Hill Country Food and Wine Guide
Wild Horse Grille (6)
201 Main, Marble Falls, 830/798-0717
Tues-Thu, 5-10pm; Fri-Sat, 5-11pm; Sun, 5-9pm
We got several tips about the Wild Horse from friends living in the Highland Lakes area who were pleased to finally have a fine dining outlet in nearby. It's a very attractive restaurant with a full bar and comfortable outdoor deck, located in a restored building on small town Main Street dotted with antique shops and galleries. The menu features the sort of Southwestern/Asian/Mediterranean fusion that's been popular in Austin for several years now, and comes with big city prices to match. You'll find items such as quesadillas, satays, calamari, spring rolls, and Caesar Salad for openers. The entrée portion of the menu offers an assortment of steaks with the Cowboy and Mermaid as a spin on the traditional "surf & turf," plus seafood dishes, a couple of chicken options, and Shiner Bock Baby Back Ribs. Desserts are made in-house and attractively presented. The wine list offers Texas wines from area vineyards. As a result of our visit, we'd suggest you ask plenty of questions when ordering to avoid the experience of our vegetarian friend who discovered too late that both the lobster bisque and the stuffed flounder special she'd ordered were made with bacon fat.
Bluebonnet Cafe (7)
211 Hwy. 281, 830/693-2344 Mon-Thu, 6am-8pm; Fri-Sat, 6am-9pm; Sun, 6am-1:45pm
The venerable Bluebonnet has been a fact of life in Marble Falls for nearly 70 years, and it's truly one of those places where "everybody knows your name" if you're a local. Due to years of good service, it's standing-room-only three meals a day in this friendly small-town cafe. Breakfast is served all day, and it's a very good bet. The Bluebonnet is also known for a respectable chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, gravy, and big, yeasty homemade rolls. However, the cafe's true claim to fame has to be the impressive list of homemade pies made fresh every day. Choose from lemon, chocolate, coconut, or banana cream; lemon, chocolate, or coconut meringue; pecan, apple, cherry, or fudge. Order them by the slice ($2.50) or whole to take home ($8.95). Either way, it's mighty fine pie.
Jammin House Cafe (8)
700 First St., 830/693-3979
Mon-Thu, 11am-9pm; Fri, 11am-10pm; Sat, 8am-10pm; Sun, 8am-9pm
The love affair Jammin House proprietors Jane and Bill Allen have with island foods and beverages is still going strong. On our last visit to Marble Falls, we were pleased to note the popular restaurant's new location overlooking Lake Buchanan. With sunwashed colors on the walls, plenty of thatching, and silk tropical flowers decorating the interior and a wraparound deck outside, it's easy to slip into a festive tropical drink and escape to the islands, mon. The expanded menu offers steaks, seafood, jerk barbecue specialties, salads, pastas, individual pizzas, burgers, chicken fried steak, and some tasty new po'boy sandwiches called Cabana Boys.
Peete Mesquite Barbecue (9)
2407 Hwy. 281 N., 830/693-6531
Barbecue lovers who read our Smokin' Hall of Fame story on the Web two years ago alerted us to the fact that this joint was voted the best barbeque in Burnet County. Lake-bound travelers and picnicgoers will appreciate the handy takeout menu, where mouth-watering brisket, ribs, pork steak, turkey breast, chicken, and sausage are all available by the pound with plenty of the house sauce. Traditional sides of pinto beans, cole slaw, and potato salad are packed in handy individual containers (pints, quarts, and gallons), plus they've also got corn-on-the-cob and baked potatoes. Whole pecan pies and fruit cobblers are available if ordered a day in advance. Pick it all up in the convenient drive-through and be on your way to the lake!
Sister's Gifts & Antiques (10)
216 Main, 915/693-2734
After more than 100 years and three locations, the Michel family finally sold their downtown drugstore and the new owners have turned the old store into a gift and antique boutique. The delightful soda fountain lives on, however, and you can still get a soda, thick, creamy malts and shakes, or a banana split made with Blue Bell ice cream. The ladies also make wonderful sandwiches and serve a rotating daily blue plate special. If you've never experienced a real, old-time soda fountain, this place is definitely worth a stop.
Sweet Berry Farm (11)
on Tobeyville Road (FM 1980), 1.2 miles past the intersection with Hwy. 1431, 830/798-1462
Mon-Sat, 8:30am-5:30pm; Sun, 1-5pm
This "pick-your-own" strawberry patch is a huge hit with Central Texans. The first few weeks of April should offer prime berry picking, but check out their friendly Web site before you get on the road. The site offers directions from most Central Texas locations and keeps strawberry lovers updated on the condition of the crop and the availability of berries. Though they're only growing strawberries this year, the farmers promise more berry varieties in the years to come.