By Brittany Kulick
Everything’s bigger in Texas! The smiles, the hair, and yes—the waistlines. But can you blame them? In September, Texans flock to the Texas State Fair, where deep-fried delights such as southern fried chicken fettuccine balls and quick fried black truffle bites—a blend of cookies, cream cheese, and white chocolate chips, rolled in cookies and spices, then deep-fried—are being served.
The state fair comes once a year, but the Texas diner culture will fulfil all of your deep-fried fantasies at any time!
From Dallas to San Antonio and the tiny towns around the state, these are the very best diners to visit in the great state of Texas.
Blue Bonnet Cafe, Marble Falls
The good folks at Blue Bonnet Cafe have been in business for 90 years. Their long tenure in Marble Falls, just over 60 kilometres northwest of the capital city, is due to great food and celebrity-level treatment from the friendly staff. Speaking of celebrities, they’ve served quite a few of those, including President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, Ethan Hawke, Lyle Lovett, Joel Osteen, and Willie Nelson.
Come for their famous pie happy hour, Monday-Friday from 3-5pm and stay for the friendly, homey feel. A drink, meal, and a slice of their world-famous pie will cost approximately $20 USD.
Mary’s Cafe, Strawn
Mary’s Cafe isn’t a place you’ll stumble upon by accident—this is the destination. Strawn, Texas is a tiny town with 653 residents, located more than an hour west of Fort Worth. Prepare to wait a bit— this is the country, after all—but the ‘bigger than your plate’ chicken fried steak is worth it. If you’re feeling extra hungry, prime your belly with some deep-fried pickles. If you’re in the mood for something spicy, try the Texas toothpicks—deep-fried jalapeño strips.
If you’re up for a challenge, visit on Monday evening from 6-9pm for all you can eat chicken fried steak for just $14 USD. An appetiser, medium chicken fried steak, and drink will cost approximately $25 USD.
Norma’s Cafe—Three locations in Dallas, Frisco, and Plano
At Norma’s Cafe, the slogan is ‘Life is short. Eat dessert first!’ You’ll know why once you see their famous Mile-High PiesTM. Whether you choose to indulge in the lemon, coconut, chocolate, Oreo, or chocolate peanut butter, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it! Life is all about balance, though, and you can balance the sweets with a blue plate special, with your choice of meat and three veggies—a true southern classic.
I recommend trying the NORMA’s fried chicken, chicken fried steak or southern fried catfish for a taste of true Texas home cooking.
Coppell Deli, Coppell
I grew up in the Dallas suburb that is home to the artery-clogging Stubbs breakfast sandwich, named after former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman and loyal Coppell Deli patron, Daniel Stubbs. Cheese, eggs, sausage, and bacon are sandwiched between two slices of thick Texas toast. The owner, affectionately called Deliman, saw the Cowboys through three Super Bowl wins, feeding the famous athletes who often visited the deli.
A Stubbs breakfast sandwich and coffee will set you back less than $10 USD.
Local Diner, Coppell and Irving
The Local Diner has been a favourite meeting spot since it opened in 1989. However, the black and white checkered tiles, records on the wall, and vintage advertising may make you feel as if you’ve stepped back into the time of poodle skirts and sock hops.
When in Texas—try the Texan. Served in a pan, the meal is a delicious and filling combination of country potatoes, mixed cheese, ham, bacon, and sausage, topped with eggs and served with flour tortillas. If you have a sweet tooth, try their famous giant cinnamon roll or a milkshake to add to the 1950s soda fountain feel! The Texan and a milkshake cost approximately $15 USD.
Pig Stand, San Antonio
The Pig Stand in San Antonio is a bit of an icon—it’s the last remaining location of a chain that once spanned the country with 130 locations. First opened in 1921 in Dallas, Pig Stand was built without a dining area. Instead, waiters took orders kerbside, delivering to customers in their cars. Later, they introduced the very first drive-through. Today, you can dine inside the very last Pig Stand, listening to jukebox style music and enjoying a bit of southern hospitality.
Be sure to try the Pig Sandwich. It’s been on the menu for 92 years, and the tender barbecued pork with special sauce is still a favourite. A Pig Sandwich and a drink will cost approximately $10 USD.
When you’re visiting, this list is sure to help you find food with flavour, history, and charm as big as Texas!