Best not to roll dice on unknown eatery

By Grant McGee: Local Columnist

The Lady of the House and I have a new saying. It’s “How bad can you mess up breakfast?”

First of all, I want you to know that I’m not writing about any eatery in Curry, Roosevelt, Parmer or Bailey counties.

Our saying was inspired by a restaurant many miles from Clovis.

The Lady of the House and I were having a three-day weekend in west Texas. We were heading home and wanted a nice breakfast. We pulled in front of the only eatery open on a Sunday morning in this little Texas town.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “I ate here about four years ago. It wasn’t all that good and it was overpriced.”

“Aww, let’s go in,” the Lady of the House said. Then she uttered those unforgettable words, “How bad can you mess up breakfast?”

The waitress came shuffling out in T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. She looked kinda tired. She tossed us our menus and walked away. The cook popped her head out from the smoky kitchen. We supposed the waitress had told her something like, “We actually have some customers.”

Our dining experience started with the cola The Lady of the House ordered. It came in a can that was plopped down in front of her. This was followed by pancakes with black bottoms, petrified bacon and char-broiled toast.

“You’re going to eat those pancakes?” said The Lady of the House.

“Sure,” I said. “My momma always said a bit of carbon sweetens the stomach.”

“I’ve never heard that before,” she said. “Your momma burned a lot of stuff, didn’t she.”

We probably shouldn’t have been surprised by breakfast in this little town. The night before we ate at another local eatery, finishing our fajitas we were looking forward to a nice basket of those puffy pillows of delight: sopapillas. What they brought out to us were fried flour tortillas sprinkled with brown sugar. I asked the cashier about their sopapilla recipe.

“That’s how we make them,” she said.

I just smiled. My momma raised me to be nice.

The award for the worst restaurant I ever set foot in goes to a place two counties away. It’s out of business now.

I was on a road trip and decided to pop into this eatery to have some local flavor. I knew I was in for a great dining experience when I opened the door and was hit by a thick cloud of cigarette smoke. Even the cook was smoking. She was a blast from the past with her beehive hairdo (this was in 1999). After she’d flip whatever it was she had on the griddle she’d mosey over to an ashtray to her cig and have a puff.

I cracked open the menu and decided to go with a bowl of red and some nachos.

In New Mexico, a bowl of red is a term that is generally known throughout the state as chunks of beef in a nice red chile sauce. At this particular eatery, a bowl of red meant a bowl of hamburger meat swimming in red grease served with some dried-out flour tortillas. I had to use a knife to pry the over-baked nachos off the platter.

So if you find yourself asking “How bad can you mess up breakfast?” when you pull up in front of a restaurant, a rule of thumb would probably be to keep on movin’ down the road.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: