Driving on Texas Highway 77, looking for a lunch place, we stumbled upon a true gem of a Texan cafe, right here at left on the northbound side of the road, 30 miles South of Waco, a few short miles from Rosebud. The place stood in the middle of green hay fields; we thought it would address our past noon grumblings. So in we went, and found ourselves in a fine family restaurant that blends, with great charm, Texas’ gastronomy and American military history.
Hiway 77 Cafe, what a place! Very nicely done, clean and folksy, with tables for four checkered covers, and comfortable country chairs and bar stools. What immediately catches the eye however, are the 487 photos, on the Veteran Wall of Honor, that adorns the four walls of the room, with photos of service men and women, from the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea and Viet Nam, to today’s Middle East and Afganistan conflicts, as well as serving in the four armed forces of our nation. The list is growing and you may add your name; don’t forget the framed photo in the uniform of your service.
A number are well known, such as Audie Murphy (#199), Army WWII, Medal of Honor; others less known but no less dear to our Flag: Darryn Deen Andrews (#245), Purple Heart, Bronze Star, KIA in “Operation Enduring Freedom”; and Westerman, H.F., Jr. (#46), Korea, Vietnam (4 tours), USS Hornet – uncle of the Cafe’s founder.
The initial founder in 2001, Martha Westerman, started the Veteran Wall of Honor; with pictures of relatives.
The initial founder in 2001, Martha Westerman, started the Veteran Wall of Honor; with pictures of relatives. The Wall grew rapidly with the new owners, Bill and Sue Sturrock, thanks to patrons adding their own photos, as well as those of their familly and friends.
The Cafe, beside military history, offers excellent food, the main reason for stopping in the first place. A quick look at the menu will make you forget about diet in a hearbeat. Just look at the Cafe’s hallmark, the Bar-B- Q, served Thursday to Saturday. You had Bar-B- Q before?, I don’t think so!, until you try this one smoked with locally grown Honey Mesquite wood. The Sauce and Rub recipes are Uncle Harolds, you can see him # 204 on the Veteran Wall of Honor. The German slaw recipe is Momma’s and the Potato Salad recipe comes from cousin Billie. All made from scratch right here in the Cafe’s kitchen.
The locally made Westphalia Sausage ($10.95) or Baby-Back Rib Plate ($11.95) are splendid, but why be shy? Go for the Combo Sausage & Rib Plate, with local coleslaw and German potato salad, splendid, and at $13.95 one can’t afford to pass the experience. If you don’t believe me, check “Prophets of Smoked Meat – a “Journey through Texas Barbecue” from Daniel Vaughn (An Anthony Bourdain Book at Harper Collins Publishers – P.247-249).
Other days are superbly attended too, such dailies as great sandwiches: Texas Patty Melt, Burgers ($5.75-$6.49) from double meat (with or without cheese) to, listen to this: Texas Sausage Burger, a must! Served with potato chips, sauce, pickle and onions. The Liver and Onions is worth the detour all the way up from Chicago as are the Chicken Fried Steak ($8.25) and the Queso Chopped Steak ($7.75) and, you ask for sides? Great thought: among delicious others, try the Shoestring or Steak Fries but, if fries are not your style, you’ve got to go for Skin-on Mashed Potatoes, you’ve go to, period.
Texas Sausage Burger, a must! Served with potato chips, sauce, pickle and onions.
And dessert you ask?, now that’s a hard one because between Chocolate Lover’s Cake, the Peach Cobbler, the German Chocolate Pie and other finger licking treasures, you can’t leave without trying one or more of them desserts! But you cannot miss Aunt Evelyn’s Banana Bread Pudding with Vanila Sauce, good you ask? So goood that when I got back to Dallas that evening, I was about to turn right back South for second, it’s that good!
All of the above will gladly meet with great drinks: Shiner Bock, the Buds, the Coors and the Millers, the Lone Star and the Corona; if beer not your pick, good wines are ready to meet your taste: Merlot, Moscato, Sweet Red. And, for great or not so great celebrations: Champagne, (water from the tap you say?, yuck!); Coffee? of cooouuurse.
Last but definitely not least, great service and ambiance; Bill or Sue will be happy to tell you about the Cafe’s history and the men and women on the Veteran Wall of Honor. Please visit www.hwy77cafe.com for more information and the menu, and how to get there, or call (254) 583 4444.