You may ask yourselves, “Just where the heck is Chillicothe, TX?” Well let me tell you, it’s on the US 287 in Texas en route to I 40 and Amarillo. Tiny little sleepy town nestled amidst what looks to be miles and miles of wheat fields. I never expected to stumble across a gem in the middle of nowhere, but folks, gypsy luck is on my side today! I have been eating like a bird for the last five days. The mother of all summer head colds has brought me low and I’ve had to hustle across the country anyway. Such is life and this is the real world not television. Yet. So I find myself starving, exhausted, and feeling like I’ve been run over by the truck I’ve been driving. I see a few scattered signs pointing toward a small town restaurant that mentions truck parking and at this point, I’m sold. I haven’t been grocery shopping in more than a week and eggs and bacon have lost all of their appeal. I’m more than happy to let someone else do the cooking and dishes. Here comes the hard part. The fervent prayer that wherever I stop will have decent food. So I cross my fingers and walk up.
Welcome to Love’s BBQ & Steakhouse. I was greeted immediately by Mr. Tommy Love, owner of said BBQ joint. With a friendly smile and a slight apology about the construction( they’re expanding some), he assures me I’m in the right place if I’m hungry. For a girl who hasn’t been able to smell or taste anything for almost a week, the scent of mesquite smoked meats wafting toward me immediately made my mouth water. Uh oh, getting excited.. Tone it down Gypsy, we haven’t seen the menu yet. There’s a hand printed specials board that immediately gets my attention. I see a lot of ribeye and something called chicken fried bacon, YES! Chicken fried bacon. As I’m trying to wrap my coconut around this anomaly I’m informed by my lovely server, Traci, that Mr. Tommy ages, smokes, and cuts every piece of meat in the joint. I’m now so terribly excited I can’t hardly put a sentence together! AHHH I AM HOME! I put enough brain cells to work to order the ribeye special with two sides. The pictures will speak the volumes I cannot. I’ve stuttered over the sheer amazement of flavor and tenderness. I’ve eaten ribeye all over the country and can honestly say this was the best I’ve EVER had in my mouth. EVER. Yes, anywhere in the country. Yup, better than them. It’s a tough distinction having mulled it over this is the conclusion I’ve come to. This place is absolutely 100% legit. I want to scream to every foodie in the country to try this steak, and I’m loathe to even share with my best buddy, Harley, waiting patiently in the truck(he’s spoiled rotten and did get his share, although grudgingly).
The tiny salad bar across the dining room bespoke fresh, crisp vegetables prepared with care. The dressings are mostly homemade, like the French, ranch, and the thousand island. I tried a mixture of ranch and French. Again amazing flavor. The creamy garlic of the ranch paired with the spicy tomato punch of the French was music in my mouth. I had the homemade beans and coleslaw to accompany my steak, the beans were superb, with just the right amount of sweet, spicy, and savory. Not to mention the pulled beef brisket pieces popping up when you least expect it. The coleslaw was crisp and creamy without a harsh vinegar finish. So far, so good. As I’m in my own little seventh heaven, Traci(bless her heart) starts spinning a tale of homemade cobbler, made by Ms Sue, Mr Tommy’s wife. I’m thinking to myself,”How am I going to walk out of here, much less drive a few more hours down the road?” The answer is stay, eat well, have a walk with the pup, and sleep. Did I forget to mention there’s four different kinds of cobbler?! Or that there’s homemade vanilla ice cream to go with that cobbler?! Traci is the sweetest server, but she blew my calorie counting right out the window! I’m going to have to be VERY good for a really long time to make up for the feast I’ve had at Love’s.
Mr Tommy was kind enough to show me his custom built smoker. I literally had goosebumps when I gazed upon this work of art. The temperature is so consistent that it only varies by two degrees. Either direction. He demonstrated this with the simple dial and damper system. He not only cuts his own meats, but ages them too. He makes his own bacon for gosh sakes! Without any of the chemical preservatives you would expect in bacon. Mr Tommy cures solely with salt, sugar, and smoke.The way God Himself would want the pig treated. I have not found such pride in ones’ art in a terribly long time and have had immeasurable pleasure whiling away a few hours here. These folks are the salt of the Earth, they’ve been farmers, truckers, and now restaurant proprietors. The Love they have for the food and their community shine through with every dish, every smile, every handshake, and every hug. This is a must stop for anyone traveling the 287 through Texas in between Dallas and Amarillo. Not just truckers like me, but anyone. There’s plenty of truck parking at the Allsup’s a quarter of a mile down the road, next to Allsup’s at the old mill, and even behind Love’s. I will be back and hopefully soon, because Mr Tommy’s ribs are next! Until next time folks, eat well, laugh often, be free, and be you!