Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, October 04, 2006
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As the weather cools, Tolbertís hot chili really hits the spot.
Tolbertís
Donkey Tail (two per order) $6.99
Frankís Frito Chili Pie $6.99
Paris (Texas) Fried Catfish $9.99
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Fair Food

Long-time North Texas institution Tolbertís outdoes Big Tex and the gang 365 days a year.

By JIMMY FOWLER

Tolbertís

423 S Main St, Grapevine. 817-421-4888. Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. All major credit cards accepted

h, October in North Texas: Ferris wheels, livestock, and an ďif you fry it, weíll try itĒ attitude toward grub is much on the minds of your friends and neighbors, and Tolbertís, located in Grapevineís historic Main Street district, offers a number of fatty, Fair-ish munchables, including Frito pie, chili dogs, and, of course, Donkey Tails.

A Texas State Fair staple, Donkey Tails were probably created expressly to be stuck on sticks and carried down the Fair Park midway. The delight is a 100 percent beef hot dog wrapped inside a flour tortilla and submerged in a sea of lovely boiling oil. Tolbertís sells íem two per order, offers two different dipping sauces (thick, tangy mustard with pickle bits or beef chili), and makes íem supremely decadent. To these taste buds, the mustard proved to be the more appealing accompaniment to the hot beef flavor.

The chili is a big deal at Tolbertís, or at least itís touted as such. It will likely polarize diners at a single table depending on their tolerance for grease (of which there is a considerable amount in these bowls oí red) and precisely how chunky they like it. The beef used in this recipe is unusually finely ground, making the stuff almost more like a sauce than what many people consider traditional chili. It actually worked better as the main ingredient in Frankís Frito Chili Pie, with those famously smelly curly corn chips and savory diced onions. The slight hot-pepper kick does a lot to make the chili tasty, but sufferers of acid reflux had better load up on the Zantac before taking a spoonful or avoid the stuff altogether. It paid a couple of unexpected return visits a few hours later.

One unqualified success was the Paris (Texas) Fried Catfish. The pieces were closer to strips than filets and breaded with an almost crunchy cornmeal coating that had a lightly zesty seasoning to it. All lovers of this bewhiskered bottom-feeder will be heartened to know that Tolbertís uses top-quality, ultra-tender stuff. The sides consisted of bland, French-cut green beans and a cup of steaming, nicely soupy pinto beans.

Tolbertís first opened in Dallas in 1976 and relocated to Grapevine this past spring. While the place doesnít always hit the mark, you can tell that long-time patrons have favorites on the menu. As for Donkey Tails, if you like íem big, juicy, and tasty, thereís only one place to go, and it ainít Fair Park. l


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