Early Blue Bonnets

You Want Fries With That?

Last night we had a thunderstorm.  This morning we took a drive down the river road to Presidio and saw some of the years first blue bonnets.  We also saw numerous two foot tall flowers on the  yucca as well as these gems clinging to a cliff face.  These are all signs that spring is not far away, well,  for us it isn’t as we have already had days in the mid seventies.  For those of you who live in cooler climes come and visit.  Work on your tan and take in the sights.

Spring Flowers  on FM 170, Terlingua
Spring Flowers on FM 170, Terlingua

Last week we made good progress by starting the excavation for the new septic system, the huge pile of accumulated building debris was cleared and the walls were receiving castellations to position the vigas securely.  The new wall (that replaces the one that fell down) is within inches of completion and to crown the weeks achievements, I heard from RGEC that they will be here Monday to set the new poles for the upgraded electrical service.  That’s at least two week sooner than they promised so we are well pleased.

The Tent Campground Rises From the Rubble

The photograph above does not do justice to the work that has been done by William in recreating the original tent campground, but at least you can see that it is a work in progress and already looks vastly improved.  I was in conversation with William and reminded him that the area he was working was reputed to have been an Indian campground.  I had just finished by admitting I had seen no artefacts of any kind when my eyes lighted on a grinding stone or metate of typical Mayan design.  Wow.  I have a real artefact, dug from the campground at La Kiva.  I was quite perky for the rest of the day.

This week we are starting  equipping the kitchen, or at least ordering the equipment that goes in the kitchen.  We have got 90% of the kitchen walls done and so now we have to think about the big equipment.

Kitchen Walls Near Completion

First, we need to decide on  the menu and what we can anticipate for the future, by way of new menu items.  In recent years the American food scene has changed.  Gluten has become a big deal and more and more people are learning that the IBS they have, is exacerbated by gluten.  Thyroid failure can be caused by gluten exacerbating Hashimotos thyroiditis.  The list goes on and on.  We are planning to be a restaurant that can provide low gluten options.  Promising to be gluten free would require that no items containing gluten be permitted in the kitchen, but that may be a step too far.  We can certainly dedicate one of our fryers for gluten free and absolutely forbid the frying of breaded items in it.  One of our pizza ovens will  be dedicated as gluten free and we intend to provide a gluten free crust as well as gluten free breads as options.  In fact most of our menu items could have gluten free options.  The new kitchen will be large enough to make it possible to have a separate preparation area for gluten free thus reducing the risk of  cross contamination and, of course. we will provide EXTENSIVE staff training on the problems of gluten intolerance.  I have family members who are seriously gluten intolerant and we were caught out by an omelet at a well known pancake house.  The omelet contained pancake mix to make it fluffier but that meant it also contained gluten.  Who would have thought that an omelet would contain gluten?  Not me for one.  We plan having low gluten meals served on a different color plate than the other food.  If we decide that it will be red, you order a gluten free meal and it comes out of the kitchen on a plate of any other color, then it is not gluten free, so send it back. With just a little thought and care we could make all our BBQ offerings gluten free.  If you or someone close to you is gluten intolerant please share the problems that you have and let us know how you have been caught out in the past.  Suggestions for gluten free menu items will be appreciated.  If you have never commented before, then now is the time.  We will take all comments very seriously and your feedback will help us structure the kitchen to provide food that you can have confidence in.

Kitchener needs you to comment

It will not end with gluten free, we plan to have offerings for a number of diet plans such as low carb. and vegetarian.  I doubt if we will be offering much for vegans initially, but if you are vegan, then please let us know what we could do to satisfy your needs.  We are even looking at FODMAPS.  Yes, not long ago I had to look it up as well. If you are a Vogon then you are totally out of luck so why don’t you go and read some poetry, quietly, to yourself.

In coming weeks and months we will be looking at various menu items and options.  I have already talked about gluten but that is just one tiny part of what is ahead.  As we deal with each class of menu item I will be asking for comments from you.  Let’s kick this off with a relatively new item to the La Kiva menu but non the less important.

My partner for twenty years was the founder of Tombstone Pizza.


One of the lead investors in my first company in America was Rose Totino of Totinos Pizza.  Despite her diminutive stature she was a force to be reckoned with and she loved to entertain.  I have had a long association with pizza makers.


I would love to be able to say that they taught me a lot about pizzas but they didn’t.  They became successful  by making frozen pizzas for a mass market but I never saw either of them put a frozen pizza on the table in their own homes.  We are planning to make good pizzas available on the menu (not frozen).  I did learn from both of the pizza empire founders that if you want good pizza you had better start with good ingredients or you are wasting your time.

Pizza slice La Kiva
Just a Dream But Soon It Will Be A Reality

We are installing new Pizza ovens with much larger capacity so we will be able to turn around pizzas at a much more rapid rate.  We would like to offer more than just Margherita pizza and brisket calzone.  What would you like to see? Six inch Margherita personal pizzas or sixteen inch super supreme with everything on it, eat in or to go, what tickles your fancy?  Small, medium or large and what toppings?  Do you want a white pizza (no tomato sauce).  Thin, crispy crust or deep dish?  Vegetarian?  What about a dessert pizza in the desert?  Apple, cherry, pineapple, pecan, lemon meringue.  That could be fun.  After what I said earlier you had better believe that we will be offering a gluten free option and test cooking has already started.  I have had some really good gluten free pizzas where it was difficult to tell the difference from non gluten free so I am excited to see where we end up.  It should be good.

We need lots of feedback on the menu items, so please don’t be shy.  We want to hear from you.


45 thoughts on “You Want Fries With That?”

  1. OMG. I love you more and more and I haven’t even met you! I’m really excited about the way you’re talking about nutrition! Thank you so much for considering all of this!! YAY!!

    1. I have to agree with the very first commentor. I’m starting to love you already and I haven’t even met you yet. Along with your fun posts which are full of great progress information AND humor (which I really like), the fact you will be offering options for those of us who are working towards keeping the gluten to a minimum AND are taking in suggestions to consider…well, I am even more thrilled about the re-opening of Kiva.
      I used to be very grateful that I could get an excellent grilled chicken salad there. Would have also loved a chicken option with vegetables. If there was one thing I went to Alpine for it was veggies. I am a full-blown carnivore but really love to eat something besides starch with my protein!!! Something green…green beans, broccoli, whatever! That’s all I have to contribute…
      Would live to come down from Kansas City for the opening which it sounds like MAY be in April. Keep us posted!
      I lived in Terlingua ‘officially’ about 3 years and I still have a large number of friends who feel like family AND still have some land out at the Ranch (Terlingua Ranch) that I’m going to get JP to help me build something cool on someday. Then I’ll be able to make it in for Happy Hour & Karaoke at La Kiva on a semi-regular basis!
      I have to say, I love what you’re doing with the place!!!
      Jan Street

  2. I don’t mean this to be rude, so hopefully it comes across as helpful and not rude or critical. If I want pizza in Terlingua I go to Longdraw. I’ve never thought of La Kiva as a pizza place. Beer, drinks, BBQ, steak, etc, just not pizza. I’m sincerely looking forward to the day we can once again walk through the doors and have a cold beer.

    1. This was not taken as rude and thank you for your input. The Pizza was added by Glenn. He built a wood fired, traditional, pizza oven after doing very careful research into the subject. I was impressed by the way he executed the job. For that reason alone we are going to continue with pizzas. If we are doing pizzas we are doing them right. On those nights when Long Draw is closed then think of La Kiva as giving you another dining option. I am looking forward to welcoming you back and serving you a cold beer with or without a pizza when we reopen.

  3. I would like to see some southwest inspired cuisine on the menu (sort of z’tejas-ish), utilizing as much local ingredients as possible. Pizza, burgers and the like are great, but are already fairly available in and around Terlingua.

    My favorite restaurant in the Big Bend area is definitely The 12 Gage in Marathon. Might be a bit elevated than what you are looking to do, but I’d eat there weekly if it were closer (and richer, haha).

    I do like a good pizza here and there, and deep dish supreme pizza would be my pick!

    1. I have never eaten at the 12 Gage. It’s on my list now though. Your point about pizza and burgers being available in Terlingua is noted. We have to start somewhere and the menu as it was a year ago is the starting place we selected. Sure, we will be adding gluten free options and more vegetarian dishes but we are also trying to make it so that anything you used to come here for is still available. In time we may see many changes but for now it is simply a starting point. Deep dish supreme is noted. Thank you for the feedback.

    1. Yes and yes. We will be adding more wines to the list than has been traditional. We feel that Terlingua is ready to move beyond Red, White and Pink written on a piece of cardboard. We have not touched the drinks menu yet but we will get to it before we open.

  4. BBQ, BBQ, BBQ is in short supply down here. Buffalo wings (not breaded) do not exist here, so those would be good, fried catfish and the nachos La Kiva used to serve. I know this is the antithesis of vegan and gluten free, but some of us remain carnivores! Your posts are so well written and fun! See you soon!

    1. We are serious about the barbecue. I am a committed member of PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals). I have done a huge amount of study of barbecue techniques and recipes. We will be offering Good BBQ and we are striving for great. Nachos? I had not remembered them being on the menu. Seems reasonable though. We are not planning on changing to a gluten free or vegetarian restaurant but we do want to make it so that people with those dietary restrictions can find tasty options on our menu.

  5. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. From what I read in your post it would take me an hour just to read the menu. this is not conducive to table turns. Establish a reputation for doing one or two items extremely well. You’ll get more business than trying to please the palates of everyone. Will it be red plates for gluten free, green plates for vegan, blue plates for kosher, yellow plates for halal. and white plates for everything else? See where I’m going? You can always add to the menu as your business and reputation demand it.

    1. Well said. I would rather do a few things well than have a huge menu that doesn’t satisfy anyone.

      Yellow for halal? Surely that should be green. ; )

      1. Lol!!! As I said in a longer post above, I am a card-carrying carnivore! But just because I’m eating a yummy burger, BBQ, steak or chicken doesn’t mean I want a bunch of additional fried & starchy sides with it. Give me an option for a (green) vegetable in there somewhere even if it’s just a salad…
        That’s not to say I’m not gonna nom-nom down some fries once in a while. There’s a happy, healthy medium in there somewhere – I really applaud you for seeking it!! Thanks again for all you’re doing.
        – Jan Street :-)

  6. I agree…you can’t please everyone…keep it simple…4 or 5 core dishes and keep a pot of stew and dish of cornbread on in the winter months…

    How about a breakfast pizza and a side of nopales (carnivorous or vegan)?
    Pulled pork nachos?
    Pulled pork Cuban?
    Tortas (Carnivorous or Vegan)?

    Good updates and way to reach out to your “community” so they can be vested members in your endeavor!

    -Colonel Burns

  7. Thank you so much for taking the gluten topic to heart. I have Hashi’s and it is so difficult to find food establishments that understand. Thank you and hope to see you in late October.

    1. Thanks Tonya. We watched as a family member had to educate herself and then educate a string of doctors over a period of years before she got a definitive diagnosis of Hashimotos despite having a TSH in the normal range. TSH doesn’t always tell the whole story. You had better believe we take it very seriously.

  8. I love all you are doing, and I am so thankful that YOU are the one who bought La Kiva! We only arrived in Terlingua in January 2014, not all that long before the tragic event. We started going there for the $5 Pasta night – and we came back because it was a cheap meal, and the good sauces that the owner had researched and brought back from Italy, along with some of the ingredients.

    Which is all to say, LaKiva has a great reputation as a great bar, but we also appreciated the one night a week when there was good food at a tremendously affordable price.

    I like your idea of having a menu with modern sensitivities, but don’t go overboard. You can’t be everything to everyone.

    I agree with someone above who said Long Draw Pizza already offers a great pizza experience. It’s fine for you to offer a gluten free pizza, but I wouldn’t make pizza your “niche.”

    I think LaKiva is mostly about “atmosphere.” Keep the menu good and simple. Maybe have a daily special. Keep your menu simple, perhaps unique. But folks will eat and drink most anything to enjoy the company of their friends (early) and great music later in the evening.

    Good luck!

  9. My wife and I are delighted to read that you will have gluten free options on your menu and that you are putting so much thought into the food you will serve. My wife has celiac and if she’s not happy, I’m not happy! I think pizza is the perfect bar food and also agree with some who have suggested barbecue. I fondly remember some pretty good smoked chicken and ribs at the old La Kiva. You’ll have my support regardless. I eagerly await your opening.

  10. Hooray for gluten free pizza!! Lactose free pizza is also easy and delicious. Goat cheese is so yum with: basil, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, roasted garlic, bacon,peppers, I could go on and on. Goat cheese. Think goat cheese!!

  11. BTW, to every one having baby cows about too much change, or like wise wanting to recreate z tejas. Settle down. Let’s all just relax and see what happens, shall we?

    1. Since you called me out (and perhaps others) directly, I wanted to make it clear to you that I’m not asking for a re-creation of z-tejas for goodness sake – I suggested some Southwestern items on the menu, and z-tejas is a restaurant that came to mind. By all means, request they make your lactose-free, gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, [insert item]-free pizza – I won’t judge.

  12. Brisket calzone.

    Brisket calzone.

    Brisket calzone :-)

    Seriously, the brisket calzone that La Kiva used to offer was amazing. The dough used was soft and buttery. The brisket was a tender glob of smoked meat goodness. Combined with a Gumby-made margarita, it was heaven.

  13. While I applaud consideration of healthier foods, I was pleased with what was offered before. It was always well-cooked, well-presented, and priced right. Yes, healthier options are a good thing, no doubt, but don’t completely give up on what was good at La Kiva. I like the idea of offering pizzas, too, somewhat. Thanks.

  14. Hello! First-time commenter and vegan here! First off, I love reading your updates not just because the amazing La Kiva will be back in operation but because your writing style is so enjoyable to read.

    On to food…while I know you can’t please everyone, seeing even one vegan item on the menu immediately endears a restaurant to me and makes it a “must visit”. I’m sure your family feels the same way when they see gluten-free options on menus.
    I immensely enjoyed visiting La Kiva but was dissapointed to see my offerings were limited to a side of fries, a dry side salad or dry baked potato. I still had a great time drinking and enjoying the karaoke but would have stayed longer and spent more if there was something more substantial to eat.

    Since you’re talking pizza, there are super easy ways to make that vegan friendly! Start with a vegan pizza dough: flour, salt, water and yeast. Sounds familiar, right? Your basic pizza dough is already vegan! Tomato sauces are easy to veganize by omitting animal broth (use veggie broth instead), anchovies, cheese, any animal products. Toppings could pretty much be any vegetable on the planet! But to save you some time and kitchen space, go with your basic pizza veggies: mushrooms, onions, banana peppers, olives.
    If you’re looking for something different, one of my favorite pizza places in San Antonio offers caramelized onions on their pizzas and are to die for!
    They also offer a marinara pizza which I love because I can order it (essentially just a cheese-less pizza) w/out feeling like a freak.
    Another pizza topping option for vegans would be to offer a vegan cheese. Daiya is the best in my opinion.

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide input. I can’t wait to visit once it’s open!!

  15. Please have good beer. This place is special because after a long adventure in Big Bend, I could always get a good beer and meal at La Kiva, and it was always magical. Hopefully you’ve contacted Big Bend Brewing in Alpine.

    1. Hi CB. We will most certainly have good beer. My father was the principle maltings engineer at a major British brewery so I grew up knowing what GOOD beer was like. I had an English pub for a number of years as did my sister. We are going to extraordinary lengths put into practice what we know and to make sure that the beer will be well kept and cold.

  16. If you’re serious about good BBQ — brisket, ribs, perhaps pork and/or chicken, too — then you’ll get diners and their repeat business. La Kiva has always been more about a state of mind than an eclectic menu. I love that you’ll be offering more wine, but be sure to have lots of cold beer (Shiner Bock is mandatory) and a well-stocked bar. Be sure to have some expected appetizers like nachos and, yes, even chicken tenders because sometimes that’s what people want to munch on while drinking. Good luck and we’ll see you in October!

    1. We are deadly serious about good BBQ. We have done a HUGE amount of research on the subject and will be installing a new, wood fired pit in just a few weeks. The new pit is a J&R 700 (Oyler). This pit is legendary for its authentic barbecue and the fact that it can cook 1,000 pounds of brisket at a time (probably more than we need but lets stay optimistic). I have found a reliable source of oak and I am trying to secure a reliable source of hickory to go with it. We won’t be using mesquite because it burns too hot and too quickly and imparts a flavor that some find a little harsh (great for grilling though). I feel certain that you will approve of our menu and we will have some bar snacks and appetizers that you will enjoy. See you in October.

  17. Okay, I have been thinking more about it and would love to suggest a spaghetti dinner special one night a week or month… That’s the one dish you just couldn’t buy out for dinner in Terlingua and I missed it. Serve with garlic bread & a salad/veggie, I don’t think it would cost a lot to produce and I REALLY believe most people like spaghetti and would come out for a reasonably priced plate/dinner :-) (You could even do the brown rice noodles as an option for gluten free if needed.) Okay, I will quit posting so much…for now… – Jan Street

    1. Jan. Don’t stop posting. Any one who states in a public forum that they love me is welcome ANYTIME. Pasta night will probably be a regular thing. We are still working on the menu and while Chateaubriand at $80 with a nice $120 bottle of French wine looks classy on a menu. Let’s face it. That is not what La Kiva is all about. We are aiming for good food with a range of prices so that real people can afford to dine here regularly and can walk away with a full belly saying “Wow. That was good and they even had veggies.”

  18. Hoping that open-mic night will be back on the menu!! And for pizza a white-pie, super supreme, large would fit our family along with a few cold beers.

    1. We are looking at making a range of white pizza’s as an option. As for open mic night, well, I have been to a couple at the BoatHouse and they are great but I can’t just snatch it back. It will either come back naturally or it will stay at the BoatHouse. Only time will tell.

  19. Terlingua needs a good spaghetti and meatballs dish and I’d love to see meatloaf on your menu! Offer dishes you can’t get at the other restaurants…..we need variety… Thank you and Good Luck!

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