Abilene -- where to eat?
I just found this page while googling restaurants in Abilene. And for others who happen to come across it, I want to add my two cents to this thread. First of all, the vegetable sides served at The Homeplace come out of cans. A relative of mine worked there, but I've gathered that other people are aware of this also, so I guess it's somewhat common knowledge. If you don't mind the kind of place that serves veggies from a can then maybe you'll like it. Personally, the only thing I ever had there in the several times I visited which I thought was especially good was their Mac & Cheese. Unfortunately, the last few times we went, which was always on a Sunday, they had run out of it as well as other things and were totally unapologetic about it. You have to beat the church crowd and get what's left while you can. Also, the dessert portions are stingy. We don't go there anymore.
Christmas season 2006 was the last time we ever went to Copper Creek. We'd eaten there on a few occasions prior, and this time family was in town from around the country. That was the last Christmas we spent together before my grandfather passed away, and due to reasons that Chowhound won't let me be specific about, our visit there ended up totally ruining the holiday. Aside from that reason, what I had there that day, a po-boy sandwich with some fried shrimp in it and nothing else, wasn't even good. I could have had a better sandwich from Long John Silver's. We haven't eaten there since, and never will again. Without being able to go into more detail about our experience, I can only say that I could never recommend the place.
I've eaten at The Beehive twice so far and have no complaints. The first time was for lunch. The second time was dinner, during which I had the Margarita Shrimp as an appetizer, and the Beef Oscar as the main course. Both were quite good.
Perini's is probably my family's favorite restaurant, and we've been going there for at least a decade and a half. We usually go on Sunday and have the lunch buffet. Their vegetables are fresh, not out of a can and are quite good, although after having eaten there for so many years, personally I can take 'em or leave 'em. When I don't get the buffet, I usually order the filet, which is always pretty good. However, the worst steak I ever had in my life was at Perini's. I thought I'd try something different, so I got what I think was the Ribeye, although it may have been the prime rib. I'd had one or the other on a previous occasion and it was sub-par as well. But the steak I had during this particular visit was downright awful. It was absolutely chock full of unchewable matter-- I couldn't take a bite without getting gristle. After cutting into it aways I uncovered a large swath of white sheathy sinew running through it, and at that point I declined to continue trying to eat it. Fortunately, the wait staff (who have always been very friendly to us) allowed me to send it back and I ended up getting the usual filet in exchange. Nowadays when I want steak while I'm there, the filet is the only thing I'll bother having. Their burgers are pretty good too and quite large, but if you get one, be prepared for your fingers to smell of burger for several hours afterwards even after you wash your hands. If it weren't for that I might get those more often. Also, their bread pudding with Jack Daniels sauce and pecans is great. On Sundays, it comes with the price of a buffet meal. You can also get strawberry shortcake for dessert instead, but I rarely do.
Popular opinion seems to be that Lola's is great and authentic Mexican food, but I've only ever found it underwhelming and actually somewhat bland. Her fry bread is worth trying and definitely not bad though.
It's been years, but I used to like eating at the Smokestack for lunch when passing through Thurber, and usually had a sandwich of somekind. But my family was never into the place, and always preferred the New York Hill restaurant on the opposite side of the highway, which I never cared for. The latter's food is more homestyle/country-ish I suppose, and the atmosphere inside when we would stop there wasn't nearly as pleasant as the Smokestack's, but it does have a nice view.
The best steak I've ever had was at Cypress Street Station. During thisi visit I ate there with my grandmother, and I had the Salmon. She had their Rib Eye. I finished my salmon, which was delicious but which wasn't all that filling, and she always has a tiny appetite, so she offered the rest of her steak to me, which was probably at least 2/3 of it. I like a good steak now and then, although I've never been a steak enthusiast. This steak was awesome. It was so full of flavor, juicy, and had a bit of a crispiness on the outside. My mouth is actually watering right now thinking about it. There was no gristle or anything of that kind. I only had it that once, so maybe it was just a particularly fortunate one-off. But I intend to order it again someday and would definitely recommend it on the basis of that one experience.
thanks for your post, because it produced our dinner spot. we went to the beehive tonight (we're passing through abilene), and we were very pleased. there were major thunderstorms with the accompanying torrential downpours when we arrived, and the streets were flooded, but they were happy to see us even though we arrived 20 minutes before closing. it's a very attractive restaurant located downtown with a far more upscale appearance than any place i remember from living here 35 years ago. we ordered escargots (a very good representation), prime rib, and chicken fried steak. the chicken fried was a pounded sirloin, and it was to die for, tender with a perfectly crisp coating and an excellent cream gravy. they are reputed to have excellent steaks, but the chicken fried would be my choice any time. the sides of baked potato (or fries) and salad (or soup) left a little to be desired, though. the prime rib was very good, and sides of baked potato, salad, and popover (which was overcooked, maybe because it was just before closing time) were very appropriate. at $30, the prime rib wasn't a great value. overall, though, it was a great road food experience.
I've eaten at the smokestack and it is very good. My brother and sister in law recently stopped by Mary's Cafe in Strawn and could not stop talking about the chicken fried steak they got there. They said it was thin with a thinner crust. The gravy was dirty (which means more flavor of course). To get to Strawn you go just a few miles west of thurber (which is a bit over an hour east of Abilene) and go north on 16 a few miles. Apparently the large is enough to completely stuff two hungry adults. Let us know where you go and what you think.
Depending on where you're from a taqueria might be a good place to hit up. Some people don't like them. There's a few around town, but my favorite is Alfredo's. The town favorite is La Popular. They make little burritos filled with goodies like carne guisada, chicherones, and carnitas. Alfredo's burritos are bigger, but they offer a chili relleno burrito that i love. Keep in mind, however, this is what I'd like to call "college food."
I've never been to copper creek but I haven't heard good things. A lot of the highly recommended joints are places that aren't much better than heading to Chili's. I suggest heading out of Abilene. Here's my recs...
This is homestyle to the core. One price, shared sides, big portions. They're known for the king ranch chicken, but i remember having a great chicken fried steak there.
I've Never actually been to Lola's, but it's supposed to be mexican served family style.
This is nationally known. It's upscale and requires reservations. Buffalo Gap is a neat town too, so i'd make a day of that trip.
In town I'd go with Harold's BBQ. Spano's Italian is a favorite. It's good italian american,, but depending on where you're from you can probably get better.
I'll second Perinis , if you're in the mood for beef ...it's a short drive from Abilene , and based on the times I've been there , they don't require reservations , although it never hurts to reserve ...one caveat is don't go if the weather is questionable , as I think the outdoor seating at Perinis is a big part of its charm.
Can't comment on Lola's , as I haven't been.
Would definitely recommend Harold's BBQ for lunch , as it is very , very good...and they always have fresh cobbler , sometimes they have two flavors .
Comparing Copper Creek to Chiles is not fair to CC . I have pretty much eaten my way thru their menu , and they do a good job , although I'll admit I haven't been there in the last 90 days . But someone has made a sizeable investment there, and I would be surprised if they don't stay on top of it . If you must compare it to something , then I would compare it to Houston's , not Chiles.
Alice - Copper Creek has best "upscale" : salmon , grilled catfish , steaks (of course)and good appetizers . The salmon is grilled and served with creamy horseradish sauce.It's been around about a year and a half. Located in southeat Abilene , off of loop 323 (?), call it the airport area . Hope this helps .By the way , I think the Beehive (that local legend from Albany, Texas) has opened a place in Abilene; it's located in what I call dwntown Abilene, ie, old Abilene which is undergoing some revitalization . This would be good , but would be more on the order of fried food and steaks .
For the BEST soul food BBQ in all of West Texas, you must try Harold's Pit BBQ. It's in a tiny little building in a questionable neighborhood off Pine Street next to City Lumber. 1305 Walnut Street, (325) 672-4451 I adore their ribs and brisket, and the hot water cornbread is great! It's primarily a lunch place, although they will sometimes stay open for dinner. You have to get there early or the line will be out the door! Harold is an excellent singer, and well-known in the African-American community, and he will often lead the lunch crowd in a hymn sing-along! I heard about this place from an Abilene police officer, and I always make it a point to stop in when I am in the area!
I'll agree with Perini Ranch. VERY good steaks!