Day Trip to Concan

Concan Texas is a small town in the Texas Hill Country built near the Rio Frio also known as the Frio River. The bulk of the town’s income comes from tourism in the summer as visitors from all over the state of Texas come to float in the Rio Frio, where it is cool and quiet. If you get off of the main roads, the yards are just beautiful, filled with trees and flowers. There are some very nice homes in this town.

There are numerous cabins, campsites, and lodges where you can stay to enjoy your big city getaway. They are always full so make reservations far in advance.

There are a lot of eateries here as well. The better-known restaurants are Neals Lodges Restaurant, which I highly recommend, and House Pasture Cattle Company, which has good food and live bands in the evenings, along with helicopter rides. Yes, you can tour the area from high above and this is a very popular attraction.

There are several places that rent tubes and sell bathing suits, river shoes, and anything else you will need to have a good time in the river. They have a few small convenience stores.

We were in Concan yesterday, June of 2011, and because of the drought this year, the Frio River is very low. The river was packed with swimmers and tubers, but there is not that much water this year. It is the worst my husband has ever seen and he grew up in Leakey, right up to the road, where the river looks even lower than it does in Concan. A few good rains will take care of this problem. Hopefully, the rains will come soon. When the Frio flows full, the river crossing in Concan looks amazing.

We wanted to take a closer look at the river and turned down a side road yesterday. We were immediately stopped by a sign and a fee collector who wanted $20 per car to drive down by the river. We explained we were not there to swim, but just to see how shallow the water is and was told that we had to pay just to drive in, look, and leave to go to Leakey to visit my husband’s parents. Unbelievable! My husband drove down there a million times for more than 35 years for free. This is something fairly new. I guess they turned the roadway into a private drive to make money. So we took photos of the river from a distance right there where we were stopped.

There is not much else to do in this small town. There are a few more stores in Leakey, several miles down the road. If you need a drug store or a WalMart, Uvalde is about 30 miles away.

House Pasture Cattle Company Restaurant

The House Pasture Cattle Company in Concan is very popular with the summer tourists. My husband and I ate there last night, June 11, 2011, along with 18 of my husband’s relatives. We were there to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday.

The actual facility of The House Pasture Cattle Company is very nice, very clean, nicely decorated, and packed with tourists. There are several indoor dining rooms and a large outdoor covered patio with a stage for live bands. There is a children’s playground.

Probably the most interesting aspect is the helicopter tour of the area. (See the video below.) For $50 a pop with a minimum of two tickets purchased, that was a bit too steep for our budget, but the tourists were lined up. We talked to the ticket taker and he told us they were booked solid for the evening. Every few minutes the helicopter would lift off with another group of tourists, for the whole three hours we were there. There are discounted prices for parties with three or more people.

Back to The House Pasture Cattle Company Restaurant…I want to first say that the food was delicious. The 12 ounce New York strip steak that I ordered was incredibly good. It almost melted in my mouth. The baked potato was cooked just right and the green beans with onions were homemade and not from a can or a freezer bag. Everyone in our party of 20 said the food was great.

My husband loved his chicken fried steak plate. The batter was perfect and the white gravy was just the way he likes it, only they skimped on it. He asked the waiter if they serve the gravy on the mashed potatoes while he was ordering. The waiter told him the gravy is served only on the chicken fried steak. So my husband asked for the gravy to be served on his plate of mashed potatoes as well. They put just a small amount on the potatoes, which was his only complaint at The House Pasture Cattle Company.

Now, let’s get to the matter of customer service at The House Pasture Cattle Company…My sister-in-law called ahead to make a reservation for our party of 20. She was told that they do not take reservations, even for special occasions. We arrived at 6 pm and the front dining room was completely empty with a lot of tables. We were told that they would seat us outside on the patio. The live band would be playing loud music that several of the older folks in our party would not enjoy. That is also where the bar is. My sister-in-law asked for tables inside. The woman at the front desk told her in front of all of us that they did not have room to accommodate us inside. Really??? The empty indoor tables could not have been reserved because they do not take reservations, right?

So they seated us outside, in the heat, and believe me, it was hot and the music started so no one could hear each other talking…This was not good.

My sister-in-law went back inside. She and her husband made the drive from Dallas, over six hours away to have a special celebration for her mother at the nicest place around. She should have been accommodated when she called to make the reservation.

I am not sure what was said inside The House Pasture Cattle Company. I stayed outside watching the helicopter go up and down. I am not sure what was said but finally, magically, it seemed we could have a few tables inside the still-empty front dining room, but we were told we could not push any of the tables together or move any chairs to accommodate our birthday party.

We sort of stood around while a waiter went to ask permission to move a few tables. After he finally got permission, tables were moved and some of our party moved chairs from one empty table to another so we could all sit at two separate tables instead of four.

Okay, problem solved after quite a long drawn out deal that never should have happened. To be fair, the owners of The House Pasture Cattle Company were not present. If they were, I am sure this would not have happened.

The very young waiter brought our drinks and was quite attentive, for the most part, all evening. I know it takes a lot to serve a party of 20 so he did a good job, except for one minor detail…

He went around and took all of our orders. Several of us ordered the New York strip steak, including me. I wanted nothing special and asked for it to be cooked medium. That was it. All of the plates came and were served to everyone…everyone but me! I waited patiently while the other 19 were eating delectable-looking items. My husband finally asked the waiter and he assured me that my plate was coming. About 15 minutes after that, people were getting up and taking their kids out to the playground. The waiter came over and said there had been a mistake and that he would give my order to the cook and what was it again? No kidding.

After about 15 more minutes, when everyone else began ordering dessert, he brought my plate to me. He apologized profusely. I did not fuss or yell. I was just happy to get to eat.

While waiting for our plates, we went to the very small salad bar to get some salad. There was no sneeze guard over the salad bar at The House Pasture Cattle Company. I live in San Antonio, and if a restaurant does not have a sneeze guard in place, they get shut down as it is a health violation.

While I was eating my steak, I heard the dessert choices. They were chocolate molten cake, bananas Foster cheesecake, or pecan cobbler. My husband ordered pecan cobbler and several others ordered the chocolate molten cake which sounded wonderful the way it was described. No one ordered the bananas Foster. As I cut into my steak, my husband got his cobbler. Then the waiter announced that the chocolate cake was all gone and that was it but that there was plenty of the banana dessert. No takers on that one. At this time of night, the place was completely packed so I understand about the cake being gone. I even forgive my plate being forgotten. But the treatment at the beginning of the experience should not have happened at all.

So everyone talked while my husband and I ate. Again, the steak was delicious and the atmosphere and decor were very pleasing. But the treatment we got when we arrived plus the fact that I had to wait so long for my plate were not good. We were not compensated in any way for my forgotten plate. One would at least think the manager would come over and offer a free dessert to me or something.

Two more things that I did not care for. First, if you sit together, the check is coming on one ticket. The menu says you cannot ask for separate checks. Dumb idea. These days, most people pay with debit cards and do not carry around a lot of cash. This is an inconvenience for the customer.

Second, on parties of six or more, a 20% gratuity is automatically added to the bill, whether they deserve it or not. This is wrong for the customers who get poor service and treatment. I thought the normal tip in the United States was 15%, not 20%. The word TIP is an acronym for To Insure Promptness. The promptness and the friendly welcoming attitude that makes you want to return were just not there last night. The House Pasture Cattle Company is a good place to eat if you have a small party or if you are going out just for the live band. I would not recommend taking a large party there unless you are going for the music and if you enjoy the summer heat.

Neals Lodges Restaurant

The best place to eat in the Leakey area is Neals Lodges restaurant in Concan. The decor and location are wonderful and the food is great.

If you want great food while you are on your vacation in the Leakey area, this is the place to go.

We have been eating here in the summer months for years, probably since they opened. There is a great view of the Rio Frio from their deck. I love to sit out there and watch the river flow by. Unfortunately, this restaurant is closed during the fall and winter months,

My husband’s favorite menu item is the chicken fried steak. They make it delicious there and the crust and white gravy are really good.

The restaurant has been remodeled recently and now they have twice the seating capacity as before. The service has always been great and I have never had a bad meal at this eatery.

The fried and grilled chicken dishes are delicious. I always enjoy them. Their Swiss mushroom burgers are out of this world. My kids love the cheeseburgers. Try them when you are in the area. Sometimes, you have to wait out on the deck because they are so busy, but the food is worth the wait! The kids will be happy as well with burgers and fries. My husband and kids always enjoy the food there, as well as my in-laws.

They are also open for breakfast and they have a great selection.

They also have camping facilities during the summer so if you would like to stay there, make your reservations early as they are always booked.

This restaurant is located on Highway 127, near the river crossing in Concan.