Blowhard, Esq. writes:
This is the fifth installment of my series about driving cross-country during the coronavirus crisis. Click here for first post, here for the second post, here for the third post, and here for the fourth post.
That morning we went to the Oklahoma National Stockyards, located in the Stockyards City neighborhood. (Or, rather, the Stockyards City neighborhood grew up around the ONSY, but whatever, let’s not get hung up on technicalities.) You knew just by looking at it that Cattleman’s Cafe was a great place and, sure enough, Southern Living called it the “best damned steakhouse in the country. Period.” I guess we could’ve ordered our meals to go, but it wouldn’t have been the same.
Market days are Monday and Tuesday. There should’ve been an auction when we were there, but there was nothing. One trucker didn’t get the memo, though, so he had unloaded his cattle trailer. I was able to get pretty close to them. Click on the images to enlarge.
The statue near the gates of the stockyards exchange. America, fuck yeah!
We went south of the Stockyards in search of a grocery store to get our breakfast. Yup, we were in vaquero territory alright.
We were in cow country so I was determined to get a good steak. We figured Amarillo should have some places that were as good as OKC. When we saw the signs along the freeway for the Big Texan Steak Ranch, the decision was easy to make. They had a curbside tent and outdoor tables open. We each ordered the 8oz center cut top sirloin with two sides. He got his rare, I got mine medium rare.
Verdict? Not great. First, while my steak was cooked correctly, his was medium, not rare. Big mistake. Second, the steaks were not well seasoned. They might not have been seasoned at all, there was so little flavor. Third, let’s give the folks at the Big Texan a break. We’re all adjusting to this new normal, maybe they had their B- or C-team working that day. Maybe the guy cooking the steaks was so rigorous in his social distancing he was six feet away from the grill. Who knows? Fourth, hard to enjoy a steak when you’re cutting it with a plastic fork. Just doesn’t seem right. On the plus side, the side of beans was delicious, a good balance of smoky and sweet.
Back on the 40, on to New Mexico, to the desert southwest. The 285 north to Santa Fe. While it was warm in Amarillo, it was getting colder as we gradually climbed in elevation. We arrived in Santa Fe in the late afternoon. There seemed to be slightly more people out compared to other places. Hippies really love their recumbent bikes.
I loved the courthouse, the scale and location being very similar to the one in Oxford.
Oxford and Santa Fe were my two favorite cities. Human scaled, distinctive architecture indigenous to the region (i.e. not interchangeable, you couldn’t mistake one place for the other), streets and parking lots to accommodate cars but that don’t privilege them over pedestrians.
The monument in the middle of Santa Fe Plaza.
I love the Pueblo Revival style. Maybe it’s corny? No doubt some will recoil. But is it really that much worse than the sci-fi steel gray jumbled geometry of the Clinton Presidential Center? Which will age better? Which has aged better? Which does the public who lives and works around each (not the architectural establishment, but the people who actually use the buildings every day) actually prefer?
Back at the hotel, I asked the front desk agent where we should eat. He recommended Tomasita’s. Good choice. My brother got the tamales with green chile, I got the beef grande burrito with red and green chile, Christmas style. Despite the restaurant’s dire warnings, I didn’t find the chiles hot. I thought the red had better flavor than the green. The sopaipillas were delicious too.
In the next installment we drive from Santa Fe to Flagstaff with a quick stop in Albuquerque for some blue meth.
- Somewhere outside OKC we saw a rodeo stadium. Reminded that in the last year I saw three great movies about the rodeo: THE LUSTY MEN, JUNIOR BONNER, and THE RIDER. Three different eras, three very different directors, all highly recommended.
- There are no Shell gas stations in Amarillo, fyi.
- Paleo Retiree on Solvang kitsch.