Stirring the Pot: Teague’s Tavern

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On their last day off before the 21-day run of the spring antiques show, Kiki and Don Teague were overseeing the set-up of a big white tent on the grounds of Teague’s Tavern. They tag-teamed, took turns answering my questions and made sure the tent went up as planned. The duo are seasoned multi-taskers who brought an entrepreneurial spirit and years of experience in television and film to the hospitality business. Teague’s Tavern is their first restaurant venture.
“Don and I have a history of just jumping off in big projects,” Kiki said. “We see something that needs to be done, have an idea and just take the leap. Teague’s Tavern, though, is the first time we’ve taken 30 people with us.”
The tavern, which they envisioned as “a bar that serves excellent food,” opened in September 2016 just days before the fall Round Top Antiques Show. The goal? Creating a community gathering place where locals and visitors could mix, mingle, eat, drink, be merry—and feel immediately at home in a place that celebrates Texas.
It works. The vibe is happy. The cocktails and conversation keep flowing. And the food is a six- or seven-napkin affair, at least it is if you’re like me and tackle a “Texican” burger with queso, jalapeños, Fritos and bacon jam . . . .
RTR: Who taught you to cook?
Don:
We started with our B&B, Nightbird Ranch, in Ledbetter. I’m the breakfast chef. Homemade biscuits are my specialty. We have them on the menu at the tavern because I saw how much people like homemade biscuits—and gravy. You have to have gravy.

Kiki:
I don’t cook—or grocery shop.

Don:
Fortunately, our lack of culinary skill isn’t a problem because we have incredible cooks at the tavern.
RTR: What’s the best advice that anyone ever gave you about food or life?
Don: My uncle used to say, “They can’t eat you.” It was his way of bringing perspective.

Kiki: Don’s dad used to say it, too. It’s exactly where my mind went when you asked. Of course, it sounds weird in the context of a restaurant conversation.

RTR: What will never cross your lips?
Both:
Liver.

Don:
We were in Rome and thought “Hmm, we’re grown-ups. We can do this,” so we ordered pate.

Kiki:
All the beauty and culinary skills of Italy can’t make liver taste better.
RTR: Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Kiki: Alligator, frog legs or escargot.
Don: A raw turtle’s egg in a shot glass in Honduras. I was an Army helicopter pilot on assignment. It was a guy thing.
RTR: Beer, wine or cocktails?
Don: Cocktails. Scotch or bourbon. I like a good Scotch with a splash of warm water.

Kiki: Chardonnay. When we first opened, the wine list had 15 different chardonnays because I got a tad carried away with my favorites.

The Recipe for Restaurant
Don and Kiki unintentionally baptized Teague’s Tavern and its staff by fire. They were busy putting the finishing touches on the brand new space through early September. The venue was ready just in time for a three-day soft opening before the crowds descended.
“As a business person, I’m not sure anything prepares you for an event where the local population swells from 90 people to an estimated 100,000 over the course of a few weeks,” Kiki said.
One reason the tavern has thrived is the couple’s clear-eyed vision of a Texas-style tavern.
Don said, “What Texans love about Texas is each other—and rolling out the red carpet of hospitality to guests and visitors. We set out to create a place where people—whether they knew each other beforehand or not—could enjoy one another’s company along with stellar drinks, good food, country music—including some performances by my band—and lots of laughter.”
The menu is purposely simple, designed to deliver well-executed Texas favorites with a slight twist such as chicken-fried steak sliders on cheddar biscuits with gravy, the Ridiculous Chicken Sandwich (a Dixie-fried chicken breast, gravy, jalapeños and bacon jam on brioche) and a variety of juice-dripping burgers including Don’s personal favorite, the Tavern Burger (griddled beef patty, aged cheddar, bacon jam, two slices of bacon and avocado as well as lettuce, tomato and an onion slice).
“Bacon jam—sweet, salty, savory, crunchy—is almost beyond words,” Don said. “Suffice it to say it just elevates everything it touches.”
The bar serves a variety of beer on tap, including locally produced craft beers, an extensive wine list and signature cocktails showcasing local spirits mixed with a twist of creativity. For instance, the Humble Donkey, named after a local art gallery and featuring Moody June Gin from Bone Spirits in Smithville and ginger beer, is the tavern’s take on a Moscow Mule.
The ingredients have a synergy just like the elements the Teague’s put in place to make their tavern one-of-a-kind.
“Before we opened, I used to imagine the sound of our guests’ laughter,” Kiki said. “Now that sound is real—and constant. It’s my signal that we’re doing something right.”
A Teague’s Tavern Favorite
Blueberry Lemonade
Fill a 12-ounce Collins glass with ice and six fresh, muddled blueberries.  Add 1 ½ ounces of Dripping Springs Vodka, ½ ounce of fresh lemon juice, and ¾ ounce of simple syrup then fill to the top with club soda.  Gently roll the drink into a 16-ounce glass and pour back into the Collins glass.  Add a lemon wedge and enjoy!

__________________________________________Key Ingredients
Teague’s Tavern
105 N. Live Oak Street
Round Top, Texas 78946
979-249-3077
www.teaguestavern.com

Hours*
Monday               8 AM – 9 PM
Tuesday               Closed
Wednesday        11 AM – 9 PM
Thursday             11 AM – 9 PM
Friday                    8 AM – 11 PM
Saturday              8 AM – 11 PM
Sunday                 8 AM – 9 PM

*The restaurant has special hours during the spring and fall antiques shows. Check its website for show hours.

Teague’s Tavern on Henkel Square in Round Top is a destination for Texas comfort food, signature cocktails, country music, laughter and community.
Reservations are recommended for parties of more than six. Take-out is available, except during the spring and fall antiques shows when the tavern also offers a limited menu to expedite service.
The venue boasts a private upstairs dining room that can be rented for special events catered by the restaurant’s staff. The upstairs dining room can accommodate 30 while the adjoining upstairs patio can accommodate about 20 guests.

_______________________________________________________________________________________by Lorie A. Woodward
photos by Dixie Ray Hamilton, Dixie Ray Photography