Hill Country Food and Wine Guide
Canyon of the Eagles Lodge & Nature Park (12)
16942 RR 2341 (off Hwy. 29 outside Burnet on Lake Buchanan) 800/977-0081
This remarkable eco-tourism resort is the result of a successful public/private partnership between the LCRA and the Presidian Corporation. Located on the north end of Lake Buchanan where the Colorado River enters the lake, the hilltop lodge and restaurant offer breathtaking views of the winter habitat of the American bald eagles. The scenic Vanishing Texas River Cruise (great for eagle watching) departs from the resort's dock. With nearly 1,000 acres of protected area, nature trails offer birders the opportunity to view the eagles as well as native species such as the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. Astronomers flock to the Star Parties at the Eagle Eye Observatory. On scheduled dates, a 16-inch Ealing Cassegrain telescope is available to inspect the night sky far from the intrusion of city lights. The lodge offers comfortable accommodations, conference facilities and packages, and there are campsites in the nature park available for reservation, as well. Former Austin chef Christian Jacobs oversees the restaurant where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in a glass-enclosed dining room overlooking the lake.
Storm's Drive Inn (13)
700 N. Water (Hwy. 281), 512/756-7143 Daily, 6:30am-10pm
All the locals in Burnet, Lampasas, and Hamilton know that the best place for burgers, no contest, is Storm's Drive Inn. This small-town Central Texas chain boasts outlets in all three places, dating back to the Fifties. Maybe that's why the burgers are so good, the fries are fresh cut, and you can get a basket of shrimp or catfish with fries for $5.40. Eat inside so the kids can play in the small arcade or order from the car. A friendly, well-mannered carhop will bring you an old-fashioned, burger-joint meal prepared the way they've been doing it since before anyone ever heard of golden arches.
Tea-Licious Tea Room (14)
228 S. Main, 512/756-7636
This spot on the historic town square is developing a following among antique shoppers, weekend visitors, and locals alike. The menu features soups, salads, sandwiches, daily specials, and scrumptious desserts.
The Verandas Guest House (15)
108 E. League, 512/715-0190
A few years have passed since Austinites Mary and Wayne Brown bought this limestone building that began life as a stagecoach stop in 1856 and housed everything from private homes to hotels to brothels before they refurbished it into a lovely bed and breakfast house. With the Browns' loving care and attention, the Verandas now proudly boasts a Texas Historical marker. The three suites elegantly decorated in period antiques are popular resting places for visitors to the Highland Lakes area. The lovely gardens here will soon be listed as a stop on the official Texas Parks & Wildlife Birding and Wildflower Trail map.