Neyland Building from 1903
The town of about 1,000 is not really known for the deadly tornado of 1902. It's better known for the Goliad Massacre, which occurred in 1836, less than a mile from the Courthouse Square.
When Don and I stopped for lunch, we had just come from an overnight stay at nearby, Presidio La Bahia. The fort and chapel are part of a State Park, now. They have one guest room available, to those who aren't creeped out by the knowledge of the gruesome history. More than twice the number were killed in Goliad, than at the more famous battle of the Alamo.
An Appetite for History
It was hard to compete with the amazing fort experience, but the old Neyland building looked like a perfect place to chow down on lunch and more history. The long and narrow building had initially been a hardware store.
The tan colored brick had been made, just a few blocks away near the San Antonio River. We should have gone on a hunt after lunch. Evidently, remains of the old kilns still exist.
Don and I took one peek inside and felt right at home. On the rear wall, past the bar, was the same eerie flag we'd slept near the night before. The Goliad flag, with it's severed arm had flown above the fort during the Texas Revolution. It's creepy, but you do get used to it.
High Ceilings and Cozy Tables
The high, tin ceilings, checkered cloths and enlarged historic photos made the restaurant very cozy.
After we ordered I took a peek at the walls, where no one was seated. I loved getting to see the old photos of the building when it first opened. For the past 30+ years, the building has served as home to Empresario Restaurant.
John and Joy Kolb bought the business in 2013. It's a good sign when a restaurant doesn't need to change its name. It's also a good sign when owners confidently welcome you, with a photo and plaque.
It's even more welcoming, when you meet the owner himself. Mr. Kolb was eating lunch in the lounge area towards the back. When I wandered back that way, he introduced himself and wanted to know where we were from.
Mr. Kolb was so friendly, I had to introduce him to Don. Poor guy hardly had time to eat, with all our gabbing. But he was a good sport and even put on his nifty hat for the photo.
Our server Sherry Lynn, was cheery and a little nervous. It was her first day, but she did a great job. Don's meatloaf and glazed carrots were very yummy! My Corn chowder and garden salad was also good, but we didn't bother with a photo... since I didn't match the decor as well as Don!
Revisit in 2018
This past December, Don and I were back in Goliad. There were no cars parked in front, so I got a wonderful photo of Empresario and its neighbor. Both buildings were designed by Danish architect, Jules Leffland. I read that it had been a general store, but I see the words coffins and caskets... I guess the local store needed to be prepared, for another Goliad tragedy.
A Few Changes
I noticed a few changes since our visit nearly 2 years before. There were Christmas lights and the tables no longer had the checkered cloths.
The food was even better than I remembered. Don's massive burger and fries were delish...
But, Don's burger was nothing compared to my chicken fried steak, mashed taters and green beans! Was my gravy poured into the shape of Texas? The knife was big enough to sever my arm, if I wanted to match the flag!
Mission Espiritu Santo
Our second dining visit with Empresario was also connected to a Goliad State Park adventure. This time, we finished our yummy meal and headed a half mile to the park, but we didn't stay at the fort. This time we camped near another mission and heard the bells ring in the evening. After dark, we walked up to see the church, illuminated with Christmas lights. Beautiful!
Two Meal + Overnight Adventures, Goliad!
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.