Friday, March 26, 2010

Grazing Through Texas

I love to travel to small, out-of-the-way towns, and since I live fairly close to smack-dab in the middle of the gigantic state of Texas, much of my travelling is done there.

I also love to eat, and when I eat I prefer to eat good food. Since I am so often in places I've seldom been to before, for several years now I've been collecting the restaurant recommendations from several sources that I consider reliable: Texas Highways, a monthly magazine put out by the Texas Highway Department; Travel Texas, a publication of AAA-Texas; Texas Monthly, a glossy high-falutin' magazine that I only occasionally see; and occasionally other sources that don't immediately come to mind.

I thought I would put this collection of restaurant recommendations out there, in the ether, in case anybody else is driving around some remote part of the state and wondering if there's any decent place to have a bite. Now I can't guarantee that the places listed here are still in business -- some of these recommendations are several years old. But they are likely to be the best food available in a given town, and so, I think, are more likely than not to remain in operation.

There are 193 towns listed, naming well over 200 restaurants. The big cities that I go to most often -- Dallas, Austin, Houston and Fort Worth -- have few listings, just because I already know the places I like there, and have only included a few of the many recommendations published for those cities: places that, for one reason or another, particularly piqued my interest and that I wanted particularly to remember when the time came. And there are no listings in San Antonio, because (1) this city is the prime location for good food in Texas, I don't care what any snooty, misinformed Dallasites or Houstonians think. you can't swing a dead cat in this town without it smacking up against the wall of a damn good place to eat; and (2) I already have my own favourites, and have access through the internet to any other recommendations I might want -- an advantage I don't usually have out in, say, Crosby County.

Because there are so many towns listed, I've divided the locator map into six parts: the Panhandle (including Wichita Falls); North Texas; East Texas; South Texas (meaning the Rio Grande Valley and lower Texas coast); Central Texas, including the area around San Antonio (which I normally consider South Texas); and West Texas. If you know the name of the town you want to eat in, just look it up in the restaurant listings at the bottom. If you don't know what towns are around where you are, or will be at mealtime, look at the appropriate locator map, find the nearest numbers, see what towns the numbers represent, and then look those towns up in the alphabetical listings.

I do hope that makes sense.


Key to Town Numbers:

1 Abilene
2 Addison
3 Adkins
4 Alpine
5 Amarillo
6 Arlington
7 Athens
8 Austin
9 Balmorhea
10 Bandera
11 Bankersmith
12 Bastrop
13 Beaumont
14 Belton
15 Benbrook
16 Bertram
17 Big Bend N.P.
18 Blanco
19 Brenham
20 Brownwood
21 Campbellton
22 Canadian
23 Canutillo
24 Canyon
25 Celina
26 Center Point
27 Clarksville
28 Clear Lake City
29 Comfort
30 Concan
31 Conroe
32 Corpus Christi
33 Crockett
34 Crystal Beach
35 Cuero
36 Cushing
37 Decatur
38 Denton
39 Dickens
40 Driftwood
41 Duncanville
42 Eagle Lake
43 Eagle Pass
44 Early
45 East Bernard
46 Edinburg
47 Edom
48 El Paso
49 Elgin
50 Ennis
51 Fannin
52 Fayetteville
53 Flatonia
54 Floydada
55 Fort Davis
56 Fort Stockton
57 Fort Worth
58 Fredericksburg
59 Freeport
60 Galveston
61 Giddings
62 Glen Rose
63 Goldthwaite
64 Graham
65 Granbury
66 Harlingen
67 Hico
68 Hondo
69 Houston
70 Huntsville
71 Idalou
72 Italy
73 Jacksonville
74 Johnson City
75 Junction
76 Justin
77 Kenedy
78 Kerrville
79 Kilgore
80 Kountze
81 Kyle
82 La Grange
83 Lajitas
84 Lampasas
85 Laredo
86 Lavon
87 Leakey
88 Leander
89 Lillian
90 Lincoln
91 Livingston
92 Llano
93 Lockhart
94 Longview
95 Los Fresnos
96 Lubbock
97 Lufkin
98 Luling
99 Marathon
100 Marble Falls
101 Marfa
102 Marlin
103 Marshall
104 Mason
105 McAllen
106 Medina
107 Menard
108 Midland
109 Miller’s Grove
110 Mineola
111 Mirando City
112 Mission
113 Monahans
114 Mount Pleasant
115 Muenster
116 Nacogdoches
117 Navasota
118 Nederland
119 New Braunfels
120 North Richland Hills
121 Oakville
122 Odem
123 Odessa
124 Ojinaga (Mex.)
125 Orange
126 Ozona
127 Palestine
128 Pampa
129 Paris
130 Peadenville
131 Pearsall
132 Pharr
133 Plano
134 Port Aransas
135 Port Arthur
136 Port Isabel
137 Premont
138 Quitaque
139 Rio Grande City
140 Riviera
141 Roanoke
142 Robstown
143 Rockport
144 Round Mountain
145 Round Rock
146 Salado
147 San Angelo
148 San Benito
149 San Juan
150 San Leon
151 San Marcos
152 Sanderson
153 Santa Fe
154 Sherman
155 Silsbee
156 South Padre Island
157 Spicewood
158 Stephenville
159 Study Butte
160 Sulpher Springs
161 Surfside Beach
162 Sweetwater
163 Taylor
164 Terlingua
165 Texarkana (Texas and Arkansas)
166 Texas City
167 Tioga
168 Tolar
169 Turkey
170 Tuscola
171 Tyler
172 Uncertain
173 Valley View
174 Van Horn
175 Vega
176 Victoria
177 Waco
178 Walburg
179 Waskom
180 Waxahachie
181 Weatherford
182 Webster
183 Welfare
184 Weslaco
185 West
186 Wharton
187 Whitehouse
188 Whitney
189 Wichita Falls
190 Wimberley
191 Windom
192 Winnsboro
193 Woodville

 Restaurants, by town name:
Abilene: Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q, 1305 Walnut

Abilene: Square’s Bar-B-Que Pit & Grill, 210 N. Leggett
Abilene: McKay’s Bakery, 266 Cypress Street
Abilene: Joe Allen’s Bar-B-Que, 301 S. 11th Street
Abilene: Cypress Street Station, 158 Cypress Street
Addison: Chow Thai, 5290 Belt Line Road, at Montfort
Adkins: Texas Pride Barbecue, 2980 East Loop 1604
Adrian: MidPoint Café, Route 66
Alpine: La Trattoria, 901 E. Holland Avenue
Alpine: Edelweiss Brewery, 209 W Holland
Alpine: Reata Steak House, 203 N. 5th Street
Alpine: Texas Fusion, 200 W. Murphy Street
Alpine: Longhorn Steakhouse, 801 N. 5th
Amarillo: El Bracero Mexican Grill, 3303 Bell
Amarillo: Cowboy Gelato, 2806 6th Avenue
Amarillo: Crush Wine Bar & Deli, 701 S. Polk
Amarillo: Dyer’s BBQ
Amarillo: Golden Light Café, 2908 W. 6th
Amarillo: Green Chile Willy’s Grill, 13651 I-27
Amarillo: Joe Taco Mexi-café, 7312 Wallace Boulevard
Amarillo: Jorge’s Mexican Bar & Grill, 5807 W. 45th
Amarillo: Luigi’s Pizzeria, 2648 S.W. 34th Avenue
Amarillo: Napoli’s, 700 S. Taylor
Amarillo: Nu-Castle Diner, 518 E. 10th
Amarillo: Outlaws Supper Club, 10816 E. 3rd
Amarillo: Randy’s, 817 S. Polk
Amarillo: Scott’s Oyster Bar, 4150 Paramount Boulevard
Amarillo: Stockyard Café, 101 S. Manhattan
Amarillo: Thai Arawan, 2834 Wolflin Avenue
Amarillo: Village Bakery Café, 2606 W. 22nd
Amarillo: Zen 721, 614 S. Polk
Amarillo: Arnold Burgers, 1611 S. Washington Street
Amarillo: Acapulco Restaurant, 727 S. Polk Street
Amarillo: Blue Front Café, 801 S.W. 6th Avenue
Amarillo: Big Texan Steak Ranch, 7701 I-40 East
Arlington: Olenjack’s Grille, 770 Road to Six Flags East
Athens: Cripple Creek BBQ, 500 S Palestine
Austin: Cookie Lounge, 2222 Rio Grande, Suite C102
Austin: Hut’s Hamburgers, 807 West 6th Street
Austin: Fion Wine Pub, 2900 N. Quinlan Park Road
Austin: Chris’ Little Chicago, 3600 South Lamar
Balmorhea: Cueva de Oso, 209 N. El Paso
Bandera: The Grotto, 907 13th Street
Bandera: Old Spanish Trail Restaurant, 305 Main Street (“not exceptional”)
Bandera: Fool Moon Café, 204 Main Street
Bankersmith (Fredericksburg): Alamo Springs Café, 107 Alamo Road
Bastrop: Green Chai Dafe, Main Street near the old bridge
Bastrop: Big Mouth Southwestern Grill: Main Street downtown
Bastrop: Lock Drug soda fountain, Main Street in the Miley Bldg
Bastrop: RosCar Chocolate, “just off Texas 71 East”
Beaumont: Sartin’s West, 6680 Calder Avenue
Beaumont: Spindletop Steakhouse, 290 Crockett Street
Beaumont: Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar, 461 Bowie Street
Beaumont: Poblano Grill, 3350 Dowlen Road
Beaumont: Novrozsky’s Diner, 4230 Calder Avenue
Beaumont: Willy Ray’s Bar-B-Q & Grill, 145 I-10 North
Beaumont: Fat Mac’s Smokehouse, 5555 Calder Avenue
Beaumont: Pine Tree Lodge, 3296 Pinetree Road
Beaumont: Floyd’s Cajun Seafood & Steak House, 2290 I-10 South (exit 849)
Beaumont: Vautrot’s Cajun Cuisine, 13353 Highway 105
Belton: Schoepf’s Old-Time Pit Bar-B-Que, 702 E. Central Avenue
Benbrook: Café 1187, 8780 F.M. 1187 East
Bertram: Bertram Smoke Haus, 330 N. Lampasas
Big Bend National Park: Chisos Mountain Lodge, Chisos Basin Rural Station
Blanco: Blanco Bowling Club, 310 4th Street (have some pie)
Brazoria: 2J’s Café and Marina, 5100 CR 469
Brazoria: Dido’s, 2922 CR 519
Brenham: Funky Art Café, 202 Commerce Street
Brenham: BT Longhorn Saloon & Steakhouse, 205 S. Baylor
Brownwood: The Turtle Restaurant, 514 Center Avenue
Bryan: Stover Boys Burgers, 4337 Wellborn Road
Burnet: Highlander Restaurant, 410 Buchanan Drive
Camp Wood: BJ’s Restaurant, 107 Nueces Street (Texas Hwy 55)
Campbellton: Stetson, 2825 Commerce Street
Canadian: Cattle Exchange, 2nd at Main
Canutillo: The Little Diner & Tortilla Factory, 7209 7th Street
Canyon: Feldman’s Wrong-Way Diner, 2100 N. 2nd Avenue
Celina: Lucy’s On the Square, 127 N. Ohio
Center Point: Dave’s Place, 170 Center Point River Road (nr Tx Hwy 27)
Clarksville: Coleman’s Barbecue, 604 N. Martin Luther King cash only
Clear Lake City: Tommy’s, 2555 Bay Area Blvd
Clear Lake City: Abe’s Cajun Market, 1080 Clear Lake City Blvd
Comfort: High’s, 712 High Street
Comfort: 814 Texas Bistro, 713 High Street
Comfort: Cypress Creek Inn Restaurant, 408 Texas Hwy 27
Comfort: Comfort Common, 717 High Street
Concan: Neal’s Lodges’ Dining Room, 20970 Hwy 127
Conroe: Vernon’s Kuntry Bar-B-Que, 5000 W David St
Corpus Christi: The Bar-B-Q Man, 4931 Interstate 37 South
Corpus Christi: Hester’s Café & Coffee Bar, 1714 S. Alameda (enter on Palmero)
Corpus Christi: Frank’s Spaghetti House, 2724 Leopard
Corpus Christi: Water Street Oyster Bar, 309 N. Water Street
Corpus Christi: Katz 21 Steak & Spirits, 317 N. Mesquite
Corpus Christi: Luciano’s, 1821 S. Alameda
Corpus Christi: Dragonfly, 13925 S.P.I.D.
Corpus Christi: Sultan Mediterranean Cuisine, 6646 S. Staples
Corpus Christi: The Torch, 4425 S. Alameda
Corpus Christi: Vietnam, 701 N. Water Street
Corpus Christi: Hemingway’s Bar & Grill, 1008 E. North St., at Magnolia
Corpus Christi: Café Aeby, 3815 S. Alameda
Corpus Christi: Mamma Mia’s, 128 N. Mesquite cash only
Corpus Christi: 517 Tearoom & Deli, 517 Everhart Road
Crockett: Thompson’s BBQ, 1210 E. Loop 304
Crystal Beach: 1290 Bay Vue Road
Crystal Beach: Stingaree, 1295 Stingaree Road
Cuero: Bahnhof Café, 213 W. Main
Cushing: 7th Street Restaurant, 754 7th Street
Decatur: Whistle Stop Café, 904 S. Business U.S. 287
Denton: Green House Restaurant & Bar, 600 N. Locust
Dickens: TC’s Ponderosa, 136 U.S. Hwy 82
Driftwood: Trattoria Lisina, 13308 FM 150 West (in the winery)
Driftwood: Salt Lick Barbecue
Duncanville: Kitchens Deli, 302 N. Main (in Ben Franklin Apothecary Shop)
Eagle Lake: Austin’s BBQ & Catering, 507 E. Main
Eagle Pass: Parilla de San Miguel, 408 S. Texas Drive
Early: Jerry’s Burgers & Shakes, 1016 Early Boulevard
East Bernard: Vincek’s Smokehouse, Texas Hwy 60 at U.S. 90A
Edinburg: Cornerstone Grill, 2702 Cornerstone Blvd
Edinburg: Monster Carwash Coffee Bar & Grill, 2702 W. University Drive
Edinburg: Coffee Zone, 1108 S. McColl Road
Edinburg: Adobe Grill & Bar, 308 N. Closner Blvd
Edinburg: 107 Café, 4129 W. University Drive
Edom: The Shed Café, Texas Hwy 279 at Texas Hwy 314 cash only
Edom: Edom Bakery & Grill, FM 317 at FM 279
El Paso: Chico’s Tacos, 1235 Mcrae Blvd
El Paso: Chicago Street Food, 2400 Mesa
El Paso: Toro Burger Bar, 2609 N Mesa
El Paso: Sunset Pizzeria, 4176 Mesa
El Paso: Don Camaron Seafood, 5362 N. Mesa
El Paso: Mesa Bistro & Wine Bar, 5411 N. Mesa
El Paso: Charcoaler Drive In, 5837 N. Mesa
El Paso: Café Italia, 6705 Mesa
El Paso: Saigon Taste, 6940 N. Mesa
El Paso: Leo’s Mexican Food Restaurant, 8001 N. Mesa
El Paso: Leo’s Mexican Food Restaurant, 315 E. Mills
El Paso: L& J Café, 3622 E. Missouri
El Paso: Capetto’s Italian Restaurant, 2716 Montana Avenue
El Paso: 3710 Montana Avenue
El Paso: Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s, 1310 Magrudere
El Paso: Chico’s Tacos, 5305 Montana Avenue
El Paso: Susaki Lounge, 1506 Lee Trevino Drive
El Paso: Trattoria Bella Sera, 9449 Montana Avenue
El Paso: Tony’s “The Pit” Bar-B-Q, 1700 Myrtle Avenue
El Paso: Café Central, 109 N. Oregon Street
El Paso: House of Pizza, 2016 N. Piedras
El Paso: Papaburgers, 2519 Piedras
El Paso: Global Greens (vegetarian), 2534 Porter Avenue
El Paso: Track One, 1330 Robert E. Lee Road
El Paso: Geogeske, 2701 N. Stanton
El Paso: The State Line, 1222 Sunland Park Drive (barbecue)
El Paso: Capetto’s Italian Restaurant, 2285 Trawood Avenue
El Paso: H&H Car Wash, 701 E. Yandell Street
El Paso: El Nopal, 1155 Zaragosa
El Paso: San Isidro Mission Café, 6135 West Side Drive lunch only
El Paso: Leo’s Mexican Food Restaurant, 5103 Montana Avenue
El Paso: Pelican’s, 1780 N. Lee Trevino Drive
El Paso: Chico’s Tacos, 4230 Alameda
El Paso: Rafa’s Burritos, 1580 George Dieter Drive
El Paso: Ardovino’s, 206 Cincinnati Avenue
El Paso: Shangri-La, 8030 Gateway Blvd East
El Paso: Crave Kitchen & Bar, 300 Cincinnati
El Paso: Pho Tre Bien, 6946 Gateway East
El Paso: Chubby’s Bronx Deli, 5630 Gateway Blvd East
El Paso: Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch, 3450 S. Fabens Carlsbad Rd
El Paso: China Star Bistro, 9225 Dyer
El Paso: Chico’s Tacos, 3401 Dyer
El Paso: Biagio’s Cuisine Italiano (vegetarian), 5222 Doniphan
El Paso: Rosa’s Cantina, 3454 Doniphan
El Paso: Rafa’s Burritos, 408 Dodge Road
El Paso: Elmer’s Family Restaurant, 6305 Montana Avenue
Elgin: Southside Market & Barbecue, Hwy 290 at Hwy 95 North
Ennis: Bubba’s Bar-B-Q, 210 I-45 South
Fannin: McMillan’s Bar-B-Q, 9913 U.S. 59
Fayetteville: Orsak’s Café, 121 West Fayette Street, on the town square
Fayetteville: Joe’s Place at Baca’s Saloon, 120 N. Live Oak
Flatonia: Robert’s Steakhouse, 1241 N. Hwy 95
Floydada: Leonard’s Café, 321 S. 2nd Street
Floydada: Triple T’s Restaurant, 601 S. 2nd, at the Y
Fort Davis: Fort Davis Drugstore, Hwy 17 downtown
Fort Stockton: Bienvenidos Café, 405 W. Dickinson
Fort Worth: Esperanza’s, 1601 Park Place
Fort Worth: Dixie House Café, 5401 S. Hulen
Fort Worth: The Covey Restaurant & Brewery, 3010 S. Hulen
Fort Worth: Cousin’s Barbecue, 6262 McCart Avenue
Fort Worth: Chadra Mezza & Grill, 1622 Park Place Avenue
Fort Worth: Carshon’s Deli, 3133 Cleburne Road cash only
Fort Worth: Café Aspen, 6103 Camp Bowie
Fort Worth: Buttons, 4701 West Freeway (I-30) at Hulen
Fort Worth: Buffalo Bros, 3015 S. University Drive
Fort Worth: Sublime Bakery, 5512 S. Bellaire Drive
Fort Worth: Boomer Jack’s Burgers, 2600 W. Seventh
Fort Worth: Robinson’s Barbecue
Fort Worth: Railhead Smokehouse Barbecue
Fort Worth: Cousin’s Barbecue
Fort Worth: Angelo’s Barbecue
Fort Worth: Yucatan Taco Stand, 909 W. Magnolia
Fort Worth: Winslow’s Wine Café, 4101 Camp Bowie Blvd
Fort Worth: Eurotazza Coffeehouse, 6323 Camp Bowie Blvd
Fort Worth: The Ginger Man, 3716 Camp Bowie Blvd
Fort Worth: Flying Fish Seafood, 2913 Montgomery
Fort Worth: Brix (Italian), 2747 S. Hulen
Fort Worth: Sapristi, 2418 Forest Park Blvd
Fort Worth: Ruffino’s, 2455 Forest Park Blvd
Fort Worth: Reata, 310 Houston Street
Fort Worth: Paris Coffee Shop, 704 W. Magnolia
Fort Worth: Ovation (Cajun), 6115 Camp Bowie
Fort Worth: Old Neighbourhood Grill, 1633 Park Place Avenue
Fort Worth: Ocean Rock Restaurant, 3468 Bluebonnet Circle
Fort Worth: Love Shack, 110 E. Exchange Avenue
Fort Worth: Lili’s Bistro on Magnolia, 1310 W. Magnolia Avenue
Fort Worth: Kincaid’s, 4825 Overton Ridge
Fort Worth: Joe T. Garcia’s, 2201 N. Commerce
Fort Worth: Grady’s, 2443 Forest Park Blvd
Fort Worth: Fortuna, 5837 Camp Bowie Blvd
Fredericksburg: Rather, 342 W. Main
Fredericksburg: Silver Creek Beer Garden, 310 E. Main
Fredericksburg: Taqueria Altos de Jalisco #6, 1410 E. Main
Fredericksburg: Auslander, 323 E. Main
Fredericksburg: Hondo’s, 312 W. Main
Fredericksburg: Pasta Bella, 103 S. Llano
Fredericksburg: Navajo Grill, 803 E. Main
Fredericksburg: August E’s, 203 E. San Antonio, at Llano
Fredericksburg: Bejas Grill & Cantina, 209 E. Main cash only
Fredericksburg: Hill Top Café, 10661 U.S. 87, 10 miles N toward Mason
Fredericksburg: Fredericksburg Brewing Company, 245 E. Main
Fredericksburg: El Maguey (Agave) Mexican Restaurant, 116 N. Crockett
Freeport: On the River, 919 W. 2nd
Galveston: Leo’s Cajun Corner, 3201 Broadway
Galveston: Leon’s World’s Finest In and Out BBQ, 5427 Broadway
Galveston: Luigi’s, 2328 Strand
Galveston: Lunchbox Café, 213 23rd Street
Galveston: Mario’s Ristorante Italiano, 6023 Avenue Q ½
Galveston: Mediterranean Chef, 2402 Strand
Galveston: Merchant Prince, Tremont House Hotel, 2300 Ships Mechanic Row
Galveston: Miller’s Seawall Grill, 1824 Seawall Blvd
Galveston: Mosquito Café, 628 14th Street
Galveston: Olympia Grill, 4908 Seawall Blvd
Galveston: Avery’s Bayside Café, 21706 Burnet Drive at West Bay Marina
Galveston: Original Mexican Café, 1401 Market
Galveston: Palm’s M&M, 2401 Church
Galveston: Pancakes Restaurant, 500 Harborside Drive
Galveston: La Mixteca, 1818 Mechanic
Galveston: Pho 20, 3728 Broadway
Galveston: Pic’s on 45th, 1728 45th
Galveston: The Waterman, 14302 Stewart Road
Galveston: Café Madrid, 2111 Postoffice
Galveston: Captain’s Table, 11126 FM 3005
Galveston: Saltwater Grill, 2017 Post Office
Galveston: Starfire Grill, 2412 Bay Area Blvd
Galveston: Shrimp & Stuff, 3901 Avenue O
Galveston: Sky Bar (Japanese/Indian), 2017 Post Office
Galveston: Smooth Tony’s Deli, 415 9th Street
Galveston: Speculoos Bakery & Café, 216 33rd
Galveston: The Spot, 3204 Seawall Blvd
Galveston: Star Drug Store, 510 Tremont
Galveston: Pho 18, 704 Holiday Drive
Galveston: LA King’s Confectionery, 2323 Strand cash only
Galveston: Hunan Star, 2453 Bay Area Blvd
Galveston: Henry’s, 2823 Broadway (Salvadoran)
Galveston: Gordita’s Mexico, 712 Seawall Blvd cash only
Galveston: Gaido’s Seafood, 3800 Seawall
Galveston: Fullen’s Waterwall
Galveston: Sunflower Bakery & Café, 512 14th Street
Galveston: Fish Tales, 2502 Seawall Blvd
Galveston: Don Pico’s, 2110 Bay Area Blvd
Galveston: Rudy and Paco’s, 2028 Post Office
Galveston: Di Bella’s Italian Restaurant, 1902 31st Street cash only
Galveston: Courtyard Café, 2519 Market
Galveston: Eatcetera, 408 25th Street
Galveston: Casey’s Seafood Café, 3800 Seawall Blvd
Galveston: Benno’s, 1200 Seawall Blvd
Galveston: Taqueria Juarez, 1424 Strand
Giddings: City Meat Market, 101 W. Austin
Glen Rose: Storiebook Café, 502 NE Barnard Street
Glen Rose: Ranch House Barbecue, 1408 NE Big Bend Trail (US 67)
Goldthwaite: Peabody’s, 1206 Fisher
Goldthwaite: Wagon Wheel Restaurant, 1004 Fisher Street
Graham: Wildcatter Steakhouse, Wildcatter Ranch Resort, 6062 Hwy 16 S
Granbury: Stringfellow’s, 101 E. Pearl
Gruene: see New Braunfels
Harlingen: Smokey Joe’s Bar-B-Que and Grill, 102 N. Business Hwy 77
Hico: Koffee Kup, US 281 at Texas Hwy 6
Hondo: McBee’s Bar-B-Q, 1301 19th Street
Houston: Lankford Grocery & Market, 88 Dennis St
Houston: Luling City Market, in the Galleria
Houston: Avalon Drug Store & Diner, 2417 Westheimer cash only
Houston: Goode Co. Texas Bar-B-Q, 5109 Kirby Drive
Houston: Ocean Palace, 11215 Bellaire Boulevard
Huntsville: Homestead on 19th, 1215 19th St
Huntsville: New Zion Bar-B-Q, 2601 Montgomery Road
Huntsville: Puerto Aventura, 269 Texas Hyw 75 North
Huntsville: Five Loaves Deli, Midway Plaza, 1329 University Avenue
Huntsville: Farmhouse Café, 1004 14th Street
Idalou: Apple Country Café, US 62/82 East, 4 miles from town
Italy: Uptown Café, 129 W Main
Jacksonville: Stacy’s BBQ, 1217 S. Jackson
Jefferson: Austin Street Bistro, 117 E. Austin Street
Johnson City: Chrome Cactus, 801 South US 281
Johnson City: Hill Country Cupboard, US 281 at US 290
Junction: Cooper’s Bar-B-Q & Grill, 2423 N. Main
Junction: Lum’s Bar-B-Que, 2031 N. Main Street
Junction: Isaacks Diner, 1606 Main Street
Justin: Lonesome Spur Café, 218 S. Texas Hwy 156
Kenedy: Barth’s Restaurant, 445 N. Sunset
Kerrville: Buzzie’s Bar-B-Que, 213 Schreiner
Kerrville: Pampell’s Restaurant & Grill, 701 Water Street
Kerrville: Cowboy Steak House, 416 Main Street
Kilgore: Back Porch, 904 Broadway Blvd
Kilgore: Country Tavern, Hwy 31 at FM 2767
Kilgore: Big T’s, 203 Southport Road
Kountze: Caroline’s Quality and Quantity Bar-B-Que, 320 3rd Street
Kountze: Mama Jack’s, US. 69
Kyle: Texas Pie Company, 202 W Center St
LaGrange: Weikel’s Store & Bakery, 2247 W. Hwy 71
LaGrange: Fishes & Loaves Family Restaurant, 4601 Texas Hwy 159
Lajitas: Candelilla Café, Lajitas Resort, FM 170
Lampasas: Yumm Factory Café, 1902 S. Key Avenue
Laredo: Las Gorditas Traditional Mexican Cuisine, 9902 McPherson Rd
Laredo: Limasol, 120 W. Village Blvd
Laredo: Los Generales, 3319 Santa Maria Avenue
Laredo: La India Tasting Room Café, 1520 Marcella Ave
Laredo: Toño’s Bar & Grill, 1202 E. Del Mar Blvd
Laredo: Mariscos el Pescador Restaurant, 207 Shiloh Drive
Laredo: Le Mexicana, 1902 Santa Ursula
Laredo: La Estancia, 5509 McPherson
Laredo: Horseshoe BBQ, 1406 Jacaman Rd
Laredo: Emperor Garden, 620 W. Calton Road
Laredo: El Rancho Su Majested el Taco, 9720 McPherson
Laredo: El Mesquite, 3810 San Bernardo
Laredo: Eduardo’s Mexican Food, Steaks, & Smoke House, 4160 Zapata Hwy
Laredo: Charlie’s Corona, 3902 San Bernardo Avenue
Laredo: Athens Greek & Mediterranean Restaurant, 9652 McPherson Road
Laredo: Briskets & Beer Smokehouse, 2002 Chihuahua
Laredo: Ostioneria y Cocteleria Mazatlan, 4910 S. Zapata Hwy
Laredo: Palenque Grill, 7220 Bob Bullock Loop
Laredo: Pepe’s Restaurant, 5119 Fairfield, off Loop 20
Laredo: Tacolare, 6102 McPherson
Laredo: Alegria Bistro & Wine Bar, 107 Calle del Norte
Laredo: Torta Express, 2438 Monarch Dr
Laredo: Real de Mexico, 7619 Rocio Drive
Laredo: Monina’s, 2519 E. Saunders
Laredo: Las Cazuelas, 303 Market
Lavon: Big Daddy’s Roadhouse BBQ, 1000 Texas Hwy 78
Leakey: Alamo Grocery, 257 Main Street
Leakey: Leakey Feed Lot, 547 U.S. 83
Leander: O’Leander Café, 105 W. Willis Street
Lillian: Casstevens Cash & Carry, 11025 E. FM 917
Lincoln: Elm Creek Café, 33 Texas Hwy 21 W (4 mi. W of town)
Livingston: Courthouse Whistle Stop Café, 318 N. Washington Avenue
Livingston: Florida’s Restaurant, 796 FM 350
Llano: Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, 604 W. Young Street (Hwy 29)
Llano: Stonewall Pizza, on the town square
Llano: Berry Street Bakery, 901 Berry Street
Lockhart: Kreuz Market, 619 (916?) N. Colorado Street
Lockhart: Black’s Barbecue, 215 N. Main Street
Lockhart: Smitty’s Market, 208 S. Commerce Street
Longview: Tyler Street Bistro, 102 E. Tyler
Longview: Carter’s Bar-B-Que
Longview: Café Barrons, 405 North Loop 281 West
Longview: Dudley’s Cajun Café, 1601 E. Marshall Avenue
Longview: Johnny Cace’s Seafood & Steakhouse, 1501 E. Marshall Avenue
Los Fresnos: Wild Blue BBQ, 31230 Texas Hwy 1q00
Lubbock: Home Café, 3131 34th
Lubbock: Cagle Steaks, 118 Inler Avenue (FM 179)
Lubbock: Café 3, 2605 19th
Lubbock: India Palace, 3021 34th
Lubbock: Bigham’s Smokehouse, 4302 19th Street
Lubbock: Aloha BBQ Grill, 9810 Indiana Avenue
Lubbock: 82nd Street Café, 3416 82nd Street
Lubbock: Jerry’s Grill, 3720 4th, at Rawls Golf Course
Lubbock: Cancún Mexican Restaurant, 7905 University Avenue
Lubbock: Harrigan’s, 3827 50th
Lubbock: Granny Katz Tea Room, 6409 Indiana Avenue
Lubbock: Gardski’s Loft, 2009 Broadway
Lubbock: Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, 5604 Slide Road
Lubbock: French Quarter Bistro, 1636 13th
Lubbock: Durango’s, 4001 19th
Lubbock: Chez Suzette, 4423 50th
Lubbock: Cast Iron Grill, 1711 Avenue K
Lubbock: Caprock Café, 3405 34th Street
Lubbock: La Diosa Cellars, 901 17th Street
Lubbock: 50 Yard Line Steakhouse, 2549 S. Loop 289
Lufkin: Manhattan Fine Dining & Continental Cuisine, 107 W. Lufkin Avenue
Luling: City Market, 633 E. Davis Street
Luling: Luling Bar-B-Q, 709 E. Davis Street
Marathon: Café Cenizo, Gage Hotel, 101 US 90W
Marathon: Famous Burro, 100 NE US 90
Marathon: IT, Gage Hotel, 102 US 90W
Marble Falls: Blue Bonnet Café, 211 U.S. Hwy 281
Marfa: Cochineal, 109 W. San Antonio
Marfa: Pizza Foundation, 100 E. San Antonio
Marfa: Maiya’s, 103 N. Highland Street
Marfa: Food Shark cash only (Mediterranean)
Marfa: Jett’s Grill, Hotel Paisano, 207 N. Highland
Marlin: Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Q, 1203 Bennett cash only
Marshall: Joe Buck’s Place, 315 N. Alamo Blvd
Mason: Northside Café, 510 Broad Street
Mason: Santos Taqueria y Cantina, 205 San Antonio Street
McAllen: Espi & T’s, 2101 N. 10th
McAllen: Mama’s Pizzeria, 401 N. 10th
McAllen: Osuka (Japanese), 7100 N. 10th
McAllen: Royal China, 1020 Nolana Loop
McAllen: Santa Fe Steakhouse, 1918 S. 10th
McAllen: Tabasco Grill, 4853 N. McColl Road
McAllen: La Mexicana, 4300 N. 2nd
McAllen: Bajio, 5712 N. 10th
McAllen: Woodlands Comfort Food Grill, 6800 N. 10th
McAllen: Republic of the Rio Grande, 1411 S. 10th
McAllen: B&M Bistro, 7017 N. 10th
McAllen: Bacci Bacci Pizza, 3300 N. McColl
McAllen: Lansky & Brats, 400 Nolana
McAllen: La Justicia Restaurante y Tacqueria, 5421 N. 23rd
McAllen: La Marina Seafood & Grill, 7001 N. 10th
McAllen: Korea Garden, 3424 N. 10th
McAllen: La Bussola (Italian), 3300 N. McColl Road
McAllen: Palenque Grill, 606 US Hwy 83E
McAllen: Fresco (Italian), 7017 N. 10th
McAllen: Thai Red Chili’s, 3507 N. Ware Road
McAllen: Taste of India, 2120 Nolana
McAllen: Doggies, 104 N. Bicentennial Blvd
McAllen: Hop Tung (Vietnamese), 4200 N. 10th
Medina: Love Creek Orchards Patio Café, Texas Hwy 16 North
Menard: Side Oats Café & Bakery, 509 Ellis
Midland: MD Pizza Factory, 1805 Rankin Hwy
Midland: Southern Velle, 101 N. Mineola
Midland: Eddie’s Catfish, 301 N. Lee
Midland: KD’s Bar BQ, 3109 Garden City Hwy
Midland: Stagecoach West, 4410 N. Midkiff
Midland: Patron’s Mexican Restaurant y Cantina, 3303 N. Midkiff Road
Midland: Kuo’s Chinese Restaurant, 3303 N. Midkiff
Midland: The Bar, 606 W. Missouri Avenue
Midland: Harvest Café, 2101 W. Wadley
Midland: Bushido Japanese Steak House, 4416 Briarwood
Midland: Burgers Fries & Cherry Pies, 5210 W. Wadley
Miller’s Grove: Stacey’s Fish Fry, 7565 F.M. 275 South
Mineola: Kitchens Hardware & Deli, 119 E. Broad
Mineola: East Texas Burger Co., 126 E. Broad
Mirando City: Lala’s Café, 5th Street at Main
Mission: Pepe’s On the River, 2601 South Conway Avenue
Mission: El Rodeo No. 2, 622 N. Conway
Mission: Lone Star Bar-B-Q, 2224 E. US 83
Mission: Grill & Bar at the Grove, 4001 S. Shary Road
Mission: Shotz Bar & Grill, 2530 E. Griffin Parkway
Monahans: Pappy’s Bar-BQ, 1901 S. Stockton Ave nr I-20
Monahans: Spotlight, 2003 N. Main
Monahans: Texas T’s, 720 S. Main
Monahans: Vicky’s, 400 N. Main
Mount Pleasant: Bodacious Bar-B-Q, 100 W. Ferguson Road
Muenster: The Center (German), 603 US 82 East
Muenster: Doc’s Bar & Grill, 113 N. Main Street
Muenster: Rohmer’s Restaurant, 217 E Division (US 82)
Nacogdoches: Dye’s Kountry Katfish, Texas Hwy 21, 8 miles east
Nacogdoches: CC’s Smokehouse, 2709 Westward Drive
Nacogdoches: Garden of (Good) Eatin’, 4781 Texas Hwy 21 W
Nacogdoches: Barbecue House, 704 N. Stallings Drive
Navasota: 905 W. Washington (Hwy 105)
Nederland: Sanderson’s Restaurant
Nederland: Schooners Seafood
New Braunfels: Gristmill River Restaurant, 1287 Gruene Road
New Braunfels: Huisache Grill, 303 West San Antonio Street
New Braunfels: Myron’s Prime Steakhouse, 136 N. Castell Avenue
New Braunfels: Liberty Bistro, 200 N. Seguin Avenue
New Braunfels: Naegelin’s Bakery, 129 S. Seguin Avenue
North Richland Hills: Ernie’s Seafood, 8206 Bedford Road
Oakville: Van’s Bar-B-Q, 2648 I-37 at Exit 65
Odem: Railroad Seafood Station, US 77 South
Odessa: Johnny’s Bar-B-Q, 2201 Kermit Highway
Odessa: Zucchi’s Ristorante Italiano, 1541 John Ben Shepperd Parkway
Odessa: Garibaldy’s Tacos, 4206 Andrews Hwy
Odessa: Oie’s Spicy Thai, 1133 E. 42nd
Odessa: Delicias, 716 W. 8th
Odessa: Barn Door, 2140 N. Grant Avenue (Andrews Hwy)
Ojinaga: Los Comales, 106 Calle Zaragosa
Orange: Robert’s Steakhouse, 3720 W. Park Avenue
Ozona: The Café Next Door, I-10 at Exit 365
Palestine: Baby J’s Bar-B-Que & Fish, FM 2419 at US 287
Pampa: Dyer’s BBQ
Paris: Scholl Brothers Bar-B-Que, 1528 Lamar Avenue
Peadenville: Hashknife On The Chisholm, 8131 N. US 281
Pearsall: Cowpokes Texas-Style Bar-B-Que, 855 W. Comal (Tx Hwy 140)
Pharr: La Mexicana, 709 W. US 83
Pharr: El Rincon Regio, 805 E. Ferguson
Plano: Ye Olde Butcher Shop, 811 E. 15th Street
Port Aransas: Venetian Hot Plate, 232 Beach Avenue
Port Aransas: Beulah’s, in the Pelican Club, 914 Tarpon
Port Aransas: Shell’s Pasta & Seafood, 522 E. Avenue G
Port Aransas: Virginia’s On the Bay, 815 Trout Street
Port Aransas: Port Aransas Brewing Company, 429 N. Alister Street
Port Arthur: Jaws Bar-B-Que, 1448 7th Street
Port Arthur: Esther’s Cajun Seafood, 7237 Rainbow Lane
Port Isabel: Pirate’s Landing, 110 South Garcia Street
Port Isabel: Marcello’s, 110 North Tarnava Street
Premont: The Oasis, 303 S. Broadway (US 281)
Quitaque: Sportsman Café, 114 W. Main Street (“queen of chile rellenos”)
Rio Grande City: Caro’s, 205 N. Garcia
Riviera: King’s Inn
Roanoke: Classic Café at Roanoke, 504 N. Oak Street
Robstown: Joe Cotten’s Barbecue, U.S. 77 cash only
Rockport: Latitude 2802, 105 N. Austin
Round Mountain: Real New Orleans Style Restaurant, 15041-B US 281 N
Round Rock: Salt Lick Barbecue
Round Rock: Round Rock Donuts, 106 W Liberty St
Salado: The Range, 101 North Main Street
San Angelo: Packsaddle Bar-B-Que, 6007 Knickerbocker Road, at Red Bluff Road
San Benito: Longhorn Cattle Company, 3055 US Hwy 83 West (Paso Real exit)
San Juan: Smokey’s Bar-B-Que, 608 W. Hwy 83
San Juan: Taqueria del Pueblo, 500 S. San Antonio
San Leon: Misho’s Oyster Company, 1515 10th Street
San Leon: Gilhooley’s Raw Bar, 222 9th Street
San Marcos: Cool Mint Café, 415 Burleson Street
Sanderson: Paddy’s Pub & Restaurant, 309 W. Oak Street (US 90)
Santa Fe: Sherry’s Busy Bee Café, 12350 Highway 6
Sargent: Sting Rae’s, Texas Highway 457, at the GIWW swing bridge
Sherman: OO Smokehouse, 200 S. Montgomery
Sherman: City Limits, 4521 Texoma Parkway
Silsbee: West Texas Style Bar-B-Que, 3078 Hwy 96 North
South Padre Island: Fishbones Pier & Grill, 1 Padre Blvd
South Padre Island: Naturally’s Health Food Store & Café, 3109 Padre Blvd
South Padre Island: Shrimp Haus, 33261 State Park Road 100
Spicewood: Opie’s Barbecue, 9504 E. Texas Hwy 71
Stephenville: Jake & Dorothy’s Café, 406 E. Washington
Study Butte: Roadrunner Deli, Texas Hwy 118 South
Sulpher Springs: LouViney Winery & Restaurant, 206 Main Street
Sulpher Springs: Burgers and Fries, 208-B College Street
Surfside Beach: Red Snapper Inn, 402 Blue Water Highway
Sweetwater: Allen Family Style Meals, 1301 E. Broadway
Tarpley: Mac & Ernie’s, 11804 F.M. 470 (at F.M. 462)
Taylor: Louie Mueller BBQ, 206 W. 2nd Street
Taylor: Taylor Café, 101 N. Main
Terlingua: Long Draw Pizza, Texas Hwy 170 cash only
Terlingua: Los Paisanos, FM 170
Terlingua: Kathy’s Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe, Hwy 170, a mile west of 118
Terlingua: Chile Pepper Café, Texas Hwy 118 cash only
Terlingua: Starlight Theatre
Terlingua: Rio Bravo, FM 170 1 mi. W of FM 118
Texarkana: IronWood Grill, 4312 Morris Lane
Texarkana: Bryce’s Cafeteria, 2021 Mall Drive (I-30, exit 222)
Texarkana: Big Jake’s Smokehouse, 2610 New Boston Road
Texarkana: Shorty’s Southern Maid Donuts & Diner, 115 Main Street
Texarkana: Timothy’s, 4115 North Kings Highway
Texarkana (Ark.): Hopkins Icehouse, 301 East 3rd
Texarkana (Ark.): Dixie Diner, 3200 North State Line Avenue
Texas City: The Reef Seafood House, 1301 31½ at Palmer Hwy
Tioga: Clark’s Outpost, 101 Highway 377, at Gene Autry Drive (barbecue)
Tolar: Line Camp Steakhouse, 4610 Shaw Rd
Turkey: Galvan’s, 502 Main Street, for enchiladas, chile relleno, burgers & CFS
Turkey: Turkey Café, 301 Main Street, for sandwiches, salads, steaks & fish
Turkey: Hotel Turkey dining room, for breakfast
Tuscola: Big G’s Steak House & BBQ, 802 Garza (US 83)
Tyler: Villa Montez Latin Kitchen, 3324 Old Henderson Hwy at Texas Hwy 64
Tyler: La Villeta, 4740 S. Broadway
Tyler: Taqueria El Lugar, 1726 E. Gentry Pkway
Tyler: The Diner, 7924 S. Broadway
Tyler: Fat Catz Louisiana Kitchen, 3320 Troup Hwy (Hwy 110 SE)
Tyler: Coyote Sam’s, 5424 Old Jacksonville Hwy
Tyler: Bernard Mediterranean Restaurant, 212 Grande Blvd
Tyler: Downtown Soul Food Café, 403 N. Spring, at Line
Tyler: Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que, 525 S. Beckham Avenue
Tyler: La Favorita, 707 N. Border Avenue
Tyler: Ming’s Café, 5707 S. Broadway
Tyler: Fiore Tuscan Grill, 5617 Donnybrook Avenue
Tyler: The Hidden Gate (Tearoom), 2117 S. Fleishal Avenue
Tyler: Dakota’s Chop House, 5377 S. Broadway
Uncertain: Uncertain General Store & Grill, 5181 East Cypress Drive
Uncertain: Shady Glade Café & Caddo Pie Company, 449 Cypress
Valley View: Big Fatty’s Spankin’ Shack, 112 McCubbin Street
Van Horn: Papa’s Pantry, US 90 just south of I-10
Vega: Boot Hill, 909 Vega Boulevard
Victoria: Sky, 236 Foster Field Drive
Victoria: Aunt Jo’s BBQ, 5303 U.S. Hwy 77 South
Victoria: La Hacienda Mexican Café, 7702 North Navarro
Waco: Elite Circle Grille, 2132 S. Valley Mills Drive
Walburg: Walburg Mercantile Restaurant, FM 972 & FM 1105
Washington: Inn at Dos Brisas, 10000 Champion Drive
Waskom: Jim’s Bar-B-Que and Catfish, 770 Spur 156
Waxahachie: 1879 Chisholm Grill, 111 S. College
Waxahachie: Catfish Plantation, 814 Water Street
Weatherford: Fire Oak Grill, 114 Austin Avenue
Weatherford: Brazos River Catfish Café, 10771 W. Interstate 20
Webster: Franca’s Real Italian Restaurant, 1101 NASA Parkway
Webster: Thai Seafood, 17926 Texas Hwy 3 at NASA Road One
Welfare: Welfare Café, 223 Waring-Welfare Rd
Weslaco: Taste, 702 S. Texas Blvd
Weslaco: Fiesta Tex-Mex Restaurant, 615 W. US 83
Weslaco: Blue Onion, 423 S. International Blvd
Weslaco: Milano’s, 2900 W. Pike Blvd
West: Sulak’s Café, 208 N. Main
West: Village Bakery, 113 East Oak Street
Wharton: Hinze’s Bar-B-Que, 8229 U.S. Hwy 59
Whitehouse: Mamaw’s Fried Pies, 1010 Hwy 110 North
Whitney: Colorado Street Grill
Wichita Falls: El Mejicano, 5401 Central Fwy
Wimberley: Leaning Pear, 111 River Road
Windom: Windom Feed Sack, 414 Main Street
Winnsboro: CibaVino, 218 North Main Street
Winnsboro: Tele’s, 12034 Texas Hwy 154 West
Woodville: Pickett House Restaurant, Heritage Village, Hwy 190 West

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who Are These People?

I reckon every major city in America has something that calls itself an "alternative" newspaper. I know I've seen them all over the country. They are mostly-left-wing publications that buy feature columns of a certain slant -- an alternative slant, of course, from the generally-more-conservative "mainstream" media -- and have mostly second-rate local reviewers of food, movies, art, and so on, with an emphasis on counterculture. (Well, let's face it: anything that hasn't been noticed by the "mainstream" is, almost by definition, "countercultural.") In my home town, the local weekly rag includes such features as:

  • "The Que Que," a locally-written review of stories that ought to concern taxpayers, but that seem never to make it into the public consciousness. This is the type of muckraking column that is the raison d'être for alternative media; when I read it, I feel like there is a beneficial purpose to having this piece of crap freely available city-wide after all.

  • "Reasonable Doubt," another locally-written column, this one dealing with legal issues, and written by a populist local lawyer. I particularly like that column, because he often reports on and analyzes issues that I have only thought about and said, "Somebody ought to do something about that." He takes it at least one step farther than I do.

  • "Ask A Mexican," a vulgar, often racist nationally-available column celebrating the oppression of the noble Mexican people by white people, which it slanderously and routinely labels as gabachos -- a term the column's author admitted was the equivalent of "nigger," but which he uses as a default term. I guess we white people are too polite to express our displeasure by threatening his cojones in any meaningful way.

Otherwise, the paper features restaurant reviews of questionable reliability -- their primary use to me is in pointing me to new places that I otherwise wouldn't hear of -- movie reviews of no reliability, and local music and art events, always with gushing praise for the crap that passes for art in the postmodern era. Occasionally a nugget of quality, but then I understand sometimes people will still pull lumps of gold out of streams in California too. It's about as likely as finding recent art of any quality in this cultural backwater I live in.
Anyway: all that by way of introduction. What I really was wondering was, Who are these people who spend so much of their discretionary dollars on sex? Because this throwaway weekly alternative newspaper is chock full of advertisements for sex-related businesses and services. How can there possibly be enough money being spent on such things, to justify the expense of these advertisements?

And what is it they're really offering? Take, for example, the ad that asks, "Looking for excitement?" I admit, my curiosity was sufficiently piqued that I checked out the web site named in the ad for the city's "premiere couples-only private club." Now I really have to wonder what goes on there, and just how many people are willing to pay a membership charge of $1,850 per year to do whatever it is they do. (I think I know what they do; I just have to wonder why they would pay good money, and lots of it, to do it.) (I also wonder if they allow smoking inside.) Because unless there are lots and lots of other members willing to make their attractive bodies available for my amusement (and provide current medical information), it wouldn't be worth that to me. Especially since I'd still have to bring my own liquor.

Or how about the ad that promises, "Hookup [sic] with HOT Men Fast! Gay & Bi Cruise Line!" One of these days I'm going to call one of these places and find out just what it is they're offering. I mean, are they just providing conversation of a prurient nature for lonely guys? Or are they really fronting for an escort service or call-boy operation? I have to wonder.

And right next to that is an ad that says "Meet hot Latino singles NOW!" Apparently aimed at straight Hispanics. And right next to that is a picture of a hot chick, wearing only a bra, asking "Are you ready to experience more?"  And another ad says "Chat with 100's of HOT naughty girls!" Twenty-five dollars for 50 minutes. I guess that's a good way to practice your talking dirty, in case you ever do actually get laid. And another says "All real, all local ... singles in your city!" Like there was actually a chance one of these girls would meet you for coffee and not charge you for her time. Also $25 for 50 minutes.

Then there's another one offering something called a "table shower, $10 off with coupon." Maybe one of these days I'll need "stress relief" enough to take them up on whatever that is -- I hope it's not related to a "golden" shower.  Or how about the one that promises to provide "the REAL information you need to know" about professional escorts? I actually tried that URL ... and got the message that the page could not be displayed because the web server was too busy. It also shut down my browser.

I suppose back when I was single, in the last century, there were times when I might have given some thought to ads that told me where to find "attractive & sweet Chinese girls" or a "full body rub by beautiful transsexual." Hell, to be honest, I did actually think about it; but I was too cheap to do more than think about it, and still am. But what does "Pretty Valerie," the "busty Hispanic beauty, sweet, friendly, fun," offer to "select clients only, mature gentlemen preferred" that's "nonsexual"? Is she like the hooker in that Tom Cruise movie, where he danced in his underwear to Bob Seger? The ad for "Nicole" ("be a guest in my home") makes me picture those Hollywood-version 19th-Century whorehouses where respectable gentlemen went to be served drinks by scantily clad women with unnaturally blond hair, before going upstairs for a quick roll in a creaking cot. (I notice all these ads, which are obviously for prostitutes, include the disclaimer "Non-sexual." They must think that means something, legally speaking, like the sign on the back of the dump truck claiming a lack of responsibility for cracked windshields.)

Well, I must be naive. I just can't picture who uses these services in such quantity.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Observations on the Health Care Issue

I've been doing my best over the last year to ignore the flap about a national health-care reform bill. Not being one to believe that the federal government is the first best place to resolve serious issues, I tend to view the entire debate as being between politicians on the one hand who want to give my money to insurance companies and big nationwide hospital chains to take care of people, including at times myself, who are too careless or ignorant or just plain stupid to take care of themselves; and politicians on the other hand who want to give my money to oil companies, defense contractors, soi-disant security contractors, and a host of other international corporations to take care of people who have the intellectual wherewithal to take care of themselves.

So I am hardly the best source of opinion as to what, if anything, should be done to fix our national health-care system. However, I am in possession of certain bald facts that may have a bearing, however slight, on the extent of the problem, owing to the fact that, a couple of weeks ago, I was dragged against my will into the national health-care system, courtesy of what may or may not have been a heart attack.

Just after midnight on a Saturday morning I had to have the wife call for an ambulance. I won't describe what all went on, that being, frankly, none of your business. The aspect of the entire episode that does impinge on public debate is the cost associated with that ambulance ride, and with my subsequent hospital admission, treatment, and discharge.

I am covered for health care by a policy offered through my wife's employer, the federal government. The theory is that a large coverage group can negotiate a favourable price for services, and according to the various "Explanation of Benefits" notices I've received since the event, this group insurance has negotiated very favourable prices on my behalf.

There are four figures that are of some interest to the public debate: amount charged, plan allowance, benefit, and amount owed. I'm paraphrasing the nomenclature of these figures in the interest of clarity, but they boil down to this: a doctor or hospital bills the insurance company for what is, presumably, its "retail" price for the services provided. The insurance company has negotiated a lower price with the doctor or hospital, and that's the plan allowance. The amount the plan actually pays to the doctor or hospital is the benefit, and any amount not paid is what I owe, after insurance.

The insurance company has also contracted with the doctors and hospitals to provide that I am, in many cases, not responsible for payment of any non-covered amount; in essence, the doctors and hospitals are giving me a discount -- sometimes, as you will see, a very steep discount -- so they can participate in the overall insurance plan and ... I guess get lots of business?

Now, I don't have any issue with any of this. If doctors and hospitals want to offer discounts to group insurers, that's their business, and it is, at least in theory and adage, still a free country. My only concern is in the debate about the cost of health care in this country.

Here, then, the bald facts I promised: I've received four "Explanation of Benefits" notices so far: one for the hospital, two for the cardiologist's services, and one for the general-practitioner who saw me when I was admitted.

The GP -- the guy who acted as my personal physician, though only while I was hospitalized (since I otherwise didn't have a regular doctor) -- put in a bill for $140. This strikes me as a very nominal amount for professional services; if he'd been a lawyer he would have billed something on the order of $1,250 for the work involved in checking on me. But okay, $140 it is. And this amount is discounted to $96 and change, the amount my insurance plan allows and the amount it paid. And since he's a "preferred provider", nobody has to pay the other $44; I guess he makes it up on the next uninsured patient he gets.

Then there's the cardiologist. I don't know why there are two separate Explanations of Benefits, but no matter. One is just for "professional medical charge" -- I'm guessing here, but I think that's the doctor's time. That one charge is $105 -- again, far too little to my lawyer's mind, but I ain't complaining, just remarking. The discounted amount, paid by my insurance company, is a little over $73. I owe nothing, so the next uninsured clogged artery gets to make up the difference somewhere down the road.

The other Explanation of Benefits related to the cardiologist includes surgery, inpatient physician charges, and x-rays. These submitted charges come to $2,951, but they are discounted through contractual arrangements with my insurance company; the doctor gets paid $1,486, and I owe him a hundred bucks.

Last, but certainly not least, there's the hospital. Services listed here include medical care, drugs, medical equipment and supplies, lab tests, x-ray technicians' services, and surgery. I haven't gotten any bills from the hospital, so I have no idea what these various things entail. I presume, however, that every last aspirin and IV drip is covered somewhere, along with every inedible meal and probably even the Diet Coke the nurse gave me on the sly after telling me that the weak lukewarm coffee I was getting was decaffienated. God bless her.

Prescription drugs given to me in the hospital on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday total $5,582. Wow. If I had been asked, in my throes of agony, if I wanted nitroglycerine and morphine and a "GI Cocktail" and whatever else at those prices, I'd've had to think it over real hard, but considering the pain involved I might've gone for it. Luckily, though, my insurance company has negotiated real hard on my behalf, and the plan only allowed $1,837. The difference -- you guessed it -- is neither paid nor owed; it's made up for by the next uninsured ER admission funded through the public purse.

Medical equipment and supplies, whatever the hell that is, totalled $12,876. The plan allowance -- the amount the insurance company paid -- came to $4,237.  The other $8,640 goes on the public tab next time some uninsured person drops in for a visit.

X-ray tecnicians and diagnostic lab tests were billed at $12,408; the plan allowance was $5,892, and that's how much got paid. I owe nothing for those charges.

Finally, "medical care," which seems to me to be a sort of catch-all miscellaneous category, and surgery were billed at $33,529. Again, Wow. But what was paid -- the discounted price offered to members of my insurance group -- was $10,733. I owe a co-payment of $300; the remaining $22,496 will be made up on the next customer.

There are a couple of things that I find noteworthy. First, as I mentioned above, it seems to me that the charges for professional services are surprisingly modest, even before the discounts. Having been a professional myself, I'm curious as to why the market prices for professional services are such a small part of the overall charge. These guys need to raise their rates: not only do they have exorbitant student loans to pay -- or did have, at some point -- but I want my professional healthcare providers, my doctors and nurses, to be well-compensated for looking after my needs. It appears that they aren't, particularly. If the supposedly free market is working as it should, there are too many doctors in the world, or they have too little bargaining power in relation to other market actors (i.e., hospitals and insurance companies).

The other thing -- and this, I think, is the gist of the problem in our healthcare system -- is the exorbitant "regular" charges for services. I don't for one minute suppose that the hospital is taking a loss on my care, even though it's only getting about 32% of its "retail" charges. What it tells me is that the actual cost of providing three days of quality hospital care, with all the accoutrements, is something less than $22,700, and that the $22,700 actually paid includes a modest profit.

(The ambulance ride, by the way, was billed directly to my by the City at $579; I don't know yet what part of that the insurance company will pay.)