The Pink Place
There are quite a few diners scattered in the desolate area outside Big Bend. Sadly The Pink Place wasn't an option for us. My husband and I stayed in a castia for a week, just a 5 minute walk from The Pink Place. But it was never open.
The Rio Grande for Mexican Food!
This little adobe spot was right next door, so we dined here a few times.
Cozy and Quick
There are 5 tables to chose from, all covered with sunflower decorated vinyl cloths. I was worrid to take the last table since I'd heard 1 table was always reserved for the family. But a sweet lady with a black hairnet gestured for us to take a seat. She later served me the most delicious and authentic looking chili rellenos I've ever eaten!
Every local in the area was giddy about sharing the news of India's Cafe. Being from Houston, I expected Indian cuisine, but no! India and her husband William serve down home American food from 6 am to 2, only a few days a week. Luckily we made it in time for lunch on our last day in the area.
India's is a popular little trailer cafe (when open) with more seating out than in. Maybe that's because of the mountain view across the highway!
Like Eating at Mom's
We were lucky to grab one of the 3 inside tables. It was cozy in the trailer, with the kitchen stove covered in steamy pans and a few crockpots on tables. India was a delight as she bustled around. She didn't have to go far, but there were lots of obstacles in this crowded space. The counter was covered with her homemade brownies and pies and there were plenty of shelves and tables of knick knacks to duck and weave around.
Not Healthy Dining
We had been warned that you don't go to India's if you're dieting. So I went all out and ordered Tommy's Bad Boy Chili Dog! This was a cheddar stuffed smoked sausage, wrapped in thick bacon and deep fried, then smothered with chili...which was full of grilled sweet onions, bell peppers, green chili and garlic. William worked hard on a nearby stove preparing my feast. When India eventually placed my empty plate in the sink I heard her tell William, "She did a really good job on that!"
Best People Encounter!!
I don't have a picture of Mac, but I have a photo of his coffee mug hanging on a beam. He arrived half way through our meal to pick up his carryouts. (He brought his own Tupperware) He was hard to miss as he struggled to turn sideways squeezing his large body through the screened door.
His voice was already booming greetings to India before he made it through. While he waited for India to fill his containers he supported his heavy body against a table and chatted with us. "Cold front's coming!" He announced. "I can feel it in every broken bone in my body!" He proceeded to tell us many stories about the war and his work with the sheriff that lead to his broken bones. Even if Mac had been in a crowded Wal-mart, my eyes would have been drawn to him. It wasn't just his size, but his white handle bar moustache, pin covered ball cap and faded overalls. And here he was in this tiny 3-table cafe with his storytelling voice carrying on about how he was born in Lajitas on the porch of the general store, because Mama couldn't make it to the hospital 80 miles away. Mac told a few jokes while India finished packing up his containers. Then he nodded good-bye and we watched him maneuever his way back out the screened door.
We ate in a quite a few odd places during our week in the Study Butte/Terlingua area of West Texas. All were memorable and odd. But India's takes the prize for warmest and most comfortable. My unhealthy chili dog may have been my favorite meal, as well! We will be back!
Dining Near Big Bend National Park
There's only a lodge restaurant inside Big Bend, but just outside the park there is La Kiva. It's as isolated and odd as the sign appears. The food is actually good and the people watching is even better!
Entering the Cave
We visited in January and it was still light at 5:00 when we headed towards the eerie entrance. I felt a little like Dorothy stepping down into the storm cellar. This place is odd, on the inside and out!
A Cozy Atmosphere
On Sunday, Don and I were the only non-locals. We sat at one of the 10-ton redwood tables and ordered beer and split a brisket calzone. The stone walls and log beamed ceilings made us feel like we were in a mine...or visiting the Flintstones.
Beasts at La Kiva
In La Kiva there are curious creatures on the wall and sweet beasts outside on the patio. There's a plaque on the wall reading "Penisaurus". This silly puzzle of cow bones was created by Gilbert Felts in the early 1980's when he used his sort of "man cave humor" to create this strange hangout.
The sweet dog beasts had a jolly time romping in the rustic patio area and smiling at the customers through the glass. A woman at the bar finally opened the door and let them in!
After a few days staying in the area, we were told we shouldn't miss karaoke night on Tuesday. So we returned to enjoy some of the local talent.
Probably the only one with any talent that night was Cooter, who runs the karaoke. He started the evening with some of his own country music singing and he wasn't half bad.
There were a few locals who must come regularly. I will name no names, but they would have gotten some stern scolding if they'd been auditioning on American Idol. But at least the the crowds graciously cheered along. There was a genuine sharing of fun at the karaoke gathering!
Lots of Humor
There were a few tables of hikers and river guides. Some actually had a little vocal talent, but most were just plain amusing. We called these guys the Backstreet Boys.
I had to go over and tell this table that they won the prize for most entertaining in my book. Just the way they posed for this photo shows they were pretty good humored.
They reminded me of me and my siblings hamming it up in the kitchen while doing dishes. Their sense of fun had less to do with the audience or even the drinking, than the fact they seemed to enjoy each other.
There was quite a bit of dancing going along with the singing. No one took themselves serioiusly. Even the EMS worker who was possibly on call.
Did I Sing?
If ever I was going to get up and sing or dance, this would have been the place. No judging at La Kiva! But there were actually tables full of interesting people to chat with. An 82 year old man seated nearby, shared some of his pizza and thought he might have known my dad at University of Arkansas. Two traveling couples shared a story of a fire in the ghost town where they stayed the night before. It's hard to tell what was most entertaining about the evening.
I feel a little guilty that I didn't give this La Kiva experience my all. Talent or no talent, I should have joined the performing crowd. I promise if I ever return for Karaoke Night at La Kiva, I will grab a mic and join in. (Easy promise since I'm not sure I'll ever be back!)
Dining in a Texas Ghost Town
In the 1930's this building was a movie theatre in the middle of a booming mercury mining town. Terlingua became a true ghost town after the mine closed, but the roofless building got some use in the 1960's with musical gatherings and chili cook-offs. In the 1990's the building was given a new roof and became a restaurant and music venue. In 2013, I finally got to come enjoy a little food and entertainment at this one of a kind place!
Musicians and Dogs
We arrived on a sunny January afternoon. The snow had just melted after a rare snowstorm and the big porch next to The Starlight was alive with roaming dogs and strumming guitars. We were told this was common activity. There's often more music outside on the porch, than inside on the stage.
Locals told us to come back to The Starlight on Monday night for 2 for 1 burgers. The bar area was crowded with locals, mostly. Lots of cowboy hats and friends greeting each other. More observing than mingling. The kitchen seemed a little backed up, but the burgers were delicious when they arrived.
On Friday night we returned and found a comfortable atmosphere with music by Mark and Hank. It was a slow night so we had lots of time to chat during their break. Interesting to hear Mark's story of learning to play fiddle when he was in his 40's, living in the area as a river guide. We chatted with Hank about how Woody Guthrie used his music to educate and unite people. After break, Hank and Mark went back to performing and offered a nice surprise. "This one's for Beth!" Hank announced before they started up with "This Land is Your Land." Love a little Woody Guthrie!
Besides great people watching, there was some pretty interesting decor. In the rear of the restaurant is a stage and a large cowboy mural where the movie screen once was. There's also a stuffed goat with a sign, "The Honorable Clay Henry". There's a long story about this goat (before taxidermy) and how the nearby town of Lajitas voted him in as Mayor years ago. The goat was a big fan of Lone Star Beer.
I can't believe I actually got to visit the ghost town 3 times in one week. You'd think I'd have this place figured out by now. But I only have more questions about this isolated area scattered with mining ruins and a few old trailers and buses. Where do these locals really live? What brings them here? How long do they stay? Is there anyone who was actually born here? I guess 3 times is not enough. I'll have to come back.
Blueberry Hill in St. Louis!
My family was recently in St. Louis for the first time in almost 8 years. It was good to be home. I wasn't born in St. Louis, but my husband, kids and my mom were.
We only had about 24 hours in this city, so we left the airport and headed straight towards one of our favorite places.
Blueberry Hill is on Delmar Blvd, not far from Washington University. I love this quirky area with unusual shops and the very retro Tivoli movie theatre. I even love the sort of dated Christmas decorations that hang over the street in December. But one of my favorite things to do as I stroll in the area, is to stare down at the sidewalk at the stars honoring some of the famous folks who are from St. Louis. There's Scott Joplin and John Goodman and my favorite, Tennessee Williams.
More than a Bar
When I first visited Blueberry Hill at age 18, I was too young for the bar. But the old bar with its display of mounted wildlife isn't my favorite part anyway.
The burgers are my favorite. You can pose with the menu if you like, but you hardly need to look. You just order a hamburger and that's all there is to it.
While You Wait
While you wait for your food you can play darts. They must have 15 boards. Or you can amuse yourself with the cases, filled with memorabilia.
Music is the reason a lot of people come here. If you're lucky, you might come on one of the night's Chuck Berry performs. He does a show once a month.
Or just let the cases entertain you!
I know some aren't as easily amused as I am, but I could spend days staring in these cases at the old lunch boxes and Pez candy holders. I like this case because it makes me feel young. I don't really remember Howdy Doody that well...I must be too young!
Something for Everyone
I remember bringing Heidi to Blueberry Hill when she was about 3. She was a big fan of "Pee Wee's Playhouse" on Saturday morning. I'm not sure how many years she had to wait for Pee Wee to be retro enough for the case.
The next time we come, we'll have to hit all the other favorite places! But for this trip it was Blueberry Hill.
We picked up enough nostalgia to last until we return!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.