Fred's Texas Cafe has built quite a following over the years. Even more so after being featured on the Food Network's Diner's Drive-in's, and Dives with Guy Fieri.
I have heard local talk of great burgers and live music at Fred's, so I was pretty excited about finally getting to go for myself. I have heard that Fred's can get pretty crowded. Especially, with the recent development of the area around it known as So7. Being a Saturday, I decided to wait until 2:00 p.m. to arrive hoping to minimize any long waits. Sadly, my plan did not work. More on that later.
Having my wife and kids with me allowed me to sample three different items on the menu. I had the Fred's Burger with Cheese. This is one of the largest patties in town at 3/4ths of a pound! That's my kind of burger! They didn't ask me what type of cheese I wanted or how I wanted it cooked. It arrived very well done which is a little more than I would prefer. Still, the burger was juicy and more than I could finish. The fries were rather uninspired and lacked any seasoning.
My wife ordered the Chicken Fried Steak which was proudly listed on the wall as a "special." The chicken fried steak was decent but bland. Something you might expect to get at your local cafeteria. It came with a salad with a blend of fresh cheeses, lettuce, spinach leaves, and tomatoes.
My kids split a grilled cheese sandwich. This did not come with French fries but we ordered a side for them. To my surprise, we were given a choice of American, Cheddar or Swiss for the grilled cheese. It came with a side of pickles which my kids enjoyed.
Sadly, there was only enough parking in front of the building for about a dozen cars. I ended up parking a little over a block away. We of course opted to sit inside in the air conditioning. To call Fred's quaint would be an understatement of great proportions. When we opened the door to walk in we had to wait for people to make room for us to fit. There were seven small 50's diner style booths and a decent sized bar. Fred's is not ADA compliant. However, it exempt due to when it was built.
With it being the weekend, I had my wife with me and two young kids in tow. Let me just say right now, do not bring children to Fred's. I repeat, do not bring children. Luckily, I carried my 18 month old son instead of bringing a stroller. There is no way a stroller would fit inside. We ended up having to stand for 55 minutes before we were seated. That's right, it was almost 3p.m. when we sat down! Meanwhile, it was standing room only and barely even enough room to stand. This meant holding my 18 month old who weighs 30 pounds for almost an hour. I think I will need to go to the chiropractor on Monday. After a half hour in line we were offered drinks. This was a nice touch of customer service. I asked if we could have some crackers for my son and they quickly provided me with some. When finally being escorted to our booth we were not asked if we would like a high chair for my son. Luckily, my wife located the one and only chair in a corner and I grabbed it.
While waiting I noted that several tables received half of their meals and had to wait several minutes for the rest of their party to receive their food. The staff also gave us a heads up that the food was taking about 30 minutes to arrive once ordered. While I appreciated this, it would have been nice to have been made aware of the long wait when we first arrived.
Fred's definitely has it's own unique atmosphere. It has rounded windows with custom made shutters. The outdoor patio affectionately known as "The Fort" is fenced in with Cedar Posts. It is covered with tents and had live music playing. There were a few fans, but with the 105 temperature, some misters would have been a very welcome addition.
We sat inside thinking we would beat the heat. Sadly, I think it was hotter inside than in The Fort. The Kitchen had no access to the outdoor patio, so waiters had to carry the food out of the front door. The combination of large windows and front door constantly being opened caused the extreme heat inside.
While the hamburger was indeed very good, the other food was boring and somewhat bland. In no way did it come even close to being worth the incredibly long and painful wait or the heat. We were there for just over two hours from start to finish.
I also feel that $50 for lunch with my wife and two kids was too much. Especially considering my children split a grilled cheese sandwich. Fred's is the place I really wanted to like but was let down in the end.