The Complete Guide to the Best Places to Eat Like a Local in Texas Hill Country – Part 1 (Fredericksburg & Boerne)
Don’t be that uneducated tourist who doesn’t know where to eat. Dine like a local and eat what you love all year round, in Texas Hill Country.
I travel a lot. I’m also a native of San Francisco, one of the most dense and diverse culinary capitals in the world. I’m definitely not shy when it comes to trying new food. When I was younger, I liked to be the gal who discovered a cool place to eat that no one knew about and share it with all my friends. Most of the time my adventurous taste led me to restaurants (and even street food) that delivered exactly what I envisioned. However, there are times during my travels where my restaurant choices fell way short of expectations. It would have been great if someone out there had written a blog to guide me to restaurants so I can enjoy all the best local restaurants.
Guess what? Today is your lucky day. If you are reading this blog, you are probably looking for good places to eat in Texas Hill Country. You honestly can’t really go wrong in this foodie mecca of Texas. The area boasts a delicious tension between rural and refined. Texas Hill Country has so many fantastic places to enjoy a meal that it’s almost overwhelming.
I have been going to burgeoning Texas wine region now for a few years. Between my own experiences and those of my local friends, I’ve got an insiders list of delish places to grab some chow. Lone star hospitality makes the region shine like nowhere else in the world. Save yourself some time and keep reading so you can eat like a local (and a foodie) in Texas Hill Country any time of the year.
If you fly into (or are coming from) Austin, Texas, be sure to make a point of stopping at The Salt Lick BBQ. Located in Driftwood, Texas (just 23 miles out of Austin) this cash only, BYOB joint will knock your socks off. The Salt Lick is not fancy by any means, but makes the best BBQ I’ve ever had. Grab a seat by the pit and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. I have the BBQ sauce delivered to my home in California at least twice a year! The sauce has no tomatoes so it won’t burn or become bitter. And what's great is that they are only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Texas Hill Country covers a lot of territory. To make your search simple, I’ve separated the restaurant picks into categories based on the town they are located.
About (70 miles from San Antonio / 78.2 miles from Austin)
When I wake up in the morning in Fredericksburg, I love to go to the Old German Bakery & Restaurant for breakfast or if in a rush on my way to some local wine tastings, I'll grab some pastries at the bakery. Being a local favorite, it’s crowded, chaotic and just what I like to get my day going. If you have some time to sit down and enjoy their breakfast, the German pancakes are fantastic as well as Opa’s eggs and sausage. If you are just grabbing some traditional German pastries (the apple strudel is yummy), be sure to get there early because they sell out quickly. If you are one of those needy diners, be aware that the service can sometimes be spotty. Having said that, the food definitely makes up for any server faux pas you may encounter. They serve breakfast and lunch every day from 7AM – 2:30PM.
Locals love Mamacita’s Restaurant & Cantina and so will you! Mamacita’s is a local chain with four locations in Texas Hill Country. The dining experience is casual, quick and kid friendly. I don’t usually like to eat at chain food restaurants, but Mamacita’s delights me. If you are looking for TEX-MEX you have found the right place. The fresh guacamole and homemade chips and salsa are addictive. Even for this California girl, the fish tacos are amazing. If you like your food spicy, you may need to add some extra kick to suit your taste as they tend to serve mildly-spiced dishes. Some locations have an arcade and beautiful stained glass windows. Monday through Tuesday at the 45 N & 290 locations they have Happy Hour ALL DAY. Great value. Huge portions. Note as of March 2019, the New Braunfels location is no longer open .
If you are looking for an authentic German (and American) themed place to have lunch (for under $20), you should go to the Silver Creek Beer Garden & Grille. Open for lunch every day except Tuesday, you can enjoy German food, live music and a long list of beers. This place is casual- you might even have to wipe down your table, but it’s got a great vibe. We had their classic Spinach Dip, ice-cold, local craft beers and cocktails at the FUN bar.The crowd was chatty and the bartender was super knowledgeable about the area. So much, it created a whole other list (see Part 2) of restaurants to visit and add to my list. I also loved the Sausage Sampler with Rye bread and German mustard.
For the man (or woman) after my own foodie heart, you will probably be happiest at Vaudeville or Farm Haus Bistro.
Owners of Vaudeville, Jordan & Richard have created a true gem (both architectural and culinary) in the textured and luxurious downtown Fredericksburg space. Every item on the menu is carefully procured (locally when possible) and elegantly prepared. I love everything about Vaudeville and could go back every night and never get bored with their menu.
Farm Haus Bistro is part of Fredericksburg Herb Farm. Inspired by the seasons, chefs carefully prepare all their plates from almost always, local ingredients. Its an absolute joy to dine while overlooking the gardens, high ceilings, gorgeous chandeliers, and environmentally-safe carpeting to reduce sound – imagine rooms wrapped with nature’s views and you will find yourself in some kind of heaven on earth. Be sure to make your reservations (they get busy), request a garden view and have a cranberry mimosa to start things off right. I recommend any of the soup, salad & sandwich combos.
Hondo’s on Main will cater to your need for both food and fun. Open Wednesday thru Sunday, this self serve, no-reservations operation has live music every night of the week. Locals and visitors love to hang in this lively space. I was inspired and loved the Songwriters Showcase on Wednesday and the Gospel Lunch on Sunday. This place fills up fast, so go early! Bring friends, plan to stay a while and enjoy the vibe of this lovely Texas style local haunt! If you are driving, park in the back.
(About 30 miles from San Antonio / 85.4 miles from Austin)
My favorite place to dine in Boerne, Texas is The Creek Restaurant. By far, the perfect service, food quality and overall ambiance make me (and my tummy) happy. The Creek is a pristine, well-maintained and restored historical building that oozes with old-world charm. I was over the moon with my crab cakes, crispy Snapper and their chef's raspberry dessert. Next time I return to Boerne, Texas, I plan to try the steak (it looked perfect at the table being served next to me). The service was the perfect balance as they left my group alone, yet were they were there every time we needed something, without fail. The Creek Restaurant is revered by locals and visitors and will never disappoint even the toughest critic.
As soon as I stepped into the charming 259 Brantley’s Bistro, I knew I had found something special. As one of the Go Texan establishments, it means that Brantley’s only serves Texas craft beers and wines. The food is unforgettable. Chef Joseph Brantley is a Texas Hill Country native and prepares everything from scratch with an authentic Texan flair. It will be fun to watch this culinary star rise. He’s a ‘youngin’ on a mission! Open Tuesday – Saturday for Lunch, Dinner on Friday & Saturday and Brunch on Sundays.
Also worth mentioning in Boerne, Texas is the Welfare Café & Goat Barn. Here you can sit out on a wisteria-covered patio, eating the amazing Welfare Benedict as you watch the animals roam (yes, they have quite a collection of exotic pets your kids will love). Open Thursday – Friday for Dinner and Brunch on Saturday and Sunday, you'' definitely enjoy the enchanting Welfare Café & Goat Barn
While in Boerne, you can also get your local craft beer groove on. I don’t know about you, but I consider beer akin to every meal- well maybe not breakfast! Boerne has a lot of local craft breweries to choose from with Dodging Duck Brewhaus & Restaurant (they serve food too), Boerne Brewery and Kinematic Brewing Co. all within hollering distance of each other.
Look for more local restaurant picks in other Texas Hill Country towns soon. I’m off to do more research and I may even hit the gym after all my eating and drinking. Maybe. As you can see, there is never a shortage for places to eat in Texas Hill Country! I can’t wait to go back and discover more to share with you.
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