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This is a love letter to Bryan's Steaks (1212 50th). A place I cherish.

'Cherish' as defined by Merriam-Webster means:

a: to hold dear feel or show affection for cherished her friends

bto keep or cultivate with care and affection NURTURE cherishes his marriage

2to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely still cherishes that memory

I hold Bryan's Steaks dear. I would protect Bryan's. It is harbored deeply and resolutely in my mind. Because it's something special, something unique, and perhaps the most Lubbock thing that ever Lubbock-ed.

The first thing you'll notice about Bryan's Steaks is the enormous and photogenic concrete cow out front of a log cabin-esque building. If the picture is taken at the correct angle, you can participate in the time-honored tradition of making it appear as if you have your head up the cow's rear.

When you enter the building, you're in a queue that looks and feels like the queue of a Disneyland log flume of yesteryear. The wait will be hardly a wait at all, and you'll find yourself pushing a tray down a cafeteria-style line after you've grabbed your knife and fork and napkins.

You will feel as if you're in some school-related dream, but instead of being horrified that you're naked or forgot your algebra homework, you'll just regret you didn't go all out and wear your favorite felt hat or pointy boots.

You'll be smugly glad you remembered that Bryan's Steaks is cash only, because Bryan's exists outside of time. It's not 2021 at Bryan's. It's 1995, or 1975, or whenever you were little and your grandparents laughed when you scowled after the first time you sipped black coffee to fit in with the adults. You will feel like a child. You will feel like a wizened elder at your Formica table with your tall, red plastic cup full of sweet tea or Coke.

You'll pick out a protein. You will agonize over steak, Salisbury steak, chicken fried steak or steak fingers. You will be both very happy with what you choose and lost in a reverie over what you didn't. Did you pick a baked potato or fries? Doesn't matter. Your potato product will be lost in a sea of nacho cheese, shredded cheese, bacon bits, ranch and sour cream.

The epicenter of Bryan's Steaks is the "salad" bar. Not some Yankee salad bar or hippie salad bar. This salad bar is plucked straight from a family reunion or southern funeral, but is much, much more temperature safe. But that doesn't matter; you grew up on lukewarm mayonnaise, so your guts are lined with steel like a submarine.

The pea salad is exactly like your mother made when you were a toddler. The ambrosia is exactly like what your aunt brings to Thanksgiving. The spaghetti is a meal you've made for yourself 100 times. You will not question why spaghetti is on a salad bar. You will eat pickled okra, a taste and texture you acquired as you got on in years.

You will eat as you please because anyone caught counting a calorie in Bryan's will be paddled with a wooden paddle with holes bored through for aerodynamic reasons. You will indulge, or have your back porch painted red. There's no compromise.

At the end of your meal, you will get your one-per-person vanilla cone that tastes different than any other vanilla cone on earth. You will leave a few dollars for the friendly staff that refilled your tea enough times to make a yak go into a diabetic coma.

As you waddle out, belt uncinched, you will remember the howl of cicadas, dipping your feet into cold crick beds, and the rough ride in the back of a vintage pickup. Your heart will do a little dip as if pressed by gravity on a carnival Tilt-a-Whirl as you remember grammy or pappy or nana or poppa. Their spirits will ask you: didja et yet? And you will answer resoundingly: yessum and yessir, and I thank ye.

I love you, Bryan's. I will cherish you always.

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