Stampede 66: Another Reason We’re Proud to Be Texan

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Stephen Pyles's Stampede 66 is wide open and relaxed.
Stephen Pyles’s Stampede 66 is wide open and relaxed.

Photo Credit: Stampede 66/Facebook

Texans are a proud bunch. We think we do just about everything a little bit bigger, a little bit better, and way more sensibly than those other 49 states. It’s no different with food. We’ve got barbecue, we’ve got Frito pie, and we’ve got chefs like Stephan Pyles to make sure that Texas food continues to be the best.

Chef Pyles is a fifth generation Texan who has created 18 restaurants over the past 29 years. He holds the distinction of the being the first chef in the Southwest to earn the James Beard Award as Best Chef. We’ve watched him on PBS, we’ve read about him in national and local magazines, and we’ve eaten his food every time we get a chance. We eat it because here’s a Texas boy who’s turned the cooking scene on its ear, because he’s taken food we grew up on and made it cool, but most of all we eat it because it’s fantastic.

The brisket is thickly slices and served o a plank of wood. Smoky perfection!
The brisket is thickly slices and served o a plank of wood. Smoky perfection!

Photo Credit: Stampede 66/Facebook

We love all of the Stephan Pyle restaurants that we’ve been to but Stampede 66 is our favorite. In it Pyle has captured the classic attitude of pride with a sprinkle of smug bravado that makes Texans different. Leather strips stamped with the names of famous Texans (the good, the bad, and the ugly) line the restroom doors. Once when we were chatting with Chef Pyles as he stopped by our table he admitted that some guests didn’t appreciate the more unsavory characters having their names alongside Texas heroes. His answer to them was something along the lines of my restaurant my rules. 

We concur.

The space is open and there is no feeling of being crowded even at the very busiest times. Texas decor is taken to new heights with warm woods and dramatic lighting. Many of the materials are reclaimed with lots of leather and cowhide — exactly what you’d expect. In one of the private dining areas there is a “window” that plays a video of cows grazing. It’s fun and there’s always something to look at.

Chicken adobo tamales are fragrant and delicious.
Chicken adobo tamales are fragrant and delicious.

Photo Credit: Stampede 66/Facebook

The dishes are plated creatively. Sliced barbecue served on a wooden plank with a side of pickles served in a Mason jar, Hell’s eggs cut through the middle and topped with a veritable tower of spicy deviled egg filling, Frito Pie served just like we ate it at high school football games — in the corn chip wrapper. Shiner bread with the daily jam, shrimp and grits, honey fried chicken — there isn’t anything we’ve tried that we haven’t loved.

Stampede 66 is imbued with the corporate memories we all  have. Whether you are eating the chili pie that reminds you of chilly October nights making out under the bleachers or reading David Koresh’s name tooled in the rich leather and remembering being glued to Channel 8 while the compound burned there is something about Stampede 66 that will resonate deep in your heart. If anyone could take a building and capture the heart of Texas in side of it, Stephan Pyles could… and he did, right here.

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