Foodie Girl Finds

Around the State, Food and Drink, Front Page

A food lover’s journey through life, while discovering inspiring places and delicious bites along the way

Life lessons from tacos and salsa


     “Namaste,” I whisper as I bow my head to the floor.  I wipe the sweat from my brow and eagerly roll up my yoga mat.  It’s Saturday morning, and my stomach begins to growl as it anticipates our weekly ritual.  A 90- minute vinyasa class at Yoga Yoga followed by a walk around the corner to the beloved Austin staple, TacoDeli.  I don’t even have to wait in line since I proactively phoned in my order on the way to class two hours ago (the lines are atrocious after 10 a.m. on the weekends).  They know to have it ready for me promptly at 10:15 a.m.  Yes, I’m the person who has restaurant phone numbers saved in my cell phone and is greeted by name when the employee answers.  I have my priorities, people.  I know what I am, and I am at peace with that.  Now, just give me my tacos.  




     Some foodies live by the mantra of “trying something new” every time.  I, on the other hand, stick with what I know and love.  This week is no different.  A “Vaquero”(grilled corn, roasted peppers, and cheese on eggs) and a “Jess special” (migas, eggs, and jack cheese) on corn with a cup of coffee – black.  Oh, and did I mention my mild obsession (pun intended) with TacoDeli salsas?  Not only did I ask for an extra side of salsa to go with my tacos, but I went for the whole shebang and ordered two large to-go tubs with chips.  Yep, that’s right.  Two tubs.  Roughly 32 ounces of pure bliss in Tupperware.  I figure it won’t go to waste, and my hubby and I can snack on it through the week.  Ahem.  Okay, maybe it’ll last us a few days, but you get the point. Close family and friends know that half the reasonI exercise on a regular basis is to offset my caloric intake.  Life lesson #1, if you want to eat your tacos, you must exercise.  It’s that simple.  Or, you can starve yourself the rest of the week, but I prefer the former over the latter.

The Vaquero
The Jess Special

     As I take a sip of coffee and unwrap my first taco, I finally take a moment to look around the restaurant and take in my surroundings.  It’s the usual weekend crowd, young twenty-somethings nursing their Friday night hangovers with tortillas, parents feeding their soccer uniform clad seven years old, and fellow yogis and cyclists hungry for organic coffee and locally sourced Vital Farms eggs.  I start to feel guilty for a moment – here I am, sitting quietly in a bar-top stool, able to read my emails and peruse Instagram in peace.  I think about my sister-in-laws and friends with kids, and how different their Saturday mornings are from mine.  I would count my blessings to spend my weekend mornings with my own little ones, eating tacos over milk and coffee.  But for now, this is my life and the path I have been blessed with.  There have been some Saturday mornings when I engage in this ritual and catch a brief admiring gaze of a mom as she attempts to coax her baby into eating a bite of beans.  She looks up at me and sees a woman, about the same age, garbed in Lululemon yoga pants, drinking her coffee and eating her tacos in peace.  What she doesn’t know, is that maybe, just maybe, she was looking at a woman that struggled for years to get pregnant and have a baby of her own.  Life lesson #2, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  I know the statement is overused and at times, cliche, but whoever came up with that saying knew what they were talking about.  Kudos to you, mystery author.  And so for today, I feel nourished in the fact that I can do vinyasa, drink coffee, and eat tacos on my own accord.  


     And so, as I finish the last bite of my avocado and eggs, I smile to myself.  I remember the most important life lesson of all from my Saturday morning rituals.  When the monotony of life gets in the way, you should just eat tacos and salsa (and do yoga).  

tacodeli chips and salsa

Foodie Finds  

TacoDeli is an Austin staple, and frequented by locals and tourists alike.  They are known for their four award-winning salsas.  Each flavor has won first place in the Austin Hot Sauce Festival. You can check out more on the salsa recipes here.

All of the tacos are handcrafted daily, made with the highest quality ingredients.  The eggs are sourced from local Vital Farms, and all of the chips and corn tortillas are made from organic masa.   

For breakfast, try the house favorite Otto (beans, bacon, avocado and jack cheese) or vegetarians can feast on the El Popeye (eggs, spinach, and queso fresco).   For lunch, don’t miss out on their daily specials, including the DeliBelly (pork belly, avocado, cilantro, onion with honey tomatillo-serrano salsa) or Tikin XIC (achiote marinated grilled salmon with habanero onion escabeche).

Five locations in Austin and one location in Dallas make it easy to stop by on your visit.  Bon Appetit!  

TacoDeli (6 Locations)                             Yoga Yoga (4 Locations)   

Austin, Texas                                       Austin, Texas

Hours:  M-F 7-3 pm, Sat-Sun 8-3 pm                Open 7 days a week

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Foodie Girl Finds: Poufs, Pallets, and Preserves

Around the State, Food and Drink, Front Page, Travel

Foodie Girl Finds

A food lover’s journey in discovering inspiring places and delicious bites along the way

Poufs, Pallets and Preserves

January 1, 2016

    “Is this floor pillow still good?  It looks like it’s gone flat.” my husband gestures to the sagging foot rest as I’m preparing to leave for my girls’ day out.  I give a distracted reply as I throw on my scarf and grab my purse.  

    “For the record, it’s called a pouf….not a pillow.  It just needs to be fluffed since the kids have been jumping on it.”  He shakes his head in disapproval with a look that lets me know his desire to send the pillow straight to pouf heaven.  I give him my best smile, then head for the door.

    My husband, the ever-changing actor and artist, is patient and tolerant of my obsessions with HGTV and the Food Network. He has come to recognize my first-name references to my favorite chefs (Ina, Giada, and Nigella to name a few) and my foodie television show acronyms (Who doesn’t call Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives “Triple D?”).  He doesn’t even flinch when I make reference to home decorating tips from Chip and Jojo (Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper), as if we were lifelong friends.  

    Today is no different as I embark on a 90-mile trek to Waco, Texas, to do what I love most:  eat good food and discover inspiring places in the company of friends and family.  It is my joy and passion to explore off- the-beaten-path spots and rejuvenating spaces with the people I love most.  And so it begins….a blog to share each of these adventures.  


Magnolia Market Silos                                                                                                                             

601 Webster Avenue, Waco, Texas 76710

Hours:  Mon-Sat 10 am – 6 pm

The Findery 

501 South 8th Street, Waco, Texas 76706

Hours:  Mon-Sat 9 am – 6 pm

     It’s the Wednesday after Christmas, and my dear friend Erin and I park promptly at 11:00 a.m. in the dirt lot off of Webster Avenue in downtown Waco.  We join the rest of the devout followers of HGTV’s Fixer Upper show and make the short pilgrimage to the Magnolia Market Silos property about a quarter of a mile away.  The property originally served as an old grain depot, and in late 2014, the couple (who work in tandem as a construction and home redesign team) purchased and renovated the property.  

The exterior of a new location of Magnolia Market at the Silos, owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News)
Photo courtesy of Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News

    It’s only an hour after opening and the hustle of loyal fans fills the air.  On our right, sit two large grain silos. The flagship storefront is to the left, and in front of us, a large food truck park with a green space covered in turf grass.  It is obvious that the property was not only intended to cater to eager shoppers but their families as well.   


Photo courtesy of

    Just past the common area is the working garden.  Raised planter boxes create a pathway of flourishing plants including a rainbow of Swiss chard, cabbage, and kale.  Visitors can stop and take pictures in front of the barn and escape the bustle of the shoppers.

Common area

Barn and garden

    The flagship store showroom includes elegant displays of Jojo’s home decor, including Magnolia Market candles and coffee mugs, vases and oodles of trays and baskets in every size and shape.   Other sections of the store include apparel and local artisan jewelry. “Chip’s Corner” is a space filled with gifts for the modern day man such as toothbrushes and pocket tools.


Photo courtesy of

     The sale section of the market is connected by a set of stairs that lead to the attached grain barn.  The drafty area has a rotation of products that have been marked down in price.  


Photo courtesy of Dumenco


Mercantile Takeaways  

     Magnolia Market is an inspiring venue that provides design enthusiasts with decorating ideas.  If you’re looking for a beautiful space to be inspired, grab a cup of coffee, or get a bite to eat, then this is an experience you won’t want to miss.  To avoid the massive shopping crowds, visit on a weekday (preferably not over a holiday) shortly after opening.  You will be able to get in and out of the market before the crowds begin to wrap around the street corner.    

     Since merchandise prices are generally affordable (but not cheap), a devout Fixer Upper follower would be better off taking pictures of the staged decor and visiting the unique boutique around the corner called The Findery to emulate the ideas.  Aside from Magnolia Market signature items, The Findery carries similar home decor and apparel items, for a more reasonable price.  

     Lastly, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes on your trip, as you will want to explore all of the open spaces that Magnolia Market Silos has to offer.  Happy hunting!   


Photo courtesy of the

Monument Cafe and Monument Market

500 S. Austin Avenue, Georgetown, Texas 78626

Hours:  Sun-Thurs 7 am – 9 pm, Fri-Sat 7 am-10 pm


    As we ventured past the snaking line of visitors awaiting to enter the Magnolia Market, we could no longer ignore the grumbling of our stomachs.  Anticipating the afternoon traffic on I-35, we decided a late lunch in downtown Georgetown (just north of Austin) would be an ideal location.   A little under an hour later, we settled in at a booth at the Monument Cafe.

monument cafe

    Locals fondly refer to the cafe as simply “The Monument.”  As referenced on the front page of the menu, the diner is a tribute to rural Texas cafes that served simple yet satisfying food and served as community centers for the towns in which they were located. 

    The diverse menu includes home-style favorites such as fried chicken, liver and onions, burgers, salads and soups.  Breakfast aficionados will be pleased to find that breakfast is served all day.  Freshly baked biscuits with butter and housemade blackberry preserves (yes, please!) greet customers as they are seated.  


     I polished off a three-egg omelet with bacon and spinach, then followed it up with a slice of the Monument Classic Pie.  

monument pie

     The pie was every bit delicious as it was beautiful.  Organic dairy, pastured eggs, and local pecans filled every bite.    

monument market

     Upon closing our tab, the waiter encouraged us to visit the attached Monument Market.  As we entered through the glass door, we were greeted with a surprisingly diverse and well-stocked shop of groceries and gifts.

market full view

     Fresh produce, a wall of wine and beer, house-made granola, and baked goods lined the shelves.  The back wall offered a case of prepared foods, meat and eggs.  Picnic tables provided a spot to enjoy purchased treats, and the surrounding tables offered a variety of preserves and all-natural lotions.  Tucked away in the back corner of the market was a wall of organic gardening and pet products.   





     As I made my purchase of local honey, I spotted the adjacent outdoor biergarten.  It is a perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine or a cold brew on a warm summer night.


     Our last stop before the car was a quick walk through the cafe’s garden.  Even in December, the crops were abundant and flourishing.



Foodie Finds  

     The Monument Cafe, referred by locals as simply “The Monument,” pays tribute to rural Texas cafes that served simple yet satisfying food and served as community centers for the towns in which they were located.  The restaurant prides itself on serving fresh, local, seasonal, unprocessed, simple and flavorful food.  The taste and quality of the dishes reflect the time and effort put into creating each dish in-house from scratch.  The inviting interior pays homage to roadside diners, while maintaining a sleek and updated feel.  Breakfast platters range from $6 – $10, and dinner entrees range from $8 – $17.  Parking is easy in the attached lot, and the cafe is walking distance to the downtown Georgetown square which includes wine tasting rooms, jewelry and fine gifts, antiques, home decor, and pet stores.  Be sure to visit the adjacent Biergarten for a cold brew or glass of wine.  On the weekends, you can order from the full cafe menu while listening to live music each night.  

     For high-quality gourmet fiends, visit the attached Monument Market and garden for fresh produce, all-natural dairy and cheeses, pastured eggs, organic vegetables and fruit, and Texas wines and artisanal beers.  The cafe prides itself on local and seasonal food direct from the source.  Be sure to pick up a bottle of local honey or gardening products to take home.  Bon Appetit!   


     I hope you enjoy my journey in discovering local food jaunts and specialty shops in Texas (and around the world).  It is my joy and passion to explore delicious dishes and the unique settings that surround them.  I owe that passion all to my dad.  I can envision him now at the dinner table, rubbing his hands together in delight and proclaiming, “I think this was the best meal we’ve ever had!”

~ Denise

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