Over the course of our travels, we have learned the truth in the saying “Never judge a book by its cover”. This also stands true for many of the restaurants we have found. Sometimes the little hole-in-the-walls offer up some of the best eats around. It is a common practice for us to set our itinerary weeks before a visit. Since we are almost always working with the local tourism bureau, plans need to be confirmed prior to our arrival. This requires extensive research on my part.
While a picture paints a thousand words. it still leaves much to be discerned. To ensure that the places we choose offer a pleasing experience for an entire family of travelers, I may end up crossing dozens of potential stops off my list. The goal is to root out those locally-owned eateries that are destined to become a landmark. Of course, sometimes they just fall in our lap, like finding Coyote Bluff Cafe in Amarillo, Texas.
We want to thank Visit Amarillo and Coyote Bluff Cafe for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Soaking Up The Sun
Life in the Panhandle-Plains can be hard, and it’s easy to work up an appetite. After a morning of exploring, we were ready to chow down on some delicious Texas beef. We had arranged to have lunch with Braley Hand, who was our primary contact at Visit Amarillo. This would be our second meal with someone from the tourism bureau. We always feel honored when they are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to meet up. It’s a chance to learn more about the city that they call home.
We arrived a couple of minutes before Braley and took the momentary pause to soak up some Texas sunshine. Some people may think we are crazy to travel south in the summer, but we love it. We have found that preparation makes all the difference, and it begins with your mindset. We watched as groups of locals came and went, and it seemed like cowboy hats and baseball caps were the fashion statement of the day. Glad I had my Baylor University cap.
Hanging With the Locals
When Braley arrived, we made our way inside the diminutive dining establishment. Space is a premium inside, and we could immediately see that this place is a hit with the locals. That is exactly what we look for when exploring. The tables were filled with groups of diners engaging in conversation. Coyote Bluff Cafe is one of those places where there is a constant murmur of talking in the background. It makes the atmosphere feel so alive.
Our server found us a table and we sat down to scan the menu. This is easy to do, as the bulk of the dishes revolve around their half-pound burgers. Yeah, that’s right. A full half-pound of lean Texas beef. If you leave this place hungry, well you just didn’t try hard enough. It didn’t take long for us to decide, and we all found our favorites.
Before you think that Coyote Bluff Cafe is just a simple burger joint, let me point out that they have options. There are nine different topping combinations just on the burgers. Diners can choose from a smoky barbecue experience or kick it up a notch with some mild green chilies. For the adventurous, you can select the Burger From Hell that includes jalapenos, Tabasco, and their special Coyote Hell Sauce. Needless to say, no one at our table chose to burn out their taste buds on this occasion.
We did end up selecting three different flavor combinations without even meaning to. Braley suggested we split a Basket of Fries, which ended up being more than enough for three adults. Crystal’s choice surprised me, since I noticed a few chicken based choices on the menu. I guess she decided to adapt the Texas philosophy of ‘Go Big or Go Home‘.
Cowboy Up For Lunch
After placing our order, we spent a few minutes chatting with Braley. Having been a long-time Amarillo resident, she was able to provide plenty of background for our visit. Her passionate descriptions were building our anticipation to explore this Route 66 metropolis. Being our first visit to the Panhandle of Texas, we had no idea what the landscape would look like. During our drive from the Alibates Flint Quarries, we scanned the horizon checking out the Amarillo cityscape. We were surprised at the similarities to our home state of Kansas.
Sitting in a crowded restaurant, in the heart of Amarillo, we knew we were in cowboy territory. Looking around the dining room, we noted lots of people who were obviously on a lunch break. It was obvious that Coyote Bluff Cafe is a local haunt. We were feeling pretty confident with our dining choice by now. As our server laid out our bounty before us, I knew that we would all want to dig in, but first I needed to capture the moment.
Piling It On
By now, Crystal has become quite familiar with the routine. We arrive, find a seat, I take photos, and then we order. Then I take more photos, the food arrives, I take more photos, and finally we get to eat. Her patience is commendable, and sometimes I take it for granted. On the occasions that we dine with someone from a city’s tourism bureau, I have to remind myself that they may not be familiar with the routine. Fortunately, Braley was a well-seasoned professional who made sure that I had everything I needed for the article, before starting to eat. We love working with professionals.