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Righteous Indigestion Tour thru Texas

k
KAZ Jul 1, 2009 09:17 AM

I posted a similar thread in the South board and got some tremendous feedback. Now I'm here for some Texas hospitality ....

After two tours in Afghanistan, my brother is leaving the service and coming home (safely!). Its time to celebrate. He is being discharged from central California and we are driving back home to Baltimore together.

We have ~5 days to drive cross country and find the delicious. We are not looking for fine dining. Instead we plan on feasting on BBQ, Creole, Cajun, Southern food; no place that even remotely has a dress code.

We've done our preliminary research, which you can find here: http://tinyurl.com/me8w3v

Here's where you come in. Are we driving by something that we absolutely MUST stop for? Alternatively, there are some towns where there seems to be too many options for just two, albeit hungry, fellas looking for food. Can you help us determine the best of the available options in your town?

Thanks in advance. Its been a long, tough tour and I hope to welcome him back in style.

  1. j
    Jaymes Jul 1, 2009 09:29 AM

    First, thank your brother for his service. I swear if I were in Texas right now, which I am not, I'd buy him dinner and consider it an honor to do so.

    I note you're going through north Texas. The far better route, food-wise, is I-10 through Texas. However, I've driven both many, many times, and will make more suggestions when I get more time.

    However, if you take the northern route, you'll go through Amarillo where your brother definitely should attempt the Free Steak Challenge at the Big Texan (bigtexan.com). The folks that are giving it a go are up on stage (complete with webcam so the rest of your friends and relatives can watch) and everyone will make a huge fuss over your brother, the returning soldier. Whether or not he eats it, it will be a lot of fun, and just the sort of thing to take his mind off of where he's been.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jaymes
      twinwillow Jul 1, 2009 09:03 PM

      I agree with all you've said. And, God bless this soldier for his service and, getting home safely. However, they don't pay big salaries in the army. So, when our proud and worthy serviceman doesn't finish his 72 oz. steak with ALL the trimmings at The Big Texan, who's going to pay the $72.00 (has to be paid up front) tab? He's better off getting some decent BBQ.

      1. re: Jaymes
        j
        James Cristinian Jul 1, 2009 11:45 PM

        What I've read about the challenge, on Chowhound I believe, is that it's something of a freak show, with a guy with a microphone doing play by play with every bite while others gawk as if you were an animal in a zoo. Besides, if I did my math right, these guys will be doing about 700 miles a day. I don't think I'd want to drive 700 miles with all that steak, plus shrimp cocktail, salad, roll, and baked potato in my stomach. I've read mostly favorable reviews on the steak there, maybe a little moderation could be in order, or not, as you suggest, it could be a once in a lifetime treat, and give fellow Americans a chance to salute one of our finest.

        1. re: James Cristinian
          DallasDude Jul 2, 2009 01:54 AM

          I agree. Unless he wants to try for grins, I wouldnt hope he finishes. Below I offer a video and can only say that this would ruin the rest of his trip.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9pEDM...

      2. c
        CocoaNut Jul 1, 2009 10:13 AM

        Absolutely! Sincerest of thanks to your brother for his service - I know your family (and he) is most happy to have him home safely.

        Just took a peek at your route and eating points of interest. Have a couple of comments.

        Chef Pointe - I love it and the wonderfully uniqueness of some pretty fine food served up in a Conoco service station. Certainly no dress code here! However, the food is not representative of Dallas, Ft Worth or Texas, for that matter. If you'd like to eat there for the "experience", by all means, I don't think you'd be disappointed. But if you're looking for more Texas-y food overtones, I think some of your other choices would better serve you.

        On the other hand........ Fred's Texas Cafe - Good ole Ft. Worth style honky-tonk - outdoor deck, shared picnic table seating (stage at one end) surrounded by a stockade fence. Order food and beverage at the shacky little outdoor cantina. Pretty fun place indeed! Last I knew, it was cash only. The menu is primarily burgers (not really unique Texas food), but only about a mile away is Angelo's BBQ - but not for the sausage. http://www.angelosbbq.com/

        Not culinary, but if you have never been through Ft. Worth and plan to be there anyway, take the time to drive/walk (depending on time constraints) through the stockyyards at the north end of town. And there is always Billy Bobs Texas in the same area. http://www.billybobstexas.com/index.htm

        One thing I don't see on your list is any Tex-Mex. Going thru any part of TX, that is a must! Because I just mentioned it on another post - I'd say Mercado Jaurez as a decent, standard take on Tex-Mex. http://www.mercadojuarez.com/ There are more authentic Tex-Mex's scattered all over the DFW area - I'm sure there are a few here who will give you a good list on those.

        Looks like a great time with some good eating adventures ahead of you. Have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: CocoaNut
          air Jul 1, 2009 10:55 AM

          Thanks to your brother are definitely in order.

          Mercado Juarez isn't bad but when you compare them to the entireity of DFW, I think one of the many Mexican restaurants on Jefferson (Lito's, Gonzales, El Rincon De La Zapata, etc) as well as spots on Oak Lawn (Avila's or Escondido's) would be a better choice.

          Also look through the Mexican on Jefferson articles for more details...
          http://www.dallasfood.org/modules.php...

        2. j
          joanna.mcmaster Jul 1, 2009 10:33 AM

          Yes, thanks to your brother for his service.

          i don't know if this is out of your way, but The Ponder Steak house is one of the best meals I can remember having in quite sometime.
          www.ranchman.com

          2 Replies
          1. re: joanna.mcmaster
            c
            CocoaNut Jul 1, 2009 11:40 AM

            JM, Curious what your meal was at Ponder. I've been a couple of times for the chicken fried steak and have been disappointed (most recently only a couple of months ago), particularly since they supposedly butcher their own meats. As I remember, I found the CFS tough and the gravy pretty tasteless. That said, I've never ordered one of their steaks with all the trimmings.

            KAZ, don't remember your exact route, but if you're travelling I20 between Lubbock and Ft Worth, Mary's Cafe in Strawn, TX is worth a 5 mile detour for a superb tasting pan fried (as opposed to deep fried) CFS with homemade pan gravy. The one time I was there, I thought it could be more tender, but from what others have written, we must've just had an off-cut. Definitely a find in Small Town, USA.

            1. re: CocoaNut
              j
              joanna.mcmaster Jul 1, 2009 12:13 PM

              never had the chicken fried steak, I have had the steak sandwich (to die for), you can't go wrong with any of their steaks. Give it another go, I don't think you'll be disappointed

          2. DallasDude Jul 1, 2009 11:36 AM

            Congratulations and I resound the sentiments of my fellow hounders in welcoming him back safely and for his good service to our nation.

            Allow me to do an initial jump in with the North Texas route. We obviously have many threads here that can safely direct you to the best and brightest our area has to offer. I can detect a little Food Network in the path, and I hope you might reconsider a few of the choices. Cocoanuts and the lovely Joanna make some really fine recs. I love Angelo's and Ponders respectively.

            I have extolled the miscarriage of justice behind the new found celebrity of Louie's, and Louie and I both could probably say without fault that it is best to stay clear of that trap. The beer is cold but a *can* is more than a price of a six pack in this dive. The pizza is warm, sometimes, but you best have your dental plan in order as the crust is a near inedible hard tack that has probably seen better days. The only thing worse than these small details is the service. What once was a quaint bar servicing our media mid-day imbibers (and who can blame them - think of Ron Jeremy singing the virtues of scotch) the wait staff wants nothing better than the Food Network mom's crowding the place to consider a Pizza Hut meat lover's and go. Their rudeness could be consider cute if they weren't venomous.

            With that tirade behind me, consider some nice offerings that are not going to break the cross country budget, but plump up the heart (and waistline) of your intrepid brother. A few offerings:

            Babes Chicken: We have never seen a bad review of this served family style chicken mecca. Homespun goodness with multiple locations across Dallas and Fort Worth. Sit down and request plenty of napkins! www.babeschicken.com

            La Calle Doce: Not spoken about a lot, but a favorite of a few including mine. Think Paella, or crab stuffed shrimp, and many Tex Mex seafood favorites. Great ceviche. www.lacalledoce-dallas.com

            Mia's: Decent Tex Mex, but the favorite around here is her brisket tacos. I do not speak about it typically because I know the owner. However, well worth it and a must. www.miastexmex.com/

            Zanders House: Not sure if you are into the ethnic much, or even Vietnamese. But, this is one that has had zero bad reviews from hounders, and I enjoy on occasion. The sea bass is heavenly. zandershouse.com

            Hole in the Wall: From your list we can probably surmise you reviewed a few dozen episodes of Drive-Ins and Dives. Never send a buzzy headed new Yorker to do a man's job. This is a dive. At night it hosts cool blues music from the best around. During the day it is slow, lazy and smelling of crispy onions grilling on the fire. Fat burgers loaded with your choices, plus they make their fries the old fashioned way. With a raw potato. www.dfwexposed.com/HoleintheWall.htm

            If you are wanting more of a drive-in affect, look no further than a few miles down the same road as HITW to Kellers Drive In. Old fashioned meet hog. Great burgers and a large display of bikes. yelp.com/biz/kellers-drive-in-dallas

            There are many more I am sure. I will cut my rant off at the knees and head to lunch. Stay tuned, the North Texas crowd isn't bashful.

            3 Replies
            1. re: DallasDude
              k
              KAZ Jul 1, 2009 12:42 PM

              A+ DallasDude. I added some of your recs and removed Louies.

              I used Diners Drive In and Dives, and other assorted internet sources, as a jumping off point. But I come to chowhound for the real scoop.

              I can already tell that the greater Dallas area will have more recommendations than we can possibly try. For now I'll leave them all on as possibilities (unless an over riding AVOID is apparent) and make the call trip time.

              Thanks to all the Texas 'hounds so far. Your well wishes are appreciated. Now keep the good chow coming.

              1. re: KAZ
                twinwillow Jul 1, 2009 09:04 PM

                DD&D is a good start.

              2. re: DallasDude
                twinwillow Jul 1, 2009 09:08 PM

                Dude: Right on about Louie's! I don't get it. It's a real, pit!

              3. j
                James Cristinian Jul 1, 2009 10:23 PM

                I noticed you mentioned BBQ first, and if you really want good Texas BBQ, I-10 is the way to go. All Texas BBQ is not created equal, and I think the vast majority of folks would agree the best BBQ is in central Texas. In Llano, Coopers, City Market in Luling, a short detour to Lockhart north of Luling with the big three, plus San Antonio for Tex-Mex. It also looks like it could be a shorter route. Just a thought.

                1. t
                  Tlc99 Jul 2, 2009 07:25 AM

                  Another option is to take 287 from Amarillo down through Wichita Falls to DFW area. Sevi's Burritos in WF are without peer. My son drives up from Austin periodically just to get a Sevi's fix!

                  1. k
                    KAZ Sep 3, 2009 08:04 AM

                    Trip report:

                    A big thank you to all the Texans who helped us plan the trip. I don't think it could have gone much better. Given a limited size stomach and a goal of actually making it across the country in a week, I defy anyone to find more delicious. I updated the goggle map with our destinations if you are interested: http://tinyurl.com/me8w3v

                    We spent a day in Texas and made the tough choice of not stopping in the Dallas area so as to make decent time. We pulled in to Amarillo late in the evening and ate at Dyer's BBQ. Here we learned that "beef" does not equate to "brisket". We were both under the misconception that they were the same.

                    After sleeping in Amarillo, we awoke in enough time to be in Lubbock by 11 where we double dipped at Tom & Bingo's and J&M's. It was here we were introduced to the pickle slices as a delicious addition to a bbq sandwich. We both loved the sauce at Tom & Bingo's but preferred the beef at J&M's. We also tried the chopped beef at J&M's (I think our dash is still stained with the grease).

                    Back on the road, we hit Big Boys in Sweatwater. That is some darn good bread for a sandwich.

                    Next up was Harold's BBQ in Abilene. Harold was there as was what appeared to be a smattering of the coaching staff (just fans maybe?) of the Abilene High football team. Apparently they had an easy win the night before. We knew we were in Texas when we overheard some one say "Johnny? He hasn't showed much since junior high. I can't believe he's their safety."

                    The icing on the cake was a stop at Mary's Cafe in Strawn for the chicken fried steak. Simply, the best chicken fried steak ever to pass these lips. Period.

                    After that, it was time to log the miles, and completely full, we barreled to Shreveport. Thanks to everyone for their recommendations.

                    1. e
                      EdLagniappe Sep 15, 2009 03:08 PM

                      Thanks for your service ... you are getting a better homecoming than Nam vets got! :-) Congrats on getting back w/ all pieces intact.

                      Ok ... looks like everyone else has Tx covered ... esp N Tx ... but I notice you are stopping in Shreveport for a night.
                      2 places to recommend ... if you find yourself highballing through Shreveport instead (itineraries get screwed up) ... I'd recommend grabbing a shrimp-oyster poboy at Herbie-K's 318-424-2724 http://herbyks.net/Herby_Ks_Home.html
                      1833 Pierre Av, Shreveport, La ... PRINT A MAP ... or use a GPS ... otherwise screwy to find from I-20, HRS: M-Th 11-21 / F-Sa 11-22 / Su closed
                      if you find a better shrimp/oyster poboy, I wanna know where. It's a bit awkward to eat in a moving vehicle ... but you can hammer it down in 30 min ... a nice short stop. ~$15 but worth it to me. Other great stuff on the menu ... but that's my go-to combo.

                      Gerald Savoie's for a sit-down dinner ... Gerald Savoie's The Cajun Restaurant 318.795.9700 www.geraldsavoie.com
                      2441 E 70th St (from I-20, take Hwy 49 S & go 2-5 mi?, exit E on Cedar Grove (state 511?) & follow that till it T's into Dixie Gardens Rd) ... the restaurant should be near) ... also easier w/ a GPS or pre-printed map. Take a look at the sign on the website ... the mudbug wearing the chef's hat is obvious once you know what to look for.
                      All great food ... it'll hold you over till you hit New Orleans

                      If you decide on Savoie's ... for dessert ... get a poboy for the road at Herby-K's :-) It's a long drive to New Orleans

                      I'd suggest places in New Orleans but haven't been there since the water went down. Am sure lots of natives can give you current info.

                      Have a safe drive.

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