You Are Visitor Number:

You Are Visitor Number:

Monday, March 30, 2015

DO NOT BUY! The WD My Cloud 6TB Personal Cloud Storage Device

Do you need cloud storage for all of your travel photos? I do! Do you not want to pay the ridiculous monthly or annual fees for years on end for Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Amazon Cloud?  I know I do not! The best and most cost-effective alternative is a "personal cloud", a wireless external hard drive (or drives) connected to your home wireless network with tons of storage space (up to several terabytes - TB - 1TB = 1,000 megabytes) that you can access either at home with your computer (or mobile device) or remotely anywhere in the world. 

After my old personal cloud failed, a 4 TB Western Digital (WD) MyBookLiveDuo, I had to find a replacement, so I decided to give WD one more chance only because of the decent price and good reviews on their new My Cloud products. I purchased a WD My Cloud 6TB Personal Cloud Storage device on Amazon for $269.99 plus tax, hoping that it would "connect effortlessly" to my network as advertised.

The WD MyCloud would not connect to my network when it arrived and after spending an additional 3 hours on the phone with tech support, 5 total, they could not help me and told me to return it to Amazon.  The only reason I chose Western Digital again after having two other products that failed, a 1TB MyPassport and a 4TB MyBookLive Duo, was because of the dearth of available products out there and the poor reviews on Seagate products. Never again WD!

CombatCritic Gives WD My Cloud 6TB Personal Cloud Storage 0 Bombs Out Of 10 ... Can't Get Any Lower Than That ... And A Spot On CombatCritic's Wall Of Shame 











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Title:  DO NOT BUY! The WD My Cloud 6TB Personal Cloud Storage Device

Key Words: WD My Cloud 6TB Personal Cloud Storage, WD, My Cloud, 6TB, Personal, Cloud, Storage, NAS, WDBCTL0060HWT-NESN, review, Western Digital, western, digital, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, tech, technology, photo

JustFly.com Offers A Good Price, But Little Else


I was taken to JustFly.com's website after searching Kayak, United, Delta, and Lufthansa extensively for fares on an upcoming overseas trip. I was hesitant at first being a unfamiliar website, but I decided to give them a try with the following reservations, pun intended ...

First, people need more information before paying for a reservation, like applicable baggage fees (not just a disclaimer saying "the airline MAY require baggage fees"), to make an informed decision. JustFly does not provide actual fees, only the disclaimer. Fortunately, having flown Lufthansa many times in the past, the carrier for the trip, I knew that the first bag (up to 50 pounds) was free, making the decision a bit easier.

Second, JustFly does not provide a way to enter frequent flyer account information either before or after purchase.  I assumed that once registered with their site, I would be able to update my profile with the data, but that was not the case. The only information available for editing on their website are name and email address, no seat or meal preferences, home airport, passport information, or anything else for that matter. The ability to enter frequent flyer and other pertinent personal information once would save customers a lot of time later and help ensure they return to make future purchases.

The only plus was that their price and itinerary were better than I could find even on Lufthansa.com, therefore ...

CombatCritic Gives JustFly.com 4 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!







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Title: JustFly.com Offers A Good Price, But Little Else

Key Words: JustFly, just, fly, airfare, airline, travel, fare, reservation, trip, website, frequent, flyer, miles, value, TravelValue, CombatCritic, critic

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Come Down From Your Roost For Some (Pricey) Hooch, Breakfast, Or Lunch

Biscuits and Gravy - $7?
The Roost
920 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone (785) 843-1110
Web 920mass.com
Prices $$$$$

After 36 hours without food and cameras shoved every which way (I'll spare you the gruesome details), I thought it was time for some carbs and protein ... the biscuits and gravy tasted great, although quite pricey at $7 for a full order, the biscuits being rather small with barely enough gravy to cover them completely. UNSAT! 

Kansan - $8
I had the Kansan ($8) with eggs, bacon, home fries and English muffin on my first two visits. It was good, not spectacular, and a fair sized serving, but the bacon was a tad too crispy even for my taste. Being primarily a breakfast joint, they have very few popular or traditional options to choose from (can you say skillets?), so on my most recent (and likely last) visit, I ordered an omelette ($6) with bacon ($1), onion, peppers, and mushrooms (50 cents each for a total of $8.50). When the server asked me what kind of toast I wanted, I asked if they had English muffins and she said that they did. What she failed to tell me was that there was a 50 cent up-charge, a fact I spotted only after the check arrived (see bill below). The 50 cent English muffin dominated the plate, dwarfing the small, yet tasty, omelette and a smattering of bland, unseasoned fried potatoes (see photo - objects are smaller than they actually appear).

The ALL YOU CAN DRINK self-service coffee bar ($2) is the The Roost's highlight, a superb selection of four premium coffees with your normal choices of additions (half-and-half, skim and soy milk, cinnamon, sugar) available as needed.

Omelette - $8.50 + 50 Cents for an English Muffin
The service is adequate, not bad, not great, with little interaction and a bit of a "high brow" feel. A breakfast place should have a warmer, more inviting, friendlier ambience, especially in a small college town. For example, when I asked to barista to replenish the half-and-half at the coffee bar on our most recent visit, all I received was a scowl as she was poured a complimentary glass of alcohol by a cohort at 11:30 in the morning.

Their prices are quite high on most things, so I have to deduct a couple bombs when it comes to "value".  For example, $5 should be the maximum price for biscuits and gravy no matter how big the order is or how good they are and if you are going to up-charge customers, they should be told in advance in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not they choose to pay the difference.

Oddly enough, for a place that is only open for breakfast and lunch (7am-3pm), The Roost has a bar and will serve you rather expensive cocktails ($7-$8) or wine ($5), so if you are looking for a mid-day buzz along with your biscuits and gravy, this is the place for you. But based on the high prices, small portions, uninspiring cuisine, and mediocre service, I think I will keep trying to find a decent breakfast place in Lawrence. I have my doubts.


CombatCritic Gives The Roost 4 Out Of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!








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Title:  Come Down From Your Roost For Some (Pricey) Hooch, Breakfast, Or Lunch

Key Words: The Roost, roost, breakfast, lunch, bar, coffee, egg, biscuit, gravy, bacon, omelette, food, menu, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Monday, March 23, 2015

The 20 Coolest Towns in the US - Matador Network

    Matador Network's Top 10 Coolest Towns ...
    1. Asheville, NC
    2. Frisco, CO ... Been there
    3. Laguna Beach, CA ... Grew up there
    4. North Charleston, SC ... Done that
    5. Sun Valley, ID
    6. Missoula, MT
    7. Freeport, NY
    8. Marfa, TX ... Got the t-shirt
    9. Lawrence, KS ... Live here
    10. Mount Desert Island, ME
    The 20 coolest towns in the US - Matador Network
    Lawrence, Kansas   

    You have to visit the Matador Network and read the article to see #11 - #20 ...


    Photos Courtesy of the Matador Network

    Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor ... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

    Title: The 20 Coolest Towns in the US - Matador Network

    Key Words: 2015 asheville capacityX combatX CombatCritic TravelValue travel value food restaurant Kansas Lawrence computer critic DayTripQuip Florence Frisco inlaid Kansas Laguna Beach Lawrence Marfa Sun Valley travel TravelValue TX

    Thursday, March 19, 2015

    DayTripQuip™: New Delhi to Agra ... The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

    Taj Mahal and Agra Fort Day Trip

    If you want to see the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, make a day trip out of it rather than staying overnight in Agra. Agra has few redeeming qualities other than these two extremely impressive landmarks in my opinion and spending even one night should be avoided. Let's face it ... Agra is a pit!

    There are bus tours available or you can take a train from the main New Delhi station if on a budget, but I would not recommend the train unless you have confirmed reservations both coming and going. If planning a visit to Varanasi by bus, car, or train, another option is to visit Agra on the way as it lies between New Delhi and India's holiest city. However, by the time you pay for two or more bus tour tickets, you could hire a private cab to take you to Agra, leaving New Delhi at 9AM, visiting both Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, stopping for lunch and some shopping, and returning to New Delhi by 9PM.

    Agra Fort Exterior
    My wife and I hired a taxi for the day at our hotel near the New Delhi train station, charging us 7,500 rupees ($120.00) for the itinerary described earlier. We left around 9:30 AM on a Sunday morning, a good day to go to as traffic is quite a bit lighter in New Delhi on a Sunday morning. It took us about two-and-a-half hours to get to Agra Fort, including a pit stop, traveling on the toll road, which costs a little more than the toll-free route, but shaved an additional two hours off the journey ... each way!

    A foggy morning, we decided to visit Agra Fort first to let the clouds burn off a bit before we headed over to the nearby Taj Mahal. We picked up our "complimentary tour guide" who briefed us on safety/security details upon arrival where "hawkers" and "pickpockets" reportedly would be waiting for us when we exited the taxi. The hawkers were no worse than any other tourist attraction in India and pickpockets are not a problem as long as you use a little common sense and pay attention to your surroundings.

    Agra Fort is beautiful, impressive, and crowded. Entry was 350 rupees ($5.70 each) and we spent about an hour walking through the grounds, snapping photos, and learning about its history from our guide. We may have very well missed something as we found out later that our guide was cutting corners and not totally truthful in order to move us along so we had time to go shopping at a marble factory he was "touting" ("receiving kickback from", a common practice among taxi drivers and tour guides throughout India and elsewhere).

    The Taj Mahal is open every day except Friday from sunrise to sunset, not "6am to 7pm" as advertised by About Travel's "India Travel Expert" in her Taj Mahal Travel Guide: What to Know Before You Go. There are three gates, but we entered through the East Gate (described as the "VIP gate" by our guide), paying 750 rupees ($12.15) each for entry, jumping on a tram for the short ride to the entrance. The lines were short both to buy tickets and enter the grounds, so this may very well be the best available option.


    Once inside, there is a large courtyard to traverse before entering through the "Royal Gate", an ornate red sandstone arch where the enormous Taj Mahal looms in the background as you enter. Having seen countless photos and heard numerous stories about the Taj Mahal for many years, I was very interested in visiting, but until I actually saw it in person, I had no idea how impressive it actually is.

    The long, narrow reflecting pond is cut in half by a raised terrace where "Princess Diana's Bench" or "Lady Di's Chair" is located, the location of a famous photo taken of the princess during a visit to the Taj Mahal in 1992. We were told, as were many other tourists apparently, that the bench closest to the "Royal Gate" (on the opposite side of the terrace from the Taj Mahal) was where the photo was actually taken. But I assumed it was actually the other bench (closest to the tomb and, oddly enough, ignored by most tourists even though it offers a much better photo opportunity) where it was taken, a hunch that was confirmed the next day when I checked the internet for the photo.

    There is a small museum (free) on the West side of the grounds halfway between the Royal Gate and Taj Mahal that is well worth a visit. I knew it was there and as our guide tried to steer us toward the tomb I asked if we could visit, but he said "it's closed for renovations". I could see that people were entering and leaving the building, so I insisted on going over to check. "Oh, they must be letting a small number of people in, you are very lucky" he exclaimed as we walked up to the doorway. The museum has four small rooms with artifacts from the site and other interesting exhibits, so take 30 minutes and visit.

    You can read about the Taj Mahal in many places, so I will not elaborate here. I will say that it is absolutely breathtaking and a MUST SEE in your lifetime, this coming from someone who has traveled to 51 countries and having seen many of the most beautiful and famous attractions in the World. Even though the tour guide lied to me about the museum, normally a deal breaker, he took 4+ hours out of his day to show us around Agra, so I gave him a 500 rupee tip ($8.20 - he probably would have gotten 1,000 rupees if he had not lied), a small price to pay for an experience of a lifetime.

    CombatCritic Gives The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort 10 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!




    Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor ... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

    Title: DayTripQuip™: New Delhi to Agra ... The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

    Key Words: Agra, New Delhi, new, delhi, Taj Mahal, taj, mahal, fort, taxi, bus, train, travel, tour, day, trip, quip, DayTripQuip, CombatCritic, value

    Friday, March 13, 2015

    CombatCritic's TravelValue: Italia (Italy)

    Sicilia (Sicily)

    Arriving in Rome after an uneventful plane ride across the Atlantic, I found the Easy Jet counter for my leg to Palermo, Sicily. Easy Jet is anything but, with extra charges for everything, my €49 fare quickly became nearly double at €90.

    Not So Easy Jet's Rome (Fiumicino) check-in counter was chaotic and I stood in line unnecessarily for 10 minutes before realizing that there was a bag check counter for those smart enough to print their boarding passes online. Even then, the short line took forever as the large family in front of me took items out of their bags to meet the 20 kg weight limit (44 lbs). Finally checking my bag 30 minutes later, I made my way to.the terminal and in to Palermo.

    Trapani and Erice

    Upon arrival at Palermo's new Falcone-Borsellino Airport for my bus ride to Trapani, not quite my final destination, my wife's picturesque, medieval hometown of Erice, I took the Segesta bus straight from the airport to downtown Trapani where my wife and her cousin were waiting for me. There are trains to Trapani, but the Italian train system is sometimes unreliable and I would have had to travel 20 kilometers back to downtown Palermo to catch the Trapani train, so the bus was faster and cheaper (€9.60).

    Trapani is a medium size city that sits on the Mediterranean Sea in the northwest corner of the island of Sicily and Erice sits atop a nearby mountain, easily visible for 20 miles in any direction. Trapani is fairly clean and beautiful, but Erice is the gem of this area and a medieval delight.



    You can take the cable car from Valderice at the bottom of the mountain (€2.80 per person round trip) or if you have a car, you can drive to the top where parking is liberal and inexpensive. Erice is a walled city and quite small, easily walked in 2-6 hours depending on your pace, how many of the quaint shops you want to stop in, or if you want a leisurely lunch or dinner in one of a small selection of restaurants. If you arrive at the right time, June through August, you can try the unique and delicious jasmine gelato (ice cream). You have not had ice cream until you habeas eaten gelato, and jasmine is a variety and delicacy found nowhere else in the world. Spend time enjoying the stroll over the cobblestone streets, but be sure to wear shoes with soles that will not slip on the shiny rocks, which can be quite treacherous, particularly when wet.

    There are many wonderful things to see in and around Trapani, including Basilica della Madonna di. Trapani, the town of Marsala, the Egadi Islands of Favignana, Marettimo, Levanzo, the Greek ruins at Segesta, the island of Mothia, San Vito Lo Capo, and Agrigento's expansive Greek ruins, about an hour and one half south of Trapani.

    The people and food of Trapani must be enjoyed, with the people passionate and friendly, and the food robust and unique. The local cuisine has a definite Arab influence, having occupied Sicily for several centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. CousCous can be found as a staple in many dishes in exchange for pasta, and is a delicious and unique change of pace from many 'primi piati' (first dishes) found elsewhere in Italy.

    Summers are quite hot in Sicily, so make sure you dress appropriately, luring sunglasses and sunscreen, and book a hotel with air conditioning unless you enjoy sticky nights.

    Firenze (Florence)

    IL DUOMO




    The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers) is the center of Florence. Begun in 1296, it was completed in 1436 with an exterior covered elaborately with polychrome marble in shades of green and pink bordered by white. 

    The second largest and most beautiful cathedral in Europe, "Il Duomo" and its equally impressive baptistri (baptistry), dominate this large piazza surrounded by medieval pallazzi (palaces). Crowded during peak seasons, watch out for gypsies and pickpockets, and DO NOT sit on the church steps (it is now illegal), but enjoy this "awe inspiring" scene with a drink. , a gelato (ice cream), or meal at one of the many bars and restaurants in Piazza del Duomo.

    TravelValue, TravelSafe, ValueTravel .... Follow CombatCritic To TravelValue!






    Copyright 2011-2015 - CombatCritic and 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC - All Rights Reserved

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    Title: TravelValue, TravelSafe, ValueTravel .... "Follow Me To Travel Value"

    Key Words: Trademark, Copyright, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, TravelValue, TravelSafe, ValueTravel, Follow Me To TravelValue, CombatCritic, 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC

    CombatCritic QandA: (McLeod Ganj, H.P, India) Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?

    Q:

    las habitaciones tienen kitchenette? (Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?)

    CLAUDIAGESELL  
    villa gesell

    Thursday, March 12, 2015

    CombatCritic QandA: McLeod Ganj, India) Solo Female Has Doubts And Questions About Travel

    Q:

    Hey there,

    Want to visit Mcloedganj and Dharamshala solo. i have some doubts.

    1. which place is more appropriate to stay ? Mcleodganj and Dharamshala ?

    2. Does your hotel provide taxi or cab facility to roam around the city or to go tourist attractions.

    3. Is it safe to travel alone?

    4. Any other thing i need to cautious about ?

    Thanks.

    Nehadixit, New Delhi, India

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    One Tough, Compact, Well-Priced Backpack ... "Highly Recommended"

    High Sierra Classic Series 59201 Summit 45 Backpack

    We bought this backpack on Amazon.com for a 4-month trip to India, knowing that we would frequently be moving from place to place and that the condition of roads and sidewalks would not be conducive to rolling suitcases. 

    There was plenty of room for 2-3 days worth of clothing, accessories, toiletries, and even a laptop (and cord), having a large inner compartment, three exterior compartments, two mesh exterior sleeves, and numerous velcro loops, buckles, and other devices to attach things to.

    The material is lightweight, but durable, holding-up well to the demands of multiple trips via train, bus, car, and plane and compact enough to fit into the smallest overhead compartments.  In-fact, we traveled by plane internationally and domestically, carrying-on our backpacks on even the smallest aircraft. The backpack is comfortable to wear with padded shoulder straps, an adjustable chest strap, and a padded waist buckle to keep the pack secure during the most arduous journeys. After four months, the backpack looks nearly as new as the day I bought it and everything functions as advertised.

    For the price ($54.99), this is one tough, compact, well-made bag and definitely worth every penny. 

    CombatCritic Gives The High Sierra Classic Series 59201 Summit 45 A Coveted "10 Bombs Out Of 10" ... More Bombs Are Better!



    Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor ... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

    Title: One Tough, Compact, Well-Priced Backpack ... Highly Recommended by CombatCritic

    Key Words: High Sierra, high, sierra, summit, 59201, 45, litre, backpack, nylon, zipper, tough, compact, Amazon, Amazon.com, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    "Nein!" … Oops, I Meant, "Nine?" Dollars For A Glass Of Wine?

    Grünauer (Austrian)
    101 West 22nd St
    Kansas City, MO 64108
    Phone: 816.283.3234

    Hours:
    Mon-Thur 11:30am – 10pm
    Fri & Sat 11:30am – 11pm
    Sun 11:30am – 9pm
    Wunderbar 11:30am – 1am
    Happy Hour 3-6pm & 10pm – Close

    Prices: $$$$$

    We found Grünauer quite by accident while visiting Lidia's, one of our favorites in KC and owned by Lidia Bastianich of PBS fame. Grünauer is just west of Lidia’s in the same large parking lot immediately behind Union Station.  The main dining room is large and modern with warm tones, big booths, and plenty of glass. We were well received and escorted to our table. The service excellent, a team of servers and assistants ensure things come and go efficiently with a smile.

    Wine is a bit pricey, starting at $9 for a glass and bottles from $38, so you may want to stick to beer if on a budget.  The meals are large and filling, so soup, salad, or appetizer are only for those with the biggest appetites. Not knowing this, I ordered the Käse und Biersuppe ($6), a smoked gouda and beer soup that is a decadent as the name implies and a wonderful way to start a meal.

    My wife ordered the Ksesptzle ($15.00), a rich, creamy spatzle dish made with swiss cheese and topped with crispy onions. The spatzle was cooked to perfection and the sauce thick and flavorful. The crispy onions were more than a garnish, adding some texture and complimentary flavor to the dish. The Ksesptzle was delicious, a large portion of cheesy goodness that satisfied my wife’s sensitive vegetarian palate. 

    Having lived in Europe for six years and spending a great deal of time in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and Hungary where good schnitzel is common, I could not resist the Cordon Bleu ($22.00), a breaded pork cutlet stuffed with smoked ham and swiss cheese and pan fried to a golden brown. Nor could I resist ordering a side of their rich and decadent Jäger sauce ($4) made with its namesake Jägermeister, mushrooms, and cream to top my cordon bleu. $22 is a bit steep for pork, especially considering you have to pay $4 extra for a side, in my case mashed potatoes, but the schnitzel was tender and juicy, filled with ham and gooey cheese as advertised.  When topped with the Jäger sauce it was as good as any I have had abroad, and I have had more than a few, but by the time I added the price of the entrée to the potatoes and the sauce the total came to $30, far more than I have ever paid for any similar meal in Europe.

    Grünauer’s food is excellent, the service flawless, and the environment comfortable, but the prices are a bit excessive.  However, due to the dearth of German restaurants in Kansas City, and Grünauer is as close as you are going to get to authentic German in this area, what other options do we have?  You can drive a couple hours southeast to Camdenton for a meal at Der Essen Platz where the food is just as good and the prices half of Grünauer’s, but that is not plausible.  So, had my cordon bleu meal (including sauce and side) been in the $18 to $24 range with wine starting at a reasonable $6 per glass, I would have given them 8 Bombs, but they are not and I did not … 

    CombatCritic Gives Grünauer 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!








    Grunauer on Urbanspoon


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    Title: Nein … Oops … Nine Dollars For A Glass Of Wine?

    Key Words: Grünauer, Austrian, restaurant, Austria, German, schnitzel, spaetzel, spätzle, wine, beer, menu, food, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Kansas City, Missouri, MO, Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Lawrence, Kansas: One Of The Best (Not Tex-Mex) Mexican Restaurants In Town? Not Much To Brag About!

    Mi Ranchito
    707 W. 23rd Street
    Lawrence, Kansas 66046
    Phone: (785) 727-2005
    www.miranchitokc.com

    Hours:
    Sunday-Thurs 11am-10pm
    Fri & Sat 11am-11pm

    Prices: $$$$$

    To be the BEST MEXICAN FOOD IN LAWRENCE the bar must not be set very high as I have yet to have a Mexican meal as good as the worst I have eaten in Texas, where I was a resident for 20 years, and not a single one comes close to resembling Tex-Mex. On that note, let me add my two cents ...

    The Infamous "Bar" ... My Home Away From Home
    The place was nearly full on a Sunday night, a rarity in Lawrence, particularly among Mexican restaurants, and normally a good sign. We were steered into the bar for some reason, asked if we wanted to sit at a "high-top" even though there were booths available in the bar and tables available in the restaurant. Maybe I look like a lush, but I think it was primarily because there was nobody in the bar and the bartender needed something to do. The lush that I am, I ordered the margarita special ($7.99), described as containing "El Jimador" tequila and not bad although the "20 ounces" were more like 13, coming in the standard "cheater" glass that looks big on the outside ... well, you know what I mean. The house "grande" margarita ($6.25) was a better value, coming in the "20 ounce" glass but like its El Jimador cousin, a bit weak in terms of alcohol content.

    Guacamole and Espinaca "Dips"
    The chips and salsa arrived rather quickly, the chips being far too thin and very likely out of a bag along with a red salsa and an odd looking yellowish-green sauce. The salsa was not bad with obvious hints of fresh cilantro. The other, described by one reviewer as a "lemon avocado" sauce, was strange, unlike anything I have ever had in a Mexican restaurant, but again not bad. The chips are so thin that they cannot be dipped in the salsa, which is not very thick to begin with, without breaking apart, leaving the basket more than half full of pieces of chips too small to eat.
    We decided on the Espinaca Cheese Dip ($5.99), a blend of hot cheese, white onions, tomatoes and spinach, and the guacamole ($6.99). The guacamole was described as "fresh and buttery avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, onions, lime juice and special spices" on the menu, but I found no evidence of either cilantro or jalapeño (or butter for that matter). I thought the price was a quite steep compared to other places in town, but the serving was large and the guacamole pretty good, not nearly as good as mine however. You can get a half and side order ($1.99) of guacamole which are not on the menu and I was told that the half order was $3.99, reasonable considering the price of the full order, but when the bill came I was charged $5.25, the equivalent of $10.50 for a full order. When I complained about the higher price, management quickly apologized and charged me the quoted $3.99 price, but insisted that $5.25 was the correct price. He told me hat he would "take it up with the company" (remember, this is a chain) to see about implementing a reasonable price.
    The "espinaca" (spinach) cheese dip had too little spinach, much less name the dish after it, to mention and seemed to be more like your average chili con queso minus the chili, but it was big and decent. Again, my primary complaint being that the chips were too thin to withstand either "dip", falling apart when submerged in either and resulting in a basket full of crumbles with very few whole chips.
    $7.99 ... Really?
    Like most Italians my wife dislikes spicy food, especially Mexican (one of my favorites), ordering her standard "cheese quesadilla" ... boring! At $7.99, I have to say that this was one of the most pitiful quesadillas I have ever seen and a terrible value. Charging $8 for a (small) flour tortilla, a couple ounces of cheese, a spoonful of sour cream and even less guacamole, and a thimbleful of pico de gallo (which was noticeably missing from the plate even though it is on the menu) should be a crime, highway robbery, but it's not, so there you go.


    As always, on my first visit to a Mexican restaurant, I ordered tacos and enchiladas to see if they could get even the simplest of recipes right, in this case el numero nueve, the #9 combo, with a burrito, taco, and enchilada, "machaca" (shredded beef) all. I have to say that the taco was the best I have had in recent years, having lived in the Midwest since 2008, being large, stuffed with plenty of machaca, deep fried, then topped with lettuce, cheese, and even some diced tomatoes. It would have been nearly perfect if the taco had a couple of thin slices of avocado on it, but we had plenty of guacamole leftover so it was not an issue, although a very good idea. The enchilada and burrito were both equally stuffed with shredded beef, but uninspiring with little to no cheese and smothered seemingly in the same red (enchilada?) sauce. The rice and beans were minimal, sprinkled with kernels of corn oddly enough and two deep-fried masa de maiz (corn meal dough) balls, another novelty ... could it be Tex-Mex ... not! The masa balls are excessively sweet and do not compliment the meals, so I would reduce the sugar or 86 them altogether. Beside the masa balls, everything was "OK", but the taco was the star of the show and likely a staple if we return.

    Cheese and Onion Enchilada ala carte ($3.19)
    You can order ala carte although you would not know it from looking at the menu. I asked if I could order a cheese and onion enchilada ala carte and was told it would cost $3.19 plus tax, not unreasonable, so I decided to try one. The sauce was decent, but missing the distinct chili zing of a traditional enchilada sauce and the chili con carne you would find in authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. The cheese inside was plentiful, but a bit too runny, making it a little difficult to eat and there was not an onion in sight (or bite for that matter). Overall, it was not the best enchilada I have eaten and not the worst, but it was definitely NOT a cheese and ONION enchilada.
    Deep Fried Tacos - $9.95

    We have returned a few times per month and the food is still OK, but we have had problems with our orders in relation to my wife's tomato allergy. On two occasions, one just a few days ago, we specifically ordered my wife's meal WITHOUT tomato, telling them that she is "allergic" to tomatoes, yet her deep fried tacos arrived with tomatoes inside. Fortunately, she always checks for tomato before digging in as she did in both cases. The server and manager reacted appropriately on both occasions, removing the plate, having a new dish made, and not charging us for the dish because of the mistakes. However, that does not solve the problem of people with food allergies getting food they are allergic to after making a special request. My wife will not die if she eats tomatoes, but she will get sick, however, some people's allergies can be life threatening (nut allergies for example) and this should be an area of great concern for management and owners. One death due to poor attention to detail in the kitchen would not only be a travesty, it could very well be the end of Mi Ranchito in Lawrence.
    Deep Fried Taco Sat In The Refried Beans Too Long
    Overall, service is very good and management is very responsive to customer concerns, all bending over backward to make things right and a breath of fresh air in an industry suffering from apathetic servers and managers. The prices were comparably a bit steep, except for the combinations oddly enough, the service good, and the food decent, maybe even one of the BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS IN LAWRENCE, but that is nothing to brag about!

    CombatCritic Gives Mi Ranchito (Lawrence) 6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... VERY AVERAGE ... More Bombs Are Better!







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    Title: One Of The Best (Not Tex-Mex) Mexican Restaurants in Lawrence ... Not Much To Brag About!

    Key Words: Mi Ranchito, mi, ranchito, Mexican, restaurant, food, taco, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, menu, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

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