For the first few months of its reincarnated existence under new owner Chris Cusack, D&T Drive Inn remained exclusively an icehouse—just as it had been since it first opened as a neighborhood bar in Brooke Smith in the 1960s. Cusack, who also owns Down House, added 50 tap lines, two frozen drink machines, new furniture, a jukebox, and a few more creature comforts when he purchased and renovated D&T earlier this year, but the bar didn't serve any food—until now.
D&T quietly opened its kitchen a few weeks ago with a short, sweet menu of classed-up comfort food favorites. Eggs are pickled in crawfish boil seasonings and served with seasoned salt for dipping. Ritz crackers are served with chunky ham dip and smoked pimento cheese that reminds me of family reunions in East Texas.
For more substantial appetities, D&T has a selection of banh mi and po-boys, as well as a Revival Market-sourced sausage plate with potato salad and homemade sauerkraut. There are even smart vegetarian options such as roasted beets with rye crisps and a perky garden salad with basil-yogurt dressing—unusually innovative offerings for an ice house in Houston.
And every Sunday afternoon, D&T serves super-crispy Thai chili sauce-coated fried chicken served picnic style in a plastic basket with a Slow Dough roll, coleslaw or potato salad, and a pickled jalapeño in case the sweet chili sauce isn't enough. The chicken isn't fried on site—it's cooked at Down House and trucked over—as the kitchen at D&T is the size of a broomcloset and can't accommodate a deep fryer.
So when the fried chicken runs out for the evening, that's it until next Sunday. And at only $8, the chicken goes fast. Last Sunday afternoon, my friends and I arrived at 5 p.m. and the last of the chicken was sold a couple of hours later. (It probably didn't help that a few of my friends were purchasing two or three orders of chicken at a time.)
Although we ate our chicken in air-conditioned comfort sitting inside at the bar—the top of which is crafted from a water oak tree that once stood in D&T's front yard—I noticed the back yard had newly installed misters. The mist makes the heat a little more bearable while eating fried chicken outside at the long, wooden picnic tables. D&T was already a solid neighborhood bar with friendly service and a terrific beer selection. These clever menu items are quickly turning into one of my new favorite new hang-outs.
D&T Drive Inn, 1307 Enid, 713-868-6165