Eats beat: Get a helping of good luck for the coming year

Posted 8:00am on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012


Bud Kennedy reviews 2012 dining -- burgers, tacos and more -- with Susan Cloud on KSKY/660 AM "The Answer." Click here for a listen.

Nobody knows why we eat black-eyed peas on New Year's.

But no matter whether the tradition came from Jewish immigrants or black Southerners -- there is evidence for both -- it took Texans to turn the peas into profits.

Led by business boosters in East Texas, Texans started actively promoting peas as a holiday dish in 1937. Politicians and newspapers talked up the good-luck tale to spur Depression-era economic growth.

"Everybody knows black-eyed peas are good luck, and besides that, they're just warm and comforting," said Buttons chef Keith Hicks, who's ready to serve a double helping both Monday night and on a special New Year's Day buffet brunch.

Maybe you've tried the mushy, flavorless black-eyed peas in diners or cafeterias. Hicks' peas aren't like that.

"We get dirty with them," he said.

"We put some ham hocks in there, jalapeños, even some carrots. We go crazy."

For the wary, Buttons also promises a pot of plain black-eyeds.

Hicks' regular Sunday brunch has become Fort Worth's go-to buffet. On New Year's Day, the expanded buffet is $19.

For New Year's Eve, Hicks will offer a four-course menu for $60 (plus a $12 cover charge for a reggae band); 4701 West Freeway, No. 100, 817-735-4900, buttonsrestaurant.com.

Other outposts for black-eyed peas include the Hoffbrau Steaks restaurants, Cotton Patch Cafes, The Black-eyed Pea restaurants, Cousin's BBQ and cafeterias including the old-school Highland Park Cafeteria in the Casa Linda neighborhood of Dallas.

A few New Year's menu highlights, although many restaurants are booked:

Both Weatherford steakhouses, Wild Mushroom and Fire Oak Grill, are serving impressive menus and have space available.

Wild Mushroom's menu features a 33-ounce wagyu beef bone-in rib-eye, or bone-in filets or strips. Fire Oak features a grilled sirloin with a roasted-garlic demi-glace, quail stuffed with sausage or crusted redfish with fettuccine ($65).

In downtown Fort Worth, Reata's four-course dinner features a choice of several steaks, sea bass or lamb chops for $70-$75.

Across the street, simpler Cabo Grande offers a bargain: a three-course dinner for two with a bottle of Sangre de Toro, $69.95.

In Arlington, the menu at Olenjack's starts with a black-eyed pea soup and features a choice of spicy cioppino ($53) or a blue-cheese-stuffed tenderloin ($65).

For thrift's sake, many restaurants will be open Monday but do not serve a special menu or raise prices. (Thank goodness.)

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538,

Twitter: @budkennedy

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