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.
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.
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.
Jo's pizzas are always made in house from fresh ingredients, customized to each customer's specifications, and baked in a flaming inferno of fiery pizza-love. Jo's offers four sizes of pizza to satisfy the hunger of rapidly expanding stomach collectives—10 inch, 12 inch, 14 inch, and 16 inch. Choose any of Jo's 27 toppings to play a pizza solo ($8.95, $12.95, $15.95, $19.95), or go straight for one of Jo's famous specials ($11.95, $16.95, $20.95, $25.95). Devour the meatlessly beefy veggie special (olive oil and garlic sauce, spinach, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms) or eat an appropriate Sooner (red sauce with bacon, chicken, sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and hot-link slices). For a surprise, get the Gift and turn any pizza on the menu or of your imaginative creation into a small, medium, large, or extra-large calzone, proving that you can have your pie and fold it over into a calzone too. Wash it all down, or just pour a soda over your meal beforehand, with a soft drink (kids $1, adults $1.95).
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:
Dark Horse Grill’s menu overtakes lesser menus with a galloping barrage of burgers, steaks, and pizzas, as well as lush libations from a fully stocked bar. After whetting appetites with a starter of fried pickle chips ($3.99–$5.99), diners can tuck into a personalized pizza ($5.99–$11.99) wreathed in such textures as canadian bacon, grilled chicken, and pineapple. The Dark Horse fried chicken is battered and winged by texas toast, pickles, and onions ($12.99 for 8 pieces), and the southern-fried catfish, farm-raised in the States, is rolled in bread crumbs, cooked until golden-brown, and eaten until invisible ($10.99 with two sides). A full bar stocked with sumptuous liquors and suds on tap provides apt accompaniment for the kitchen's rustic, crispy servings.