First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I am very good longtime friends with the son of the proprietors of Longhorns, so take from that what you will.
I had tasted their pulled pork, turkey, and other misc. things weeks before I'd even set foot in the place. Even though these day-old leftovers were out of the refrigerator and nuked back into game-shape I could tell that these meats were high quality offerings. We would (and still do) gather around the kitchen in the house of a mutual buddy and in between rounds of beers and cigars, tear into a sack of pulled pork or brisket like ravenous woodland beasts foraging for sustenance in the mountains high above civilized society.
I packed up my parents last Friday and drove them out to Longhorns for lunch. Upon entering the restaurant I was greeted by a whole kitchen full of staff that greeted me. The place was nicely decorated but not obsessively so. The seating consisted of picnic style benches with paper towel racks constructed of pipe and a spigot. The prep area where the meals come together is open and visible for all you OCD foodies. The menu is not only available to look it in pamphlet form but also blown up and plastered against the wall. I appreciate this as when stepping into a new restaurant it's always a bit intimidating to make heads or tails of their menu while customers are waiting in line behind you. So the parents and I all got meal combos with different selections of ribs (pork), turkey, and brisket (they were out of the pulled pork at the time). We got two sides with the combo which already included a piece of corn on the cob and a roll of bread. I got the bacon mac & cheese and the creamed corn while my parents tried out the coleslaw, small garden salad, and the potato salad. The drinks come in one size, which as you can imagine it being a Texas themed restaurant and all, means large. The drinks are at a fountain in the back area below a plasma screen TV, so no need to keep asking for refills and getting the stink-eye.
When the food is ready and we sit down to feast I am sitting before a large tray lined with paper and all the assorted goodies spread out. It was like sitting on horseback looking down upon the valley of meadows and expanses of land (or it was just a large tray). There were about 4 or 5 ribs that looked nicely coated with sauce, a container of the creamed corn, a container of the bacon mac & cheese, a piece of corn wrapped up in foil, a soft egg-bread roll, and the order of their banana pudding that I got just for the **** of it.
So let me break this down:
The ribs: the shining component of this meal. The ribs were soft, tender and full of flavor. I didn't tackle them right away and they lost some heat in the meantime but they were still warm and inviting. Messy (as they should be) but still engrossing and keep you wanting more. I've never been a rib guy but experiences like these and some others I've had in the past are surely changing my ways!
The creamed corn: very sweet and I would almost liken this to a dessert. These, of course, are freshly made at the restaurant with real cream, so you know it's gonna be pretty damn good! It was in fact. It was a little too sweet, because it didn't seem to play along side the ribs, but I wasn't complaining. They were delicious.
The bacon mac & cheese: now on this I felt there was room for improvement. The bacon was crumbled on top instead of being mixed in and the cheese was a bit bland. I would've liked to see some sharp cheddar to be mixed in, as well as some of the bacon fat to get it all nice and gooey and cholesterol spiking! However, I had another serving of this the next day at a party for another mutual friend and this time the bacon was mixed in and it was cheesier, so it might just be a case of getting the consistency in the recipe down.
Bread: like Hawaiian style egg bread. I love that stuff. You could throw a loaf of that stuff in a cesspool and I would delight in shoveling it down my gullet.
Banana pudding: the **** was bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s. This reminded me of the parfaits my parents used to get me at KFC. Homemade and sinfully sublime. Slices of banana mixed with whipped cream and some sort of graham cracker crust. It had hints of vanilla and cinnamon. I would execute horrible atrocities in order to have a huge tray full of this. I would like to drown in a sea of this mixture so that it invades my lungs and cavities in a most deliciously sweet demise.
Longhorn's is a good place run by good people. I can attest to the hard work that they put into their food and the pride they get when customers are satisfied. As with any new restaurant, building the consistency is key. I live in the valley and I've made the drive up there and I'll be driving back up there again. The portions are big, prices reasonable, and it's run by a good hardworking family. Solid 4 now with a 4.5 within reach!
BTW,SCREW YELP'S 5000 CHARACTER LIMIT!