Cookie's Soul Food Kitchen restaurant in Ames Texas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)On a hot, muggy day in July, I drove through the tiny town of Ames, Texas (because the back roads always beat the tar out of the Interstate.)

Next to the highway leading into Ames was a small wooden painted sign on the ground – “Welcome to Ames, Texas, home of Cookie’s Soul Food Kitchen.” Soul food sounded good to me!

I found Cookie’s on the other side of the railroad tracks that paralleled the road; it was in a bright yellow welcoming building with red trim.

What was my final traveler’s criteria for a restaurant thumbs up on a Sunday in rural southeast Texas between noon and 1 p.m.?

That’s right….the parking area all around Cookie’s was jammed with vehicles. That’s a no-brainer signal to one’s Personal Local Grub Radar.

I had a lovely buffet meal for the princely sum of $8.99 – chicken, pork, ox tail, collard greens, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes and banana pudding for dessert.

As a single, I was seated next to a delightful local guy who turned out to be a Navy veteran and a drag racing fan, just like me. Don’t you know we talked up a storm! He even gave me a story idea about a local event that I’m pitching right now to one of my favorite travel magazines.

All you need is a sense of adventure, willingness to jump at the unexpected and a well-tuned food radar.

Cookies is open 11 am – 2 pm Mon-Fri, closed on Sat and open 11 am – 3 pm on Sunday. Entrees rotate each day (things like meatloaf, fried catfish, baked chicken) and a variety of vegetables are available on the side.  You can get sandwiches, too.  Phone (936) 336-1954.

(Note: Soul food hits the spot, but find some coffee afterward or you may do the full-belly doze-off while driving.)

This post is included in the latest Wanderfood Wednesday on the Wanderlust and Lipstick blog.