Hill Country Food & Wine Guide
by Virginia B. Wood & the Cuisines staff
Cedar Valley, Driftwood, Dripping Springs, Wimberley
Bella Vista Ranch (56)
3101 Mt. Sharp Rd., Wimberley, 512/847-6514
Call for hours
An old Mediterranean axiom says that a farmer plants grapes for his children and olives for his grandchildren. Retired executive Jack Dougherty settled in the Hill Country and planted some olive groves with an eye on the future of Texas olive oil production. Though he doesn't have olive oil yet, he's also growing blackberries and raspberries which are for sale on a pick-your-own basis. Call ahead for dates and times of availability.
Blair House, A Fine Country Inn (57)
100 Spoke Hill, Wimberley, 512/847-1111
call for reservations
When California investment realtor Jonnie Stansbury decided to change her life and her career more than eight years ago, she took a cross-country trip to find just the right property for a country inn. A world traveler and a well-trained cook, Stansbury wanted to open the kind of inn where she would enjoy being a guest. After giving New England thorough consideration, she happened to see an issue of National Geographic with an inviting cover story about Austin and came to take a look. On her last day in Texas, serendipity brought her to the picturesque village of Wimberley. She extended her trip and began a serious search for the right property. "At first, I looked at places on the creek, but I couldn't find enough acreage," she recalls. She finally settled on 85 acres on Spoke Hill about a mile and a half south of Wimberley. Stansbury put her California home and business partnership on the market and moved to Texas, lock, stock, and soup pot. She was determined to create what she describes as "the perfect escape from the fast lane" at Blair House, and that's exactly what she's done.
Creekview Grill (58)
14004 RR 12 on the square in Wimberley, 512/847-6964
Sun-Thu, 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-10pm
The ownership of this convenient downtown Wimberley restaurant property has changed hands again in the past year. The new owners describe their bill of fare as American comfort food; the chalkboard menu changes daily.
The Lodge at Creekside, Country Inn & Conference Center (59)
310 Mill Race Lane, Wimberley, 512/847-8922 or 800/267-3925
The Gibson ladies have expanded their lovely creekside property over the past two years to include several more cottages and a dining facility with a newly equipped commercial kitchen. They've added popular Wimberley caterer Linda Allen as a consulting chef for conferences, weddings, and other special events. They're also negotiating with GrapeVine Market chef Ike Johnson and some winery representatives about an ongoing series of wine dinners in the coming months. Check out their Web site for information about the wine dinners as it develops.
Lookout Mountain Grand View Cafe (60)
5300 M. Sharp Rd., off RR 12, Wimberley, 512/847-5010
Thu-Sat, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-close
call for reservations
Austin natives Joe and Barbara Day are so in love with the breathtaking view from their hilltop property, they want to share it with everyone. Guests can relax and enjoy the beautiful sunsets and order delicious snacks from Barbara's menu. The fare is light and flavorful with an emphasis on sandwiches and desserts. Wimberley is dry, but you're welcome to BYOB. Sunset dining requires a reservation, so call for reservations and directions.
Wimberley Pie Company (61)
13619 RR 12, Wimberley, 512/847-9462
Tue-Fri, 9:30am-5:30pm; Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, noon-4pm
Owner Neil Mallard and baker Carol Rhodes are responsible for some of the best-known pies and cheesecakes in this area, and soon they'll be adding brownies and cookies to the line of famous baked goods in their retail outlet. Their wholesale desserts are featured in restaurants and cafes in Wimberley and Austin.
J*One*S Ranch (62)
13900 FM 150 W., Driftwood, 894-3810
Ranchers John and Sidney Jones ride herd over 400 head of deer that are headed for dinner tables in some of Central Texas' finest restaurants. Look for their dried jerk venison products soon in Central Markets and some other HEBs.
New Canaan Farms Jams & Jellies (63)
Hwy. 290 W., Dripping Springs,
For nearly 20 years, the cooks at New Canaan have been "putting up" tasty condiments from the bounty of the Texas harvest, such as Brazos River Blackberry Jam, Cactus Sangria Jelly, Fredericksburg Peach Jam, and Texas Blush Wine Marmalade. Recently, they've added salsas, mustards, dips, and mixes to the John Anderson product line. They offer great mail order gift ideas for any homesick Texan.
Onion Creek Farm (64)
1611 Creek Road, Dripping Springs, 512/858-1090
Farmer Marianne Simmons no longer operates a weekend farmstand on her acreage outside Dripping Springs. However, she's sown all her acres in organic herbs and flowers and does a brisk business selling her harvest to brides, florists, and wedding planners for use in floral arrangements and bridal bouquets
Pure Luck Organic Farm (65)
101 Twin Oaks Trail, Dripping Springs, 512/858-7034
This picturesque farm in Dripping Springs offers delectable, farmstead goat cheese. Owner Sara Bolton explains that "farmstead" means that "everything is done on the farm as naturally as possible." Goats are milked by hand and cheese quality and flavor is controlled in part by the goats' strict diet of alfalfa, sunflower seeds, and whole grains. Pure Luck offers plain, peppered, and herbed goat cheese rounds as well as a goat cheese feta and a Camembert-style goat cheese.
Nutty Brown Cafe (66)
12225 Hwy. 290 W., Cedar Valley, 301-4648
Mon-Fri, 11am-10pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-10pm
Long ago, this recently reopened roadside cafe was the home of Nutty Brown Mills, a praline shop and roadside attraction famous for candies and the friendly neon cowboy sign that let people know they were almost home to Austin. These days, the cafe serves "American Cuisine in a Texas Hill Country Style" according to the menu. So far, we can vouch for the Cedar Valley Burger and the chicken-fried steak. There's a great outdoor bar and dining area with a stage and dance floor that has to mean live music during good weather months.