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5 Best Stops on a TX/Southwest Roadtrip?

(Reposting this from the Southwest board, since I realized it doesn't include Texas. Hope that's not against Chowhound etiquette!)

In a few days, my girlfriend I will be embarking on an epic roadtrip across the southwest, South, and mid-Atlantic. Check out the attached pic for the route, or here: http://www.oldeenglish.org/adam/roadt...

For me, this is a Food Trip -- I've never been to this part of the country, and since eating unique food is one of my main motivations for travelling, I want to make sure to sample the best regional cuisine the area has to offer.

So: What are the five unmissable places to eat on this route? I don't mean a good place to get pancakes in Memphis -- I'm looking for the kind of food that makes you want to travel in the first place, the places worth driving hours out of our way for. So far, I've been recommended the pozole at Richardson's in Phoenix, Smitty's BBQ in Lockhart, and Willie Mae Scotch House in New Orleans -- what are your top five?

Thanks so much for your advice!

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  1. I mentioned this in the middle of my post on the SW board, but I should give this one proper credit on the TX board. I have heard from several sources that the H&H Car Wash in El Paso is definitely worth a stop. No, I have not lost my mind, I am sending you to a car wash for food. This is quite possibly (oh, who am I kidding, it's sure to be) the only car wash in the world to be the recipient of a James Beard Award. Everyone raves about the huevos rancheros, but the chile rellenos are great too. And of course, you can get your car washed while you eat.

    H & H Car Wash
    701 E Yandell Dr, El Paso, TX 79902

    2 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      Oh, we are DEFINITELY going to this car wash. Thank you for a tip!

      1. re: tweebiscuit

        This was by far the best stop on the trip so far. The food was wonderful, and the owner struck up a friendly conversation with us. When I ordered an extra burrito to go, he said it was on him. An utterly charming and delicious stop. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

    2. In Ft. Stockton the Bienvenidos Cafe: http://www.texasmonthly.com/food/dini...

      And when I travel that route, which I have done many times, I never miss a stop at Old Mesilla. The small old Mexican town itself is something to see. You should plan at least an hour or so to wander around. There are two terrific and famous restaurants there: Double Eagle, an "old west style" steakhouse (which you should at least go in and look at even if you don't eat there and don't worry, the staff is quite accustomed to escorting folks through just to see it), and La Posta for New Mexican-style Mexican food.

      Get the green enchiladas. As is typical in this area, they're served stacked. I don't think they're on the menu, but ask for them.


      1. Not Texas, but I'd suggest continuing east for an hour's drive past N.O. to the MS Gulf Coast in Biloxi and eat at Mary Mahoney's Old French House. (It'd be easy to get back on track for your north bound trek to Memphis)


        1. The restaurant and bar at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Tx, is very very good. The Exec Chef used to live in the Austin area and ran a little place in Buda called The Best Little Bistro in Texas (or something like that). They pulled up stakes and moved to Marathon. The Bar has about 40-50 different kinds of tequila and they serve it with freshly squeezed lime juice...- wonderful.

          1. The restaurant and bar at the Gage Hotel in Marathon. Stay at the Gage because it's old and been renovated. (ignore the main east/west Union Pacific line across the street) Drink at the White Buffalo Bar because they have 40-50 different tequilas, served with fresh lime juice and eat in the restaurant (Cafe Cenzio) because the Exec Chef (Paul Petersen) used to run a small restaurant and catering service in Buda, called The Best Little Bistro in Texas.


            1. Perfect...you have to go through Marathon on your way from Ft. Stockton down to the Big Bend National Park. Stay in Marathon. It's 500X better than anything you will find in the Park.

              1. Nice roadie. If you're going to hit Lockhart, plan on hitting Luling too. The City Market there is great, and in case one place is sold out, or on an off day…or just for comparison.
                South Texas is home to many generations of Germans and Czechs (that’s where the BBQ came from), to fill out your experience, swing through Shiner, Texas, to the Spoetzl Brewery for a tour and a cold one. Their Shiner Bock is a Texas favorite.
                On your way to Houston, a minor diversion would be to go through El Campo and stop at Prasek’s (Hwy 59 is an easy, and slightly more scenic way to get into Houston too). Prasek’s is a large smokehouse with a mind-boggling variety of excellent smoked meats and Czech-style pastries. I highly recommend the dried sausage. There are MANY different kinds and they make great road food. The pastries are good as well; I like the cream cheese or poppy seed kolaches. If you have the ability to cook once you’re in Houston, pick up some of their insane stuffed pork chops. To my knowledge this is all pretty unique to Central and South Texas.

                1. Good stuff... to expand on Lockhart... there are FOUR world class BBQ restaurants in the little old crapperino town of Lockhart. Plan on hitting at least three -- Black's, Smitty's and Kreuz. They are all different... all good. Start before noon. Think of it as wine tasting (whether you spit or just take small bites to get through all three, that's your choice). It will be worth the tummy ache. My fav of the three was Kreuz for food, Smitty's for ambiance (the building is 100+ yrs old and has several pit rooms... maybe four or five... like a rabbit den). Here's one of the pits at Smitty's where the sausages are like nuclear fuel rods in the cooling pool...

                  1. Here's more info about the Double Eagle in Old Mesilla:

                    It's really a remarkable place to see, as evidenced by its history (click on the link at their site) and, as I said above, if you don't have time to eat there, you should at least see it. The waitstaff is well versed on its history and appointments and they don't mind giving you a guided tour.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jaymes

                      I'd like to add my enthusiastic approval for the Double Eagle. A great expensive steakhouse, less than a mile from good motels at that I-10 exit in Las Cruces. Plus it's a lot more relaxing to stay there than go on into El Paso traffic and shoot-outs ;-)

                    2. You may find yourself between El Paso and Ft Stockton around lunch time. Nothing but miles and miles of miles and miles. In Van Horn, there is a mexican restaurant named Chuy's which has a claim to fame as being a favorite stop for John Madden's bus between NFL games. (Fortunately, he has announced his retirement.) John likes one of their chicken dishes which he would phone ahead for so the bus could stop, get the carryout and keep on busing. Over the years, John bestowed on Chuy's a bunch of NFL memorabilia, which gives the place some ambience. The food is nothing special, but there's not much else around...unless someone can recommend something better? Van Horn is a perfectly timed lunch stop heading east from an overnite at Las Cruces, NM and a steak at the Double Eagle. The speed limit on I-10 out there is 80.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: waistedinkerrville

                        That Chuy's is kinda fun, although, as you say, the food, while plenty good and probably the best thing on the highway through there, isn't spectacular.

                        But I do want to point out that this Chuy's isn't related in any way to the more famous Chuy's in Austin.

                        And they're kinda tired of being asked that.

                      2. Heading east on I-10 from El Paso, you may find yourself in the middle of nowhere around lunch time. That would be Van Horn. There is a mexican restaurant on the N. side of the main drag named Chuy's whose claim to fame is that John Madden discovered it on one of his bus trips between NFL games and liked a chicken dish of theirs. Since then, whenever John (who has now mercifully retired) was transiting, he would phone ahead and get the dish to go and keep on busing. Over the years, John endowed the place with lots of NFL memorabilia which gives it what little ambience it has. The food is nothing special, but if there's a better place to lunch out there I'd like to know it. BTW, the speed limit on I-10 out there is 80 so cheat a little and you'll be out of there quickly.

                        1. Thanks so much for the wonderful tips, everyone. You guys are better than any guidebook!

                          1. going through Mississippi, you'll be going through the "tamale trail"


                            Alton Brown did a piece about it on Feasting on Asphalt. I ate at one of them in Corinth. Good stuff.

                            1. Hi, Sorry to jump on this message so late. But I am a recent transplant to El Paso and just saw a commercial yesterday for the H&H Car Wash. I thought i was imagining it when I heard the announcer say they were a James Beard awardee. Now I have to go check it out!