Just say this week is all about Babe’s and barbecue.
A new Babe’s Chicken Dinner House is opening in North Richland Hills, the first on a freeway and the closest location yet to Fort Worth for the nationally known Texas fried-chicken temple.
If you never tried Babe’s, it’s not tough to see why the 10 area chicken restaurants are popular:
▪ The dinners come family-style, with a platter of fried or hickory-smoked chicken, chicken-fried steak or fried catfish, plus bowls of corn, potatoes, green beans and salad for $15-$16.
▪ Every dinner comes with hot biscuits and sorghum syrup.
▪ At any given moment, meals might be interrupted by servers suddenly dancing to the 1953 song “The Hokey Pokey.”
OK, so I know that last part might not exactly be an attraction.
But it’s part of the family-silly atmosphere at Babe’s, opening its 10th location by midweek at 6711 N.E. Loop 820, just east of Rufe Snow Drive.
Babe’s started 37 years ago as Bubba’s Cooks Country, a chicken stand in University Park using a recipe from the old Youngblood’s Fried Chicken chain.
The first Babe’s arrived 25 years ago in Roanoke. That location still serves only fried chicken and chicken-fried steak.
Newer locations have expanded the menu and also the dining rooms. Arlington’s location has a 1960s car-dealership motif, and Burleson’s has a gingerbread-house fairytale look.
The North Richland Hills location is simpler, ranch-style and more cavernous. A steak restaurant, Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes, will be built next door.
Obviously, the staff is new, so be patient. But a few practice runs last weekend seemed to go well.
Don’t overlook Babe’s coconut and chocolate meringue pies or cherry cobbler.
Babe’s was ranked one of the three best fried chicken restaurants in America by Southern Living (along with Kansas City’s legendary Stroud’s), and saluted in The New York Times (“New York has nothing to compare with the excellence of Babe’s”).