Menu of the Week: Lunch at the Greater Waco New State House

Editor
A simple midday meal in a rough-and-tumble town
NYPL
The Greater Waco New State House was an inn that served a simple menu of hearty fare.

By 1900, Waco, Texas, was a booming little city that still hadn’t shed all of its Wild West trappings. Baylor University was an integral part of the city, as was a thriving red-light district, and the cotton industry kept money rolling in, with the city’s annual Cotton Palace fair and exhibition bringing visitors from all across the country.

There’s no information online about the New State House except for a couple of old photos, but it looks like more of an inn, with its main entrance portico and nod to Mission-style architecture, than any sort of governmental building, and the separate entrance on the corner sure looks like it could have belonged to a restaurant, most likely the one that this week’s menu (courtesy of the New York Public Library's online archive) is from.

On June 27, 1900, the "noonday meal" was a rather simple affair. It was divided into hot and cold sections, and hot dishes included pea soup; baked sea trout; beef short ribs; a stew of lamb, parsley, and onions (here called a harricot); hot chicken tamales (which sounds pretty good); and beach fritters, an old name for clam fritters. Cold roast beef, pork, and mutton were also available, and for dessert apple pie, ice cream, cake, and queen pudding, a creamy breadcrumb-based mixture, were available. To drink, the anisette punch seems to have a place of honor.

The note that morning coffee could be "served in room" basically confirms that this was a hotel, and they make sure everyone knows right up front that their table will only be reserved for 20 minutes. This place must have been pretty popular. 

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