Where to Eat On The Road in Eater Texas
[Photos: Foursquare / Facebook / Foursquare / Foursquare]
Summer is nearly upon us, and for many folks that means road tripping. Whether you're making the trek to visit family or friends or just feel like getting the hell out of Houston, your caravan will inevitably need to make a few pitstops on the way — luckily, we've collaborated with Eater Austin and Eater Dallas to compile a massive guide to the best roadside eats between the three cities. Like last time, old standbys like kolache haven Czech Stop, barbecue mecca City Market and Buc-ee's are included along with plenty of new additions such as a barbecue joint at a Baptist church and even a little farm-to-table cuisine.
Got a favorite roadside destination that's not on the map? Do chime in via the comments.
If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy
Crispy fried chicken and chicken-fried steak served up family-style along with homestyle sides like fluffy biscuits, mashed potatoes, corn and iceberg salad.
[Photo: Matthew C./Foursquare]
This old-school, no-frills burger joint has plenty of character and some pretty great road trip burgers. Patties are quite thin, so opt for the double or triple; no fries here, but you'll definitely want to get a fried pie and a glass bottle Coke.
[Photo: Steve S./Foursquare]
An especially fun time if you're toting kids, the Catfish Plantation is Waxahachie's premiere haunted restaurant. The ghosts are unpredictable, but the food's reliable -- think fried catfish with homestyle sides like green beans and fried okra, plus fruit cobblers and "famous" bread pudding for dessert.
If you're on your way out of Dallas and want a hearty meal that'll do your meat-cravings right, look no further than Bubba's, the easiest highway-accessible barbecue in the area.
It's a buffet full of country favorites, grandma-style -- best bets include chicken and dumplings, chicken-fried steak and chocolate cream pie. You may need a nap afterwards, but that's what the backseat is for.
It's fairly slim pickins for good food between Dallas and Houston, so a stop at Woody's is always appreciated. Carnivores will find plenty to eat at this glorified convenience store, including barbecue (get the beef ribs), venison sausage and an impressive selection of jerky (ask for samples), but there's also sandwiches including a grilled trout burger, homemade fudge, jams and preserves.
[Photo: Tim B./Foursquare]
Looking to make a stop between Houston and Dallas? Buc-ee's has you covered with spotless bathrooms, a huge selection of snacks and a small area to walk dogs.
Good ol' down-home Texas comfort food awaits at this charming little country cafe. Fried green tomatoes and chicken-fried steak are favorites, and there's also burgers, sandwiches, salads with housemade dressings, and a huge lineup of fresh-made sides like mac and cheese, fried okra, turnip greens and mashed potatoes. Don't miss the awesome pie case with flavors like peanut butter, fresh strawberry and pecan chocolate chip.
[Photo: Josh K./Foursquare]
This rickety little barbecue shack is operated by the Baptist church next door and has been smoking brisket, ribs, chicken and sausage for nearly 40 years now. While the meats aren't exactly mind-blowing, this unique destination is certainly worth the side trip for the atmosphere alone. (Closed Sunday, because duh.)
[Photo: Andrew K./Foursquare]
Need a bite and can't wait till you get to Houston? Stop by this gyro stand located in a used car lot (really) for homemade hummus with pita and gyro sandwiches piled high with meat.
There's a new Buc-ee's in Texas City, just off I-45 South. And it's massive. The 60,000-square-foot space welcomed hundreds of new customers on it's opening day just a few weeks ago. It's a good spot to carb load in between shopping, since it's near Tanger Outlet Mall.
Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn is a big fan of this joint that serves top-notch brisket, ribs and sausage. Chicken is usually a bore, but here it's crisp-skinned and well worth ordering.
A steakhouse and bar on the side of Highway 6 in Navasota, Wrangler is a haven for road trippers making the trek from College Station. Get the absurdly large "small" chicken-fried steak and the Diablos on Horseback, bacon and jalapeno-wrapped shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce. Also: free wi-fi, and there's a smoking section.
In the morning, travelers stop for Chappel Hill's first-class kolaches. Later in the day, it's all about the barbecue and giant baked potatoes loaded up with meat. Either way, the huge Blue Bell selection is always a good idea, and you can grab a bottle of jalapeno ketchup as a take-home souvenir.
Texas' pie mecca not only makes damn good pie, they also turn out a mean steak and rack of lamb. Round up a few friends and get the pie sampler, 4 different slices topped with an unholy amount of vanilla ice cream.
This Texas Monthly Top 50 joint is a meat market in the front and an old-school barbecue joint in the back. The meats here are served on butcher paper, just as they should be, and the pickles come whole instead of sliced.
What is mead? It's honey wine. This family-owned and run meadery is open to visitors Fri - Sun., perfect for weekend road trippers on the way to or home from Austin.
The kolaches in this La Grange shop are made with lard, so obviously they're worth stopping for. There's also pigs-in-a-blanket, cookies, fresh-baked bread, muffins and more.
A surprisingly large selection of Czech pastries inside a Chevron gas station makes this an excellent pit stop. Don't leave without grabbing a couple sausage kolaches; decent burgers, too.
This quaint little steakhouse has a huge menu with everything from chicken and dumplings to ribeye nachos, but the specialty is Texas-bred Akaushi steaks -- what more do you need to know? Oh yeah, there's also a full bar where you might even catch some karaoke action.
[Photo: Chris A./Foursquare]
Some of the best damn barbecue in the state is found at this temple of smoked meats, and you best get here early before they run out -- because when the stellar brisket, ribs and sausage are gone, you're shit out of luck for the day.
Located at Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, this eatery features traditional Texas 'cue with made-to-pair brews and traditional Southern sides.
This is the biggest convenience store IN THE WORLD. The bathrooms are spacious and pristine. Grab an armload of their near-infinite varieties of beef jerky, hard candies and pickled items -- don't miss the signature Beaver Nuggets.
Revered chef Jesse Perez has assembled the perfect gourmet road trip fare. Lunch offerings include light bites like a lobster soft taco served with poblano cream and a white bean hummus meatball topped with citrusy sour cream. There's a full bar and a good selection of craft beer.
This rebuilt saloon has its roots in Texas chili history. Enjoy a beer and a bowl of Texas red at their atmospheric bar.
The Cooper's outpost in New Braunfels describes itself as a "carbon-copy of the mothership Llano restaurant," meaning you can get some of Texas finest smoked meats without an hour's detour off I-35.
The Grist Mill serves up generously portioned all-American fare -- think burgers, ribs, and steak, plus killer giant onion rings -- in a historic old building that was once the boiler room of a cotton mill. The food is hardly revelatory, but it's perched on the banks of the Guadalupe so the patio views are oh-so-picturesque.
Road trip hunger is best satisfied by classic American restaurants, preferably ones serving burgers. Gil's is San Marcos's oldest restaurant, and the Manske rolls (basically extra huge cinnamon buns) are great to take on the road.
Open since 2005, The Root Cellar serves a tasty New American menu that's a step up from the usual college student fare in San Marcos. They serve their own beer, too.
This flauteria is run by El Paso natives cooking a simple menu of flautas, enchiladas, and menudo on the weekend. Delicious, and they owners and staff are extremely friendly too.
Six inch high meringue pies. Three sizes of chicken fried steak. Nine pin bowling. Why are you not here already?
[Photo: Chris D./Yelp]
Jack Gilmore updates Texan comfort food for the 21st century, with high-quality local sourcing and loads of charm. Oh, and he's Barley Swine chef Bryce Gilmore's dad, too.
Farm-to-table cuisine right off I-35? Believe it. This friendly bar and restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible in homey-yet-elevated dishes like fried bacon dumplings with beer cheese sauce, a BLT with housemade bacon and jalapeno-maple jelly, and a Wagyu burger with housemade pickles. Local craft beers on tap and local wine, too.
[Photo: Alyson S./Foursquare]
Guy Fieri and Matthew McConaughey stopped here on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but don't let that dissuade you from loading up on this retro-style diner's comforting greasy spoon offerings.
If you're needing something a little more rib-sticking than a bag of jerky, stop at the historic Stagecoach Inn, just like Jesse James did. Think prime rib or chicken-fried steak, both of which come accompanied by rolls, a vegetable, a potato, iced tea and coffee.
Need to pick up some pickled what-nots in a jar? Some salad dressing for Grandma? A giant pile-o-meat sandwich? Robertson's has it.
Sure, lots of barbecue places have meat by the pound, but how many also serve venison sausage? Schoepf's has free live music on Thursday nights, too.
Don't let the name fool you. This restaurant serves tater tots, onion rings and a wide variety of milkshakes. The prices are right, too; a cheeseburger with fries and a shake is only $9.
The Elite Cafe (or whatever it's calling itself post-remodel) isn't fine dining, but eating Elvis' beloved toasted peanut butter and banana sandwich in the same place he used to is a "do at least once" kind of event. Fair warning: So is mastering that traffic circle out front.
There are two things you should consider in addition to Michna's badass link sausage: Frito pie and butter beans (not necessarily together). Also, if for some reason you need to cater a banquet while you're stopping through, they've got you covered.
Vitek's BBQ is home of the "Gut Pak", an unholy concoction of Fritos, chopped beef, sausage, cheese, beans, onions, jalapenos, and bread -- guaranteed to put you into a food coma all the way home.
Baylor students and their friends now have a queso-friendly Torchy's outpost in Waco: In case you can't wait till Austin to get your taco fix, the Austin-based chain just recently expanded into the college town.
Slovacek's is a gas station, but it's also so much more than that: There's a bakery with house-baked kolaches and pies, a frozen yogurt bar, a meat counter, a beer cave (don't get too excited, it's just a walk-in beer cooler), and even a dog park for your four-legged road trip companions. Stop by the Kissing Pig Cafe for a deli sandwich, including an awesome grilled cheese with fontina and garlic aioli or a Reuben on marbled rye.