Eat, Pray, Lubbs
Author: Taylor Shackelford
Food is the quickest way to a person’s heart, but big sky sunsets and a vibrant western lifestyle in West Texas aren’t too bad either. For a little tumbleweed boomtown that is a home to those rowdy Red Raiders, you’ll also find some of the best eats in the Southwest. As the residents already know, Lubbock, Texas is on the rise as a foodie paradise.
The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce reports Lubbock has more restaurants per capita than several of the largest cities in the United States – including Houston and Dallas to add some perspective. Speaking with Sarah Harris and Alexa Galle, the two women who keep Lubbock up to date, our city is making huge strides in regards to more refined taste menus and specialty shops. Both women agree: food is big in Lubbock.
“More often than not people are talking about food,” Harris said. “Who has the best of it, or where should we celebrate next.”
To figure out ‘who has the best’ is harder than it sounds. You could eat at a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday and still never cover them all. When discussing the first option that comes to mind when someone says food, start with the first meal of the day. There are three popular breakfast spots.
First and foremost, the Pancake House is a hoppin’ little joint off of Avenue Q where you’ll have to fight for a seat on the weekends. What to get there: the Hump. It’s a chicken fried steak with two eggs cooked your way, hash browns, and a side of biscuits and gravy or their famous homemade toast. Down here in Texas, it’s steak for breakfast.
The next two places take you to the Depot District. The Cast Iron Grill offers a true Texas experience from the décor down the floor. Cast Iron is a country style, breakfast sure-shot, but leave room for one of their infamous pies. Then there’s Ranch House, just off Buddy Holly Avenue. Because this place is only open for breakfast, and only on weekdays, you might have to sacrifice sleeping in or being a little late to work. Even so, your taste buds will thank you for kicking off the day with a short stack of pancakes and a ham steak. As for your diet plan, however, good luck.
For lunch, there’s more to choose from. If it’s on Sunday, call ahead to beat the church rush at Orlando’s Italian Restaurant. It’s a West Texas spin on Italy, complete with a heavenly thing called Mafia Queso that everyone should try.
‘Lunch in a New York Minute’ doesn’t get better than Stella’s. It’s centrally located in Lubbock with a high-end atmosphere, but one that doesn’t break the bank. They understand the working man. Lunch is efficient but awesome. What to get: the chicken fried chicken with mashed potatoes and cream corn.
However, the attraction for some places isn’t limited to their food. Trapped! Escape The Room is a dining experience unlike any other. You and your dinner party have one hour maximum to complete each course of your meal. In that hour, you must solve a riddle to gain access to the next room and course of the meal. It’s clean fun that the whole family can enjoy – just as long as you don’t get trapped.
If you’re looking for food with a cause, go no farther than the Texas Tech Skyview Restaurant. Perched inside one of Lubbock’s tallest buildings, you can enjoy a themed, five course meal on a seasonal menu with a wine pairing at every transition. Plus, you’ll be supporting a Red Raider as students strive to make their restaurant managerial debut. This attraction is part of a capstone course in the Restaurant and Hotel Institutional Management program at Texas Tech University. The theme varies by date, but you might enjoy any range of food designed after Mardi Gras, a Passport Through Europe, and even Game of Thrones.
You’ll soon find that Texas Tech is Lubbock and Lubbock is Texas Tech – a true college town. Support for the university is huge. No program is more popular in the restaurant economy than purchasing meat products from Raider Red Meats. Here, the products sold are locally sourced and student processed. You can try anything from their critically acclaimed beef BBQ cuts to their nationally championed blue berry breakfast sausage. So, if you’re bored with the idea of visiting restaurants, step out on your own. Just make sure you let our Food Science students help you out.
Local production of food and fiber is in increasing demand these days. That’s why Lubbock started the Downtown Farmers Market. Open every weekend in June through October, you can purchase anything necessary for your own specialty dining there.
If you ever heard the old fable of there being nothing in Lubbock but sand, wind and tortillas, think again. Coming up in April, there will be two Spring Strawberry Festival markets. Turns out, Lubbock has a climate that is conducive to growing berries, apples and grapes.
You read that right; actually, the semi-arid region of West Texas is perfect for vineyards. Any one of the five local wineries makes the ‘must-do’ list for Harris and Galle at Lubbock in the Loop. If you need a personal recommendation, the Knucklebump from the Caprock Winery has never let me down.
Surrounding the wine culture is art. It’s no surprise, with our healthy wine cultivation and ruggedly beautiful landscape, why artists flock to the South Plains. First Friday Art Trail is an opportunity to explore the avant-garde side of Lubbock. Naturally, if you’re here the first weekend of any month, you absolutely have to visit one of the numerous galleries in the Art District, or maybe the Buddy Holly museum located in the Depot District.
Here, you’ll be pleasantly overwhelmed with food trucks. You can find any range of meals from breakfast-on-a-stick to catfish dinners. The one you can miss: Big E’s. Originally a BBQ shack nestled in a bar alley of Lubbock’s Depot District, Big E’s has expanded to a mobile division. Their simple menu reigns supreme, and it’s nothing more than barbequed beef, pork, or shrimp wrapped in flower tortillas. You pick the sauce, and you can’t go wrong.
The Depot District is mother to one of the newest and most popular music genres in the nation: Texas Country. Several notable artists – Wade Bowen, Aaron Watson, William Clark Green and Josh Abbott to name a few – have cut their teeth in this town. If a cold drink is your vice, go no further then the historic Blue Light Live or the Cactus Theater.
So, ‘Lubbock or leave it.’ If you’re just passing through, why not eat it? Whether it’s the mountains, canyons, flat farmland, or Texas Tech University, you’ll surely come west. Do yourself a favor; hang around Lubbock when you do. Between the people, scenery and food, it may be hard for you to leave. No matter your taste, Lubbock has a flavor for you.