Saturday was well spent. I made the just-under-an-hour drive up 35 to Salado for my first meal at Johnny's Steaks & Bar-Be-Que (Exit 284). I've seen a billboard on 35 advertising it, but I've never noticed it - even though it's just a stone's throw from the interstate. An abandoned Dairy Queen keeps it well hidden, but the DQ is gonna be gone soon, so it will soon be easy to notice.
I loved the roadhouse vibe and took my time. There are two dining rooms, plus a banquet room. The entire place is pristine. They clearly take pride in cleanliness. Service was outstanding. I toured the pit, where they smoke their meats with oak and mesquite. Strolled through the kitchen, where they hand cut their steaks (porterhouse T-bone, ribeye, filet, & sirloin) and fries and freshly batter their shrimp and onion rings. Everything is made in house. They bake their own bread. Chicken-fried chicken and steaks. All-you-can-eat fried catfish on Friday nights. Steaks are mesquite-fire grilled. Shrimp: fried or bacon-wrapped & grilled. I took my pictures as fast as I could, b/c the kitchen was running like a well-oiled machine, and I didn't want to hold things up like the guy that pays cash in those Visa check card commercials.
I didn't wait long at all for my food, yet it came hot and fresh. Brisket, pork rib, quarter chicken (dark), beans, potato salad, green beans (with onions & bacon!), and the standard trimmings of pickles, onions, jalapenos, & (not standard) freshly-baked bread. Iced tea with the lemons I brought in case they did't have any (They didn't. Just lemon-juice packets.). As I tweeted on location, Johnny's was easily one of the most pleasant surprises I've had in my MUTB journey. I'm really surprised that I haven't heard anything about it, b/c they've been been going strong for decades, and their catering operations are substantial. They catered Jenna Bush's wedding luncheon, for crying out loud.
Anyway, after lunch, I took my time strolling along the main street in town. Loved it. It's like a mini Fredericksburg. Went in some shops, bought some homemade fudge for friends, checked out some pottery, and cooled off with some iced tea at a tea room. I'm already excited about getting a group together for a lunch-and-main-street day trip this summer. Also, the football stadium is within walking distance, so you know yours truly will make Salado one of my weekly Friday-night road trips. Pre-game dinner at Johnny's.