Dark wood and flaxen-hued walls surround the scents and savors of wood-fired pizzas, creative pastas, and locally sourced steaks at Café Eccell. Disks of dough hand-forged daily, such as the rustic italian-sausage pizza ($15) or margherita pizza ($13), emerge from the wood-fired oven with a smoky flavor and encyclopedic knowledge of campfire songs. Opportunities for fork-finagling can be found in the seafood linguine, which suffuses shrimp and salmon with tomato-garlic butter on a bed of saffron linguine ($19), and in the 12-ounce USDA Prime rib eye, fetched from local purveyor Ruffino Meats and draped in herb butter ($25). Paying homage to the traditional garb worn on their annual apricot hunts, strawberries disguise themselves in an apricot glaze and hide out in an almond-lace cookie shell lined with Belgian chocolate in Café Eccell’s strawberry tart ($7).
For 30 years, Cenare's sconce-lit walls and elegant menu have entranced diners, inviting them to linger luxuriously over plates of pasta, tiramisu, and creamy espresso cups. Fresh, daily made bread greets guests with a firm, crunchy handshake, moisturized to taste with imported olive oil. While kitchen magicians arrange 15 layers of beef, mozzarella, and ricotta cheese for the homemade lasagna ($10.99), noshers may savor stuffed mushroom cap starters, drizzled with a Creole mustard sauce ($6.95). The tortellini alla diavola accessorizes a saucy ensemble of chicken, ham, fresh mushrooms, and chipotle cream with cheese-filled pasta rings ($12.95), while the secret ingredients of the spaghetti al telefono are discoverable only through long, whispered games of telephone ($7.95). Gluten-free pasta is also available.
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.
Knockouts Grill House wrestles hunger into submission with a brawny menu of edible Americana. Waitresses clad in Western wear put out appetite fires with the help of starters such as stacked nachos which come piled high with blackened chicken, grilled house pico, chipotle sour cream, and—for an extra $1.99—guacamole ($8.49). Gorge on greenery such as the Knockout steak salad with balsamic vinaigrette and blue-cheese crumbles ($9.99), or hunt down a dinner of barbecue-bathed meatloaf matched with mashed potatoes and onion rings ($9.99). The ground beef and chorizo of the Macho burger show off their meaty manliness by carrying around a culinary cargo of ham, pepper-jack cheese, cilantro mayonnaise, lettuce, and pico ($8.99). A selection of breakfast items available all day helps rouse drowsy taste buds from noontime power naps and dreamless evening trances.
Retreat Hill just opened in August of 2009, and it has already made a name for itself among discerning vinophiles and high-end local restaurants. One of Retreat Hill's recent podium-makers is the ruby-red cabriolo, which is a plum-and-violet-boasting blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah that won a silver medal at the 2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The off-dry Riesling is another award-winner, concluding sip symphonies with a crisp, confident finish. Because the winery's prided juices are concocted from Texas- and United States–grown grapes, they let locals quench their thirsts for their native land far more sophisticatedly than sticking crazy straws in beehives and praying for accompanying chamomile. Call to schedule your visit.