Salmon

Cowboy Jack’s salmon is divine, perfectly seared, tender and flaky and in need of nothing more than the squeeze of a lemon that accompanied it. I paired it with Jack’s corn — sweet, buttery yellow and white corn with a subtle hint of heat — and a generously loaded baked potato. It also was served with a crumbly piece of cornbread speckled with corn and jalapeños.

NACOGDOCHES — Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of eating at Dolli’s Diner in Nacogdoches is well aware that owners Dollie and Steve Geyerman know their way around a kitchen.

Cowboy Jack’s Saloon — their newest venture on those same brick streets in charming downtown — proves to be an equally tasty experience. And for those still pining for the fare at the couple’s previous downtown venture — Old Towne Restaurant and General Store — Cowboy Jack’s offers the best of both worlds as it has incorporated that menu into its own selection of high-quality chuckwagon-type fare.

Appetizer sampler

Cowboy Jack’s appetizer sampler features, from left, mild, fresh stuffed jalapeños full of cream cheese, sharp cheddar and ground sausage wrapped in tender, salty bacon; Armadillo Eggs — jumbo jalapeños filled with cream cheese and sharp cheddar, wrapped in sausage and bread crumbs and deep fried; and Buzzard Bites — chicken breast pieces topped with sliced jalapeños and wrapped in that same fantastic bacon. A zesty homemade buttermilk ranch accompanies the combo.

Ribeye

Cowboy Jack’s 12-ounce ribeye — a thin cut of locally grown beef, seasoned simply with salt and pepper — boasted tremendous flavor. The tomatoey chili with kidney and pinto beans and jalapeños is not a Texas chili, what with all those beans, but one that was surprisingly delicious.

Cowboy Balls

The Cowboy Balls wound up being the true star of our meal — addictive little balls of shredded potatoes, bacon, cheddar, jalapeños and green onions deep fried and served with Cowboy Jack’s lovely homemade buttermilk ranch for dipping. With a flavor profile and habit-forming quality reminiscent of a bag of potato chips, this appetizer is something I could easily find myself eating dozens of without even realizing it.

Three scoops

Old Towne General Store’s egg salad, tuna salad and pimento cheese are fresh salads just like Mom would make — a trio of true comfort foods. Yet I found the pimento cheese slightly one-note. It would have benefited from more pimentos and maybe a dash or two of pickled jalapeño juice for a slightly elevated twist.

Brie Bradford is a pseudonym for the food critic of The Lufkin News. Her email is foodcritic@lufkindailynews.com.