Love and War in Texas, Where Bigger is, Well, Bigger

4 Sep

When people visit Texas for the first time, they often ask to be taken to a place where they can truly get a taste of Texas.  This request usually can’t be satisfied by the talents of rising chefs at five star restaurants, or the fanciest of steakhouses, or even a mom and pop biscuits and gravy diner.  They’re looking for that cowboy hat wearing, country music playing, “Don’t Mess with Texas” atmosphere along with some stereotypical Texas food.  What they ought to do to satisfy that tourist urge is to visit the Stockyards area in Fort Worth.  But on the east/central side of the Metroplex, the best we can offer these visitors is Love and War in Texas.

With two locations (Grapevine and Plano), a visit to Love and War in Texas is like a brief tour of all things Texan, authentic or not.  The crowd can go one of two ways: they’re visitors who are delighted to see a Texas-shaped frying pan exuding state pride hanging on the wall or they’re locals who have come here for a cold brew and some live music from local country musicians.

The true question is as a DFW resident who has no particular predilection for country music, why did I dine here?  Usually a place that lists BBQ brisket and guacamole on the same menu is far off my Chowhound radar.  The truth is simple: my better half loves Texas country music and I needed an outing to get back on his good side. 

A Sunday dinner at Love and War coincided with a Rusty Weir show in the courtyard.  The weather was nice so we took a seat in the back area of the courtyard, where we could comfortably carry on a conversation while enjoying the live music.  Closer to the stage, fans were drinking Shiners while clapping and dancing along.  This place is awesome for the aforementioned tourists.  Five minutes in the restaurant and I’ve already seen half a dozen cowboy hats, even more prized deer heads, a few attempts at two-stepping, and heard the performer say something to an “adorable darlin’ ” in the front row.

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Having almost zero knowledge about country music, I’ll keep the rest of my comments to the food.  I was alarmed by the claim of “Texas-sized” portions on the menu, knowing that a place like this would likely live beyond such a proud statement.  So we ordered an appetizer and an entree to share between the two of us, a strategy that normally works well at restaurants with big portions.

At Love in War in Texas, our strategy translated into enough food to feed a small village, or a medium sized ranch, or an overcrowded double-wide… you get the point.  We ordered the Texas Two-Step ($7.95) for an appetizer, half a dozen pork tamales with tortilla chips and salsa.

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This heaping pile of food consisted of six slightly on the dry side pork tamales that had decent flavor, festive tortilla chips (festive being a nice spin on artificial food coloring), and excellent fresh, mild salsa.  Had we known that Texas-sized meant 1830’s Republic of Texas-sized instead of modern day State of Texas-sized, we would’ve stopped here.  We were already full before the entree even arrived.

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And there it was, a chicken fried steak bigger than my face and super corn, genetically enhanced to be physically dominant to regular corn ($11.95).  It was like the components of a regular CFS platter on steroids.  Size aside, the few bites of the CFS I could manage to fit into my already bulging stomach were actually good: crunchy, lightly seasoned batter that held on to the could-be-a-little-more-tender meat interior.  The gravy was a bit of a sloppy mess, congealed and lumpy in parts.  the mashed potatoes were decent (and I wish the kitchen didn’t drown the potatoes in the less than desirable gravy) and the corn was, well, big.

If you manage the portions right, I think you can feed a family of four with a single entree from Love and War in Texas, thus making it possibly one of the best deals in town if you choose to do just that.  But if you’re not trying to feed your entire family from one plate, Love and War in Texas will probably remain as a place you come for the live music or when out of state relatives come visit.  The food is average to decent but it’s the atmosphere that keeps this place alive and kicking.  Love and War in Texas will give non-Texan visitors plenty to admire as well as plenty to mock (or in the case of the Texas shaped frying pan, one item that can easily incite both reactions). 

Rating: 3 / 5 (I admit, the rating would be higher if I was a Texas country fan)

Love and War in Texas 
601 E Plano Pkwy
Plano, TX 75074

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