What does comfort food mean to you? International or regional dishes? Childhood and family favorites? Or … maybe all of the above.
The Dining Divas and two guests sampled some authentic “Hoosier Texican” food recently at the 6th Street Dive Bar & Grill; corner of Salem and 6th Streets in Lafayette. What we found were two southern transplants redefining Tex-Mex comfort food with some family recipes that are sure to win you over.
New owners, Brandon Stevens and Nick Williams, are from Shreveport, Louisiana and Fort Worth, Texas respectively. But both have spent half their lives in the Hoosier state and bartending for the last 15 to 18 years. Operating in the former Varsity Clubhouse Bar since Labor Day, the revamped restaurant/bar interior is a breath of fresh air … literally. Gone are the pool tables, smoking and juke box. The retooled décor of reclaimed wood and metal, friendly service, and a menu with their unique twist of Tex-Mex and Midwestern favorites, is a winning combination with a growing following.
We kicked off lunch with an order of Dive queso fontanero for $8, a layered dip with queso, fresh pico, sour cream, fresh guacamole and your choice of chorizo or chili con carne (on top or on the side), served with made fresh to order tortilla chips hot from the deep fryer. You think the description is a mouthful? Wait until you try this dip. Dan, one of our two guests claimed, “I would come here again just for the queso!” We all wager you’ll never go back to plain chips and jar cheese dip again. Fair warning!
Kay, our seafood lover, fooled us and passed on the blackened fish taco special (sounds great, right?!). Instead she ordered the knucklehead burrito for $8.50. The Dive’s breakfast burrito is loaded with scrambled eggs, tater tots, cheese, fresh pico and your choice of bacon or chorizo. Why the unusual name? According to the menu, “Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day knuckleheads!” Kay rated it “Really delicious and it’s a lot of food– it’s a big breakfast.” We suggest you bring a friend.
Jo ordered the garden salad for $3 and added sour cream & house made guac for $3. “This is an ideal low carb salad. The guacamole is awesome!” Jo’s special tip of the day: add the Dive Dip on top (You know, the appetizer dip in the paragraphs above), “It makes an EXTRA good dressing.”
Margy is already a regular. Her “usual” is the veggie taco; “The best in town!!” But today she opted for the beer battered stuffed avocado for $10. It’s a house specialty, Texas favorite and an avocado lover’s dream. Lightly battered and fried, it’s served on a bed of lettuce so it’s almost like a salad. It includes chicken or chorizo and black beans but because everything here is made to order, it can also be made vegetarian on request.
Bev ordered the taco salad. Typical? Not so fast! The taco salads here can be ordered with beef or chicken for $9 or with steak or pork for $10. Bev chose hers with ground beef in taco seasoning. Again, made with fresh to order chips, the salad includes all the usual veggies, cheese, sour cream and house made guac. Bev added a side of queso and the homemade hot sauce to make it a really flavorful, delicious salad! “It’s huge and I won’t get through 1/2 of it.”
Dan, guest #1 and Jo’s main man, ordered fish & chips for $8.50. “Very good coating on the fish — a lot of it, there’s like six pieces here!” The breaded catfish fillets are fried to order and served with a house-made tartar sauce. “Not a big chunk of fish but instead long strips. The batter is light — not real heavy.” Dan gave his lunch a Hoosier two thumbs up.
Erin, guest #2 and hungry co-worker of Bev’s, chose the hand-spanked cheeseburger for $9. The sandwich comes with two 4 oz patties and seasoned fries. “Love the seasoning on the fries. The burger is really juicy. It’s kinda big though!” Get Erin a to-go box, no one is leaving hungry today!
The 6th Street Dive is open seven days a week with both food and drinks available from 11 am-3 am including sandwich specials, and soup of the day (need I remind you it’s made from scratch?). Carryout is available. The Dive boasts about their house-made hot sauce and salsas including a mango infused salsa the day we were there. The menu includes many of Brandon and Nick’s personal favorites. “… food we loved growing up from our mom’s and grandma’s kitchens. We are sharing a taste of Texas made fresh, from scratch with our friends in Yankeeland! Cheers!”
The 6th Street Dive is a bar and grill serving only those 21 and over, with Nick’s favorite selection of bourbons, margaritas proudly made from scratch, daily drink specials, and an impressive beer list. Their beer selection includes your classic favorites and a rotating selection of both regional and national craft beers. Our server and seasoned bartender, Joe Wilson, says it is the widest variety of bottled beers he’s seen in town. You can follow Joe and his updates about the Dive on Facebook at Joe Wilson’s Bartender News
Are the Bar and Grill options not enough to lure you north of Union Street? Did we mention the Dive has a fun, neighborhood atmosphere we felt as soon as we walked in? Whether you go earlier for lunch, meet friends after work at the tables in front of the garage door/window on a nice day, or stick around with the late crowd to enjoy the growing live music scene of local and regional bands playing most Friday and Saturdays; you will feel right at home. I know we did.
Kay Conner, photographer, seafood superstar
Margy Deverall, author of Lafayette articles, dedicated vegetarian
Beverly Shaw, author of West Lafayette articles, bring on the beef (or chicken or pork)
Jo Wade, founder of this food blog, very veggie