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Sunday, June 28, 2009

SALADO, TEXAS' STAGECOACH INN


Stagecoach Inn
401 S. Stagecoach Road
Salado, Texas 76571
(254) 947-5111


One marvelous attraction for me in Salado, Texas stands on the historic crossroads of the Chisholm Trail, the Texas cattleman's route north through Indian Territory (today's Oklahoma) to Kansas, and Old Military Road, a road that linked a series of forts. This Texas romantic mystique so attracts me that I had to join the ranks of the stagecoach travelers, cattle ranchers, soldiers and others who frequented the famous inn known today as The Stagecoach Inn. Among the many famous people who visited are Sam Houston, General George Armstrong Custer, Captain Robert E. Lee, son of the general, and the James Brothers. Rob and I would be in famous and infamous company.

The Inn was purchased and restored by the Van Bibber family in the early 1940s, and the recipes selected then are still served today although it is now owned by Mrs. Van Bibber's nephew. This was definitely the place for lunch.

The Stagecoach Inn is a beautiful old building right on Salado's main street. It is set back slightly from the sidewalk, and one can rock comfortably on the big wrap-around porch and watch the world pass by. That’s just what preceding generations did.

As we enter the lobby, we can see through to the dining room and porch beyond. On one side through large glass doors is a larger, more formal dining room. The room in which we're to dine is big, woody, and comfortable. There are no empty tables on the porch, so Rob and I are seated at a big round table. On our placemats is a picture of the Stagecoach Inn and a short history.

It doesn't take long for our waitress, Suellen, to spot us as visitors. In Texas all we have to do is say a few words and we practically announce, “New York.” We share with her the love of train travel, and she tells us about trips she has taken with her daughter. Once again we are treated to a hospitality that is warm and sincere.

Our meal is wonderful. We begin with a delicious beef broth served with freshly baked hush puppies and creamy butter.

Next we're served a fresh salad with an extra special touch. Not only do we find the usual ingredients but also we find radishes and celery. It's a nice salad with a lovely dressing. A tempting basket of freshly baked mini-rolls, still warm from the oven, accompanies the salad.

Rob and I are drawn to the same entree—fried catfish. We both like catfish, but this Southern fried catfish dusted with cornmeal and fried in peanut oil is irresistible. The catfish is served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, a delicious and perfectly prepared combination of red and green peppers, yellow squash, celery, carrots, and green squash. Neither Rob nor I could identify another accompaniment although the taste was very familiar. When Suellen came back she asked if we could identify it. It was, she said, a banana fritter—truly the most wonderful we'd ever had. It didn’t look like a fritter. Once it was identified, the flavors popped out at us. We three smiled at the guessing game.

Suellen practically insisted we'd be cheating ourselves if we left without sampling The Stagecoach Inn's desserts. Okay. We forced ourselves. LOL With coffee we had a cream custard pie. Unbelieveable! No wonder this inn is still thriving!

When you read my post on Salado, you'll find many reasons to visit this charming town. Add a meal at the very hospitable Stagecoach Inn to that list of reasons.



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