I don’t normally write about or recommend the restaurants that Ruth and I sample during travel, but our trip to Texas was so full of good food and stories about it that I decided to make an exception. We had 9 outstanding dining experiences in 10 days.
Our first great meal was at the consistently excellent Modern Art Cafe in Fort Worth’s Cultural District’s modern art museum. We didn’t know that the nearby Will Rogers Memorial Center was sponsoring a big event that day with many carnival rides. This resulted in difficult parking, but despite no reservations, we made it inside this gourmet restaurant for a delightful meal.
In Houston we dined at the original Carrabba’s twice. We have a history here. When we lived through St Louis’ brutal winters, we often escaped to Houston on holidays and always made this now-national-chain our first stop. On Kirby, it’s still the first and best Carrabba’s. When we learned that the owners were building another restaurant on the same spot, we worried that it would not be as good. But it is!
Bistro Menil is also a great experience while in Houston. Run by Chef Greg Martin, this always great dining establishment across the street from a free and excellent museum with lots of family-collected-art is superb. I had one of its signature dishes this time–traditional, memorable crab cakes.
Caffe Capri in Bryan was an accidental discovery. In nearby College Station, we ran into Sarah at a coffee bar, and she told us about this Italian restaurant in a historic building. Her eyes glowed when she told us about Capri, so we knew to expect fine food after doing genealogical research in Bryan’s Carnegie Library. Make a reservation before going to Caffe Capri and try the spicy ravioli.
We are attempting to visit as many of the best-sandwich-in-each-state recommendations as we can, and the best in Tex is in Austin. We went to Franklin BBQ about 2 pm and were told that it was out of food for the day. We were also told that people begin lining up outside Franklin’s at 5 am to get in at 11 because it’s so good. We gave up and went to Terry Black’s BBQ for dinner. The line to get in was long but all potential customers were enthusiastic. Ruth & I both had brisket with 2 sides and were told by the many returning patrons that Texans simply have to have BBQ regularly. Meatless hamburgers will take a long time to become established fare in Texas!
The next great restaurant was not out of food but it was in an unexpected place. The best meal in Killeen where Fort Hood reigns turned out to be attached to a hotel–The Shilo Inn. The Super Bowl was on in the bar and the focus of most of the customers and staff as I devoured a scrumptious pork chop. Our waiter almost lost his cool when I ordered it. He told me that it was the best choice on the menu, and he almost shook my hand off when he learned that my last name is Harbaugh.
On our last day on the road, we breezed through Waco and recalled dining at Cafe Homestead the last time we were there. We went for lunch and it was so exceptional that the meal became both lunch and dinner. Homestead serves farm-to-table food and closes at 3 pm. It’s in Homestead Craft Village, and the folks that run this religion-based operation specialize in producing excellent cheeses. They call themselves a “craft based intentional Christian community” but do not proselytize.