Take a break from Austin's humidity in Marfa's cool oases
A visit to Marfa affords many pleasures: spectacular high-desert scenery, vast starry skies, curious conflations of deep West Texas isolation, and world-class aggregations of contemporary art. Not least of these pleasures is an evolving high standard and variety of food. For a town of only 2,000 souls (give or take a few), dining opportunities are engagingly sophisticated (although posted hours aren't always completely in synch with reality). Here's a selection of excellent eats in Marfa.
Austin Street Cafe405 N. Austin St., 432/729-4653
Breakfast/brunch, Sunday, 8am-2pm; available other times for private meals or receptions
This sweet spot is open to the public only one day a week, but the cooking is so good, it's worth the wait. Green eggs – a garden-herb frittata dressed with an incredible tomato-y chili and beans – may be the best bite in town. Live-in proprietors Jack and Lisa Copeland, formerly of Santa Fe, N.M., lovingly resuscitated every inch of this 1885 adobe once owned by Donald Judd, which is now appointed with quirkily wonderful furnishings and surrounded by gardens.
Pizza Foundation100 E. San Antonio St., 432/729-3377
Monday-Friday, 11am-8:30pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-8:30pm (but check to make sure)
East Coast thin-crust pizzas the size of cartwheels may not be what you'd expect in far West Texas, but here they be, purveyed from a funky antique gas station. At $12 (plus $2 per topping), they're a delicious deal. Admirable hand-thrown crusts convey classic ingredients, including farm tomatoes and fresh basil, and are nicely complemented by fruity frozen limeades.
Cochineal107 W. San Antonio St., 432/729-3300
Dinner nightly, 6pm; breakfast/brunch, Thursday-Sunday, 8:30am-12:30pm. Reservations recommended.
Cochineal's shady, flower-filled entrance and courtyard is one of the loveliest spots in Marfa, and the dramatic, minimalist interior is the setting for some serious fine dining. Tom Rapp and Toshi Sakihara brought their "global home cooking" from Manhattan to Marfa, showcasing fresh ingredients from onsite gardens, greenhouses, and resident chickens. The luscious date pudding is not to be missed.
Q Wine Bar109 W. San Antonio St., 432/729-4599
Next door to Cochineal, this cozy venue is run by a pair of Houston refugees and is in yet another understatedly beautiful adobe house. As well as wine, the proprietors prepare inspired daily soups, snacks, sandwiches, and desserts. Hang out on the front veranda, inside by the fireplace, or in the backyard under rustling cottonwood trees.
Frama120 N. Austin St., 432/729-4033
Frama (an anagram of Marfa) is a bijou coffee bar appended to the Tumbleweed Laundry. It features well-prepared espressos and coffees from Big Bend Coffee Roasters, ice creams, Italian sodas, and wi-fi.
Padre's209 W. El Paso St., 432/729-4425
Tuesday, 4:30pm-12mid; Wednesday-Friday, 11:30am-12mid; Saturday, 11:30am-1am
If you're seeking Marfa nightlife, you'll find it here. Opened in a renovated mortuary by a trio of Houston buddies in 2009, Padre's is a sprawling tavern, music venue, dance hall, cafe, pinball parlor, and all-around community crossroads. Cheeseburgers are awesome, pours are generous, and regulars are welcoming to us estranjeros.