Trip Report- Chicago to Fort Worth and back
Mon, 12/1/03 5:10 PM
I took my wife and three kids down to see friends in Fort Worth for Thanksgiving. Our drive to TX took us through St. Louis, Joplin, through Eastern Oklahoma, and into Texas. The return trip took us through Oklahoma City, Wichita (Yucch!), Topeka, Kansas City, Des Moines and back through Illinois.
We stopped in St. Louis, for cheeseburgers and roast beef sandwiches at an old bar called O'CONNELL'S. The cheeseburgers were top-drawer- thick, beefy, and cooked medium-rare from edge-to-edge. The roast beef sandwich, served on french bread rare, was excellent as well. The fries were decent, and the onion rings were excellent. As a burger aficionado, I would put this burger in my top two or three. The prices were ridiculously reasonable. An added bonus was that it was about 40 yards off of I-44, which we needed to get back onto.
15 minutes later, we stopped at TED DREWES for frozen custard. I found it to be good (I had a malt, and tasted my sons vanilla custard and the other sons strawberry), but not great, and it didn't blow away Culver's like I thought it would. I couldn't get a sundae, since I had to drive- maybe that's where the legend is made.
We stayed overnight in Joplin, MO. My kids wanted pizza (go figure) so we found a non-chain pizza place called Pizza by Stout. The pizza wasn't horrible (then again, my kids eat Pizza Hut), but they did have excellent cinnamon rolls. I wouldn't recommend this place as a stop, but if you're in Joplin, you might as well grab a cinnamon roll there. I couldn't find too much food info on Joplin.
On Wednesday we headed to Tioga, TX to CLARK'S OUTPOST. I love this place- the food, the atmosphere, the waitresses. My wife and I ordered a rack of ribs and a large brisket platter. Our sides were corn-on-the-cob (deep fried), barbecued beans, french fries, and cole slaw.
RIBS- Tender and moist, almost to the point of fall-off-the-bone, but not quite, which was perfect. The smoke flavor goes to the heart of the meat (after 60+ hours I suppose it would). Sauce on the side in old Grolsch beer bottles, but it's a sin to cover up smoked meat like this with sauce, although the sauce is quite good.
BRISKET- Incredible. Juicy, and breaks apart with the slightest touch of the fork. A nice, brown crust on the outer edge with no visible fat.
COLE SLAW- Good slaw- I like to pour barbecue sauce into mine and eat it.
FRENCH FRIES- A little soft for me.
BARBECUED BEANS- Good and tangy. I threw some sauce in those, too.
CORN-ON-THE-COB- Not too impressive. The deep-frying browns the corn kernels, but the corn is rendered fairly soggy.
Later that evening, we went to a place in Roanoke, outside of Fort Worth, and had dinner at a place called BABE'S. They only serve two main dishes there: Fried chicken and chicken-fried steak. It's a dining hall type place, kid friendly and noisy. BYOB as well. After a wait and a few beers in the street, we hoisted our cooler and headed inside. Service is fast. Here's the rundown:
Fried Chicken (Deep Fried)- The chicken was awesome. Apparently they soak it in some sort of brine and spice solution for 24 hours prior to frying. Gold crunchy crust and moist chicken all the way through.
Chicken Fried Steak- This was it for me. The meat was extreeemely tender, the coating perfect. I like this over the chicken.
Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Creamed Corn- The potatoes were great, but the star here is the gravy. I'm not a gravy person, but I threw it on everything except my loins. I would put potatoes and the Chicken fried steak on the plate, and douse them with gravy. Then I'd make a pool of gravy on the side of the plate. Then I would cut a piece of gravy laden cf-steak, scoop up some creamed corn and then mashed potatoes, and then dip it back into the gravy pool, chew, swallow, and then dibrillate myself to restart my heart for the next mouthful.
Next: Drunken midnight runs to Whattaburger, killer Thanksgiving dinner at the Renaissance Worthington hotel in Fort Worth, OK Mexican food at Mi Cocina, bad food at Braum's in Wichita (the city from hell), chicken breasts the size of Anna Nicole's breasts at Stroud's in Kansas City, coneys and tenderloin sandwiches at George the Chili King Drive-In in Des Moines, IA.