Taking it to the Max in Laredo
While going through my 200 morning emails, most of which are SPAM, I almost deleted one that I thought was going to tell me that the Arab generals deceased son had left me $1.5 million, but instead it said "we'd like to invite you to visit Laredo, stay in a nice hotel, enjoy a couple dinners, and play and review the Max Golf Course." And since it didn't ask for any money, social security numbers, my bank account, birthday, or any other personal information, I immediately responded with a big "absolutely and when?"
I few weeks later we tossed the golf clubs and some new golf balls plus Advil in the Jeep, pumped up the bike tires (although I knew they would probably remain on the bike rack rusting like they have all summer - I'm not a bike fan of bike rides in 100 degree heat), added a cooler of beer for good measure, and set off for Laredo. Visit the Laredo Visitors Bureau for more information on Laredo ranging from accommodations to museums to events to sports teams and more.
The trip was uneventful except for the wife not liking her gas station Subway sandwich, the bug juice splattered all over the windshield and grill, and what seemed like 1000s of 18 wheelers clogging the highway starting just prior to Laredo. Turns out we were driving through the annual migration of millions of butterflies flying over 2800 miles from Canada and the northern US on their way to Mexico. They were everywhere and by the time we got to Laredo we could barely see through the butterfly streaked windshield. I felt a bit sorry for the hundreds of butterflies that ended their long journey on our windshield and grill when they were so close to their destination in Mexico.
Turns out that Laredo is the biggest inland port in the United States and their economy is based on international trade with Mexico. As such, most major transportation companies have a facility in Laredo which is the reason for all of the trucks in and around Laredo. The butterfly splattered windshields meant that all of the truck washes and car washes had very long lines!
Our first stop was the La Posada Hotel which is in the heart of downtown and three blocks from the Rio Grande River and the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. From the Hotel's parking garage we walked past a beautiful courtyard and pool and into a lobby with a sweeping curved staircase and Spanish wrought-iron balusters plus Italian marble floors that contains an inlaid image of a coin. It was immediately obvious that La Posada was well deserving of AAA's Four Diamond award of excellence. Wow, we didn't expect such an outstanding and classy hotel that is rich with history, some of which includes:
built in 1916 the main building served as a jail and then Laredo's first high school and in 1937 was converted to an elementary school and then transformed into the La Posada Hotel in 1961
what is now The Tack Room, a fine dining restaurant, was built in 1883 and was the first telephone exchange for Laredo and Nuevo Laredo just eight years after Alexander Graham Bell obtained the first telephone patent and by 1924 it was servicing more than 2000 customers
the San Agustin Ballroom originally served as an old Spanish Convent
the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum, which is a part of the Hotel, served as the Capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande in 1840, which declared itself an independent country for 283 days which made Laredo and the surrounding area the only portion of Texas to have served under seven flags
La Posada Hotel was established in 1961 and is currently one of Laredo's most recognized landmarks and Laredo's only Four Diamond Hotel. As the city's largest hotel with 206 rooms it's still considered a boutique hotel with a fusion of Old World Charm and New World Luxury. After a complete renovation La Posada was recognized by Expedia as the number one hotel in Texas due to the superior quality of service and extraordinary attention to detail.
Some of the La Posada amenities that you can enjoy during a stay include:
two beautiful pools, one with a swim up bar
two fine dining restaurants - Zaragoza Grill and The Tack Room - with award winning cuisine
Republic of the Rio Grande Museum
laundromat, business center, and concierge
San Agustin Ball Room
We dropped our bags off in a very well done and comfortable room that overlooked the pool and set off to walk around the downtown area and past a lot of shops in search of a bar and happy hour! After a few drinks and several games of dominos (I'm pleased to say that I finally beat my wife!), we walked back to have dinner at La Posada's Zaragoza Grill which was recognized by Texas Monthly as one of the Top 50 Mexican Restaurants in Texas. It fuses the subtle and the spicy and the robust and the savory in combinations that both surprised and delighted us. We enjoyed a delicious Poblano Bisque (Poblano cream soup, cilantro, tomato, and served with tortilla strips and a huge Texas Wedge Salad with apple wood smoked bacon, candied pecans, tomato, and blue cheese dressing. a very tasty Grilled Chicken Chapleted Pasta with mushrooms, zucchini, parmesan, and chipolte crema; and the Queso Fresco Tenderloin with cilantro tortilla rice, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and chile guajillo butter and a couple delicious margaritas The tenderloin may have been the best steak I've ever had - cooked to perfection, perfectly seasoned, and very tender! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
After a very good breakfast in Zaragoza Grill the next morning we drove 10 miles or so to the north west side of town to play golf at The Max A Mandel Municipal Golf Course, known as The Max. Since opening in late 2012, The Max has won a number of awards and accolades - the most recent being named in the Top 15 Golf Courses in Texas by Golf.com and based on our rating, we added the course to our list of the Best Public Courses in Texas. The Max has almost a mile of riverfront along the Rio Grande (four holes play adjacent to and above the river) and the layout winds through 270 acres of sandy terrain, native vegetation, deep arroyos, some farmland, and lots of mesquite trees - no homes, barking dogs, or sirens, it's just you and nature, some cute bunnies, and lots of birds, but in my case no birdies! With yardages ranging from 4769 to 7220 yards and with five sets of tees boxes the course is playable by all skill levels and can be very demanding from the back tees. Some of what makes The Max one of the best includes: a fun layout that leverages the unique terrain, wide forgiving fairways and huge greens, some intriguing risk reward opportunities, very good conditions, excellent friendly service, and very affordable rates. The food at the grill is also excellent and the clubhouse has an upper patio with a magnificent view of the river and on into Mexico. Read our review to learn more about The Max Golf Course.
After a very good lunch at the Las Islites Grill at The Max Clubhouse it only took us a couple minutes to change into our bathing suits and jump into the La Posada pool to cool off and in my case wash away all the sand from my being in so many bunkers at The Max. I'm pretty sure that I also took a short snooze on the comfortable pool lounge chairs and most likely snored which is why no one was around me when I woke up.
A quick change of clothes and we were at the Zaragoza Grill for a very good happy hour with drinks at very reasonable prices. As I sipped my first margarita I thought that the grill had turned on the radio to a rousing Mariachi band. Turns out that San Agustin Plaza, which is outside the Hotel's front door and across the street, was getting ready for the Viva Mexico event and was doing a dress rehearsal that evening. We got to listen to a couple good singers and bands and watch several dance groups. After that we had to take a look at the Cathedral of San Agustin which was built in 1872 and is adjacent to the hotel. Very impressive building but the main tower is starting to lean like the Leaning Tower of Pisa - or could this be due to Happy Hour,. When my wife commented on the lean, I felt much better!
Then we walked back to the other corner to have dinner in La Posada's The Tack Room restaurant which is Laredo's Premier Steak House. The Tack Room is located within what was a historic lovely Victorian home that used to serve as the meeting point for the late former Mayor and his friends who would cross the river to visit the racetrack in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in addition this site was home to Laredo's first telephone exchange. This legendary eatery has a beautiful veranda that overlooks the San Agustin Plaza and a spectacular bar. We enjoyed a fantastic very creamy Lobster Bisque with big chunks of lobster and a hint of brandy and two delicious salads from the salad bar. Wednesday night was prime rib night and I loved the perfectly cooked, tender, juicy, and huge slab of Prime Rib. The wife enjoyed a very good Gulf Coast Red Snapper with Spanish olives, capers, and a Veracruz sauce that was excellent. After conversing with some friendly folks at the bar we waddled back to our room for a good nights sleep. We were maxed out on drinks, food, golf, and fun times.
If you're looking for something to do, we can highly recommend Laredo. Check out our Laredo Map to find some other things to see and do. Have fun.