Tuesday, June 13, 2006

They Grow Em' Bigger in Texas!

I hear that Texans always brag about having the biggest and best of everything. If that is indeed the case then the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine must be the apple of their eye.

I was excited when I learned business would take me to Dallas and to the Texan. I was disappointed when I learned that the Texan is not in Dallas but neighboring Grapevine which is half way between Dallas and Ft. Worth. To some this would be a good thing but to me it spelled inconvenient. First rule of thumb when staying at The Gaylord Texan is to rent a car. You do not want to be dependent on the drivers from the resort to take you around and unlike other hotels there are no cabs just resort cars that cost. One round trip to Dallas or Ft. Worth and you have paid for your rental.

The Texan itself is a thing of beauty. The combination of hardwoods, leather, stone and water make this hotel pure eye candy. The staff is as helpful as any I’ve encountered and always seemed willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. Throughout the resort you will find the typical cute little hotel boutiques. I often wonder how places that sell silver cowboy statues stay in business but they do somehow. The Texan also offers a great fitness center with an indoor and outdoor pool.

Due to its location The Texan does have a captive audience when it comes to food. What that means to the consumer is inflated prices with varying results. The Texas Station sports bar is an overpriced Friday’s or Bennigan’s except with worse food. Texas Station stays open late so hopefully by the time you are eating there you are too hungry to realize you are paying for such bad food. On the opposite end of the spectrum is The Old Hickory Steakhouse. Here is the food dreams are made of. Great steaks, decent service and wonderful ambience. Expect to pay close to $100 per couple here for a full meal but it will be worth it. The veal I had was tender, moist and seasoned to perfection.

Fortunately I was also able to get offsite a few times and had some great meals. One place is the Main Street Bread Baking Company located a 10 minute car ride from the hotel. A great place for a simple breakfast or to pick up something to satisfy that sweet tooth. Downtown Grapevine has a lovely Main Street with quaint Shoppe’s and the nicest people you have ever met. The two older ladies I met at the visitor center and museum were great ambassadors to the city!

I did not have the chance to venture into Dallas on this visit but I did head into Ft. Worth for what I hoped was a good Texas steak. I went to the legendary Cattlemen’s. At some point in its history I am sure that it deserved the fame. Not so anymore. The beef was overcooked and filled with extra fat. The bright culinary spot on this trip was a little Mexican restaurant in Ft. Worth called Esperanzas (which is run by the same family that runs the famous Joe T. Garcia’s). Do yourself a favor and order the pork in red sauce. I have no idea what the red sauce is but it will be something that you will always remember. The fresh homemade flour tortillas melt in your mouth and the service was great. An event every visit to Ft Worth should have.

TUESDAY'S TIP: Rent a car if you stay at The Texan so you are not trapped.

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