We’ve said it many times before, but for clarity’s sake: Southern hospitality and hefty portions will always trump white tablecloths and waiters dressed to the nines. It’s those precise reasons why hole-in-the-wall restaurants are our favorites, and lucky for us, Texas is chock-full of them. Here are 11 of our favorite spots to grab a no-frills meal that satiates both body and mind.
1. Butter Churn (Aransas Pass)
With two locations in South Texas, Butter Churn is committed to spreading the joy of down-home cooking far and wide. It's all-you-can-eat, featuring a different entree every week. Crowd favorites include sirloin steak, liver and onions, pork chops, and the 40-item salad bar. Address: 1275 South Bypass 35, Aransas Pass, TX 78336.
2. Joe's Barbecue Company (Alvin)
The fine people behind Joe's have spent every bit of the past 37 years perfecting their craft. Eight gigantic pits filled with Texas hickory lay the foundation for Angus beef, smoked ribs, jalapeno sausage, ham, and chicken. Don't stuff yourself too silly, as the homemade peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream simply can't be passed up. There's also a breakfast buffet! Address: 1400 East Highway 6,
Alvin, Texas 77512.
3. The Ridge Marketplace (Kerrville)
This charming cafe is part of The Ridge Marketplace, a shopping center that also features a bakery and enchanting fairy garden. From chicken-fried steak to fluffy buttermilk pancakes, everything is made from scratch with fresh, local ingredients. Kids 12 and under eat free on Tuesday evenings, and live bands perform at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Address: 13439 South Ranch Road 783, Kerrville, TX 78028.
4. The Jay Cafe (Needville)
Checkered tablecloths and blue plate specials keep the traditions of old-fashioned American diners alive. Everything is cooked to perfection, especially the chicken-fried steak: just crispy enough on the outside so as not to ruin the juicy, tender meat. Pair it with a loaded baked potato, and you'll leave the table nothing less than pleasantly stuffed. Good thing we all have a separate stomach for dessert because the coconut cream pie is absolutely unreal. Address: 16634 TX-36, Needville, TX 77461.
5. Clancy's Public House (Richmond)
With so many dining options in the Sugar Land area, low-key spots often get overlooked. Clancy's Public House is one such place, serving up Irish classics in a Celtic pub environment. Corned beef, stew, and potatoes (of course) are all traditionally prepared in Emerald Isle fashion. You can even pick up some batch meals to take home and enjoy all week long! Address: 503 FM 359 Road, #118, Richmond, TX 77406.
6. Cupp's Drive Inn (Waco)
Since 1947, this family-owned haunt has been a neighborhood institution. Hand-cut fries, juicy burgers with all the toppings, and the sincerest service around throw it back to the 1950s. Grab a seat at the counter and watch your meal being prepared from start to finish. Address: 1424 Speight Avenue, Waco, TX 76706.
7. OldWest Cafe (Sanger)
Something of a surprise, OldWest Cafe looks a lot fancier on the outside than it actually is. We mean that in the best way possible - cowboy decor and a saloon-like feel create an ambiance every Texan is sure to enjoy. Hefty portions of Southern classics are just the type of fuel we like to put in our tanks. Address: 2420 South Interstate 35, Denton, TX 76210.
8. Liberty Cafe (Freer)
If you're looking for white tablecloths and classical music playing in the background, keep driving. On the contrary, stop at Liberty Cafe for great food and friendly, yet no-frills service. Portions fit for a giant are sure to satisfy any craving, and they've been open long enough that quality is second-nature. Get the Carl Walker plate, which is basically loaded Tex-Mex cheese fries, and your life will be forever changed. Address: 420 Carolyn Street, Freer, TX 78357.
9. Pete's Cafe (Farmers Branch)
Pete's is a perfect example of why hole-in-the-wall restaurants will always be our favorites here in Texas. Breakfast platters, chicken-fried steak, pecan waffles, and so much more are mouthwatering every time. A cozy, family-friendly atmosphere and phenomenal service are just icing on the cake. Address: 3610 Belt Line Road, Farmers Branch, TX 75234.
10. The Prickly Pear (Cleburne)
Long lines are something of a regular occurrence here at The Prickly Pear, but that's a great sign - especially for small-town Texas. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, which includes staple entrees like meatloaf and delicacies such as calf fries. The relaxed atmosphere and attentive service seal the deal, promising an unforgettable dining experience all around. Address: 4103 TX-174, Cleburne, TX 76031.
11. The Kenney Store (Kenney)
More than just a restaurant, The Kenney Store is a place for families and friends to gather and have a good time - the great food is just a perk. You could spend ages sifting through the extensive menu, with everything from deli items to juicy steaks and gourmet mac and cheese. Enjoy live music by local artists every Wednesday night, and don't you dare leave without a slice of pecan pie. Address: 811 South Loop 497, Kenney, TX 77452.