Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tolbert's ~ Grapevine, Texas



Originally published July 3, 2008 and updated with a recent visit.

Have family from out of town, and not sure where to take them? Start right here with Tolbert's! You'll be known as the family know-it-all who has the "in" on all the good places in town.

Food: Simply put, Tolbert's is our favorite place to bring out of town guests who are looking for something uniquely "Texan". The food, naturally enough, has a traditional Texas focus with chili, Tex-Mex, chicken fried steak, beef steak, and hamburgers dominating the menu. I like to start with a bowl of red, and ask for it 5 alarm. In the old days, they use to serve it straight-up spicy. Nowadays, they provide the mix for you to add to your heat tolerance - apparently they received too many complaints about it being too hot. Obviously, the RJG dumps the whole thing in! Mrs. RJG prefers the North of the Border, which basically adds beans to the mix. In addition, we like to get the Henderson County burger with fries as our main meal. Mrs. RJG will tell you that Tolbert's has the best burgers in town, and while I might not go that far, it does underscore how good it can be. We've brought friends and work colleagues alike, and they all go home happy. Some swear by the chicken fried steak.

Drink: When Tolbert's started out, the craft beer movement hadn't yet taken hold here in Texas. So we always took advantage of their $1 Lone Star longnecks. That deal is over, but in its place is a very healthy craft beer selection. They have 32 micros on tap, and half of those are from Texas! None are real obscure, but it's just cool they have a good selection of beers on tap from Real Ale, Saint Arnold, Franconia, Rahr, Revolver, Spoetzl, and more. And their selection of out-of-state micros is also well researched. In fact, they give full descriptions of everything they serve. In addition, they carry Texas made wines and hard liquor as well.

Location: The setting simply could not be more perfect. The restaurant is set as the cornerstone of one of the many old buildings lining the old town, this one from 1911. Tolbert's sits in a large space, with a fireplace, full bar, multiple open rooms, and now a concert stage (though I personally preferred the old closed room, which presumably was for rehearsal dinners, conference gatherings, and the like - guessing business for this wasn't brisk). The music can be a distraction if you come here for conversation, so file that away for the appropriate audience. In any case, one imagines riding in on horseback, roping the steed to the hitchin' post, slamming through the saloon doors, and demanding some chili and a beer. Extra points if you go in looking like Clint Eastwood circa 1967.

Notes: Tolbert's was originally started by Frank X. Tolbert, the legendary journalist who co-founded the Terlingua Chili Cookoff. In 1976, Tolbert opened a chili-themed restaurant in Dallas that eventually closed down. Fast forward a few years later, and his daughter and her husband reopened the restaurant, but in a far more appropriate locale: Downtown old Grapevine.

Rating: 4.5 A long time favorite of the RJG!

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Tolbert's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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