Granbury has changed a little since Chow, Baby’s last cruise down Highway 377: more ugly billboards, a few extra Kountry Krap stores on the square, and, bummer, Chop N Block – our raison d’roadtrip – is on the block. The big For Sale sign sent Chow, Baby scurrying to its Plan B, but it turns out the Nutt House closed its kitchen back in February. Thank goodness for those ugly billboards, after all – one of them was for Babe’s Chicken Dinner House (114 W. Pearl St., Granbury).
One of Chow, Baby’s tenets, that a spin-off is never as good as the original, has been proven wrong again. This Babe’s is even better than the Babe’s in Roanoke: just as barnlike and cheery-server-staffed, but with fewer whimsical ornaments and more main dishes. In addition to fried chicken (as great as in Roanoke) and chicken-fried (didn’t try), the Granbury Babe’s also has chicken fingers (didn’t try), fried catfish (didn’t try), smoked chicken (fantastically smoky and juicy), and pot roast (super savory).
Same deal as at other Babe’s: Pay $10.99 for a fixed amount of meat, plus family-style mashed with thick cream gravy, remarkably fresh creamed corn, and peppery green beans. With the seasonal pumpkin pie, it’s well worth driving all over Granbury to find this place (just half a block off the square). Though next trip, Chow, Baby will consult one of those internet mapping thingies.
Google Maps Knows the Way
Say, Google Maps is the greatest invention of all time. All Chow, Baby has to do is plot its maintenance errands, then “search nearby” for thrift stores and restaurants, and boom, its whole afternoon along lower Grapevine Highway is neatly laid out: First, drop off finally back-in-style boots at Wayne’s Boot & Shoe Repair (refurbishing, $12), then hit Thrift Town (paisley-print sweater, $4.99), then lunch at El Tio Mexican Restaurant (7116 Blvd. 26, Richland Hills), then take the Chowbabymobile to the family mechanic for his winter check-up ($56.04). In olden times (2004), Chow, Baby would have had to bust deadline by several days to get all this accomplished.
Categorically, El Tio is in the “vibrantly painted former Taco Bell” genus, with a few bonus points. For one, there’s table service, which is kind of weird when you’re sitting in one of those tiny immovable plastic “chairs,” but still nice. For two, the food is really good. Don’t make the mistake of automatically ordering your usual tacos and ceviche without checking out the rest of the menu – plenty of enchiladas, gorditas, and platos de flautas, sure, but also dishes you don’t see as often in a former Taco Bell, like pan-grilled beefsteak Mexicano ($13.99), deep-fried whole tilapia ($8.99), and empanadas del mar with shrimp and crab ($8.59). But by the time Chow, Baby noticed those items, it was already stuffed with rich carnitas and barbacoa tacos ($1.39 each; also in asada, al pastor, lengua, pollo, and puerco) plus the best cucumber-y ceviche de cameron ($8.99) it’s had in a long time, and was focusing on chatting up cutie-pie owner Cesar. He took over the place about seven months ago and is working hard to make it a go, so run over and toast him with a cantaloupe or mango agua fresca ($1.69). And stop by on a Thursday. Google Maps doesn’t know this, but Thursday is $1 taco day.
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