Sometimes all it takes is a trip through Texas’ own backyard to remind you how vastly diverse and wildly wonderful our great state can be. Let’s take Lubbock for example. Located approximately 519 miles northwest of Houston and home to Texas Tech University, you will find Lubbock situated among the largest contiguous cotton-producing region in the world, better known as the Llano Estacado. With every twist and turn we made on this trip, we were exposed to something new and unique – uniquely Lubbock that is to say. By the time we left, I had fallen in love with this West Texas town.
We arrived in Lubbock just in time for dinner and were whisked away to Cagle Steaks – a family-owned restaurant complete with a general store. The atmosphere lends itself to the cowboy heritage and the rib-eye steaks are some of the best in the West, cooked just how you like ‘em. With plenty of room among their private buildings and dining areas, Cagle Steaks is designed to host special events ranging from wedding to receptions, meetings and more.
We awoke the next day and set off for breakfast at the Cast Iron Grill – a Lubbock favorite. Their home-cooked meals are made daily from scratch and their pies are a must-try. Whether you’re looking for something more traditional, like buttermilk chess or southern pecan, or something a little different, like turtle pecan pumpkin or Jack Daniel’s pecan, you’re sure to find it here.
Home to one of the biggest names in rock-n-roll history, your trip to Lubbock would not be complete without a stop at the Buddy Holly Center. The Center opened in 1999 and houses the largest single collection of artifacts associated with Holly. This permanent exhibition pays tribute to his life and music, and showcases unique memorabilia like the glasses he had on the day his plane went down, the Fender Stratocaster he used to play and more. The Center also boasts rotating visual arts exhibits as well as a live music summer showcase held every Thursday on the tree-shaded patio.
Before heading off to experience the real West at the National Ranching Heritage Center, we thought it wise to refuel at Eddie’s BBQ. As we approached Eddie’s we could see the gravel lot filled with pickup trucks. This unassuming barbeque joint has been serving some of the best barbecue in town to hungry Lubbock natives for more than a decade. While you really can’t go wrong with any item on the menu, the house favorite is their finger-licking-good Frito Pie. But don’t take our word for it. Stop by to try a bite for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
With bellies full and pallets pleased, we made our way to the National Ranching Heritage Center. The Center was constructed in hopes of preserving the history of ranching. In doing so, 48 authentic structures dating back to the 1700 have been put on display and help to tell the story of ranching in North America. The Center strives to keep the legacy of ranching alive by prolonging traditions, values and history of the industry. They are open daily and tours are free of charge.
Dinner that evening was spent at the beautiful Las Brisas Steakhouse. I opted for a delicious Raspberry Filet that came pecan crusted with a raspberry chipotle sauce. We finished off the meal with a slice of sizzling apple pie and a scoop of homemade ice cream. Las Brisas Steakhouse aims to please and they most certainly made their mark. The service and the food were both superb.
The next morning started off bright and early for tee-time at The Rawls Course at Texas Tech University. Carved out of a cotton farm, the course boasts more than 115 acres of fairways where rolling greens sit under bright blue skies. Amenities include a 375-yard horseshoe-shaped driving range, a short game facility, indoor hitting bays and video teaching aids.
Perhaps one of the most surprising stops of the trip was our visit to the American Wind and Power Center. As a native Texan, I have seen my fair share of windmills. They dot the hillsides in Central Texas and stand tall amid cows in the pasture. We’ve all seen them, but do we truly understand their structure and function? At the American Wind Power Center, you will find the largest collection of fully restored windmills in the world. Spanning 28 acres of parkland in Yellow House Canyon you will find more than 170 rare windmills.
The rest of our afternoon was spent sipping wine and touring cellars. The first stop was the Llano Estacado Winery located just outside the city limits. One of Texas’ most award-winning wineries, most of the grapes used at the Llano Estacado Winery are sourced within 100 miles of Lubbock. The mission at Llano Estacado is to embody the fabulous potential of Texas wine and today they are the largest, best-selling premium winery in Texas.
The next stop was McPherson Cellars. The McPhersons have been growing grapes and making wine in Texas for more than 40 years. This historic Coca-Cola bottling plant turned world-class winery includes a tasting room, outdoor courtyard and event center. Tours are complimentary and tastings include a sampling of five award-winning wines.
Eventually, all good things must come to an end. To conclude our time in Lubbock we made our way to La Diosa for dinner. Another Lubbock favorite, La Diosa offers an eclectic atmosphere; a bistro reflecting the owner’s Spanish heart. Sip on carefully chosen artisan wine, nibble on imported cheeses or indulge in a gourmet dessert. A visit to La Diosa will leave you wanting more.
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