Restaurants Research Texas Style
Our ‘Restaurant Research’ started Spring, 2018 when Rick and I came down to explore Central Texas and determine if our hearts wanted this region to be our new home. We spent hours driving around and falling in love with the scenery, lakes and rivers, cute towns, and colleges. Along the way, we ate at restaurants that ‘looked good’ for a variety of reasons. After we landed in the Temple/Belton area, we continued our restaurant research. Here are five of our favorites that made the initial cut.
#1: Chuy’s in Waco
Chuy’s jumped out at us as one of the Texas restaurants we needed to try while scouting out the area. We’ve learned that the first Chuy’s started in Austin in 1982 with indoor plumbing for the ladies and outside facilities for the men! This funky Tex-Mex chain has grown to 102 locations around the south and eastern part of the country. The decor at the Waco Chuy’s was colorful, bright, and inviting. The service was attentive and timely. And that menu was our favorite part! First, we went on the ‘Sauce Tour’ and stopped in the mild section with the Ranchero and the Tomatillo. Yum. (We might mature into the Medium in a few months; we’ll see!) The Chicken Flautas and Fish Tacos were delicious. We’ve been back to Chuy’s twice since we moved to CenTex. Checking out the one in Austin is next on my list.
After we arrived in Temple and were living in the apartment, we had our first experience with Cracker Barrel Restaurant. It happened to be right around the corner from our little temporary home. In many ways C.B. is similar to other family style restaurants (Denny’s, IHoP), but the atmosphere and country decor caught our eye.
The Cracker Barrel Country Store cranks it up to an even higher level. From clothing to books, to toys, to decor, to music, to jewelry. The store could stand alone, but knowing you’ll be eating well before shopping makes the wait and the trip worth it! We’ve tried the meatloaf, the fried chicken, the burgers and a wide variety of breakfasts. It’s all wonderful, tasty, comfort food. We’ve become Cracker Barrel regulars. Of course, we went there to celebrate Rick’s new Texas Truck!
#3: Oscar Store
We found Oscar Store after a beautiful drive in the countryside a little east of Temple. It’s a rustic spot serving up mouthwatering Texas food. Oscar Store was originally built in 1934. It was struck by lightning in 2005 and burned to the ground. It was rebuilt and opened in 2009. One of the original owners still lives on the property and comes over daily for a meal and her two beers. 🙂
As always in a new-to-me restaurant, it’s hard to decide what to try from the menu. Local friends had recommended the burgers, however, both Rick and I chose the Chicken Fried Steak. Being a CFS virgin myself, I was excited to sink my teeth into that tasty plateful…I was not disappointed!
Nolan Creek is a lovely part of the historic city of Belton, Texas. Today it winds through town, surrounded by walking trails and tree-filled parks. In the past, the Creek was a factor in the town’s growth, along with the stagecoach stop in town and the many cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail. Belton became the Bell County seat in 1852 and businesses in town supported the main crop in the area; cotton.
In the late 1920’s The Farmers’ Co-op Gin was built and was housed in the building that today’s restaurant now occupies. Walking through this memorable building, you can see where the different parts of the ginning operation were located.
We ordered our first meal in the main dining room which previously was the Machinery Area for the large cotton processing machines. The original red-bricked room is classy and quaint and rustic. We’ve enjoyed the Gin Burger, Mahi-Mahi Crispy Tacos, and of course the Cotton Balls (bites of chicken wrapped in bacon and with a spicy cheese center -yum!) I also love sitting on the deck overlooking Nolan Creek on a warm, sunny day.
Another fun, rustic, down to earth, county style restaurant in our county is the Backyard Barbecue. This restaurant is only five minutes from our home in the small town of Morgan’s Point Resort near Lake Belton. It serves some of the best-barbecued meat around. Kyle and Shanna Grote have owned and operated Backyard BBQ since 2006. They and their family should be proud!
The first time we went to Backyard was to celebrate my birthday. On that night, our sweet waitress (who was celebrating hers as well) treated me to the most delicious piece of chocolate cake. For dinner, Rick and I have shared the very generous Barbecue Plate between us with the brisket, the pulled pork and the killer Bubba Fries. We brought Jeremiah (who’s a bbq expert himself) with us recently and talked him into the Famous Bubba Tater! We watched him down this beast stuffed with brisket, topped with BBQ sauce, butter, cheese, chives, minced garlic, and sour cream.
Doing ‘Restaurant Research’ has been a delicious project. And, there’s no end in sight because of all the restaurants out there we don’t even know about yet! A side benefit has been learning more about the history of our new home state, which is also encouraging our roots to grow deeper in the Texas soil. That process takes time, but if finding new favorite restaurants helps: we’re all for it!
Your spiritual roots go deeply into his life as you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched by your devotion to him! Colossians 2:7 TPT
Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.