Best of WTF: That Time That Reporter Was Totally Wrong About Food

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Editor’s Note: Because of a big, breaking story yesterday, our Wednesday WTF writer is, well, behind. Very. But she thought you’d enjoy this dip into the archives from a time when a reporter was very wrong about food.

Listen, this week’s Wednesday WTF was supposed to be about Oprah’s fancy new island but then something egregious happened that has left my normally unflappable self completely flapped.

You see, at 8 a.m. Tuesday, The Atlantic saw fit to publish a piece entitled, “What to Eat in the Texas Suburbs.” It also indicated it would be about fast food.  If you saw it, you probably (like me) thought, “Oh, good, they’re going to talk about some of the good fast-food dining in Texas suburbs, because this is the Atlantic and of course we’ll not be talking about something stupid like Taco Bell.”

I mean, sure I’ll cop to some inside-the-loop snobbery, but I do know that there is some good food to be had in the suburbs. Great food, even. I’ve eaten it. The suburbs of Texas doesn’t mean backwards yokels with outdoor plumbing — so I was just certain that I was about to settle into a piece that talked about some great mom-and-pop fast food establishments, and probably an obligatory Whataburger reference.


I was wrong.

From the very onset of this sucker punch, it became clear that the writer was going to paint Texas suburbs as some kind of hillbilly haven for Lipitor candidates with extremely undiscriminating palates.

“In my daily life as an East Coast journalist, pretty much all I eat is lentils, salad, and lentil salads.”


“Before you ask, hipster, I’m not from Austin, or even Houston. I’m from the gosh-dang suburbs of Dallas, where lentils and salads are less plentiful, and beef and cheese are … more so.”

Texas suburbs, I think she just called you fat.

I’m a little confused by her itinerary, which took her to Wichita Falls and then to Dallas Love Field airport, but let’s continue, k? Because while she was in Wichita Falls, she was subjected to “ice cream that isn’t Halo Top and tap water from a La Quinta bathroom.”

Of course, you don’t need Halo Top. Blue Bell is available. You’re in Texas. But let’s read on, shall we?

“I had limited time, limited cash, and limited options. Some of my stops were quintessentially Texas; others were maybe a standard deviation more Texas than the average fast-food meal, yet might be accessible in your impersonal, master-planned suburban home. But they were all delicious, and I’m not dead, so I can only assume the same experience would hold for you.”

This list? Oh, children, gather ‘round for this list:

Square Burger in McKinney. This one is more than acceptable, but this is the best this list will get. Trust me.

In-n-Out. Now, I’m just going to tell you right now that this gotdarned California transplant is on this list of the best fast food suburban Texas has to offer, AND WHATABURGER IS NOT.


Taco Bell. She says Wichita Falls doesn’t have good lunch spots, but that is no reason to claim Taco Bell is the best Texas suburbia has to offer. 

DQ. Listen, that whole “Texas stop sign” stuff? That’s branding. They have DQ’s in several states, and their headquarters is in Minne-freakin-sota. So this hardly counts as quintessential Texas fast food.

“Flying out of Dallas Love Field, the world’s best airport—stop by Dickey’s Barbecue for some beef brisket.” Oh, I have some things about this. 

Chiefly: a) Love Field is not a mother-flippin’ (no offense to mothers) suburb; b) THERE IS A WHATABURGER INSIDE LOVE FIELD.

“I say this not as a health reporter, but as a friend: Here is what you should eat if you ever find yourself in North-Central Texas.”

I’m saying this as a person who actually knows what a suburb is that these are not the places you should eat if you ever find yourself in North-Central Texas.

The fact is, most suburbs in Texas are rife with all kinds of great family-owned establishments that would be unique enough to merit a mention in a story like this. But the bigger fact is that Wichita Falls isn’t even a suburb. It’s even its own metropolitan statistical area, and is 115 miles and 142 miles from Fort Worth and Dallas, respectively.

I know it may seem weird to critique a story about restaurants on a real estate publication, but the fact is, if I’m looking to move to a new town in Texas from elsewhere, stories like this tell me that I need to worry about creature comforts.

If the best this writer from the Atlantic can find worth mentioning in her travels to Wichita Falls and the airport is a string of ubiquitous-to-the-entire-nation fast food joints, and she’s going to brand all Texas suburbs with the same not-actually-a-suburb brush, why should I move here?

Listen, I’m sure this writer is great. She’s a staff writer for The Atlantic which is a big deal and she should be extremely proud to have gotten to this point in her career.

But this is lazy. The premise is lazy. The locations are lazy. And it does Texas suburbs a real disservice, to boot.

So Dallas-Fort Worth suburb and exburb dwellers, weigh in. Where do you eat? Give us your favorite fast-food and fast-casual places.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

Reader Interactions


  1. mmCandy Evans says

    Bubbas, and on the road we hold everything until we find the Rudy’s BBQ. I cannot argue with Dickeys though. Good people and locally owned. But Taco Bell? I will say this, though: when my niece moved to North Texas, she chose a home to be within a triangular drive of Chik-Fil-A (those waffle fries) , Whataburger and Pizza Hut: the three food groups.

  2. John Sieber says

    All too frequently someone thinks it is a great idea to put a restaurant whether it be a fish or horned beast. Please leave the dusty dead thing in the attic. They stare at flesh eaters.

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