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Image courtesy of Billy Bob’s Texas.

Like many local music venues at the time, Billy Bob’s Texas pivoted to offering primarily food during the pandemic. Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission laws allowed watering holes in the Lone Star State to reopen if a certain percentage of their sales came from food and not alcohol. As many bars made token efforts by serving nachos and other light noshes, Billy Bob’s went all in by expanding the Honky Tonk Kitchen’s offerings under the direction of Chef Alex Walters.

The restaurant now serves a deep menu of Texas-inspired fare. Steaks, pork cracklings, elevated Frito pies, and burgers were a few options on the online menu that excited me ahead of my recent visit. The evening I arrived, though, I was told there would be a limited menu even though the space was bustling ahead of a late Saturday night concert. The reason for the shortened menu, one waiter told me, was due to a staffing shortage that evening. Still, I found plenty of enticing options available.

Seating at the Honky Tonk Kitchen offers a great view of the main stage.
Photo by Edward Brown.

The Honky Tonk Kitchen’s environs blend with the sprawling bars, dance floors, and performance stages that abound at the 41-year-old venue. Well-worn wood chairs and around a dozen large- and small-top tables offer diners prime real estate near the main stage.

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I opted for the loaded tots for my opener. The lovely amalgam of golden-fried spuds, generous servings of sliced brisket, rich melted cheddar cheese, sweet barbecue sauce, and diced jalapeño — topped with drizzles of sour cream — was a delicious mix of salty, sweet, and savory.

Billy Bob’s Boomtown was a towering double-patty burger. The beef had a pleasant smoky odor and char that made it clear the morsels were properly grilled over a hot open flame. Thickly diced onions and crispy pickle slices, along with a large fresh tomato slice and chopped lettuce, rounded out the delicious entree. The accompanying fries had been fried a perfect golden brown and were lightly seasoned.

The juicy, smoky meats were all killer.
Image courtesy of Billy Bob’s Texas.

The two-meat dinner came with the option of chopped beef, pulled pork, sausage, or sliced beef. I sprung for the sliced brisket and sausage. Each of the eight slices of smoked pork was juicy and a bit fiery. The casing on the sausage had a nice snap, and the two large slices of brisket came encased in a dark, dense, peppery casing. Fans of mild, post oak-smoked ’cue might find Walters’ smoked meats to be heavy on the smoke and seasoning, but I relished every bite. My only complaint was the saltiness of the rub that detracted from the natural flavor of the beefy morsels. The accompanying green beans were underseasoned, but the paprika-kissed pinto beans were a standout delight.

Don’t expect authentic Mexican tacos at this restaurant, although the hefty entrees are delicious. Each taco came with the same fixings as the burger, but a little variety or some homemade hot sauce would have been nice. Still, the chopped brisket was smoked to perfection, and the pork was juicy and fork-tender albeit underseasoned.

The staff was polite, and the service was prompt during my visit. The Honky Tonk Kitchen offers a view of Billy Bob’s main stage that won’t leave diners missing out on the action. It was great to see the iconic honkytonk bustling once again with country music.

 

Honky Tonk Kitchen
Dos Tacos $12
Two-meat dinner $21
Loaded tots $13
Bob’s Boomtown $12

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