Sunday, January 07, 2007

Buzzard Billy's Armadillo Bar and Grillo

Home of the Crappy Beer Night


I had great plans to do Korean this week, but a trip to Waco intervened and I found myself reminiscing with The SpyMan over lunch at the legendary Buzzard Billy’s Armadillo Bar and Grillo on University Parks Drive. Before they opened in 1993, The Water Works was the only place in Waco you could get Guiness on tap.

We used to play an open mike there on Sunday nights back 10+ years ago. One night a stranger walked up and asked if he could sit in on fiddle. I was skeptical, even when he whipped out his Texas Fiddle Players Association card. To test his chops, I invited him to jam with me while I tuned up out front by the old black-and-white Andy Griffith cop car. In about 2.3 seconds I realized I was in the presence of incredible talent. He sat in on my set and made me sound better than I knew I could, even on the originals he had never heard. He was passing through from recording a CMT music video and had stopped at Buzzard Billy’s for dinner. Never saw or heard him again. Cajun name. Alan D-something. (Alan, if you’re reading this, drop me a line.)

Also like The Water Works, it was a great place to hear live music. I watched Mike Morgan walk between tables and dancers and out the back door onto the deck while playing a marathon guitar solo. The last time I was in Buzzard Billy’s was for the going-away party the TSTC gang threw in 1996 to launch me on a decade of wanderings. The place hadn’t changed much, which was good. No need to fix something that is working just fine.

The SpyMan made the excellent suggestion of four appetizers in lieu of two entrees. We sifted through the many options on the menu and settled on:

  • Armadillo Eggs: Bacon wrapped chicken tenders stuffed with sliced jalapenos and pepper-jack cheese. (Based on South Texas dove camps recipes.)
  • Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms: Large mushroom caps stuffed with a blend of crabmeat, cheese, breadcrumbs, and Cajun spices.
  • Mean Green Buzzard Wings: Breaded chicken wings fried and coated with a sweet and spicy jalapeno lime sauce.
  • Gator Fingers: Alligator strips deep-fried, with a Creole honey-mustard dipping sauce.
OK, so we didn’t win any health-nut awards, but as dedicated gastronomes we gladly place ourselves at risk in the service of civilization. I assure you that everything was just as good as it sounds. The Armadillo Eggs are not to be missed. We wanted to add the Cajun Popcorn (deep-fried crawfish tails) but they were out. Probably for the best.

Assuming everything that wasn’t broke wasn’t fixed, the gumbo, red beans and rice, and the FettucciniAlfredeaux are worth sampling. I hear good things about the burgers, too. In fact, Buzzard Billy’s is so good, it’s worth driving to Waco to check it out. The buzzards have also opened restaurants in Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Not sure what it is with buzzards and cold places, but there you have it. If you hit the Waco location, say hi to The SpyMan.

This Korean thing is getting out of hand. I need some kimchee spinach. It's gotta happen this week.


Jody D. White said...

Dearest Brad,

I think I gained 5 lbs by just reading your blog. All the description of your delicious American delicacies makes me want to quit my job in Japan and move in with my newly acquired Texas in-laws. Ahhh... I miss greasy road-house faire, darken pints of ale, reasonably priced red-meat cooked to order (served with your choice of baked or fried potatoes) and above it all... I miss PIE!

Thank you for your blogging. Sometimes I just need to be reminded how wonderful American cuisine can really be.

Jody in Japan

PS Good Luck with the Korean food!

Brad Whittington said...


Glad to be of service. Of course, there's plenty of great food in Japan. I remember the meal I had at the teppan grill at the top of the Royal Park hotel as being particularly good. Not very cheap, but quite good. But you can get some decent priced sushi.

I'm hoping the stars align and I have some Korean this week.