Loco Coyote Grill
1965 (Current Owners since 2013)
Oak in a gas-fired rotisserie and wood-fired brick pit
Finding a road trip stop with real character always feels like an accomplishment. Highway exits are so often populated with nothing but mini marts and golden arches, it’s hard to find something unique. That’s a quality you’ll certainly find at the Loco Coyote Grill, and long as you see the sign.
It’s not an interstate, so the drive down State Highway 67 from Dallas to Glen Rose is a leisurely hour and a half. Just past the edge of town, the speed limits jumps up to 75 mph and it seems like you pass another county road every ten seconds. There’s a big billboard on the north side of the road at County Road 1004 alerting you to the turn off for Loco Coyote Grill. Just a mile down that road you’ll find a parking lot full of motorcycles, and a humble wood structure. Inside, the floor is covered with sawdust, and seating is provided at picnic tables.
At 11:30 on a Sunday morning the crowds were already swelling. My family and I found one of the last open tables. Even the screened-in porch was packed. They had come for the burgers and barbecue, and I’m sure many would stay for the $2 Lone Star Lights.
Becki and Loyd McClanahan took over this storied place two years ago. They bought it from the original owners and have made some changes since my last visit in 2009, most notably to the service staff. This is a laid back kinda place where nobody should be in a hurry, but the wait staff was downright boorish those many years ago. On this trip they were polite and attentive, and even brought crayons for the kids.
The barbecue options are just a portion of a larger menu. I opted for a generous three meat combo plate that probably could have fed three. The big spare ribs were the best item with a good smokiness and a sweet glaze. The meat was moist but could have been a bit more tender. Both the sliced brisket and smoked turkey breast were dry. They had all the right flavors from the seasoning and the smoke, but should have been pulled off the smoker earlier. Even the thick slices of turkey crumbled when picked up. A side of crispy onions strings was a better place to focus my efforts.
The smokers here are a pair of gas-fired Southern Pride rotisseries. An old brick pit on the premises is still in use, but its wood-fired flavor is only applied toward the end of the cooking process. The sausage could have used some of that flavor. It was a pre-smoked variety that was served lukewarm. I couldn’t tell if it had even seen the inside of smoker. Along with the limp fries, it would be hard to recommend.
As we waited for the food to arrive I started wondering how the barbecue was taking so long. We had ordered a small burger, so that couldn’t be the issue, until we saw the size of the small burger. What arrived was easily a one pound patty topped with melted American cheese on a buttered bun. It was a simple, but well executed, salty burger – one that I wouldn’t hesitate to order again.
The Loco Coyote might be an unexpected find for those unfamiliar with this stretch of highway, and has all the potential to be a favorite mini-detour. It’s a great setting to enjoy a meal, but if you want to the food to match the atmosphere, stick with the ribs and burgers.