Birthday Lunch with Friends
A few days ago, I spent some time with friends on the road, in Texas.
By the time lunchtime hit, we were near Centerville, a small town with few options. Since it happened to be my birthday, I figured I would be the bossy birthday girl and pick the place with the most awesome name!
I love a place with character and this place had some. There were painted saws and old wooden yokes. There was a lot of knotty pine and tables with checkered cloths. And there were local characters, too. We saw men in uniform and overalls and trucker hats and they all seemed surprised to see some non-locals step in.
Kara and Family
The owner, Kara said when they opened 5 years ago, all they served was sno-balls... shaved ice. Things caught on and they have a full menu now. But restaurants have been in her family for a while. I loved the old photo above the coffee bar. It showed Kara's grandparents and their restaurant, years ago.
Some of the Regulars!
If I didn't have such a big grin, you might think I was wearing handcuffs instead of a green bracelet. Then again the sno-cones in the photo, suggest that this encounter is a friendly one. "Big Daddy" (as he called himself) and his buddy, had just finished lunch, when we arrived. They paid at the counter and ordered son-balls to go.
I figured if anyone was going to give us advice on what to order, it would be these two! Their son-ball advice was firm. "Don't even look at the list. Strawberries & Cream is the only way to go." I asked what was best for lunch. Big Daddy said it wasn't on the menu, but I could order the plate they made special for him. I figured if the Big Daddy Feast was good enough for him, it might be good enough for the Birthday Girl.
Big Daddy's buddy (Sorry, didn't catch the name) recommended the "healthy dish" that Shari tried. The salad was healthy, but the bacon & avocado covered chicken, the beans and saltines, were probably equal in calories to Lorrie's burger and fries. My "Big Daddy" on the other hand was outrageously yummy and fattening. Chili cheese dog, loaded nachos and chili cheese fries. A bowl of homemade chili would have been enough!
I detected a chuckle behind me when I was snapping food photos. So I had to invite some new friends to come over and check out my special meal. They were clearly in awe, as you can tell by their expressions!
Our friend in the UT cap said he ate regularly at the Log Cabin and he's been ordering the burger for a year. He seemed pretty eager to try something new! I told him to stick around for a little bit because I knew I was going to be stuffed in about 3 minutes and he could have the rest.
The tangy homemade chili made the dish a hit, but by the time I begged our server to "take it away" it looked like I'd hardly started. I felt bad. I don't like to waste. I felt like a birthday brat, not finishing my treat.
I felt even more spoiled when I insisted we indulge in a strawberries & cream sno-ball, when I didn't clean my plate! Kara was all smiles as she worked that machine and handed us our treat with 3 spoons! We made sure to get the pink pig in our group photo. That pig was looking skinnier than me!
We shared our treat outside, while we admired the bluebonnets growing beside the cafe. We headed back in the car and down Highway 7.
We kept an eye out for blooming dogwoods as we drove away. That was the advice we learned from the guy in the trucker's hat who was leaving when we first arrived. No photo of him.
Thanks to all our friends at LOG CABIN CAFE AND SNO BALL BAR!
Lunch & a Little History, in the Hill Country
Po-Po's was built as a dance hall in 1929, near a town called Welfare, TX. You could get a 5-cent burger and a soda pop for the same. If you needed something more exciting than that during prohibition, the bootleggers peddled their goods just outside, for 25 cents a shot.
The neon sign shows what the place focused on when The Burgons bought the hall in 1950. Families from the Hill Country and San Antonio made a trip of it, to dine at Po-Po's!
Lots of Signs
Just inside the green doors, we found a set of sturdy wooden doors, covered with info. I kind of liked the reminder that Po-Po's is "south of the tension line", so we should expect to relax and take our time.
Greeted by Plates!
It was early for lunch on a Friday, so there were no crowds. With daytime lighting and few people to distract, the plate collection jumped out at us in a mighty festive way! The collection reflected the travels of Mr. and Mrs. Burgon over the years. Evidently they took a big trip once a year and instead of postcards, they bought plates! The walls and beams in the front room and the bar were covered with shiny china!
And the back room was even more packed. The menu says there are 2,200 of them, but they may have added more since that write-up.
Sitting on Stage!
Don and I headed towards the back of the room where booths and windows were lining the wall on a higher level. Evidently we were on stage! This is where the fiddlers and banjo players and all the other performers once performed! I was pretty delighted with the retro, cream colored booths!
Our booth had a great view of trees and grass, just beginning to green up at the end of March! I couldn't get enough of these plates. I asked Tracy, our delightful server, which was her favorite plate. She pointed to one across the room and laughed. "It's that one that's decorated by some kid's artwork!" It reminded me of a Mother's Day gift I received 20 years ago.
I hardly needed more than a sandwich, but I just had to order the daily special. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with choice of gravy and fried okra! Don was not a bit healthier with his fried shrimp, green beans and onion rings. I loved my meal of comfort food and I kind of liked it that Tracy nearly scolded us for not touching the special honey that was served with the biscuits. We did as we were told and we were glad.
We had the best time talking with Tracy, who has worked at Po-Po's off and on since she was 18. "I refuse to work on plate cleaning days!" She teased. It was funny to imagine the place closing down for days while all the plates are removed and washed! I also loved hearing that Tracy, who served our comfort food, actually lived in Comfort, TX. "We love Comfort!" I practically shouted. I told her about our stay the night before at Camp Comfort, which was an old bowling alley converted into a lovely B&B. "Oh sure, I know it." She remembered her daughter's bowling party there once.
Small world! Gotta love small town dining!
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.