Day Trips

With the addition of Monica's 701 Georgetown's culinary reputation keeps improving

Fine dining under the Turkish crown
Fine dining under the Turkish crown (Photo By Gerald E. McLeod)

Georgetown's culinary reputation just keeps improving. With the addition of Monica's 701 on the courthouse square, the county seat of Williamson County now offers another fine dining alternative to an already impressive list of diners.

Opened last November, Monica's 701 takes over the old Masonic Lodge building built in 1900 with its distinctive Turkish crown on the northeastern corner of the square. The long and narrow limestone building has been remodeled to maintain a historic atmosphere with modern flourishes by Jim and Monica McKinney.

Whether you're just visiting town to see a play at the Palace Theatre (512/869-7469, www.thegeorgetownpalace.org) or have a romantic overnight staying at one of the town's bed and breakfast inns (800/436-8696, www.visitgeorgetown.com), Monica's 701 offers an exciting menu for lunch, dinner, or desserts.

The downstairs room in the front of the building provides a cozy dining hall for quiet meals. Upstairs is a full bar with a small dining room featuring live background music by local jazz artists. For an exquisite view of the historic courthouse illuminated at night, take your dessert out to the second-story porch.

The house specialty is a salad mixing fresh greens, strawberries, pecans, and crumbled blue cheese served with a special maple balsamic vinaigrette dressing and named after owner Monica. "I must have it three times or more a week," Jim says.

Monica's 701 opens for brunch on Sunday 10am-2pm; lunch is served Tuesday-Saturday 11am-2:30pm; and dinner is Tuesday-Thursday 5-10pm, Friday and Saturday 5-11pm, and Sunday 5-9pm. For information or reservations, call 512/931-2438. The McKinneys also operate the Main Street Grill at 118 E. Main St. in Round Rock and have a line of salad dressings sold in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.

Follow the Chisholm Trail with a new brochure from the Texas Historical Commission, the 10th in a series of Heritage Trails booklets that offer history lessons and driving instructions that make the stories come alive.

After the Civil War, wild longhorn cattle wandered the empty brushland of South Texas. Enterprising young cattlemen could buy a herd for $2 a head in Texas and sell it at the rail depot in Dodge City, Kan., for 10 times the amount. There were several trails that headed north during the two decades that the trail drives flourished, but the most popular ones began around San Antonio and roughly followed modern day I-35 to the Red River.

Copies of the Historical Commission's brochures are available at the Texas Department of Transportation's Travel Information Centers around the state. The booklets can be requested by calling 866/276-6219 (toll free) or 463-6255 in Austin. The free guides can also be ordered or downloaded from the commission's Web site at www.thc.state.tx.us.

Free fishing continues in state parks around the state until Aug. 31. The Family Fishing Celebration waives the requirement for a fishing license in the boundaries of more than 70 Texas state parks.

In an effort to introduce or reintroduce the fun of fishing to a wider audience, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began the no-license year last Labor Day. Many of the parks will be offering special events and programs throughout the summer in conjunction with the free fishing. The license-free angling only pertains to banks and piers in a state park or bodies of water totally contained within the boundaries of a state park. All other park fees and rules still apply. A list of state parks offering fishing opportunities and dates of upcoming events and seminars can be found on the TPWD Web site at www.tpwd.state.tx.us or by calling 800/792-1112.

672nd in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Georgetown, Monica's 701, the Palace Theatre, Chisholm Trail, Texas Historical Commission, The Family Fishing Celebration

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