El Potrero, Owosso

I learned a couple of things when I visited El Potrero in Owosso, but the most valuable thing I learned is that when someone asks you if you want a Patron margarita, you say no. Because, at least at El Potrero, a Patron margaritas costs $10. OK, $9.75. I would have thought me holding the card with the night’s special would have hinted that I didn’t want a $10 drink, but apparently, I lacked the special insight that Patron margaritas are way overpriced versions of the normal drink. So in you are there, try saying “I would like a house margarita” or “For the love of God, don’t give me a $10 margarita.” I’m suggesting these options to you because I won’t be back.

The URL for El Potrero is http://therealtasteofmexico.net/. If this is the real taste of Mexico, on wonder hordes of Mexicans are invading our country – it’s the only way to get a decent meal.

It started off fine. The first waiter was very friendly, the waitress that followed seemed to tolerate me, which is all I ask. The chips were average, as was the salsa. So far, so good. Not as impressive as my typical (and rare) trip to Taco Bell, but I’ve had worse. When my $10 margarita arrived (I didn’t know it cost $10 at the time), I thought it was below average in taste. Oh well, live and learn.

The second lesson I learned was that the food was not that great. I ordered the chicken Burrito Ranchero. It came out almost faster than I ordered it. It was impressively fast, and if I got food from McDonald’s as fast, I’d be happy. Perhaps I should have been suspicious, but most Mexican restaurants in the general vicinity of Lansing area pretty fast.

El Potrero burrito

El Potrero burrito

The burrito didn’t look good. It was the burrito equivalent of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, pale and disturbing. Digging into it didn’t reveal any hidden gems. It revealed only average-tasting pulled chicken. The tortilla was soggy and unappetizing, and, as you can probably guess, I was unimpressed. The cheese and lettuce did its best to hide the carnage below, but it could only do so much. However, the rice was excellent, by far the best part of the whole experience. Skip the entrée and just get the rice.

If there is a silver lining here, it’s that I learned not to go to El Potrero in Owosso again. If I can convince one person to avoid it and hit a quality establishment (the Wendy’s looked quite nice), then I’ll consider this a success.

BJ’s Bar and Grill, Morrice, MI

Morrice is not known for… well, anything that I can think of. I’ve visited the little town (less than 1,000 residents) several times as a turn-around spot for my cycling route, but never for any other reason. But I decided to visit Morrice’s one bar to see what it was all about. Thus, I arrived at BJ’s Bar and Grill after work.

I was the only one dressed in black Dockers, and I was instantly out of place. I got the occasional looks from the people at the bar, the “who is that guy?” look, but it wasn’t unfriendly, just curious. I sometimes get that look at home, too.

BJ's awesome interior

BJ’s awesome interior

I liked BJ’s from the start. Small, local, with all kinds of beer paraphernalia on the walls. It reminded me of my college dorm room, just without so many people I didn’t know. Most of the time. What I also liked about the place was that their one-page menu was taped to the wall. No messing around with handing out menus, just look at the wall. Convenient.

I had hoped they had an olive burger, because 2016 is Scott’s Year of the Olive Burger. And they did! And voila, I present to you, the BJ’s olive burger:

Olive burger!

Olive burger!

OK, it doesn’t look like much. But it tasted pretty good. The burger was fine, nothing outstanding, perhaps a little dry. The sauce was full of olives and didn’t lack for mayo. That helped balance the dryness of the burger to make it a wash. The bun was grilled, which you often don’t get in your finer establishments, but at BJ’s, you do. The fries were hit or miss. Some were quite good, the perfect mix of crispy exterior and soft interior, but others were nearly soggy.

And I will not leave out the beer. I’m usually a bit of a beer snob, but I went for a $2.50 20 oz. Budweiser. And not just because Peyton Manning was going on and on about it during his Super Bowl speech (he owns Budweiser distributorships, so he was giving himself free advertising.) At BJ’s, a Bud just seemed like the right thing to drink.

Admittedly, there is not a lot of choice in Morrice. You have a BJ’s, Country Kitchen, and a pizza place. But I liked the food, liked the atmosphere, and really liked the inexpensive beers. If you’re in Morrice (and who isn’t at some point… don’t answer that), check it out.