Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Texas >
May 19, 2010 06:19 PM

Decent restaurant on I 45 between Houston and Dallas

Hi. i am from Toronto and am taking a summer trip to Texas and will be driving the I 45 between Dallas and Houston. WE figure it is between 4 and 5 hours (is this accurate?). Anyways, I was wondering if there were any decent restaurants where we could grab lunch ? BBQ or any other type? We don't want to veer too far from the Interstate. I have heard of Texas Burger in Madisonville, but if anyone knows of some place else, especially right along the interstate, would be appreciated. thanks, and I look forward to the trip.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Near the top of this page, search this board for Zion. I have not been but have been reading about it for years. It's a BBQ joint in Huntsville, Texas and is a good resting point between Houston and Dallas.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Rene

      It is less than 4 hours unless you come through Dallas or Houston during rush hour.

      Do not waste your time at New Zion bbq. It was pretty gross except for the potato salad which was very good. The meat was smothered in bbq sauce and it still didn't cover up the poor quality of the meat. I ate there about 3 weeks ago for the first (and last) time.

      I ate at Tx Burger a few months ago on the way home from Dallas. I had a patty melt that looked very sloppy but was actually not bad and very cheap. It's a chain so don't expect too much.

      There is a place in Corsicana called The Cotton Patch. Myself and 15 other women make a yearly trek to Canton Trade Days in March and stop here to eat on our way up. They have really good vegetables, I've never tried their meat because the veggies are always so good and there are so many choices. I wouldn't hesitate to eat there again. It's a little off the highway, about 5 minutes maybe.

      There is also Collin Street Bakery right on the freeway at Corsicana. They serve sandwiches. I haven't had them before but we usually stop for a pastry. The cherry cheese danish there is sinful.

      Welcome to Texas! I hope you have a great trip. I apologize for there being so few great places to eat at on the trip from Dallas to Houston. It's always puzzled me.

      1. re: texasredtop

        I have no doubt you had a bad experience at New Zion, texasredtop. However, my advice to anyone interested in good barbecue is never to judge the quality of the 'cue at any single location after just one visit. You're dealing with an organic product - meat - and an inexact science - smoking - and it can vary not only from day to day as weather conditions change, but from animal to animal, and even from cut to cut, as anybody that's ever gotten the one tough steak at the outdoor cookout can tell you. Some things are beyond the control of the pitmaster on any given day.

        New Zion has been satisfying a very large number of customers for a very long time. I think it's foolhardy to dismiss them completely after just one bad experience. I'd never do that anywhere if we're talking about smoked meats.

        As for my personal New Zion experience, I've stopped there many, many times. Although there has been a miss or two, on average I've found the meats to be terrific and New Zion is solidly in my "second tier" on my Texas barbecue list. In addition, the atmosphere is funkily perfect, the sides excellent, and those church ladies sure can bake up some ambrosial pies. I'd have no hesitation in recommending it, especially to some folks from Canada looking to experience a typical Texas barbecue joint.

        And, BTW, you are aware that you can ask for the sauce "on the side," aren't you?

        I will add that your advice to stop at Collin Street Bakery is spot on. Those little red tins of fruitcake are a much beloved Texas Christmas tradition and the cafe/bakery is a fine stop for anyone wanting to know more about our great state.

        1. re: Jaymes

          I had the sliced brisket, the ribs and the chicken. The chicken was the only thing I ate after the first bite. It was okay, not more than just okay. The rest was not okay. I tasted the sausage from hubby's plate and it wasn't good either. I asked for sauce on the side, I guess they slipped up. I wasn't going to make a fuss about it. If I were drug back in there against my will, I'd get chicken and potato salad only.

          I will dismiss them Jaymes because it was that pathetic. I really didn't want it to be, I was looking forward to my first visit there. Many thousands of bbq restaurants manage to consistently serve the same products every day. I don't think that was the case here. I think like many other restaurants, they got popular and cut their quality way back to make the buck and continue on based on what once was. I've also heard less than good reviews about them lately. I just wanted to try for myself. When it comes to a bad meal on the first try, that's usually it for me.

          People rant and rave about Taste of Texas and my first meal there many years ago was so awful that I have not been back. I ordered their "signature" steak too. I would return if one thing was not good but when there's only one thing that is decent, out of several, I'm done. At my age, I'm not wasting time on things I don't like :-)

            1. re: pinotho

              I have to disagree. Even the temples of Texas bbq, Smitty's, City Market in Luling, Kreuz, and others have been well documented in these threads. All have their off days. None of them "consistently serve the same products every day." I"ll argue that some that are consistent, are consistently mediocore, such as Goode Co. Their bbq always tastes the same, and it is always terrible. I've given up on them, even though I am five minutes from their I-10 location. I agree with Jaymes.

              1. re: James Cristinian

                Have you been to New Zion lately James? I was wondering about other people's recent experience, say the last 3-4 months. The places I normally get bbq, are the same every time. I don't get it that often, maybe less than once a month. There was a good place in DP that had the best chopped beef sandwich but they are gone now. I think it was RJ's or something like that. I never got anything else and I ate bbq more than once a month when they were open. They reminded me of the chopped beef sandwiches we got in Louisiana when I was a kid. Cattle Drive in DP has consistently good chicken, I've had it about a dozen times. I initially tried other things there but the chicken was the only thing I really liked. I agree about Goode Co. A long time ago it was good but now it's just yuck.

                1. re: texasredtop

                  I've never been to New Zion, although my father's family is from New Waverly, the next big "metrpopolis" south of Huntsville. Alas he, and all his siblings have passed. I just don't see myself heading that way anytime soon. My destinations are south and west. I ate at Goode Co. back in the day, circa 1980, and I thought it was wonderful. It's not the same now. For bbq, I'll go to Pierson's, a twenty plus minute drive, or blow by Goode Co. for the forty minute drive to Galvan's in Richmond. By the way, what is DP? I was just stalking you, I mean looking at your profile, and I noticed your favorite cookbook was Pirate's Pantry. I have that on my list as well, although mine is in a zillion pieces. You also list fried shrimp, my best dish is fried fish, speckled trout I catch myself, although I do a more than decent fried shrimp. If only I could perfect the fried oyster, I stick to Mardi Gras Grill on Durham, the best I've found. Any home fried oyster tips you can share.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    I know about NW, my husband's family lives in Oakhurst :-) - after we ate at New Zion, we went to the graveyard to "visit".

                    DP - Deer Park

                    My Pirate's Panty was bound like a catalog and was also falling apart. I received it as a wedding gift in 1978. (I'm from Lake Charles) Several years back I ordered new ones and gave some as gifts. They are now hard bound and have a few new recipes in them. I rarely open it anymore, know most of it by heart. :-) I loved Mardi Gras Grill and went for the first time after your recommendation, I think it was you anyway. I will have the fried oysters next visit. I had the soft shell crab po-boy.

                    When I fry them at home, I use cornmeal only, fry them hot and fast, salt lightly after removing from the deep fryer. I would like to try them fried in corn flour instead of corn meal next time.

                    I make a seafood sauce to die for. I can't tell you exact amounts because I don't measure, just made it up about 20 years ago or more. It's maybe 3 cups ketchup, 1/3 or 1/2 cup yellow mustard, 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 3 TBS of Lawry's lemon pepper and Tabasco sauce to your taste, maybe 2 TSP. I make it , taste it and add more of what I feel it needs. It's awesome with fried fish, shrimp, oysters, french fries and onion rings. I've never had anything like it anywhere I've eaten before.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      I even gave Goode Co a second try, although, admittedly, not willingly. A visitor from New York absolutely insisted we go there because he had heard so much about it.

                      So off I went, with a determinedly open mind. Still just awful. I may have to go again in my lifetime, but if so, will only order sides.

                      The last time I was at New Zion was about five months ago along with a big crowd of prison guards right at lunchtime. They all looked extremely happy and well-fed.

                      I don't know what to tell you. I had a mixed-meat platter and it was very, very good. You comment that the chopped beef sandwich was consistent at one of your favorite places. It's MUCH easier to have the chopped beef be consistent. That's nothing but chopped up fat and scraps and sauce. Such things as quality of the meat, tenderness, etc., don't really matter that much. Pretty hard to mess that up. Sausage, too, is easy to keep constant. I don't think they should be considered in the same league as ribs and (especially) brisket.

                      And as a side note - Pirate's Pantry has been on my cookbook shelf for many years. Right alongside River Road Recipes and Talk About Good.

                      1. re: Jaymes

                        Just to add...

                        I'm headed back north on a road trip from Houston up to Missouri, leaving next Friday. I'll have to time my departure for lunch at New Zion. Kinda curious now. I'll report back.

                        Also, for our Canadian visitors, a stop in Centerville at Woody's Smokehouse should be a lot of fun. There is one on each side of the interstate. The one on the east side is larger and more interesting. I load up on the jarred preserves, pickles, etc., and the beef jerky. I skip the barbecue, though.


                        Woody's Smokehouse
                        1021 W St Marys Street, Centerville, TX

                        1. re: Jaymes

                          It could also be just the difference in our preferences.

                          Pirate's Pantry is comprised of recipes from many people I knew, friends and mothers of friends that I grew up with or went to school or church with. The section headings are wonderful history lessons about where I grew up. I danced in recitals at the Arcade Theater, I went to lunch after church with my Nanny to the Majestic Hotel. The cookbook means a lot more to me than just recipes. I've been in Houston 40 years now but my childhood in Louisiana was wonderful and this cookbook brings those memories back to me.

                          There are many other similar cookbooks for other areas in Southern Louisiana but I never purchased them. My sister has one for the Lafayette area and my cousin has one for the St. Francisville area.

                          Do you Jaymes and you James have any favorite recipes from Pirate's Pantry? (I keep typing Pirate's Panty - lol)

                          1. re: texasredtop

                            Just butting in here to say I'm a big Pirate's Pantry fan too (Chicken in the Limelight, Mustard Chicken), and of course Talk About Good! and the River Road Recipe books too! One of my uncles was a fiercely devoted LSU alum (not that there's any other kind) and whenever he and my aunt went to Baton Rouge for a game, she brought back another cookbook. I was blessed to inherit her collection.

        2. Bubba's BBQ @ 210 S. IH 45, Enis, TX. 972 - 875 - 0036.

          Don't miss this one. It's historical.

          New Zion Missionary Baptist Church BBQ @ 2601 Montgomery Rd., Huntsville, TX. 936 - 295 - 2349.

          1. Hey .. enjoy your trip .. and I have a couple of recommendations .. Woody's Smokehouse .. in Centerville, TX and I happen to like New Zion bbq .. the locals call it Church of the Holy BBQ .. it's only open Friday and Saturday tho .. and I think it's after 5pm. Woody's is easy to find, always open and consistently good. Take the Highway 7 exit, go under I-45 (left, or east) and it's just down the road a tiny ways. The Cotton Patch is also good but if it's bbq you want, I'd stop at Woody's.

            Woody's Smokehouse
            1021 W St Marys Street, Centerville, TX

            1. by the way .. if you're searching for New Zion, take 1374 exit from I-45 .. hang a left and it's almost to Hwy 75 on the right .. you can usually see smoke coming from the smoker outside (one way to know that it's open) !! If you get to Hwy 75, you've just passed it so turn around in A! Liquor's parking lot and come back !!

              1 Reply
              1. re: RockyCreekFarmCo

                Actually, the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Barbecue is open Thursday-Saturday from 11am until 6pm.

                "Sunday," they say, "is for saving souls."

                And the "hang a left" advice for finding it only works if you're coming from the north on I-45. Might be better to tell you to turn east off of 45 onto Montgomery, and New Zion is about 3/4's mile in, on the south side of the street.

              2. Sam's at I-45 @ U.S. 84 in Fairfield has a huge buffet of salads, vegetables and meats, all well-prepared.

                Sam's Restaurant
                390 Interstate 45 E, Fairfield, TX 75840