Most stockyard cafés open only on sale days, typically once a week, but a handful around the state open daily and cater to the general public too. For travelers passing through town, stockyard cafés offer a comforting stop for downhome cooking, a chance to rub elbows with local characters, and a glimpse of the agricultural roots so deeply entwined with Texas heritage.
Judging by the café menus, these folks like country cooking—hearty bacon-and-egg breakfasts, rib-eye steaks, pork chops, hamburgers, potatoes, chicken and dumplings, pot roast, fried catfish, and such. Ask the cook at any of these restaurants what their most popular dish is and one answer prevails: chicken-fried steak.
Missy Treadway has run the Amarillo Stockyards Café since 2013, and she worked for the restaurant when her mother owned it from 1990 to 2002. Photos on the café walls reflect the cattle-ranching roots of Treadway’s family: a sepia-toned picture of her grandparents and their cabin on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon, and images of pastoral scenes from family members’ ranches.
“This is all we have done our entire lives,” Treadway says.
Along those lines, neither Treadway nor her late mother tinkered much with the café menus they inherited. “It’s basically been the same since there’s been a restaurant here,” she says. “We keep the basics because that’s what people are looking for—the chicken-fried steak, the rib-eyes.”