The Oasis Café in Marathon

Living the empty-nest life in far West Texas with our grown children spread from Boerne to Cincinnati to Denmark, holidays have recently become a different flurry of activity from what we once knew.

At Thanksgiving, with the family otherwise occupied, the two of us hopped in the car and hit Hwy. 90. We followed it as far south as we could, and then managed to end up on South Padre Island. We ate as much seafood as we could in four days. There was no leftover turkey, dressing or mashed potatoes for us…

NOTE: I never shared our Thanksgiving adventures, so our Thanksgiving road-trip food is pictured below… dang, now I want some fresh seafood :/ For obvious reasons, these photos were not in the newspaper today. This is strictly for all y’all online 🙂 

Above, left to right from the top: Fish Tacos and Fries, Flounder Ceviche and Oyster PoBoy from Los Tortugos Seafood Market in Port Isabel, TX… please eat there if you have the opportunity – straight off the family fishing boats to your table.
Lower right photo: Fried Shrimp Lunch Platter at Blackbeard’s in South Padre.

Best.Shrimp.EVERRRRRRRRR – King’s Inn, Riviera, TX.
The Bombay Salad is always the BOMB. 😉

Thanksgiving Dinner at Cracker Barrel…
they were out of half the items.
Beggars can’t be choosers.
It bought time until the shrimp restaurants were open again.

Back to the Christmas travels…
This year for Christmas, two out of three of the adult children were in Boerne, so we once again hit the road, Christmas presents in-tow. Having driven the five-hour stretch of I-10 to the Hill Country more times than I can begin to recount, we decided to once again take the Hwy. 90 route, but hop over to the interstate in Sonora once we got to Comstock.

What a beautiful, peaceful route it was – and also a road that neither of us had ever driven before. It takes a little longer, but we enjoyed the rolling, oak-studded ranches and the Devil’s River that meandered near the road. Totally worth the extra hour.

The only picture my daughter and I took during our whirlwind Christmas visit… at CostCo LOL

It occurred to me that both holiday trips began with breakfast at the Oasis Café in Marathon. Many vacations to Big Bend National Park begin and end with a meal at the Oasis. We’ve been to the Oasis Café and its predecessor Johnny B.’s, a number of times, even at the old locations a few blocks up the road, before we became locals in the region. The Oasis Café and the old Johnny B.’s, both Marathon institutions, are owned by Ruben and Coy Gonzales.

When the Gage Hotel bought the building that housed Johnny B.’s, the new Oasis Café opened, using the same menu and same recipes that locals and tourists alike have been coming back to for years.

The “new” Oasis Café opened its doors in November of 2015, and allowed for expansion with not one but two spacious kitchens (one for cooking and one for baking), an enclosed patio for al fresco dining, and five more seats inside than they had at Johnny B.’s.

Phoebe has been our waitress several times now, and she’s been working there part-time since 2011. Even when the place is packed, she efficiently takes care of all the diners with a smile and a joke… she’s a pleasure to visit with.

The Oasis Café uses all fresh meat – never frozen. Even the chicken fried steaks are hand-breaded. I asked Phoebe what their crowd-favorites were, and she said, without hesitation and in this order, “Chicken Fried Steak, Trashcan Burrito and Huevos Rancheros.”

One of our previous visits, a table of hunters sat across from us. One of the guys ordered the Chicken Fried Steak and proclaimed it was, “without a doubt the best I’ve ever had.” I’m going to try it next time we’re there.

Our last two visits, we both ordered the El Senor plate – two flat cheese enchiladas topped with two eggs cooked to your preference, refried beans, flour tortilla and hashbrowns. If you can eat the whole thing, you will be pleasantly full and ready for a day of adventure… be it in the park or road-tripping.

Fair warning: breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the dot, with lunch served from 11:01 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you’re hankering for a breakfast meal after 11:01, get the Enchiladas Montadas because they come with an egg on top.

Open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Oasis Café is located on Hwy. 90 at 1st Street in downtown Marathon. You can find them on Yelp and Google, and their phone number for call-in orders is (432)386-4233. Credit cards are accepted, too.

Be sure and wear pants (or at least a skirt or shorts), please.


Huevos Rancheros Casserole
(although “Ranch Eggs” are typically a breakfast dish, you can serve this hearty casserole at any meal. Please note this recipe requires the casserole to be prepped eight hours before cooking.)

5 corn tortillas (6-inch)

1 ½ cups finely shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend (6 oz.)

½ lb. smoked, cooked chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped

1 can (4.5 oz.) chopped green chiles

6 eggs

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Your favorite salsa

Grease an 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish. Place 4 of the tortillas in bottom of sprayed baking dish, overlapping as necessary, about 1/2 to 1 inch up the sides of the dish. Cut remaining tortillas in half, then cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over tortillas in baking dish. Top with chorizo, chiles and 1/2 cup cheese. Arrange tortilla strips over cheese.

In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, oregano and ground red pepper. Pour over mixture in baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and press lightly into egg mixture. Cover with foil. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake covered casserole for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Cut into squares. Serve with salsa. Enjoy!

Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche 😊


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