Last visit: February 2013
Total locations: 19 (Amarillo (6), Canyon, Midland (3), Odessa (4), Andrews, Big Spring, Hobbs-NM) ... and Fort Worth (far north) Yaay!
You may recall that last week, while awaiting the NFL Championship games, Mrs. RJG and I journeyed a bit NW to Justin for a light lunch. And for this Sunday, it was the off-week before the Super Bowl, so we decided for a longer country drive. So we went 'a Courthousin' and a' Antinquin'. The RJG is very much an admirer of our Texas courthouses. I'm fascinated by the architecture, the isolated locations, and the history. We even own a coffee table book about them, that I've seen our guests look through intensely - and many our natives to Texas and never paid attention until now. Mrs. RJG loves the little shops that hug the square. As long as she comes home with at least one cute thing for the house, then she considers it a fun and successful trip. We didn't go anywhere we hadn't been before, but we took a slightly different route this time. On this trip we headed SW to Granbury, up to Palo Pinto and back through Weatherford. Granbury, of course, is a destination for many - and there are plenty of shops to peruse. Mrs. RJG found a large cast iron door stop, that features an early 1900's lady playing golf. Perfect, since I appreciate not only that it's a nice item - but it's useful! And we enjoyed a little Blue Bell ice cream off the square to wrap up our time there. Leaving the square, we entered FM 4 and headed north to Palo Pinto, which is a new route for us, and a very pretty drive in its own right. And besides, I had to see Lipan. Why on Earth? Because Lipan is what I call a "David Finfrock town". He has all these pet places that he picks from the state to demonstrate what the weather is doing there. And the ones he chooses must of course play to his Texan accent. LIE-PAN. There's nothing there of course, but we knew that. Palo Pinto is a great example of a magnificent courthouse in the middle of absolutely nothing. There's no commerce, but plenty of empty buildings surrounding it. If I were rich, I'd buy the whole thing and make something of it. Maybe a nice brewery? Wouldn't that be fun? Anyway, most of the county lives in nearby Mineral Wells which we went through on the way to Weatherford. Coming in east on 180, the courthouse is absolutely striking, especially as the sun begins to set.
All this to say: What better place to start the journey than to grab a nice fast food lunch at Taco Villa! Benbrook is the gateway to points west, and is the ideal spot for this West Texas chain to poke their head into the DFW market. The below was written this summer on one of our roundups. I've moved (and updated) it here to give it its own space. BTW, this has become Mrs. RJG's favorite crunchy taco place. Or as she likes to jokingly call them "tacos creespy".
Taco Villa is one of the RJG's favorite taco chains. I used to eat at the chain often while a student at Texas Tech in Lubbock in the early to mid 1980s. Before we go further here, a quick history lesson. Taco Villa was a decent sized regional chain based in West Texas and was started by Bobby Cox in 1968 (Odessa). Sometime after I left college, in the late 1980s, he sold the chain to some investors. From what I understand, they ran the chain into the ground, and Cox wanted to buy back in. About 10+ years ago he bought most of the stores back, and had a friend of his buy the Lubbock locations (and a couple of other locations). So there are two different Taco Villa's, each independently run and with different logos (and presumably different tastes, but I haven't been to the Lubbock locations in years). You can find the Lubbock based stores here. The branch that entered into the DFW area is the original one as owned by Bobby Cox. In the last few years, I think I've been twice, both times while stopping through Amarillo. Once I heard that Taco Villa was here in DFW, Mrs. RJG and I had to plan a special trip. It's a healthy 40-45 minute drive on a weekend with no traffic to get to Benbrook. So we went on a Sunday for lunch. Taco Villa has fantastic crunchy fast food tacos. I mean really fantastic with great tasting ground beef, and a very good hot sauce (though not very spicy, but great tasting). Lots of cheese and one big tomato slice round them out. Though expensive at $1.29 each, you get what you pay for. Not surprisingly the early reviews are in, and many suggest it's not as good as Taco Bell or whatever. Yawn. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have a choice! The Benbrook location is new, clean, and the quality is excellent. The fact they chose Benbrook suggests that they are nibbling away at the Ft. Worth market. I really wish they'd make a bold move and quickly jump up here to Northeast Tarrant! Keller / Southlake / NRH / Grapevine / Colleyville / Hurst / Watauga could really use a place like this. :-). So it's not likely we'll visit much. But at least it's closer than Amarillo!