Jims Galley

Jims Galley

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Texas Wisconson Border Cafe Tribute!! Richmond Viriginia.

Without a doupt one of my all time favorite restaurants, one that I dined in about three times a week for twenty years, was the now gone Texas Wisconsin Border Café that was located in Downtown Richmond, The Fan.

This place had the best food and atmosphere I have ever seen, tacky??
Oh yes, license plates stuck all over the place, a Spam Clock,
cow heads with Christmas lights on year round, and the list goes on.

My kids grew up with the Border being one of there all time fav places to go. On Saturdays we would pack the family car, head down to the Border,

start pigging out on chips, salsa, legend beer, enchiladas, and of course, their chalupas, the BEST! All the while listening to Page Wilson play live all afternoon. What a HOOT!!! Those were the days.
Gretchen’s famous Green Chile Enchiladas were something that had to be tasted to be believed. The menu was diverse, and anything that was Tex Mex, was 10 stars!!!

Here is the deal, the homemade salsa I tried to figure out even since I first stared eating at the Border. For years, the bartender would NEVER even hint as to what was in it, and boy I tried many times. Turns out, I was never close.
When the Border closed, they gave out their most famous recipes, the Chili (Widomaker) and the salsa. Both, just unreal. The salsa has been a weekly staple in my house ever since they closed. I make it almost weekly.

Believe it or not, I still have that piece of paper they handed out in my family recipe book, maybe I will scan in and post it here in the future.

Ok all you Tex Wis fans, here it is, good luck, and may the Border live on in your homes for years to come!!


Black Pepper
Red Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Chopped Onion
Canned Whole Tomatoes
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
Celery Salt
Cinnamon Sticks
Ground Chuck
Pinto Beans
Chili Powder
Fresh Bay Leaves.

NOTE: Cook for several hours, the key to the heat was the Jalapeno and Cayenne pepper, the Widowmaker would contain a LOT of minced Jalapenos, and that is why the hottest Chili was more expensive.

I have my own Bay Leaf bush here at JBO Central and it really helps to have those fresh Bay Leaves.

Best Chili in the world, none better. Have fixed this countless time for company, and they can never believe that it taste as good as it does. Back in the day, I think this recipe won every Chili award there was.

Jim's BBQat Victorian Station!!

Just to let folks know, I make the chile recipe listed here but use my 30 hour smoked brisket instead of gound beef. Very good, stop by and try.

This one was tough, and I NEVER would of figured it out, the three secret ingredients for the unique flavor and heat were, Red Wine Vinegar, Soy Oil, and Crushed Red Peppers.

Crushed Red Peppers- over a cup
One bunch of finely chopped (Food Processor) Parsley
1\2 cup of oregano
Three tablespoons of soy oil
Crushed garlic
Three larges cans crushed tomatoes
One large finely chopped onion
1\3 cup red wine vinegar.
Salt to taste
NOTE: There is a lot of dried seasonings, the oregano and crushed red peppers. After mixing and letting the salsa stand, add more water to thin out. You may have to do this several times to get the right consistancy.

This salsa should be served at room temp.

The history of where this recipe came from????? I did ask, and believe it or not, the recipe came from a Taco stand in California. True story, that was the origin.

I live for this salsa, and everyone I have turned on to it, gives me Christmas cards with money in it every year. LOL, I wish.

I had a long history at the Border, and started going there back when I was in radio, before the GM job Blab TV, and even beofre JBO TV. It may be the only restaurant I can say that even after 11 years, I still miss that place. Always will.Those that frequented the Border, much feel the same I am sure.

For those that did not get to try the experiance of the Border, try these two recipes, it WILL change your life, at least as far as Chili and Salsa goes!

Have fun, and below is a story about the Border Café that yall might enjoy. Now, I have to go, I am hanging a moose head with Christmass lights on it in my living room. Right next to the license plate from the bottom of the James River. "Ode to Border"

Jim Baugh




A Toast to Tex-Wis
F. T. Rea

Published: March 30, 1999
In 1982 three friends trusted their instincts and put together The Texas-Wisconsin Border Café, a quirky Fan District watering hole known affectionately as "The Border." Owners Jim Bradford, Donna Van Winkle and Joe Seipel were rewarded with an immediate following and in its 17 years, The Border evolved into a bar known near and far for its wacky interior and its diverse crowd.

When word got out in early March that The Border had been sold and would be changing hands soon, its Baby Boomer customers and ex-staffers began making pilgrimages to the place for one last drink, one last connection to a piece of their youth.

The Border was the last of a certain breed of long-gone Fan District saloons that occasionally featured live music as a part of their fare: The Back Door, J. W. Rayles, and The Jade Elephant among them. When one considers that none of the aforementioned establishments lasted even 10 years, The Border's 17 years seems all the more praiseworthy.

It had been rumored that The Border was for sale for years, but what isn't these days? When Bradford, a painter and VCU professor, died in the summer of 1997, the future of the place became much more complicated. Of the three, Bradford was the one who probably spent the most time bellied up to the bar. Or, if you prefer, "overseeing operations." I doubt anyone (owner, staff, or patron) enjoyed The Border's ability to provide sanctuary from the sometimes daunting reality of the '90s more than Bradford.

After managing the restaurant in it's early years, Van Winkle has gone to law school, become an attorney, and moved to Fredericksburg. Fifty miles is a tough commute for a quick beer.

That left Seipel, chairman of VCU's sculpture department, to hold down the happy hour fort in the section of the restaurant known as the Power Corner. Although Seipel's talent for convivial conversation is considerable, he too has taken on time-consuming responsibilities over the years. Fatherhood not the least of them.

So with the graying of the original customer base for The Border becoming more of a factor on the bottom line, it was time to turn the page.

The last call scene at The Border was a remarkable event. On March 14, the last night of the original owners' stewardship, a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" to close The Border down. It reminded me of something filmmaker Luis Bunuel wrote about a good bar being like a chapel. I expect most who were on hand for the piper's last mournful note took with them a strong sense of that sentiment.

But then there was a second coming. The new owners (Johnny Giavos, et al.) decided to honor a date old management had made with Burnt Taters for a March 26 CD release party. The decision to stay open under the old flag had the effect of putting off the new regime's renovations a few days. The sacrifice only speaks well for the new owners and probably bodes well for the nervous cadre of concerned Power Corner regulars.

Then came last Saturday's auction on the last night of operation as The Texas-Wisconsin Border Café. At six o'clock Page Wilson and Reckless Abandon's musical stylings gave way to the selling off of most of the bar's dusty collection of accouterments. They pulled down the framed pictures, the stuffed animal heads (and sometimes other parts), the signs, the fine art -- you name it.

What went on that night was part wake, part decadent debacle, part celebration, part yuppie one-upmanship, and all party.

For those who did much of the bidding, there must have been a big-time post-auction hangover when they looked at their checkbook the next day. The bidding at times resembled a feeding frenzy, as people climbed over one another to throw hundreds of dollars at stuff, some of which wouldn't go for five bucks at a yard sale. But since the money raised (more than $10,000) all goes to the Bradford Scholarship Fund at VCU, where was the harm in any of it? The auction was a unique night in Richmond's pop culture history. And the proud owners of The Border's back bar folderol have their souvenirs of what really was a unique bar in an age of conformity.

The Border, as it was, will be missed. It won't happen again.


  1. Wandered into the Tex-Wis Border cafe back 1n '85 while on a winter road trip from Tennessee to D.C. Drove through a snow storm for 6 hours and ended up in Richmond about 9 p.m on a Tuesday night. Best chili I ever had, fondly remember it 27 years later. Best beer I ever tasted as I worked to put out the fire. Tried one or two bites of the widowmaker ( damn if my tongue still has scars ) thanks for the recipe.

  2. Your recipe for widowmaker chili doesn't have recipes. Do you have the details? They told me once but can only remember 4 cups of chili powder and 1 cup of cayenne to 10 lbs of ground beef. Can you fill in the rest?

    1. ..doesn't have the recipe quantities. Sorry