Texas has increasingly become a popular tourist destination, both domestically and internationally.
And, for good reason.
With a landmass of 268,596 square miles (an area larger than some small countries), the Lone Star state boasts some incredible destinations and experiences.
You’ll be hard pressed not to find a town, restaurant, state park or event that isn’t sprinkled with just a little bit of Texas charm.
But, a state as big as Texas is also sure to come with at least one location that falls short of expectation and just may be worth skipping altogether.
The place in question? Amarillo.
Yes, you read that right. Amarillo – The Yellow Rose of Texas.
You would think a city with such a nickname would be a lovely place for a weekend trip, but I’m here to give you five reasons to steer clear of the Panhandle city.
1. The People
Why can’t the Amarillo locals just let us be? It’s not uncommon to be wandering around town and have a complete and utter stranger call out, “Good morning!” with a smile and a wave. There are a few things I take issue with here…
- I don’t know you, sir.
- Is it REALLY a good morning?
- Why are you so merry at this ungodly hour?
Can’t folks recognize that my goal for any outing is to get in and out quickly with as little human interaction as possible? If you take a look around and notice all the smiling, friendly, ready-to-lend-a-hand faces, my suspicions are immediately piqued. No group of people I’ve ever met have collectively been so genuine in their kindness and interest.
Frankly, I just don’t trust it. People can’t just go around giving you unprompted “good mornings” and NOT expect me to be wary of their intentions.
Oh, and if you’re ever in the area and are unlucky enough to become stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, you can expect a majority of the town’s population to stop and offer their assistance.
How incredibly rude to assume I can’t change my own tire. (I can’t. But they don’t know that.)
2. The Culture
Arguably, Amarillo can be considered the southern gateway to the wide-open western frontier. So, it comes as no surprise that the culture of the city is very much based upon traditional western and ranching themes, creating a true testament to its heritage and the values upon which it was founded.
We’re talking country charm complete with cowboy hats as the preferred headwear, wide open spaces (just like the song), ranches like most would only see in old John Wayne movies, horses and cattle loose on the interstate, and a boot store on every corner.
Wait a second. Doesn’t that sound a bit…cheesy? I mean, this is the 21st century we’re living in.
Where’s the traffic?
The crowds and bright lights that we’ve come to associate with major cities?
Sorry, but I think I speak for most people when I say I strongly prefer a more modern and progressive city with large crowds (the more shoulder rubbing the better), generic and imposing structures (wow, that gray concrete building looks just like every other gray concrete building I’ve seen), and polluted with a cloud of smog over its skyline (air quality is overrated).
When compared to the western charm of a city with a Hallmark type of small-town-feel that is rooted in its history and traditions, there’s clearly no competition here.
Because if we’re being honest with ourselves, what we tourists and travelers are really looking for out of a weekend trip is to leave the stressors of our day-to-day rushed, overstimulated and plugged-in lives, to a place that’s even more rushed, more overstimulated and more plugged-in. Who has time to truly relax and unwind?
3. The Entertainment
I don’t know about you, but with that charming description I’m picturing the entertainment scene of Amarillo to look a lot like bull riding, cattle drives and cow tipping. (We’re sure that’s an actual thing, right?)
And unsurprisingly, Amarillo is host to the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo every year in November, and you’ll find no shortages of smaller rodeo event jackpots scattered across the area.
However, there is a whole host of other fun activities to partake in, like amateur sports, art, theatre performances, live music, farmers markets, craft breweries, and the list goes on.
The problem, you ask? These just don’t fit our narrative! Is Amarillo this charming western city bordered by family farms and ranches, effectively making it not feel like a city at all? Or, is it a hub for assorted entertainment, activities and events that rivals the largest and grandest of cities?
Did no one tell Amarillo they can’t have their cake and eat it too? Because they sure have it, and boy are they chowing down.
4. The Food
Let’s be real. Dining out has to account for at least half of our travel satisfaction ratings these days. We’ve become accustomed to having high-quality dining options right at our fingertips. As a society, we’re eating out more regularly than ever before, which stands to reason that having a repertoire of diverse, quality, affordable options has become a must in any sizable town.
Meaning, there’s no such thing as too many good options…. right? Well, friends. I’m here to tell you: There absolutely is.
Once you get past the excitement of having a cultural plethora of options to satisfy the most unique cravings you might have – like Cajun and Creole, authentic Texas BBQ, fine steakhouses, savory Tex-Mex (yes, I’ll take the largest queso you have), quaint boutique cafes, a swanky speakeasy establishment, and so much more – you get to the point where you have to actually make a decision.
This is dang near impossible to ask of even the most experienced foodies. By the time you narrow down what type of food you’re in the mood for, you’re hit with a lineup so deep for every category, it’ll make your head spin. With that long of a list to choose from, you’ll be lucky if you ever get around to the actual eating part.
5. The Humidity
Humidity? In Amarillo, you ask? Exactly – there isn’t any. If you’re like me and consider anything less than 50 percent moisture in the air to be unacceptable, save yourself the trouble and just keep driving southeast. There are plenty of areas in Texas that offer those high levels of water vapor in the air that we all love, but Amarillo is about as dry as they come.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy the damp, muggy and stifling summer air that immediately drenches me in sweat as soon as I take a step outside, leaving me to feel like I need another shower ASAP even though I just took one. Popular opinion, I know. I’m just trying to save you the displeasure of not getting to experience the humidity-induced, “oh-my-gosh-why-is-it-so-hard-to-breathe” vacation that you crave.
To bring this rant to a close, if you find any of the above points as offensive as I do, you’ll most likely want to bypass Amarillo when making your travel plans.
Texas has a lot to offer, and the state is chalk full of other cities you might consider visiting. Cities without jolly people who throw around unsolicited pleasantries. Cities that don’t pay homage to an old-fashioned way of life. Cities without endless possibilities of activities and cuisine. Cities deficient of crisp, fresh air that’s good for the soul and devoid of stifling moisture.
On second thought, Amarillo doesn’t sound so bad after all.
Are you wanting to cook your next meal with fruits and vegetables grown right here in the Texas Panhandle? If so, we have created a guide to help you find the best spots to buy fresh locally grown produce.
Golden Spread Farmers Market
Golden Spread Farmers Market is a traditional farmers market that is made up of farmers in the Panhandle that grow their own fruits, vegetables and fresh cut flowers. Most of the farmers are located within 70 miles or less of Amarillo and are all family-owned and operated. Their produce is harvested on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and brought to the market the following morning. The market is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7:00 in the morning until the farmers are sold out! Golden Spread Farmers Market is located at 15th and Pecos in the Sunset Center Parking Lot. We recommend getting there early because they will sell out quick! Here is a link to their website for more information about the market: http://www.goldenspreadfarmers.com/
Amarillo Community Market
Are you looking for a fun way to spend your Saturday? The Amarillo Community Market offers live music and a diverse mix of everything the Panhandle has to offer! Keep up with their schedule of events to stay up-to-date on everything that is going on.
The Community Market begins in June and ends late September. The market opens at 9:00 AM and goes until 1:00 PM and is located in the heart of Downtown Amarillo! Get more information here https://amarillocommunitymarket.weebly.com/ or check out their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/amarillocommunitymarket/
Canyon Farmers Market
Canyon Farmers Market is located in Canyon, Texas which is about 20 miles away from Amarillo. It might sound far but actually it’s a very quick trip! The Canyon Farmers Market is right in the middle of the town on 4th Avenue and 15th Street on the South side of the Historic Courthouse Square. They are open every Saturday from 8:00 AM to Noon starting Late June and running through September. They have 40+ vendors that offer locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as baked items and so much more. To find more information about the farmers market click here: http://www.canyonfarmersmarket.org/
Creek House Honey Farm
While you are in Canyon, make sure to stop at Creek House Honey! Creek House’s Spun Honey is unfiltered, pure and natural made by their bees and might we add DELICIOUS! They offer a variety of spun honey as well as homemade skincare products and candles. They are located at 5005 4th Ave in Canyon, Texas and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. http://www.creekhousehoneyfarm.com/index.html
In Amarillo, one might think that the options for brunch are limited, or even nonexistent. This assumption is so far from the truth. Amarillo has some incredible places to get great food, enjoy a craft cocktail, and socialize. Here are the top 5 places to have an amazing brunch experience in Amarillo.
Butterlove Biscuits, located at 3440 South Bell Street, is the perfect spot for a quick, yet delicious brunch. Butterlove is centered around biscuits, and they make some of the best around! They offer over 20 different kinds of biscuits, ranging from savory options like the jalapeno popper biscuit or the spinach cream cheese biscuit to some that cater to people that like things on the sweeter side like their classic butter biscuit and a seasonal option, the pumpkin spice biscuit.
Butterlove also offers several “sandwiches” made with their signature biscuits. My favorite item on the menu is the Great Balls of Fire biscuit sandwich, which is inspired by Nashville’s signature hot chicken. It is spicy, savory, and all- around delicious! If biscuits are not your thing, they offer several different, classic brunch items, such as French toast and chicken and dumplings.
Butterlove also offers a full-service bar. Their bar serves signature drink specials such as a pumpkin pie white Russian and an alcohol-infused cold brew. They also offer the two drinks that most people have come to associate with brunch, Bloody Mary’s and mimosas, which are some of their most popular items. The ever-changing menu, great drinks, and the casual atmosphere of Butterlove Biscuits make it a must-visit restaurant for your next brunch date.
Cask and Cork, located at 5461 McKenna Square, is the place to go when you need a break from your everyday routine. Cask and Cork strives to find the perfect balance between casual comfort food and upscale fine dining, and they have created just that. This restaurant seems to transport you to another place, with its beautiful rooftop patio and amazing wine selection.
Cask and Cork’s brunch menu is a twist on casual brunch fair, elevating normal comfort food items to something new. Their menu ranges from classic brunch items like eggs benedict to out-of-the-box options like smoked salmon flatbread and chicken Florentine crepes. My go-to brunch item here is the rum pancakes, which are rum infused pancakes topped with pineapple curd, YUM! The items on their menu vary drastically, so each time you visit, you can have a completely different dining experience. Cask and Cork also offers a full-service bar that can meet any of your mid-day cocktail needs, specializing in an array of mimosas and other cocktails.
Be sure to visit Cask and Cork for a unique, yet somehow familiar brunch experience. It is sure to impress!
If you are not following the theme here, to have a great brunch, you also need a great bar. Metropolitan definitely meets that criteria. Their drinks are like their food: classics, but amped up and re-imaged. Mimosas are offered as well as Bellini’s and Bloody Mary’s. They also offer a Swedish mule and a lavender Chilton. The lavender Chilton is my favorite brunch cocktail that is offered here! It is so clean and refreshing, just what you need in the morning for a good pick-me-up!
If you are looking for not only good food and drinks but a unique brunch experience as a whole, Metropolitan – a Speakeasy is the place for you
The Public House, located at 3333 South Coulter Street, is the perfect place for people to come together and enjoy great food and quality drinks. The goal of Public House is to make you feel right at home while using the best quality ingredients possible.
The brunch menu at Public House is filled with tried and true items. They have omelette’s, pancakes, and French toast. They also have some different items like are kind of a mash-up of two classics, like the chicken fried steak and eggs. My favorite brunch dish is the chile relleno omelette, it is cheesy, a little spicy, and all-around delicious! While their items may seem simple, the quality ingredients elevate the dishes to a whole new level.
Now, on to the drinks. Public House offers several cocktails that are on the menu year-round, like sangria, their signature bloody mary, and a margarita. They also have several seasonal cocktails that rotate on and off the menu. A couple of the seasonal cocktails that they are offering at the moment are the grapefruit mezcalarita and the summer cooler, a cucumber and lime drink that is so refreshing!
6 Car Pub and Brewery, located at 625 South Polk Street, is a gem in downtown Amarillo. The building offers a beautiful rooftop that provides a perfect view of Amarillo’s historic downtown. It is a restaurant and brewery, determined to bring Amarillo into the future while using our area’s past and traditions as a building block. They strive to use not only fresh but also local ingredients for their food and grain for their beer whenever possible. Six Car Pub and Brewery is also the largest microbrewery and restaurant in Amarillo.
The brunch menu at Six Car is very unique from what you typically expect to see in our area. They offer a grilled PB&J, which is made entirely from housemaid ingredients. Yes, you read that right! They make their jam, their peanut butter, and even the sourdough bread fresh. They also offer both a classic waffle and an elevated version that is served with fried chicken on top. My personal favorite is the steak and eggs, served with a crispy potato hash that is topped with onions, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese. This is a standard brunch item that they do oh so well! They strive to always have the best products possible, which is why almost everything is made in house.
Their cocktail menu at brunch is simple but great. They offer mimosas, house-made michelada’s, and all of their signature beers. They typically have around 10 or more beers at a time to choose from.
Six Car Pub and Brewery is the perfect spot in Amarillo to get delicious comfort food and beer, brewed in house, all crafted from local ingredients.