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

A simple midday meal in a rough-and-tumble town

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. [related]

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.

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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.