chips are a great treat for the taste buds and sprinkled with just enough cayenne (or chili or something!) to make them have a little bit of heat.
True to my usual form when my entree arrived I dug in and totally forgot to document with a picture! I had a tasty quesadilla and Chris opted for a burrito and both were served piping hot and delicious. I am sorry I did not take pictures as they were beautiful. Both were accompanied with rice and beans and Chris’s came with a side of special “mexican potatoes” .
This is definitely a laid back place—customers are known by the waitress and served as friends. Just make sure you check the hours before you go as the place has pretty irregular hours.
Our waitress was amazed that it was our first visit and recommended what every one gets there—the loose meat sandwich. We were not disappointed. I got mine with a side of onion rings and they were crispy, non greasy and plentiful. As for the sandwich—-fortunately it is served with a spoon so you can scoop up all the extra meat.
It is normally served with pickles and mustard and that is the perfect way to eat it. Chris opted to not eat the bun and the waitress told him to order either a cup of meat or a bowl of meat next time if he was cutting the carbs out. Amazing. Where else can you order a bowl of meat? Seriously. Oh and if you want to make these on your own, Debbie from Debbie’s Midwestern Kitchen has posted a recipe that has gone viral . Check it out.
Our final first visit was just the other day when we went to The Hungry Mind. This eatery is tucked in the side of the Southbridge Mall and is another favorite of the locals. The interior is fairly dimly lit but no bright lights are needed to draw attention to the food here—we both were pleased with our selections.
One of the must eats in the Midwest is any kind of cheese curds, fried cheese, cheese balls–whatever they are called. The Hungry Mind offers cheese balls complete with a side of ranch for dipping. The crispy crusty coating was different than others offer and we both loved the texture and taste.
My favorite part of The Hungry Mind has to be that they include a little treat with each order. A flavored tootsie roll. Reflecting back on my highly coveted role as winner of the 1970 Huron County Snacking and Packing award I believe that my addition of a small tootsie roll was what clinched the title for me.
So there you have it. Some local Mason City eateries that we had left unexplored until recently. I apologize for the picture quality—-I used my phone and it obviously did not adjust well to the dim lighting of these establishments but don’t let that scare you away from any of these local eateries. All had great offerings and we are looking forward to becoming repeat customers. If you are ever in the area check them out and better still–give me a call so I can meet you !!!