Day Trips

Lost Maples Cafe anchors downtown Utopia as a community center, visitors' center, and diner

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Lost Maples Cafe anchors downtown Utopia, Texas, as a community center, visitor center, and diner; not that there's a lot of commercial activity in the tiny community on the banks of the Sabinal River to compete with the eatery in attracting a crowd.

This is the kind of roadside diner that becomes a traditional stopover any time you're in the area. This is where ranchers in sweat-stained Stetsons mix with bikers in black leather, and the waitresses call everybody "hon."

Built before 1904, the two-story wood building looks like an old stagecoach stop. The decor can best be described as funky chic with corrugated-tin walls and a wood floor scuffed smooth by decades of boots and flip-flops. The walls are covered with a collection of artifacts, vintage signs, farming implements, and the requisite deer head.

The menu is basic roadhouse fare, but that doesn't mean it isn't good eating. Every meal is big and hearty. The breakfast omelets and hot cakes give new meaning to the most important meal of the day.

For lunch and dinner, the cooks make mouthwatering enchiladas and a tasty hamburger. Every appetite is covered with the diner's offerings of salads, sandwiches, and steaks. Really big eaters should go for the chicken-fried steak smothered in gravy.

Whether you've stopped for a meal or just a cup of coffee and a snack, don't miss a chance for a slice of the cafe's pies. The fruit pies are as thick as a telephone book and the fudge-pecan pie is a sinful pleasure. If you like meringue pies, the firm topping is stacked a mile high and melts in your mouth.

Tucked away in the northeast corner of Uvalde County, Utopia is more of a journey than a destination. The ranch-to-market roads west of San Antonio are some of the most scenic drives in the state. Especially gorgeous are FM 187 following the Sabinal River and FM 337 between Leakey and Medina.

To get a feel for the history of the area, stop by the Sabinal Canyon Museum in Utopia. Open on weekends, the museum has a nice collection of American Indian, pioneer, and geological artifacts. The story of Utopia goes back to 1884, when the town was called Montana. When the post office rejected the name, the citizens chose Utopia because of the pleasant weather and scenic hills. Once you've visited the area, you won't think the name an exaggeration.

The Lost Maples Cafe is on RR 187 at the southern end of town. The kitchen is open Sunday through Thursday from 7am to 8pm, and Friday and Saturday from 7am to 9pm. For more information, call 830/966-2221 or go to

After you've filled up on the great food, head over to the wonderful swimming hole downstream from where RR 1050 crosses the river on the edge of town.

990th 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, TX 78704.

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Lost Maples Cafe, Sabinal River, Sabinal Canyon Museum, Utopia, Texas

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