In 1926, a Mexican immigrant named Adelaida Cuellar—now affectionately referred to as "Mama"—set up a tiny stand at a county fair outside Dallas, selling homemade tamales and chili con queso. The spicy specialties soon drew throngs of hungry patrons, and by 1940, she and her 12 children had transformed the stand into a café. Today, her legacy lives on at El Chico's many locations, where the staff rolls fresh tortillas into steaming enchiladas and salts the rims of towering margaritas. Waiters hoist platters of Tex-Mex favorites such as spicy beef burritos, crispy tacos, and guacamole prepared right at the table from fresh, self-puréeing avocados—a technology Mama never could have imagined during the early days of black-and-white tomatoes.
The eclectic elegance inspired by Rinie’s sprawls from a multifarious menu of American-Italian dishes fused with bursts of Thai and Asian flavoring. Rinie’s travelogue of cuisine heightens the epicurean senses as the lighting dims, setting the scene for toothsome proposals to rich risotto or crab cake appetizers for two ($9). Succulent entrees of north atlantic salmon come baked in a rich curry sauce or pan fried and topped with white wine dill sauce, both served over asian rice ($18). Spicy chicken pad thai dressed in sweet chili sauce grazes the lips seductively before moving into the mouth’s apartment with rice noodles, vegetables, and a futon for when guests visit ($16). Lovers can lap from Rinie’s copious wine selection, though this Groupon is not valid toward alcohol purchases.
One of Lawton’s only fine dining establishments, Red River Southwestern Chophouse keeps its menu sizzling with top-quality steaks and Southwestern delicacies. Kick-off the feast with an edible drum roll of New Orleans crab balls ($12.99), boursin cheese jalapeños ($7.99), or a mountain of Maryland crab cake ($13.99) before diving into house specialties such as the chilean seabass floating atop a creamy, saucy sea of lobster risotto ($28.99). Otherwise, wine and dine simultaneously with the venezuelan brisket cooked in a red-wine marinade and served over potatoes mashed in-house by a squadron of well-trained spud masseuses ($15.99). Red River's steak specialists also makes more cuts than a blind samurai, curing carnivorous cravings of every size with the lean 8-ounce top sirloin ($14.99), the hefty 16-ounce prime cowboy rib eye ($28.99), and all seasoned slabs in between. Regardless of their surf or turf allegiances, diners can unite over sides such as fried okra, creamed spinach, and wild mushrooms (all $7.99). To make sure everyone gets a taste of every dish, Red River serves its succulent shareables family-style, which means each plate comes with a buzzer in case a feud breaks out over what 100 people consider a chore that kids hate to do.
Eleven 6-ounce patties stack atop one another, creating a massive tower of meat that scares away most stomachs, but not all. Paw Paws Hamburgers, a third-generation-owned business, welcomes patrons to dive into the behemoth burger-eating competition. It is a feat most have tackled without success, but not without the pleasure of delicious food. The eatery has been selling old-fashioned burgers dressed in mustard, pickles, tomatoes, and a top hat since 1968. Additionally, the chefs tuck grilled chicken into sandwiches and toss liver and onions onto plates with fresh-cut fries.
Prolific course architect Rocky Roquemore preserved the natural beauty of the land by sculpting tree-hemmed fairways that incorporate 14 ponds. Deer and wild turkey occasionally dart across the zoysia fairways, casually stopping to lay down their beach towels in one of the course's 100-plus sand traps. After conquering the water-guarded green of the 11th hole and carrying the ball past the water-flanked fairway of the 18th, golfers can relax by slicing into steak and seafood at the clubhouse restaurant. The lounge on the recently renovated clubhouse porch offers views of the course and adventurous players strapping on snorkeling masks to retrieve balls in the course’s waterways.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 7,063 yards * Course rating of 73.8 * Slope rating of 127 * See individual hole details and the course layout.