A recent article in the Herald Democrat about an incubator restaurant concept in the works for Denison raised the question as to what sort of restaurants we need to fill out the blank spots in Texoma’s culinary landscape, beyond just in this venue. There are some obvious suggestions such as a fish and chips shop and an expansion of the pan-Asian cuisine choices — Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian to begin with.


There are some regional American restaurants that might do well around here, sliders from White Castle or Krystal, a loose meat sandwich such as Maid-Rite, and a Waffle House. Eighteen years after I came back to Texas from Atlanta, I still miss Krystals and Waffle House.


Cafeterias are long gone from the scene and are not likely to make a comeback, so where is a person to get a classic meat and threes? An old fashioned diner would be a great addition to our dining choices. A good diner combined short order items and sandwiches with a rotating menu of traditional American cooking.


Then there was Shanghai Charlie’s Chili Rice Parlor. It was a hole in the wall establishment around the corner from the University Co-Op on the Drag in Austin when I was doing time as a Longhorn. I loved that place.


For a couple of bucks you got a Styrofoam cup filled with rice and chili and topped with cheese and onions. Add a handful of saltines, and you were good to go. On cold, wet, gray days, it was a pick-me-up like no other.


Some research on the Web turned up the information that there was a Shanghai Jimmy’s Chili Rice Parlor in Dallas in the 1950s and 1960s. There were several locations, and on a couple of local forums, writers reminisce fondly about the joints. The original location, in downtown Dallas, was a hangout for reporters at the Morning News and the Times Herald.


Jimmy’s signature offering was a big cup with chili, rice, a pat of margarine and more chili topped with cheese, onions and celery. If the thought of that is not enough to bring chili rice roaring back, how about the fact that Elvis loved it?



Happy birthday to Joyce Crumby of Sherman; and Dorothy Smith of Dorchester.