I met several pals at Sangria’s Mexican Grill on Monday and to my surprise the place was absolutely hoppin.’  I was surprised to learn that it’d about 20 minutes before we got a table, but it was well worth the wait.  I can’t say enough about the nice experience we had.  The food was outstanding, portions generous and prices reasonable.  Our waiters were fun, charming and attentive despite a few minor language challenges.

The minute we were seated we given a seriously huge bowl of chips and smaller bowls of bean dip and salsa.  The chips were fresh, crisp and salty, and positively addictive.  In fact, they were some of the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had.  The five of us ate nearly the whole bowl and a few more from a second bowl too.

The menu had a wide selection of choices, several of which I was unfamiliar with.  I chose something that turned out to be kind of a shredded chicken enchilada as my entrée, and my waiter helped me select two side dishes from a list of “accessories.”  I chose, believe it or not, Mexican style mashed potatoes and Tequila veggies.  The portion was large and very reasonably priced at less than $10.  Everyone in my group raved about the food, had plenty to eat and took home a to-go box as well.

Sangria’s is located at 215 S. Memorial Drive in downtown Appleton.  If they have a website, I couldn’t find it, but you can call them for information at 920-955-3755.

Million Dollar Night on the Town

My husband and I just saw “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.  It was a terrific show, in fact far better than I anticipated.  But then, I’ve never been disappointed in a visit to the Fox Cities PAC.  The theater is beautiful, the volunteers who assist you are professional and welcoming, and the performances are absolutely top notch.

Here are a few of my recommendations for making any show at the PAC into a special occasion:

  • Stop for a glass of wine at Flanagan’s Wine Review before the show.  It’s just a block away and you’ll find the wine selection to be excellent.
  • Make dinner reservations at Apollon, which is about 3 blocks away.  I recommend that you order the Saganaki, a flaming cheese, as your hors d’oeuvre and be ready to yell “Opa!” 
  • If you prefer a more casual dinner before the show, I like Senor Tequila’s for a tasty Mexican meal and a Margarita. 
  • After the show you can drop in at Deja Vu for a fancy martini.  Take it from me – they’re potent, so don’t have two unless you’ve got a hotel reservation nearby.

Great Gift Idea from the Fox Cities PAC

Whether your loved one is a fan of musicals or dramas, comedy, dance or the Fox Valley Symphony, a Fox Cities PAC gift certificate will provide a a lasting memory and an inspiration in the new year. Plus, a gift certificate allows your giftee to pick the show that’s just right for their tastes and their schedule.

Order online by December 16, and you’ll get a present too – a free iTunes Broadway show tune sampler!

Order your Fox Cities P.A.C. gift certificate by 4:00 p.m. on December 16 to ensure your loved one receives their Fox Cities P.A.C. gift certificate by Christmas Day.

The History Museum at the Castle

If you are looking for a fun and educational activity for both kids and adults, stop in at the History Museum At the Castle. The museum is located on the east edge of downtown Appleton across the street from Lawrence University.

My family spent an afternoon at the museum last week and there really is something for everyone. My brother, an engineer, didn’t want to leave the Tools of Change exhibit until he figured out how all of those old tools and machines worked. And my wife and four-month old daughter got a kick out of watching my niece and seven-year old nephew perform all of Houdini’s stunts in the AKA Houdini exhibit.

The History Museum’s new exhibit “Progressive Appleton: Through the Lens of W.D. Schlafer” opens today.  Here’s a link to more about that exhibit:

I highly recommend a visit to the History Museum At the Castle if you are looking for something to do while in Appleton. For information, go to:

Fox Cities PAC 2011/12 Line Up

I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview of the Fox Cities PAC’s 2011/12 line up … and I was blown away.  We were treated to music by the cast of the “Million Dollar Quartet” the hit musical inspired by the true story of a recording session that brought together Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.  The music was, obviously, phenomenal, but the actors were just as great. Each bringing to life their character…right down to the way the actor playing Johnny Cash held is guitar.

I learned the story behind “Billy Elliot”, with Elton John’s amazing score.  Imagine trying to cast the lead role: a young boy with ballet skills good enough to make it to the Royal Ballet who also has tap and modern dance AND gymnastics abilities.

I saw some of the high-flying scenes of “Mary Poppins” and the power of Les Miserables.  I also didn’t realize that the classic “West Side Story” was first produced on Broadway in the late ’50′s and aside from some travelling show has basically been vaulted until now.

The Broadway series will be joined by such favorites as Garrison Keillor and Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops with Rockapella.

It’s going to be an amazing season…and it’s going to be all right here in the Fox Cities.  Season tickets are on sale now.   <a target=”_blank”href=”“> Here’s a link to more information on all the shows.

Find Your Inner Artist

The Fire is a fine art studio in downtown Appleton, specializing in painted pottery and mosaics.  They have a wide variety of projects to choose: including painted pottery, mosaic mirrors, wall hangings and frames, and fused glass pendants and trays. We went from feeling quite overwhelmed initially, to being completely submersed in a creative art project of our own design and choosing.  There were countless, reasonably priced ideas for projects and the staff was so helpful, friendly and encouraging.  Here, individuals can find respite from their busy lives, and groups can gather for bridal showers, birthday parties, team-building activities, graduations, reunions, or time to simply reconnect with friends. 

The Fire welcomes young and old alike, and families will find this creative activity to be a great way to channel a child’s extra energy, while spending quality, educational time with them.  Whether or not you consider yourself an artist, with a little imagination, one can find their inner artist, and take home a beautiful piece of artwork all their own.