The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips: Mac & Ernie’s Roadside Eatery, Tarpley

Delicious cabrito burgers make it worth a trip

By Gerald E. McLeod, October 15, 2021, Columns

Mac & Ernie's Roadside Eatery in Tarpley captures a little bit of Hill Country heaven in its backyard dining area. The air seems fresher, the birds' songs a little sweeter, and the fish & chips are golden brown.

In this settlement of 30 residents in an area that passes for mountains in Texas, it's amazing to find such high-quality grub. Even Guy Fieri found his way here to tape an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for the Food Network.

"There is no Mac or Ernie behind the counter," Marsha Jo Sheedy, the owner who also is the chef, said as she delivered one of her delicious cabrito burgers to a picnic table under a stately oak. It's a play on the name McKinnerney, one of the restaurant's founders in 1999.

Marsha Jo took over the eatery a few years ago and has expanded it from a window on the side of a small kitchen by adding a dining room. Now you place your order inside at the front counter. Picnic tables out back continue the al fresco tradition.

The menu is a mixture of Texas favorites with twists on traditional recipes. As much as possible, Marsha Jo uses locally sourced ingredients, like the cabrito and lamb. Save room for a selection from the dessert menu where the house-made banana pudding is a steal at $5.

Mac & Ernie's Roadside Eatery is at the junction of FM 470 and FM 462, about a dozen miles southwest of Bandera. The kitchen is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11am to 4pm, Friday and Saturday for supper from 5 to 9pm, and Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Give them a call at 830/562-3727.

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