Longevity is one of the main goals in the restaurant business. Many struggle to make it through the first couple of years, as they fight to build a consistent following. If they make it to five years, then they face the next issue, which is to prevent their menu from becoming stale to their regular customers. Finding a dining destination with long term staying power is usually a sign of consistent dishes being served with exceptional service. This was certainly the case, when we discovered 35 years of Panhandle Pride at Calico County.
We want to thank Visit Amarillo and Calico County for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
It Takes All Kinds
Stopping at Calico County for breakfast on a weekday gave us a good idea of the local crowd who frequent the restaurant. It became quickly apparent that the food they serve is accepted by a wide range of clientele. Within the span of a few minutes, we were joined by business people who looked to be on their way to the office. Nearby, there sat others who could easily be factory workers. Servicemen, as well as another regular working “Joes”, dotted the landscape inside of the restaurant. It is reassuring to see that such a wide range of appetites find solace in the meals at one location.
The seating options are simple enough, with a choice between booths and tables. Of course, there is a place that Crystal and I differ. I have always been a fan of table dining since it offers chairs that move in and out of the space. Crystal is a booth person and tells me it is because she finds them to be more comfortable. At Calico County, you have your choice, but in this instance, I was able to win out and pick a table. As we waited for our morning coffee service, we scanned the menus to see what yummy bites they offered.
When our server returned with our coffee, he brought with him a basket of freshly made cinnamon rolls. This was not something we expected, but it was certainly welcomed. These delicious little spirals of goodness gave us something to nibble on, while we perused the menu. We have to admit that this was not the first time we had been surprised by cinnamon rolls during a Route 66 trip. During a visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, we had been served up an enormous pastry treat at Tally’s Good Food cafe. (You can read about Tally’s here.) While the rolls at Calico County were more of normal size, they were still a delicious treat.
Simple and Fresh
Our plan for the day would have us spending the first half exploring the Panhandle-Plains Museum. We know it is the largest history museum in Texas, so we wanted to be sure to pack on some protein to keep us going. Crystal had started the visit with the intention of getting an omelet, and Calico County has a nice variety to choose from. She decided to keep it simple and just go with the sausage version. The scrambles are made with sour cream and American cheese, which makes them silky smooth. The addition of the Whole Hog sausage added a delightful flavor punch to the dish.
A side order of their crispy bacon would help add an additional protein boost. Of course, she washed it all down with a few cups of their coffee. You know we had to start our day with a cup of Joe. She was kind enough to offer to share her bacon with me, so that allowed me to dive deeper into the menu for my main dish.
I’m not really a heavy breakfast eater, in general. For me, lunch or dinner is my preferred meal, but I know the importance of fueling up for exploring. That being said, I don’t focus nearly as heavily on the protein side. Knowing that Crystal was sharing her bacon offered plenty for me, so it opened up my options. This particular morning, I was feeling a bit on the sweet side, so I had thought about my traditional go-to of pancakes or French toast. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with either of those choices.
As I reviewed the menu, my eyes spotted the Chicken & Waffles. This southern dish is one that I have enjoyed many times, but it sounded too heavy for this particular morning. The server arrived back at our table, and I hadn’t yet come to a decision. When I explained my indecision, he suggested I just go with a serving of the house waffles. Little did I realize that they came in the shape of the restaurant’s logo. That was a bonus I didn’t expect. It ended up being a perfect choice and had me wondering why I don’t choose waffles more often. After all, they have those perfect little syrup pockets that help keep each bite sweet and moist.
35 Years of Panhandle Pride
Our visit to Amarillo, Texas reminded us of a few important lessons that we have learned along the road.
#1) Longevity is usually a sign of consistency. If you want to serve delicious bites to customers, they need to know that each visit will yield similar results. Discovering that Calico County has over 35 years of Panhandle Pride, under their belts, was a sure sign of this.
#2) Be open to suggestions. When you find yourself waffling about what to order, ask your server what the restaurant is known for. When you put their pride on the line, it will almost always result in a fantastic meal. Besides, it can also lead to rediscovering a dish you forgot you enjoyed.
#3) Keep your eyes peeled. You never know exactly what you may find when exploring Route 66. These crazy legs are exactly the kind of oddity you will find when exploring America’s Mother Road. So, when is your next route 66 road trip?