For a memorably fun and tasty dining experience, drop by Freebird’s World Burrito (original location at 319 University Dr., four other locations, 979/846-9298, www.freebirds.com , $4–8). Enormous burritos are the specialty here, and diners get to choose items—beef, chicken, rice, cheese, veggies, salsa, etc.—as they proceed down the counter. The natural ingredients come with a healthy side of good-natured attitude from the employees, and patrons are encouraged to create and leave behind the sculptures they make from the leftover tin foil overwrap.
Another popular nearby Mexican restaurant is Zapatos Cantina (211 University Dr. West, 979/260-0662, $5–12). Located in the Northgate section of town across the road from A&M, Zapatos serves up fish tacos, fajitas, and an amazing salsa. Look for live music on the patio most weekends. Down the road in Bryan is local legend Pepe’s Mexican Cafe (3312 S. College Ave., 979/779-2457, $6–14). Considered the original fast food restaurant in Bryan, Pepe’s still offers freshly made tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other Tex-Mex specialties.
You can’t go to College Station  without stopping by the Dixie Chicken (307 University Dr., 979/846-2322, www.dixiechicken.com , $4–10). Though it’s better known as a bar than a restaurant, “the Chicken” can squawk about its tasty food, too. It’s mainly pub grub (burgers, sandwiches, fried stuff) but the unique atmosphere certainly enhances the dining experience. Mounted animal heads loom over deeply carved tables and walls, and the place reverberates with the sounds of college students—clinking beer bottles, whoops and laughs, and classic country music. Order a Shiner and soak up the scene.
Slightly more refined is Blue Baker (201 Dominik Dr., 979/696-5055, www.bluebaker.com , $5–12), which prides itself on made-from-scratch breads, pastries, and pizza dough. Patrons can watch the bread making and baking process while waiting for a signature brick-oven pizza, mouth-watering sandwich, or homesickness-inspiring chocolate chip cookie.
Another classic College Station  hangout is Layne’s (106 Walton Dr., 979/696-7633, www.layneschickenfingers.com , $4–7), which has carved out a distinctive niche in the local culinary scene. Layne’s serves one type of food only: chicken. Chicken fingers, in particular. It’s also known for its special dipping sauce (a peppery recipe that’s sworn to secrecy) and funky, some might even say dumpy, atmosphere. Those feeling adventurous can order one of Layne’s only other menu items—a chicken finger sandwich.
For those who still have yet to sample the Southern delicacy known as chicken-fried steak, head straight to Longhorn Tavern Steak House (1900 Hwy. 21 East, 979/778-3900, $7–20). People come from miles around to satisfy their craving for the Longhorn’s famous CFS, but there are other worthy items on the menu—sirloins, ribeyes, T-bones, and New York strips.