Circle Bar Truck Corral is a true truckers’ oasis
It was one of those days where you wonder if anything else can go wrong. We spent forever looking for a trailer we were supposed to pick up, and when we finally found it there weren’t any tail lights on it. Apparently, some of the yards that are really close to the Mexican border take taillights out of trailers to keep them from being stolen.
After looking for the trailer and then locating and replacing the taillights, two and a half hours of drive time had been burned. My husband was grumpy and both of us were hungry — definitely not a great combination for a pleasant ride.
Finally on the road and about 150 miles into the trip, a tire on the trailer blew. When it rains, it pours.
I-10 has some pretty lonesome areas in West Texas, and we were definitely in one of them. Thankfully, the cell phone still worked, and I was able to get the truck stop app to load. Circle Bar Truck Corral was the one and only truck stop in our direction of travel.
Located at exit 372 in Ozona, Circle Bar is like everything else in Texas – huge. (I wouldn’t find out just how huge – and impressive — until a return visit a couple of weeks later.) My husband found the tire service bay, which wasn’t terribly crowded, and got started the endless process of sending macros authorizing payment back and forth between the company that owned the trailer and the tire shop. The service guy told us he had one in front of us and estimated an hour or so – plenty of time to relax and have a meal at the restaurant. Half the day was shot anyway, so we elected to do just that.
First impression when walking into the building through the service area was that I was going to regret eating here. The hallway was narrow and dimly lit, and “old truck stop” ambiance oozed from wood paneling. The bathrooms were clean and well-appointed, which is always a huge plus in my book. It was easy enough to find the dining room, we just followed the smell of bacon. It is my opinion that bacon can cure any kind of bad mood there is.
We both ordered breakfast, and delighted in the fact that we could enjoy a cup of coffee and a cigarette without having to go outside. This may have been a deterrent to some people, but we’re both smokers used to the harsh laws surrounding having a public smoke so this was a welcome treat. (Side note and small rant: I can understand not being allowed to smoke in a restaurant, I really can, but not being allowed to smoke in a bar is ridiculous. Do you seriously believe pouring liquor down your throat is healthier than smoking?)
Breakfast was beautiful. The scrambled eggs were firm, glossy, and just fluffy enough to be certain they were indeed from a chicken instead of a box. The bacon was thick enough to be perfectly cooked and had a smoky goodness that only quality bacon can have. The hash browns were crispy on the outside, moist and steamy on the inside. I don’t think either one of us said a coherent word through the entire meal, we just grunted and made ‘mmmmm’ noises until the tire guy came to tell us the truck was ready. I immediately decided we would be coming back to the Circle Bar next time we were anywhere close to Ozona.
Two weeks later, we were not only close to Ozona, we had time to have a meal and explore a little. I discovered the Circle Bar is more than truck stop – it’s a destination.
The first time we visited, it was under duress and I really didn’t pay close attention. The second trip was on the way home, so I was in a really good mood and had plenty of time to take everything in. There’s an RV park with 95 spaces, 100-room motel, a full-sized restaurant, two truck bays, a convenience store, restaurant and several outbuildings.
We went in through the front door this time, and I have to say the entire place is much more inviting from the front. There was a busy lunch crowd, and most of the patrons were locals. We seated ourselves and were immediately greeted by our waitress. I was determined to try something new even though I really wanted to order a trough full of that incredible bacon and those perfect eggs. My husband decided on the club sandwich with fries, and I opted for the chalupa plate.
While waiting for our food, we told the waitress how we found the place and were so pleasantly surprised by the food, we came back to enjoy and explore a little. Her story of how she found the place was similar to our own. She and her husband were traveling cross country headed for Florida when their RV broke down.