Not to get overly philosophical, but there’s no greater connector to memory than food. As mentioned in first part of the Eastside Food Tour, I’ve spent a lot of my life in SA’s often-neglected East Side. And, quite frankly, I still do. I often return to re-connect with friends and family over a great meal that takes me back to some happy times in my life. Hence, Part Two of the Tour.
Let me again preface this by saying there will be no amuse-bouches, micro greens or molecular gastronomy found at these restaurants. Pretense is out the window; however, what I will tell you about are some amazingly underrated restaurants that serve food that will turn you an instant fan. For this excursion I concentrate on the Far East Side along the humble, yet stately, WW White Road.
Follow the smoke and your nose to Ed’s Smok-N-Q (902 S. WW White Road) for the first stop on our tour. A neighborhood institution, Ed’s Smok-N-Q has been serving up some of the best barbecue in the city for over a decade now. The unassuming joint (and I mean that in the most endearing way possible) plays all the hits when it comes to Texas-style barbecue.
Brisket (sliced and chopped), ribs, turkey (breast and legs, thank you), sausage (in ring or link form), pulled pork and chicken quarters all are offered at Ed’s. Sides you ask? Oh yeah, Ed’s got the sides. Macaroni salad, potato salad, beans, cole slaw, French fries, corn—again, all the hits. I recommend the two-meat plate (sausage and brisket are my personal favorites) with a side of those beans. Try them ranch style. Oh and save room for dessert as Ed’s has peach cobbler, banana pudding and a different cake each day.
If you’re thinking about Ed’s for lunch, get there early as the line will be out the door and seating is limited. If you’re going for dinner, the rule holds true since they close at 7:00 p.m. But be warned: they run out of the good stuff fast.
How about some fried chicken for your next stop? After all, who doesn’t love a good piece of fried chicken done by a true artist? Head on over to Chatman’s Chicken (1792 S. WW White Road) to satisfy that craving. You won’t be able to miss this landmark, as it’s bright (and when I say bright I mean BRIGHT) yellow and red paint that can be seen for miles.
They’ve been frying up some of the best chicken at Chatman’s for a long time (this year marks the 14th anniversary of its opening) and for Eddie Chatman, seeing his restaurant succeed has literally been his lifelong dream. If you think the delicious golden fried chicken at Chatman’s seems a bit familiar to you, you’re not mistaken; the menu owes a bit to Chat’s former place of employment, a certain restaurant the rhymes with Smurches.
The chicken is phenomenal! It hands down beats anything you can get at any fast food chicken place. Have you ever eaten a fried riblet? Well, go to Chatman’s and give that a whirl. They do chicken tenders (my personal favorite), gizzards, hot wings and fried catfish too. If heaven exists, it will smell like the kitchen at Chatman’s Chicken! But, I digress. You also owe it to yourself to try Chatman’s corn fritters. These golden brown pillows of goodness are the perfect complement to your meal.
Lung Fung Chinese Restaurant #2
Let’s change things up a bit for your next stop. Lung Fung Chinese Restaurant #2 (4503 Lakewood Drive) is another of those “don’t judge a book by its cover” type of places. Unassuming though it maybe, it still offers one of the best Chinese buffets in the city.
Known for fast, quality service, Lung Fung #2 (Lung Fung #1 resides on the North East side of the city) features a regular buffet of some of the most popular and most familiar Chinese dishes. Sweet and sour pork and chicken, beef and broccoli, sesame chicken, vegetable lo mein, vegetable fried and steamed rice, crabmeat Rangoons, eggrolls and more are all part of the regular buffet menu. Also, every buffet comes with soup: hot and sour, wonton, and perhaps the best egg drop soup in the city.
The food at Lung Fung regularly rotated out (read: fresh) and the service is always fast and friendly. Lung Fung #2 is open everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and for dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. If you’re in the neighborhood and wanting to get a full belly on a pretty easy on the wallet price, make a stop at Lung Fung #2; you’ll be treated like an old friend and you won’t be disappointed.
Radicke’s Bluebonnet Grill
The last stop on your tour is one that truly tugs at the most nostalgic of my heartstrings. Cross the bridge at I-10 and look for the sign for Radicke’s Bluebonnet Grill (237 N. WW White Road), a great little restaurant and one of the most criminally underrated spots in town for chicken fried steak.
Radicke’s reminds me of that quintessential small town Texas diner that all the locals and road-weary truckers stop in to eat. It’s bare bones and no frills, it’s got lots of fried foods and pictures of John Wayne on the walls. What more could you ask for?
I love Radicke’s. I’ve been eating there for a long time—since high school in fact. However, the only dish I have ever ordered in that time has been the aforementioned chicken fried steak.
Fork tender, smothered in piping hot cream gravy and the size of a hubcap, the chicken fried steak at Radicke’s is phenomenal. You want mashed potatoes? You get ‘em in spades, lathered in the cream gravy. Two sides come with your steak, and I’m a traditionalist so I go with the house-made green beans to accompany my potatoes. The rolls are massive, always hot and good.
Don’t forget to check out the first part of the East Side Food Tour!
“Good” is typically not the best adjective you can use when describing a restaurant or it’s food, but “good” is what it is and “good” is what you will feel when you visit. Just for balance, I’m told the jalapeño fried chicken is also really, really good here.
Note that Radicke’s Bluebonnet Grill is only open for lunch, Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. That’s it. That’s your window. Make time to go and get some of this “good” for yourself.