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Texas | Columns | "Quips and Salsa"

Amarillo
by Suppertime

by Jase Graves
Jase Graves

Recently, I took a break from my grueling summer staycation for a business trip to exotic Amarillo, Texas. (Try to contain your jealousy.) I had never visited Amarillo—other than passing through in the middle of the night on my way to Colorado ski resorts during my Clearasil-laden teen years—so I was fairly excited by the prospect, mainly of what I might find to eat there.

Before I went, I did a little research on the city and its history, and I discovered that the city's name comes from a Spanish word meaning "No, it has nothing to do with armadillos." I was also excited to learn that Amarillo was historically a cattle-marketing center, which meant that I would probably not go hungry.

And speaking of hungry, our flight landed at around 10:30 PM, and other than a fun-size bag of subatomic airline pretzels, I hadn't eaten any supper. It didn't help that our Uber driver's floorboard doubled as a fast-food packaging landfill, so once we reached our downtown hotel, even an armadillo sounded appetizing—if I had some ranch dressing for dipping. When I travel to a new city, I always try to sample some quintessentially local cuisine, so, naturally, I ordered a pizza from Domino's, with extra ranch dressing.

The next evening, after a full day of business tripping, my colleagues and I attended a minor league baseball game at the impressive Hodgetown ballpark, the home of the Sod Poodles. Before this trip, I wasn't sure what a sod poodle was, but I was pretty sure it was an armadillo. I was soon corrected by the team's website, which claims that "sod poodle" is another name for a prairie dog. (I'm still pretty sure it's an armadillo.)

I love the festive ambience of a live baseball game where I can eat my way through all nine innings—and occasionally notice what's happening on the gridiron, or diamond, or whatever.

The Right Field Picnic Patio gave us access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, cookies and soft drinks. By the time the buffet closed, I was absolutely stuffed, so I could only manage a jumbo bag of roasted peanuts and a cranium-sized scoop of butter pecan ice cream to get me through the rest of the game. And to top it off, the Sod Poodles won—I think.

In all seriousness, I found downtown Amarillo delightful. The late June weather was warm and dry with a cooling breeze, which was a welcome change from summer in East Texas, where you inhale a six pack of humidity if you dare go outdoors.

Before heading to the airport on our last day, we grabbed lunch at the excellent Blue Sky Texas. I had a plus-sized chicken sandwich and a large pile of sweet potato fries—for health reasons. It was a delicious end to a great trip.

I hope to return to the Amarillo area soon since I only caught a glimpse this time around. Until then, I'll have fun memories anytime I order Domino's pizza and put on my official Sod Poodles ball cap. (I still say it's an armadillo.)
Jase Graves
"Quips and Salsa" 7-11-2023 column



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