I’m done (for a little while) writing about these pinky-out, over-priced restaurants that most people can afford only on special occasions. I’m ready to get back to my roots: finding hole-in-the-wall joints, rubbing elbows with the workingman, and finding the best bang-for-buck eateries in town. Full disclosure: I’m also tired of being embarrassed about the sheer volume of food it takes to satisfy my ever-growing appetite. The dainty little bites at white tablecloth restaurants just don’t do the trick anymore.
To that end, I haven’t found a much better bargain around than Good Luck Drive-In (950 W Rosedale St, 817-332-5507). The tiny hallway of a restaurant shares space with a convenience store on the swath of Rosedale that also houses fellow bargain eatery Le’s Wok.
Though its name suggests otherwise, Good Luck isn’t a drive-in at all. There are only six tables inside the bustling counter-service cafe – and an arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man takes up some room in the corner. Based on my two visits, most of the business is takeaway. The menu is mostly traditional barbecue fare and soul food classics: brisket, hot links, gizzards, chicken livers, catfish, and the like. All of the sandwiches are under $5, and lunch specials can get as low as $3.29.
I joked with another customer that maybe the place’s name refers to the fact that you’ll need a bit of luck to get a table. On both of my lunches there, a line formed that was so long it wound outside of the door and almost reached the entrance of the adjacent convenience store. People from all walks of life — young, old, black, white, brown, construction workers, guys in suits, and people in scrubs — all stood in the fast-moving queue. The lag time between ordering and stuffing my face was less than five minutes. A lot of students from nearby Trimble Tech High School frequent the place, it seems. One customer loudly suggested that Good Luck must be cheaper than a school lunch. I don’t know about that, but I am sure it tastes way better.
Good Luck is a no-frills kind of place. My entrée of two-pieces of barbecue chicken, fries, and Texas toast ($3.29) was served in a Styrofoam box with plastic utensils. If you want water, it costs the same as a soda. The woman at the counter suggested I go to the convenience store and buy something there — her voice was the soundtrack of my lunch. Every time someone ordered, she bellowed to the kitchen, “I need a half,” “I need a hot link,” and so on.
My chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender and swimming in a zesty if simple barbecue sauce. The standard-sized fries were unseasoned, although there are plenty of salt and pepper packets around. The slim-cut spuds were perfect for dipping in the sauce, as was the ample piece of Texas toast. If your appetite can’t be sated by two pieces of bird, you can order a half chicken ($6.29) prepared the same way and accompanied by sweet-tasting pork-laden navy beans.
It feels good to be out from under the chandelier and back with the people — and I’m sure my bosses at the Weekly will appreciate the sharp drop in my expense account.