We asked. You responded. With new members in the fold, we're introducing each city in the Big 12 in the coming weeks.
We already tackled the two new schools, but Baylor's up next in our "Home Turf" series.
Other guides to Big 12 cities:
I know Waco pretty well, but I think we've all got a little bit to learn. Thankfully, the locals will fill us in. Here's the guide to Baylor's home turf.
Benjamin in Henderson, Texas wrote: For visitors to Baylor and Waco, I highly recommend stopping at the campus first. Baylor has a beautiful campus right off of I-35, and a visit to the bear habitat is a must. If you have time, and like historical and cultural attractions, go downtown to see the suspension bridge or Dr Pepper Museum. You'll also find Crickets, a local bar and restaurant, right across the street from the suspension bridge. Before the game, you could go to Health Camp for old-fashioned burgers and shakes. Of course the ultimate game day food is Vitek's Gutpack, an entrèe complete with brisket, sausage, beans, and cheese served on a bed of Fritos. Top it with jalepeños for an extra kick. Visit Katie's Custard near the stadium for a sweet, rich dessert or go to Common Grounds for a cup of coffee. Get to the game in time to see the pregame traditions, such as the Baylor University Golden Wave Band pregame show, and the Baylor Line field storming. Enjoy your visit to Bear Country.
My take: A good overview to start our exercise. And I've always been partial to the Baylor line. The Bears are the only team in college football to storm the field before games. They did it a few times after games the past few years, too.
Matt in Dallas wrote: I graduated from Baylor last year. I'm sure everybody will tell you to eat at George's and grab a famous Big O, eat a delicious gut pack from Vitek's, or grab an amazingly unhealthy burger with a shake from Health Camp on the circle. So, I'll point out a couple other Waco gems that might not get talked about as much, but are just as amazing. Kitoks is a small establishment owned by a very friendly asian american family that have fused asian food and american food in the most delicious ways. I would recommend trying the cheeseburger and oriental fries, which is probably their most famous dish. If you go there you won't be disappointed! Another great Waco eatery is Uncle Dan's Barbecue. This is a great Texas barbecue joint that Waco natives swear by. My favorite item is probably the Texas Tater: a Texas sized loaded baked potato with a generous helping of chopped briscuit and Uncle Dan's special barbecue sauce. My mouth is literally watering right now. Hope this info helps!
My take: Nice suggestions, Matt. I've done George's and Viteks, but I'm going to have to hit up a few of these spots on my next visit. Somehow, I've never had a Health Camp burger. That'll have to change.
Luke in Tulsa, Okla., wrote: You'll get lots of mentions of Vitek's and Health Camp (and you should). But Big12ers should be aware of some of Waco's slightly-less known attractions. Schmaltz's is awesome, original location is downtown, yuppie...I mean new...location is on the strip (Valley Mills). Baris III (on strip) is the best Italian. Tortillas are regularly thrown off of the suspension bridge and there's a former ghost-town buried (or flooded? or sunken?) at the bottom of Lake Waco. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention... you have to come to Waco to see the best athletics program in the country...but Big12ers already know that.
Michael Sturdy in Dallas wrote: Ubbs, I'm not gonna give you chain restaurants like the yokels from Fort Worth (Pappadeaux? Really, Frogs? You're in the Big 12 -- act like it). If you want original restaurants with great food and at a good price, there are few cities that can beat Waco. Kitok is a Korean BBQ that weirdly has the best burgers in the world. Clay Pot for great Vietnamese. Taqueria Zacatecas for actual Mexican food (not the garbage they peddle up here in North Texas). Baris for family Italian. George's and Vitek's, of course, for game day. Schmaltz's for amazing sandwiches. The list goes on and on.
Reno in Waco wrote: I'm actually a Red Raider, but I have lived in Waco for the past 12 years. I recommend parking your car at Vitek's Barbeque (visible from I-35 on Bagby, just north of 17th Street). Eat a "gut pack" and take their shuttle to the stadium. Before kick-off and during halftime, across Dutton Street from the stadium you'll find George's Tent for cold beer and food. After the game, when you have returned to your car at Vitek's, cross the interstate to the orginal George's Bar and Grill, probably THE quintessential Waco establishment. Everything on their broad menu is a safe bet...and the cold beer is always reasonably priced. Another option is downtown at Riversquare Center (across from the Hilton) with several restuarants (including Ninfa's and Cricket's) and bars within walking distance from each other. You'll also find some bars on Austin Avenue just south of the ALICO building. If you have time to spare during the day, I recommend the Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and the Cameron Park Zoo.
Jeff in Chicago wrote: O.k., first where to eat. For chicken fried steak (a Texas essential) and a Big O (large beer) go to George's. For Tex-Mex food, go to Trujillo's on the circle.For Texas barbeque, go to Uncle Dan's. And for classic hamburgers and shakes, go to the oddly named but historic Health Camp. It is no coincidence that these restaurants have been in Waco for years and years. The campus has changed a lot since I was there, but the heart of the campus still features the Bear Pit, where the real bears live as Baylor mascots. (The bears used to be brought onto the football field, but I don't think that is allowed anymore. ) I assume the dome of Pat Neff Hall still glows green when Baylor wins. After the game and a bite to eat, I suggest going "kicker dancing" to country and western music at a place like Elk Hall in Elk, Texas outside of Waco for a quintessential central Texas experience.
Pete Jensen in Waco wrote: Scruffy Murphy's Irish Pub (Scruff's) is the place to get your drink on. Try Shorty's Pizza just down the street to get a greasy meal before the bar. Or you could be like all the out-of-town folk and go to George's and Vitek's.
Sam L. Jax in Tinsletown wrote: Ubbs, you've come to the right person for food advice. Waco has much more to offer than Georges, Vitek's, Health Camp, and Chilli's Too (twice as good as Chilli's). Let start with beverages. Waco has 3 Starbucks, a jamba juice, and if thats not awesome enough head in to the student center for some frozen Dr. Pepper paste on Wednesday. You may need to jack some kids ID. For food I suggest the taco truck that is stationed under the gas station thats on the west side of La Salle. Order a carne asada taco with pico, cheese, and quac. Corn tortillas only. We're adults here. After that, head into the financial district, downtown for some great burgers at Double-R-Burgers (ask for e. coli on the side). After that sail into the Burrito King for a 2 am breakfast burrito and a cerveza (thats beer for those WVU kids) . Very good things can be found in Waco, Tx. They don't call it the Paris of Texas for nothing, aside for the actual city of Paris, TX. Regards,SLJ
p.s. those weren't real snakes on the plane.
Garrett in Washington, D.C. wrote: Like a realtor that doesn't show you the house when the #3 train rolls 20 yards away from the back fence, a proper Baylor fan's guide to Waco will highlight the good while secretly allowing you to avoid the bad. First, visit campus. It really is a great place. Great buildings, nice people, and live bears that, like the students, thrive on a diet consisting of Oreos and Dr. Pepper. Next, drive down Speight Ave. to Vitek's BBQ and order a Gut Pack. Go large if you are a man. Small if you are a TCU fan. After your carnivore celebration, run over to George's for a Big-O of Shiner. Warning: the place will be overrun with aggressive brothers of a fraternic nature. After you polish off #6, get down to Floyd Casey and enjoy the game. Afterwards, on your way out of town, stop by Bush's Chicken for some road food and a sweet tea. Welcome to Bear Country.
Neil Golemo in Galveston, Texas wrote: Dave, Per your "get to know Waco" bit. (Strong work, btw). Best Italian food in the area is Baris III's restaurant. It's a small little bistro where you can often see the proprietor, Mamma Baris, barking orders and chicken-pecking out your ticket. They toss the pizza dough fresh, though the Chicken Cachovi is my favorite. Vitek's rules. Enough said.
But the campus is amazing, and leaves every girlfriend I've ever had (and my wife, a UT Grad) swooning. Every corner has meaning and a story to accompany it. And be sure to take notice the many lightpoles on campus adorned with plaques, each bearing the name of a Baylor Student who died for this country. Lighting our way? The metaphor isn't lost. Did you know Baylor is the only school in the Big12 that can boast TWO Medal of Honor recipients as Alums?
Also, note the majority of the red-brick buildings will have every 7th layer of bricks oriented differently from the rest of the buildings to represent sabbath.
Waco is a fantastic town. Cameron Park is a beautiful zoo and destination for frisbee golf, Remember the Alico! shirts are worn regularly not to mention the Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas Football Hall of Fame, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, Health Camp restaurant (where Elivs was said to have frequented).
I'm from a tiny town in Illinois, but I lost myself and found myself in Waco, TX.Do me proud, my friend. I know you will.Keep up the work, Ubbs!
Thanks for the input, everyone. Great stuff. Iowa State's up next, but I'll call for your tips later tomorrow.