The restaurant was dimly lit, tables were moved, beer was on ice—although I was much too young to be drinking—we always managed to sit front and center, the band, Morning, was playing at the Hungry Horse Restaurant. I remember Dr. Bud using a chair as a step and stepping up and onto one of the wooden tables, preserved by a red and white checkered laminate cloth, singing some classic rock tune, and spilling his soul, and that why my family came for dinner every time Morning played at the Hungry Horse. Some of the best experiences of my childhood.
Those are my earliest memories eating at the Hungry Horse Restaurant, it was a spectacle w/ dinner, and the best bran muffins that I’ve ever had, and while my parents had a few to drink I was washing my burger or my chicken fried chicken down with a sharp, tickling of something orange and carbonated. That’s when the Hungry Horse had two locations in San Antonio, Texas, they have since closed the two and opened a single location in Boerne, Texas, thirty minutes west of the Alamo City.
Boerne, Texas, has been consistently one of the most rapidly growing towns in the country and is the gateway or the, also known as the “heart” of the Texas Hill Country, it’s known for its antiquing, it’s known for its microbreweries, it’s known for its German heritage, and—the largest city in Kendall county—is also known for the family owned, southern style eatery called, The Hungry Horse. There is not a single person in Boerne, either new or seasoned, that hasn’t stepped inside this southern style gem to try any one of the very large portioned, bulky menu items, most likely either the ‘chicken fried steak,’ the ‘chicken fried chicken,’ or—my favorite—the ‘bean burger,’ (made with beef, beans, and Fritos, and smothered with cheese), or has taken home one of their homemade pies, or placed an order for a dozen of the famous bran muffins. You get what you pay for at the Hungry Horse and then some, there is quite honestly something for everyone here and, until you’ve sampled the catering menu, you couldn’t possibly understand what I might mean by that, but you can get everything here from a typical homestyle burger to a poblano cream sauce chicken that will rival any high-end, five-star restaurant you’ve experienced.
There is nothing at all healthy about the food, the steamed vegetables might come close, but it’s on the spectrum of ordering a diet coke at McDonald’s, nevertheless, I love it, I grew up eating there, I am conscious about what I put in my body, and still, I eat at the Horse every time I make the trip to Boerne.
The Hungry Horse can be a little difficult to find, if you’re not from the area, but you can stop and ask anyone in town and they’ll be able to tell you how to get there. There is no wait staff, you order and pick up your food at the counter. Steve Artale, the restauranter—the owner—worked at as a chef at a Fuddruckers for a time and took a page or two out of their book, hence the ordering and picking food up at the counter.
I have known Steve for most of my life, for as long as I can remember, and he’s one of the best owners to work for, most of his employees have worked there for as long as any of them have been old enough to work, most don’t know anything else. The management staff has worked for Steve for more than a hundred years, between the four of them.
It doesn’t get any more local or friendly than the Hungry Horse. Steve takes care of his employees, and he takes care of his customers, and he gives back to the community. The morning rotary club meets in the back room of the restaurant every Tuesday, and Steve’s family spends their Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings every year at the restaurant preparing meals for those who may otherwise not be fortunate enough to have a holiday meal. The Hungry Horse is more than a restaurant, it’s a community, and I’m grateful to have such fond memories of my experience at the Horse. And, when you do stop by, say, “Hi” to Steve for me.