Laurel is kind of a suburb of Billings, so it’s not bursting with restaurants. There is a large McDonald’s next door to our hotel with a two-lane drive through that probably does a lot of commuter trade in the mornings. Trip Advisor did point us to Mabel’s Kitchen, a Mexican place that does traditional and Nuevo Hispanic food. I wasn’t loco with enthusiasm as it is by the railway tracks and next door to a coin-op carwash. Also, even it’s greatest fans do not list decor or ambiance as assets. I think we can safely assume that it does not have a website. We took our own wine because they don’t have beer or anything, but they surprised us by producing real wine glasses – quite nice ones.
Caroline had the Ropa Viejo, which translates as ‘old clothing’. What it actually is, is shredded beef with vegetables in a red sauce. Caroline picked it because she didn’t want to stare at a huge slab of meat. It was interesting, and very tasty, she said. I had the Fraiche, which was two nice boneless pork chops with a creamy mushroom sauce with a side of rice and refried beans in case it didn’t seem Mexican enough. My pork dish was very nice, so I won. The dessert was Tres Leches cake, a favourite of ours, but it was not traditional. The cake is supposed to be soaked in the sweetened milk to make a soggy, sugary mess, but her cake was dry, with an attractive milky sauce on top. It looked nice, but I give it a fail.
It turns out Mabel (pronounced Ma Bell) is from Sinaloa, north of Mazatlan. She charged us no corkage on the wine, so our whole bill was under $36. I don’t know when I’ll next be in Laurel, but I’d definitely consider visiting Mabel’s again, especially if I could order take-out and eat in my hotel.