Friday Happy Hour at Hummers is one of the longest relished rituals in Amarillo. Meeting your buddies there after a long week with no agenda and no set time gives a sense of stability to our chaotic world. A chance to get together over a bucket and tell lies is a rite of passage as you move from early adulthood to middle-age. The stories just move from jobs and dating to wives and parenthood. From working on your truck, to working on your house. From how bad the Cowboys are to how bad the Cowboys are. The only difference is instead of a call Friday to set plans, it is just a text “Hummers?”
As you peruse the Hummers menu, you see that there is something for everyone. I wasn’t able to spot any rookies (see what I did there) since the first time I visited. You can do steaks, burgers, salads, chicken, some oysters, Mexican food, and sandwiches. My go-tos have always been the burgers and the steak bites. The appetizers are tasty and provide a good base for some beverages. The beer list has always been extensive long before it was cool. I can remember seeing German and Austrian beers at Hummers decades before the Craft Beer Craze.
After buckets were delivered, burgers were ordered. One odd thing about the Hummer Burger. It is on a whole wheat bun. No option for anything else, just a wheat bun. It's as if to say "You are about to eat some greasy meat with a topping of cheese with a side of fried onions and some buffalo wings. This wheat bun will make it healthy though." This is weird to some folks, but it is what it is. My usual order of Wahoo Sam's Green Chili Burger with half fries, half onion rings was made along with a Snack Basket. The Snack Basket is a mish-mash of beigeness, with varying meats and vegetables fried for your dipping enjoyment. Everything ordered tasted exactly as it always has, solid. There are better meals in Amarillo, but they don't taste like memories.
I was tempted to order a Statue Of Liberty, but was afraid they would deliver it and I would have to suffer through it. Someone do it and let me know if you survive.
Hummers is an Amarillo Landmark as much as the AQHA and the Big Building Downtown That Constantly Changes Its Name And Tenants. You can always meet a buddy or make a new one over a beer or a bucket full. You can transport yourself to your 21st birthday or enjoy your child's 21st birthday. Hummers, you be you.
When you arrive at The Bagel Place, you first notice that the parking lot is full. It is always full. The drive thru is always full. There is a reason; the service is wonderful, the prices are right, and the food is damn good. Perhaps that is the reason for the diversity of the customers. When we visited, there were elderly folks, high schoolers, old grouches, younger couples, and everything in between. I think I saw an albino monk at one of the tables. I tried not to stare.
On the agenda for today, The Longhorn, The Raider and a cup of Taos Soup. The first thing you take in with all of their food is the freshness. The bagels are made on location each day. When you are planning your order, have a backup bagel plan; your garlic bagel option may be sold out for the day and you will be forced to punt. The Raider with all of its roasted peppers and guacamole smoothness is delicious, but The Longhorn is my favorite on the menu. There is something about the combination of the toasted bagel, roast beef and the herbed cream cheese creating a perfect symphony of flavors. The Taos soup is full of ground beef, beans, corn and the most savory, buttery broth you can imagine.
Go try The Bagel Place at different times of the day. Experience each niche they have to offer. Get a schmear on an early morning bagel. Get a pizza bagel. Have a latte. Get a slice of cake. Let your defenses down, just like the Big 12 does. (I had to get one jab in)
The Bagel Place is easy to find. It is the old Taco Villa on Bell, next to where the Mr. Burger used to be.
The Joint Experience
If you have never been to Indian Oven and are wanting to dip your pinky toe in the curried sauce, be prepared to get SLIGHTLY out of your comfort zone. The first thing you will notice is the fragrance. If you have grown up in Amarillo and never ventured past enchiladas and chicken fried steak, you will take note of the bouquet of spices you have never experienced. It is not unpleasant, just unfamiliar. The second thing that tips you off that you are not at Texas Roadhouse is the background music. It is an Indian pop music that is not disagreeable, but just not the terrible top 40 junk that you hear too loudly in chain restaurants.
Upon opening the menu, you are presented with a list of words that do not resemble anything you are accustomed to. My go-to order is the Madras Chicken, medium spice and an order of garlic naan. Today also included Bhindi Masala. It is okra and a few sautéed onions in a delicious coating. Don’t ask me what’s in it. I have no clue. It is just good.
The Madras Chicken is the star in my book. The spice is just right and mixing it over the provided rice is pure heaven. I would still be eating it if there were more in the bowl. The okra is amazing and the naan is out of this world.
Stop the hate crimes against your palate. Be adventurous. Don’t believe your inner lies. Venture out of your Amarillo Food Rut. If you are that person who hates yourself for going to the same 5 restaurants and never tries anything new, this is a beginner foray: order some samosas, some naan, and some tandoori chicken. It doesn’t get more basic. Or get wacky. Have a vegetarian dish. Have a mango lassi for dessert. Life is short, stop wasting your peak culinary years.
By the way, I still hate bananas.