Sunday, October 08, 2006

Strickland's / McBee's

You never hear the one that gets you.

Location: 1918 South Highway 281, Falfurrias, TX 78355
Phone: 361-325-5222

309 2nd St, Pleasanton, TX 78064
Phone: 830-569-2602

If you ever find yourself dove hunting in south Texas . . .

Not a phrase I would normally say, but sure enough last weekend I found myself on a dove-hunting trip near Ramirez, about equidistant from the Gulf (Corpus Christi) and the Border (Zapata). Not that this description helps you much, but you get the idea that it's out where the buses don't run.

As a result, when it comes to dining out, as it does after you drive half the day to get there and then run out before sundown to try to snag a few birds, your choices are limited. Which is not a problem if you have places like Strickland's around.

Strickland's Famous Restaurant is in Falfulrrias, the closest town with a traffic light and a restaurant mentioned in Texas Monthly in the category of "Cool Places To Eat That Are In Towns Where You'll Probably Never Go Unless You Work For The Border Patrol." It's a category with a long title, but then again, it's a long border. (In case you were wondering, the US-Mexico border is 1,951 miles long and about 2/3 of that is in Texas.)

If you want to get a real taste of Texas, you have to eschew the Applebees and Chilis and Ruby Tuesdays and hit the authentic joints. When you step into Strickland's, you know you're in Texas. It's a local hangout and on a Friday night the locals are out in force. The tables are covered in plastic table cloths and the iced tea comes in red plastic glasses with advertising on them.

PeeWee Herman would like the life-sized cutouts on the wall of John Wayne, the Lone Ranger, Tonto, Roy Rogers and Trigger, [pictures to come when Blogger decides to cooperate] but if he stepped in and hollered, "The stars at night are big and bright," they would either ignore him or toss him out on his ear.

Strickland's has the usual BBQ, burgers, chicken-fried steak, etc. but it's the Mexican food that gets the attention of most diners. Unlike the places I've reviewed that serve Tex-Mex with a twist, Strickland's plays it straight. Enchiladas, tacos, chalupas with the standard beef-chicken-cheese options. But it's good, solid stuff. No need to get fancy when you do the basics right. The guacamole was excellent. It went great with the chips and salsa.

At the end of the weekend we stopped at McBee's BBQ in Pleasanton. It's the first place I've ever seen a pork chop sandwich on the menu. The lunch plate came with a gigantic pickled jalepeno that was just the right amount of hot. Like any good BBQ, the meat was excellent without the sauce. In fact, I didn't even try the sauce, so I don't know if it was good, but I suspect it was. My companions all placed the dove-hunter-seal-of-approval on the place and then we waddled out to the cars to return to civilization. On the way to I-37 we passed a Bill Miller's BBQ place and one guy said he didn't even consider it to be real BBQ. So, as we can see, the religious BBQ wars are still in full swing.

Now I know that some gentle readers are wondering if my presence on a dove-hunting trip is just another in a long line of signs that the world is rapidly approaching a catastrophic end. Please keep calm, keep your arms and legs inside the windows and put your fears to rest. It is true that in the past I have actually shot at doves. There was the famed hunt during a tornado when, to Holcomb's great amazement, I brought down a dove with a flight pattern like a dot-com stock-price chart. However, on this occasion I spent most of my time in the lodge reading Wodehouse, which is as relaxing a way to spend a weekend as I can think of. But I did venture out one day to do some target shooting. I won't brag, but let's just say that I haven't lost the eagle eye of legend and song from my Fred, Texas, days, doll.


kelly said...

they are BIRDS-- it seems a little over the top to go chasing them down in utility vehicles . . . don't you think opposable thumbs advantage enough?


Brad Whittington said...

You'll notice I'm holding a camera, not a gun. My preferred type of shooting.

But if you're wanting those jalapeno dove poppers for dinner, unaugmented opposable thumbs are not much help against something that flies.