Tailgate tour: A complete guide to College Station, Texas
Deep in the heart of Texas lies College Station, home of Texas A&M University (A&M standing for Agricultural and Mechanical). It's not just a saying: A&M is smack dab in the middle of the "Texas Triangle," the rough isosceles shape made by the long highways connecting Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, and is a short two-hour drive to Austin. Being close to such major metropolitan areas made College Station a natural fit for a train stop and a center of higher education, hence the name. The first state institution in Texas, A&M opened in its original form in 1876 and has grown by leaps and bounds ever since.
With a name like College Station, you'd expect a heck of a college town, and you'd be right. "Aggieland" is obsessed with Texas A&M, which makes it the ideal place to eat, drink and become an honorary "12th Man."
Fuel up before gameday at this coffee shop owned by a husband and wife duo with deep Mexican roots and south of the border influences in their ridiculous pastries. Stare at the foam designs in your cappuccino while you throw down homemade turnovers, croissants, cakes and crème brûlée.
Flag down the truck on campus or stop in to the brick-and-mortar restaurant for venison chili cheese fries, fried oreos and a host of sliders that are bite sized and packed with creativity. The "12th Man" offers grilled chicken, poblano peppers and secret BBQ sauce, while the "Willie Nelson" combines beef, bacon, black pepper truffle mayo and enough toppings to make you want to enjoy it in its namesake singer's signature state of mind.
Extremely authentic Indian food in the middle of Texas, from naan and poori bread to biryani goat and multiple lamb curries. With a focus on both northern and southern Indian favorites, you can tour an entire massive country in the shadow of massive Kyle Field. On game day, peer out at the 100,000 screaming Aggie fans and imagine 10,000 times as many people in India jealous of how authentic your tandoori was last night.
Is College Station the new Napa Valley? Go ask the folks at Perrine Winery, who bottle custom micro-winery-style bottles of their award-winning vino all year round. Given College Station's agricultural history (where did you think the Aggies got their name?), it's no surprise this local vineyard has mastered the cultivation of finicky grapes.
Tex-Mex to the nth degree, with things like the Dr. Pepper Cowboy taco (with Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce) or Chile Ray Vaughan (with fried poblano peppers and chipotle cream corn). It's also just about the best place to be if late-night munchies strike, since they are open until 4 a.m, and reopen at 6 a.m. in case it's been a REALLY crazy night and you can't live without Fuego's extensive list of breakfast tacos.
Pop quiz: How Texas do you want to get on your trip through Texas? If the answer is "So Texas that I'm thinking about seceding," strap on your cowboy boots and go two-stepping at Harry's. With live music and a serious dedication to dancing, this is a place to move your feet.
The Public Policy school at A&M is named after our 41st President, and College Station is home to the official presidential library of the elder Bush. A must for any history buff, the site contains millions of documents from Bush Sr.'s tenure in the White House, as well as a statue of horses jumping over original pieces of the Berlin Wall because Texas.
Speed over to a speedway that won't be around for much longer. The historic track is set to close in the next year, but until then you can check out the open track days or rent the whole track to get your NASCAR on.
One of the more infamous bars on College Station's Northgate strip, this is a perfect place for cheap food, cheap beer and the Ring Dunk, an A&M tradition that involves dropping your Aggie Ring into a pitcher of beer and chugging the whole darn thing before capturing the ring in your teeth. Now THAT'S college.