Road Foodie

Some people drive simply to arrive.

Never On Sunday

Posted By on December 29, 2008

Another squeeze-it-yourself situation, in Amarillo.

Another squeeze-it-yourself situation, in Amarillo.

12.28 Oh dear. I was so very excited about the Golden Light Café and Cantina. Amarillo has been a culinary wasteland on all of the 3 or 4 visits I’ve made, so when I discovered the “famous, raunchy roadhouse” with “the best burgers,” “great beer,” live music etc., it was a big thrill. Are we about to up the ante in Amarillo? Yes, please. But even though the rather glossy website proclaims “7 days a week,” when the GPS actually does successfully lead us to SW 6th street, the teensy little shack is all closed up tight. While we’re at the Toot n’ Totum getting gas, C chats up some policemen, who usually know where good honest food is to be had. (Note: Texas has some great convenience store names, such as the aforementioned Toot n’ Totum, plus Kum and Go, and Stop and GetGo, but it is in the Deep South that you find the really hilarious names. Anyone out there remember some?)
“Hereabouts, you won’t find nothing but the chains open on a Sunday,” says Joe Policeman. Uh-oh. (In Roadfoodie’s credo, chain restaurants are verboten. There have been exceptions, and thus, a precedent exists. But it is exercised rarely and judiciously, usually in times of great hunger.)
Queso, Ruby's-style.

Queso, Ruby's-style.

“Try Ruby’s, it dudn’t feel like a chain,” offers Joe. So we tootle on down to Ruby Tequila’s, a Texas-only chain (this is the original location, which feels somehow less chain-like. Or maybe I’m projecting). Ruby’s is in a massive, hangar-style building, and features a festive bar (and bartendress), two guys hand-making tortillas in the back, and pretty darned authentic Mexican food that is gut-wrenchingly tasty, as it should be. The 12-year-old ‘tendress seems completely flummoxed by our request for “equal parts tequila and triple sec on the rocks with a pile of quartered limes on the side,” but she sets about cuttin’ up limes. Exactly when did sour mix become an acceptable ingredient in margaritas, in Texas of all places? Okay, don’t git me started, or I’ll hafta open up a can o’ whup-ass. So we squeeze and squeeze and squeeze some more, and what we get is a real, honest-to-Pete cocktail (who is this Pete?). Yeee-haaaw. Now for some chow. We start with a big bowl of queso and chips (queso, as served here at Ruby’s, is fluorescent orange, soupy, liquid, um, “cheese food”. I am spoiled, because our friend Linda used to airlift Felix of Houston’s chile con queso every Christmas, before they sadly closed their generations-open doors.) Then, Tacos de Res: two fresh corn tortillas filled with slow-barbecued beef brisket, shredded and mixed with some sticky-sweet barbecue sauce, along with a little bowl of ranchero beans and dirty rice, a pile of pico de gallo and a drift of fresh cilantro. C has the Tres Amigos plate (a big, shredded beef burrito with three different sauces on top: red chile, green chile, and sumthin’ white).
Here, readers may note that my language has taken a turn for the casual. Believe me, this is nothing compared to the verbal version. I have a tendency—unintentional, I promise—to take the “When in Rome” adage to extremes. I can only cite my paternal grandmother, a Philadelphia Quaker, who helplessly mimicked anyone with a pronounced accent to the point that some people, evidently, felt they were being made fun of. The reader may thus intuit that during my seven years in England, my accent—if not my attitude—morphed into something distinctly Madonna-esque. Speaking of the English language (as practiced in the United Kingdom, anyway), I always found it odd that the lexicon maintains a directionality that has little to do with reality. For instance, one always goes “down” to the pub, never up. As in “Where’s your husband.” “’E’s down the pub, idn’t ‘e.” And, one always goes “up” to Oxford and “down” to London, no matter where, north or south, on the island one might start out. The oddest, and perpetually persistent, linguistic stylism involves the sitting, or dining room, to which one always goes or comes “through,” even if the room title itself is dropped from the sentence, which it often is. As in the post-cocktail but pre-prandial invitation “Would you like to come through?” Does this come from another time, when baronial hallways featured arches and passageways? Inquiring (or, bored) minds want to know.


Leave a Reply