Last Thanksgiving, S and I went to visit my family in Texas. November in Dallas-Fort Worth is always an interesting time to visit, because the weather changes on you in the blink of an eye. We arrived on a nice 80 degree day, then suddenly it dropped to a high of 30 the next day, with constant rain for the rest of the trip. But of course, that did not deter us from getting good food! We had several wonderful home-cooked meals, which I did not document… in fact, I kind of gave myself a mini-break in terms of taking pictures of everything while we were in Texas, but there were still a few meals that I couldn’t help but document.
Yes, Waffle House, the best greasy American diner out there. They are primarily a Southern chain, and is apparently considered a “regional culture icon” according to Wikipedia. S and I have really fond memories of late night dinners here during our college years (I think it was open 24 hours? Or maybe until 4am), and so when we get a chance to go back to the South, we eat at Waffle House.
Behold, the All-Star Special Breakfast, where you get a waffle or pancakes, two eggs any style, toast, choice of sausage or bacon or ham, and hash browns or grits, all for under $7. S and I used to order one of these each… alas, those college days of eating-whatever-we-wanted are over, haha. One of my favorite parts is the sausage patties, which are flavorful and juicy. (It’s so hard to find good sausage patties in San Diego!) I like to put a little bit of maple syrup on sausage patties, but S thinks it’s weird… Does anyone else do this? Please say yes. Haha.
My other favorite part, and the best part of Waffle House, is the hash browns. Perfectly browned top with fluffy layers underneath – hits the spot every time. And you can have various “styles” for the hash browns: “smothered” (with onions), “covered” (with cheese), “chunked” (with diced ham), “diced” (with diced tomatoes), “peppered” (with jalapeño peppers), “capped” (with mushrooms), “topped” (with chili) and “all the way” (with all available toppings). For this meal, I picked scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked, but most of the combinations that I’ve tried have been really good.
One of my big “food wishes” for San Diego is for a Waffle House to open up, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. But thankfully, I can always get my fix when I visit Texas!
Rudy’s Country Store
Rudy’s Country Store is one of my favorite barbecue restaurants in the Fort Worth area. It’s actually a chain out of San Antonio, and their meats are smoked with oak wood as is tradition in Central Texas.
We ordered some moist (fatty) brisket and pork ribs. I’ve had the moist brisket here before and absolutely loved it. It was juicy and had a gentle smoke flavor, characteristic of oak. There was quite a bit of marbled fat, which made it super tender and delicious.
The pork ribs, on the other hand, were just okay – they didn’t have enough smoke for my liking, and they were a bit stringy and tough. I don’t need my pork ribs to fall off the bone, but these were just a bit too tough. I think we’ll just stick to the brisket and sides in the future – the creamed corn here (not photographed) is really yummy as well.
Pecan Lodge, located in Dallas, is my friend’s go-to barbecue restaurant, so of course we also had to check it out. There is usually a long line, but I guess we went early enough on a particularly rainy day and didn’t have to wait at all!
We ordered a half pound of brisket and asked for a fattier cut. The wood used here is primarily mesquite with some oak. The smoke flavor here is stronger than Rudy’s, but the bark is much heavier in flavor and actually a tad too salty for me. The meat itself, though, was even more amazing than Rudy’s. It was just melt-in-your-mouth tender! We enjoyed it so much that we bought two pounds of the brisket to bring home to San Diego – we did ask for less bark on our to-go order, and I liked it better that way.
At Pecan Lodge, we also ordered a couple of handmade sausages – one regular, and one jalapeño. I couldn’t remember too much about them (which is probably a sign that they weren’t too great) – I like Coop’s hot links better. We also got fried okra, which were quite nice, and collard greens, which were way too sweet. So, like Rudy’s, the other items weren’t too impressive, but we’ll definitely be back for the brisket next time I’m in town.
So, these were some of the (documented) culinary highlights for my Texas visit. Typing this up has made me really nostalgic and really hungry! Thankfully we can still get great barbecue here, but I’m still looking for my Waffle House equivalent…
Have a happy weekend!