Our most recent date night brought us queso sauce and a cherry blue cocktail. A taste of something familiar and a taste of something new.
We self-admittedly owe many North Iowa restaurants a visit, but crave Mexican food from Las Palmas on a regular basis. The staff always makes us feel welcome and very much at ease. Even after our first or second visit, the bartender recognized us and remembered what we ordered. How could this type of hospitality not foster loyalty? We felt like we were cheating on Las Palmas when we dined at a different Mexican restaurant in town.
Jake and I like spicy food. While the salsa at Las Palmas isn’t necessarily spicy, it’s got a little kick and a pleasant herbiness from what I’m guessing is Mexican oregano. Sometimes I order a blistered jalapeno on the side for extra heat.
One of my favorite dishes combines an interesting assortment of ingredients: Broccoli and cauliflower florets, shrimp, rice, and queso. This probably shouldn’t work, but somehow it just does. Seafood and cheese often freaks me out, but queso sauce might be an exception.
Most recently, I tried a quesadilla stuffed with shrimp and refried beans, and drizzled with queso sauce. This might be my new favorite dish. The shrimp had a snappy texture and I’d trade the typical quesadilla for one drizzled with this queso sauce most any day.
*There are plenty of dishes without queso at Las Palmas. We just keep gravitating towards the cheesier ones.
Jake rotates between burritos, fajitas, and a fajita-like dish that combines shrimp, beef and chicken. He commented on how he was especially happy with how well-seasoned the beef tasted last weekend.
After dinner, we headed to our fourth stop on our Every Bar in Mason City Quest, Sidewinder (Facebook page may contain NSFW language).
A few of my readers let me know that Sidewinder was closing after the last weekend in November. One individual took the time to email me about his memories of Sidewinder. He mentioned it used to be called Tommy’s and functioned as a popular neighborhood gathering spot where his dad watched sports games with friends.
Last Saturday evening, it was standing room only as many stopped by for their End of the World party. We overheard one woman reminisce about having her first drink at Sidewinder. Others mentioned they were going to stay until closing time on this last evening.
I ordered the bartender’s choice of a Jack & cola and we paused to watch the football game. Later, I noticed a bottle of cherry Mcgillicuddy’s and thought of a friend who had recommended I try it. Since I was in the mood for something sweet and something new (to me, at least), I asked the bartender if he could make a cherry cocktail with the liquor. He steered me towards Three Olives Cherry-flavored vodka and suggested this blue creation.
When he mentioned it contained energy drink, I almost changed my order. I drink coffee and the very occasional diet Dew, but avoid energy drinks, mostly because I don’t like their liquid SweeTart taste or smell. This was a night to be adventurous and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked the cocktail, energy drink and all. Like Las Palmas’ shrimp, queso, broccoli & cauliflower combination, this cherry liquor and energy drink combo just worked.
In closing, we enjoyed our visit to Sidewinder. Everyone was friendly, from the bartender to the patrons, and we felt very welcome. We are sorry to learn they are closing and wish the owner and staff well. Based upon all of the stories people have shared, it’s evident that Sidewinder holds significant memories for many past and present Mason City residents. Hopefully they will find a great buyer.
The Every Bar In Mason City Quest
Burke’s Bar & Grill
Candy Bar Nite Club
Homer’s Sports Bar & Grill
Mason City Brewing
Mulligan’s Bar & Grill (11/24/2014)
Mystic Lanes Bowling
Sidewinder Bar (11/29/14)
Spike’s Tap & Grill
VFW Post 733
Willow Run Lounge (11/01/2014)
Wise Guys Sports Pub (11/08/2014)
Reader Suggested Bars Throughout North Iowa
Bernie’s Bar, Forest City
Elly’s Lakefront Tap, Clear Lake
Lake Time Brewery, Clear Lake
Signatures Sports Bar & Grill, Northwood
Tanks Bar & Grill, Rudd
West Fork Wharf, Sheffield