Texas Road Food on Highway 71
Compare and Contrast
We travel Highway 71 a lot! From Houston to the Hill Country there must be 50 roadside food stops I have yet to explore. But here are 2 (with equally, somewhat boring signs) that offer totally different experiences.
Little Country Diner
I love this simple little building, perched high on a hill, not far from Spicewood. I like this wooden sign better than the new one that lights up.
The waving Texas and American flags along with the words "Home Cooking" seemed to lure us in on a Sunday morning.
The diner was serving a buffet breakfast, but we chose the omelets from the menu. Gotta love that Texas toast and the omelet packed with cheese and veggies.
There weren't too many dining when we arrived, but we managed to chat with all of them. Don shared some photos on his cell phone, after telling about the tree that had been struck by lightening and fell near our cabin the night before.
And you have to love a diner that sells books and artwork created by locals! Don was a little curious about the book titled, The Elite Control Everything of Significance. The owner gave us a little background on the curious local author.
It may be hard to see in this photo, but the window is topped with some greenery and framed on the sides by photos...donated by diner regulars, I imagine.
The very best part of our meal was chatting with the owner, Remzi. It was a surprise to learn this cozy American diner is owned by a very friendly couple, originally from Turkey. Remzi's wife was hard at work in the kitchen. We can't wait to stop again. Maybe we can request a hint of Turkish seasoning in our catfish or chicken fried steak order!
Food Stop Number 2
Cindy's Gone Hog Wild is the actual name of this place. 15 years ago when we passed it on the road, it looked pretty much like a biker bar/icehouse. Then it burned down...and was rebuilt to about 4 times the size. Every time we drive by now we see a Mecedes and wonder if it belongs to Cindy. And who is Cindy? We finally stopped.
It was lunchtime when we arrived, so not a late night biking crowd. But the place was huge and could hold quite a large number of bikers. We did see a cowboy hat or two...and some families. The garage doors were all closed since it was hot out and there were huge, odd-looking fans blowing from the ceiling. I would have taken a photo, but I really hadn't planned on writing this up.
As you can see from the first photo, the seating is strange. The old tractor seats attached to the milk cans, were curious. And then they had some picnic tables and tall tables with stools.
Don and I sat down on one of the benches of a huge cedar picnic table. I've dealt with dangling legs before, but this was the first time I'd seen Don not able to put his feet flat on the floor. I notice a guy nearby in a cowboy hat actually swinging his boots as he ate his burger...like a little tot at the dinner table. I love a whimsical table, but the bench was too far from the table so we felt oddly perched. We moved to a high top and felt much more comfortable.
Food and Service
Our server was an incredibly nice young woman. Young enough that I think she could have handled roller skates, which is what she needed to cover the territory of this big warehouse sized restaurant. She was very good natured and efficient, but she must have been exhausted. The place was big and she was the only one serving.
I think I spotted Cindy behind the bar. She looked a little more like someone who would own the Mercedes in front than someone who owned a biker bar... if that means anything at all. And just for the record, the burger was delicious. I was surprised. (This photo is from the internet. The burger was gone too fast to photograph!)
People... or Dog Encounter
This was not the kind of place you expected to chat with anyone. It was daytime and the diners were spread out. But when this guy came in with his fluffy dog, I just had to converse. The picture is so blurry, you can't see how adorable and well groomed the dog actually was. He sat very properly at the bar while his owner ordered lunch. I had to laugh at the idea of a man coming into a biker bar with a prissy little dog at his side.
I must give the man credit for that kind of confidence. The dog did get loud with barking after a while, so the man left and returned without the dog. I fretted about a dog in a hot car, but when Don and I headed to our car, we noticed the pup sitting happily on the passenger seat of a very nice car. The air conditioner was doing quite a number on his fur!
Heading home on Highway 71
The drive along Highway 71 offers you lots of time to ponder. Which is better, the Country Diner or Biker Bar? The diner wins my vote for comfort and friendliness. However, I'm pretty curious to try the biker place when it's opened up on a warm spring night, with a view of the highway and shiny lineup of motorcycles.
Maybe what I need to do is just open my own place. I found a good spot...if the buffalo will share their land!
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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.