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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lunch Report: OST, Bandera, TX, By Way Of...

Sometimes, ya gotta have a back-up plan. And sometimes, you need a back-up to your back-up. Today was one of those days where I made a fairly amateur mistake in seeking out a place for my wife and I to try.I had done a little research on the Google and found a place called Cora's 471 Grill that according to their web page, has been around since 1932. That's a long time to be in bid'ness on a lonely stretch of road, but if you believe their web page and signage, they also have the best nachos in Texas, so they may account for the longevity.Of course, I'd be telling you about Cora's right now if their business hours matched what their web page proclaims, and they opened at 11AM on Saturday's instead of 5PM. Maybe another time. My amateur mistake was not calling ahead to verify. This is not the first time (nor the last I suspect) that we drove someplace expecting it to be open, only to find out that had we called in advance, we could have saved a trip. But, I do like the drive, so what the heck. These are a few shots taken along FM471 between Rio Medina and Castroville. The view from an air conditioned truck is mighty fine.

With Cora's out of luck, I did have a back-up in the form of a Diner in Castroville, but come to find out, they are open on Sundays, but not Saturday.

On to the small town of Hondo where we have had some good dining experiences; Hermann Sons and McBee's to name a few. So the funny thing was, we thought we would let Garmin pick out a few potential places, drive by and then choose what looked good.

The first place we picked was called Olivia's. We followed the directions on Garmin to an empty lot that looks as though it has been cleared to make something else. No sign saying, former home of Olivia's or anything. I seriously believe the answer is that the address is wrong in Garmin - and on Google. Garmin told us to go onto J street and that was where we found the empty lot. Google says it is on 18th Street, but to be honest, we drove down 18th Street and didn't see it there either. Who knows? Perhaps a reader will tell us what we missed.

If that wasn't bad enough, we went with our second Garmin choice, a place called Hi-Way Drive-In. The first clue we had a problem was when the British woman in my Garmin told me to take a street heading away from the highway. Would it make sense to name a place Hi-Way Drive-In and not be on or near the highway? This time, we ended up in front of someones house. And I couldn't even smell a fire going, so we thought perhaps we were in the twilight zone or something.
Instead of driving around in Honda for hours, and let's face it, you could probably do it and see the place several times, we decided to get on Highway 173 and head north to Bandera. I love the drive between Hondo and Bandera because it looks to me like some place they could film an old western flick. I can just see Clint Eastwood or John Wayne riding on a horse along these small hills. If you live up north and see this, yes, it really is this dry and brown, and wide open out here.Once safely into Bandera (my wife kept mentioning snakes and stuff along the way), we quickly decided to go into Old Spanish Trail. OST is at the intersection of Main Street (173) and Highway 16 which means, you can't get in or out of Bandera without seeing it. Of course, as many times as we have been to Bandera, we thought that we had eaten there before, but when we walked in, realized we had not.We took a seat in the John Wayne Room where the walls are covered in pictures of mostly The Duke, but many other famous cowboy actors.The rest of the restaurant has a similar feel about it. Cowboy related memorabilia, a bar where you can sit on a saddle instead of a stool - what fella wouldn't want to sit there after a long day of cowboying? Good stuff.Just looking at other people's plates, the servings looked fairly good sized. We had heard good words about the Chicken Fried Steak, so my wife was all for it, but opted to get the Kid's meal version (to which they had no problem with). Obviously, the kids in Bandera eat a lot, because the CFS was enough for an adult. She got the mashed potatoes with gravy and a roll (though we may have had to pay extra for the roll). The mashed potatoes were excellent, gravy was awesome and the CFS was a treat. She said it was a bit chewy, but the hunk I had was pretty darn good. Better than Lulu's? No. But worth every penny.My dinner came with a trip to the salad bar. No complaints from me; it was clean, filled with the stuff they put out, and there didn't appear to be any little kids rummaging through it. I could have used some chopped up boiled eggs, but I need to lose a few pounds anyway.I opted for the Catfish and shrimp combo and was more than pleased. It came with the aforementioned salad bar and I got the mashed potatoes. The three pieces of butterflied shrimp were not only well-sized, they were great tasting. The catfish was cooked just the way I like it - very close to what the folks at Clear Springs do. For the $12, I might have liked one more catfish nugget, but what the heck, Bandera is a tourist place. I did wonder why they added a bed of lettuce and tomato to the plate when a salad already comes with the entree, but who knows, maybe the cook was giving me a hint: More salad, less fried food.

No complaints at all. Parking could be an issue but usually if you go to Bandera, you are going to shop anyway, so you can always utilize the free parking in other areas and just walk. I would gladly take friends or family and check out some of the many other things on their big menu.


Pancho said...

We lived off Medina Lake up in Bandera for awhile, ate there a few times yumyum.

M2 said...

OST used to be a Sunday morning stop for motorcyclists doing the "Bandera Breakfast Run" from Helotes. I've mainly eaten breakfast there, but have had a few other meals which have been pretty good.

Olivia's Restaurant is listed at 110 18th St in Honda according to YellowPages.com; but GoogleMaps does shot that site as a vacant lot, so it must've been that way for a while. Are you sure it wasn't this place:


And my buddy Greg plays at Cora's on Thursday nights. I sometimes take a "back way" home taking 90 west to 471 back to the Helotes area. I pass by there all the time, and have pics of that same stone house. There used to be a wooden one behind it which was the original house, but some guy bought it and moved it to a new location. There is a second stone house a little further down the road that was a part of the same homestead.

Cheers! M2

Dave said...

Are you sure it wasn't this place:

It very well could have been. We actually drove by there on the way into town but the name didn't jump out at us.

Whatever that place is, it looks pretty hoppin' from the Street View picture.

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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