| photography by Alex Lepe |
On a sleepy section of West Exchange Street, Horseshoe Hill Café is like stepping back in time. From the outside, this Western café looks as if it would be a spot for cowboys to get a hot bath, drink whiskey and play some poker. While today Harleys are hitched out front instead of horses, the elevated cuisine keeps its cowboy roots.
Inside, the vibe is informal with a rustic charm. A rearing, stuffed billy goat wearing a BBQ championship apron greets guests. Western-themed artwork adorns the walls, and classic country greats like Willie and Waylon (both of whom would most likely approve of the café) twang through the quaint space. Lunchtime patrons order at the counter from a large handwritten blackboard menu; then the food is later delivered to the table. Full service kicks in at dinner.
Texana Deviled Eggs
Blazing the trail were the Texana Deviled Eggs ($8 for six, $12 for 12). Prepared traditionally, the eggs had a creamy filling and were sprinkled with crispy bits of bacon and green onions, creating a nice balance of texture and flavor. An accompanying mound of a lackluster dressed salad had wilted spinach and was topped with pico de gallo.
Chicken Fried Steak, The Cowboy Way
Arriving on a campfire-style metal platter, the definite star of the meal was the Chicken-Fried Steak ($17), which can be ordered five different ways at Horseshoe Hill. The Cowboy Way seemed most traditional, so that was the winner on this trip. The crisp, perfectly seasoned crust encompassing the tender steak is a far cry from the soggy, chewy varieties commonly served at other local establishments. A perfect portion of peppery cream gravy topped the Chicken-Fried Steak, which was propped on a helping of skin-on mashed potatoes. The comforting aroma wafts over the table, and just when you think you’ve taken your last bite, you stab your fork in for more.
A side order of Red Chile Cheese Enchiladas ($6) is served with a slow-cooked red sauce that was more sweet than spicy. Infused with honey, the sauce contrasted well with the accompanying spicy guacamole. Cheesy goodness oozed with each mouthful.
Cheesy Green Chile Grits are served with some of the dishes and exhibit the most inventive preparation of grits I’ve ever tasted. Creamy with just a hint of heat, they make a nice sidekick for some of Horseshoe’s Tex-Mex offerings.
At the suggestion of the server, the meal concluded with an order of Buenealos, which is basically a crispy sopapilla topped with caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. It’s a simple dessert, and the cold ice cream playing against the warm bananas and sopapilla was heavenly.
Despite any bumps in the road Chef Spears has experienced in past restaurant endeavors, it appears that happy trails lie ahead with his winning formula in the Stockyards: An unpretentious atmosphere, friendly service and authentic cowboy cuisine for which Spears is best known.
Location: 204 W. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth 76164
For Info Call: 817.882.6405
Hours: Wed. & Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
What We Like: Charming country dishes, such as Rocky Mountain Oysters and Chicken-Fried Steak, are elevated to the highest level.
What We Didn’t: Some of the garnishes were wilted and seemed almost like an afterthought.
Our Recommendation: Trying one of the five varieties of the Chicken-Fried Steak is a must.