Each year, as February draws to a close, the energy in Bulverde, Texas builds towards one thing: the opening of rodeo season. Tejas Rodeo Company kicks off the festivities in style, hosting celebrations of colts, cowboys, and cattle every Saturday night. There, horses pull chuck wagons, ranchers lasso longhorns, and brave souls ride bulls to the delight of the crowd, who can emulate their heroes on a mechanical bull. Fans can even keep track of the rodeo rankings and return each week to cheer on their favorites in tie downs and barrel races. And after the last cowboy tips his hat to the crowd every night, live musicians steal the spotlight with country music that's capable of luring any age to the dance floor.
Few things complement that rodeo spirit like a steak, and Tejas' Steakhouse and Saloon has enough steak to act as currency should the dollar fail. Chefs source premium Akaushi beef from Beeman Ranch, cut it into two-ounce medallions, and season it with a signature rub before searing it to order. And those cuts of meat look right at home between the restaurant's walls. Wood paneling brims with saddles, chaps, pistols, and other authentic cowboy artifacts. The oldest item there? "Yellow Boy," a Winchester rifle made in 1870, the same year the color yellow was invented.
My Place Bar & Grille is devoted to serving steamy, fresh-cooked, and soul-satisfying fare. The menu features hearty burgers and other down-home eats. Among an assortment of appetizers, freshly fried corn tortilla chips dipped in spicy green chile queso ($4.99) will warm up your taste buds for a king-sized guacamole bacon burger ($8.29). My Place's famous chili (cup $4.99, bowl $6.29) is slow-cooked Texas-style with its own southern drawl and debutante ball. Diners craving a bunned meal without the beef can try a not so burger such as the nation-sized DeClucksemburger ($8.29), a grilled chicken breast piled high with smoked bacon, sautéed mushrooms, swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion. After tasting My Place's southern-style entrees, including fried catfish ($9.99) and chicken fried steak ($9.99), tone deaf taste buds find themselves serenading incisors with Kenny Rogers lyrics.
Touting the Best Burgers in the Full-Service Chains category according to the 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, Red Robin features gourmet burgers stacked high with manifold fixings. The chain started in the 1940s under the name Sam's Tavern, where its proprietor Sam could be heard singing "When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)." He loved that old tune so much that he changed his tavern's name to Sam's Red Robin. Today, Red Robin still serves up the same gourmet burgers that put it on the culinary map in 1973—such as the Royal Red Robin burger topped with a fried egg—but the menu also includes more than 15 fire-grilled burgers, hearty mac 'n' cheese with riblets, zesty mexican grilled chicken, and towers of crispy onion rings.
Red Robin's aptly named 'Green Team' ensures that the chain implements green initiatives. All of Red Robin's produce is pesticide-free, and all of its eggs come from suppliers that do not use battery cages. The company is also dedicated to using recycled and recyclable packing and shipping materials sourced from suppliers certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and high-fived by Mother Nature.
Bright-red walls surround the inside of Flaco’s Burgers & Tacos, which serves a menu of hand-formed burgers given a satisfying crust from a flattop grill and a variety of intriguing sauces and toppings. The Texas burger comes with barbecue sauce and bacon, and a burger named after a mysterious Eric fellow belies his hearty appetite with double meat, two cheeses, and bacon. Tough taste buds rise to the challenge of the Flaming Flaco burger, which is stuffed with grilled jalapeños, cheese, and grilled onions before getting a topper of standard burger fixings—mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. The eatery also folds tacos and burritos full of fillings such as carne asada, chicken fajita, or pork chop. Fresh-cut fries and free WiFi accompany meals, eaten while patrons chat among themselves or gaze at a large flat-screen TV along the wall.
Both a quick pit-stop for grabbing a coffee and homemade pastry and a respite for sitting down for lunch and lingering a while, Hearthstone Express functions as a coffee shop and bistro. The cooks usher in the day with breakfast, scrambling eggs and tucking them into buttery croissants with spinach-artichoke spread and crispy bacon. Meanwhile, the bakers whip up pastries such as danishes, scones, and bagels to complement cups of coffee. For lunch, the cooks move on to gourmet sandwiches and paninis; best-sellers include Alicia's club—turkey, avocado spread, mozzarella, and honey dijon on a croissant—and the turkey artichoke panini, topped with spinach-artichoke spread. But the staff is open to customers' own creations as well, making Build Your Own sandwiches. Diners can pick their meat, bread, cheese, veggies, and dressings, and name it anything they want, such as Janet.