Kitchens Hardware: Great food and vintage atmosphere since 1899

Kitchens Hardware: Great food and vintage atmosphere since 1899
One option for a hearty homestyle breakfast, complete with hot, fluffy biscuit. (Source: KLTV digital staff)
One option for a hearty homestyle breakfast, complete with hot, fluffy biscuit. (Source: KLTV digital staff)

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Kitchens Hardware has been a landmark business in Wood County since 1899. Nestled in the heart of downtown Mineola, it's easy to spot the red brick building with the iron gates and the window decorated in what might be imagined as Mayberry-style, with the name of the business painted in large, friendly lettering. The first time I heard about it was in 2002, when a friend said we were going to go have lunch in a hardware store. I  thought she was kidding, but sure enough, we ended up sitting at a table among hardware displays and vintage signs.

According to

, W.D. Kitchens was the man who started the store at the turn of the 20th century. He first was a cafe operator, but then went into the hardware business, also selling wagons and buggies, the site says. Today, it seems both of Kitchens' original careers have merged into a perfect blend at Kitchens Hardware and Deli.

History aside, Kitchens is just a fun place to eat.

Breakfast is served the way your grandmother might have prepared it, with plenty of thick cut bacon and farm fresh eggs, delicious grits or biscuits, sausage and gravy. You can also have migas, pancakes, waffles, or other menu items. The only disappointment we've ever had was an overcooked waffle. Everything else has been perfect. We always get there by 9 a.m., and find during hunting season the deer hunters in their camouflage are already there drinking hot coffee and refueling after an early morning in the woods. It's a pretty classic East Texas experience.

On steak night, the filet au poivre is my choice; encrusted with cracked peppercorns, a thick filet mignon is grilled to perfection. Many men, on the other hand, prefer the ribeye or the huge "steer butt," which I'm told is juicy and has fantastic flavor when grilled perfectly. If you're not a fan of steak, there are other a few other meats to try, as well as very nicely done grilled shrimp.

A particularly delicious side dish is the grilled tomatoes, which are topped with parmesan cheese. Various vegetables, fries or baked potatoes are also offered, with a full set-up of toppings.

Many people rave about the pies and the bread pudding, and the hamburgers have many fans writing about them on local review sites.

There are certain things to know about your visit, however.

First, you need to check the hours of operation. Several people have complained to me that they showed up at 5 p.m. for dinner, not knowing they only serve it two nights a week. Kitchens is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. through 3:30 p.m.; they are not open for dinner those days.

Dinner is served on the famous "steak nights" on Friday and Saturday from 6-9 p.m.

Sunday hours are 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The next thing to know is that you must make reservations for a table on steak night. Many times the tables are full to capacity, but occasionally we've gone in at the spur of the moment to see if we could get in, but, not having a reservation, we couldn't be seated, though there were plenty of empty tables. To solve that issue, we went outside, called them, and then a short while later went in for our table.

Third, during breakfast and lunch, make sure you ask to be seated in the hardware store if tables are available. The restaurant side is nice, with table cloths and candles and the like, but for the real hardware store experience, insist upon a table in the store. My preference is to sit in the store for breakfast or lunch, and to sit in the dining room on steak night to listen to the live acoustic music, usually an excellent guitarist.

If you know the hours, know to make reservations for steak night, and are ready for some delicious food, your Kitchens experience will be a great one!

You can reach Kitchens Hardware and Deli at (903) 569-2664. They are located at 119 E. Broad Street (Hwy 80) in Mineola.