Since Chet and I have started writing a Hill Country Travel guide, I’ve researched and visited pretty awesome towns like Gruene, Belton and Salado (which basically means going on adventures to see if they’re epic enough for y’all!) I recently traveled to Brady and Melvin, and it’s become one of my favorite trips!
Brady is located in the geographic center of Texas, making it the “Heart of Texas.” But on my journey deep in the heart of Texas (cue the clap, clap, clap) I found that Brady is Texas’s heart for so many more reasons than just being in the exact center — the true essence of our great state pumps through every inch of this little town!
My first stop in town was the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum, and I gotta admit that I was expecting this museum to just be a little homage to a few Texas artists with a tiny collection of photographs and replicas of costumes — and boy was I wrong!
Started by Tracy Pitcox, host of the internationally famous 1989 radio show “Hillbilly Hits,” this museum is filled with wacky and fun personal items from many country legends that were personally donated to Tracy by each artist.
You’ll find everything from handwritten notes by Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn to a brick from Hank William’s home and a bumper car ridden by the King, himself, Elvis Presley! You can even tour Jim Reeves’ tour bus!
After catching a glimpse of a different type of life on the road in Jim’s tour bus, I hopped in my own car and headed to the center of town to find the especially regal-looking McCulloch County Courthouse. The beautiful stone building almost looked like a castle built out of Legos! And right in front of the Courthouse, I found the selfie-worthy “Heart of Texas” marker, signifying that I was literally in the center of Texas!
Next, it was time for lunch and I had been excited about where I was eating for quite a while. You see, I’d recently read an article in Texas Monthly raving about the inside-out burgers at Jacoby’s Cafe in neighboring town, Melvin. Yet, as I started the drive and my GPS lead me farther and farther from civilization into very flat farm lands… I started to get nervous. The growl of my stomach pushed me on.
When I finally arrived at Jacoby’s (which is a small cafe right next to the Feed and Seed store and below two ominously towering grain elevators), I walked into the dark wooden room and sat at a little booth among friendly farmers who all knew each other and were catching up with the week’s gossip. When I ordered my burger and was asked if I wanted fries, onion rings or the heavenly choice of fried okra — I knew I was in the right place and quickly ordered the okra!
As I waited on my food, I heard tidbits of conversations, my favorite being the man in the flannel shirt next to me saying to the waitress, “Well, you know I normally get the special, but I hear there’s a big to-do about one of your burgers, and I’m feeling left out cause I’ve never had it, so I’m gonna get that today.” And neither Mr. Flannel Shirt nor I were disappointed with our burgers.
I bit into my inside-out burger (which hardly fit in my hands it was so big) expecting the cheese, peppers and onions stuffed into the patty to spill out in an overwhelming ooze — but was pleasantly surprised that it was not oozy at all! The inside-out burger had just the right amount of spice and the meat had the perfect amount of juiciness.
As I ate my burger with strangers all coming together over good homecookin’, in a small town cafe surrounded by wide expanses and deep blue skies, I realized that I’d never been anywhere that exemplified Texas quite like this. Looking back at my day in Brady, and the surrounding area, I understood exactly why it’s called “the Heart of Texas” — the kind folks, one of a kind museums and good eats are exactly what makes Texas so great!