Texas Hill Country

Jason Varney
It’s said that the two things Texans will fight about are barbecue and chili. In Hill Country, a pair of renowned restaurants – The Salt Lick and Cooper’s  – illustrate two different camps of Texas barbecue philosophy, in which the proximity of meat to flame is an obsession. Even as that debate rages on, local eateries are enjoying a Napa-style renaissance that’s more in line with the region’s burgeoning wine scene. Expect Hill Country’s restaurants to highlight locally sourced ingredients, house-grown herbs, and expert wine pairings – all dished with a hearty dose of Lone Star pride.

Top Restaurants in Texas Hill Country

August E’s

At August E’s, Thai chef Leu Savanh makes incredible sushi, the best dining value on the rather pricey menu. The other offerings vary depending on the season, but normally include items like mesquite-grilled steaks and New Zealand lamb.

203 E. San Antonio St., Texas, 830-997-1585, www.august-es.com
Tags: expensive | american | sushi

Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant

The Cabernet Grill’s all-Texas wine list (the only in the state) and stick-to-the-ribs gourmet grub are easy draws to the Cotton Gin Village, a mini-resort complete with rustic late 19th-century cabins, flowing koi ponds, and live music most weekends. Although the dinner menu spills over with steakhouse classics, the restaurant sheds all white tablecloth pretension with inventive spins on local eats – think jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped quail; a surf and turf plated with shrimp instead of lobster; and chicken-fried pecan pie.

2805 S. State Hwy. 16, TX, 830-990-5734, www.cabernetgrill.com
Tags: local favorite | notable wine list

Cooper’s Old-Time Pit Bar-B-Que

At the appealingly industrial Cooper’s in Llano, about an hour’s drive north of Fredericksburg, the goat ribs (a local specialty) and brisket are crisp and peppery. Direct heat rules here. The meat is mouthwateringly delicious, along with the coleslaw, pinto beans, and potato salad, which play a mean second fiddle.

505 W. Dallas St, Texas, 325-247-2713, www.coopersbbq.com
Tags: great value | bbq

Der Lindenbaum

To experience a taste of the local German heritage in Fredericksburg, try Der Lindenbaum, a low-key restaurant that serves goulash, schnitzel, and apple strudel. There are over 30 German beers on tap as well as a sampling of German and Texas wines.

312 E. Main St., Texas, 830-997-9126, www.derlindenbaum.com
Tags: german | beer

High’s Café

Visitors to the town of Comfort should plan to lunch on the shady front porch of High’s Café, where fresh soups like chicken chipotle are the specialty. The café features a distinctly modern, clean-lined sensibility, and adjacent boutique filled with Texas coffee-table books and gourmet goods.

726 High St., Texas, 830-995-4995, www.highscafeandstore.com
Tags: cafe

Hill Top Café

A few miles north of Fredericksburg, the Hill Top Café, owned by local musician Johnny Nicholas, dishes out a mix of Greek and Cajun specialties in a converted old-fashioned filling station. The café hosts live jazz and blues acts on weekends, as well as Sunday brunch; it’s closed Mondays.

10661 U.S. Hwy. 87, Texas, 830-997-8922, www.hilltopcafe.com
Tags: greek | cajun

Peach Tree

The Peach Tree, a café and lifestyle store, features a wide range of local items (like Fredericksburg Farm preserves) and international imports (à la Italian stationery). When you’re done browsing, head over to the restaurant for soups, sandwiches, and fresh-made quiches.

210 S. Adams St., Texas, www.peach-tree.com
Tags: budget | cafe

Rather Sweet

For lunch and desserts, café-bakery Rather Sweet is a popular stop for a sausage kolache or a fresh focaccia sandwich. To get your sugar fix, go for favorites like peach queen cake or PB&J cookies.

249 E. Main St., Texas, 830-990-0498, www.rathersweet.com
Tags: cafe | bakery

The Salt Lick

At The Salt Lick, about an hour’s drive east of the Texas White House, succulent and smoky ribs and brisket are served at worn wooden tables on a covered patio. The emphasis here is on the smoke.

18300 FM 1826 off U.S. Hwy. 290, Texas, 512-858-4959, www.saltlickbbq.com
Tags: great value | bbq

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