In 1998, the clack of billiards balls met the clink of cold beers at the first Fast Eddie’s Sports Tavern and Social Clubs in Amarillo. Since then, 17 more Fast Eddie's locations have sprung up across Texas and Louisiana, each letting guests sink corner shots at 8- and 9-foot Olhausen pool tables while sharing a few drinks and snacks such as deep-fried hot dogs. Beyond the felt, home runs and touchdowns play out on multiple big-screen TVs as darts fly into targets and foosball tables re-create the exciting theatrics of gymnasts struggling to play soccer.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
For eight weekends in the fall, a troupe of performing fairies, knights, royal personas, and jugging fools set up camp on the 55-acre grounds of the Texas Renaissance Faire. For 38 years, the Festival has re-created the 16th century’s appealing combination of simplicity and grandeur with more than 200 daily performances of live music, acrobatic comedies, and jousting. Actors portraying different levels of society—such as the English court and the pirates—roam the lolling landscape in character while performing comedic and informative bits including “Sound and Fury,” a Shakespearean vaudeville. At noon the Grande Marche parade catapults performers from the Globe Stage for a stroll throughout the park as they advertise their acts in a high-toned procession.
On a less precise schedule, craftsmen concoct tangible marvels with skills of glassblowing and blacksmithing, while food purveyors wander the beaten paths or call from their booths, selling fare that ranges from sugar-coated nuts to roasted turkey legs. At close of day, fireworks light the sky to celebrate the festival's victory over time.
Seven years ago Rico's Mexican Grill brought their brand of Tex-Mex to The Woodlands. Today they boast five locations throughout the region as well as a family of 400 employees. Together, the staff adheres to the original restaurant's high standards for fine Mexican cuisine with a local twist. In their family-oriented eateries adorned in classic Texas decor, such as Matthew McConaughey's searing gaze, they serve a menu of enchiladas, tacos, and sizzling fajitas. The fajitas are especially a source of pride. They marinate the meat in a secret sauce for 24 hours and serve the grilled morsels with homemade tortillas. Aside from traditional Tex-Mex entrees, they grill enticing fare such as quail and red snapper. To compliment their dishes, they mix mean margaritas and cocktails and fill glasses with imported and domestic beers and wines amid frequent live entertainment.
When Enchanted Manor Winery's chief mead-maker handcrafts his honey brew, he follows a recipe from a 17th-century cookbook from the court of King Charles I. These medieval techniques inspire the winery's special mead for the annual Texas Renaissance Festival, which is brewed from Texas wildflower honey and sipped from knightly knee cops. Enchanted Manor also whips up modern meads flavored with orange blossom and oak, mixed with pear wine, or brewed from the honey of the guajillo flower.
In addition to its signature meads, Enchanted Manor Winery whips up small batches of wines from grapes, peaches, and other fruits, and augments their stock with bottles from nearby wineries. Enchanted Manor also hosts special events such as sangria nights, mead tastings, and wine classes.
The Rumfolo family's blood seems to have mixed with oil somewhere in the past. It probably happened in the 1950s, when Walter Rumfolo founded the first incarnation of The Showboat Drive-in—a restaurant where his children worked throughout their teenage years. His children must have carried it with them, because today his grandchildren, Johnny and Chris, operate a drive-in movie theater by the same name. They've preserved the original venue's neighborly vibe and kept the family’s blood intertwined with car engines by employing Johnny's sons to sell tickets and run the projector. Today, the small-town ambiance has a much larger area to cover, and each of the theater's two jumbo screens steps up to the task by accommodating 400 cars full of spectators.
Guests park at dusk for a night at the movies—a full night, with double features painting the sky silver for hours. Audiences access the films' sound through their FM radios so that they don’t have to swipe a copy of the script and have their children read the parts. Together, families and dates can sit on lawn chairs, blankets, or inside the car as they lose themselves in the plot and munch concessions that range from burgers to candy and popcorn. The staff caters to viewers at any point during the films or intermission, providing a playground for restless youngsters and jumping cars if their batteries fizzle.