A plot of land 15 feet from an active stretch of railroad tracks is not generally considered a prime location upon which to open a fledgling restaurant. And in fact, when Don and Lynn Forres launched the Huisache Grill in New Braunfels in 1994, few had confidence that they would succeed.
Fnding good food on the road is always a gamble. Long stretches of Texas blacktop can be a blur of fast-food joints. And there inevitably comes a time when every weary traveler begins fantasizing about a real, home-cooked meal.
It all started with a trip gone awry. My mom scheduled a much-anticipated French getaway to Paris with an old friend, and then, late in the game, her friend pulled out. But the romantic, Kir Royale and back-alley bistro dreams had already taken hold—staying home in suburbia was not an acceptable alternative. She needed a plan B fast, and luckily, I knew just what to do.
In the heart of Amarillo’s downtown, you might expect to find Tex-Mex and barbecue—but not Continental fare like English trifle, shepherd’s pie, and standing rib roast. But this Texas café has a decidedly European twist. The original owner, Jonathan Early, named the café On Her Majesty’s Service to honor his English roots. Three years later in 1992, restaurateur Mary Fuller bought the eatery, and now folks just call it OHMS Café.
In our September 2013 issue, Amarillo writer Beth Duke explores the story behind the city’s popular downtown restaurant OHMS, which offers a menu rich with dishes from France, England, Italy, and beyond. Though lots of people associate Amarillo with big steaks and Tex-Mex (and restaurants that specialize in those genres are abundant and excellent here), we’ve found a few places we’re eager to try next time we’re on a Panhandle adventure.
Norah Jones croons from hidden speakers as a couple sinks into the soft, red sofa sitting perpendicular to an unlit fireplace. The straw-yellow walls are lined with broad-stroke oil paintings of farm animals, and a dozen or so tables take up the modest space in front of a long bar. It is Sunday evening at the Plaid Goat in Comfort, and the vibe is that of a casual, jazzy cocktail party. Out front, luxury cars sit alongside old work trucks; inside, their owners also share space. This is the kind of spot where it is common to strike up a conversation with a stranger—or a whole table of strangers. Without looking at a menu, the two deliver their order: Havarti nachos for him; and for her, a rustic flatbread with crispy prosciutto and pecorino cheese.
When I’m traveling I seek out what the locals are feeding the locals, says Jon Bonnell, executive chef and owner of two of Fort Worth’s hottest restaurants, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine and the new Waters: Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine. He and Dena Peterson, executive chef of Fort Worth’s Café Modern, the light-infused restaurant at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, have just served up a special seven-course dinner designed to showcase the Fort Worth culinary scene to a group from all over the United States, including me, from New York City. It has been an evening full of appetizing surprises.
In the August 2013 issue of Texas Highways, writer Margaret Shakespeare explores Fort Worth’s culinary scene, which as evolved in recent years—like the dining scene in other major cities—to focus more on locally sourced ingredients and global influences. Fort Worth, once (and still!) a great place to find high-quality steaks—now offers diners a range of dining options.
The owners of Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen recently announced that they are taking their “chef-driven Mexican-inspired cuisine” to the Washington, D.C., area. The original Cyclone Anaya’s was a rough-and-tumble chili joint in Houston owned by a former professional wrestler. Today, the signature dish at the second generation of the Cyclone Anaya’s chain is a plate of lobster enchiladas. Shrimp enchiladas, spinach enchiladas, and crawfish enchiladas are also easy to find these days. But they all leave me dreaming about the enchiladas of the good old days.
My first visit to Del Norte Tacos in the railroad town of Godley, southwest of Fort Worth, came about as I joined a volunteer group from Granbury in their celebration of a successful early summer event. The directions were given with almost-apologetic nuance: “It’s not a big place. Parking is better around back. It sits close to the highway.”
In the past few months, I've had the good fortune to dine at a handful of French-inspired brasseries and bistros in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. And I just got wind of a new spotâ€”LÃ¼ke, the first Texas restaurant by New Orleans chef John Beshâ€”that is winning raves in San Antonio for such French favorites as mussels and seafood meuniÃ¨re, all rendered with a Louisiana twist. Then, as I wondered whether this new infusion of French cuisine is a trend or simply a coincidence, I learned of a new spot in Austin that focuses on French pastries and those jewel-like cookies known as macarons, which are giving cupcakes a run for their money nationwide as 2011's hottest dessert treat.
At first glance, Youngblood’s Stockyard Café in Amarillo appears to be your everyday rural coffee shop. If you spend a little time here, however, you realize that the unassuming café is the heart and soul of Amarillo’s legendary stockyards, where more than 300,000 head of livestock are bought and sold each year. And the food here is a cut above what you’d expect to find at a restaurant attached to an auction barn.