I am a simple man in terms of my excesses. I don’t overindulge in anything, really. I spend within my limits and generally live and operate within my means.
Occasionally, however, I do indulge, and the wife and I will make our way out of town to hit up some of what we consider the finer eateries North Texas has to offer. Now, don’t go getting the wrong idea. I may watch Top Chef but I don’t eat as such. Snails, pate do foie gras, steaks the size of dimes and five course meals that serve as the size of an appetizer aren’t for me. No, thank you.
I appreciate good food. It can be outstanding barbecue or steaks done to perfection on an open-flame grill. You can even give me a perfectly cooked burger and I’m one happy camper. And don’t get me going on Jim’s Pizza buffet.
But for me, there is one place that is truly heaven. A friend told me about Rafain years ago and it was as if the angels sang down to me. For those who haven’t found heaven on earth yet, Rafain is a Brazilian steak house, or Churrascaria. Simply put, Brazilian waiters, or gauchos, come by your table and slice off hunks of meat directly onto your plate. These meat items are on skewers that have just come off the fire. The selections range from filet mignon to parmesan crusted pork to flank steak and everything in between. My personal favorite? Lamb with mint jelly. I spent 41 years without having tasted this…I can’t believe it, but it’s true.
So, yes, Rafain tops my personal list. However, there are truly some fine restaurants out there that offer great food, and some even offer a unique dining experience. I’ll skip the local ones here because I don’t want to preach to the choir as I’m sure we all have our favorite local establishments.
And know that I am no foodie, just a well-fed individual.
I recently — and I mean recently — discovered Babe’s Chicken in Frisco. I’ve only been once but I think my wife’s birthday demands a second visit (thanks, Honey). First of all, Babe’s is tucked in somewhere near downtown Frisco. I’ll seriously have to consult the map again because I can’t remember how to get there. Seems like there was something about a train depot and an old tractor…Anyway, Babe’s keeps it simple: they offer four types of chicken and one catfish main plate and you get sides to go with it. It is all done family style and the sides are all you can eat. Oh, did I mention the waitresses sing and dance country-style? And don’t expect to be knocked out by the ambience – it’s a barn with mix-and-match tables and chairs and, uh, questionable decorations. But, it just happens to be the best chicken my wife and I have ever tasted.
Road trips to Austin and San Antonio, which we embark on occasionally, demand a stop at Baby Acapulco’s. Baby A’s, as it is known, assaults the senses with pink flamingos, fake palm trees and pink neon all over the place. It also, however, has the best chicken fajitas we’ve ever tried. No matter how many great restaurants or food experiences there are to be enjoyed in Austin — and there are quite a few — we always hit Baby A’s first, despite the fact that a machismo-fillled waiter wouldn’t take my wife’s order when I left the table. Apparently a man needed to be present; she’s still seething about that one.
And as I’m writing this column I see something in my Inbox. Can it be? Yes, Red Lobster’s all-you-can-eat shrimp is back. Not only is all-you-can-eat shrimp a fantastic usage of the English language, but the service at Red Lobster is what you expect when you hit five-star, hoity-toity restaurants. This isn’t going to end well for me…
As I said, I’m a simple man with simple tastes.