Eating in Texarkana

Eating in Texarkana

Last month, I took a trip home to good ol’ Texarkana. As you can imagine, most of what we do in our family is talk about where we’re going to eat next. However, in Texarkana, there are few places to eat. Restaurants close there frequently as residents leave whatever restaurants are there for whatever the latest chain has opened. Even chains like Johnny Carino’s have closed, but the original restaurants especially have a hard time staying open.

On this particular trip, we didn’t have much of a plan, so for lunch my mom and I had a hard time to decide where to eat, but ultimately chose Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant. It’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in the area. Located in downtown Texarkana, it has a good atmosphere, great queso and good veggie fajitas. My mom and I shared the fish and the veggie fajitas and had plenty of leftovers, both of which comes with a bowl of soup.

Later, we got a bit hungry again and decided to make cheese and wine plates. Who doesn’t love a good cheese plate? Ours included dried apricots, grapes, crackers and cheese, alongside a glass of red wine.

And then there was Twisted Fork. Twisted Fork is a pretty modern “foodie” place in Texarkana, with specialties such as quail and waffles, shrimp and grits and seared duck breast. It’s a bit overpriced given the city. After all, it’s cocktails are priced the same as some of Austin’s best cocktail bars, even though everywhere else in Texarkana charges about half the price of drinks in Austin. But they do have Hendrick’s gin and you know how we feel about Hendrick’s! (You can listen to our podcast with Hendrick’s here.) However, the food was very tasty and the atmosphere was fun, using none other than twisted forks to decorate.

Mom and I shared a pizza—basically a margherita pizza, which they call ‘The Mean Green.’ Dad chose a burger with an egg on top. It looked delicious! They have a pastry chef on staff and next time I definitely want to give dessert a try (the lemon-honey panna cotta to be specific!) as well as sit on the bar side of the restaurant for a view of the kitchen—I think food tastes much better when you see it prepared!

So, if you happen to be going to Texarkana, these are my suggestions: Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant and Twisted Fork. If you happen to make the journey, let me know what you think! I’m also taking recommendations for my next visit. 🙂

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Childhood Memories with Mark Collins

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?

I always complained terribly about meatloaf night and often refused to finish my plate. It wasn’t until Junior year of high school that I realized the exact same meatloaf was the main protein when my Mom made pitas – a meal I typically requested for my birthday dinner. So I started eating meatloaf after that and now it’s one of my most favorite dishes.

2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
My sister and I would put velveeta cheese on English muffins, sprinkle it with salad seasoning and toast it in the oven. We didn’t have a name for them until one morning my mom became exasperated over how quickly we went through English muffins and called them “stupid cheese things.” The name stuck.

3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
All four members of the family sat down to dinner together every night. Most times my mom prepared something from her repertoire of 15-20 dishes she could cook from memory. Every Friday was pizza night and we’d usually sit down and watch TV while we ate.

4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
Nothing particular comes to mind but I’m sure my family members would disagree.

5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?

Goodness yes. When I first moved to Austin I lived with a chef and she exposed me to so many exciting culinary wonders, in addition to making me appreciate staples like onions and mushrooms. Now I try as many new foods as possible, from goat brain curry in Bangalore to ant egg tacos in DF.

Foodie Foto Featurette /// Thanksgiving 2011

The holidays can be crazy! Everyone is trying to get gifts and cook extravagant meals.

I plead guilty to the previous statement. I love a little hoopla – no drama, just hoopla. It can make the ocassion a little more boysterous.

But last year I may have gone too far.

Long story short, we attempted a huge meal for 9 adults and 5 children. Sage-infused turkey, honey-glazed ham, white cheddar, truffle mac and cheese and a slew of other that leave my mind at this moment.

Earlier that morning, my dad talked about how he watched a video on kitchen fires.

In the end we overstuffed the oven, the marshmallows on the candied yams fell over and caught the oven on fire.

In comes my dad: patient and well-versed in the ways of putting out a kitchen fire. He followed the steps to a ‘T’ and no one was hurt. Thanksgiving dinner was a mess but the house was okay.

This year we opted for a stress free meal. My aunt Lori suggested we grill. Given her training at the French Culinary Institute in New York, I thought this was a great idea.

No arguements, no fire and lots of smiles.

I think I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

This Weather

So, about the time I started getting excited about soups, stews and hearty meals, the weather in Central Texas did it again—it turned to high temperatures, leaving me confused about what I should be eating. I want to be eating pumpkin soup, roasted veggies and veggie chili, but it just doesn’t seem right drinking pumpkin spice lattes while wearing a tank top and flip flops.

The dilemma reminds me of some of our Christmas holidays in Texarkana growing up. Usually it is really cold come Dec. 25, but every once in a while, there’s a small hiccup in the weather order and Santa brings tropical weather along with his sleigh instead of snow.

Our family tradition was to light a fire and read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve, followed by playing the Chipmunks Christmas record and opening our annual present of pjs and a board game to play that night. I can recall a few Christmas Eve’s when my parents said to Hell with saving on utilities and cranked the air conditioner up so we could carry on our annual fireplace traditions.

I’m not quite to that point yet, but I do feel like I’m having to postpone my fall loves—warm sweaters, leather boots and hearty meals—for the time being.

You can ask my family—I love holding on to traditions. But as things change—going to El Paso for Thanksgiving—and don’t change—the summer that would never end—I guess I’m just going to have to go with the flow. Another few months of summer salads certainly won’t hurt my fitness plan and at least the weather has been warm enough for my workouts.

What are some of your favorite fall traditions and have you been able to enjoy them this year?