Hill Country Food & Wine Guide
by Virginia B. Wood & the Cuisines staff
Rose Hill Manor, A Country Inn (25) 2614 Upper Albert Rd., 830/644-5541 or 877/ROS-EHIL
Since the last time we visited Rose Hill, owners Robert and Patty VanderLynn have added two lovely cottages and the weekend dinners served by Fredericksburg chef Ernie Briggs have developed a very loyal following, making advance reservations a necessity. Another weekend feature here is that Rose Hill serves as the wine tasting room for both Alamosa Cellars and Pilar Bluff Winery, since both are located in dry San Saba county. Rose Hill's veranda is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine and the beautiful view of the Pedernales River Valley.
The Hilltop Cafe (26)
10661 U.S. Hwy. 87 N., 10.5 miles west of Fredericksburg, 830/997-8922
A genuine honky-tonk on a landlocked stretch of German-influenced Hill Country highway is the last place you'd expect to find Greek/Cajun cuisine, right? Unless, of course, you're already familiar with Brenda and Johnny Nicholas' renowned Hilltop Cafe between Fredericksburg and Mason. The Greek food and Asleep at the Wheel memorabilia are the results of Johnny's background, and the spicy Cajun food stylings are Brenda's contribution. It makes for great ambience, even greater food, and killer live music when the proprietor and his friends take to the bandstand. They've recently added a new party room and welcome the opportunity to show you and your guests a very good time
Fredericksburg Herb Farm (27)
402 Whitney, Fredericksburg,
Wed-Fri, 9:30am-5:30pm; Sun, noon-4pm
Bill and Sylvia Varney's herb and flower farm on several beautifully landscaped acres includes a lovely tea room and retail store in a historic 1858 rock house, the Poet's Haus candle shop, the Quiet Haus day spa, and the Herb House Bed and Breakfast. Their books, candles, fragrances, herbal body and skin products, vinegars, condiments, and mustards are all available by mail order. However, don't deny yourself a stroll in the secret garden and the opportunity to relax in the sun-drenched tea room. Enjoy Chicken and Herb Pot Pie ($4.95) in a homemade bread bowl with an elegant frosted glass of herb lemonade infused with lemon verbena, lemon balm, and mint, garnished with one perfect, tiny yellow and purple viola.
Der Kuchen Laden (The Kitchen Shop) (28)
258 E. Main, Fredericksburg, 830/997-4937
Mon-Sat, 10am-5:30pm; Sun, noon-4pm
Proprietors Jerry Hughes and Penny Perry-Hughes have moved their attractive shop to much larger quarters in the main floor of the historic Keidel Memorial Hospital building. Now it's possible for "the little chef in all of us" to browse many rooms filled with the finest contemporary kitchen tools, cookware, bakeware, linens, and ceramics available today. There's a cookbook nook and a cookie cutter corner. They've also added a tea room that sells a good cup of espresso to enjoy as you shop.
The Peach Tree Gift Gallery & Tea Room (29)
210 S. Adams, Fredericksburg, 830/997-9527
The Peach Tree has been our most consistent favorite dining spot in Fredericksburg since Hector and Cynthia Pedregon opened it in 1984. Though the menu changes daily, patrons can count on finding light, flavorful dishes expertly prepared and beautifully served. Save room for the excellent desserts, including the decadent Coffee Ice Cream Pie ($3.75) with hot fudge, praline, or fresh strawberry sauce. Many of the recipes can be found in their self-published Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook and Peach Tree Family Cookbook, for sale in the store.
The Granite Room at the Navajo Grill (30)
209 E. Main, Fredericksburg, 830/990-8289
Tue-Thu, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm
Sunday brunch, 10:30am-2pm
Founding chef Steve Howard now busies himself full time with the catering department of the Navajo Grill, but he's left the day-to-day operations at this very popular Hill Country restaurant in the capable hands of owner Mike Raymer and chefs Steve Goodwin, Josh Raymer, and Carmen Weininger. The Navajo cuisine is still a masterful blend of flavors from the old South, Cajun and Creole country, the Southwest and the Caribbean complemented by a well-chosen wine list. The newest addition here is the Granite Room Piano & Wine Bar where patrons can order from the bar, dine on appetizers and desserts while enjoying piano music or cabaret performances. The room is very comfortable and is a non-smoking venue, always a plus in our eyes.
Lincoln Street Wine Bar (31)
111 S. Lincoln, Fredericksburg, 830/997-8463
Sun-Mon, 1-9pm; Tue-Thu, 10am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-late
(all times approximate)
Chronicle wine writer Wes Marshall named Lincoln Street as one of the top 10 places in Central Texas to "catch the passion" about wine and it's easy to see why. With hundreds of wines by the glass, a tasty selection of imported olives, cheeses, and breads to nosh on and two extremely knowledgeable wine geeks on the premises, how could you go wrong? Austin oenophiles will be pleased to get reacquainted with former Austin sommelier Len White, one of the wine geeks in residence at Lincoln Street.
Fredericksburg Brewing Company (32)
245 E. Main, Fredericksburg, 830/997-1646
Mon-Thu, 11:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-10pm; Sun 11:30am-7pm
Established in 1994, this microbrewery/restaurant/ bed & breakfast offers a three-in-one respite after a long day of wildflower photography or antique shopping. Before considering a meal, enjoy a sampler of the brewmaster's art ($4), a moderate portion of each of the brews available that day . The large menu here offers something for everyone: German specialties such as Schinken Schnitzel or a Sausage Sampler; Tex-Mex standbys like nachos and queso; pasta and pizzas; even a hearty bowl of venison chili. After you've eaten your fill and had all the beer you can hold, repair upstairs to one of the 11 guest rooms to bed down for the night. Each room has a distinctive style, some with period antiques, and all are without TVs to enhance the sense of a historic getaway.
Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe (33) 249 E. Main, Fredericksburg, 830/990-0498
Mon-Tue, 8am-2pm; Thu-Fri, 8am-5pm; Sat, 9am-5pm; Sun, 9am-3pm
Former Houston and Austin pastry queen Rebecca Rather relocated her little bakery to Fredericksburg late last year, taking over the space vacated by Marie Claire Quittelier's Marie Cuisine. The attractive new bakery is being embraced by locals and tourists alike. The pleasant little shop is housed in a limestone building set back from the Main Street shopping area, facing a delightful little courtyard. The pastry case is packed with muffins, cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls, scones, and brownies, plus huge portions of dramatic desserts such as a creamy Key Lime Pie and a chocolate Tuxedo Cake. The lunch menu offers a selection of delicious sandwiches made on fresh homemade bread.
The Rathskeller (34)
260 E. Main, Fredericksburg, 830/990-5858
Sun-Mon, 9am-3pm, 5pm-9pm; Tue-Thu, 9am-3pm;
Located in the stone basement of the historic Keidel Memorial Hospital, the Rathskeller is the newest restaurant venture from the team at the Oak House. The bustling new cafe offers private meeting rooms as well as upstairs courtyard dining and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast menu covers all ethnic bases with German Crepes, French Toast, Eggs Benedict, Hill Country Hash, Huevos Rancheros, and Eggs Italian. The bistro-style lunch and dinner offerings are just as eclectic with very affordable prices.
The Epicurean Shop (35)
315 E. Main, Fredericksburg,
Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, noon-6pm
The shelves are loaded with gleaming jars of gourmet condiments from Fischer and Wieser's das Peach Haus. Try the mouth-watering jams made from local fruit, wine jellies created with Hill Country vintages, and tongue-tingling hot salsas. Stock up on their international award-winning Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, which is great on all cuts of pork or plain cream cheese and crackers.
Ernie's Mediterranean Grill (26)
423 E. Main, Fredericksburg,
Daily, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-9pm
Chef/owner Ernie Briggs and his wife Annie relocated to this booming Hill Country burg just over a year ago to open this small restaurant with a pleasant courtyard. Fans of Austin's Louie's 106 may remember Briggs from his tenure there. The menu in Briggs' new venture features both Italian and French items, plenty of meat options, daily raviolis, and vegetarian dishes based on legumes and grains. After working in the pastry departments at both the Omni and Four Seasons hotels, fresh breads and homemade desserts are Annie Briggs' contribution to this upscale mom-and-pop operation.
The Nest Restaurant (34)
607 S. Washington, Fredericksburg, 830/990-8383 Mon-Thu, open 5:30pm
Culinary Institute of America-trained chef John Wilkinson and his wife Monica returned to his native Texas several years ago to open this charming dinner house and have built a very loyal clientele. The old frame cottage is charmingly landscaped and the high-ceilinged dining rooms very comfortable. The chef's most recent menu features such mouthwatering items as rack of lamb with a pecan pesto and stone-ground mustard demi-glace ($24.50), Black Angus Tenderloin Bordelaise ($25) with turnip mashers, and yellowfin tuna with an arugula caper vinaigrette and soft herb polenta ($19). Dinner only, reservations suggested.
The Oak House (35)
755 S. Washington, Fredericksburg, 830/997-6223
Tue-Thu, 5-9pm; Fri-Sat, 5-10pm; Sun, 5-9pm
Chef Scott Boone serves what he describes as "haute Hill Country cuisine" in this quaint turn-of-the-century limestone cottage that is our favorite fine dining spot in Fredericksburg. Boone's seasonally changing menu features steaks, seafood, wild game, and vegetarian dishes, all prepared with as many local products as possible. The restaurant offers well-chosen lists of both beer and wine. There are private dining rooms and a lovely patio for special occasions.
Homestead Healthy Foods (31)
1313 W. Live Oak, Fredericksburg, 888/861-5670
Mon-Thu, 9am-5pm; Fri, 9am-6pm; Sat, 10am-2pm
Certified organic ranchers Richard and Peggy Sechrist have opened this health-food store in Fredericksburg to sell their certified organic beef and poultry as well as a full line of organic produce. They feature local organic produce whenever possible and also stock their shelves with familiar Texas organic products such as those from Austin's own Boggy Creek Farm.