Dripping Springs Re-con

Tasty new things are happening at the gateway to the Hill Country.

WoodPile BBQ
WoodPile BBQ

We recently took a drive through Dripping Springs on the way to the 5th annual Dripping With Taste Festival and made some very interesting discoveries long the road. Our Saturday morning departure time was just right for hitting the new WoodPile BBQ on 290 West but the new brew pub and wine bar weren't open before it was time to come home. We'll be going back.

I'd been following the WoodPile on Twitter for a few weeks and was eager to check it out, but their hours of 10:30am to 2pm on Saturdays don't offer a big window of opportunity. Lucky for me, their location along 290 West was on our route to the festival and we arrived at 11am, hungry and curious. We ordered a three meat plate with side,some crispy ends, a brisket sandwich, and a slice of Royer's pecan pie with a scoop of Amy's molasses ice cream. While the ribs and sausage were definitely on the dry side, the sliced brisket was fine and the chopped brisket on the sandwich was lean and plentiful. The beans, cornbread, and sauce were all too sweet for my taste and the WoodPile version of crispy brisket ends were not what I was expecting because they are served coated in sauce. All in all, the best thing I tasted there was the molasses ice cream, a flavor Amy's makes exclusively for WoodPile. It it sure to show up on my list of top ten sweet bites for this year.

This year's Dripping With Taste Festival was held at the new Texas Hill Country Olive Oil facility on Fitzhugh Road, outside Dripping Springs. The property is lovely with a Tuscan-inspired main building complete with demonstration kitchen and tasting room backed by acres of young olive trees. The large drive-way offered booths featuring artisan crafts, Texas craft brews, and a few artisan food vendors. Inside the main building, more than 20 wineries and several area restaurants and bakeries were set up at tables serving samples. Even during the early media and VIP preview hour, crowding made it difficult to get around to all the tables. I can't imagine what it must have been like in there later in the day with several hundred people passing through. Perhaps the wine and food folks should be outside under tents next year, providing everyone more room to maneuver and enjoy themselves. My favorite bite of the afternoon was some My Chihuahua Bites Blanco Dip. Now I understand why this new little Dripping Springs enterprise did so well in the commercial bottlers category at the recent Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival The creamy dip is addictive and it's not in stores yet! I'm told the company is working with HEB right now to get the dip into stores alongside their equally delicious fresh salsa. Here's hoping it doesn't take too long.

After we departed the festival, we looped back through Dripping Springs to check out the new brewpub and wine bar we'd heard about. Seeing as how it was only 2pm, we managed to miss them both. The Barbershop Brewpub (207 W. Mercer) is housed in a rustic stone building that was once home to the local barbershop and doesn't open until 3pm. Dudley's Wine Bar & Tap Room (211 W. Mercer) is in a newer building in the same block and opens at 4pm. We'll definitely be going back at a later date to check them out. From Mercer Street, we followed our noses to the pungent aromas wafting from the Pizza Cave (110 Hwy 290 West)and found the restaurant packed with happy diners. We've made a mental note to come hungry next time, in case the food tastes anywhere near as good as it smells.

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