Most of my recent restaurant reviews spotlighting the cuisine of Dallas have centered around places downtown, so I figured it was time to mix things and highlight a spot elsewhere. The Metroplex is a sprawling urban area, after all, and good food can be found everywhere. Today’s review looks at a local institution for everything battered, fried, and fattening, Bubba’s Cooks Country in the Park Cities. Yes, I realize that sounds oxymoronic, a cheap country cooking joint smack dab in the middle of Dallas’ version of Beverly Hills, but hey, it’s Texas. We like our fried food down here, and are darn proud of it. Located only about 20 minutes from downtown, I come to Bubba’s a fair bit, and used a January visit to finally take a few pictures and jot down a review.
Bubba’s Cooks Country
- 6617 Hillcrest Avenue, Dallas, TX
- Hours: Breakfast 6:30-11 A.M. daily; Lunch and Dinner 10:30 A.M.-10 P.M. daily
- $10-15 per person. Alcohol not available. Not that it’s a good idea after stuffing yourself silly anyway.
Directions: in Snider Plaza, just north of the SMU campus in University Park. From US 75/Central Expressway, exit Lovers Lane and go west. Turn left at Hillcrest. Bubba’s is on the right. From the Dallas North Tollway, exit Lovers Lane (northbound) or Mockingbird Lane (southbound) and go east. Turn right on Hillcrest from Lovers, or left from Mockingbird. Turn into Rosedale to access the Snider Plaza parking lot. ADVISORY: if going for lunch on a weekday, plan to get there by 11:30-ish, or parking becomes a real problem. The closest DART access is at Lovers Lane Station, at Lovers Lane and US 75 about 2 miles east.
Bubba’s has an interesting history. It was founded by Paul (“Bubba”) and Mary Beth (“Babe”) Vinyard in 1981 in a converted Texaco gas station in Snider Plaza, serving fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and traditional Southern vegetables from the counter at a reasonable price – all the more to lure college kids from across the street, after all. In addition to Southern comfort food, Bubba’s is one of the few surviving examples of Art Deco architecture in the Dallas area. Twelve years later, the Vinyards opened sister comfort food chain Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Roanoke (about 10 miles west of DFW Airport), which has since expanded to 8 other locations around the greater Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Babe’s serves essentially the same food, but it’s a family-style, all-you-can-eat setup, instead of counter service. I’ll put up a review of Babe’s in a future Dallas Restaurant Review installment.
Bubba’s menu is simple – variations of fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and fried catfish, with yeast rolls and a seasonal assortment of vegetables for side dishes (mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, baked beans, and fruit salad are available year-round).
WARNING: Bubba’s menu is NOT a diet aid…
Bubba’s is most famous around the Metroplex for their crispy fried chicken, so that’s what I decided to order. Ok, I’ll admit it, I order it every time, so there wasn’t exactly any decision making involved. Mashed potatoes & country gravy, corn on the cob, and one of their famous yeast rolls rounded out the meal.
As you can see, I was so excited to dive in to my chicken that I started eating it before realizing I needed a picture. Sorry about that. It is so, so delicious. Incredibly greasy, of course, but the skin is perfectly crispy, and the meat piping hot, nicely seasoned and tender on the inside. The rolls are soft and succulently sweet, and are a perfect match for the real unsalted butter provided. No cheap imitation margarine around these parts. Sweet corn on the cob is awesome (albeit messy) with a little butter spread around the outside, but those mashed potatoes and gravy are the real bomb. The potatoes are hand mashed and made with real milk, and served with authentic sausage dripping cream gravy. The only downside to this meal is the guaranteed grease coma you’ll be living with at your desk the rest of the afternoon. I’ve never actually ordered dessert at Bubba’s – I’m usually already comatose by the time I finish up with my veggies – but I’ve heard from reliable sources that the cobbler is very, very good. Order some if you dare.
As you can see, Bubba’s is popular at lunchtime, both with SMU students and Dallas-area residents and office workers looking to enjoy good, inexpensive comfort food. The small dining room has a distinct 50s-era diner motif to it, with the checkerboard tile floor and red seats and booths. That’s perhaps the only niggle I have. The inside conjures up images of car hops, hamburgers, and milkshakes – none of which can be found at Bubba’s.
Service at the counter is usually quick. Chicken is usually immediately available, but if your requested side isn’t on hand, they’ll bring it to your table without much of a wait. The only problem is the limited seating space inside, though there are several public parks nearby if you prefer to take it to go. There is also a drive through lane if you’d prefer to take your gluttonous delights back to the office to show off.
Rating: I’m going to bestow the rare 5 Stars rating on Bubba’s, joining the Lobster Shanty in Salem, Massachusetts as only the second establishment in the world to earn such a prestigious rating. Lucky for me, it’s only 21 miles from my home to Snider Plaza, so I don’t actually have to walk 500 miles to get there. In all seriousness, if you’re a fried chicken snob, I’d put Bubba’s up there with any fried chicken joint in the country.