Hill Country Food & Wine Guide
by Virginia B. Wood & the Cuisines staff
Blanco Bowling Club Cafe (49)
310 Fourth St., Blanco,
Mon-Fri, 6:30am-10pm; Sat, 6:30am-9pm; Sun, 6:30am-2pm
Area farmers, ranchers, and hunters favor the bowling alley's hearty, rib-sticking grub which includes chicken fried steaks and burgers. This is a smoking establishment.
The Deutsch Apple (50)
602 Chandler, Blanco, 830/833-2882
Mon, 9am-3pm; Tue-Sat, 10am-6pm
In the grand old Texas two-fer tradition, this cozy little shop sells seasonal organic produce from the owner's adjacent farm and delicious baked goods as well as used cars and trucks. We can't vouch for the automobiles, but the apple coffee cake and various pies are very tasty. Very friendly service; you can eat in with a cup of coffee or buy baked goods or cars to go.
Larsen Farms (51)
Hwy. 165, six miles NE of Blanco,
One of the Hill Country's oldest goat cheese producers, Larsen Farms is a family operation headed by Bud Larsen and his son Nick. The farm makes plain, herbed, and peppered goat cheeses sold widely across the state. Larsen Farms once raised its own goats for milk, but today it buys the milk from a dairy in Bulverde and transforms it into some 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of chevre each month. -- R.C.
Oso's Mexican Grill & Cantina (52)
306 Pecan (on the Square in Blanco), 830/833-1304
Hungry friends who live in the area tipped us off about Oso's, the newest eatery on the historic Square in Blanco. Owners Ken and Charlene Pace bought and renovated the charming little building that had housed a popular local lunch spot for many years. These days, the bill of fare is Tex-Mex, with an emphasis on familiar dishes such as nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, and chalupas. Mexican dinner options include tacos al carbon, shrimp Mexicana, chiles rellenos, carne guisada, fajitas, and combo dinners. There are also some "gringo" dinners listed for those who just have to have a burger, ribeye, or chicken-fried steak. The dessert menu offers warm, pillowy sopapillas with honey and scoops of vanilla ice cream rolled in pecans, called Huevos de Oso (bear balls). The cantina offers a top shelf frozen margarita by the glass or the carafe and a full bar with Mexican and domestic beers.
Real Foods Market Cafe (53)
410 Fourth St., Blanco, 830/833-2483
You might not think Blanco is big enough to support its own health food store, but that's probably because you aren't aware of how many old hippies live in the vicinity. This health food store/bakery/deli does a booming business. One of the best reasons why seems to be the presence of former Pecan Street Bakery & Cafe owner Nan Hanus in the kitchen. Locals are mighty partial to Nan's good food, and folks line up daily for her chicken salad sandwiches served on the excellent breads from TapRoot Breads of Austin.
The Sunset Restaurant (54)
419 Third St. (on the square), Blanco
Mon-Thu, 11am-3pm; Fri-Sun, 1pm-3pm, 6pm-9pm
Friends who frequent Blanco rave about the chicken fried steak, french fries, and divine desserts at the Sunset. Enjoy a delightful meal in the dining room, on the deck, or arrange for their catering division to deliver right to the ranch.
Wagner & Chabot's Hardscrabble Cafe (55)
323 Main (Hwy. 281 on the Square), Blanco,
Daily, 11am-3pm; Fri-Sat, 1-3pm, 6-9pm
This pleasant tea room is nestled in the back of an antique store packed with delightful curiosities. Lunch is served daily from 11am-3pm, and dinner is available on Friday and Saturday nights. The lunch menu consists of soups, salads, and sandwiches, while the dinner menu features some Mexican specialties and Hill Country game dishes. We're partial to the Spicy Cheese Wafers ($2.00) before grilled portobello sandwich ($5.50). For a blast from the past, don't miss the homemade root beer float ($2.05). Service can be glacially slow when there's a crowd, but you can always browse while you wait.