Every now and then (and this happens more often these days now that I am living near family), I am in a situation where I am hungry and in a restaurant where there is either nothing appetizing or remotely healthy that I would care to eat. What do I do? In Texas at least, I can always count on corn and mashed potatoes. Not necessarily vegetarian, but edible. It's hard to mess up corn and mashed potatoes, and I quite enjoy the taste (especially the texture) when mixed up.
I don't know why, but my family loves Furr's and Luby's. I know of no difference between the two, but I guess some do. They are both cafeteria style restaurants, with your general, run of the mill, "family dining" fare - comfort food and lots of meat that's all probably been sitting out for a little while. I used to eat at these places with no problem, but since I left Texas for college about 7 years ago, I have been incredibly averse to everything I've had there (except the corn and mashed potatoes). I don't know what happened; I suppose I could have snobbed up to it, having exposed my taste buds to tasty northwest cuisine. Regardless, I kind of cringe a little when I hear my mom say we're meeting relatives at Furr's. This last time I was there was pretty interesting. There weren't a lot of people there, but there was a lone clown at the front making balloon animals...but for whom?
I was happy to have my standby of corn and mashed potatoes at least. In fact, I found myself eating a lot of corn and mashed potatoes during my family lunches/dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Do you have any standbys at awkward dinners or strange restaurants? The garden salad? Soup? Do you find an appetizer? Chips and salsa perhaps? That is one nice thing about most restaurants in Texas. You can count on there being either corn and mashed potatoes or chips and salsa. One or the other is almost guaranteed to be on the menu.