Red River Steakhouse looks like it jumped straight off the reels of a Western film: its raw-wood façade opens to a rustic interior with paintings of rolling grasslands, red barns, and horse-drawn carriages. On the tables, cowboy boots serve as vases for bright sunflowers or footwear for men with no name. In the kitchen, chefs bread and cook chicken-fried steak on flat-top grills, season racks of ribs with signature rubs, and on weekends, slow smoke pork ribs and prime ribs. The catering side of the operation offers similar fare, including aged Black Angus rib eyes, sirloin kebabs, and prime rib. With confidence in their cuisine, the caterers offer a 120 percent satisfaction guarantee or money back plus a discount on the next order.
When customers step into Buffalo Gap Steakhouse & Cantina, they step into the past—or, at least, a reasonable facsimile. The Tex-Mex grill's airy interiors recall rustic frontier homes and tax offices with accents such as adobe-style walls, timber-framed doors, and hanging textiles and hides. This space fills with the sound of live music on Saturday nights, and always promises the aromas of blackened tilapia and ample steaks fresh from the grill.
Inside the kitchen, the chef focuses on hearty house specials, including chicken-fried steaks, fried-fish dinners, and grilled half chickens smothered with lemon and garlic sauce. One of the restaurant's biggest draws, however, is the beef: grilled reserve Angus rib eye, center-cut sirloin, and aged tenderloin steaks. On Friday and Saturday nights, the chef also prepares a special garlic and herb-crusted Angus Prime rib steak for regular diners, a privilege once reserved for the customer who could guess the cow's favorite color.
When the Elite Café opened in downtown Waco nearly a century ago, the owners committed themselves to combining classic American fare with technological innovation. It was the first restaurant in town to use refrigeration as well as air conditioning. But the food was the primary draw, attracting even the attention of a young Elvis Presley when he was stationed at Fort Hood. While a lot has changed since the days when the King was a regular, the restaurant still sticks to the classic American recipes that have made it a Waco staple for decades.
Specialties include juicy burgers, fried tenderloin sandwiches, and build-your-own breakfast omelets served all day long. The chefs’ secret-recipe barbecue sauce—made with Dr. Pepper—is splashed across everything from ribs to wings. Burgers, meanwhile, arrive topped with chili, cheese, and Shiner Bock onion rings.
For the majority of the '70s, according to local folklore, bassist Ferocious Ambush toured America with his southern rock band, Country Thunder. In 1978, he hung up his bass in pursuit of a more "honest living." He shied away from the public eye until 1980, when he kicked off a North Texan tour with the Ferocious Ambush Chili Cookers. Instead of music, however, the Chili Cookers served up hearty bowls of red during regional and international cook-offs, winning over the crowds as much for their simmering spices as their singing and dancing.
Twenty-four years later, the Chili Cookers found a permanent home for their two loves—music and good food—when they opened Ambush Grill and Bar. Their chefs marry old-fashioned southern eats with southwestern and Mexican flavors, serving up a hearty menu that keeps the Chili Cooker's legendary recipes alive. The famous chili flows into bowls, over burgers, and beneath corn chips in chili pie. A Li'l Pardner's menu is also available to fill kid-sized stomachs and lonesome thimbles with smaller portions of pub fare.