We only took our overnight suitcases into the Comfort Inn. Consequently our car was still fully loaded in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn (supposedly secure) and we didn’t want to drive to a restaurant where we’d have to leave it exposed. Close to our hotel was the Texas Roadhouse, a franchise chain we had never heard of (Texas Roadhouse, 5010 North Desert Blvd., El Paso, TX 79912, tel. 912-832-0333, web: texasroadhouse.com). Deserray, at our front desk, gave us a 10% off discount coupon for the Texas Roadhouse and told us she loved the bread they make. We walked over in the 100° F heat (but there was a breeze).
We entered another world—one we had never experienced. The person who seated us asked if we’d ever been to a Texas Roadhouse before. When we said “no” she started to reel off all of the features of their restaurant (“hand cut steaks, fall-off-the bone ribs, made-from-scratch sides, fresh baked breads”) but she was speaking so fast that we only caught a third of what she was saying—and we had her repeat it 3 times! No matter, we knew what we wanted: 1 order to share of the “Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs,” half slab, for $12.29. That came with a choice of 2 sides. We chose a house salad with blue cheese dressing and a baked sweet potato. Our enthusiastic server, Mayra, asked if we wanted the sweet potato “fully loaded?” We asked what that meant and she said “filled with marsh mellow and caramel sauce”. We asked for the sweet potato plain and for some plain butter, wondering if there could be anything more vile that could be done to a sweet potato. On the table was a big container of peanuts in the shell and we started munching them. They were good. We were brought the “fresh baked bread” and it was squishy (Wonder Bread-like) rolls that were sweet-ish. With the bread came a sweet butter that had cinnamon in it that we thought was awful-really foul. Our house salad came and was surprisingly good, crispy lettuce and filled with tomatoes and carrots. We asked for the dressing on the side and an extra plate and there was plenty of salad for the two of us. At about this time, one of the chirpy greeters brought us a gift that is given to all first time Texas Roadhouse guests of a bag of peanuts with a coupon for our next visit giving us a free appetizer. There is a great deal of enthusiasm with each of the servers—on the back of their T-shirts it says “I love (with a heart) my job.” As we looked around we saw that the other diners were 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight. At about this time, our ribs arrived with some extra BBQ sauce. The ribs were as advertised, fall-off-the-bone, and delicious, as was the BBQ sauce. And the half rack was a lot of meat—too much for us but we finished it anyway. The baked sweet potato (unadorned) was kind of mashed and re-stuffed into the skin and was very good. The manager of the restaurant, Frank Garcia, came to welcome us and he too was Mr. Enthusiasm. He recited the special features of this restaurant and asked us if we liked the ribs. It was kind of fun to have all this attention as newcomers—we wondered what they do for their loyal return visitors. The next shock was the bill—the total price of our meal (and we were stuffed) was $12.1,7 after the discount and with the tax, but before the tip for Mayra. (We brought the rolls we didn’t eat and our gift bag of peanuts to Deserray at our hotel because she said she loves them.)