Want to know what happens when you walk in the wrong door of a hole-in-the wall Mexican restaurant? Stuff like the following exchange:
|Rose's Lariat. This is the FIRST thing I have ever located with my newish smart phone and it is a treasure.|
“We came to Rawlins to get gas,” says my cousin Bud, referring to the 100-gallon propane tank and three 40-gallon bottles in the back of his truck that he has just filled for $1.78 a gallon! I pay $4.21 at home in Alaska.
“I have lots of gas here,” says Bobby, the cheerful owner/operator of Rose’s Lariat restaurant where we are having lunch. He has just placed a small plate with a huge stuffed cabbage roll on our table—gratis.
And thus begins an hilarious adventure in Rose's Lariat.
|This is the front of Rose's Lariat and the main dining room.|
Bobby is a sweetheart. At various times during our visit, he tells me I am beautiful, he loves me, and gives me a kiss on the cheek—all no more than three feet from his lovely wife who is sitting at the next—and only—other table in the entrance way of the side door in this tiny business. He also asks God to bless me. Several times.
In return for his compliments, and especially for his food, I am going to write the most glowing review of Rose’s Lariat that Trip Advisor has ever seen. Every single word of it will be a paean to the best Tex-Mex fare I’ve ever eaten, bar none.
|Bud and Chris..|
The cabbage roll, says Bobby, is how his mother made them. I am not a fan of cabbage rolls with a tomato-based sauce on them, as I prefer to make them by placing them in a baking dish with beef buillion for cooking. No tomato sauce.
But, Bobby’s mother had something going there with her piquant tomato sauce that hinted of Mexican red sauce. And she imparted her love of cooking to Bobby.
|Chris, me, and Bud at Rose's Lariat. Photo by Chris.|
How did we manage to pass up the front door to Rose’s Lariat, the door that opened onto a long counter that could seat perhaps ten patrons, and a tiny booth that would be a really tight fit for four? Considering the portions served here, make that two people in the booth.
|How many can eat at this counter? Ten? Twelve?|
Well, there is no parking on the street in Rawlins, so we find a narrow spot in a small parking lot on one side of the restaurant. Thus, as we skirt mud and ice, we choose the nearest door, which happens to be the one that opens onto a two-table alcove right beside the diminutive kitchen. Our table is a small metal mesh patio table, complete with a hole in the center to hold an umbrella, but without the umbrella.
|No need to knock on the Green Door (which is actually turquoise). Just walk right in.|
This is the only seating open in the whole place, and I am forever thankful for that because we probably never would have met Bobby otherwise. After the waitress (Bobby’s daughter) gives us menus and serves our sodas, a rotund fella about my height or less, takes three steps from his place in the kitchen and introduces himself as Bobby, the owner.
|Bobby and his assistant in the tiny kitchen.|
“What do you recommend?” I ask him. His face lights up and he proceeds to talk food, how he loves food, how cooking good food is his life, how he learned from his mama. Chris and I, following Bobby’s eventual selection of just one item, order the two enchilada plate—one beef and one cheese and onion. Bud orders the green chili bowl with tortillas.
|Bud's green chili at left, and the remains of the sauce sampler plate.|
|Chris and I each have the enchilada plate.|
Bobby steps up into the kitchen and steps back with a plate holding three small dishes that are called monkey dishes in the restaurant trade. “These are our three sauces,” Bobby says. “Red, chili, and green chili.”
|Three divine sauces.|
As the saying goes, they are to die for.
As is our food. The tortillas with Bud’s green chili were so hot he couldn’t handle them. I wonder if they are freshly baked. Bud eats every bit of his lunch and raves over it. Chris inhales her enchiladas in a state of culinary bliss.
As for my plate, I am in Mexican food heaven. It is all I can do to eat one enchilada and a few bites of the rice and beans. I take the left-overs with me and they provide one dinner and two lunches.
I love restaurants like this. Small, unassuming, and rare, where the quality of the food excels and damn the architecture, the Boston ferns, sombreros, and so on. The dish washing room is larger than Bobby’s kitchen where all the goodness pours from his heart into the food with which he seduces his customers.
Before Bobby poses with me for a photo, and kisses my cheek, he set another plate on the table, again gratis. On it is a huge, freshly-cooked sopapilla. Absolutely divine. We take some of that back to camp with us, too.
I am going to have to rethink that review on Trip Advisor, as much as I would love to give Bobby and his food its due. If this restaurant were in my hometown, I would keep it a secret so I could go there any time I wanted and sit at a mesh patio table, sans umbrella, and revel in the very best Tex-Mex food ever served.
Here’s to you, Bobby. Mucho, mucho gratias. Y Dios te bendiga, tambien.